Flight Stands (Update)

     The flight stands worked so well I went through a frenzy of gluing magnets to my aircraft.  Here is another Raiden creation, a Mirage 5 or Nesher in IAF service.  I drilled out the hole and glued the magnet flush with the belly.  Once painted the magnet will be difficult to see.  Two of these models will be finished in IAF colors and an additional pair in Argentine colors for Falklands/Malvinas campaigns.

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     Some unpainted Raiden Skyhawks received similar treatment.  Six Skyhawks were prepared, two will go to the IAF, two for Argentina and two for USN service.

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     My existing IAF models, a pair of Super Mysteres and a pair of Skyhawks, both types manufactured by Raiden, were given the treatment.  Lighting on this shot of the Super Mysteres shows I need to pay more attention to cleaning the mold/flash lines, oh well.

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     For these shots I used one tall stand and one short stand for a sort of parade formation which looked even cooler on the table. 

     To balance things a little I made sure all three Egyptian MiG-21s and the three SU-7B, again from Raiden, have magnets.  Only one MiG is painted and was featured in the last post so no pictures of the others yet.  Then I started playing around with the few remaining magnets on my German Bo-105 helicopters from GHQ.  I like these little guys.  I must have ten or twelve of them half with the new brass rotor blades and the other half with the old plastic disc rotor.

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Of Flight Stands and Rare Earth Magnets

In my continuing quest to clear the decks of all the old, lingering, unfinished projects I’m going to show you how I make flight stands for 1/285 scale aircraft.  In the past I have used flight stands from various manufacturers and each has it own unique limitations.  Of those commercially available my least favorite are the AC Bases from CinC.

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The one pictured here is the medium base but the others are similar.  These stands feature a criss-cross pewter base and a pewter support.  These pieces are not strong enough to stand up to more than static display of your miniatures.  Even careful transportation and gaming use will cause these to bend and unfortunately your aircraft will crash.

The next rung up the ladder of quality is the Aircraft Stand (catalog # AC40) from GHQ.

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These stands have a thin steel wire which is inserted into a criss-cross pewter base.  Much like the product from CinC, in my experience the pewter support legs are not strong enough to stand up to gaming and transporting.  Additionally, the tolerances of the hole where the wire inserts into the base makes getting the wire to sit vertically is a challenge.  Large or heavy models will also tend to distort the hole in the pewter base over time.  On the plus side the thin steel wire is both strong and unobtrusive on the gaming table.  The miniatures look less like models on sticks than with the CinC option.

My favorite bases are the Flight Bases from Ral Partha although these can be a challenge to find.  These stands use a hexagonal pewter base and a thin steel wire as the support.  One of the cons of these stands is the hexagonal base can be too small for large heavy models making them prone to tipping.  The examples I have date from 2000 so there may be newer products available.  Here is what they look like in the package.

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In the past I used one stand per aircraft but today’s project will allow me to make a number of flight stands that will be interchangeable with all the aircraft in my collection.  I could accomplish this by not gluing the aircraft to the existing bases but where is the fun in that?  So, break out the tools its time to get to work!

In concept the new bases will have a support which will have a rare earth magnet glued to the end.  For the uninitiated the rare earth magnets are those tiny but powerful magnets that can be very difficult to separate.  The magnets on the end of the flight base will couple with a magnet on the belly of the miniature holding it in place while gaming but allowing you to separate them for storage and use fewer bases overall – at least that’s the plan.

To start with I decided to use nails of the same diameter of my magnets to act as the support for the aircraft stand.  Any steel nails will work fine I choose these in two lengths to represent helicopters and fast movers flying slightly higher.

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In order to accept a magnet on the end the pointed tip of the nail has to be removed.  My Dremel tool with cutoff wheel made short work of the nails.  Wear safety glasses!  Here’s the nail after tip removal.

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The next step is to prepare the base to accept the nail.  As mentioned above the Ral Partha bases are made to accept thin steel wire so the base has to be drilled out to the diameter of the nail.

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Most machine made nails are not quite perfectly flush where the shaft and nailhead meet for this reason the underside of the pewter base needs a slight countersink drilled out to accommodate the nail head.  Alternatively, you could machine down the shaft of the nail but since pewter is softer than steel I stick with reworking the base.  Here is the slight counter sink drilled out on this base.Image

Apply glue to the shaft of the nail at the nailhead juncture and slide it in place in the base.  Set aside to dry.  I prefer to use gel style CA or crazy glue.  The gel style has a slightly longer set time which allows me to correct placement errors.  It also works quite well as a gap filler.

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Once the glue on the nail/base has set the rare earth magnets can be attached to the tip of the nail.  Again, I use gel style CA glue for this.  Set aside to cure.

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Tip: Glue one magnet to the tip of the nail but keep a second magnet attached to the first to make sure the polarity is aligned. Mark the top surface of the second magnet a a reference mark.  This marked surface will be glued to the belly of the model.  If you drop the second magnet while attempting to glue it to the aircraft the mark will tell you which side to glue to the aircraft.

