I have been a bit behind on blogging but I hope to catch up over the next few days. I have been quite busy with work and projects on the weekend (and golf of course!). I also sent Buck Surdu some of these miniatures, and I did not want his first look to be on my blog. His trip to Costa Rica meant that I’d need to wait a week while the figures awaited his return and inspection (he is after all an Infantry Officer).
I wanted to wait to do this as he inspired this project. During an April conversation with Buck about my recent casting project to resurrect the 1977 Ral Partha “Rooman War Party” (01-044), he suggested that I was somewhat adept at making Quick-Sil molds and casting. Perhaps I should consider making “Space Roomans”? Intrigued, I pondered how to do this in a quality way. Luckily I have been getting good ideas about conversions by reading other blogs, such as Buck’s and Chris Palmer’s.
I started by searching eBay for a nice jewelry saw – as I thought this would work better than my Dremel for fine cutting of metal. I found one cheap, and then looked for a suitable sci-fi miniature that was worthy of conversion. There was a large lot of 38 resin figures from a Reaper Kickstarter that I got for $29 that included pulp figures and science fiction figures. I was taking a chance, but it worked out. Once the figures arrived, I looked at all of them for possibilities, and one stood out.
This figure was Reaper 80010, “Nova Corp Sergeant”, by Bobby Jackson.
I then looked for a suitable Rooman to convert as well. I did not have the heart to sacrifice an original Rooman, so I used one of my castings. There are two types, one with a shield on the front, and one with a shield on the side – and only the one with the shield on the side looked capable of conversion. I used the jewelry saw and an Exacto knife to cut the shield from the Rooman. I then cut the Rooman in half and removed his head (sounds brutal doesn’t it?). The Nova Corp Sergeant was a lot easier to cut being made of resin! I used the Exacto knife to cut off his head and carefully remove his legs, preserving his body armor. Simultaneously, I sculpted some bases to assist in my casting. These I made from Aves® Apoxie Sculpt modeling compound that I got in Bel Air, MD at a Hobby Shop that I found when I attended HARCON. It’s a modeling shop and not the gaming shop that Buck suggested to me, but my error proved fruitful as I found this product to be is much easier to use than Milliput. I have found that I need these bases to create better castings – the older miniatures had pretty thin bases that did not always come out when I molded and cast them.
After I had done my Dr. Frankenstein cutting, I drilled a small hole in the Rooman and the torso of the Nova Corp Sergeant, and pinned the two with a paper clip wire and super glue. This allowed me to get a proper angle between the two figures. Then, I carefully carved out space for the Rooman head, and it fit well in the armor. Lastly, after a 24 hour cure for the Apoxie Sculpt bases, I affixed the conversion to one.
The next step would be to create a two-piece mold using Castaldo Quick-Sil. I tried this time to create a better flow of molten metal via three channels made from pens and pencils – which worked great for gravity casting. I found that pointing the tips at the edge of the base worked well. I also used toothpicks for venting the mold and helping with flow. This, with some excision with my Exacto knife, made a very large plug at the top that would get all the mold filled by virtue of its weight.
I then mixed together approximately 66% tin, and 34% lead (probably some trace bismuth in there too), and melted the alloy to 560° F.
I tapped the mold on my steel-sheeted table after pouring, and employed all the safety equipment that I have previously described in this blog. As always, this is dangerous!
I must say that the final product exceeded my expectations. Very few of the molds failed to come out as desired which I attribute to my design above. I ended up with 26, and sent a lucky 13 to Buck for use in sci-fi games!