fredag 27 februari 2015

Mean green grassing machine

Being at home with man-flu (mucus seeping from my skull) gave me a chance to try out my new static grass applicator without endangering any other family members. Since this is a highly advanced electrical device, deadly in the wrong hands and not to be used by or on children and those of frail health, you can understand my worries.

No Beatles were harmed while testing the device.
The design is simple: the static grass is electrically charged by an electric source, one pole connected to the grass container, the other pole connected to surface you want to glue the grass to. In the old days you put the grass in a plastic container and shook it violently before pouring the grass out hoping that it would generate some static electricity. Another way which functioned marginally better was a "puffer bottle"; same thing, you shook the bottle and then pressed on it to blow the grass out. Anyway, the electricity makes the grass fibers stand on end while the glue dries and thus looking more realistic.

The wire inside the container is also connected to the metal mesh, charging the grass as it passes through.
A couple of years ago Noch unleashed their electronic grass applicator on the model railway market for a cost of about a couple of hundred euros or about hundred and fifty pounds. Other companies quickly followed suit, but the more ingenious railway modellers made their own from electric flyswatters. Now the fad has reached the wargames market. There are several different designs, but they all work on the same principle and yes, you can build your own, just google it. Being somewhat lazy I decided to buy a cheap Chinese version on eBay for 25 dollars including shipping.

It even has a "NO" switch. Luckily I'm a highly trained engineer with a specialty in "engrish".
A closer inspection revealed that it was indeed, a rebuilt electric fly swatter. No worries, it's not as if I paid a hundred pounds for it. I even got a small bag of unrealistically green static grass. So did it work? Read on to find out.
I didn't know what to try it on but found three The Assault Group Germans that had flocked bases but no tufts or static grass on them. I dabbed some white glue where I wanted a couple of grass tufts and turned on the nefarious machine.

Three hapless Germans "volunteered" to be guinea pigs.
My first problem was how to attach the wire providing the other pole to the figures. It had a crocodile clamp, but the bases are quite small and I didn't want to ruin the basework already done. I came up with the idea of putting the figures on a cookie tin lid and connect the clamp to it.

This must be the new SS camoflague suit, right?
Second problem was how to get close enough for the electrical charge to do its work. The grass isn't magically beamed to the place you want it, you have to hold the applicator above the area, press the power button and wiggle it around a bit. Most of the grass ended up on the figures' heads instead as that was the closes point to the applicator. Those that fell on the bases didn't stand up as much, but a little bit anyway.

After removing all the extra grass. Looks Ok!
The good news is that all the grass that didn't land on a spot of glue is easily removed just by shaking it off. The end result is quite ok, but it's darn finicky. If you want to use the applicator on figure bases you better attach the figures afterwards, perhaps by drilling wires into their feet and then into the base.

Old boring "broken ground" base.
Next up was trying the "grassinator" on a couple of old terrain pieces I had. These were rocks on a cork base covered with one-coloured GW flock.

Well, that looks green and frolicky.
Here the applicator did a better job. I spread out blobs of white glue on about a quarter of the base at a time and shook off the excess between each take. I used the unnaturally dark green grass supplied mixed with some equally unnaturally bright green GW grass.

The grass really stands up! Maybe it's happy to see me?
One thing I didn't like was that as I had only short fibres, and every pack of static grass I opened seemed to be the same length, the terrain piece looked like a finely cut lawn. Then I tried gently brushing glue onto random spots of already done areas, and go over them once more. The result was a success, the new fibers adhered to the ends of the previous, lengthening them. By doing it in random places the result looks more natural.
Oh look, another black rock. My terrain skills were not always as great as they are now.
I tried something differen on the next piece. First, I used GW scorched grass as the first layer, and then the usual green mix on top of that. Second, I connected the electrical wire directly to the terrain piece instead of the cookie tin lid. I liked the effect of the two tone grass, but the electric charge wasn't as good as before, especially on the second layer as can be seen in the picture above.

Then I tried my hand at doing tufts by putting small blobs of glue directly on the lid. It worked, but next time I will put the glue on a piece of wax paper instead, as it was hard removing the tufts from the lid without damaging them too much.

All in all a fruitful experience. The experiment was a success and I had time to vacuum up any stray fibres before the family returned. And I only electrocuted myself twice. Hint: the NO position of the switch actually means ON.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Very nice indeed. I built a flyswatter version just for the fun of it. It sort of works and I will be playing some more with it later and report.

  2. What is this witchery!! ;) Too complicated for me but amazing stuff. Those bases look very good.


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