Thursday, August 26, 2010

Out to launch

Here are the first steps on the way to Africa Station, center of scenarios and mini-campaigns in my Daftest Africa setting. Since the settlement is situated on the mighty Ukrazi River, there's a need for some kind of jetty to handle boat traffic - and a need for a boat to go with the jetty.

Messing about on the river.

The jetty is constructed from Woodsies craft sticks cut into short 1.25" lengths, with 1" uprights from bamboo kabob skewers cross-tied with basswood strips. The boardwalk itself is 3/4" above table level. Ordinary craft glue was used throughout.

I made a few deliberate gaps in between the boards to give the impression of a rough-and-ready frontier structure. Acrylic craft paints were used on the lower ends of the supports and areas of planking to give the slimy appearance found on all wooden structures in wet areas. Since the jetty is new, I used a wash of brown ink to darken the wood instead of painting it bleached gray-brown.

The steam launch construction followed the excellent guidelines given on the Major-General's website. Essentially, it's a boat shape cut from two pieces of thin card using a template and sandwiched together for strength. The sides are two more sandwiches of thin card, again cut using a template for consistency. Her boiler is made of a hoop of thin card covered with a strip of the thick tinfoil used as freshness seals on jars of peanuts. Rivets were punched into the foil from the other side before it was glued into place with impact adhesive.

The funnel is a length of drinking straw with paper rolled around it for additional stiffness and because it takes paint better than plastic. Rope fenders came from the short lengths of string attached to individual tea-bags. They're ideal for this scale! A short length of tube from a coffee-stirrer makes a holder for flag staffs, enabling the gamer to swap-out flags depending on the nationality of the launch's crew.

Every part got an undercoat of Necrotic Flesh from The Army Painter and the outer hull was finished off with Craft Smart acrylic paints. A coat of Pledge/Future/ Klear sealed everything, and a wash of India ink over the boiler and funnel gave them a suitably grimy look. I did add a few splotches of pale green-gray paint to give the impression of verdigris on the boiler but it doesn't show up well on the photos.

Like everything else I make, the majority of component parts come from recycled materials.

So here we have it, a smart little steam launch ready to take intrepid adventurers in search of the unknown!


Bluebear Jeff said...


I love the jetty (and will steal the concept, thank you); and your launch is very nice.

One thing that I did was to make a half dozen "native canoes" using a simplified version of the General's techniques with slightly splayed sides.

I made them to hold ten figures (one each in the bow and stern and four rows of two). I painted them a nice dark brown.

They were easy to make and serve very well for native attacks . . . and with the splayed sides, they "nest" inside each other for simple storage.

To design the template, I simply put ten native figures down in the pattern above and traced around it. Worked like a charm.

You might want to try it. They are not nearly as lovely and detailed as your launch, but they are very useful.

-- Jeff

A J said...

Steal away, Jeff! ;) I'm glad the idea's useful to you. Thanks for the tips on the native canoes. I've been pondering how best to make some and your method sounds ideal.

ColCampbell50 said...

I like your idea of "reverse" embossing the boiler plate before gluing it to the frame.



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