One of the best things about tabletop wargaming is assembling your fleet/army. Cracking open that clam shell pack of new miniatures is always fun. But sometimes you open something new and there are some tricks, or hacks, that can really help you get the great results you want. I'm going to share ones that I've found help with the new Jovian Chronicals fleet scale figures and base stems.
Part of my job as production is to fit the parts and verify them before I put them in a mold. The second part of that task happens once I've test spun the mold and now can start assembling a test figure to verify if all the parts came out correctly and if any adjustments need to be made to the mold or parts. With the new Jovian Fleet models now available the issue was mostly if all the detail resolved properly and if there was shift between the two sides of the mold. With details that small a slight shift can cause a models to fail quality checks.
The issue that came up early with the fleet scale figures was how to mount them. The current flying stands as we receive them from the manufacturer come with a single stem per flying hex base. Clearly we didn't want the fleet scale figures to be mounted one per base as that would defeat the purpose of making them small enough to be units. Luckily I had put some piano wire into a mold a year before so Phil and Rob were able to work out a solution with a trident stem that was both flexible and pose-able while remaining reasonably strong. A small bulb was fashioned onto the open ends of the stem and a matching cusp fitted onto each model.
The cusp was chosen for putting on the models for two reasons: first if the bulb had been on the model it may have interfered with the details and second putting the cusp on the model means that if you want to drill a small hole for a wire then there is already a place to seat the drill bit to make it easy. We understand that some people may prefer to replace the trident stem with a gauge of wire so we wanted to make that an easy option.
Basic tools you will need for assembly:
Hobby knife – For trimming flash and scraping.
File – For removal of heavy chunks of flash from where the metal entered the piece and fine cleaning.
Clippers – To remove vent flash and adjust the base stem.
Cutting board – Don't cut onto a good table, it's a fast way to be unpopular with management. Also it's useful to make sure that spots of glue don't land on a good surface.
Super Glue – There are lots of different kinds, try to get some that dries very fast and comes with a very fine tip for detailed application.
Professional Grade Scuplting putty – I use ProCreate (TM) which is a high quality two part epoxy putty which is grey in appearance when the two binary parts are mixed. Don't use lower quality 'filler putties' like green stuff, milliput, or plumbers putty.
Pin Vice and wire (optional) – for enlarging the cusp or drilling holes for wire connectors. It won't be used for this build example.
The first and most important step if to lay out your figures to verify you have the right mix for your model. I'm going to use the Fleet Scale Syreen as my example. Most of the Fleet scale model kits come with two commanders and four troopers so make sure you have one commander and two troopers. Commanders normally have a plasma lance to identify them but with the Syreen the only difference is that the commander has slightly swept back shoulders:
Clean the models with your hobby knife and file paying particular attention to details on the top of the models where it will be seen the most.
The second step is to glue your trident stem into the plastic base using super glue. The foot of the stem should fit snugly. You can trim the base a bit if it won't go in with a gentle push. If the base seems too loose you can use a pair of clippers or pliers to squeeze it very gently at the bottom to thicken the width. Be very careful not to over adjust the part. You should end up with a stem in a base:
The next step is to pre-bend the three ends. The middle one goes forward and the two side ones get angled to the back and side. Place your finger or thumb where you want it to bend to ensure the bend is not too sudden which can weaken the stem. From the front it looks like this:
The next step is to mix a very small amount of putty, a piece about as big as a sunflower seed ~0.5cm. I make three small blobs of putty by pulling off some putty from the main piece and rolling it into balls using my fingertips. These small pieces should be about the size of sesame seeds or smaller. I apply a small dab of super glue to the end of each stem and then transfer one small ball of putty to the tips of the bulb using the tip of my hobby knife. The first time it can be helpful to have extra small balls of putty ready just in case you drop a piece on the ground. Super glue forms an instant bond with the grey stuff, in fact it bonds so well that it can't be adjusted easily so make sure you get that blob on there where you want it the first time. The putty acts to give the superglue on both metal surfaces something to mold to and grip and removed the need for a drying period or support from the model:
The picture shown above has some pretty big blobs of putty. I trimmed them slightly before attaching the models.
The next step if to use the super glue applicator to put a small amount of super glue in the cusp on the commander model. The commander goes on the most forward facing stem. Don't worry about the pose too much as that can be adjusted later once the putty has cured and the glue is dried.
I like to put the commander on first as this model will be the focus point of the unit. I hold the commander in place for 4-6 seconds till it is secure. Then I add glue to the other two figure's cusps and set them in their positions. I prefer them all facing the same way to give a sense of motion in a shared direction.
I've experimented with a number of positions of the stems and this one is both balanced and makes the maximum of all the figures reachable for priming and painting. There is an argument for painting models before you mount them but with figures this small having a base you can hold is a superior choice.
This technique of putting a tiny blob of putty between parts is one I've used for a quite a while and vastly reduced my frustration when the superglue takes longer to cure than my patience.
As indicated on a Facebook comment last month (May 30th, Wave 4 preview) I am currently working on an alpha rules set for a Jovian Chronicals Fleet scale game (a fast paced D6 based game, but not using the silhouette rules). It will be going out to some early readers this month with an eye to releasing it as a beta game in the fall. The kickstarter rewards packing will be starting in earnest within a week or two and then most development will be slowed over the summer with packing and Gencon being the big priorities.
So pick up some Jovian Chronicals and get some figures ready for play. The solar system is about to become a battleground!