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At the Mountains of Madness - F I N I S H E D ! ! !

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I recently completed a build of the venerable Airfix Ford Tri-motor, made up for the fictional Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition described in H.P. Lovecraft's horror novella, At the Mountains of Madness. The Cliff's Notes plot-line is that, in 1930, a university in New England sponsors a geologic and paleontologic expedition to the unknown Antarctic. Using aircraft to cover the vast distances, they discover a range of mysterious mountains and, beyond that, the cyclopean ruins of an ancient city. On landing to explore the city, the scientists encounter monstrous beings that proceed to kill the explorers, etc. etc.




The WIP for my Tri-motor build can be found here:



and here are a few pics of the finished model:








With the Tri-motor done, I need to build a suitable diorama around it. This will be my first attempt at building such a large/complex diorama. My goal is to show the aircraft after it has landed at the edge of the mysterious city. For inspiration, I plan to draw heavily from this artwork:




my list of needed "props" include:



Cargo & oil drums

Fuel pump & hose





Furniture for tents

Booze bottles

Booze crates


Giant Albino Penguins

Sled Dogs



Let's get started!


My first step was to decide on the general layout of the diorama:








The biggest challenge will be the city wall, so that's where I will begin. I drew out the general dimensions on paper




and transferred that to a piece of foamboard:




The wall's buttresses and other 3-D features were cut from various thickness of foam, which will be mounted to the foamboard backing after detailing is finished:




The base will, of course, be covered with snow and ice. I will be using for the first time AK Interactive's products:


44437768175_9888f67146_c.jpg   30412084537_9992afba73_c.jpg 


A quick trial run looks promising:


45301267532_8f60e061cf_z.jpg 31476395528_87c4d6d90d_z.jpg


That's as far as I've gotten as of today. I'll be posting regularly over the next few weeks, and expect to be asking lots of questions along the way.






Edited by billn53
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Great job on the tri-motor! Now there are a couple of items on your diorama list you don't see everyday - the Giant Albino Penguins and the Shoggoths*. Those pieces of foam you cut out for the buttresses do look suitably cyclopean. I hope you will be able to find the exact shade of 'ichor green' to paint them, though. And I have to point out that the blue on the Miskatonic University logo is a little off - it should be lighter, I believe, according to my unnamed (and unnamable) sources.


Yours in eldritch horror,




*Yes, I can see the clerk when you go into the model railroad shop, 'Sorry mate, we just sold the last of the Shoggoths. We should be getting in another lot of them in, oh, a couple of weeks. And we just sold our last tin of Humbrol "Ichor Green'.'

Edited by Learstang
Slight change.
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6 minutes ago, Learstang said:

Yes, I can see the clerk when you go into the model railroad shop, 'Sorry mate, we just sold the last of the Shoggoths. We should be getting in another lot of them in, oh, a couple of weeks. And we just sold our last tin of Humbrol "Ichor Green.'

Thank the Elder Gods for eBay!  

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2 minutes ago, billn53 said:

Thank the Elder Gods for eBay!  


All Praise Be to Nodens, Lord of the Outer Abyss!





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Cthulhu doesn't post on Facebook because he invented it! He invaded a meat-sack called Zukerberg and created FB to corrupt mankind - its why you can see no humanity in the eyes of the Zuck!! :D


Looking forward to this diorama build :)

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I'm continuing to build the wall (although my budget is much less than $5.7 billion, even in 1/72 scale dollars) and making good progress. Unlike el Presidente's wall, mine will be foam, not steel or concrete. To protect and seal the foam, I applied three layers of Mod Podge to the exposed surfaces:




This is what it looks like assembled (the pink buttresses are thus far only slotted into place):




The plastic food container on the left will form the basis for the city entry port / shoggoth lair:




I have encountered one smallish problem: the foam board backing has developed a slight warp:




It's not a huge deal right now, but I don't want it to get any worse. I'm hoping I can fix this by adding a reinforcing frame to the back.


To add interest to the wall, I intend to detail the three major buttresses with alien artwork. I will use this neat item from Green Stuff World, appropriately titled "Madness of Cthulhu":




It's an engraved rolling pin for making bases for wargaming figures, etc. Here's an example from the GreenStuffWorld website of how it should look:




I rolled out a thin layer of air-drying clay and applied the roller:


46252371754_11242e949d_z.jpg  46924699342_ff6aae7cb9_c.jpg 


My result isn't nearly as nice as what is shown on the website, but I expect the engravings will become more apparent after painting & weathering. In the photo below, I've adjusted contrast and brightness to better show the engravings:




I'll let the clay dry overnight, and decide tomorrow if I'm satisfied. My backup plan, should the air-dry clay be unsatisfactory, is to use Milliput or Apoxy Sculpt.


That's all for now. Thanks for viewing!

