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I decided to open up a thread as a sort of an interactive experiment in basing. I don't see this thread as proprietary, if anyone else wants to put their own experiments in here feel free.

 

To provide background, I am specifically looking at materials used to fill out the base on a mini after gluing it down onto a fender washer of an appropriate size. In some cases I am cutting away much of the broccoli in order for me to reposition the feet.

 

I have used a number of materials in basing. I'll go over them to give more context.

 

I first picked up a tube of "Squadron Green" from MicroMark at my local Hobby Store. It is relatively cheap ($4 for a tube,) but is not terribly easy to work with - it is sticky and the back is full of warnings not to use your hands or breathe the fumes. It is relatively tough - though I have used oil to prevent it from sticking to the tool, and I have found this makes it brittle in places.

 

Two-part epoxy putty works absolutely great - I have no concerns regarding it's durability, nor do I feel any hesitation in working with it with my hands. The trouble is I believe it may well be overkill for simple basing - it is relatively expensive ($20 for two tubes,) and the level of detail it holds is entirely unnecessary if you are going to flock the base. So I am looking for a cheap alternative when I plan to cover the base.

 

I consulted the "Basing Materials Compendium" in the forums, and found air-dried clay on it. I decided what the heck and picked up a 1 kg bag of "Polyform Model Air" from my local Michaels. It was $10, but it was 2.2 pounds. If I ever run out of this, I will be very surprised. In fact, I cut off half of the block and sealed it with my vacuum sealer, since it may well be months or years before I get to it.

 

It is easy to work with, my concerns are its durability, which is the reason I am opening this thread.

 

So, this is my experiment:

 

I cut most of the brocolli off and repositioned the feet of the Bones "Orc Berserker". This left an irregular space on the base. It looks like this:

 

post-12963-0-35991600-1386189121_thumb.jpg
I then used the clay to fill out the base. I have a dull x-acto blade, I used that to shape the clay, particularly between the legs where it is hard to get to with my fingers. When I was done, I took a bit of water and ran it around the outside to smooth out any cracks, help it adhere to the base and mini, and remove my fingerprints. The results look like this:
post-12963-0-23621900-1387470309_thumb.jpg
post-12963-0-05445500-1387470312_thumb.jpg
Btw, yes, I am using old pictures. I don't have my camera here, and I don't feel it necessary to take new ones - it is the same mini and I'm using the same technique.
Now, the back of the bag says let dry for 24 hours. In 24 hours we will expose it to some stress tests and see how it holds up. My reasoning is as follows:
- Its a Bones mini - I'm not going to hurt the mini itself unless I take a knife to it.
- Similarly the fender washer is not going to get damaged. This makes it a great test of the basing material.
- We can see just how much the air-dried clay endures.
- If I destroy the base, I can just redo it with another substance.

 

Tune in tomorrow! I'll probably use a camera at that point to record the damage. ::):

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Personally I do all my basing work separately and then pin the miniature to the base.

 

You can make a good base out of so many different things- it really depends on what you want to do.

 

Pressed cork boards are great for making rock formations. Pour out a thin sheet of plaster of paris and then cut it into tiles. Green Stuff/Miliput sculpted on top of an existing surface. Spare computer/electronic parts. Small watch gears/parts.

 

Pretty much anything can be used to make a base if you have the imagination.

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I have used something that looks like that material... and think I pretty much know what will happen ;)

 

But I will leave it to you to experiment. Something else, when you are done with "stress tests", put a brush full of water to it. This is crucial in understanding how well it will react to acrylic paints. If it is the same material I once used, you are in for a surprise...

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I have used something that looks like that material... and think I pretty much know what will happen ;)

 

But I will leave it to you to experiment. Something else, when you are done with "stress tests", put a brush full of water to it. This is crucial in understanding how well it will react to acrylic paints. If it is the same material I once used, you are in for a surprise...

I don't mind spoilers. I'm going to stress test it regardless.

 

I just dropped some water on it now. The water is, for the most part, sitting on the surface. Even after a few minutes there is still a significant drop on the surface of the clay. Most likely it is very slowly rehydrating the clay, but will probably dry completely before it does so to any degree. I did actually paint up one of these with full basing - it is likely that the clay absorbed the water from the mixture of paint and glue I used to keep the flocking on, but I don't believe this had any adverse effect.

 

I do plan on testing to destruction, at least to a degree. First normal stuff like knocking it over and dropping it from table height, then nastier tests like dropping it onto tile, throwing it, and maybe making a deliberate attempt to damage it. Failing some of these will not be a deal-breaker. ::):

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Looks a lot sturdier than the one I tried then. The one "cheap" self-curing air dry stuff I tried (and also sold as "clay" here) retained a lot of... how to say this, like thirst? It absorbed water a lot, until crumpling into a lumpy mass. It also broke off very easily. It looked, when dry, a bit like processed paper tissue.

