Hirst Arts Mold #320 Sci-Fi Terrain

Hirst Arts Painted Pipe Terrain I recently picked up Hirst Arts Fieldstone Mold #75 which is pretty much a mandatory purchase for anybody using Hirst Arts for Mordheim or Fantasy terrain. As shipping internationally isn’t cheap I looked around for another Hirst Arts mold to include in my order and on a whim added the #320 5/8″ Pipe mold.

My order arrived last week and I was pleasantly surprised how much fun mold #320 is to cast and build with. It’s a pretty hungry mold plaster-wise, but a single cast gets you enough bits and pieces of pipe to make an interesting 6″ linear barrier for pretty much any 28mm scale war game you can think of. The pipe sections obviously work very well for sci-fi or modern terrain, but with the right brassy paint job a few pieces could probably be added to the side of a fantasy building for some kind of brewery or mad alchemist’s laboratory.

After casting the mold a couple of times I couldn’t resist playing with the parts and dug out a pre-cut and bevelled 3mm MDF base I had kicking around. I cut and bevelled a whole bunch of random organic shapes years ago and have been working my way through the stack ever since. It’s a great time saver for just cracking into a random terrain piece when you feel like it.

Hirst Arts Painted Pipe Terrain This bit of Necromunda/40k/Pulp terrain is made from just two casts of mold #320, a piece of cut chicken wire, some corrugated cardboard and based with a mix of kitty little and model railway ballast. The chicken wire and cardboard was used to build that little shack over a vertical tap piece which is obscured in the photos, but you can see in the unpainted terrain.

The pipes were painted with grey latex house paint and then weathered with the Vegemite technique before airbrushing them red with hobby paints and then over-painting them with my home-made dipping varnish. The base is just dry brushed with a couple of layers of dirty brown latex house paint as well. Things were left pretty generic as I plan to use this terrain for Pulp gaming, and possibly Necromunda or 40k terrain if I ever get around to playing those systems again. I’ve included a couple of Games Workshop Imperial Guard Cadians just for scale indication.

Tramp Steamer Portholes – Pulp

Pulp Tramp Steamer Ship Doors and Portholes Here’s a side shot of the super structure of my Pulp Tramp Steamer with resin cast ship doors and portholes applied. The two part resin has been sitting in my garage so long I’m lucky it still sets. I noticed while casting it started setting seconds after I mixed it, but then took considerably longer than it used to before it reaches a full hardness. Again the lesson here is don’t leave your casting supplies on the shelf for years, use them up as soon as possible!

The portholes were mastered from a 1mm ceramic tap washer with a set of green stuff rivets applied using the end of a mechanical pencil. I have to thank Dustan for telling me how easy this technique is for 28mm scale rivets. I found it so useful I’ve converted the mechanical pencil tip into a permanent riveting tool by epoxying it to a bamboo shaft. Now I have a useful porthole I’m wondering what else I can use it for? Maybe for detailing the bollards if I ever get around to building a suitable dockside for the Tramp Steamer.

I need to apply a little more detail to the ship before I start painting it. I’d like a deck winch of some kind at the bow, a set of anchors and I’ll also need to bend some wire to make a set of radio antenna on the roof of the bridge. That’ll probably do I think as the ship is primarily intended as a gaming surface, not a scale model of a real ship of any kind.

Tramp Steamer Ship Doors – Pulp

Tramp Steam Ship Door Recently I peeled myself away from the Xbox long enough to play in a Pulp .45 campaign Aaron started. The first (and possibly last) mission was set on the Tramp Steamer I started scratch building years ago and never quite finished. I stalled because I got to the point of detailing it and realised I needed a bunch of custom built bits and pieces.

