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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Trash Bash 2011 Final Results.

First off a big thanks to the participants, sponsors, and judges who helped to make Trash Bash 2011 possible. It has been inspirational to see how contestants have solved the challenge of using a discarded deodorant container to create a vehicle. And it's been a lot of fun to read the back stories and parts lists that accompany all of these models. Check the comments box below for links to each contestant's blog or website for more information on each entry.

Great work everyone!

First Place: William Burke- B86 DROF Motors Road Utility Surface Buggy

Judges really responded to the completeness of concept for this vehicle and its somewhat odd configuration. The final paintjob ties it all together and the backstory of a beleaguered Quar named G'wible really added to the concept of the vehicle. William used the clear, green plastic of the deodorant container to great effect and his use of decals looks realistic and well thought out.

Second Place: Ward Shrake- Russian Heavy Hovercraft Tank and German Scout Car

Ward created two models for his final entry and the level of finish on both vehicles is amazing. The back story for these models not only assassinates Joseph Stalin but also implies a future of man portable beam weapons. Ward is truly a mad scientist of modeling, using heat tools to fuse plastic and "Sharpie Juice" and model glue to color and texture his creations.

Third Place: Duke Dreal- Pirate Hovertank

This entry was created in the true sprit of trash bashing. Other than a few Hirst Arts castings the whole thing is cleverly constructed out of household refuse. The paint scheme and design concept are pure Star Wars and the tank fits right into a game of Star Wars Miniatures. Duke has used a stockpile of discards to create a really useful gaming piece.

Honorable Mentions:

It was exceedingly difficult to choose only three winners for this contest so I'd like to also recognize the other contestants and their entries. Everyone single one is inspirational in its use of trash bashing techniques and overall creativity. (The following are listed in no particular order.)

Clarke Payne- Yiksossi Reaver Raiding Skimmer:

Tom Perrin- The Shark Amphibious Assault Vehicle:

Larry Hammer- The Coarse Hare River Gunboat:

Jess Carver- Star Frontiers Explorer:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Retro Review 1: Chainsaw Warrior with Reaper

When I first got into the wargaming hobby I was young and constantly broke. My 1969 Chevelle Malibu took any extra cash I had and extended sorties into various gaming arcades took the rest. So when new miniatures came out I was often without funds to pick them up. And prior to the internet, ordering miniatures from Citadel, all the way in England for crying out loud, was a daunting task indeed. My local game store did a fine job of trying to get new product but often by the time I got there all the cool stuff was gone. All that was left were the many packs of Space Marine heavy weapons that all seemed to have conversion beamers. I still believe that there was a severe overcasting of conversion beamers in Nottingham and they made sure to secretly pack away as many of the as they could to The US. So many dopey conversion beamers.

But I'm off topic. My idea for Retro Reviews is so that I can revisit miniatures that I used to to have or that I could never get my hands on. I'm a better painter now than I was at nineteen so I'm looking forward to painting these figures without the stress that I used to feel. Time to have some fun and check out some classic miniatures!

I'll be starting out with a Chainsaw Warrior from Citadel Miniatures. This miniature was sculpted by Bob Naismith in 1987. It is one of four Chainsaw Warrior minis that Citadel produced. They were created to support the solo-play game Chainsaw Warrior but were sort of shoehorned into Warhammer 40,000 as Imperial Guard troops since there was actually no need for them to be used to play Chainsaw Warrior. First lesson of making miniature games: make miniatures necessary to play the game.

After picking up this little fellow pretty cheaply on Ebay, I took a long look over it to see what kind of shape it was in and how I might improve it. And other than sharpening up the edges on the shoulder armor and reaper cannon I didn't have to do much since Naismith had created such a really impressive miniature. The sculpting is on par with other things that Citadel was producing in the day. The details are a bit soft and there is some interesting anatomy with the gloved hands. But honestly this mini is still really groovy.

The proportions and stance of the Chainsaw Warrior are outstanding. The reaper cannon that he carries is instantly recognizable as what it is, basically a big autocannon for making bad things die. The mini is also equipped with a combination headset microphone and camera (a pretty obvious inspiration from Aliens), two pistols, a communications device, and a canteen. The overall look is very 2000 AD which makes sense as the lead comic artist on Chainsaw Warrior was Brett Ewins of Rogue Trooper fame. Naismith does an excellent job of capturing the 2000 AD vibe while creating a character that works within the Chainsaw Warrior storyline.

The mini was cast in a lead based alloy and this helped to remind my of why I hate lead miniatures. My needle file gummed up just like in the 80s, my X-Acto knife stuttered along seam lines instead of gliding smoothly. And I know that a lot of detail has been softened over the years by simple abuse. All that being said the mini was in pretty good shape. Overall cleaning was followed by a matte black undercoat.  I wanted to use all military colors but still break up the figure so that armor was clearly defined from cloth, boots from pants, etc. I settled on a mix of olive drab, black, and urban camo for the BDU pants since for some reason all super soldiers in the 80s had to wear camo pants. I went with an olive for the gun housing since I wanted it to look like it was made of various types of materials. Drybrushing the whole thing chainmail would just be boring anyway.

A face only a mother, or drill sergeant could love.

One of my favorite parts of this mini is the face. Overly craggy and almost Neanderthal this guy seems like someone who has been around a battlefield or two. His crew cut is easy to paint and the headset really makes him seem like he's on a mission.

I built a quick base using a piece of corrugated plastic, a plastic tube and some wires to make a broken electrical conduit, and some scattered shell casings made from aluminum tube. Since the Chainsaw Warrior game takes place inside of an abandoned skyscraper I didn't want to add foliage or grass. It adds to the post apocalyptic feel anyway.

Overall this miniature still holds up as a tough as nails super soldier type character. It is big and bulky and wouldn't look out of place with today's standard "super heroic scale" minis. I'm looking forward to tracking down his three other brothers, even the sort of goofy Timescape version, and giving them matching paintjobs. It's been great to finally find a miniature that I've wanted since 1987 and have the time and skill to enjoy painting it.

Go deep into your lead pile and look around. Find some of those orphaned minis of yesteryear that you might have forgotten about. I think you'll be surprised by how much fun they still are.

Next Time:
Winners of Trash Bash 2011 Announced!