Friday, 31 October 2014

Windmills on my Mind Part 1 - Review and Construction

Today we're looking at something a little different to our normal fare of tiny plastic men. I'm starting to turn my attention to the ground they stand on too. Now, it would be sensible to start with the gaming table, and I am, but something arrived at the weekend that has me waaay to excited to wait.

This post was nearly titled "Round like a Circle in a Spiral" but that was waaaay to oblique.
The something is the excellent Tabletop World windmill and will be the start of a whole wee model model village. Charlie over at the Beard Bunker is already building a nifty town out of their larger dwellings so I'm working on a more rural aesthetic. Fields, farms, a windmill, the whole nine yards. Given that Tabletop World are based in Croatia, their exposure here in Blighty isn't all that great so I thought I'd do this project as a review/build log/tutorial doodad. Starting with review:

Caution, potential hyperbole ahead. I simply cannot praise Tabletop World's output highly enough. Lets go through the reasons why. First, the material: Yes, resin isn't my favourite (I think plastic is the natural material for wargaming) but this resin is superb. It's solid, strong, sturdy, a nice clean cream colour that helps to show off the detail even before you paint it and best of all the total lack of bubbles. They must be pressure casting as the quality is better than anything I've seen. Next; the casting method: I'll straight up admit, I have no idea, none, how on earth they keep their moulds intact. Almost everything they make is full of gorgeous deep undercuts to give that rich detail and cast in as few pieces as possible. Whole buildings are in two and three chunks. It surely has to eat the mould silicone. Finally we come to the real deal. The sculpting. These guys literally build their pieces stone by modelled stone. They don't carve mortar lines in, they build whole houses. Their wood shingles have proper wood-grain and chunks missing. There's even full interior detailing on most of their buildings (not the windmill unfortunately) including neat provisions in sacks and boxes.

Granted, their prices are justifiably a little higher than some similar things out there but the quality is a serious bump. If you see scenery simply as a means of blocking lines of sight then frankly, I'd look at MDF stuff, it's cheaper and it'll do the same job. But. If you are like us (by which I include the Beard Bunker crew) and think that lovingly painted and realistic miniatures deserve a lovingly painted and realistic landscape to fight over then they can't be beaten in my opinion. Good terrain tells stories just as effectively as well posed miniatures. Battlefields can be re-positionable dioramas that really enhance the game. It makes me so sad to see some of the tournament spaces in the world pitting fantastically painted forces over plain green mdf grass and cardboard box houses. I know there's a cost/effect criteria in effect there and the situations aren't comparable but there surely should be a middle ground. Anyway, enough of that. On with some assembly:

There really is only one job to do on this model, reinforcing the joins of the arms of the windmill. Normally when pinning there is the awkward task of lining up the pin holes. On something like this you can automatically line up the holes by simply pushing straight up through the pilot holes you've drilled already. Press the arm into position and then drill up through the holes you've drilled in the shaft and continue up into the arms. Hard to describe, hence, photos. Eventually the various bits will be pinned together with wire but for now I left it in sub-assemblies for ease of painting. I marked which arms match to which sockets as each will be in a slightly different place and you might as well get it right. Now, on to painting:

Having watched Charlie all but weep tears of blood trying to get these to prime properly with spray cans I figured another path needed to be found. See, those lovely deep cuts that make painting a joy make proper priming something of a nightmare. Owning an airbrush already I figured that the vallejo surface primer would be a good choice. I was right. Using the airbrush means that you can change the angles on the hop so you can cover all the cracks evenly. I still had to do two coats, one from above, one from beneath but the whole process took only about 12 minutes or so. Even better, from that 200ml tub of paint I used maybe 8ml of it doing the whole building. I'd have expected to use about a quarter of a can of spray paint. This way can save a bunch of propellant expense. Granted, you need a airbrush first but if you can keep it rolling through an equivalent ten cans of spray you'll pay most of it back. Plus it does other stuff. Probably not enough to recommend owning an airbrush on this alone but another reason I'm happy to have one.

While I had the airbrush out I thought I'd steal a march on the woodwork. A coat of Model Air Camo Black-Brown started the process nicely. When I've figured out what I'm going to use on the stones then I'll do the same. More in part two, where we'll take it from basecoat to finished and if there's time add the weathering, if not, heck, there'll be a part three :)


No comments:

Post a Comment