Landing/ Teleport Pad

I’ve mentioned before that my girlfriend has a large tract of land down at our local community garden.  When we go shopping at the 99 Cent Store, she indulges my quests for cheap scenery and I help with some of the garden stuff she looks at.  Every now and then they overlap.  Like when I found a bunch of three-inch plastic army men (five to a pack) and decided we needed some to protect the garden.  Well, once I’d made a few small conversions, anyway...

And then there was this time, when I found something right there in the garden section while she was looking at herbs.  This is a plastic saucer to go under flowerpots so they don’t drip when you water them.  They come in a couple of sizes.  This one’s the 10”, but there was also a two-pack of 8” ones and a three pack of 6” saucers.  My brain started working with these immediately and I ended up grabbing the largest one.  I also grabbed a tube of “Fix-All Adhesive” glue because it works on plastic and rubber.  So this project is going to cost all of two dollars.

I flipped the saucer over, peeled the label off the bottom, and cleaned it.  I didn’t want any little pills of paper left here, so I actually put this in the sink and used some soap and water on it. 

Once it was dry, I put a few threads of regular super glue in the indents from that large “10” at the center.  Arguably, you could keep it as extra detail, but I wanted a large, flat center on my landing pad.  Once that dried I used a few last drops to fill in low spaces and gaps.

Helpful Hint – It’s tempting to use the super-cheap glue I just bought, but it’s too thick.  It’s never going to settle down and smooth out, and I’d just end up with little wrinkles and peaks in the center.

I cut a bunch of card strips at 1 1/8” x 8 3/4” (your own measurements may vary depending on your saucer) and folded them into consummate V’s.  I set these down inside the saucer and glued them with the adhesive  This was the most time consuming part of this project.  The glue needs three hours to set and a day to cure completely.  So, I glued them and set it aside. It’s a long time, but it makes the whole thing rock solid.  I can actually lean on it and it will hold up my weight.

Another Helpful Hint – While the V’s were drying, I put a piece of paper across the top of them and set a book on top of it.  If one or two of these curl up, the landing pad will never sit flat, so it’s important to keep them all in position.

At this point, this piece is effectively done.  I primed it black and gave it a very light drybrush with some Boltgun Metal paint (Leadbelcher for those of you who’ve already moved on to the newer paint colors).

There’s a bunch of ridges and valleys on this thing that make for fantastic detail.  It’d be very easy to paint concentric circles, or a few of the small “buttons” as lights.   I used a yellow base and did white over that to make it look like a bright light.  It's big enough that I could clean up any messiness with a black magic marker. You could also extend the lined all the way to the center to make it look more like a cross-hairs target for landing, or use all eight of the radiating lines in bright red to give it a Chaos feel.  You could even do the little ridges/ tubes on the outer ring in a glowing/ electrical color scheme and say they’re force shield projectors, allowing you to use it as a raised/unfurled Skyshield.

Alternately, with a slightly different color scheme and detail-pattern, this would make a fine teleport pad.  You could probably go down to the 8” saucer and still fit a full squad of Terminators there.  Paint it black and green, focusing on the buttons more, and it could make a very passable Necron array of... well, probably some kind of death.  Necrons are big on that.

All for just two bucks.


Dark Vengeance Update

Hey, just wanted to mention how this conversion attempt went off and show how I did it.

So, as I mentioned before, I think a lot of the figures in the Dark Vengeance set are really gorgeous.  However, their excessive detail and solid, closed-off poses make it very difficult for anyone except very experienced modelers to do a lot with them.

One exception to this is Veteran Sergeant Raphael  He’s got both arms out away from his torso.  He’s also one of the rare models in this set who has his head as a distinct piece.  Raphael comes with his right arm and head attached by a thin tube.  So I decided to see if I could turn him into a passable Fallen Angel sergeant/ aspiring champion.

I dry-assembled his torso without the head-arm piece and discovered Raphael has a standard head socket.  So all I needed to do was cut the head off right where it joins the tube and I’d be able to put on any head I wanted in any direction I wanted. 

I went with one of the retro-looking Chaos heads (I think it’s a modified Mk 5  helmet, but I’m sure opinions vary).  This worked in a couple different ways.  It’s “historically” correct for what a Fallen Angel would probably be wearing.  It’s a visual link to the studded greaves and powerfists of the terminators.  It also gives the implication of direct a tie to Chaos, or at least to the Heresy.
Helpful Hint— Most of you probably know this, but for the newer hobbyists, turning the head can completely change the dynamic of a model.  I turned this guy’s head away from the sword and toward the pistol.  Now he’s not gesturing, he looks more like he’s poised to leap into action.