Edited by billn53
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Remember that wall is very old in the book, so I suspect engravings, even in that preternaturally strong (alien?) rock would be rather eroded. I am getting a bit worried about you using that product called 'Madness of Cthulhu'; what's next, the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred's Super Putty (works so well, it's almost supernatural!). Or the Nyarlathotep line of lacquer acrylics?





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18 minutes ago, Learstang said:

Remember that wall is very old in the book, so I suspect engravings, even in that preternaturally strong (alien?) rock would be rather eroded.

You are, of course, correct. Fortunately I have just received my set of Essential Saltes Weathering Pigments from HoundsOfTindalus.com

Edited by billn53
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After allowing the air-dried clay facades to dry 24-hours, I gave them a shot of primer to see how well the embossing looks. The answer is -- pretty good:




but I'm going to trash the clay pieces anyway. They shrank a bit in the drying process, creating a nasty curl which would probably give me fits trying attach the clay facades to the buttresses:




On to Plan B... I mixed up a batch of white Milliput, to which I added a bit of plasticine clay (1 part plasticine to 2 parts Milliput). This is a tip I found on the GreenStuffWorld website. The inexpensive plasticine "stretches" the more costly Milliput. It also gives a less brittle result when the Milliput cures. Anyway, that's what the website says. I rolled out the mixture to a thin layer and applied the "Madness of Cthulhu" embossing tool. Here's how it looks:




So far, so good. No signs of any shrinkage or curling.


While waiting for the Milliput to harden up good, I attacked the warped-wall problem. Using Gorilla Glue, I clamped a study piece of XPS foam to the backside of the wall's top:




I'll let that sit overnight, then repeat the process on the wall's base.


That's my report for today. 

Edited by billn53
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This is just a very quick update before I head off to work. Last evening I cut out my embossed facades and glued them to the three three major buttresses. I just say that I like working with the Milliput + plasticine clay mixture -- the result is slightly rubbery and flexible, and is much easier to cut than pure Milliput.


Here's my wall now:




Next step is to add a thin layer of spackling compound (or something similar) to unify the surface texture and give me a foundation for making this wall look like it's been standing for ancient aeons.

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I have finished building "The Wall". I built a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I built it very inexpensively. It's a big, fat, beautiful wall. :penguin:




For interest, I wanted the different parts of the wall to have a variety of textures. You can see that the texture of the rough-cut stones is much different than what's on the top of the big buttresses:




Here's how I did it. Working one section at a time, I gave the foam board surfaces a coat of wall spackle. On the stone areas, I used the end of a stiff brush to texture the surface while the spackle was fresh and wet. After the spackle had set, I gave a light sanding with coarse sandpaper to remove the highest spots, then cut the mortise lines using my engraving tool. For the buttresses, I applied a thin layer of spackle, let it dry, and sanded it smooth. I then wet the surface with clear floor acrylic to soften the spackle, and stippled the surface with the stiff brush.


After everything was dry, I did final assembly and sprayed everything with a base coat of Humbrol Tank Gray 67 "rattle can" acrylic. That was followed by a light, misty coat of Humbrol Gray 64, from the top at a very acute angle, so that the darker Tank Gray would show in the shadowed areas.


46125106455_6be780c270_z.jpgU   40073900703_58f105b3e7_z.jpg 


I think that worked out pretty well... take a look at the carvings on the buttresses:




Next step is to add some weathering, and then break ground for the shoggoth lair!




By the way, I posted a RFI a few days ago for the Ford Tri-motor, which will be the centerpiece of this diorama. If you missed it, you can find it here:



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Really great work on the wall.  I like the texture alot.  The trimotor looks gorgeous!  I think I'll get one.  And I can think of someone who might like your wall design very much.

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That roller/embosser is the coolest thing on wheels! Will have to check those things out for my next dio.


BTW...'you-know-who' wishes he had your wall! (It might conceivably scare off more 'visitors' than steel slats or razor-wire.... :penguin:)


Sublime work!!

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I haven't been able to put in as much time this weekend as I would have liked, but I haven't been idle, either.


For my shoggoth, I started with a wargaming miniature from Strange Aeons (www.strange-aeons.ca). It was a little on the small side, so I enlarged it with some Apoxy Sculpt. I also added a number of eyeballs made from leftover Apoxy Sculpt:


47054978861_a1a9637f01_c.jpg  40090118053_5b35759801.jpg


What's a shoggoth without tentacles? Fortunately, I have a willing donor:




The shoggoth's lair / city entrance started out as a plastic food container. I cut out the three entry holes and covered the entire piece with a layer of Milliput+Plasticine:


47054979221_c86117a7f7.jpg   47003018462_91dfea99f4_c.jpg 


I also did some additional weathering to my big, fat, beautiful wall:




Last, but not least, I started work on the mutant albino penguins :penguin::penguin::penguin::




That's it for now!




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  • billn53 changed the title to At the Mountains of Madness - F I N I S H E D ! ! !

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