Play ball!

For months, people have been trying to get me into playing Guildball. I have always resisted, mostly because of the humongous pile of unpainted miniatures I have in my basement, hidden away from my wife. But then my birthday came. And because they like me so much, some of my friends decided to give me a serious start on an engineers team. Because that’s what friends are for, right? To show you that resistance is futile when it comes to new games. :)

So, I cracked open the box and started to think about what I wanted to do with them basing-wise. I had seen Trent Denison’s amazing Morticians online and they gave me an excuse to go wild on these bases.

At a warmachine tournament a few years ago, my opponent had given me a sample of a new product he was experimenting with. It was a sheet of mdf, with cogs and gears laser-cut out of it. He sells these nowadays, together with lots of other cool bases, models and templates at Templates and Widgets. I didn’t have any projects where I could use these for at that moment, so they ended up somewhere in my basement, next to those hidden miniatures. When thinking about bases for my engineers, these came to mind so I dug them up.

First model was Ballista. Mainly a lot of experimentation with materials and components.

Then came Salvo.

The third model was Velocity. I actually managed to take some pictures during the build for this one.

I started off with a single pilar on 2 sheets of cork. This will be the pillar that the model will be put on. There’s a brass rod in there to provide some structural strength. The pillar is a piece of balsa wood, that was scored with the tip of a sculpting tool.

I wanted to put a big cog on that pillar, so I sliced off 3 rings from a plastic tube. You can find these tubes in all kinds of diameters in dedicated hobby shops. Over time, I have collected a pretty big collection of these, all with different diameters, so I could just choose one that fitted snugly around the balsa pillar/axel.

The first ring was put in the bottom (this would be the bearing in which the axel can turn). The smaller ones went on either end of the cog. As you can see, I cheated a bit and put the cog in between 2 parts of balsa, rather than trying to drill such a big hole into the cog.

Next up were 2 extra cogs, to drive the main axel. I used a flat piece of balsa to attach these to, but the rest of the process was much the same. I used a bit of brass rod to align all the pieces and to provide some strength to the whole thing.

Then everything was put on the base, with the gears nicely touching.

I used the same process to build up a kind of gear box. All I used at this moment was balsa wood, plastic tubes and some wooden things (I really have no idea how these things are called) I found in my local hobby store. They are usually meant for the rigging of model ships. 

Then I took out the cardboard. I really like working with cardboard because it is easy to cut, glue and fold. It also has the right thickness to look like metal sheets once painted. I first cut a strip from a normal A4 sheet and then cut that strip to size, so I cut glue it to the side of the balsa.

The white band at the top is a piece of plastic rod that was bent and glued in shape, with the ends nicely touching each other.

This is where it gets a bit crazy (if I can believe my wife). The best way to get a realistic, detailed look to something like this is rivets. Plain and simple. The cheapest way I have found to make rivets is by cutting them from the smallest plastic rod that I could find. Every single rivet is cut from this rod with an X-acto blade. It is important to try and get them all the same widt at this moment, because it will look better. Not so easy, because we are talking a width of about 0,25 mm.

Obviously, you can’t hold these with your hands, so I usually pick them up with the tip of my knife. A tiny drop of superglue and you can glue it in place.

And then it gets even more insane. I discovered a sheet of nuts and bolts in my hobby store, which I couldn’t resist. You cut off a bolt form the sheet and then you stick it to your model. Yes, it is a bit freaky, but I love the result.

I don’t really like painting cork. It is hard to get an even coat on it and it is even harder to make the cork look good. So I took some Grey pumice from Vallejo to put on the cork. Basically, it’s a mixture of tiny bits of pumice, liquid resin and glue (I think). You put it on lightly with a sulpting tool. When it dries, it leaves a great sandy texture that is pretty easy to paint.

And that’s the base done. There is still an open rod protruding form the base at the top. That’s where I’m going to put a ball, but I’m waiting for my next order for these.

I did think a bit ahead while building these. I know how difficult bases like these can be to paint afterwards, so I made sure the bases could still be taken apart in some pieces, to allow easy access to all parts.

I hope you all like the end result. If you have questions, you can always reach me on twitter on @tmsmnns