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4 - Basing the Sumerian Spearmen

6mm Sumerian Army Pack
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

Were all the other completed strips as bad as that?

I just learned that Irregular has remade the Sumerian spearmen molds, so strips ordered now should be of improved quality.

Revision Log
13 October 2005page first published

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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While I was waiting for the last few strips from Irregular, I decided to go ahead and base up the first seven stands of Sumerian spearmen.

First, I worked on touch-up. I had actually tried to file off the excess metal on the spears for the last batch of spears, but some of the spears still had a seam down the side, and sometimes the ink wash liked to turn that into a black stripe. So, get out the Maple Sugar Tan and touch up a few spears...

While doing that, I noticed a few spots where the ink wash had missed. Well, actually, I'm certain I didn't miss those spots - the deeper recesses around the feet of the figures - but there must have been an air bubble or something. So, get out the black paint, dab in a few places I missed...

And while doing that, I found a few places where I hadn't cut off the flash between head and spear. (Get craft knife, slice metal off, touch up the paint.)

And the shields. I wanted to have white shields with bronze bosses (9 per shield!), but putting accurate color "dots" on the bosses was very tricky. But finally, I came up with some ideas:

  1. With practice, I got much better at using the paint pen (The Personalizer paint marker from Japan, by the way)
  2. I then realized it wasn't that hard to use white paint to fix the errors...
  3. ...especially when I noticed that it was vertical errors which stood out - so painting a stripe of white paint above or below the bosses fixed most of the problems!
  4. Plus I remembered not to apply 25mm scale standards to 6mm scale figures...
The finished shields

Preparing for Basing

As I mentioned previously, the bases I'll be using for this project are Litko 3mm plywood "thick"-style bases, with Litko Flex Steel adhesive bases applied to the bottom.

Thick-style wooden bases, plastic steel bases

As you can see in the picture, the Flex Steel bases are flexible "rubber" with adhesive on one side - peel the white backing paper off, and stick them onto the wooden bases. The steel bases are very slightly wider than the wooden bases, not enough to affect game-play - but if it bothers you, slide a craft knife along the wooden edges, and the excess Flex Steel shaves right off.

Basing was pretty straightforward. First, I doubted that I could flock inbetween the spearmen strips after they were glued down, so I flocked them ahead of time. I painted a strip of Americana Mink Tan along the front of each the strip base, then dipped the strip into a pail of sand. Then I did the backsides the same way. Finally, I painted the strip ends with Mink Tan, but didn't add sand.

(Why didn't I "sand" the ends? Because the strips would fit end-to-end on the bases, and I didn't want sand to keep the figures from standing close together. So why did I "sand" the fronts and backs, since the strips also butt front-to-back? It's too hard to "sand" the strips and not get the front and back edges, and it didn't seem to make a practical difference.)

I also painted the top of the wooden base with Mink Tan - hoping that if there were any gaps between strips, they would be less apparent if painted tan.

Gluing the Figures in Place

Then I glued either the front or back row down - two regular strips per row, plus one of the cut-down, 5-figure strips I'd created. The cut-down strips usually look worst on the cut end, so I tried to place them where the cut end would be on the "inside" rather than the ends of the base. I used "thick gel" superglue, since it was convenient and I've had good luck with it lately.

Then I glued the second and third ranks in place.

When the figures were securely in place, I applied a little MinWax Stainable Wood Filler (with my finger) along the top edges of the wooden base. This helped fill the gaps at the front and back, and also to conceal the seams between the figure strips. When this was dry, I again used the paint-and-dip method to apply more sand.

Then I did a last round of touch-ups - places were the sand had fallen off or been missed, or painting errors I'd missed before (why is half of that helmet painted flesh color?).

I slid an old craft knife along the sides of the wooden bases, to knock any sand off, then painted the sides Mink Tan. (I considered painting the sides black, or maybe some color to identify these figures as being in the same army, or just "sanding" the sides, but went with this method as clearly identifying where I wanted players to hold these stands without being too noticeable.)

To seal the sand in place and protect the paint, I gave the stands a thorough application of Testors Dull Cote spray paint (clear coat) - being sure to cover all four sides, plus a shot "direct from above" to get inbetween the figure strips.

Lastly, I brushed MinWax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish (clear coat) on the sides of the bases, since I expected the sides to get most of the handling.

The Finished Spear Stands

The finished Sumerian Spearmen stands

I expected to have some problems between the original "dark" batch of figures, and the second "light" batch - and considered giving the second batch another ink wash, at least in the back - but in the end, I thought the effect was very natural looking.

Lighter and darker Sumerian leather cloaks

I had been worried that even with the "sanding," the inside seams between the figure strips would stand out. But as I think this photo shows, covering the seams on the "outside" and leaving the inside seams along seems to be satisfactory.

Covering the seam end, leaving the main seam alone

This is not to say that the seams aren't there - but you have to be looking at the right angle to see them. I've toyed with the idea of using some kind of "paint hypodermic" to apply paint into the seams so I can "sand" them... but it hasn't bothered me enough (yet).

Zooming in at the right angle to see the seams

You'll remember that I was worried about miscast or broken spears, but then in my early tests decided that you just didn't see them. Well, here's a stand - even with the advantage of magnification, can you spot the missing spear?

Can you spot the missing spear?

(This stand has five "stumpy" spears, and one of the front-rank figures has no spear at all.)

The wooden base sides look a bit shabby in that picture, though - I wonder if I should have sealed the wood before painting?

And now that I've done these...


My packet arrives from Irregular with my extra spearmen strips! (And some chariots.) Off to work on the Sumerian Spearmen with General stand...