Updated: Jan 29
Inexpensive, easy to make, and super realistic trees.
The Scenic Express SuperTree material has been a popular base for realistic scale trees for many years now, and I thought I would do a video and blog post on what their starter kit looks like and how to actually make the trees.
The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard storage box with a carrying handle as you can see below. This is the N Scale version, but the HO/O scale version is identical except that you get larger tree armatures.
Here is everything included inside the kit:
one bag of supertree material (goes by seafoam and other names)
one spray bottle
one bottle of matte medium
one bin for catching flocking
two pairs of tweezers
two quart-size containers of flocking material
about 8 small packets of flocking material in different colors
one packet of super-leaf material
one instruction sheet
The only thing you really need besides what is included in the kit is some way to hang up the trees when they are drying. Some string tied between two chairs along with some clothespins will work well. I clipped the trees to a cardboard box with clothespins as you will see later on.
The supertree material (also called seafoam and other names) looks very much like a scale tree right out of the box, except that it has a number of dried up leaves attached in various areas. You can use the included tweezers to pluck all of them off. This is really the most tedious part of the whole tree construction process.
Generally, the larger and straighter pieces are best used for trees while smaller and twisted pieces can be used for shrubs and ground cover. You can soak the tree material in the matte medium and then hang it from a line or box with a weight at the end to straighten it out if you want, but usually, it is just easier to break off pieces that are already straight.
The natural material has a yellowish color to it out of the package which doesn't look very realistic. If the tree will be placed in the interior of a larger forest, you can just cover the tree with flocking as it is. However, if you are going to be able to see any part of the trunk or branches it is better to paint the material first.
I stuck pieces of the supertree material into the edges of a cardboard box, using the holes in the corrugated cardboard as holders. Then I sprayed the trees with some Rustoleum camouflage brown spray paint. I let this dry for a few hours before proceeding to make sure the paint wouldn't come off when the trees were soaking in the matte medium mix later on.
While the trees were drying I mixed up the matte medium included in the kit. I mixed up a batch with 7 parts water to 1 part matte medium in a storage container and another batch for the spray bottle. Once the trees were fully dry from the painting step, I soaked them in the matte medium bath for several minutes.
Next, I took each tree armature out of the matte medium bath and covered it with one of the shades of ground foam, often layering a couple on the same tree. In the photo below I used the medium green flocking from one of the large quart-sized containers, then sprayed the tree down with more glue and sprinkled on some of the super-leaf material, which are essentially tiny flakes of very thin green plastic.
You can see one of the completed trees. The slightly lighter color of the super leaf material gives the tree some nice highlights.
The trees were clipped to the flaps of a cardboard box (the same one the kit was shipped in and that I used to hold the trees while painting) and then I sprayed them all down with more of the glue mix. Note that I only used about half of the included tree material, if that, to make these trees, and only a small portion of the flocking material.
To install the trees all you need to do is make a hole in your scenery that is about the same size as the tree trunk, apply some glue, and plant the tree. Since I usually use foam and sculptamold for my scenery base, I was able to do this by poking a hole with a small screwdriver.
You can see some examples of what the completed and installed trees look like in the photo below. It is pretty fast and easy to make a forest of trees using these kits. You can pick up an extra package or two of the supertree material to make more trees than you can with the basic kit without needing to buy any additional flocking material or glue.
These kits are a great way to make some realistic trees for your layout, diorama, or gaming table. They are better looking and a lot cheaper to build in large numbers than most of the ready-made trees that are available. The main downside is that because they are a natural material, they are more delicate than trees that are built on a wire or plastic frame. So, these aren't the best option if they are going to be handled a lot or in an environment where they are likely to be damaged.
You can watch the video of the Super Trees kit review and tree construction below.
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