Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: Technique (Page 1 of 6)

Lighten Up, Gotham!

In preparing for last weekend’s CabinCon, I also was able to finish out another languishing project that I initially started as a concept back in March: light up street lamps for the Batman Miniatures Game.

To get these to work, I wanted two things: a small base for the battery and wiring and the ability to turn them on and off. I waited too long to order a simple battery case/switch from Amazon and with only a day left before I had to take off, I needed something quick.

Trolling the aisles at my local Hobby Lobby, I found these small LED flicker tea lights and they looked perfect.

Opening one up, I threw out the cardboard pieces and removed the light assembly and casing top.

Looking at the way they wired and soldered the LED to the base, I found that if I could get the LED off, I could put my lamp wires to this piece and it should work out.

Moving the LED top back and forth a dozen or so times weakened the prongs and eventually the light broke off.

After that, I needed to cut the top off the clear case so that my lamp wires could feed through the top.

A few seconds with a razor saw and the top came off easily.  I cleaned the center out with a quick pass with my sword of exact zero and we were ready for some paint.

I covered the inside of the hole so the spray paint didn’t mess with the innards and while this dried, I started working on the lamps themselves.

The biggest issue with these model railroad lamps is the long copper post they have running out the bottom.  I pulled the top lamp piece off and fed some extra wire through so that when I trim down the copper post and fed the wire back through, I’d have enough to play with for the final assembly.

Shearing this off with a wire-cutter was pretty simple but pinched the whole shut so I used a sewing pin and some needle-nose pliers to open it back up.

Later I would find that cutting the wires first, inserting the steel sewing pin into the hole and slowly cutting around the copper post was a much cleaner system.

Pulling the wires back through and re-attaching the lamp head finished the lamp post part. The wires themselves are smaller than any wire stripper that I have so I put the sword of exact zero to use again and shaved it down until I could pull the wire casing off.

I drilled holes through the old LED post spots and fed the wires through.  I’m not going to lie, feeding these small wires through small holes and trying to bend them around the main spring is an exercise in patience. Tweezers can be very helpful here.  I used electrical tape to fashion the stripped wire to the positive section.  For these lamps, the black wire is positive.

For the white (negative) wire, I fed it up and carefully wrapped it around the spring.  These wires are so thin, they will break instead of bending if you go too far so it may take a try or two.  I recommend putting a last piece of electrical tape on the top of the assembly to hold the wires steady and another on the top to fix it to the bottom of the case to keep the pieces together.  I didn’t do this the first time and almost ruined the whole thing as the spinning on/off of the lamp also twisted the thin, fragile wires to almost their breaking point.

This process involved only what you saw here but if you know how or have access to a soldering iron, the process is a little simpler and a lot more stable.  I had to finish up five more of these and was lucky to have some friends that knew how to solder so we redid the one you see in this write up and quickly soldered the other five I made.  As you can see, you don’t necessarily need to solder but the lamp will last longer and will be less finicky.

Walking Dead Wednesday: Scotch Silos

With the wave 2 Kickstarter packages getting sorted out and shipped from Mantic’s Warehouse, I thought I’d start working on more Greene farm terrain.  I’ve almost completed the Days Gone Bye scenarios so I need to get a jump start on the Greene farm material so I can hit the ground running.

I had some empty Laphroaig cases lying around and thought they might make for some interesting terrain options.  After checking out some grain silo images, I got to work.

I cut one of them down to make for a more manageable terrain piece and then primed them both with my standard automotive grey primer. Since I’ll be leaving the tops alone, I finished them off with a dark grey primer from the same brand.

Next, I photoshopped some brick patterns with silo chutes on to an 11×8 sheet of paper, cut it out and sprayed a spray adhesive onto the back.  A simple but careful rolling up later and my short silo was complete.

I’ll likely go lighter on the tall silo and I’m debating whether to add the grain chutes on the side or not.  I’m leaning towards not but due to the size, I’ll have to print it at a printshop as nothing I have will take the 11×17 that the tall tube will need.


In the “let’s see how this works” category of game pimping, I tried my first hand at greenstuff sculpting.  This project is likely way beyond on my skill but as it is just a fun prop, I’m not too worried.

The goal was to get the extra “riding” Rick figure onto a comparable motorcycle and it’s getting there.

Had to cut off Rick’s right arm and then revisit a little Governor vengeance and cut off his hand while I was at it. Then I kept adding bits of greenstuff to the arm to get it to approximately reach the handlebars.  Lastly, I crap-sculpted (patent pending) a plausible hand.  I’ve let it dry and will likely start working it up more once it is a bit more stable.

yeah, baby, that’s just how my arm rolls…

Walking Dead Wednesday: Pimping Out the Killzone

I recently picked up the new “Walker Premium Accessory” kit that Mantic makes for the Walking Dead: All Out War game and had a chance to put it through its paces. The small kit contains a long 10″ ruler/template for noise/mayhem and walker shambling and a clear acrylic Killzone template.

I’ve been wanting a clear Killzone template ever since I saw the stock cardboard template on the Kickstarter so I’m glad to see that Mantic decided to make one.  The template is a pretty standard clear acrylic with text etched in.

