Wednesday 23 February 2011

Model Making: Laser Cut Mobile Fort

Taking my inspiration from the Klendathu base in the movie Starship Troopers, I evolved the ideas I had developed in my the Gantry system to create a temporary military base.


As you can see from the photos, the watch towers are based on a similar design to that used as the look-out post in the gantry system. In fact the whole wall system is based on a scaled up version of the look-out post.


As such the work to develop the walls was very simple. It got more interesting when I moved on to designing the door. I decided I would make it a movable door so that a player could have  it open, closed or indeed open and close it during a game (as the patrol makes a dash for the door while the horde of bugs advances on the fort).


The door frame is build up of three layers, the outside, the inside and a spacer layer between. The doors have simple runner attachments at the top that sits over the inside wall. So that the door always closes in the correct position I have included a small stop in the middle at the top of the inside wall, which stops the doors passing the halfway mark.

Most of the fort is built in 3mm MDF, however, the look-out posts on top of the watch towers, the wall walkways and the stairs are 2mm MDF and the spacer in the door wall is 4mm (to allow the door to be painted without jamming).



Just as a little extra, a friend of mine is working on a 28mm scale Ork Gargant and asked me to knock up a circular saw for him, this was the result:-



Note: The minis in these photos are the the 28mm figures I sculpted for Defiance: Vital Ground!

Monday 14 February 2011

Model Making: Laser Cut 28mm Gantry System

After my first attempts at creating wargames scenery and buildings with the laser cutter, I have evolved several new projects to develop and take laser cut wargaming buildings further.


This one started off simply as a staircase and grew into a whole 28mm gantry system, that I plan on using in everything from steampunk and pulp games, through modern skirmishes and on to science fiction gaming.

At the planning stage I decided I wanted a modular system that I could expand as and when I needed too…


After roughly sorting out the staircase, I decided I needed something for the staircase to reach up to so I started to work on the gantry platforms and the support  pylons.




These designs are the final ones and had to go through several different versions until I was happy with them. This involved modifying the fittings at either end of the platforms, try several grid mesh designs and also playing around with the scaling to get the width correct and the railing height looking right.

The photo below is one of the earlier versions that ended up looking a little under scale for the 28mm figure  (although a friend has pointed out that it looks pretty good for the  15mm sci-fi campaign that we are planning).


When planning a project like this it is vital that you decide on the material you are going to use. I decide to go with 2mm MDF, as it gives a nice crisp finish, is very light and fairly strong once put together. Once I had chosen the material I could start developing the various joins. You have to be very careful once you start to create the various parts as, if you want to rescale anything you have to make sure that the joints still suit the material thickness (i.e. 2mm in this case). So if I decided to do a 15mm version or indeed a 54mm version, it would not be as straight forward a simply resizing the designs to suit. All of the joints need to be rescaled individually!


Once I had the basic platforms and pylons, it was time to add some variation, so I designed the octagonal platform, the cross junction and the curved platform.


You can see one of the alternative mesh designs on the octagonal platform. The curved platform was developed both as a way of turning corners and also when combined with other curve sections to produce a ring.


Why did I want a ring, well I love the Pulp genre and it is ideal for rocket platforms or other diabolical bases set up by evil masterminds!


Now if you need to get to a higher level, having a double height pylon becomes necessary. I wanted the design for this to follow the design of the standard pylons, although with the need to go around the lower level platform as well as supporting the upper level there were design compromises and several versions before I was happy with this one…


I haven’t had a chance to cut enough of the double height pylons to create a good example but here are a couple of photos that show off the possibilities:-


On the top of the left photo there you can see the lookout platform, this seemed like a logical development for wargaming uses.


Finally, as an after thought (after someone suggested offshore platforms), I also came up with an alternate pylon design.


Once I had cut enough to really start playing around I was really pleased as the possibilities seem endless.


I am still coming up with ideas on how to expand this set with new components, and also looking at ways to use the bits I already have.

The lookout platform has now developed in to a full mobile fort, which will be the subject of my next post…

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Toy Soldiers: The ARC Fleet have mustered!

I have completed my first batch of Critical Mass Games ARC Fleet figures and vehicles, a 15mm science fiction wargames force.


This is quite an achievement as I have struggled to paint even one or two figures  over the past several years. I finally feel that I am back in the swing of things. To paint miniatures consistently, around 50 of them, and some 15mm scale vehicles as well, has been something I have managed to do over the past few years, while my sons have been quite young. It is still something that I tend to do once they are in bed, although I am hoping to start inspiring them in that direction as they get a little older.

I really love the detail on Critical Mass Games figures, they would often pass as 28mm figures in photos.

Anyway, on to my main reason for posting. As we haven't decided on which rules we are going to use for our 15mm gaming yet (it's probably down to Grunts or the Critical Mass Games house rules) I have been a little undecided as to how to base the figures. Do I go for unit bases (CMG rules) or individual basing (Grunts).

In the end I devised a systems that get the best of both ways of doing it. I laser cut some1.5mm plywood to make 40x30mm bases, in two layers, the top layer was also cut with 4 10mm holes. I glued the individual figures to 10mm steel washers. Finally I have stuck 4mm Neodymium magnets into the cut outs on the bases, these hold the figures in place very effectively.

I did have one problem while gluing the magnets in place, they are so strong that the would pull towards each other before the epoxy adhesive set. Even after it set I found as they have such a smooth surface some were simply pulling out of the epoxy (10 minute setting time Araldite Rapid). I found an alternative epoxy, Pacer Z-Poxy (30 minute setting time, although they also do a 5 minute version). Wow this is good stuff, sets very hard, nice and clear and so far none of the magnets have come free. I did have to place one magnet per base, then let it set before I did the next one. But once I had the routine in place it all worked fine.

I have the next batch of figures on my painting desk now, here is what I am working on to fill out the force a little.

All of my wargaming and miniatures blog posts will start with the Toy Soldiers: prefix!
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