Dave over at Confessions of a 40K Addict has designed a stunning array of terrain templates for miniature wargaming, which are all free to download from his website. Over the past couple of weeks he has been running a terrain building competition based on his collection, which I was keen to have a go at. I am fairly confident with building natural terrain pieces, but the built environment is a mystery to me. I made a few terrible looking buildings in my earlier years but gave up on them pretty quickly!
Trolling through the list of downloads I was drawn to the Dawn of War Plasma Generator. I used to love playing that game and the idea of having a DoW themed terrain piece made me giggle on the inside.
This download came with a warning: Mechanicum Unapproved.
From what I could see the design would fit neatly together, but from reading the posts Dave made about the design, I got the impression it would need a bit of fiddling.
The first step of the modelling process required me to create a laminate of two card layers. I think Dave used three originally, but I was after material a little bit thinner so that I could cut it easier. Thankfully, we had a Rice Bubble box that hadn't quite made it to the recycling bin yet. I pressed the layers between two heavy chairs and left it for 24 hours.
After that, I transferred the template to the card and cut out all the pieces. The laminate felt sturdy enough but I could cut through it easily. The thicker pieces were cut out of some foam board, that I had left over from another project. Generally speaking I don't like using the stuff, but after looking at the texture I thought it may be able to represent roughly extruded metal well, which was a look I was going for.
Next I worked on the core. Originally, Dave used four pen casings to represent the four narrow cores of the DoW Plasma generator, but I thought I could throw in a little upgrade at this point. I have some large, screw top test-tubes from a cute confectionery shop in Sydney that would be perfect for a Thermoplasma generator core, which is what you get when you upgrade the Plasma generator in the game. I tinted the interior with Tamiya Clear Red and the help of a hair dryer, then sawed off the top half and added a cap from another GW kit.
I did some work on the base at this stage, installing an emergency heat-sink. I have used a homing beacon to represent a flashing light and siren that would warn people to move out of the way when the heat-sink was about to go online, which is powered by its own potential coil. The emergency venting conduit was made from bendy straws!
With that finished I was ready to assemble everything. I made one of the uprights removable so that the core could be inserted and removed whenever required; I had some LED shenanigans in mind. Once the structure was built I raided my bitz box for bits that could add some detail, such as the computer interface that would allow the generator to be controlled, extra venting, tools and skulls (MOAR skulls!). The control panel from the interior of a Landraider was ideal for this, though I had to carefully saw it into sections.
With 24 hours to go before the deadline, heavy amounts of teaching work and excruciating pain from a foot injury, this was about the time I started to despair. I was loving the project but seriously considered just putting it away. I gave it one last effort, sticking to my usual Dark Angels colour scheme. The control panel was particularly fun to paint; I made sure it had a big red button to represent the control for the emergency heat sink ;-)
In the final steps I added a couple Dark Angels decals and painted about 80 rivets to break up the green armour. It is only a detail that you see when have the thing in front of you really, but I was much happier with the look of the project after this. I also flocked the base, adding some dirt and rocks to represent the hastily broken ground and two laser cut ferns around the heat sink. Obviously they have been thriving in the slightly elevated temperature there, but will bear the brunt of any emergency venting!
Finally, with just three hours to go before the deadline (here in Australia, anyway), I rigged up some LEDs and installed the core for one final photo. At some stage my wife walked in and said "...it looks like it is on fire...", thankfully I didn't burn the whole thing to a crisp.
Overall it was a highly enjoyable project and I am looking forward to trying out some more templates, especially after seeing some of the other entries in the competition. If you get a chance, head over to Dave's website and check out the competition entries there, they are all fantastic. Even better, download some FREE terrain templates and build something for yourself!
I'll leave you with this last photo that my 4 year old sneaked while I was working on the generator. She has been fascinated by the whole process and has even started photographing her own artworks blogger-style. She took this candid shot whilst I was deeply engrossed with the kind of fiddling I was talking about before :-)
See you across the table,