Friday, May 27, 2011

Messing Around with Instant Mold.

So Cool Mini or Not carries a product called Instant Mold that promises to help you create pretty much any bit the you'll ever need for miniature modeling. Having some experience with metal and resin casting I was at first skeptical that this would work well at all. Boy was I wrong.

I have been using green epoxy putty for a while to replicate small details on miniatures like amulets or purity seals. This can be a hit or miss process since the putty likes to stick to the mold and often details can be very soft. Instant Mold has several great properties including a tenacious un-stickiness. The only putty I tried it with that would even stick while uncured was Aves Apoxie Sculpt and even this released immediately once it was cured. I did tests with Kneadatite green stuff, Procreate, and Apoxie Sculpt and they all released perfectly once cured.

Instant Mold comes in a pack of separate bars. Each one is plenty to replicate a small part and you can combine them for larger bits. Basically you soak the Instant Mold in boiling water for two minutes. Take it out of the water and dry it off. This helps to keep water from making distortions in the mold. Then you can press the Instant Mold over a part for a flat piece or wrap it around for a complete casting. The basics of this are shown in the following video. But be warned: This dude's knife handling is flinch inducing.

So after ordering a pack of Instant Mold from Cool Minis Or Not, I set about seeing how much cool stuff I could make with it.

I started out with a Capital assault rifle from Warzone. I wrapped the gun in IM and then put it into the freezer to set up. A few minutes later the mold was ready to be split. Since the putty is translucent I was able to see my XActo knife blade as I cut the mold. Be careful with this step! I can see a lot of cut fingers and thumbs coming from this. And you want to be careful so you don't damage your original.

Once I had the mold I used Aves Apoxie Sculpt to cast the rifle. I filled the mold with a little more putty than I thought I would need and squeezed it to form the part. Try not to twist the mold and keep your pressure even. This squeezing will produce a huge amount of flash but it tends to be very thin. One of the reasons that I use Apoxie Sculpt is that it is very sand-able once cured. This is especially important for hard edged mechanical parts.

A gang member from Gangs of Mega City One
Once painted the gun looks pretty good. I can see this being very useful for special weapons and for older bits that are hard to come by.

The next part came from a little Tiki fellow from a magnetic skill game. The sculpting on these pieces is very sharp and clean and this helps when making a part with Instant Mold.

I cast some of these in Procreate and used them to make a pulp inspired base. Casting architectural parts is one of the most suitable uses for Instant Mold. Toys, keychains, jewelry, or knick knacks can all be used for creating small detail bits for larger buildings as well as for miniature bases.

I've heard a couple of folks discussing the possibility of using Instant Mold to copy entire miniatures. I decided to give it a shot using one of my own sculptures of a cult leader and his evil Cthulhu cult sword. 

This mold was more difficult to cut and had some problems with trapped air and parts that didn't fill in. Since this mini is such a simple design this wasn't a huge issue but it would be a real pain with a more complex miniature.

A Cthulhu Cult Leader surveys the ruins of Tiki Island.

Besides the ethical issues, using Instant Mold to create whole miniatures is frankly too much of a hassle to do much. I'm glad that I can use it with my own sculpts to give me an idea of what a painted version will look like or to replicate parts that I will need several of. I also imagine it will be useful for texture stamps. But it's really a pain and doesn't create a detailed enough piece. 

The final bits that I created were shoulder guards and a shield for an Imperial Champion. The splinter guard shoulders are from a Games Day limited edition mini and the shield is a Storm Shield from a vintage Thunder Hammer Terminator. I cast the shoulder guards as solid pieces and then ground out the inside with a Dremel tool. The shield was cast flat and then sanded to the thickness that I wanted.

Overall I was very impressed with Instant Mold and for 13.00 bucks it is a value, especially since it can be reused indefinitely. It is best used for small details that can be cast in one piece but even two part molds can be made to work with a bit more effort. For the scratchbuilder, convertor, or sculptor it provides a very quick way to replicate parts and should be added to your hobby toolbox.

Check out some of the other stuff I've made with Instant Mold:
Crackle Texture Bases
Imperial City Base


  1. Thanks for the heads up RB, looks like a good buy.

  2. Thats a great review, thanks.