The hand swap was another easy one.  One cut and I traded the modern plasma pistol for one of the retro Berserker ones.  The grip looks a bit odd on this pistol, but I’ve always loved all the tubing along the length of it.  While I had the berserker bits handy, I also added a holster on the figure’s hip.

As a last touch, I took my hobby knife to his chapter logo.  I made two thin gouges—trying to avoid the wings—and wedged them together.  One cut came from slightly above, one from slightly below.  I want the cut to be distinct, but if it looks a bit rough, that’s okay, too.  Now all my Fallen Angels wear a broken sword on their shoulder pad.

And there you have it—Aspiring Champion Beleth of the Fallen.


A Few Thoughts on Dark Vengeance...

I don’t usually do any straight reviews or comments on Games Workshop projects, but the starter set is such an insane bargain I thought it was worth a quick mention.  After all, being cheap is what this whole blog’s about...

On the Dark Angels side you’re getting two Headquarters units (figure they’re probably averaging $20 each), a tactical squad ($35), a Terminator squad ($50), and a bike squad ($35).  So with just this one side of the equation, this box set saves you about sixty bucks.  If you went for the deluxe set with the chaplain, that’s another $20 fig for just ten dollars more--$70 dollars off individual prices.

Coming at it from the Chaos angle, there’s a headquarters, we’ll call the Chosen another tactical squad (just for easy reference), the cultists (if they’re priced like Guardsmen, there’s $30) and the Hellbrute.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the Hellbrute would be a dreadnaught- or flier-sized kit with all the options, so there’s about $46.  Around one hundred thirty dollars altogether. 

So no matter which way you look at it, there’s a fair argument that you’re getting one army at 2/3 price and another one for free.  Plus the free rulebook.  And dice.  And templates.  Really, this is close to $350 dollars worth of stuff you’re getting for just under a hundred bucks.

That’s a pretty amazing deal.


Many folks have commented that Dark Vengeance is an oddly unbalanced set.  A bunch of cultists vs. Space Marines and Terminators?  I’d point out that it’s also unbalanced towards Headquarters units.  If you bought the deluxe version, you’ve already got more Dark Angels HQ units than you can use in a regular game (barring some interesting Force Organization amendments in the upcoming Dark Angels codex).  Buying two sets isn’t going to help this problem.  You’ll just end up with a lot of models to sell on eBay.

Not to mention the fact that these are firmly Dark Angels models (or arguably a close successor chapter).  With all the iconography, there isn’t a lot of flexibility unless you want to do a ton of remodeling... probably enough that it won’t be worth the savings in the long run.  Dark Vengeance doesn’t just lock you into an army, it locks you into a very, very specific subset of that army.  It is to the overall gaming experience what the snap-together models are too customization.

UPDATE: The head and hand swap
were pretty easy on this model.
I'll put details in another post.
Speaking of which, these models are pretty solid.  There’s not going to be a lot of customization without a lot of serious work.  At best, you might get a few hand/weapon swaps.  I think it may be possible to do a head swap on Veteran Sergeant Raphael (we’ll find out for sure later this week).  If you have some accepting friends, you could paint all the Terminators silver, make their various “wings” gold, and call them Grey Knights, but you’d still need to figure out some close combat options...

In my own, they’re going to be added to my one squad of Fallen Angels that I made many years back (all metal models in robes).  With these models I’ve essentially got a small army of these black-armored heretics to use as an allied force for Chaos games.  And I know my friend Marcus—a long, long-time Dark Angels player--will appreciate getting to fight against an assembled host of the Fallen.
So, if you like Chaos and/ or Dark Angels, this set’s a fantastic bargain.  Just be aware there isn’t much else you can use it for.


Thunderbolt Fighter, Part VI

Well, I have to be honest.  I’m done working on the Thunderbolts.  I’m very sorry for those of you who’ve been following along.  Please let me explain why...

When we last left off, I’d built the engine components and was getting ready to install them in the secondary fuselage.  But then I had a realization.  There’s nowhere for this component to attach to the main fuselage.  There’s just the card-thin edges of the engine housings and that’s it. 

I needed to add a tab inside the housing before installing the engine.  So I cut a piece of card 1 1/2” square and scored it about halfway through.  Then I  bevelled the sides a bit, and glued it to the bottom of the engine housing.  This gave me a tab to connect the fuselages (fuselagi?).  I did this for each engine on all three planes.

And this is where my frustration peaked.

