Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Big Rubble in Little China!

Some of my readers may remember that I have more than a passing interest in the Pulp genre.
I recently purchased the Pulp Alley Rule Book and Fortune and Solo Card Decks.
Now that I had the mechanism and the tools to play Pulp Alley Solo I needed a surface upon which to play on.

I came across these pop out foam core buildings on the internet recently.
They are made in China by a company called Cubic Fun.
The range is not limited to Asian style buildings.   They have Italian, Wild West and English amongst others.   I selected the Chinese style as I could use them not only for Pulp Alley but also if I ever stage a Boxer Rebellion game.

 They consist of 4 double sided sheets of pre-printed, pre-punched foam core.   Just pop out and assemble.
The only draw back is they are scaled to be about suitable for 28mm figures.
To get around this I scanned the 4 sheets, front and back for a total of 8 sheets per building and then resized them to twice their size. 
These were then taken to our local Stationery Supply outlet and printed up on A3 size paper.

The following are notes I prepared whilst making up the first of the buildings.
Note some of the photos are of different buildings.

1.       I used three types of board, 5mm foam core, picture framing board(PFB) and a slightly thinner cardstock (STC).   The picture framing board can be picked up (usually cheaply) at picture framers.    They often have a bin of offcuts.

2.       Glues - I used Selleys Kwik Grip Contact adhesive spray for large flat surfaces i.e. walls/ rooves etc.    Elmers GlueAll thinly brushed on for the smaller pieces.   The Elmers does not seem to wrinkle the paper such as PVA woodworking glue does.

3.       Paints – For touch-ups I used Vallejo Goblin Green, Dk Prussian Blue and Neutral Grey.   I also used Sharpies and Whiteboard Markers to colour exposed card edges.

4.       I started on the 4 main walls first.   You’ll note that there are black numbered pieces and blue numbered pieces.   Cut out the black numbers first and glue to foamcore.   These are the outer surfaces.    I did not bother with a lot of the tabs as I used butt joints.   Make sure you measure twice and then cut once.  

There was a slight problem with the building being square if the front wall was not trimmed down.   Refer to the instruction manually constantly.   Measure, measure, measure!

5. It’s a good idea to keep the offcuts with for trimming/concealing etc.   Failing that, I just printed up sections of the resized scan using Irfan View to crop and print original (size from DPI).   I used this technique to cover exposed foam core edges/blank brickwork etc.

6.   I made up a number of the small sub assemblies first so I could get a feel for the medium and perfect my techniques and methods.

7. I trimmed off the tabs as I wasn't going to use them.   Exposed edges of the foam core were covered with either leftover printed sheet or thins strips of card later painted to match.

8. When cutting rooves etc.,  I made the blue numbered piece the “Master” and trimmed that to final size and glued it to the cardstock.   I then cut the black numbered piece to its coloured extremity.   This allowed an overlap so when glued to the rear of the blue numbered piece I could fold over the edges thus covering the exposed edges.

9.   The circle windows were glued to PFB and once totally dry the circle was cut out using a circle cutting compass.

10. As I mentioned before, I used three types of board.   PFB as it does not readily warp due to its laminated construction, Foam Core for parts that need strength and thickness and a STC slightly thinner than the PFB.   When laminating paper to card try to achieve three laminations.    This will reduce the chance of warping.   The STC was often glued to itself thus making 4 laminations i.e. paper/card/card/paper.   It’s just a matter of what looks correct for the situation.   You don’t want the sign hanging on the side of the building to be made with foam core!

Whatever you use make sure your hobby knife is really sharp and the glue is dry when you go to cut/trim.

11. With regard to the main roof I used PFB for the base and the front and back paper laminations.   I did however also glue some icy pole sticks across the interior of the roof as a just in case precaution against warping.

12. The interior first floor I just used a piece of PFB.   You don’t see it so I didn’t go to the trouble of laminating.

13. One thing I did notice was that the printed slots on some of the smaller pieces were not registered correctly i.e. they were off centre.   Just bear in mind when cutting out, things are not always as they should be.

14. I replaced some of the printed pieces with constructs made from icy pole and craft sticks.   Window surrounds were also enhanced with frames, surrounds etc. made from matchsticks and card pieces.

15.   After I had made the first building solid I was asked by a fellow modeller about the possibility of making them like a flat pack for easier storage. Trust Les to make life difficult for me! 

I came up with the idea of using 1 x 2 Lego pieces to make connectors.   I modified the male half by gluing two strips of 30 thou square strip to the outer edges.   The female piece was left unaltered.   The male and female pieces were then glued to their respective walls making sure they were aligned correctly.   The strips of plastic allow the building walls to still be joined quite firmly but the resulting slot allows the insertion of a screw driver blade to twist apart the pieces with minimal force.

The result of all this construction (and subsequent lack of posts the last month or so!)
is my 6' x 3' Chinatown board.   It is nowhere near finished and probably wont be for a while yet but I am very pleased with the overall effect so far.

Overall view of the table.   Second artificial turf mat to be purchased for the far end.   Blank MDF road sections will be cobblestoned.

Closeup of the completed buildings so far.   The building to the left is a scratchbuilt one and is the "The Death to Foreigners Mutual Benefit Society" meeting hall.
More to come!