Awakened Monolith

I’ve been fielding Necrons on the tabletops of the 41st Millennium for a long time. I had a 1500 point army back when warriors and destroyers were all metal, no one had heard of fancy things like Pariahs, and C’tan was just a type of knife. I still stick by the Necrons, too, and love using them, even though many math-hammer nuts will scoff and say they’re a useless army now.

But that’s a debate for a different forum...

Anyway, as I browsed through the various paperhammer templates I’ve accumulated, there was a pretty nice one for the Necron Monolith. It’s available for download over at the Paperhammer 40K website. Alas, the gent or lady who designed it doesn’t give their name, but there’s a goyo2303@earthlink.net mentioned on the plans. If you know who that is, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

This Is Important - goyo2303 made a pretty good template, but it’s a tiny bit oversized. This Monolith would be about an inch taller than a GW model (a huge difference at this scale). To complicate things there’s a scale bar on the templates that doesn’t seem to match up to anything. Maybe it’s cubits or something. Anyway, I’d say the template needs to be shrunk somewhere around 8-10% if you want to make an “authentic” Monolith. Or just leave it this tiny bit bigger and say it’s a Doomsday Monolith for Apocalypse.

However, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to make a cardstock Monolith. Not until I got distracted from work for a bit by going back to Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, anyway. On the off chance you’re one of the seven or eight Warhammer 40,000 fans who haven’t played the game, the Monolith begins as a mostly-buried ruin. As the action progresses and the Necrons advance up their tech-tree, it awakens, rises up, and restores itself until you have a fully-functional death machine teleporting around the battlefield.

Wouldn’t that make an interesting scenery piece? A partly-restored, awakened Monolith still half-buried in the sand, maybe so ancient it’s coated with dirt and dust.

I thought it would.

So, easy first step. You’ll need to draw some tabs on some of these pieces to make assembly easier. Since so much of this is interior structure, I decided to put as many tabs as possible on interior pieces and leave the exterior sections clean.

The big chunk of the templates are the four corner bastion sections, located on page one and two of the document. Each of these includes what would be the sloped underside of the Monolith. Since this is going to be half-buried, that seemed like a perfect point to cut them.

Helpful Hint - Only cut off one of the two lower sections on each bastion piece. If you look at the template, only one half is marked for armor placement. Cut off the lower half on all four of the blank halves. Now you can bend the remaining lower section back and it’s just become one huge tab to glue this piece onto a base.

You also need to cut off the bottom half of the bastion backing. Just draw a line across, corner to corner, and remove the lower section.

It’s kind of early on, but you need to make a decision before you start gluing. There’s a port at each corner of the Monolith on the bastion front sections where the gauss flux arc projectors would go, that three-barreled gun that hits everything. What should be here on an only-just awakened model? A blank face? An empty port? I decided to go with a recessed armor plate. Cut out the opening as cleanly as you can and make sure you save the piece. Then use it to trace a slightly bigger piece. Glue this to the back/ inside of the bastion, so it’s covering the hole. From the outside, it’ll be a recessed section. When I add on armor plates later, it’ll look even deeper-set.

When you start to glue these sections, I’ve found it’s best to first glue the tops down on the bastion fronts. Once the front sections are dry, glue half of the back in place (one edge and the top). You only want to do one half so you can make sure it glues tight. Unless you’ve got some very long clamps, you’re going to have to hold the edge up by that port I just mentioned. Clamp where you can, hold where you can’t, and make sure this side is dry and solid before you move on.

Helpful Hint - Make sure you’ve got a good, deep fold on the front and back sides of the bastions before you start gluing. If you don’t, it’ll pull the bastion out of square and you’ll be wrestling with it forever.

Once all four of these assemblies are dry, glue the other edge. You’re going to have to be pretty hands-on with this step, too. Glue it and use your hands to hold it in place so the seams are clean and tight. You want to check inside and make sure your tabs are down flat, too, and not hanging in the air above most of the glue. Reach inside with a pencil or sculpting tool and press the tabs down if you have to.

So, now you should have all four bastions done. If you push them together they should make a solid pyramid with a flat top (think Aztec Necrons). This is also a nice test to make sure you got everything squared off--just see how well it all fits together.

Time to connect them with the bottom. This piece was cut so it had tabs in each notch where a bastion would fit in. Then I set the bottom flat on the ground and glued it there. The front section is also a bit longer, but don’t worry abut that. This piece is more for stability and structural integrity than anything else. I set a book on top of it while it dried to keep everything square and in place.

