Sunday, November 30, 2014


I swear I'm still painting, it's just so many things intervene!

With that said, Tomcat photos are on the way as soon as they get uploaded, but also, Yojimbo stuff!

I wanted to test out two-part mouldmaking, and had recently purchased the Yojimbo model. What better, then, than to cast his bike in hopes of burying LEDs in it and have the bike glow!

To that end, casting:

As so many have discovered before, Lego is truly the best mould-creation device. It allows you to lay out a shape in any size, and pre-stamp (and pre-channel, though I didn't this time around) to make it easier later.

The rubber mix I'm using is fantastic: It barely shrinks, doesn't bubble too heavily, and it looks like an awesome mutant blue gel while it's drying. I didn't vacuum-dry it, or anything, just vibrated it for a while to help move bubbles. This stuff is insanely viscous.

I was asked if I was concerned about it leaking through the Lego and all over the place, and I said not especially (see viscous, above). This shows how well the stuff penetrates though! Tightly sealed lego bricks still had a good 4-5mm of penetration!

And there's the bike cleanly removed. The second half of the mould looks a lot like the white part there, though oddly the two halves of latex fused, and I had to cut it back out. (Used mould release and everything!) I will have to figure out if there's any way I can modify that for my next go.

I then cut resin channels and air slits into the mould, and once I actually get spare time I'll try a test run. the second half did leave some minor bubbling and oddities, but I'm hopeful it'll work out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tomcats Coming Along

An updated paint post at long last!

I finally managed to get decent enough lighting to take pictures, and was advanced enough in my painting that I felt it was even worth taking pictures. Without more delay, behold the Badger Squad of the Tomcat regiment!

First up the Heavy Weapons guy, and the Engineer, getting close to finished...

...followed by the Doctor (and sneaking in the side, a Clockmaker).

I've painted the black parts of their armour now, and the red is washed to be as bright as I want it for them. Similarly, the pale armour is painted, with its usual limited brightness scheme (matte armour saves lives!) Since photographing I've managed to paint the 'gems', and will soon be doing final touch-ups, and symbols.

The helmet pattern was decided somewhat by accident; I didn't want the entire helmet to be drab, and when I painted the first stripe and noticed how the pattern went, I decided that the stylistic paint and black band would both help imply that they can see through their helmet, and break up the surfaces (justifying the three layers).

I'm really happy with how they've turned out so far, I'm just hoping I won't mess them up at a later stage...

As you can see here, the doctor's chest pad needs a bit more blending on the black to pull the layers together. I went with a brighter scheme for the Tomcats because unlike the other Corregidor units, these folks are first and foremost a rescue team. There's a reason most first responder outfits are bright and noticeable, and so that carries through to their uniforms. Their backpacks, belts, and pouches are still the utilitarian colour I'm using across the force, figuring like any military, they're going to save on material costs if they can, where they can.

Like the doctor, so the engineer: utilitarian garb, bright emergency fatigues, and some kind of strange device in her hand (presumably to analyze or repair) that I'll have to make look distinctive.

Here's the one Tomcat in the cluster that doesn't muck about with 'healing' or 'helping': This guy's all damage. Combi-rifle (the new version is so much more practical looking) and a portable missile launcher up and ready to go. He's going to be a nightmare to fix to his base, but he looks pretty damn cool.

No real update on the Zondcat that goes with them just yet, I've been focusing too much on the infantry to deal with the mass of red she requires.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

On Customer Service

While I attempt to complete my Tomcats, contemplate paint schemes for Morats, and prep my Ghost in the Shell model team, I wanted to spend a non-photo post discussing something not often talked about in regards to model companies: Their way of dealing with customers who have issues.

While it's certainly not the most important element in a model company's business, (first being model quality, in my mind,) its a component which if handled well will inspire significant loyalty, and if mis-managed will be cause for hesitancy.

First a disclaimer: these are all based on first-hand accounts. If I've not mentioned a company it's because I've either not dealt with their customer service, or bought models from them at all!

The standard level of care, as far as I'm concerned, is exemplified by companies like Privateer Press, to whom you send an email describing a part that is missing or brutally mis-cast, and they send you a replacement part at a decent speed and it arrives swiftly. Corvus Belli seems to be the same, but I've not had first-hand experience. Many such companies request photographs or a packing code, so they can see what the issues are.

Next are the policies I feel are needlessly obtuse. Games Workshop asks you to go back to the store you purchased it at, replace the mis-cast or missing model with another one, and they will send the store a replacement model of that type. This must cause a lot of wasted product, and still presumably leaves the store owner with an unsellable, 'broken' model.

-Anecdotally, many fine-detail model companies have similar policies; one I heard tell of wanted a store owner to open another box of the same model, give them the missing/miscast part or sprue, and then they'd send a new box... it's unfortunately wasteful and still causes a lot of delay!

Sadly, the reason I've decided to write this post is Wyrd. Their models are very pretty, but if you get a mis-cast or missing piece, you need to navigate to a small and hard to find "contact us" button, send a request, and then wait. When you get a response, it says you can respond directly to the email, but that doesn't work. Text suggesting how you should format your request (and where to put related images) is small, hard to read, and not aligned properly.

In what I'm hoping is a unique experience, my request actually disappeared from their system without being filled! I'm happy I verified things were not as they should be, because people at the company didn't realize it hadn't been properly sorted out! I'm still waiting on an item that was mis-cast in June, and on two things related to an order from Gencon.

Now for the gold standard, absolute best I've ever dealt with:

Congratulations CS staff at Battlefront, you people are amazing. Battlefront, the makers of Flames of War, are a relatively small gaming company based in New Zealand, with models produced in Malaysia. Their factory staff are required to go through model building training, so they understand the pain of things like mould lines and miscast pieces, the better to catch them. Alongside that, an email saying something is missing is promptly responded to, and replacement parts arrive sometimes within 4 days (now, I do live in Toronto, so it's not hard to get something mailed to me!) Also, based on an interview done with WWPD, any issues not responded to within 24hrs (if I recall correctly) is flagged with a followup as to why it was not dealt with swiftly. This ensures a good turnaround time for models to people that want to do builds.

There's more though. The Battlefront CS staff are among the kindest people I know in regards to this. I don't want to go into detail as to why, because I would hate to see them taken advantage of, but on a few occasions, in regards to conversion projects I was planning or more nit-picky model issues, they have been equally quick with help. A friend and I were trying to find ways to send them gifts, but all the ones we would want to send we can't... I hope this post goes some way to assure them they're the best, and absolutely keep me happy buying Battlefront products!

I will try to have more model pics up soon, along with some of the planned, active, and eventual conversions!