Friday 23 March 2018

Flight Stands for Gaming or Display

Occasionally — not often, but from time to time — my tabletop wargaming involves aircraft. It might be a specifically aerial dogfighting game, or it might be the aerial component of an all-arms game.

The thing about aircraft is that they need to be up in the air, or they just look stupid. So, here's how I make the flight stands for my planes. This specific one is a metal Hawker Harrier jet from Heroics & Ros, but I've used the same system to make stands for 1/144 plastic kits as well.

 The first thing to address is that a model on the end of a stick needs a bit of weight at the base to make it stable, or else it will just keep falling over and probably damaging the model.

The size of the base and the amount of weight required will depend on how long a stand you want, and the size and weight of the model to be perched on top of it. In this case I'm using quite a short stand, but the metal model is fairly heavy.

I create the base by supergluing together a stack of fender washers of decreasing size. In this case, the largest one is 32mm in diameter. You don't need to use much glue at all at this stage, just enough to tack them together: there will be a lot more glue going on later.

The stand is a length of 3mm clear acrylic rod. I prefer this because it's see-through, but a sturdy length of steel wire will also do the job. I've drilled a matching 3mm cavity in the belly of the aeroplane model; this one is a tight enough fit that it can just be pushed on and it will stay, but another option is to use a pair of magnets, one glued to the tip of the stand, and the other to the belly of the plane.

 Once I have my base stack, I flood the levels with liquid superglue and then cover it with baking soda.

The baking soda combines with the superglue and cures it pretty much instantaneously, and leaves a rough plastic-like mass. The excess is just brushed away — if you're cheap, and it's not going to be used for cooking, it can go back into the box for re-use.

 You will probably have to repeat the superglue + baking soda once or twice to get a more or less even covering over the stack of washers and to disguise their edges.

The next step is to get the acrylic stand attached to the base.

You can see here that I've taped the acrylic rod to a piece of folded card. This is to keep it square and vertical in the base while the glue is setting. It's best to make sure that the end of the rod is a few millimetres above the surface of the table; if it protrudes even a fraction of a millimetre below the edge of the support card, it will throw everything out of whack and your stand won't be perfectly vertical.

You need to make sure that the card's base is perfectly straight, and that it's folded with that bottom edge matching exactly — that will ensure that the folded crease is perfectly square to the bottom edge, and it will also be perfectly vertical to the tabletop when the card is stood like this.

I've cut a notch out of the bottom of the card stand — this is to accommodate the base for the next step.

The cavity in the stack of washers is filled with epoxy, and the acrylic rod, taped to its support card, is lowered down into it.

Leave it to set.

The epoxy in this image is coloured that diarrhea brown because there was a little bit of paint left in the silicon cupcake baking thing I use as mixing palettes. It's not necessary to colour it at all.
I had a lot more epoxy mixed up than I really needed, and spread some out over the base.

I poured some basing sand over it while it was setting to provide a bit of texture.
Once the epoxy has set, the stand is basically done.

Now all that remains is to paint and flock the base as you normally would, to match your battle mat or whatever.

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