Cut out the front, back, and two side pieces. Make sure you leave tabs on the top of all of them, and on the bottoms of the front and back. Remember, this scenery piece is only the top half of the Monolith, so you can ignore the bottom section of the templates for the back and sides.

The front was a major departure, because goyo2303 designed this model to have an opening portal. just like on the GW Monolith. On the templates you’ll see there’s a rectangular piece on page 5 marked “Front Top Half/ Portal Doorway.” It’s got a thin strip in the middle where you’d fold it to create a recessed portal. Cut this piece out, but ignore that rectangle. Then measure and cut so you’ve got a piece just like the sides.

The other part of this is the portal cover. Cut out the rectangular emblem in the center, but make it as clean as possible. Once you’ve got it free, cut along the long “sun” lines. You don’t want to cut the emblem apart, but you want your cuts to be distinctive.

Now cut our the main body of the cover. Trim off the edge pieces that would normally give it depth and let it move. Glue the cover onto the front section, then glue the emblem back in place. The end result should look like a faded bit of carving on the door.

Helpful Hint - When you build full-scale scenery for stage and films, there’s a simple thing called a hog-trough. It’s just two long boards fastened together at a right angle. The right angle forces the long boards to be rigid. You can do the same thing with paperhammer models. Cut a few strips of cardstock an inch or so wide, score them down the middle, and fold them. Then glue them behind a wide surface you think might bow or warp (say, the four sides of the Monolith). Let these sit until they’re completely dry, because if there’s any play in the glue they’ll just pull themselves out of line again.

Cut out the top so it has tabs in each notch where a bastion would fit in, just like the bottom. Then glue the front, back and sides to the top piece. Make sure you’ve got them all in the right positions.

While the top assembly was drying I built a real simple support for the inside of the Monolith. It’s a scenery piece, after all, so at point someone’s going to drop a big chunk of metal on it like a Mega-armored Ork, a Krootbeast, or a Chaos Dreadnaught. I measured the inside height (3 9/16” on my model) and cut a wide card that height. This got cut in half, and then each half got cut halfway down the middle. Slide them together and it’s a nice X-column. I reinforced it with a few quick scabs.

You may also want to mark the inside planes of the bastions so you know the correct height to position the top all around the model. When you glue the top in place, the sides should line up parallel to the outside edges of the bastions. Once this assembly was in position, I set the books back on top of it to keep it square and flat and left the whole thing to dry.

This Is Important -- Do not glue the bottoms of any of the sides yet. If you put glue on them, it’s just going to make a mess of your cutting pad or table or whatever. I'll show you why next time.

As a scenery piece, the bulk of this is done. Next time I’ll do a bunch of detail work, some basing, and paint it.


Ork Fuel Depot

Okay, even in the grim cheapness of the future, this week’s project is ridiculously dirt cheap. I’m almost embarassed by it.

I save plastic jars to use for bitz. Six or seven years back--when White Dwarf actually printed mostly fun, useful articles and not just press releases for new products--one of the GW guys mentioned storing his super-small bitz in spice jars, which meant they not only took up a lot less room, but his Guardsmen had a wonderful cinnamon smell. With all the piles of sprues I had, it struck me I could do the same thing with whole armies. Wham--90% of my Space Marine bitz end up in a cleaned out peanut butter jar, vehicle bitz in another. Same thing with the Guard. And Chaos, Orks, Tyranids, Necrons... Suddenly my shelves were a whole lot cleaner. Plus it lets me eyeball stuff a lot faster, too.

What does this have to due with a dirt cheap fuel depot?

Well, I had a peanut butter jar in the sink a few weeks back that I'd forgotten about. The lovely lady and I were making dinner and I strained a bunch of noodles. Boiling water filled up the jar in the sink and washed all over it. I watched it melt and deform. The bottom shrunk, the sides bubbled...it was useless.

I went to toss this mutant jar in the trash bin and absently screwed the lid back on. Wait, what? Much to my surprise, the lid still fit fine, even though the bottom was way too deformed for it to stand up. I mused on this for a bit, flipped it over, and stood it on its lid.

Wham again! It was a beat-up fuel tank. And who would keep such an old thing? Why, the Orks of course. Suddenly I had a scenery piece/ objective.