 

But other than that, it looks exactly as your pic!

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The one I painted up did okay, I dropped it on the floor once so I have a pretty good feeling about it. Still, I doubt it's as strong as the two-part epoxy putty or the Sqaudron Green putty. The question is - is it strong enough?

 

I think it will probably re-absorb water pretty much indefinitely, though not very fast. I think once I paint it, though, it will become a moot point as the acrylics will give it a skin to keep it from absorbing more water. Of course, that would be good to test too.

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I glue the mini with it's broccoli intact to a wooden disc, then build up around it with plaster of paris, a 10lb tub of it cost something like $20. Dries really quickly so you have to work fast and only base 3-4 minis at a time, but you can work it with a plastic knife or other utensil as it is firming up and it will take on a perfect rock texture. Then I glue on rubble, paint it, seal it, and add flocking at the end. The only catch is durability. Sealing it helps, but knocking it around alot WILL chip pieces off the plaster. It's great for display but not necessarily for gaming if your players are rough with the minis.

I also cannot recommend the GF9 Master Basing Kit highly enough. I still grab foliage from other companies as well, particularily the Woodland Scenics field grass and fine-leaf foliage, but the kit has a good amount of everything you need. I want to try out some mini-natur flowers, that'll be an order for next year.

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I don't really make minis for display, at least not at this point. I'm definitely painting them with using them in mind - hence part of the reason for these stress tests. I have hard that plaster can make good rubble, though, I may try that in the future. Generally speaking the smaller something is, the more durable it is.

 

Now that you mention that, perhaps I'll try the air-dried clay on a 2" base as well. That seems like a sound idea.

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Ok. My clay-based Orc Beserker is entirely dry by now. I decided to add a Control. Say hello to everyone, Control!

 

post-12963-0-20545700-1388164395_thumb.jpg ("RARGH!")

 

Okay, so Control is not so friendly. Control is a Bones Orc Stalker who has had the same foot treatment as the Orc Berserker(who I shall now dub "Test") - his feet were cut off of the broccoli leaving about 1/4" around them for extra surface area, then he had been repositioned with hot water and glued to a fender washer. The difference is Control's base was filled out with two part epoxy putty rather than air-dried clay. The epoxy putty seems much stronger, but it occured to me I was taking this for granted without testing it, eh?

 

Phase I of my experiments will involve pretty normal wear and tear to gaming minis. Meet Phase I, Trial 1:

 

post-12963-0-40018300-1388164612_thumb.jpgpost-12963-0-68274100-1388164613_thumb.jpg

 

See those two little spaces in the middle? Test and Control are going there. I'm then planning on closing the case, giving it some normal sort of shaking (nothing violent, but what it would encounter being carried around) then opening it. I'll do this many times, probably at least 10, maybe more.

 

Trial 2 will be be knocking the miniature over while it is on the table. I will do this with both Test and Control many, many times. I'll keep track and let you know.

 

Trial 3 will be a drop from table height into a carpetted floor. I plan on knocking them off the table simultaneously. Again, I'll keep track of how many times they drop and I'll let you know.

 

I don't expect either of these guys to end up damaged by Phase I, but we'll see, won't we? If they are damaged by Trials 1 or 2, I'd call that basing material unsuitable for a gaming mini. Trail 3 is a maybe.

 

Phase II will be tougher tests, more extreme. I'm thinking dropped from table height onto a hard floor, and actually thrown. We'll see how these guys do with Phase I before we move on to II.

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Okay, I did trials 1 and 2 and got some fairly expected results. I don't think there was any damage, but I did note some pitting around where the clay meets the washer. This was probably already there, but hey, I have recorded evidence now, so if the table drop does anything I'll know.

 

The opening and closing of the mini case did nothing. I knocked the minis over, generally with a sweeping motion, kind of violently. So here are the pictures of Test's base. Control, of course, laughed at my abuse.

 

post-12963-0-45346900-1388180019_thumb.jpgpost-12963-0-47307200-1388180020_thumb.jpgpost-12963-0-47730300-1388180021_thumb.jpg

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Okay - this was quick. I have a result! An interesting one.

 

The first time I knocked the minis off the table, Test came free from the washer. The clay came off, completely intact, from the washer. As far as I can tell there is no damage to the clay. What's interesting is the Orc Berserker was glued down to the washer with superglue.

 

I have glued it back on with superglue - putting it on the whole surface rather than just the feet of the beserker will probably hold it pretty well. It does show one thing - the clay does not stick to things as well as, say, putty, and may need to be glued down at some stage.

 

I will continue with the table tests as soon as I'm sure the glue has set pretty well. I'm looking to do this about 10-20 times. Incidentally, I did the mini box test and the "knocked over" test 20 times.

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