Operation Mancave begins. Phase 1

Over the last year or so, my space inside the house has been “re-purposed”.  The birth of two granddaughters, one from each son and attached spousal units, meant I needed to give up my hobby room and turn it back into a bedroom for visitors.  Most of my hobby stuff went into storage.  A little I worked into the garage so I could work in there when temperatures permitted.  However we were packing a mess o stuff in the garage.  In addition I had installed some steel garage cabinets to house by glass painting supplies.  To say the least it was a bit crowded.

IMG_1854 (1) IMG_1855 (1)

A single fluorescent shop light and several incandescent lights made up my lighting.  No heat or cooling except for a small space heater and a fan.  My glass painting was curtailed because if the humidity gets about 60% the paint does unpredictable, but usually bad, things.

So at Christmas break I secured the necessary permission from the household overlord for a true conversion of the garage into a mancave.  Operation Mancave began with getting quotes from various contractors. These ranged from $7500 to $13,000.  The low quote actually came from one of the more established area contractors so I signed on the dotted line.  I arranged for a POD to be delivered for on site storage. It showed up on January 21. IMG_1861

A couple of good hard weekends with the sons and the mess above has now become this:


Contractors show up on Monday February 1 and Operation Mancave begins step 2.  The final vision has the steel cabinets installed again, the large 4’x8′ table is getting a fresh coat of paint and wheels.  Bookshelves from IKEA will line the wall opposite the cabinets and house my miniatures and books.  A fridge, tv and AC/Heat unit completes the picture.  The concrete floor will get a coat of epoxy paint, the walls get insulation (yay!) and several ceiling LED light fixtures will make it more usable.  I still have to share space with the toolbox and some household cleaning supplies but those should not intrude too much.

Hopefully I am moved in by Mid March.  More pictures as the project progresses.

My first head swap

The vast majority of my 54mm AWI figures will be plastic.  While this approach allows me to build units cheaply, it does not provide much variety in the way of units or specialty troops.  That is where All The King’s Men comes in.  They sell a wide range of AWI troop heads in different headdress. I placed my order and within a couple of days a small box of heads showed up on my doorstop.  Today I tried out my first head swap.  An exacto knife performed a quick decapitation of an Armies In Plastic AWI officer  and within a couple of minutes the boring tricorn hat head was replaced with a Highlander bonnet.  The ATKM heads are a bit larger than the original but once painted and put into a unit I don’t think it will stand out too badly.  I need to work on the neck area a bit in future  swaps.  When held at arm’s length the issue is not as bad.  The little stick coming out of the neck area is the head’s ponytail which is in line with the body’s lapels.  I will need to work on bending it into a more natural position in the future.
head swap 01 head swap 02 head swap 03

Using latex caulk for roads and rivers

After reading some posts on The Miniatures Page I decided to try my hand at making 3″ wide roads using latex caulk.  A quick trip to Lowes found DAP white paintable caulk for a little less than $1.50 a tube.
DAP latex

My first step was to draw the road shape onto parchment paper.  If you are not familiar with parchment paper it is similar to wax paper but more non-stick.
Latex terrain 01

Using a caulking gun I piped a mess of caulk onto the design and used plastic paint spatula to smooth it out.  Finally I used the edge of the spatula and a chopstick to texture the latex to give it the semblance of ruts.
Latex terrain 02

One tube allowed me to create three items.  My first piece, the crossroads is unnecessarily thick, closer to 1/4″ thick.  Had I made it the thickness of the latter two pieces, around 1/8″ thick,  I probably could have made a fourth piece.  The crossroad is 9″ end to end and the other two are 7″ and 18″ long.
Latex terrain 03

I used a piece of newspaper under the parchment paper to help wick away some of the moisture from the underside.  Once the tops were fairly dry, about 4 hours, I used the spatula to lift the pieces off the parchment paper and turned them over to help the underside dry. The two thin pieces were dried after 12 hours, the crossroads, being thicker took 24 hours.  I used an exacto to slice off the extras outside the lines and the square up the ends.

Painting was done with a brown craft paint, washed with a Future black wash, then finally drybrushed with a lighter brown.  I painted the edges green and then laid down a line of glue.  I pressed some flocking on top of the glue to create roadside vegetation.  When dry, I will hit the whole thing with a spray of clear matte to help seal it and take off the shine.
Latex terrain 04

As a first trial I think the experiment was a success.  When I get my garage renovated I will set up longer runs and more varied pieces on my work table.  A case of 12 tubes runs $17.00 so I will probably pick up one or two of those to finish the roads and then move on to rivers.  I have armies in 54, 28, 15, 10, and 6mm so I will probably wind up making roads in 3, 2, and 1 inch widths.

Again, quick, easy, and much less expensive than buying them.

Making flags for my 54mm AWI troops

I am starting to build a collection of 54mm American War for Independence figures, mostly in plastic
.  AWI troops

So it is time to start making up some flags.  I start by printing the flags out on my laser printer.
Making flags 01

Then I use a glue stick to attach it to a sheet of heavy duty foil.
Making flags 02

After that I use the glue stick on half the flag and wrap the flag around the pole, in this case made from 16 gauge floral wire, topped with an earring back, both picked up at Michael’s.
Making flags 03

A drop of superglue at the top helps to hold it in place.
Making flags 04

Once dry, the flag can then be furled in various manners to achieve the rippling in the wind effect.
Making flags 05

Overall a quick, easy and inexpensive method to add the flags to the units.