Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kraag for a King - part three

This is part three of a multi-part series on the building of a mountain fortress or Kraag for the (soon to be) Great Martian King Antevaxx. The previous part, two point five, is here and the first article in the series is here.

 Where we left off:

I decided to live with the blobbiness as it gives an organic look much like a mud dauber wasp nest. I needed some household repair items so while at the hardware store, I picked up another can of foam and some primer. I built on what was already done and ended up with the picture above. 

Note that this is low expansion foam designed to fill gaps of about an inch / 2.5 cm. There are higher expansion foams available but I can't see using them for this kind of project - they would expand far too much. I had some foam left in the can so used it to make some random shapes and other terrain bits. I'll cover those another time.

So with the base complete, I gave the whole thing a shot of primer. Expanding foams can be very sensitive to UV light and will decompose into a crumbly mess. Given the pallor of the average gamer (myself included) UV exposure should not be a problem but one never knows. The primer I used was the same enamel based one I use for metal figures but the store was out of grey and I had to buy white.  After application, the primer stayed tacky for a good 24 hours. I was a bit concerned that being oil based it was eating the foam but in the end it dried properly. I have since used the primer on metal figures with the same result. It seems this particular batch just takes a while to dry. For future foam projects, I will look for an acrylic primer just to be sure.

I was happy with the general form of the Kraag, but the texture was too smooth for my liking. In the space 1889 canon, Mars is depicted as having once had a high level of technology but now is slowly degrading into barbarism. One of the technologies lost was the ability to fuse sand and soil into a strong glass like building material. So, building off the blobbiness of the foam, I wondered what such a material would look like after being blasted by wind driven sand and dust and studied various images of weathered glass and ceramic. Or - I needed some cheap texturing materials for my minis and figured I would use the same on the Kraag. I decided to go with a sand based texture and again while picking up home repair supplies, grabbed 66 lbs / 30 kg of sand for about $6.  

For the first pass, I used a brush to apply a 50% mix of PVA and water to an area of the foam. Then I spread sand over the wetted area and shook off the excess. This process was repeated until the whole Kraag was covered.

As you can see the results were patchy but promising. The PVA mix tends to run off the high spots giving nothing for the sand to stick to.  I let this first phase dry while I had a think. Digging around the gardening supplies, I found an old plant sprayer. I loaded this up with the PVA mix and went back over the Kraag. Then I laid down more sand, the end results shown in the pictures below.

The Big Picture
Up Close
The spray method worked much better. There are still a few bare spots but I think I will leave these as less worn areas. The surface is a little fragile yet and may need another application of PVA. Be sure to clean the sprayer well after use or the internal gubbins will be glued solid by the PVA. I am very happy with the work so far and Antevaxx will be by to inspect once everything has dried up. The next step will be to apply some colour washes over the sand.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Pilgrimage to the Lead Belt

The first couple of weeks in September were a little busy what with the family heading over to the UK to attend the Asylum Steampunk gathering and do some exploration of the touristy bits of England*.

We took in the usual sights in Lincoln and Nottingham, took a Ripper tour in London and of course spent a day at the Tower. However, the highlight, at least as far as this blog is concerned, was my trip to the lead belt a.k.a. Nottingham and parts close by. Whilst the ladies were off getting their hair coloured and pampered and other lady like things, my friend John was good enough to drive me around Nottingham to visit a number of establishments.

Caliver Books

The first stop was at Caliver Books. Located in an industrial complex tucked into the corner of a residential road, it didn't look like much. A little poking around was required to find the front door but entry was effected. The staff had just returned from a show so there were neatly stacked boxes everywhere. Frankly I was overwhelmed. Books, books and more books, rules, reference material, and boxes and bags of figures as far as one could see. Somehow a cup of tea made it into my hand and I was able to take a moment to adsorb it all.  One of the ladies putting away show stock suggested I might want to volunteer to assist. If we weren't on a schedule, I might have done. I received a warm welcome and highly suggest a visit if you are in the area.

I came away with DBMM army book 2, Saga, I Ain't Been Shot Mum and Forlorn Hope, thus starting a commitment to three new periods.

Foundry Miniatures

The next stop was Wargames Foundry  more commonly known as just Foundry.  Google maps threw us for a loop so a little extra driving was required - thanks again to John.  We pulled up at yet another non-descript  door in an equally non-descript industrial building. A push of the bell brought us into another warehouse space. Again after show restocking was under way. Where Caliver was filled with books, Foundry was filled with rack after rack of miniatures. I was able to more or less keep to my list picking up a platoon's worth of Home Guard (currently kicking myself for not buying a company)  and a pack of Victorian Heliographs. Then the nice lad helping us out mentioned that the Victoriana line was 50% off. I bought rather a lot only being limited by the spectre of overweight luggage charges. We were also told if we wanted anything that was out of stock, just ask and it would be cast up on the spot. This is service!  I was asked what I was playing and I mentioned I was just starting ECW. Somehow some engineers, musketeers and civilians made it into my bag along with a Foundry rules and modelling compendium.

Foundry has been reworking their shipping prices and is bringing a large number of lines back into production. Definitely worth a visit to the shop or on-line.  

Warhammer World

Our last stop was Warhammer World. I was a big fan of WH Fantasy in the early days but never swallowed the 40k pill. Unlike our previous two stops, there was no doubt we were in GW territory. From the 40k inspired building design to the FV432 APC converted into a Space Marine Rhino out front it was very obvious we were in Warhammer heaven. The galleries were full of beautifully painted troops - so nice I would never risk them on the table. I even saw some of the old figures I used.  The shop was extensive and reasonably full of starry eyed young gamers. We were not there for one of the rumoured half off / half off sales which is a probably good thing as we may have been crushed in the press.  Next to the shop is an extensive gaming area with many tables set out with beautifully sculpted terrain for all of GW's games. Beyond that was my target: Bugman's Bar. I had been told that the Bugman's Game, only available here, was a must get so I picked that up.  After looking at E-bay prices, I should have bought many more. I also got a little something for a friend.

Not being a fan boy, it was the least interesting of the three places. However if you are a GW fan, and there is nothing wrong with that,  you will not be disappointed.

More posts in the future as I get rules read and my new toys painted up.

*Wales, Scotland and Ireland (north and south) will have to wait for a future visit. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kraag for a King - part 2.5

This is part two point five of a multi-part series on the building of a mountain fortress or Kraag for the (soon to be) Great Martian King Antevaxx. Part two is here and the first article in the series is here.

Just a quick update. I wasn't going to do this part right away because I didn't think I had any spray foam. However, tucked away on the back of the shelf was a partially used and now expired can from some renovation work two years ago.  A little work to clean out the nozzle and I started to play:

The effect is more Castle Greyskull than I hoped and more foam is required.  I am thinking about using a knife to cut away the blobbiness and give it a more angular look. Whatever the rock profile, I will be covering it with sand to give a rougher finish.

More to follow.

Part three is here