Monday, September 5, 2011

Plastic to Player's Choice: 11 Week Wood Elves - Back to Bases


So continuing from Part 1 and Part 2, I will take a look at some other methods we can use to speed our models from the painting desk to the tabletop. This installment is about basing in particular. I would really just call this an extension of assembly, but we have a few more options when it comes to basing.

When I refer to basing, we will include movement trays and a display board as well. It is important to think about all three before you get very far into the army. A poor basing job will really detract from an otherwise finely painted army and on the flip side, a well based army can really improve the look of mediocre models. Your basing style will also dictate the type of movement tray you will use and subsequently the display board. You may have found a great set of resin bases, but if you can't find a simple way to match the bases to a movement tray and board, it may not be worth your time in the end.

We have 3 Options to consider...

Option 1) Buy scenic bases and/or movement trays online.

This is the easiest way to get great looking bases, but also the most costly for sure. Prices vary by manufacturer, but basing an army on scenic bases could easily run you a couple hundred dollars (close to the actual price you're paying for the models!) Once you get the bases, it will take a little extra work to reconfigure your models to the new base as well. Not a problem with plastics really, but if your army is predominantly slot tab metal you may have to pin each figure to the resin base (or regret it later). I did not use resin bases for the wood elves, but if I did I would limit their use to character models or centerpieces. This way you get the most bang for your buck with the least hassle.

Movement trays are a better deal in my opinion. Always go magnetic. It will cost you a little more now in money or time. However, you save hours of your life down the road, not only in packing/unpacking, but also in having to repair/repaint chipped or broken models. There are some great magnetic base/tray combos available now, that can save you the trouble of gluing rare earth magnets under each fig.

This can be another hassle to consider with the resin scenic bases. Drilling them out for rare earths could be quite time consuming (and potentially toxic), so you may be limited to refrigerator magnet style sheeting (either on the bottom of the base or the tray itself), which can lack in strength. I did not use this option for the wood elves, either. I went primarily with Option 2.

Option 2) Get a helper or apprentice to base your models or build movement trays.

So I've been using this option unintentionally for years. I don't know how many times I've been down to the last few days before a tourney, been way deep in the painting hole, and enticed (some might say forcefully coerced) friends or roommates into flocking or basing some figs to help out. (Note: Usually a bribe of alcohol is sufficient for this basic task)

So this time we'll be a little more pro-active and hire this out to a pal who needs a couple of bucks and is willing to grind away at these things. Gluing the basing material, sealing the material with a second coat of glue, and gluing a rare earth magnet under the base are all showstoppers that also take up space on your desk, so getting them out of your way can save more time than you think.

For example: If your desk has thirty figs lying on their side, waiting for the glue holding the rare earth magnets under the base to dry, how likely are you to keep working around them while breathing in the super glue fumes? Not likely, it is way too convenient to "call it" for the night and quit working even when you have time yet remaining.

With the wood elves, my apprentice Andrew flocked the Dryads and Wild Riders only. I handled the rest as it was too difficult with my 11 week time crunch to work around Andrew's schedule. That is the major drawback to this method - it takes longer to get the models based compared to buying scenics or doing it yourself.

So Andrew glued the flock, sealed it with a second coat of Elmer's and glued a rare earth magnet (cemented in with a blob of green stuff) under these two units. I would have taken it one step further and let him do the initial basecoat of paint on the flock, but these models were not yet primed and I also could not spare Andrew a bottle of my basecoat color for the couple weeks a had the models. My basing basecoat color is Reaper Walnut Brown and I used it extensively throughout the rest of the figures. Always have a spare for your main colors!

Andrew also built the movement trays to specifications, which was a huge timesaver for me. For some folks, this won't be a big deal (see Option 3). For a fella like me, though, doing everything by hand and still ending up with a movement tray that's too small or too big 20% of the time, I was very happy to let Andrew plug away on these while I painted models (ie. do something I'm pretty good at)

Option 3) Find a friend with the right tools.

So this is more in regards to movement trays and display boards, rather than basing individual models. If you want to do either of these yourself, don't buy a handsaw and spend your whole weekend hacking away at hardboard. Use power tools. You not only speed the process way up, you will also get a superior result.

So with the wood elves, I sought help from the Bear on the display base. See the tutorial for that here. He had the saws, drills and hot wire cutter I needed to get through the basic assembly of the display board in less than an hour. It would have taken me easily five to ten times that for these not so dexterous hands to accomplish that on my own.

So there you have it for basing. It's easy to do this stuff yourself, for sure, and it seems like it goes quick. But to reiterate our lesson from Part 2, it only seems quick because painting takes so much longer.

If it takes me 100 hours to paint these models, why does it matter if I spend 8+ hours basing beforehand?  

Because that's still 8 frickin hours of your life spent gluing sand, wood and magnets together, dude!

How much is your time worth?

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