Irrational Number Line Games, LLC
Lighter Than Air / In Another World
Well, it's Christmastime, and that means lots of decorations, nick-nacks, and general folderol all over the craft and discount stores. And tons of it for grabs real cheap on the 26th! So, here are a couple of ideas for what to do with some of those round Christmas tree ornaments that seem to be for sale nearly everywhere. And, for a bonus, a couple of different ideas on what to do with the packing.
The bulbs, being spheircal and of reasonable size to manhandle, are just right for making hot air baloons -- a staple of both pulp and historical wargames. The more textured bulbs don't work for that, but they will be put to work as tv pulp scifi pods. And the form fitted plastic around them gives us some nice fodder for some more realistic sicif -- some deployable habitats and some organic pods of doom.
So, working on the hot air baloons, the first step was to score them, like peeling an orange, to make a seam where the baloon is sewn together. Since these will be evocative instead of physically realisitic, I ran stitches down the scores (puff paint - liquid latex used for t-shirt decoration). They are primed with a Krylon indoor/outdoor white spray paint (which is good for basecoating dissimilar materials). Then I selected colors and added insignia. The insignia are layered: I put down a background layer for the whole shape, then added sharp details with Sharpie, and finally filled in the spaces with paint. I ended up splooging over the edges a bit, so I had to go back and touch them up a bit with extra paint.
You can see that the scale of the balloons to the figures is not even close. Again, these are meant to be evocative, not everything to the same scale. Even for historical games you might want to go with this scale ratio, since figure and ground scale are often not equivalent.
The decorated ornaments don't work very well for balloons, but do make nice terrain pieces for campy scifi. With puff paint rivets, a hatch on top (which was made by pushing a piece of clay into a toy car hubcap for a reverse print), and toilet paper tube bases, these pieces look right at home with these guys.
For a little more realistic sci fi material, the packing shapes for the ornaments made these nice little tents. I only added some external frames (packing tape slices) and doors (gaskets from inside bottlecaps).
Or something a little more organic. These biopods just have puff paint veins and are covered with some talus scatter.
What says Christmas more than rampant consumerism focused on toys that will only hold a child's attention for a couple of days as a substitute for actually paying attention to your offspring? Nothing! That's What! :) OK, whatever. But at least there are tons of toys on sale and others that will be soon, some of which could make nice wargaming terrain. And others not so much so. The following tutorial focuses on one conversion, and gives some ideas on why this one works.
The first step after selection and purchase is to prime the toy. This is very important for plastic toys as they don't hold paint well. I highly recommend Krylon brand indoor/outdoor spraypaint. It bonds to nearly everything, and provides a uniform surface. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to paint two areas that should look the same, but don't hold paint the same way due to different underlying materials.
OK, so maybe there are a lot of things more frustrating. But just roll with that within the context, OK.
Basic painting techniques follow the priming. A base coat of main colors. A dark wash to fill in the nooks and crannies. Some drybrushing to highlight edges. The metallic surfaces were done by mixing regular old too shiny silver paint with a color (in this case, a spot of black). Don't mix them up too much and your brush strokes can give texture as well as coverage.
So what makes this a good candidate for terraining? Well, here are a couple of ideas to consider for your selections:
Here are a couple of close ups of specific details and how they work. Again, I feel this is a particularly robust piece, with a lot of what makes a good conversion (one that doesn't make you feel like you should have bought something else because you are working to hard to make it work) toy.
Hope this helps!