Saturday 13 March 2010

Trouble at Grumpy's Shack

This little project was started around Christmas time, but it's taken me some time to get around to finishing it!
"Alright Grumpy, where's the money you owe us?"

"I ain't got it. And you should know - I've called the cops!"

"Thsi is Security Team 2 - we have the bandits in sight. Preparing to make an arrest..."

This is where Grumpy the colonist lives. You can see it's pretty run down, which explains why Grumpy looks so miserable all the time.
Walls are a mixture of corrugated cardboard and plastic mushroom punnet (Tesco value mushrooms come in a nicely textured container). All the posts are cocktail sticks, glued into small holes drilled through the base board. The base is 3mm MDF.

The building on the right will eventually have a chain link fence - hence the upright posts surrounding it.

The removable roof of each building is more corrugated cardboard. The buildings were painted with Inscribe acrylics. Base colour for the corrugated iron was Burnt Umber 1730 (old rust), with Burnt Sienna 1729 (fresh rust) around the edges. The grey colour was a mixture of Snow 1701 and Raven 1732, with a lighter drybrush for weathering. By painting the rusty colours onto the currugated metal roof first and adding the original metal colour afterwards, the rust ends up in all the crevices and grooves - where the water will have collected and caused the most corrosion. The pieces of plastic punnet were painted with Forest Green 1721 with rusty bits added afterwards. The wooden posts were given a coat of Taupe 1739. The bits of balsa around the base of some walls were painted with Ultramarine Blue 1748 and Holly Berry 1710, drybrushed with Taupe 1739 to give a suitable battered/weathered appearance.

I'ev also got a few more items to add some more character to my scenery. The oil drums come from Continental Model Supply Company, who produce all sorts of 1/76 or 1/72 scale kits and accessories for modern & WW2 eras. They also do some great ammunition boxes, jerry cans etc. These drums have been deliberately battered and damaged - the items as delivered from CMSC were in far better condition!

Unfortunately, they don't have a web site, but they can be contacted at: 36 Gray Gardens, Rainham, Essex RM13 7NH.

The concrete barriers are from the Hirst Arts fieldstone walling accessory set. Although designed for 25/28mm scale, I think they look pretty good as the sort of concrete barriers you might find in a vehicle checkpoint.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Alien egg objective markers

After allowing my moulds a good 24 hours to cure, the Lego brick casings were disassembled and the plasticine masters were removed. Here are the two moulds, washed and ready for use.

I'm very pleased with the amount of detail which the silicone has picked up, and I've managed to avoid getting any particularly noticeable air bubbles.

My first casting was a bit of a rush, and the plaster was slightly thicker than I wanted, but I'm still very pleased with the results. The plaster has been painted using Inscribe acrylic craft paints. I started with a thinned down coat of Raven 1732 (ie. black) to seal the plaster. This was followed by another coat of black to get a good base layer, then a drybrushed layers of Forest Green 1721 over the top of the eggs/base and Burnt Umber 1730 for the underside of the eggs. The final touch was a drybrush of a Taupe 1739 (a sort of concrete colour), which really brought out the detail - the mottled texture of the eggs and the "biomechanical" piping between the eggs.

The too-thick plaster mix has actually added some character to the castings, with parts of the piping looking slightly decayed and rotten.

Finally, here's a shot of the markers with a GZG light vacc-suited explorer and a Xenomorph, plus a smaller QRF alien creature.

I'll mix up some thinner plaster for the next lot of casting, and will probably add some black poster paint. This will produce a darker finish that won't show up the chips in the paint in case they get knocked. The moulds will need a small amount of trimming to ensure the plaster can reach all the pipework. Time to start work on the hive!

Completed caverns

Here are a few photographs of the completed cavern system. I wasn't really happy with the dark-edges movement spots I tried, so I went for lighter centres instead, which has worked much better. I wasn't sure if they'd be visible enough, but they were fine for the first game that we played. Working out how light they'd be when dry was difficult - the paint is slightly lighter in colour when wet, so a couple of extra layers of highlighting were needed to make sure that the spots were visible. Much easier to use than trying to squeeze a tape measure into the tunnels!