Helpful Hint--I've mentioned this once or thrice before. One of the best ways to make cheap, oversized bases is just to superglue three old CDs together. Old AOL discs or game demos, drivers for hardware you dumped years ago, backup discs that didn't burn right for some reason, whatever. Three discs glued together is almost the precise thickness as your standard 40K model base. Make sure you hit your “project side” with sandpaper, too, so the glue will have a coarse surface to grab.

Once the base dried, I just superglued the jar lid onto it. It’s worth noting that the lid is bit off-center, so there’ll be room on the base for a few models to be placed on it.

Once the lid was solid I put some superglue on the threads and screwed the “tank” onto it. It was tempting to leave this part unglued so I could hide objective markers, models, etc., inside the tank. Thing is, I know all that would really do is lead to chipped paint and messed-up scenery. So it’s going to be a solid piece.

A fuel tank is no good with no way to get the fuel out, so I decided to make a little pumping station where trukks, battlewagons, and maybe killa kans could get topped off (poor little grots--the crew compartment and fuel tank are one and the same). The pump is just a little card box with some details on it. It’s 1 1/4” x 1” x 3/4”. The buttons are made with the 1/8” hole punch. The sign is a Warhammer Fantasy orc shield with a skeleton crest. A few rivets from the 1/16” punch accented the details.

Helpful Hint--Here’s the best method I’ve found to attach these little card rivets. Put a dot of white glue down where you want them. If you end up with a blob that’s too big (larger than the pip on a die, say) use a hobby knife to scrape a bit away. Now, use the tip of the knife to spear a rivet and press it down on the glue. The excess will swell up, yes, but ignore it for a minute. Make sure the rivet’s solid on the surface you’re gluing it to. Put on all your rivets (I usually do ten or twelve at a time), then go back over them and just give each one a quick, gentle press with your fingertip. The momentary pressure will help the glue cover the edges of the rivet (more durability) and the excess will come away on your fingertip. Wipe it on the back of your other hand and repeat until this batch is done.
I glued the pump off to the side next to the tank, still leaving a lot of open space for other models. Then I painted some superglue onto the base with a wide toothpick and covered the whole thing with coarse sand. Not modeling sand or anything clever like that. Just some gritty sand I found outside. There were a few small stones in it, too, which just add to the texture.

The pump’s hose is a short length of wire from a broken set of iPod headphones. The “patch” on the hose is made from dental floss. Just wrap it and tie it tight. The nozzle is a bit of plastic sprue with one of the circular bits drilled out.

Now, here’s a last clever bit. I took four disks from a 1/4” hole punch and used the 1/16” punch to knock a hole in the center of them. The four of them stacked on top of each other and the iPod wire fit right through the middle. This little anchor glued to the pump. Then I glued the nozzle in place with a big blob of superglue to create a puddle. If the Orks are going to have a fuel depot, you know it’s going to be a fire hazard.

And that was pretty much it. It was ready to prime.
The tank and pump both got a lot of Tin Bitz and Boltgun Metal. I freehanded a big Deathskulls logo one side with pencil and filled it in with Enchanted Blue. On the other side, where the jar was still a bit rough where the label had been, I painted it to look like a big patch of rust. The puddle got a few coats of Chestnut Ink.
Total cost (not counting paint, glue, or peanut butter)... zero.

Also, I’ve tossed up a link in the sidebar there for the featured anthology of the month. They’re not Black Library compilations, just other collections of fun stories from other sources. And, yes, I shamelessly admit I’ve got stories in some of them. This month’s is Cthulhu Unbound 2, which is a bunch of genre-twisting stories involving the Lovecraft mythos. If you’ve got a couple bucks to spare, check it out and maybe get some inspiration for the grim darkness of the future.


The Hell Blade Pt. III

Very sorry for the delay. The real world keeps getting in the way of my little toy soldiers. I blame editors and publishers. Well, I would except they pay me to keep quiet and write...

Anyway, at this point, the Hell Blade only needs one more thing before you can yell “Death from above!!” The engine. This flyer needs something to convince your opponents it’s not hanging in the air with magic. Well, maybe it is, but you don’t want them to know that...

Cut a piece of card 2 1/4” wide by 2” long. You want to do a series of scores on it 1/4” apart, parallel to the short side, so when it’s done your piece of card has nine sections measuring 1/4” wide by 2” long. That last section’s going to be a tab, so it’s probably better if you cut the corners down. Roll this piece, glue it on the tab, and clamp it so you’ve got an octagonal cylinder 2”long. With me so far?

