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The Dollar Store Army


FPilot
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Hi.

 

Being as I'm usually on a very austere budget, I tend to look out for ways to augment my mini forces cheaply. To this end, I've noticed a few things that could be helpful.

 

1) Many military vehicles in the Micro Machines line (and in their copy cats, including Atomiks) tend to be around 1/144th to 1/160th scale, which make them a great source for CAV army units. I recently bought a bunch of Micro Machine-knockoff vehicles, mostly cargo trucks with a few Fuchs 6X6 armored cars and a couple Patton tanks. Diecast aircraft in near 1/144th or smaller are plentiful as well.

 

2) You'd be surprised how much you can find in a Dollar Store that would fit among 28mm scale figures. I've got at least a dozen really cheap toy tanks that I'm modifying and repainting for my 28mm army. These were made to be motorized with a wire controller/battery pack, so all I did was disassemble them (they were screwed together) and prise out the wheel axles and motors, and then screw them back together. I even have a squadron of World War Two type fighter planes in the works--some made for friction motors and some with the same motors and controllers as the tanks. A cheap source for stands for flyers is found at the office supply store: document spindles.

 

3) When you know how big something is in the real world, you can figure out what size you need it to be for your army and buy accordingly. You don't even need to bring a ruler, just borrow one from the store's office supply stacks and put it back when you're finished.

 

A little example: you want some jet fighters...how large do they have to be? What I did was I found out what the biggest and smallest jet fighters ever made were, and once I got their lengths and wingspans, averaged the figures between them. Now, in 1/160th scale (CAV) your average fighter jet mini would be about 4 1/2" long with a wingspan of about 3 1/2". In 1/60 scale (28mm), your model would have a length of between 11 and 12" and a wingspan around 9". (There is a line of futuristic-looking gliders in that size, isn't there?)

 

I don't worry so much about getting it down to the nearest milimeter. We just need a good ballpark to play in.

 

I don't know of any cheap sources for human figures, but basically that's what I'm saving the real money for. :)

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The local dollar store is a great place for some miniatures and terrain. For my Victorian Sci-fi/Steam Punk Russians and Brits I grabbed a bunch of $1 tanks and replaced the turret with a naval looking one and added a bunch of steam pipes and whatnot.

 

There's also some great plastic bugs and dinosaurs that can be repainted rather nicely. As they're made of soft bendy plastic I'd recommend washing them thoroughly with soap, rinsing them, priming them with actual primer and painting with acrylics. It's best if you can find a flexible sealer (Krylon Matte is rather flexible as is Testors Dullcoate to some extent).

 

Around Christmas there should be tons of things for terrain. Little trees and the like. And remember when you're looking to ask yourself how it might look repainted.

 

Nathaniel

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Then there's all the glue, paint, decorator's pebbles, fishtank gravel, craft knives, clamps and assorted hardware that do fine in really low-stress jobs and for terrain. Even though I love my pewter for miniatures, I also get a lot of value buying various supplies, tools and consumables at the bargain shops. Also when a tool only costs a buck or two it doesn't cost much to experiment and see if it's usefull.

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It's a bit more on the relatively expensive side, but something I used for improvised terrain awhile back was a couple of Dragons playsets. Wanted to goof around with Warlord at home and remembered the ones we found half price around Christmas last year. And the figures are pretty close to the same size, so the scale's okay.

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I just spent eleven dollars the other day on miniature resin lighthouses from the dollar store. If you dremel the lighthouse off, you're left with perfect village terrain for 6mm scale. I would have spent more, but my girlfriend was with me and i didn't want to embarass her at the checkout with a hundred fricking lighthouses. ::D:

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