Friday, November 30, 2012

Cork Board Basing

In my last installment, I described the parts selection, fabrication and early assembly on my brand new sword-mage build. The next step I tackled was basing.

Like a lot of character figures, this one features a built-in "Broccoli" base, stuck to the bottom of the figure. While I understand that this feature is handy for people who like to buy a figure and quickly get it onto the table with out needing a base to hold it up, it makes more creative basing significantly more work.

Ever the glutton for punishment, I set about cutting away that base using a combination of a small hand saw, needle files and lots of patience. In the end, I had the model cleaned, but not really able to stand up on its own. To make matters more complicated, I decided to experiment with cork board as a basing material.

I have read many tutorials that suggest cork board, such as is often used to make bulletin boards or flooring, is a great material for building large rocky formations on a miniature base. I recently acquired a package of cork tiles for experimentation, so I immediately set to work using them.

I broke off several pieces of cork and broke up the edges until I had two pieces, roughly the size of a 25mm base. I then glued them on top of the base in a double layer, continuing to tear the pieces with my fingers to get a rough, semi-random appearance. Cork has a very course grain, and does, indeed naturally break apart in a rough, rocky sort of texture. The tiles come with a smooth, compressed surface on the top and bottom, so I made sure to rough up the upper surface on the top layer, leaving two flat spots where I planned to attach the figure's feet.

For all of its aesthetic potential, cork does have significant drawbacks: It is soft, flexible and brittle. Cork does not provide a very strong foundation for a mini. That probably is not a problem for a strict display piece, but I have ambitions of seeing this piece on the gaming table, which calls for sturdier construction.

In order to shore up the model, I drilled holes in his feet and bored matching holes through the cork and into the plastic base. I glued sturdy brass rods into his feet and cut them to the approximate length they would need to reach the bottom of the base.

I glued the miniature in place with a generous helping of 5-minute epoxy and propped it up on some toothpicks to cure. Once the glue was solid, I applied some putty around each of the part of the mounting posts protruding through the bottom of the base to provide a bit more strength.

With any luck, he won't be going anywhere.

The next step in the process: Deciding how to go about converting him from a two-dagger assassin into a sword and magic type.

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