Saturday, March 29, 2014

Topside Minis WWI Fleet Ready to Set Sail

Back in February, I ordered from Topside Minis their WWI Falklands set of 16 British and German ships, which sells for only $5.60. These are peel-and-stick counters that need to be cut out and applied to the supplied laser-cut plywood bases. Back in February, I wrote about how good a bargain I feel these ships are. It took a while, but this morning I finally got around to applying the ships to their bases.

First, Experiment on the Free Sample 
Before I worked on my Falklands fleets, I experimented with the free WWII sample they had sent me before I placed my order. (Click on their link to get one for yourself.) This way I didn't risk damaging the "real" ships. I cut out the ship using my steel ruler and sharp hobby knife. I then stuck it on the supplied base. I then realized that I had cut the ship just a wee bit smaller than the base. A thin, light-tan strip of wood showed along one short edge. It was very noticeable.

Coloring the Base
After thinking a bit, I grabbed my large bag of Sharpie markers. I first thought of coloring the top edges of the bases blue to match the color of the water on the ships. No Sharpie really matched it. Then I thought, why not color the edges to match the dark brown of the laser cuts?

In the comments from a previous post, CharlesO had mentioned that leaving the edges natural instead of painting them a different color might look just fine. So I tried some of my brown markers. Voila! It worked and looked great. Thanks, Charles! You were right.

Sharpies Are Meant to be Abused
Use a brown fine point Sharpie. Not all Sharpie brown pens are the same color! The shade of brown in the fine tip pen closely matches the brown from the laser cuts. However, the brown in the ultra-fine tip pen is lighter. Odd, I know, but I realized this when testing the pens.

Ink the Base Edges
Before applying the sticker, rub the Sharpie along the sharp edges of the bases. If you look at the bottom photo, you can see how I run some ink along the sides of the top of the bases and the edges. I didn't marker the actual sides of the bases, leaving them in their natural burned look. Does that make sense? I did the top and bottom of the bases. Inking the bottom also hides any little rough spots or edges that might look tan when the counter is on the cloth. (I noticed this on my test ship.)

Skipped Sanding
Because the bases' wood is a bit fuzzy at times, I was tempted to sand it down with some fine sandpaper, but I didn't bother. I can be a bit retentive when it comes to models and such, but sometimes even I have to draw a line! I set aside the bases to dry, and then tried washing the streaks of brown ink off my hands. You will get ink on your fingers!

Ink the Paper Edges
After cutting out the ships, I ran brown marker along the edges of the paper. Do this! It takes away the bright white edge and blends the ship in with the base. This is a trick I also use when building paper buildings, though often I use colored pencils for that.

When done, peel the backing away from the ship, line up the ship along a long edge of the base, stick it to the wood, and smooth it out. You have just finished your first Topside Minis ship counter. And it looks good to boot!

I'm still looking at rules. I'm hoping to try out a couple this weekend. I'll let you guys know how it goes. Naval Thunder: Clash of Dreadnaughts plus Challenge & Reply II are on the top of the list at the moment. After some poking around online this afternoon and reading the demo rules, I am seriously considering Grand Fleets: 2nd Edition.

As PDF downloads, Naval Thunder would cost $15 to get going to play the Battle of the Falkland Islands. C&RII would cost me $13.29 for the rulebook plus the German and the British fleet lists I would need. Grand Fleets 2 would cost me $20 for the rulebook plus the King & Kaiser scenario book with ship data cards that I would need. From what I've read, the scenario book is generic enough to use with any rules. I also was looking at Fleet Action Imminent, but the $32 price tag for a PDF is a bit off putting for buying a game blind. Choices, choices.

Look at the large photo. You'll notice how I accidentally cut the counters a bit small at times or slightly misaligned them on the base. Inking the edges of the base and counter hides this on the table, making the counters look sharp.

Here is the bottom of the base. I did this on both sides. This little touch adds a lot. I elevated one counter to show how inking its paper edge helps blend the paper into the base as well.

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