Casting and sculpting for Fox Box and myself

Started by Flamekebab, February 28, 2015, 07:38:02 PM

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I've been running my own little business for a while now - Fox Box. It started out as a bitz company specialising in Orks and whilst I don't intend to stop selling other kits as bitz I started to get interested in making my own parts. Lacking the knowledge and equipment to do my own casting I had a friend help me with casting. That was all well and good until I moved away from Edinburgh. No longer could I walk to his flat and pick up copies.

So over the last few months I've put together my own casting rig:

It has a vacuum pump for pulling a strong vacuum and a hefty compressor to quickly bring it up to 60 PSI. As long as I design my mould correctly, use the right amount of resin, and don't dilly dally I can get perfect casts. That is to say no bubbles, no blisters, barely any mould lines (and often none at all - it depends on the mould design).

Here's the first mould I made, a copy of a sculpt I did:

It worked but turned out to be needlessly cautious. The amount of sprue is totally unnecessary for my technique, that sort of kidney.
Here's a copy from that mould:

Here's a shot of a couple of copies from a different mould design:

They were cast together in a single mould but it has its own issues (extracting from it is time sensitive - too soon and stuff bends, too late and it snaps) so I'm planning on creating a replacement for it in a bit.

More recently I've been attempting to scale up the copying of these parts:

The problem with casting is that I can do lots of resin at once, assuming I have moulds for it. Unfortunately my pressure chamber is round. It's a bit tricky to tetris stuff together and it slows things down. That might sound like a minor annoyance but 30 seconds makes all the difference when the resin only has 2 - 4 minutes until it starts to cure (the range depends on a variety of factors including temperature). If I want to degass the resin and then put pressure on it I need about two minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Sooo, if I'm faffing about pouring resin into lots of little moulds that can easily take a minute to a minute and a half. Erk!

The solution? As with many other things in life, the answer is cake.

Well, there's also the side effect of how firmly the silicone and parts were stuck in there:

I've yet to put together moulds for the heads and weapons but they should be comparatively easy.


Ooh, very nice indeed!

I'd love to try casting at some point - I'm going to make getting back into sculpting a thing over summer I hope.

So are you intending to get a few new cast kits up on the website sometime in the near future? :)
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


Yep, the plan is to get these things up for sale within the next week. I'm waiting on a new batch of resin and there's a few more moulds to make but it's exciting!

Yesterday I posted some models to another Exilian member to paint for promo shots and similar. I should probably get my new goblins ready for casting too.


It's remarkable how incompetent some couriers can be. I'm always at home yet they have the nerve to mark things as "attempted delivery" without even approaching my front door. It's a shame I cannot "attempt payment" when dealing with them...

Lack of resin aside I've been figuring out the best way to make a mould for heads and weapons, two things that would fit on a single "cake slice". I don't really want to make another cake tin full of moulds just yet. Goblins need to be corralled, space ships tidied, things like that.

So instead this mould is going to straddle the top of the cake tin, or attempt to at any rate!

I really hope I can get this stuff sorted soon. It's been ages since I worked on anything else!


Would it be too prying into your trade secrets to ask what sorts of costs making a new set of figures is with this system from sculpt to production? Does the mould-making take ages/is it expensive?
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


Feel free to ask but be prepared not to get a useful answer :(

I've not been doing this long enough to have the production pipeline nailed down and therefore figuring out costs is difficult. Silicone doesn't take all that long to work with (a few hours the way I'm doing things) and isn't super expensive. The problem tends to be mould design and how much silicone is going to be used in the project. How much is to be used depends on a number of factors too - obviously the size of the thing being copied but as you're seeing in my latest images it's also a matter of how many copies to be made per casting run. I have a full set of moulds to produce my Sororitas Arcanum models but they only produce one sprue per casting run.

The question is further complicated by things like how much my time is worth. It's mine to allocate and so doing work for someone else would attach a price tag to it. Some sculpts are done over a few days, others I've been working on for years. This is another area that gets tricky to pin down as I don't like to work without backups. Before I couldn't back anything up and it slowed me down. These days I can just make a quick prep mould and copy what I'm working on speeding things up massively.

If you wanted me to make copies of your sculpts it would be much easier to put a price tag on it, thankfully.

In other news apparently my package was signed for by "KEDI". I have no idea who that is. This is the second time they've done this.


One of the best things about having in-house casting facilities is how much it speeds up creation of new masters. The original Sororitas Arcanum models were being worked on back in 2012!

Of course there was a lot more to the delay than just that but it was a major obstacle to progress. I love working on multi-part models but if every piece is a master then it can't be easily glued into place in case removing it damages it later. Getting delicate (and more importantly small) parts to fit together across several models is a bloody nightmare when it has to be done with a combination of blu-tack, superglue, and hope. That was some learning experience, I can tell you.

Anyway, back to the positive. I've been working on some multi-part weapons (as teased on the Fox Box blog) but they're going to need arms before I have a complete product.

Instead of worrying about the masters I just cast up some copies, built a few weapons, and now I'm working on the arms at a fair pace:


Well some things got in the way of progress but things are getting back on track:


Nice! They look like they'll separate from the mould block much more easily too which is a definite plus.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense.


I've never tried model-making, and I know very little about it, but that looks very good quality.


Thanks, guys!

Apparently Jenny has secured a batch of masters that have been trapped in limbo with my old caster up north for the last year or so. Lots of new stuff is inbound :D

In the meantime this probably doesn't look like much but it's the first cast after the initial one that worked out as planned:

When I make moulds capturing the detail is the easy bit - cutting them open in such a way as to not break the copies when they're pulled out is the hard part. I'm going to do another run tomorrow and with any luck be able to release these little badasses over the weekend:


The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


There's quite a few products that never made it to production for one reason or another. Amongst those are two sets of Orc arms and a set of legs: