This is Not a Test: Hirst Arts Consoles

Hirst Arts Machinery Joseph McGuire, the creator of This is Not a Test, recently launched a Kickstarter for a hardback copy of the rules. The Kickstarter is going gang busters and you should definitely jump on board for an updated, physical copy of this excellent independent game.

The Kickstarter inspired me to get stuck into some work on my small TnT scenery collection. I ordered a bunch of Hirst Arts molds a year ago for sci-fi terrain, and have cast them up several times since, so it’s time to build something.

Hirst Arts Machinery First up is a set of free-standing control consoles which were inspired by some Space Hulk tables I’ve seen on the Hirst Arts forums. These are meant to represent some kind of futuristic industrial grade control system for some kind of factory floor. They’re thrown together from a few casts of a single Hirst Arts machinery mold, and were quite fun to build. They’re a little chunky compared to the Pig Iron Productions figure next to it, but that works as they’re meant to be industrial scale. They were painted with house paints and the good old Marmite technique. This works just as well on plaster pieces, provided they’re well sealed with the first coat of paint, and you’re careful not to get them too wet while scrubbing.

Hirst Arts Machinery I’m also working on the machines these consoles are supposed to be the controls for. This will be a small set of larger based pieces also built from Hirst Arts. They’re meant to represent generators or some kind of turbines, and will effectively be long pieces of linear hard cover for This is Not a Test. In the mean time, here’s one of the consoles in my Mantic red brick terrain from earlier.

This is Not a Test: More Mantic Red Brick Stencilling

Mantic Red Brick I’m still slowly working my way through my Mantic Red Brick box, adding terrain to my This is Not a Test collection.

This is another stencilled piece inspired by a corporate logo, which was largely borrowed from Geof Darrow’s ‘Hardboiled’ graphic novel. In the background of his densely laden artwork Darrow messes around a lot with big US corporate logos, and this one caught my eye.

The stencil was cut in two parts, the outer shell shape and the inner shell details. Unfortunately it didn’t come out as clearly as I’d hoped due to the rather old rattle can of Tamiya Desert Yellow I used. A lot of hand painting was required to fix up the blurred edges of the shell, and the ‘SHILL’ logo was hand painted afterwards. Fortunately the floor varnish I use for cheap weathering blends down the handpainting once it goes over the top.

Mantic Red Brick Rear For a little variety the rear of the ruin has also had a small section of ruined floor added with balsa wood for a sniper’s perch.

This piece is the last of the larger pieces I’ve constructed from the Mantic box. There’s still a lot of terrain for me to paint in there, but it’s mainly waist high ruined corners and wall sections, as well as scatter terrain.

I still can’t believe was fantastic value this box was from Mighty Ape. A box by itself it can cover probably half a 2′ x 2′ table. Hmmm, I guess I should have bought two boxes in the Mighty Ape sale!

This is Not a Test: Mantic Red Brick Stencilling

Nuka Cola Stencilled Red Brick I’ll admit it, I suck at airbrushing. It’s probably not helped by the fact I only own a cheap compressor without a regulator, and an even cheaper Chinese knock off airbrush. At any rate I very rarely airbrush because it’s always a fraught affair, with depressing watery looking results. However since I’m still assembling and basing Mantic Red Brick terrain for “This is Not a Test”, I wanted to add a little something to one of the larger, blank brick walls in the set.

One of the inspirations for This is Not a Test is the Fallout series of video games, so I decided to borrow some of their imagery. Everybody loves the refreshing taste of Nuka Cola right!? The first photo above shows you the finished, stencilled artwork. The stencil was draw by hand on a piece of A4 paper and then cut out with a very blunt Xacto (I should have changed the blade). The main wall was painted the same way as the rest of the Red Brick terrain I’ve built.

Nuka Cola StencilThe stencil was then attached to the wall with low tack painter’s masking tape and blutack. The blutack was rolled into tiny pinhead sized balls and slipped under the tricky parts of the stencil that wouldn’t lie flat against the wall. Namely the central parts of the larger letters like the ‘N’ and ‘C’. A little more blutack was used to mask out the centre of the ‘o’s and ‘a’s which I’d cut out of the stencil.

The whole mess was then surrounded by a plastic shopping bag which was fixed around the edges with more masking tape. I then took it all out to the garage and sprayed the stencil with Kilrust vehicle white metal primer – because that’s the only white spray I had to hand. After drying overnight, the bleed around a few edges was tidied up by hand and the letters over-painted with a little Vallejo “Iraqi Sand” and pure white mixed together. It’s hard to see in that top photo but I couldn’t resist adding a ‘TM’ marker by hand down in the usual bottom right corner. The wall was then finished up with brown tinted floor varnish over the top and the whole lot was matt varnished with Army Painter “Anti-Shine”.

Nuka Cola Stencilled Red Brick Rear I’m pretty happy with the end result, and it really wasn’t too much work to add something visually interesting to the large blank wall. I might try cutting another stencil for some more Hirst Arts based tanks and pipes I’m painting up as well.

If you’re wondering why the sign says ‘Queen St’, that’s because I live in New Zealand, where every town or city of a reasonable size has at least one ‘Queen’ or ‘Victoria’ street in it. Finally here’s the back of the terrain piece with an old, headswapped GW Necro Scavvie for scale.

Tutorial: Post Apocalyptic Terrain with Mantic Red Brick

Mantic 20th Century Brick This tutorial describes detailing and basing a set of Mantic “20th Century Red Brick” terrain. Mantic Games produce these plastic terrain kits for a variety of their games such as Deadzone and Mars Attacks, and Mighty Ape stock them locally.

These kits are great value for money, and come with the pieces already removed from their sprues, with a bag of clever connectors which you can use to snap them together without glue.

In 15 minutes you can put a whole box together and create a collection of terrain ready for a game. The kits really shine though if you spend a bit of extra modelling time on them, which this tutorial will cover.

Step One: Dry fit a wall section and find a base

Take the Mantic Red Brick sections and dry fit together the terrain you’d like to build. Don’t glue anything yet though, because it’s easier to work on the separate parts as we go. For this tutorial I’ve put together a simple ruined corner from three pieces. For the base I’ve used a section of 5mm MDF which has been cut with a jigsaw and sanded down by hand. The straight edges on the MDF have also been sanded back so that they will fit against the sloped bottom edge of the Mantic walls.

Step Two: Fill the connector holes with a texture stamp

Green Stuff and Mantic Brick Walls The Mantic connector system is clever and allows you to build a variety of buildings from the same basic pieces. One unfortunate side effect of the system, however, is that there are visible connector holes all over the assembled terrain. To address this, we’ll patch the holes that aren’t filled with connector pieces. The easiest way to do this is to make a texture stamp, using green stuff and a little olive oil from the kitchen.

Smear the olive oil on a part of the wall to keep the putty from sticking, and then press a large pea of green stuff firmly against that area. After leaving it to set overnight, the green stuff should be easily removed and the olive oil can be washed off. I also cut notches in the set texture stamp to make it easier to align with the brick texture on the wall parts.

Mantic Brick Hole Textured To fill each hole, take a little mixed green stuff and push it into the hole, using either a wet sculpting tool or your fingers. You want to get the green stuff smooth, and as flat as possible against the wall. If you find you’ve put too much in the hole so it’s overfilled, remove it and try again otherwise you’re likely to end up with a bulging patch which is harder to paint.

Wet the green stuff in the wall, and then carefully line up the texture stamp and press down with reasonable amount of force. If you’ve lined everything up and the green stuff is wet enough, you’ll be able to lift the stamp away and find a nicely textured section covering the hole. You’ll probably have to tidy things up a bit with an Xacto knife or sculpting tool, particularly around the bevelled edges of the wall. With a bit of practice, you should be able to patch each hole in a couple of minutes! Once again, remember to leave the green stuff overnight to set.

Step Three: Cover the wall edges and corners with plastic card

Mantic Brick Wall Plastic Card Once everything is patched and set, glue the wall sections together with polystyrene glue. You might notice there’s still obvious gaps between the connected wall sections and on the corners. The next step is to hide those with a bit of cut plastic sheet or styrene. Mighty Ape stock “Evergreen” styrene sheet which is what I’ve used here. At this point I’ve also cut the broken ‘glass’ out of the original windows, as I plan to replace these with cut blister plastic in the finished piece.

To cover the corners, I used a piece of thicker Evergreen rectangular rod which has been cut down and lightly sanded for texture, before being glued flat over the corner join. It’s a quick and dirty solution but works well to hide the corner seam. To cover the joins between the flat wall panels, I trimmed some strips off a piece of 1.5mm Evergreen sheet, and then cut them down and glued them in place on both sides of the wall, into the triangular space made by the wall seam.

Step Four: Pinning the wall to the base

Mantic Brick Wall Pinning Now those seams are hidden, attach the wall to the MDF base by drilling three small holes through the bottom of the wall with a pin vise (or similar). Two of these holes are visible in the base of the long part of the wall in the photo. The tricky part here is you’ll have to drill the holes low enough that they can be continued into the MDF base behind the wall. I then pinned the wall to the MDF base using some cheap 0.9mm garden wire and a bit of superglue, using the Blu Tack method which I’m described on my blog in the past.

Mantic Brick Wall Pinning Here’s another photo showing how blutack can be stuck on the base and then wet slightly to guide the position of the wall; just press the wall against the blutack to show the position of the holes, then remove the wall carefully, before drilling holes into the MDF base at the points where there’s obvious nubs of blutack. Doing it this way means the holes in the base will properly align with the holes in the wall. Remove the blutack and then put everything together by gluing sections of garden wire through the wall and into the MDF with superglue.

Step Five: Detailing the base

Mantic Brick Wall Rubble Now the wall is built and firmly attached to the base, improve the plain MDF base with some simple detailing. I keep a mixture of beach sand, kitty litter and Woodland Scenics Railway Ballast handy for instant rubble. Using watered down builder’s PVA the mix can be glued around the bevelled edge of the base to suggest exposed ground underneath the ruined corner.

A simple trick when gluing rubble down like this is to apply PVA first, scatter the rubble over the base, shake off any excess, then take a large brush and some more watered down PVA and dab it liberally over the glued down rubble. That will help the PVA from underneath to “wick up” through the sand and small stones, gluing everything in place firmly (which is what you can see in the photo).

Once the PVA is dry, wait overnight, then start building up the base with a cheap, flexible plaster. I use Polyfilla for this, which comes in a tube with a handy plastic scaper attached to the back. The Polyfilla can be applied in two layers using the slightly wet scraper. The first layer covers the MDF base, and some of the glued down rubble. Polyfilla dries pretty quickly, so you can usually work on the second layer after a couple of hours. The second layer creates a smooth final surface. It’s easy to get Polyfilla on the walls while you’re applying it, but just clean it up with a wet brush while you work.

After the second Polyfilla layer has dried, take a sharp sculpting tool and Xacto knife, and cut and score the edges of the Polyfilla to try and make it look like cracked, ruined concrete. Dried Polyfilla is fairly easy to work with and cuts nicely. After carving the edge, I sanded the whole surface with a 120 grit sandpaper just to give it bit more texture for painting.

Step Six: Paint

Tutorial Final Plain Here’s the painted terrain piece. I’ve used several different products to paint it as follows. To seal everything, the brick work and base was primed with an Army Painter ‘Dragon Red’ spray can, another excellent product that Mighty Ape stock. Dragon Red is a rich, deep colour which is a touch too bright for real bricks, so it can be toned down considerably by lightly drybrushing a variety of browns over it, working from a dark earthy brown, up to a light tan which you can see on the edges of the bricks. The trick with drybrushing is to use a large brush and to drybrush at a 45 degree angle rather than straight up and down or side to side. The window frame was painted with Vallejo Game Colour acrylics, with a couple of layers of quick highlighting. I didn’t bother trying to paint the Mantic connectors any differently from the wall as I noticed they blend in nicely anyway.

The brick wall and window frame were further toned down by painting with Wattyl ‘Kauri’ Satin Polyurethane floor varnish. You can use an ink wash, but hobby ink is fairly expensive so I tend tosave it for painting figures, and use cheaper products from the hardware store for terrain. The varnish collects nicely between the bricks too, and has the added bonus of sealing the paint and making it harder to chip.

The Polyfilla base was painted in simple grey tones mixed from cheap student’s acrylic paints, with a few lighter layers drybrushed up around the edges. The rubble was painted with the same paint used to drybrush the bricks, and then the rubble and concrete cracks were washed down with watered down Army Painter ‘Strong Tone’ ink wash. Once everything was dry, it was varnished lightly with an Army Painter ‘Anti Shine’ Matt spray can. This is mainly to flatten down the shine left on the wall from the floor varnish, but also to seal the base further.

Tutorial Final Decorated Finally, to replace the plastic ‘broken glass’ I’d cut out from the original wall, some old blister plastic was trimmed, lightly varnished with the Army Painter Matt spray, and then painted with some thinned down AK Interactive ‘Dark Mud’ Weathering enamel wash. The idea here was to try and make the jagged glass look filthy. The painted glass was glued into the window frame using PVA, which dries clear and won’t add any frosting to the blister plastic.

Here’s the same terrain piece with some added props and a couple of 28mm figures on Games Workshop bases for scale. As you can see, the Mantic terrain provides an excellent base to create and build great terrain for a number of different game systems such as Bolt Action, Moderns, or Post Apocalyptic gaming.

This a Not a Test: 28mm Ruined Modern Furniture

28mm Ruined Sofas Here’s a set of the sofas I cast a couple of weeks ago, but in ruined form. These were made by taking a resin cast of the original, intact sofas, cutting chunks out of them, building them up again with green stuff and re-molding them.

This set were cast in Ultracal 30, which is a nice hard plaster that captures detail well and doesn’t effect the RTV molds I use, unlike resins which tends to dry out then tear up the molds after only a handful of casts. They’ve had feet glued on them, made from cut styrene sheet and were painted up with cheap student acrylics. The figure for scale is standing on a Games Workshop 25mm base.

I’ll probably paint up a few more sets and use them as scattered soft cover, or as a base for make-shift street barricades perhaps.

This is Not a Test: 28mm Modern Furniture

28mm Scale Modern Furniture It seems I’m on a bit of a ‘This is Not a Test’ bender, so it’s time to start putting together some simple terrain for it. TnT is a post apocalyptic game, so ruined buildings and the refuse of 20th century living seem appropriate. Mighty Ape recently had a sale on a bunch of wargaming stuff, and I picked up a box of Mantic ‘Red Brick’ scenery for a very good price. The terrain from this boxed set, combined with my existing Hirst Arts mold collection should be enough to cover a 4’x4′ TnT table.

However one thing I was struggling to find, was a good supply of 20th century 28mm scale furniture and the like. As I’m trying to improve my sculpting skills, I tried whipping up some of my own. Here’s the first set which is a simple sofa, love seat and comfy chair. They’re posed here on lumps of blu tack, with a couple of converted old Necromunda figures, on GW bases for scale. They’re on blu tack because I plan on adding feet to the casts of these masters for a bit of a height boost.

They were constructed from cheap, builder’s epoxy that sets rock hard in 5 minutes. The quick set time means these were each built up in layers. Cushions first, then a base, then the back and finally the arms were added. Then the epoxy was filed back and patched in places with grey stuff where I’d left tool marks and the like. I’ve already cast a couple of sets of them in a good hard resin and they’ve come out quite nicely. I’m currently modifying the first set and adding more detail with green stuff to try and make ruined furniture that looks slightly more post apocalyptic. I also have mad plans to try and create a 50’s ‘Fallout 3’ styled fridge, TV and oven next. I might have to dig up the molds for my old Pulp luggage as well.