Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Things I Learned By Taking Things Apart

Like everyone else I've been collecting bits here and there, but recently I had to dispose of a stereo that was pining for the fjords, and on a whim I took it apart to see if there was anything useful inside. When I'm in a good mode it seems like I see terrain anywhere, so along with what I found thanks to Aiwa, I've included some of my other interesting discoveries and my thoughts on what they'll turn into.

Before I begin, a word of warning on taking apart a stereo - there's a lot of sharp bits! I spent parts of a couple evenings taking it apart and ended up with bloody knuckles both times. Tools used were screwdrivers, pliers, and tin snips.

These could have a number of uses - oil tank targets for 1/600 air gaming, barrels or other containers at 28mm, but my first thought, inspired by things like this, was Victorian Science Fiction (VSF) steam-powered walkers (the giant coffee pot kind). Some of them even have the remains of the connecting wires on the bottom to give them the starts of legs, e.g. the one second from the left.

Any good mad scientist will need coils, so the ones at the front are probably slated for 28mm gaming, but the ones at the back look (to me) like good 6mm turbines, maybe found in the ruins of a power generating station. Good for WWII, modern, or sci-fi.

These were really cool, I have no idea what they actually are, presumably some sort of transformer, but I'm also entertaining there were micro-robotic ants planted in my stereo...

So that's my first couple of thoughts for the five in the middle - giant clockwork ants for 2mm VSF, riding ants for 6mm, pet clockwork ants for 28mm. I like the muted colour scheme they come in, but they could also be bronzed up (or your metallic colour of choice). Legs could just be a few staples still stuck together, maybe angled a bit, done three times to give them their six legs.

They could also be added to ships to turn into VSF space ships, they'd be funky looking engine pods. Turned on their end and keeping the wiring, they look kind of like boilers or water heaters, good for 6mm (or giant ones in 2mm). Added to the coils above, they might also be part of that mad scientist's lab.

The two on thingies on the right are similar, at 6mm they look like they're from sort of piping or wiring system. I'm not sure yet about the ribbon cable at the top, maybe some sort of fencing at 28mm, for this size, I have some narrower cables for other scales. Maybe roofing.

This is the laser mechanism from the CD player, turned on its side like it is here and put into a wall, it would be the interface to a Babbage Engine (clockwork computer), maybe a sentient one.
This photo doesn't capture the indentations on this, which in a former life was the connector for a ribbon cable. In real life, it really resembles a dam face, so it's slated for a 1/600 target scenic. Someone on the 1/600 air combat Yahoo group did a really slick dam target, and I'll be doing something similar, just I'll have my dam pre-made.

There were repeats of a lot of those when all was said and done, but otherwise that covers what comes out of a dead stereo. Now onto other finds.

On the right is a Sensodyne toothpaste cap, I now have a bunch of these to play with. They have a slight ribbing to them about every 60 degrees around, suggestive maybe of pillars or external supports. Perfect for 2mm fantasy temples or palaces, or sci-fi buildings. Maybe I'll add a dome for the roof.

I bought this bottle of orange juice the other day (pulp free "Simply Orange" if you're looking) without paying attention to the cap. Then when I went to pour the first glass I went "hmmmm". It's about 1" high, so in 2mm it could be an enclosed coliseum (again maybe with a domed roof) for fantasy terrain. For modern or sci-fi 6mm it looks kinda like a 1960's public building (Expo '67 anyone?) made of glass and steel. Maybe with a tower rising from it.

"You are young," said the palaces and the temples and the shrines, "but we are old. The world was wild with youth when we were reared. You and your tribe shall pass, but we are invincible, indestructible. We towered above a strange world, ere Atlantis and Lemuria rose from the sea; we still shall reign when the green waters sigh for many a restless fathom above the spires of Lemuria and the hills of Atlantis and when the isles of the Western Men are the mountains of a strange land." (R.E. Howard, The Shadow Kingdom)

So that's some of the setting for Kull, specifically the City of Wonders, Valusia. Lotsa towering buildings, strange architecture, and antiquity. The glue bottles above are on my hit list - once empty their caps are going into the Valusian landscape. The pill bottle cap on the left is another temple or coliseum in-waiting.

The armies swung out of sight around the gem-blazing shoulders of the Tower of Splendor... (R.E. Howard, The Shadow Kingdom)

There's no gaming reason (at least in 2mm) to build the Tower of Splendor and palaces of the king of Valusia, but, but, but, it would be cool. I've sketched out out what the palaces looked like, based on text descriptions and the illustrations in Del Rey's Kull - Exile of Atlantis. So along with bottle caps, I'm collecting anything that could be an imposing tower in 2mm scale. On the left is the end of a ball point pen (conference freebie), on the right is a syringe cap.

For an science education program I oversee, amongst other things, we made frequent use of office water coolers (Greenway), and these are the protective caps from the spouts. About 1" tall. Potential oil tanks for 1/600 targets. Or towers, turrets.

One summer my summer students managed to kill three portable power transformers, and I've saved them for future use. They have a sort of futuristic generator or quonset hut look to them, and obviously the stormtrooper is guarding them for a reason. Use the back end here as the outlet (if a building) or the control area (if a generator).

Was going through my fishing tackle while in a VSF frame of mind and realized I might have a motherlode here for VSF or WWI gaming. VSF and WWI dirigibles and balloons or Vernian VSF rockets. (Caution: This is REAL lead, so even more care is needed than usual when handling)

Like this test VSF balloon, made from a split-shot sinker, rare earth magnet (basket), and beading (connecting "flame).

Other uses for dead pens would be VSF ships/space or regular dirigibles, or REALLY tall towers.

Around the same time I had the eureka moment with the fishing tackle, my deodorant ran out (sorry if that's too much information!). Anyway, looking at it, thinking, I saw some possibilities. The cap, on the left, could be the gatehouse to a 2mm fortification, or a funky manor building (say elven or another culture that is into curves). The rod (centre) that pushes up the deodorant gel looks like some sort of nasty 28mm VSF business, maybe the front of a drilling machine or the barrel of an aether gun. Then while taking that out, I took a look at the bottom of the thing (right). As it happened, I'd been poking around into 18th century India at the time, and had seen photos of this:

Hmmm, yeah, that's it. A 2mm Red Fort gatehouse thanks to Gillette. The shapes don't quite match up as well as I'd initially thought, but I'm only looking to do an impression of the real thing to use for 18th century India or 19th century Mars. Any battles would be occuring in front of the fort anyways (I think, anyway).

FYI, the dial thing was a bugger to get rid of, but after taking the photo, I spent a half hour with tin snips and chewed it up from the inside till it came off.

These are the before pictures, hopefully in 2010 I'll get most of these turned into something.

Happy holidays everyone!

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