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Posts Tagged ‘Pulp Alley’

Every now and again I decide I’m going to get more disciplined, which usually means I’m going to try and focus on making stuff for the Körschtalbahn. Occasionally I even manage to follow through on this for a few weeks.

Of course the thing about deciding to focus on a challenging project is that you don’t do it just before the start of the annual silly session at work, while simultaneously trying to finish a final dissertation and make an elderly mountain bike into a  ranndoneur/touring bicycle. last week I realised that I was getting into the usual vicious cycle of coming back from work tired, so not making anything, then feeling more tired because I hadn’t done something productive all evening.

This obviously couldn’t go on, so I decided that it was better to make something than nothing at all, even if it was a fairly random tangent.

A while back a seriously excellent model maker and semi professional mold builder on the Lead Adventure Forum said that you can make almost any kind of model out of card, at the same time as making a rather spiffy monowheel, out of whitemetal, so I decided to try the theory out.

I may have turned up the Bonkers Factor in my version.

To start with I made the circle of card seen above, started with one strip around an old aerosol can lid stuck down with a bit of masking tape, then added two more pieces to make it solid. This is what passes for technology on my workbench.

Next step was to make a rather rough tread, which I’m sure will look fine once it’s painted and weathered and viewed from a distance. Quite a considerable distance admittedly. It probably looks worse to Frederick.

Then I added an equally rough ‘gear’ or possibly ‘rack?’ on the inside of the wheel, which took a bit of fiddling about with superglue to stop the layers from separating. I need to find a better way to do this. I’m told Shellac is the stuff.

‘Colonel’ Oliver is taking an interest, which is Probably a bad sign. Frederick remains unimpressed.

The crowning loopiness so far is the drive unit, which is gradually taking shape. I have a sneaking suspicion that switched on it would rotate inside the outer wheel while producing absolutely no forward motion whatsoever, but we’ll ignore that.

More silliness will undoubtedly follow, but hopefully I’ve now broken the model making block and can get on with some more ‘serious’ models…

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Obviously when making silly adventure tabletop games, sooner or later you are going to have some swashbuckling pirates, because, well, what would be the point otherwise? To fill this role we have “Captain Betsy Miller and the Aroura Crew”. All of my characters have names from real historical people, and the real Captain Miller lived in Saltcoats in Scotland between 1792 and 1864. She was the first woman sea captain in the UK to be certified by the board of trade, and frankly her life could be a pulp story in itself: she gained a reputation as an excellent shipwoman who could handle her brig in the most adverse conditions and would sail in weather no other captain dared face. As a result she commanded a great deal of respect from her crews. She didn’t stop sailing until she was seventy years old, when she handed over to her sister.

I’ve mentioned before that I prefer female characters to be fully clothed and shaped like normal humans, so to make Miller I took another ‘female head’  and did some rather dramatic surgery on a “Merchant seaman” I had to hand.

 

After the leader, each league in Pulp Alley should have a sidekick, not quite a legend in their own right but a legend in the making. On a Aroura this is John Macpherson, who, helped by a ‘telescopic sight’ made from a bit of brass wrapped in some plastic is the crew sharpshooter, can hit a stick at 100 paces sort of thing…

I’m normally only allowed one sidekick, so the next level is the ‘allies’. I have three in this group, and have done terrible things to the fabric of the space time continuum to bring three people who lived at different times into the same team, but that’s nothing compared to the surgery required to make another “merchant seaman” into “Juana Ramírez”…

Finally, the dog who will be a trusty follower for the crew, as soon as I’ve painted him anyway. ‘Togo‘ was an Alaskan husky and sled dog, and was lead dog on the longest and most dangerous 1925 Serum run to Nome, Alaska transporting a Diphtheria antitoxin to prevent an epidemic in the town.

There’s another team before I’m finished, but it’s time for some railway model making for a bit…

 

 

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More silliness this week: I’ve been working on our pulp Alley models. Pulp Alley is a set of rules for a dice based tabletop game loosely based on the ‘Pulp’ books and serials from the 1930’s and 40’s. As you can expect, they are often rather silly in nature. Airships are often involved. And ridiculously improbable robots. And wait until you see the steam powered monowheel I’m building…

But I digress. In order to play games we need several leagues of five or six swashbuckling adventurers. This is what I like about the game: rather than mass armies of anonymous cannon fodder, which I never felt comfortable about in my war gaming days, each league is made up of individuals. This sits better with my tree hugging pacifist hippy nature. Also, it is a lot cheaper.

