Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gelatinous Cubes and new WMLP issue #4 release

Greetings fellow RPGers. It's that time again. We've finished issue #4 of Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols and it's ready to order! It's jam packed with old school/retro goodness. Check out the website for details on what's inside and ordering info. Also, check out this page to see our special offer!

Well, I've been grinding away on a major project for many months now. It's been progressing quite nicely but every time I think, "How much longer 'till it's done?", the answer always seems like it's still a few months away. Anyway, nose to the grindstone on that one, but in the meantime this project took precedence. See the end of the post for details. For now, I present to you.....


Many moons ago, I started making these clear, resin cubes which was quite fun and frustrating at the same time. Trying to get these buggers free of tiny bubbles is the frustrating part. It's really not that easy to do. Despite that, they're quite fun to make if you have a bit of patience especially when applying the last coat of resin.

To start, take a piece of clay and mould it to the shape that you want your cube to be. Come to think of it, it doesn't even have to be a cube. You could make a Gelatinous Triangle if you wanted. Here's a picture one of my clay cubes:

My clay cube.

Once the clay has hardened, make a rubber mould of it. Put the cube in a leak proof container. I built a small, square container out of Lego and it worked quite well. Mix up a batch of rubber mould making compound. The stuff I used was High Strength 2 silicone rubber from a company called Alumilite. Thoroughly mix the base and catalyst in a 10:1 ratio and try to minimize the air bubbles in the rubber by mixing it slowly. Once it's well mixed, pour the liquid rubber all around the clay. Once the mould has set (at least 24 hours), remove the Lego pieces and then remove the clay cube from the rubber mould. You should have a cavity in the mould that you can pour the clear resin into.

A rubber mould of the clay cube. 

I tried a few different resin products each giving different results. The most popular one is called Envirotex Lite and it works quite well. Most of the products I tried consist of two parts; a resin and a hardener, that need to be mixed together in a 50/50 ratio. Like I said earlier, the hardest thing is to mix the two parts together without introducing small bubbles in the product. No matter how slowly you mix the concoction, eventually small bubbles will appear and they are darn near impossible to get out. That aside, the process is simple enough. Pour the resin in the rubber mould and let it sit for about a day to harden. The cube that comes out should be hard as a rock (if you mixed the two parts correctly), but it won't have the glossy finish. To finish the cube with a "wet look" shine, mix up another small batch of the stuff and wait a while for it to thicken up before applying it all over the cube. If you apply it right away, the product will just run off the cube and make a nice puddle on your work surface. Be sure to cover the sides and top of the cube. You may have to keep coming back to touch up the parts that drip off, but eventually the resin will be thick enough to stay where you put it. 

This is a quick overview on the process. In reality, there are many fine details to get the cube to look decent. Trust me when I say there's a *lot* of trial and error to get one to look good.

What really got me into doing these cubes was seeing them with items inside the resin, as if it's been cleaning the dungeon floor or just made a meal out of some some poor thief it caught. There are a few ways of embedding items inside a cube. One way is to simply do multiple layers and put the items in place between each pouring.

I made the cube shown above a while ago for a game I ran with some friends. I decided to put some skeleton "parts" inside (a leg, arm, and skull) along with some debris that the cube collected from the dungeon floor (moss, stones, etc). I think this was one of the first cubes I ever made. I poured multiple layers of resin and in between each layer, I placed the skeleton pieces. I then mounted it on a piece of Dwarven Forge dungeon terrain and added debris on the floor tile. As you can see, I screwed up the bottom layer. Notice how cloudy it is? I failed to mix the resin and hardener thoroughly before I poured it in the mould. Oh well. You learn from mistakes, right?

Here's a picture of the cube in a cave tunnel during the game I ran. It trapped the party in a dead end corridor. Heh, heh, heh, how diabolical! 

For the next cube, I wanted to put a whole skeleton inside and make it look like it was really suspended in the gooey blob. Again, this one was done by mixing and pouring the resin in two layers with the skeleton in between.

This one worked out pretty well. To make the skeleton look like he's suspended in the jelly, I slowly warmed up the arms and legs with a small flame then bent them downward and slightly twisted his arms outward a bit. The original mini was holding a sword, but I replaced it with a small piece of tube made to look like a scroll case.

Some of the most recent cubes I made have a creature half in and half out (like he's trying to free himself from the goop). I really like how these look and this is one of my favourites:

The figure is a WotC plastic mini. I chose to use the Terror Wight partially because of the way the arms are shaped. This cube involves a bit more work to then the others. To start, prep the figure by cutting off the round base and touching up the bottom of his feet with some matching paint. No need to get too picky here as it won't be that noticeable once it's in the resin.

Next, cut the creature in half right around the waist. I find that heating up the blade of an Xacto knife makes it a lot easier to get through the plastic. Once that's done, heat up a piece if thin metal (a pin works well) and push it into the waist area of the bottom half just far enough to hold in place. After that, you'll need to stick the pin through the mould from the inside, making sure that the feet are facing up (unless you want it to be upside down when finished).  

From this point, the directions are the same as above, except once the resin has set, pull the pin out of the rubber with a pair of needle nose pliers BEFORE trying to remove the cube from the mould. It might be tough to remove, but it'll eventually come out. There are other ways of doing this, but this is the easiest (although you'll eventually poke a lot of holes in the side of the rubber mould and it'll eventually be no good anymore).  After de-moulding the cube, glue the other half of the creature in place and cover the entire thing with a final coat of resin for a glossy finish! 

If you'd like a chance to win the cube with the creature inside (shown below) simply order a copy of Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols issue #4 before the end of February to be entered in a random draw (the other minis and terrain are not included). Click here for more info. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

I love the drip 'o goop on his head!

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Dwarven Forge Set! Hellscape II

Another great set is available from Dwarven Forge: the Den of Evil Hellscape II. Looks like they they're trying a new way of selling this set. The main set has only eight pieces in it and costs $99 USD. Other sets at that price point offer more pieces which makes this set more expensive on a cost per piece basis. Sure the other sets pieces are smaller, but some have 16+ base pieces like the Ruins Set. Hey, I'm not complaining - just stating. Like that's going to stop me from buying it anyways. Heck, I ordered all the new pieces as soon as I got the newsletter!

Here's a pic of the pieces in the main set:

And some closeups of a couple of them:

The "new thing" that DF is doing is to offer some additional pieces that you can buy "a la carte". This allows the customer the ability to buy whatever pieces he or she wants. And who wouldn't want all of them? They're fantastic! These extra five pieces range in price from $12 to $39 USD.

Hellscape to Den of Evil conversion piece

Hellscape to cavern conversion piece

Hellscape straight wall with stairs

Hellscape plumes

Hellscape gate

As always, these pieces look great and I can't wait to get them in my hand to get a closer look!