On a dark background, the text shows up pretty well but the lettering is pretty faint and since my set is all in shades of grey, the lettering gets completely lost.  Time to pimp this little template out.

I’ve done this with other custom acrylic works and so I wasn’t worried. All I need is a damp paper towel, a dry paper towel and some cheap acrylic paint.  I went with a deep red to get the lettering to really pop out.

This technique is so simple. Dab a little bit of acrylic paint on your finger and then start smearing it across the etched lettering. The thinner outlined lettering at the bottom is the easiest so I started there.

Just smear it over all the etching until the paint starts to dry.  When it starts to dry out, you can keep rubbing to get most of it to come off the smooth acrylic top.  Periodically wipe your finger off to clean it.  When most of the paint is gone, you can spot clean off trouble areas with the damp paper towel, then go over it again with the dry one. The only thing to really watch out for are long, deep scratches in the acrylic.  Those might take the paint in just like the etched portions.

You shouldn’t need to worry about getting inside all the small areas as the paint should come off easily by simply wiping across the whole block of lettering.  Some paint may come out of the etching but that’s ok.  Let it dry and then do another layer to really finish it out.

The thicker lettering for “KILL ZONE” may need more detail as it is easier to wipe away the paint in the etching but mine seemed to only need two coats.  The above photos were all after one coat.

After playing around with it on the board, it seemed too faded so I went back and quickly did that second coat and I’m a lot happier.

So, if you want that template to stand out better, grab some acrylic paint and start smearing.

In other news, user Kieron on Facebook had a suggestion for my extra horse-riding Rick miniature:

I thought this was brilliant so I went looking for a source and found a suitable motorcycle through Reaper’s Chronoscope miniatures line.

This was just a test fitting so nothing is glued together but I’m liking the concept and where I can go with this.

Walking Dead Wednesday: RV Upgrade

Even though I have fatherly affection for my silly, taped-up RV, I picked up the Mantic official RV to have a better looking model for the game.

So I punched out the MDF pieces and followed the initial instructions and glued it together to prime the “interior” of the model.  I also put the main parts of the wheels together and primed them as well.

A keen-eyed observer will notice I already have a problem but we’ll get to that later.

Next I primed the outside pieces the standard grey I’ll be using for the model.

Ruh Roh. Apparently I didn’t pay attention enough to which side was which on the inside frame pieces and now have them glued to the wrong sides. Be careful when assembling as it seems really easy to do.

So with this mess up, I could try to take the inner frame apart and glue it back or I could flip the outer pieces around and have the whole model reversed. I wasn’t going to risk breaking the model to fix the inner frame so I tested the reverse sides.

Hmm. Just not feeling it. You lose a lot of the etched detailing and the outer door on the driver’s side just feels weird. After some brainstorming, I come up with a nifty plan C.

I went in to illustrator and photoshop and made custom windows overlay inside the frame, blocking the incorrect inner sides.  After seeing this more in the test, I actually prefer it since the interior has no detail, the see through windows make the model a little odd.  These windows were really easy since they sandwich between the frame and the detailed outer pieces.

Inserting the stylized curtains to the interior of the model (inside the already put together frame) was a bit more challenging and not unlike putting together a ship in a bottle.  For anyone going this route, plan ahead and attach your window images on the interior frame pieces before you get the whole thing together.

Next it was an easy bit of attaching the out detail pieces and the frame for the awning.

If you take a quick look back at the Mantic image of the front bumper and my front bumper, you’ll notice another little hiccup. This time, it’s totally on Mantic as the instructions show the bumper in the configuration that I have but the intent is likely how they have their press image. I’ll see how annoying the discrepancy is and maybe I’ll correct it.

There was one last feature I wanted to add: a Windshield.  The open/exposed front looks odd to me and I didn’t want to do another paper image like the other sides. Luckily, Mantic already supplies the answer, albeit from another source:

Using the clear plastic window piece from one of their survivor boosters works perfectly.  Cut to fit and glued in, I have my new RV all ready to rock and roll out.

I may still decide to paint it up more and add some detailing but for now, I’m calling it good.

edit: someone asked about the window graphics so I have posted them below.  It’s in b/w but the gray window graphics can be used for color as well.  It’s also really easy to do in Illustrator: gradient > type: linear > angle 45 degree > pull the gradient slider towards the light color until you get the “glare” effect you want.

click for full size image

Walking Dead Wednesday: Cheap Walls

I’ve been printing up some new paper craft buildings from the Fat Dragon city set I picked up awhile back but wasn’t paying attention and double printed some of the sheets.  Not wanting to just waste good material, I decide to reuse them with some foamcore and make some quick and easy walls.

First I wanted to make sure my walls matched me fences from the Mantic Battlezones 20th Century set.

Then I spray mounted the paper images to foamcore.

Finally, I cut one side down to size, then glued on a second piece to make the walls thick enough to stand on their own.  After some trimming and spray-mounting the rest of the images on the other side, I was good to go.

I also got some painting in where I finished Lori, Morgan, and Duane.

They painted up pretty easy though I was a little ambitious (for me) and went for a patterned shirt for Lori like in the comics.  It worked out ok and looks better from arms length (like most of my minis do).

I really hope Rick and company don’t need something beyond that gate.

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