The first league, “Captain Erwin Von Witzleben’s Hohenzollern Guard” has been largely painted for a while now, and the final job was making the cards for each character. These are necessary because each one has different strengths and weaknesses and there’s no way you can remember them all. I will return to this subject at a later date.

The “Hohenzollern Guard” never existed by the way. Hohenzollern was a tiny state in the south of Germany, in what is now Baden Württemberg. I imagined the Hohenzollern Guard as a sort of French Foreign Legion/Swiss Mercenary type of army organisation, which can turn up in any kind of exotic location I want, by saying they were ‘hired’ by local authorities to keep order/guard a military installation/steal artefacts from the ancient and mysterious temple, et,c

The Hedgehog logo, by the way, is because I decided the Hohenzollern Guard would be based in the Hohenzollern village of Igelswies. “Igel” is the German word for Hedgehog, so obviously, once I’d found this out, it was inevitable this would be part of the badge, because then every time I used the models I could utter the immortal phrase “The Igel has landed…”

I did warn you it would get very silly…

*It still has it own railways though. I posted some videos about those here.

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And other light entertainments.

And now for the question that no-one has asked: what has been happening to the steam powered tank?

Firstly it’s gone rusty. This was achieved by the usual method of painting everything rusty brown, spraying matt varnish over the top, then hairspray, and finally the ‘final’ colour. Even using a familiar method you can learn something new however, and on this occasion I learned that if you try and thin semi solid acrylic paint with Ethanol too many times the pigment separates from the carrier in a rather ugly mess.

Having cleaned off the worst of this learning experience I tried to paint the model a rather nondescript blue/grey. The idea was to make it look like the tank could belong to the British Navy, but not make it too obvious in case some other dastardly cad needed a steam powered death trap in a hurry.

I’m not that convinced by the results thus far: it looks too dark and there’s no sparkle. I realise that a tank shouldn’t have bling and chrome trimming, but I think it needs something to lift it, possibly starting with a completely different colour.

Any thoughts welcome…

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Humpf, look at this. The plan was for a simple fun project making some buildings for a tabletop game to bring a bit of variety to myself and my loyal reader having tied myself in knots cutting bits for the wood wagon.

Looks like I managed to forget the pretty obvious point that clay tends to shrink when it dries.

I ignored the problem for a while, until I had a day when the family were out and I could make a mess of the place without causing domestic contention, and made a rescue attempt, while trying to bring the other buildings up to speed as well.

Rather then get all ambitious I just filled in the cracks with fresh clay. I also remembered to make a ‘base’ around the building, which is a new experience: model railway types tend to expect buildings to stay put for the foreseeable future, whereas in tabletop games they will be moved about for every new game. The holes in the tower will be for the rungs on a ‘ladder’ in case some hero has a sudden need to climb on the roof.

I managed to sort out the mess and get the models out onto the windowsill to dry before before family members began turning up. Notice that the darker models which are still drying have cuts in the surface to allow the clay to shrink and control the cracking.

To my absolute lack of surprise this did not work. Will have to try a different type of clay next time…

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I’m still getting into my stride at work and I’ve been a bit short of energy for model making, which is why instead of working on the Big diesel as planned I decided to take it easy and finish the cardboard rocket.

I’d mentioned that I wanted to use a variation on the “hairspray method”. This is where you paint the model, usually rusty brown but I went for silver, spray liberal amounts of hairspray over the model, let that dry and paint the ‘final’ colour on top. Then you scrub the lot with a wet brush and all the exposed corners start to show up in the undercoat leaving the impression the model is rather battered and made of metal.

This worked mostly, although I found that artist’s acrylics are remarkably good at holding onto hairspray, and in one or two cases I went straight through to the milk carton underneath and had to touch it up.

Being me I couldn’t let it lie and gave the model a going over with black and brown pastels to break up the colour. I briefly tried using water with the pastels but made such a mess I had to clean it all off, so I went back with dry.

As it stands this will be a getaway/pursuit vehicle for pulp tabletop games as soon as I get my act together making buildings and other bits and pieces. I have a feeling it may gain a few customisations when the boys get a hold of it though, as I’ve already heard mutterings about machine guns and ‘catapults to throw things at cars behind’. We shall see…

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After the almost-intellectual activity that took place last week, it was back to making things out of cardboard for a bit. After ignoring the advice not to bother priming cardboard, I decided to use a variation of the ‘hair spray‘ method, using silver as an undercoat instead of dark brown ‘rust’.  Normally I’d apply light coloured highlights by dry brushing, but the point of this model is to just try things without getting all precious about it.

In theory the top coat will come off on exposed corners showing slight variations in the silver, which will increase the illusion of a vehicle made of metal and slightly battered in use. We shall see…

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