Wednesday, 14 November 2012

How to make a (fake, pretend and for playing wargames with toys soldiers only) explosion

Sorry for the overly long title on this posting...I really don't want MI5 to follow me to B&Q, tap my phone, ask the neighbours who the 'weirdo' next door is...

Anyway, I thought people might like to know how I make the markers so you can do it for yourselves or nominate a talented member of your war-gaming circle.

For bangs, as I'll call them, you need a disc, a tube, fluff and a rubber band. Also, glue and caulk....look please don't cry, you'll soon see how easy it is....
 You can use any tube you've got. I use the plastic middle out of a till roll (ask at your local shop - they just chuck 'em away!) The disc, ideally, is heavy. I use the biggest washers I can find. It can be a cardboard one but you'll have to weight it down with stones in the tube or make the base wide to stop it toppling over.
 I use one of those glues like 'hard as nails' or 'sticks like nails'...or whatever they're called. It's the same as gluing down my figures to the magnetic tape and helps with texture on the bases.
 When dry (well, duh) take your fluff and shove it....down the tube. I use ex-teddy bear stuffing when I can kidnap a teddy bear...yes, I know, but it's best to get kids used to how tough life can be. Alternatively, you can use old pillow stuffing or (luxury) an old duvet...magic, pure magic. As a very last resort you can knit some but never buy it it's plain expensive.
 Take a piece as high as you wish the bang to stand but no less than eight inches wide (200mm for you decimal types) and wrap it around the base making it lap itself. Tease it out to make it wider and slightly less uniform before you wrap it.
 Using your God given opposable thumbs hold it in place with a rubber band....
 It will naturally be crimped at the bottom and wide at the top. Tease it out a bit to get the shape you think right.
 Run a couple of thick beads of caulk coiling around the base. Wet your finger and smooth it round. Pull some of the caulk with your finger up the bang to produce an almost ragged upper edge.
 Any cheap, nasty, second hand, half empty tube of water SOLUBLE painters caulk will do.
 That's as far as you need go for water splash bangs. If, however, you're going for land bangs you'll need PVA, fine sand, spray paints in a black, a brown and a grey/light blue.
 First, spray the whole thing black from top to bottom. Second, spray any old brown a third or half way up the bang. Then paint PVA thickly all around the base and streaked up the sides. Then chuck sand at the whole thing. Shake off what won't stick and leave to set.
 ...and finally, spray your grey or light blue very, very lightly on the upper half of the bang. If you see a flame in a would probably be the last thing you ever saw unless you were extremely lucky (either that or it's Hollywood). Most of what you see of a bang is the rapidly burnt debris and earth thrown up. The further it gets from the pressure wave the quicker it dissipates and becomes misty (but you don't care about this because your ears are on holiday far away and your stomach is rejecting cordite fumes)
 Never throw anything away. This old Airfix Sherman, next to its Armourfast cousin, was years in the reject bin before being painted up as a ruin (they don't all burn). Even if you just have an old turret, keep it and put it on a knock out.
 Cotton wool is great for smoke because it sticks to things quite naturally but is difficult to dye successfully. You need cold water dye and patience and somewhere to drip for an age.
Flame, for furious burning or flame throwers, is were old duvets really come into there own. They have a seam all along the edge that tears into a strip nicely. Then spray it the brightest yellow you can find, spot it with red and black (not too much) and voilà! Just pull off a chunk when needed.

Any hints and tips would be appreciated. I'll cover vehicle hits/destroyed and suppression markers in the future.


  1. Those explosios are great, thanks for sharing.

  2. I used orange "fall foliage" from woodland scenics for my 'splodeys. Stuck on a base and with the top part sprayed dark brown or black. Looks just like fuel or ammo cooking off. For shell bursts though, I just use cotton wool balls sprayed brown. Very realistic (I was a forward observer in the army and that's what they look like)
    For air combat games I use red or orange and yellow pipe cleaners twisted together and sprayed black at the tip; looks great for a burning engine!