However playing an interesting Pulp scenario across various hand drawn maps representing the interior decks, and finishing on the ship itself was great fun and inspired me to do some sculpting to finish the blighter off. First up I needed ship’s doors and portholes to cover the blank holes I’d cut in the 2mm cardboard used for the superstructure. A little research netted various pictures of ship’s doors. I went for a simple double dogged door and frame. It’s all just cut from 1mm plasticard with dremmeled curves and detailed with trimmed plastic rail and greenstuff. The frame and door aren’t very symmetric, but once molded and cast that shouldn’t be too obviously hopefully. Heck it’s a rusty old tramp steamer after all.

I plan to cast these in Ultrasil Blue and them mold them in resin. I briefly considered trying to make the door have a working hinge, but then figured tiny 2mm resin hinges wouldn’t stand up to any serious gaming. I’ll leave the doors detached, but probably glue some plasti-card rails to the backs so they can be pushed into the fixed frame.

Unfortunately I discovered while I still have plenty of Ultrasil rubber left, the blue hardening compound has dried to dust, which after some experimenting seems to just be the blue colouring as the rubber will no longer set. Damn. Guess I shouldn’t have left it on the shelf for years. So I’m picking up a new kit from TopMark tomorrow and will have to finish off a few projects to try and use the kit up rather than sticking it in the garage for years to expire!

Update: Picked up another small Ultrasil Blue kit from TopMark today and had a word with their ever helpful staff. Apparently it’s not uncommon for people to want to purchase more of the blue ‘Part B’ hardener out of these kits so they sell it separately in 50ml (for $16NZ) and 25ml bottles. 50ml of hardener is what you get in the smallest Ultrasil set that I purchased, so I certainly didn’t need that much. Unfortunately they were out of 25ml bottles at the time. Ah well, I’ll stretch the new kit as far as I can on hardener and see how it goes. Molding up a couple of sculpts as we speak to finish off a few things.

Cheap 28mm Scale Dinosaur – Pulp

Pulp Dinosaur Exhibit We have a couple of young boys and people often give them interesting birthday presents. Our eight year old has recently developed a taste for ‘dinosaur excavation kits’ after getting one his last birthday. These are a whole series of plastic dinosaurs, broken into parts and embedded into a brick of cheap plaster. You’re given a brush and a plastic tool to excavate the pieces from the block prior to assembly. They’re great fun, and keep young boys amused for hours, although they generate a heck of a lot of dust!

Our kids have gone through most of the series, excavating classics like Tyrannosaurs, Stegosaurs, Triceratops, Brachiosaurs and Pteradons. They’re from 4M Industries and are available locally (in New Zealand) from a bunch of places, including IQ Toys, The Warehouse and even our local Pak’n’Save supermarket for roughly $20nz a kit.

Pulp Dinosaur Scale I was vacuuming up the latest lot of red dust from the living room when it occurred to me that these kits are almost the right scale for 28mm Pulp figures. A quick wiki for a comparative chart of Tyrannosaur specimens and they seem fairly close. So I nabbed the Tyrannosaur off my son’s bookshelf and took the photos you see here. Those are a couple of Copplestone Casting figures standing under the plastic Tyrannosaur.

Looking at the figures together it seems dinosaur is a touch over scale, maybe about 5-8% too large. It probably doesn’t help that the dinosaur is high rearing pose, a bit of cutting and reposing would probably fix that, but as I said this is from my son’s bookshelf so that’s not an option for this particular figure. The very white plastic is also a little off putting, but you know what would fix that? A nice overcoat of some home-made varnish based dip. The plastic these kits are made from is that cheap, fairly flexible stuff so I wouldn’t recommend trying to paint one with any kind of water based acrylic paint, but a polyurethane varnish would probably adhere fairly well.

So, if you’re looking for a cheap, roughly 28mm Dinosaur skeleton, I’d recommend these toy kits from 4M industries. Even if you don’t use the whole figure, they’re still a useful model for Pulp gaming. I intend to experiment with push molding the head and maybe several of the bones to try and create my own set of ‘paleontology excavation’ terrain pieces.

