We’ve been looking forward to this review for a while! Today we will be testing out some of Hirst Arts’ range of scenery molds, designed to let you cast and build pretty much any kind of scenery you can imagine. Hirst Arts molds are available to suit many different themes and time periods, and although we were really tempted to go for the castle and dungeon type molds, we finally settled on 3 of the sci-fi molds for this review.
Here you can see the 3 molds we ordered, numbers 273, 300 & 301 which are available for $29-$34 (~£20) each through the Hirst Arts site. The idea is that you can fill these molds with plaster or a similar casting material and then use the pieces to build your own scenery. Each of these molds is made of a high quality silicone rubber which feels durable but still flexible enough for you to easily pop out your pieces once they are cast.
Mold #273 is the Pipeline Floor Mold, and as you can see below it is designed to let you easily cast your own 1″ square diamond plate floor tiles and pipeline systems. We plan to use this mold as flooring in our sci-fi buildings, but its perfect for engine rooms, service areas and other industrial settings. The white powder in these photos is simply a light coat of talcum powder (baby powder) which has been used while these molds have been stored, it will be washed off before use.
Mold #300 is the Station Builder Mold, and comes in a blue rubber instead of green like the others. This is because its made of a higher density rubber to make it strong enough to accurately cast the larger objects without warping. This mold contains less details and more in the way of structural elements, so it perfect for building larger sci-fi structures.
Mold #301 is the Starship Wall Mold, including all the pieces needed to make high tech looking walls (and a door!) suitable for starships and sci-fi facilities.
And here’s the equipment and materials we used along with the molds in this review:
- Kitchen towel for cleaning up (£1 from Poundland)
- Plastic cups for measuring and mixing in (£1 from Poundland)
- Flexible filling blade for scraping the molds (£1 from Poundland)
- Plastic glue spreader for stirring (99p for 5 from Hobby Craft)
- Plaster of paris (£3.49 per kg from Hobby Craft)
Here you can see our first lot of plaster pieces being cast in the molds. We chose to use plaster of paris simply because we already had some left over from another project. Plaster of paris is very cheap, but there are more durable materials like dental plaster available if you want to make sure your creations wont get chipped easily. At this stage, we had poured the plaster into the molds, waited about 10 minutes and then scraped off the excess plaster using the flexible filling blade (You could also just use a ruler). For detailed casting instructions, Hirst arts has a wealth of useful information available on their site, and we would definitely recommend you check it out.
After around 40 mins or so, we found that our pieces were hard enough to pop out of their molds, and as you can see the flexible molds make it easy to remove the pieces.
Here are our first casts:
…Obviously we were not going to be able to build much with only one cast of each mold, so over the course of a weekend we managed to cast each mold around 9 times.
Now that we have a whole heap of plaster parts, the fun can start. This really feels like playing with LEGO bricks, but in the end you’ll have a cool piece of scenery for your wargames! First of all, we laid a floor using the parts from the #273 is the Pipeline Floor Mold, gluing each plaster part to the next using PVA glue.
Then, using the parts from the #301 Starship Wall Mold we started to add walls…
Soon we had a finished room big enough to fit around 10 28mm miniatures.
We still had a whole heap of parts left, so our one room soon became 3. These three rooms can be put together in different configurations as desired, and in the second photo you can see we have included a 28mm Warhammer 40k Space Marine for scale.
We’d managed to build three rooms and not even touch the parts from the #300 Station Builder Mold, so we decided to follow one of the many cool project guides available on the Hirst Arts website to make a landing pad. Again, we still had many other parts left so we knocked up some kind of chemical plant too. A Warhammer 40k Space marine is included for scale.
After knocking up a few other smaller pieces of terrain from our left over parts, we decided to put them all together, and as you can see we ended up with a rather neat sci-fi outpost/research station/headquarters for our 28mm wargames. We managed to build all of the models shown here using just 2kg of plaster of paris, so about £7 (just over $10) worth of plaster.
We had great fun building our sci-fi scenery using Hirst Arts molds and now that we’ve started, we know its going to be difficult to stop! There is so much potential here to build custom scenery, and using a low cost casting material like plaster you can just keep churning this stuff out. We’d recommend Hirst Arts molds to anyone looking to make a decent amount of scenery for their gaming table, to someone who wants something custom or unique that’s not available in stores, or even to gaming clubs who are going to need lots of scenery to fight over.
If you’d like to see the other molds that are available, look though the projects, or pick up some molds for yourself, head over to http://www.hirstarts.com/.