Some of the entrances/exits don't line up precisely, but they're more than good enough for my needs.

The large chamber in the middle has extra bits of wall which can be inserted to provide a more maze-like set of passages.

All in all, I'm happy with the results - especially as the only cost involved was about 5 pence worth of white paint for the highlighting and about £1 of cork tiles. All the rest was left over red paint & polystyrene sheet that was left in the garage / loft of our new house, plus a small amount of PVA from a free supply I was given many years ago.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Rusty Corrugated Metal

There has been quite a bit of interest recently in metal shack "shanty towns" in 15mm scale, what with GZG's new metal shacks (V15-COL4 SHACK SET) and Battle Works Studios "Startown Slum" buildings - see the Dropship Horizon blog for a review of both.

I passed some very battered old buildings whilst driving round Essex today, so thought I'd post them as good examples of heavily weathered corrugated iron sheeting, in case anyone could use a littel reference material or inspiration.

Click on pictures for larger images (about 2MB each?).

Egg Chamber Objective markers

After playtesting my new cavern system, I decided that there was something I particularly needed - some sort of objective markers. I could produce some sort of cardboard counter, but I'd like something a little more satisfying and three-dimensional on the game board. As our first game involved some NAC Marines penetrating a nest of GZG xenomorphs and QRF small aliens to destroy their egg chamber, this seemed a good excuse to try my hand at sculpting some leathery, slimy egg clusters.


As I use 1p and 2p pieces for basing many of my larger 15mm units, I've decided to follow this through into my objective markers. A Sunday afternoon with some plasticine and old guitar strings gave me a couple of objective marker masters.

The 2p piece has 3 eggs, the 1p piece has just 2 eggs. I may produce a single egg on a small washer the same size as the standard GZG bases, but I'll see how these larger ones turn out first.

The coins were given a thin coating of plasticine as a base. Various different thickness guitar strings were cut into small sections and set into the plasticine, giving the effect of leathery organic conduits in the Giger-esque "biomechanical" style. The eggs were rolled from plasticine, with the cross-shaped opening created using a craft knife, and the mottled texture added using a fairly blunt pencil tip. Here is another picture ofo the egg markers, this time with a GZG explorer for scale.


The Old Buckenham Bone Crushers bought a can of RTV silicone to try making some moulds. I've already created one set of moulds, but this is the first time I've tried making a mould of something that I've actually sculpted.

The first thing to do was create a container for the silicone. I built a couple of small square walls out of lego bricks, and cut a square of plastic (the sort of semi-rigid stuff from blister packaging) to pop in the top of each. I'm using a glass placemat as the working surface for my moulding, as it gives a clean, smooth surface from which cured silicone can easily be removed - whether as moulds or as accidental spills!

After weighing out 100g of silicone using a set of jewellers scales (our kitchen scales aren't precise enough!) and adding 5g of catalyst, I gave the mixture a good stir. The silicone was carefully painted onto the eggs bases with an old modelling paintbrush, making sure that it got into all the nooks and crannies round the base of the eggs and along the guitar strings. As the silicone is the texture and thickness of golden syrup, this can be rather difficult!

Once this basic layer was in place, the Lego surround was placed over each egg cluster, and more silicone poured in to fill the mould to within a few millimetres of the top. Finally, the plastic square was placed in the top. When these moulds are ready for casting, the top of the silicone block will become the base of the mould, so it's important that it is completely flat and a stable base for casting.


The silicone was left for about 24 hours to cure completely. I've been using a slow catalyst so that the liquid rubber remains workable for a longer period. The Lego surround is disassembled, the silicone is pulled free of the base, and it's the moment of truth...

The masters came to bits as they were removed from the moulds, but I was expecting this - I gather that many masters don't survive the moulding process. As my masters are only plasticine, I knew the eggs would come off the base at the very least - but being plasticine, I can recycle them into more sculptures for another occasion.

I'll make a few trial castings and try to get them painted in time to post some images for next time!