I have to be honest, I got frustrated a lot with this template.  Anyone who’s been following this geeky blog for a while knows that I don’t mind tweaking a model.  In some instances, I’ve openly changed things and/ or adapted to cover gaps in the design.

This Thunderbolt just had a few too many design gaps, though, and it just got more and more annoying as I had to figure out how to make things work that weren’t explained in the template.  How to make the rear engines sit in the fuselage.  How to fill in all the gaps around the canopy.  How to attach the canopy.  How to attach the wings to the secondary fuselage.  How to attach the secondary fuselage to the main one.  Also, because the main fuselage is just one large, elaborate piece, it’s very difficult to make it all line up straight.  All three Thunderbolts ended up crooked in slightly different directions.

I’ve often praised Jeff Vaughn for the simplicity of his designs, but I think this is one case where it’s just too simple.  There needs to be more to this.  Some cross-pieces and sections that lock together to form much more solid shapes rather than leaving gaps that allow for far too much shifting and bending in the assembled model.

Part of me wants to finish this with lascannons like the ones I built for the Baneblade and autocannons based off that design.  But I already know I’m not going to like the end result.  That frustration’s just been building and building and it’s making me dread working on this.  I don’t want to leave anyone hanging, but--at the same time—the whole idea of this is that it’s supposed to be fun.  At this point I've spent six weeks working on a three page template.  That's not fun.

I’m just going to have to build something else to take out Matt’s Warlord Titan (which, rumor has it, is getting some upgrades).

A few last words to conclude...

If you’ve got the patience for it, and you’ve got a lot of  experience with Paperhammer and scratch-building,  I still think it’s possible to make a decent Thunderbolt from this template.  If you’re aware of all these issues from the start.  For everyone else, though, I think it’s just going to end up as a pile of crumpled cardboard in the corner.

Give me a couple of days and I’m going to show you a really cool, fast-and-cheap landing pad (or teleport pad, depending on your preference).  And then some super-cheap buildings.  And then some relatively cheap Grotesques.


Helpful Hint

Hey, real quick.  It’s that time of year again.  When stores put away all their summer goods and start laying out their seasonal aisles for...


Which means if you go hit your local discount store right now, you’ll find tons of stuff to add onto larger projects or use for scenery.  Last year I found a great plastic skull for a dollar that became a wonderful set piece my lovely lady and I use all the time.  There are skull shot glasses that can make great columns or further scenery pieces. A few creepy cameo necklaces were hung on almost two feet of 40K scale chain.

I even saw a few necklaces that had tiny skulls and bones instead of beads—easily a hundred of them.  For three or four bucks, you could cover a one-foot square tile with bones and skulls.  That’s a Khornate demon world or maybe the Bone Middens of Commoragh.

I’ve got some super-cheap scenery coming up in the next month or so, but I thought I’d give everyone the heads up now.  Go check it out.


Thunderbolt Fighter, Part V

Okay, engines, canopy, tail, and wings.

As a last step before I launched into the big assembly, I added a crosspiece to the canopy in the back, right under the knot of my added  bow tie.  It’s about 7/8" across—the same width as the front of the canopy—and hopefully it’ll make the whole piece a bit more solid.  There are two small tabs on it as well.  None of it has to be really precise or esthetically pleasing as this is all interior/ structural stuff.  As long as it does the job, it’s good.

This Is Important – Okay y’know that tab at the front of the canopy?  The one I decorated with small card discs?  Because of the pieces I had to add to fill the gaps in the cockpit, this tab is too wide to fit now.  Rather than spreading out, its sides need to run straight down.  Depending on how you placed things, it could even angle in a bit.

I coated my little interior bracket with glue, and the inside edges of the fuselage as well.  The rear engine slid in, and I worked it into place by reaching through the cockpit and keeping one finger inside the engine itself.  It took a bit of wiggling but I got it in place.  Then I held the whole thing solid for a minute, letting the glue dry as much as possible.

As soon as I was sure the engine wasn’t going to slide or pop out of position, I grabbed the canopy.  I folded the front tab up under the canopy and then glued the underside (the one I didn’t decorate).  I also glued

In a perfect world the canopy should’ve fit down between those two gap-filling pieces.  Alas, this is not a perfect world, or a perfect template.  So the canopy sits a little high, which means it has to sit a bit more forward (so the tab stays flush against the front of the cockpit).

I slid a pencil through the top of the canopy to press the tab against the front of the cockpit.  I also kept checking the postion from different angles to make sure the canopy stayed lined up.  If it’s in the right position, there should be a thin gap between the edges of the canopy and that section of the tail behind it (yes, this gap’s supposed to be there).

