Plastic card is like the mythical hobby supply that everyone knows about, but nobody has ever seen at a Michaels. Hobby blogs like Dave Taylor’s display vast possibilities for those with access to the fabled material, with an almost Macgyver-like ability to turn some plastic shavings into a pre-heresey Imperator class titan. Hyperbole aside, last summer I set out to enter this world of plasti-craft, and I am here to report my results. As always, I in no way claim to be an expert at any of this, just an adventurous hobby guy that wants to share my experiences.
First of all, obtaining the plastic card itself was not easy. Going by a variety of names, the product has an almost “hobby stealth”, the likes of which I had never before experienced. Naturally when I asked for plastic card in Michaels and A.C. Moore, they acted as though I had entered their establishments in search of a black-market organ auction. The local model train store was a bit more promising, with one dust-covered sheet of yellowing, paper-thin plastic, for the deep discount of $7.99. I searched online, but seemed to run into nothing but industrial-arts companies that wanted only to sell me enough to built that 1:1 scale bastion I keep telling my girlfriend about. I am not sure why it took me so long to think of it, but I eventually ventured on to the Gale Force Nine website, which gave me a great selection of products at a much more reasonable rate. Recently, Jorge Ruiz, winner of the Conflict GT and competitor in the upcoming NOVA invitational gave be the best advice I could have never come up with myself: Use Home Depot-bought “For Sale” signs. Holy crap are those cheap.
With plastic card in hand, I began the next step. The project I was working on at the time, was the creation of a “Chimera” troop transport, large enough to transport six renegade Ogryn models. I started with the Ork Battlewagon as a base, then began to work-out just how much card I wanted to use to cover the chassis itself. After using the near-finished vehicle as a template, I traced the edges onto a sheet of paper. I then used the paper to carefully cut the plastic into shape, being careful to label each plastic shape with the location on the vehicle. Next I shaved down all protrusions from the vehicle itself, so the card would have large, flat surfaces to bond to. I knew that I could go back with putty or filler later, but I wanted the vehicle to retain some semblance of structure, regardless of the ramshackle nature of a renegade transport. Lastly, I used Testors glue for plastic models to apply the card to the sides of the chassis. This was the result:
While certainly not elegant, I think the effect was achieved. I think it helps that my first foray into plastic card was on a ramshackle vehicle, as something more sleek and well designed, like a Space Marince or Eldar vehicle, would be far less forgiving visually. Here is another view of the project at this point:
I used a light-weight spackel to fill the remaining gaps in the card. I like this spackel, because it dries very quickly, has a light finished weight, and can be sanded smooth with just a bare finger. After adding heaps of bits and some paint, you can see the finished Ogryn Chimera at the top of this post.
My latest project has also taken me into the realm of plastic card. I am currently converting nine Ork Deffkoptas for my Skaven-themed Dark Eldar army. This project has a bit less room for “ramshackle, and because I was creating nine exact replicas, I really needed to make a template. After experimenting with an exacto-knife and some paper, I eventually found a “fender” and “hood” shape that not only fit together, but fit the models quite well. I traced these shapes onto a sheet of plastic card, and diligently applied my razor:
While far from finished, you can see the effect of adding the plastic card to the over-all profile of the models. Now with the addition of some bits, these models will be less WIP and more presentable on the tabletop.
As a final tip that I picked up in my experiences, I would certainly consider using only a small amount of plastic glue to adhere card to a model. As we all know, most plastic glues “melt” plastic together chemically, and the thin nature of plastic card can sometimes be a problem here, as the underlying forms of the original model can sort of push through the melting plastic during the curing process.
I hope this gives you all a bit of insight into working with plastic card. Again, there are far better modelers out there than me, but I would at least like to to claim some bravery for this venture. Any and all feedback is welcome.