Next, cut a few 1/4” and 1/8” strips that are three or four inches long. Wrap them tight around your X-acto knife, a round pencil, or something like that so they get a good curve to them. Now wrap them around your cylinder and cut where appropriate. Try to make all your seams on these strips line up, because you can hide them all under the Hellblade’s tail. One of these strips should be just over 1/4” from the end of the cylinder.

Now cut out six triangles as shown. Score them down the middle and fold. Glue each of these little “spikes” on the end of the engine (creased edge up), butted up against that one strip near the 1/4” mark so they end up with just a little bit hanging out over the end. Make sure you set them on the octagonal edges, not on the flat surface. This will help hide the angular nature of the jet exhaust. You only use six so you can leave a space at the top (where the seams line up) and make the whole thing fit under the tail better.

Helpful Hint-- If you need to cut out a bunch of triangles for spikes (for Chaos or Orks or whatever) try this. For the ones above, mark out a strip 1/2” wide, then break it down into 1/2” x 1/4” rectangles. Sketch alternate diagonals into the rectangles (left-to-right, right-to-left, left-to-right, and so on). Now you’ve got a row of triangles going both ways, top and bottom. Nothing gets wasted and each cut is effectively cutting a side on two different triangles. Make sense?

There’s your engine. It should butt up against the horizontal card inside the fuselage. I stacked up four discs from a 1/4” hole punch to make a set of spacers. These went from the top of the engine to the inside of the tail. Alas, unless you’ve got something really cool there’s no way to clamp this. So I just sat with it and watched an episode of The Simpsons while it dried.

The 1/16” hole punch gives me a few dozen rivets to scatter at key points. I’m a bit more conservative with them here than I would be on an Ork project. I found putting one every inch or so on the trim looks pretty nice. A few on the strips wrapping the engine look nice, too.

Helpful Hint-- If you’re ever in doubt about rivets, try marking where you want them with a pencil first. They’ll give you a good idea what things will look like, and one way or another the marks will be covered by paint.

I haven’t built it yet but the base is going to be the standard three CDs I’ve pushed a few times. Turns out this is pretty close to the same size as the Trygon/ Valkyrie base. Mount a 10” dowel on it, put some small stones on the base for scenery/ weight/ to stabilize the dowel, a bit of sand or grass and voila.

One bit of pure geekery. Glue a rare earth magnet inside the lower fuselage. You should be able to slip it in behind the guns, under the pilot. Get it as close to the Hell Blade’s center of gravity as possible (mine fit right between the port autocannons and that wooden toothpick). Glue a matching magnet on top of the base’s dowel, but triple check polarities before putting down one drop of glue! Now your flier can come off the base for transport or to be a wreck on the tabletop.

Two last little bits. First, I took a strip of cardboard that was about 1” x 6” long, rolled it up into a tight little cylinder, and slid it down into the engine. When the cardboard unrolled, it held itself in place. This gave the back end of the fuselage a bit more weight to balance it on the stand, and also made the engine and the cockpit look a bit more solid.

Second, I had a few small gaps in the canopy that were nagging at me. It hadn’t gone together quite right. Normally I wouldn’t mind the gap, so to speak, but the cockpit is the focus of attention so I decided to patch them and hide the work with a few more rivets.

Helpful Hint-- If you need to do a quick patch on a paperhammer project, just use plain old white paper. Trim it to the right size, make any folds you might need, and glue it in place with a generous helping of white glue. It’s not structural, but it’s more than sturdy enough for painting and general use.

Looks like explaining the details took longer than explaining how to build the flier itself, but that’s about it. If you want an air fleet for your Chaos army (and God knows dedicated Chaos players need all the help they can get these days), this is a nice inexpensive way to go. Two cereal boxes, some white glue, a few old CDs, a marble of green stuff and some bitz you can find cheap if you or one of your friends doesn’t have them already. Count in the magnets and the total cost is three and a half, maybe four bucks. When you figure in drying time for the wings, you could probably build one every weekend if you put your mind to it (much faster than I made it look here).
It’s still a work in progress, but there’s enough paint on it to give you a passable idea what it can look like. And remember, all cardboard except for the pilot and the autocannons.