Here is the Egyptian MiG-21 that will be my test case.  I’ll have to remove a bit of the belly fairing on this model to attach the magnet.  Take the second magnet from the flight stand that was prepared earlier and glue the side with the reference mark to the belly of the aircraft.  If this model wasn’t already painted I would have drilled a hole in the belly of the aircraft to recess the magnet.  I didn’t do that here because I didn’t want to scratch the paint or decals.

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And here it is with magnet glued in place.

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And a couple views of the MiG on its stand.  The MiG-21 in these pictures is from Raiden Miniatures.  The decals are from I-94 Enterprises.

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All that remains is to paint the stand.  I managed to make eight of these in a little over an hour not including the time taken up by photography.  With this type of flight stand you’ll only have to make as many stands as you expect to have on the game table at one time.  Just make sure all the magnets that are glued to the aircraft have the correct polarity alignment with the magnets on the stands.

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Life is elswhere

So my discussion about Green Stuff inspired me to try a project of my own.  I’ve cleared my calendar of all the things I have to do and its time to do something I want to do.  Thinking about what would make a good first project I suddenly remembered one that has been languishing for four or five years.  I had constructed what would be a war monument intended to be part of a 1/285 scale city park diorama.  I was inspired for that project by this…

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The full tutorial for how this scene was constructed can be found here.  My monument featured a rectangular base, laminated pedestal and a GHQ 10mm Napoleonic figure on horseback.  All that was lacking was some suitable plaque/medallion on the sides of the pedestal.  Something like this in concept.

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In the past I’ve tried Super Sculpey, plastic card, and even considered trying to etch brass.  None of these produced a satisfactory result.

Green Stuff, however, looked very promising.  I went to the local art store yesterday and they had some Milliput two part epoxy putty in stock.  Excellent! I thought about what the medallion’s shape should be.  I watched videos on YouTube to learn more about working with epoxy putties.  I was all ready to finally finish this project.

Then I went to the storage room.  I can’t find the model.  In my last move I separated most of my 1/285 stuff from my 1/2400 ships.  1/285 stuff went to storage and the naval stuff came with me.  Somehow, I thought the monument was in the bits bin that came along with my hobby tools.  I haven’t found it yet.  Perhaps this project will have to wait another couple of years…

I have an idea…

  It usually starts with something simple.  Today the subject is Green Stuff.  I was talking with a friend who is a closet sculptor.  I think he believes most of his co-workers would stop talking to him if he came out of the closet.  You see men of a certain age are not supposed to play Dungeons & Dragons.  Actually he doesn’t play D&D he plays Call of Cthulhu and sculpts most of his own Great Old Ones, but CoC is a pretty obscure reference in this day and age.  [Full disclosure – I have played CoC in the distant past and I am a closet fan of H.P. Lovecraft but I can’t say I’m active in the genre at all.]

  Anyway, he was explaining his most recent creation and mentioned needing to go buy more Green Stuff to complete the project.  I have heard of the stuff over the years but never tried it myself.  At the risk of showing my ignorance I asked him to explain what it was and how it worked.  I’ll admit i was emboldened by the fact I knew his secret life and would threaten to out him to his co-workers if he even snickered at my ignorance.  As I found out, and you may know, Green Stuff is a two part epoxy putty.  One part is blue, one part is yellow.  Mix together until the compound is green throughout and mold or sculpt as desired.  It eventually cures into a solid model of whatever.  Cool!

  The other thing I will admit is that as he described to me how it works and what can be created with the stuff my eyes sort of glazed over and I stopped listening to him.  I was already off on my own tangent imagining what I can create.  Maybe some U-boat pens, or micro armor truck cargo, or a capsized ship hull, or a Maginot line fortification…  Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.  I need to go and see if the local hobby shop has some Green Stuff.

 

 

Kitbashing

My kitbashed version of the Skorpion

One of the things I’ve done over the years when manufacturers have been slow making the obscure models I need to round out particular units is to kitbash by own.  For the uninitiated kitbashing involves taking an existing model and modifying it to represent a different vehicle or ship altogether.  Kitbashing can be as simple as swapping parts with another kit or it can be a very detailed process of cutting, reshaping, and adding structure.

The vehicle in the picture is a Skorpion minelayer from the Bundeswehr.  This conversion was only moderately complicated.  The basic vehicle is an M548 transport from Pfc-CinC a miniature manufacturer in Minnesota.  The back of the model is cut down and then rebuilt to the proper contour using Evergreen Plastics card stock.  The mine launcher devices are trimmed down multiple rocket launcher rack from a GHQ miniature pack.  A full “how-to” description will be a future feature on the blog.  Interesting side note GHQ manufactures miniatures across town from Pfc-CinC.

For the sake of comparison here is a photo of an actual Skorpion in action.  I’m pretty pleased with the way this conversion turned out.  I’ve made a dozen of these conversions over the years and either traded, sold, or gave most of them away to fellow gamers.

A real Skorpion in action