Review: Black Scorpion Tombstone Miniatures

Black Scorpion Tombstone Miniatures A gaming friend of mine recently picked up a copy of Warhammer Historical: Legends of the Old West, which is a Wild West skirmish wargame. Reading the rules it’s sort of a franken-game, combining the best features of Mordheim, Necromunda and the GW Lord of the Rings systems. Unfortunately it still retains the awful ‘I go, you go’ scheme that GW games can’t seem to escape from, but fortunately it has staggered rounds which offsets that somewhat.

As I’ve often admired Black Scorpion’s range of Tombstone range figures, I thought this would be an ideal time to pick some up. However I didn’t just want cowboys, but rather some figures that might mix into my Pulp collection as well. Black Scorpion have two groups of female figures that seemed like a good compromise, Tombstone 5 and Tombstone 6, most of which would work in a Pulp setting too. I ordered them from the Black Scorpion site a couple of weeks ago and they’ve just arrived, so here’s a quick review and comparison against a couple of other independent figure manufacturers.


On unpacking it’s clear the figures are well cast. There’s almost no flash (one figure of ten had some flash under an arm), and only visible mold lines on a couple of figures that had to be filed down. The mold lines are also well placed, with no lines crossing faces or other important details. One minor annoyance is the fact that I had to straighten the barrels on every figure holding a gun out of the box. I suspect this is because rough handling by international post, as the figures have travelled from the UK to New Zealand. As you can see from the photo the figures use a slotta base system and have molded on tabs. I’ll probably be cutting a few of these off so I can base some figures on wooden planks.


The figures are well sculpted with a nice variety of clothing and hair styles. For female 28mm figures they have fairly realistic proportions with only a single figure displaying an enormous chest and cleavage – I guess there had to be one! They’re generally statically posed, with only four of the ten figures actively aiming or drawing their weapons, but it’s a nice mix of poses I think. The static figures are presenting their arms in a gun-safe but threatening manner.

They also have a nice mix of firearms, with two shotguns (either of which could be filed down to make them sawn-off), two recognisable Winchester repeaters, four armed with a variety of single and dual revolvers and two unarmed ‘showgirl’ figures (maybe they have derringers). This mix of weapons makes them ideal for putting together a couple of Legends of the Old West posses.

In terms of detail the figures are passable. Period costume of the Old West was pretty simple and this is reflected on the miniatures, with decoration consisting of tassled fringes and the odd bow. In terms of detail I’d say the Black Scorpion figures are comparable to the Copplestone Casting ranges, but not as detailed or crisp as the Artizan Designs collection.

The wide mix of clothing, hats and hairstyles will keep the figures interesting to paint though. I particularly like the figure that looks like a gentle homemaker, in a full dress and leg’o’mutton jacket, clutching a sun umbrella in one hand and a Winchester repeating rifle in the other…!


Black Scorpion Tombstone 
Miniatures Comparison Black Scorpion state their figures are ’32mm’ scale, which equates to the so called ‘Heroic 28mm’ that Games Workshop use. Here’s a photo comparing several of the Black Scorpion figures to an WWII Artizan Designs 28mm German and a Copplestone Castings female archaeologist. I’ve chosen the tallest of the Black Scorpion ladies for comparison and as you can see there is a noticeable scale difference. However as it’s not often you see figures lined up like this on the tabletop I can’t see any problem mixing and matching these slightly larger figures with the rest of my Pulp collection.


At GBP7.50 for each group of five figures, plus 15% for shipping internationally they’re a pretty good deal and I’m perfectly happy to recommend them to anybody after some 28-32mm Western miniatures. I ordered directly off their site and had no problem getting the items shipped international air to a New Zealand PO Box.

Black Scorpion also have several other interesting looking ranges, in particular their Pirates, Fantasy Pirates and Iraqii Militia all look good to me.