So all that’s done.  Finally.

Next I cut out all the fins and braces.  Like the wings, the big question was how to get these solid on the fuselage.  Because of the braces, I couldn’t do tabs this time. What I decided on was lengths of trim to widen the fins and tail a bit.

I cut a 1/4” strip and ran it along both sides of the tail along the base, cut to shape on the front edge.  Then I did the same thing on the fins, top and bottom.  To make sure these stayed straight, I wrapped them in wax paper and let them dry under a few copies of 14 (how’s that for a shameless plug?).

Helpful Hint – If you just give it a minute to dry, the base of the tail is wide enough at three layers thick that it will stand very well on the brace.

Another Helpful Hint – It’s tough to get a perfectly straight tail because all of these fuselages are a bit warped one way or another.  Rather than measure it, I eyeballed the tail from a few different angles.  It’s more important that it looks right than it is right, if that makes sense.

I did the same on the fins.  Keep in mind these run off the back edge, so be careful with the glue.  Again, I eyeballed the level.  Another few minutes and these were done.

As a final bit of detail there, I added a few purity seals.  With the high risk being a fighter pilot involves, it’s not too hard to believe the Ecclesiasty would bless those brave souls.  And it’s really easy to believe the Mechanicus would bless their flying machines a hundred times over.  I just put a couple on the two basic squaddies, but our fighter ace got a quartet of them.  Placed carefully, they hide some flaws and also help sell movement.

This made the main fuselage pretty much complete (except for the lascannons in the nose).  Now it was time to move onto the secondary fuselage.  As before, I decided to do a bit of quick detail first.

Looking at the Forge World model, there are two circles on either side of the secondary fuselage which look suspiciously like gas tanks.  I made two 1/4” circles with my hole punch and added those on. 

There’s also a scoop on top of this section, right in front of the canopy.  I didn’t want to build the whole scoop, but I still wanted the idea of it.  I cut a piece of card 1” by 3/8” and centered in that panel of the fuselage.

Now for the engines.  The next big element here are the side engines.  On each one, one section’s going to fit inside the secondary fuselage and extend just a bit out the front.  The other section goes inside the first one and extends back past the cockpit.  I need to scratchbuild them, but it’s not like I haven’t done it a few times (LINK) here before.  The real challenge is making them match the exact size of the holes in the secondary fuselage.

For each engine, I cut a piece of card 3 3/8” x 2”.  This got scored at 3/8” wide x 2” long sections.  The last piece, as usual, is the tab, and I trimmed the edges on it a bit.  We’ll call this piece the front.

This piece turned out to be a hair too big, though.  Just enough that it wouldn’t fit without significant reshaping of the hole or bending of the cylinder.  After careful re-measurement, it turns out this piece actually needs to have sides that are 11/32” wide for the cylinder to fit.  And I can be honest--I was not looking forward to making eight measurements and cuts on that scale for six different engine components.

However, I realized if I just glued the 3/8” cylinder one panel smaller—making a seven-sided cylinder with a tab two panels long—it would fit fairly well.  I wrestled with this decision for a bit. I knew I was giving up some smoothness in that circle to keep from doing the extra, eye-stressing work.  In the end, I decided to make the seven-panel cylinder work, but either should fit if you choose to go with the finer detail.

Next was the inner section.  For each one, I cut a piece of card 2 1/4” x 4”.  This got scored into 1/4” wide x 4” long strips.  The last piece, as usual, is the tab, and I trimmed the edges on it a bit.  Because of their length, these were a bit more work to glue together.  I pushed my clothespins in as far as they'd go, then worked them out to make sure the seal was still tight at the ends.

Now that the front pieces were dry, I worked on them a little more.  I cut a few strips of card 1/4” wide and about 2 13/16” long.  I wrapped them tight around my hobby knife (you could also use a large marker or round pencil or something like that) so they got a good curve to them.  Then I wrapped one around the cylinder and trimmed it (if needed) to make a flush join between the ends.  The seam should be on the underside of the engine, if the cylinder looks better from one angle than another.
I cut one strip to fit just inside the cylinder, too.  That’ll give the sense of a thick, heavy case around the engine and help add to the illusion that it’s rounded.  If you decide to do this, make sure the seam where the strip comes together is towards the top of the cylinder.  This strip was 1/4” x 2 3/8”, trimming if needed.

And that’s a lot for now.  Next week, the secondary fuselage gets added and I build some weapons.