Monday, January 29, 2018

Another Attempt at Static Grass

Against my better judgement, I decided to order one of those static grass boxes. It wasn't exactly cheap but it seems like static grass applicators in general are not cheap. My primary use of static grass is for spiffing up figure bases rather than large terrain pieces. Also, static grass seems to be very messy even when I applied it by hand. With kids around, I don't want to use something that could cause respiratory problems. There are two brands that I know of. I found out from some reviews on YouTube, that one that one brand is better rated than the other. The highly rated one has not been available for as long as I been thinking about buying one of these boxes. So, I ended up buying the WW Scenics Pro.

What you get

Besides the box, you get two packs of static grass of different lengths, a small bottle of glue, an instruction sheet, and a folded sheet of paper. I almost threw out the sheet of paper, but a Youtube review informed me that it was for making my own truffs. The instruction sheet is not very detailed. Besides not telling me what the piece of paper was for, it could have done a better job of telling me how to use it. It did tell me what sort of battery to use, so I guess that is a good thing. Speaking of batteries, here is the little hatch to insert it:

It was not the easiest thing to open. I had to use a staple remover to get it open. To to sound picky, but "SLIDE OUT" would have been better than "PULL OUT." I thought the hatch flipped open. Inside it slides out like a file drawer.

I test it out
Based on the YouTube video, I decided to conduct my tests outside. It was breazy and slightly overcast this Saturday, but I decided to test it out. About a month ago, I bought one of those electric fly swatter kind for about $40 made by a company named GrassTech. It is, in fact, a repurposed electric fly swatter. One thing going against the fly swatter is that the wire for the alligator clip is very thin and looks like it could easily break.

There was no way I could take any action pictures. The flocking went way too fast, plus a good gust of wind would blow the grass off the applicator before I started. If you are unfamiliar with how this box works, you put the grass on the box, then put the alligator clip on the object you want flocked. Holding the figure upside down over the box, you then turn it on. The grass flies up into the air and supposedly onto the figure.

I used PVA glue as the adhesive. For test subjects I used two 15mm fantasy figures that recently finished and based. I used both some old, 2mm flock and the longer flock that came with the WW Scenics Pro.

My old nemesis
WWS box applicator using Woodland Scenics grass
A lot of waste
WWS box applicator using WWS 4mm flock
After a few hours (sorry about the blurry picture)

After a few hours of drying

Fly swatter applicator using WWS 4mm grass
My conclusions
First, to be fair, a windy day is not the best time to be flocking outdoors.  The breezes caused the grass to arc away from its intended target as it left the box. This seemed to be slightly less of a problem when I used the fly swatter.

I was warned by the YouTube video that grass was going to go flying all over the place, and it did irregardless of the wind. This resulted in a lot of waste grass, much of it sticking all over the box. This was much less of an issue with the fly swatter.

I has a little more control using the fly swatter compared to the box. Once I flipped the switch on the box, the grass went flying off of it all at once. It seemed that the mesh that held the grass caused the grass to leave the fly swatter more slowly. This allowed a little more time to move the applicator in various directions.

Static grass size seems to be a contributor to success. The 2mm stuff looks like crap. It doesn't look all that much better than if I had just thrown the grass on with my hand. The longer 4mm grass looks somewhat nicer. Nonetheless, I am not that impressed by the outcome of either applicator. There are as many grass fibers lying down as there are standing up vertically.

The verdict? Meh. Had I known, I probably would not have bought the box. Since I've paid as much as I did, I am going to use it, but probably the fly swatter more. Also, I will use it in the garage where there is no breeze but I don't have to worry too much about the grass getting all over the place. I'm also going to look into other types of adhesives. Maybe PVA glue is not the best, but it seems like that is what others use.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year's Progress

Not a whole lot of work has been done so far this new year. The crappy weather, which prevented spraying miniatures, and having to prepare for a new semester meant that I've had little time to engage in hobby activities. A few things have been completed nonetheless.

First up, a M113 (CinC) with a Panhard AML 90 turret (GHQ). Even though GHQ models are slightly larger than CinC, it seemed to work pretty well.

I started this project before Christmas break, but finally finished it off the other day. Among my purchases over break from Games Plus Hobbies in Chicagoland, I bought some various washes to test. For this model, I used Secret Weapon Washes:

It was way too opaque straight out of the bottle! So I diluted it with some Future floor finish. Even then, I had to go back over it with some light strokes of the original olive green paint. An interesting and unexpected result was that the wash dried flat.  I also bought a bottle of Vallejo wash and plan to experiment with that soon.

Next up are more Bovatopian 1/600 vehicles. Until the last day or so, its been either near zero temperatures, or been raining around here; neither optimal conditions for spraying outdoors. A brief letup allowed me to spray some new figures with paint and spray some finished ones with Dullcoat. From left to right: Swedish Pvpj 90mm recoilless rifle mounted on a TGB 111 light truck (looks more like a golf cart to me), Bofors 40mm AA in action mode, Bofors 40mm in travel mode, Russian GAZ 66 trucks.

Not shown are some 15mm fantasy figures that I prepped using Vallejo's primer. I am always looking for an alternative to spray primers, which I prefer but weather is an issue. Last week, I broke down and ordered one of those static grass box applicators. I am not overly optimistic, but videos I've seen of them in action make me think that maybe I can finally use up that big container of static grass that I have.