Pulp: Lady and the Sentry

Painted 28mm Pulp Heroes I recently made the mistake of introducing my lovely wife to the Battlestar Galactica TV series when I bought the three season DVD boxed set. Since then I’ve been forced to watch several episodes of BSG a night and consequentially haven’t got a lot of painting done. After our last Pulp game I was at least inspired enough to finish off these two Pulp figures. I’m also half way through painting that final 15mm Carthaginian base.

The lady on the left is from Copplestone Castings and the Wehrmacht sentry is from Artizan Designs. That lantern jawed German has been kicking around my paint station for no less than two years, since I last got some Pulp painting done. So it’s a relief to finally have him packed away in the gaming cupboard.

The irony is that having painted some Pulp figures, Daniel and his flatmate, in a fit of madness, dropped $300nz each on Warhammer Fantasy figures. So it seems we may be playing some Border Patrol in the near future! Might be time to assemble some of the Orcs I bought in 2006. Funny how this stuff goes in cycles isn’t it?

Pulp: Tempus Fugit Scenario

Pulp Villains My gaming mates and I kicked off a new year of gaming with a bit of Pulp .45 Adventure madness. Simply because Pulp is a nice, fun game and a few of the group hadn’t tried it before. For the occasion I threw together a stand alone Pulp scenario that can be played without any sort of moderation – as it’s usually me that ends up moderating and not getting any gaming in!

I’ve converted the Tempus Fugit scenario into a small PDF you can download. The scenario is designed for four to six players, each with a couple of figures. It’s pretty straight forward except there’s a hidden aspect, so players don’t know who else is a friend or foe. This resulted in some hilarity in the play through, with my own villain and his sidekick getting ruthlessly and repeatedly shot by other villains on the table. I guess there’s no honour amoungst power crazed madmen?

Tutorial: 28mm Pulp Painting to Tabletop Quality II

This post continues and completes the earlier part of the tutorial. Once again, I’m not an expert painter but always try to speed paint to a reasonable tabletop quality. If you recall we left the half painted Anglian Miniatures Moroccan drying after applying a chestnut brown ink wash.

This left the figure looking rather dark and very shiny because of the wax in the Klear floor polish I used. That’s fine though because once the wash dries you’ll have a very stable, hard coat you can easily paint over.

Pulp Painting Tutorial 5. Painting Over the Magic Wash. The point of the chestnut ink wash was to define the folds and edges in the figure. In a sense the quick ink wash provides a similar effect to the ‘black lining’ others paint with. This is where you prime your figure black and build up the colours over that while leaving thin black lines between the various areas of the figure.

Continue reading Tutorial: 28mm Pulp Painting to Tabletop Quality II

Matakishi’s Pulp German Airbase

Matakishi's Pulp German AirbaseMatakishi’s Tea House has an excellent tutorial up showing you how to quickly create these fine looking WWII airbase buildings. They’ve built largely from cork tile, cardboard and matchsticks. Put together they make a great table for all sorts of Pulp gaming.

The rest of Matakishi’s site is top notch too, and if you’re a Pulp gamer you’ve probably already seen his cork-tile inner-city buildings in the past.

Via Rattrap’s Speakeasy.

Tutorial: 28mm Pulp Painting to Tabletop Quality I

The first thing I’d like to say is I am by no means an expert painter. As I’ve mentioned in previous polls I paint solely to get figures onto the gaming table as quickly as possible. With that self deprecation out of the way, here’s the second of three posts regarding painting Pulp figures for a North African desert setting. This post is a continuation from the previous 28mm Desert Basing tutorial as once you’ve based your figure, you’re ready to paint it.

For this tutorial I’ll be painting up one of the Anglian Miniatures Moroccan Spanish Civil War tank hunters from the basing tutorial. As I’ll be using him for generic Pulp gaming I’ve made no attempt to adhere to historic colours so apologies to any Spanish Civil War buffs out there!

Continue reading Tutorial: 28mm Pulp Painting to Tabletop Quality I