Saturday 31 December 2022

Retro Alien Cactus TO-DONE!!!


Hi folks, 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

2022 was a pretty rough year for me, and the Old School Gaming blog has suffered a little because of it. I have had the energy to keep it just ticking over every month, but that has been about it. My big hope for 2023 is that the personal growth I have been focusing on will make the tough times a little more manageable. A huge thanks to everyone who has checked out my posts, here or elsewhere, and left a comment. I deeply appreciate every contribution! 

For my last project of 2022 I have been working with my son on some retro alien cactus, which I am sure most old school gamers are familiar with. They can be made with simple household items but are quite labour intensive and look a little like something out of Super Mario Brothers when they are finished.

Here's a brief how-to:

1) Coat some polystyrene balls with a thin layer of PVA and some sand for texture. We stuck each one with a toothpick to make them easier to handle.


a. Once the PVA has set, paint the balls light green and then apply a top highlight. 

b. Add some polystyrene hemispheres to the terrain bases, painted the same way. 

c. Flock the bases once the hemispheres are dry.

d. Paint 100 double ended toothpicks, applying a light red to black (in the centre) wet blend.

3) Snap the toothpicks in half as neatly as possible to provide 200 cactus spikes.


a. Use a metal skewer to create holes for the spikes. This makes the holes neat; trying to simply push the blunt end of the spikes in creates a mess.

b. Add a small blob of PVA to the blunt end of each spike before pushing them into place.

c. Use a metal skewer to add holes to the tops/bases of balls that need to be connected. Connection was made with unpainted toothpicks and a small amount of PVA. I found it easier to connect the parts after the spikes were already in place, I would suggest allowing connections to set first before adding the spikes if you want to do it the other way around.


As far as family projects go, this was really fun to do with The Boi. My wife and kids keep walking past them now and giggling! I am really looking forward to using these in a game of 2nd Ed. 40k, I will have to come up with some rules for them; they will certainly be a nasty addition to a Death World table.

See you across the table,



  1. A classic project to round out the year. Looking great!
    Happy new year to you! To more cool miniatures and great games!

    1. Let's hope this year is a good one (and gets better, the first couple of months have been a bit dodgy).

  2. Very cool project! Brings back many 2nd Ed. 40K memories. Happy gaming with them!

    1. the nostalgia is sooo strong with these things, I can't wait to use them.

  3. The alien cacti from 2nd edition 40k seems to be making a come back these days, I have even been giving this a go just for the fun of it! When done mine will go to some gamers I'm sure will put them to good use. It's nice to see organic terrain in 40k, not everything has to be so damn gothic all the time!!

    1. I have to say, even though I do like a bit of urban combat, the current flood of city/industrial terrain is getting a little boring for me. It was nice to do something green (and red!) for once. It is also a right of passage for 2nd Ed. players, I think.