As I was wandering around checking out all the beautifully painted models and terrain, I noticed a neat little terrain kit for under ten bucks: the Warsenal Comanche Tower Lamps. It consists of three unpainted, unassembled, laser-cut MDF and acrylic lamp posts. I figured they would be a quick project resulting in some cool sci-fi scenery. I also wanted to try out a new painting and weathering technique, and, at that price, wouldn't be too put out if it they didn't turn out like I was hoping they would.
Assembly and Painting
Assembly is straightforward – just copy the photo on the package. First, I punched out the MDF pieces and glued them together with basic PVA ("white glue").
Next, I used canned spray paint to lay down my base coats. I left the solar panels still attached to their mirrored acrylic sheet and spray painted only the back side of them with a dark blue. This enhanced the solar panel look. Then, I painted the assembled MDF posts, the same backside of the solar panels, and one side of the fluorescent yellow "light bars" (also left in their acrylic sheet) a shiny aluminum color. I followed this up with a couple of coats of Testors Dullcote to knock the shine back considerably, while still maintaining a metallic sheen, and to provide a surface for the weathering step. Somewhere in there, I brush painted the power/control boxes.
At this point, I punched out the solar panels and light bars, cleaned them up with a file, and then glued them in place with 5-minute epoxy. I chose epoxy as it wouldn't damage the basecoat and has a body to it that can fill the tiny gap in the slots the pieces slide into.
At Gen Con 2013, I took Dave Pauwels' Liber Metallica class. Fantastic class! I love the way he uses NMM (Non-Metallic Metal) techniques with metallic paints. So far, it's my favorite metals technique as you get the best of both worlds. Anyway, as part of the class materials, he provided two metal washes; a bluish grey and a reddish brown. They are made from Golden Fluid Acrylics and both start with Raw Umber. The bluish grey uses Paynes Gray as the primary color and the reddish brown uses Burnt Sienna as the primary color. They are then both thinned down to wash consistency with water. You will have to experiment with the ratios to get a color and consistency you like.
I used these two washes along with Secret Weapon Armor Wash to dirty up the lamps. The Paynes Gray wash gives them a darker, almost oxidized patina, the Burnt Sienna provides rust effects, and the Armor Wash gives them a general filth.
The last step is to wire the solar panels to the power/control boxes. The kit came with some black string for this purpose, but I didn't feel it would look or hang right. So, instead, I used some old black telephone wire. Since it was too small for the pre-cut holes, I ended up stripping the very end of the wire, and putting on some very small heat-shrink tubing. This had the added effect of looking like strain relief or an electrical boot. I glued the ends of the wire in with cyanoacrylate. (Check out my Sinbad Glue article!)
Overall, I am very pleased with the finished result—both the look of the lamps and the results of my weathering experiment. I should point out that, since I painted one side of the fluorescent yellow "light bars", they don't do the cool glowing effect seen in the package art at the top of the page. Also, due to their height, the lights are a bit wobbly, so you may want to tape or poster putty them to your gaming surface.