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Workbench

Welcome to the workbench. This page is constantly changing. I aim to update it in the middle of every month, showing you work in progress from various projects. This is a chance to see behind the curtain (or to see the latest mess I’ve made).

Here's a set of black Union soldiers underway for customer Steven S. Cleaning, assembly, and priming are all done. All that remains is to start painting

And here are the progress results of that. I've taken them to the stage of applying a black undercoat to all belts and gear, which will in turn be used for blacklining. Given how basic Union uniforms are, these guys are well toward done.

Our second edition Hessian jagers underway for customer Ed Y. Once again, they're at the black undercoat stage. In hindsight, I should have done their flesh before the black undercoat, but it'll all work itself out.

I decided to do a little moldmaking recently, re-tooling some older molds that needed attention. The ones here are for our AWI disorder markers and French command. Here's a cooked mold still in the can. Looks like a film canister, right? It more or less is, only made of heavy-duty metal used to house a mold while it's cooked in the vulcanizer.

Here are the two outer plates of the can removed, leaving the rubber still encased in the ring. You can see the center former embedded at the middle.

The cooked mold now free of the can, but still not opened. The masters are trapped inside somewhere. The two halves are gently separated with a flat-head screwdriver inserted slightly at the parting line all the way around. The halves are then peeled apart from there.

These are the disorder marker masters still embedded in one side of the mold. A center former and sprue former create the area into which rubber will be pored during casting.

The opposite mold half, which is actually the bottom half. All the masters had enough traction in the top half to come out of this side cleanly upon opening the mold. That center area is where molten metal will land during casting, and spin toward the surrounding cavities. The center needs some cleanup to remove bits of expanded rubber that will impede metal flow later.

Here are the two halves, now with gates cut to the underside of each figure's base, with the gates cut into the bottom mold half.

The outsides of each mold half. Some moldmakers vent cavities on the working side of molds. I use a drill to make small holes through a mold to allow air to escape from troublesome spots. Those holes then have vents cut on the outer sides of the molds, allowing trapped air to escape while the mold spins. It ain't pretty, but it works like a charm.

Here are the results of spinning the disorder marker mold for the first time. Everything has “hit” perfectly. The figures will be broken off the sprue, and the sprue will go back into the melting pot.

This is the French command mold being spun for the first time. Results are not yet as good as the previous mold.

Closer inspection shows the officer's pace stick isn't hitting reliably. There are different ways to address this. Raising the temp of the melting pot makes the metal flow better, but burns out molds more quickly. Applying less pressure in the spincaster might let metal flow more readily, but could cause flash to form elsewhere on the castings. I went with drilling vents along the length of the sticks and got consistent results.

Painting buddy Dean R is helping me out with a sizable AWI commission. I have assembled and primed all these troops in anticipation of sending them to Dean for painting.

Our second-edition troops advancing with a mix of heads. Customer Jim L has actually requested two of these sets, one Continental and one British.

A group of Continental skirmishers in hunting shirts with mixed headgear.

One of our officer poses with various heads to show how the same figure can be made to look different with different heads. I actually had a primer issue when spraying these figures. The paint dried rather grainy. Maybe due to high humidity. I fixed it by scrubbing each figure with a toothbrush. A painstaking but necessary fix.

Check out our past workbench entries, below.

Among our newly revised AWI figures are our British infantry. These will look familiar to many. The basic figures remain the same as before, even down to the command. They haven't been converted, but have been re-mastered and re-tooled, making for sharper castings than ever. That includes the soldiers, officer and color bearer.

I have even remedied the tricorne where it could have a notch over the soldier's right eye.
Now here are some truly converted figures in progress. I used our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu to create the 3rd New York. They combine bodies at attention with “Leather Cap Head Set #2.” The officer and color bearer are also from the menu, and show the versatility of pose that results from separate arms and heads.
Like the marching British, above, our familiar Continentals have been re-mastered and re-tooled. This set is available on the ATKM site. No need to mix and match figures and heads if you want a basic Continental set of troops.
You really get to see the crisp details of these castings on the soldier's back.
Here's a set inspired by Butler's Rangers – our soldiers in hunting shirts combined with “Leather Cap Head Set #1.” The musician is our classic ensign body, now with a hunting horn option as shown here. This particular combination of officer body, pointing arm, and head look really sharp to me.
One of my personal favorites among our revised sets is these Highlanders in Trews. The now-separate heads really make them looked distinguished.
I went back to the original green to re-create these soldiers, and it shows in a figure that is more robust than before.
This AWI officer was originally part of our Queen's Rangers set, but has universal application, so I've made it available separately as part of our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu.
Likewise this drummer. It has wide application for almost any regiment, so I've made it available separately.
And this fifer. Choose the kinds of heads you want to go with these, like any troops on the menu. None of these three command figures has been revised; they're already at the standard to which ATKM offerings are launched. By separating heads on many of our older AWI sets, I have made them as versatile as these are.

The following are pics of the new and revised ATKM facilities. Shown here is the deluxe painting area with more space than before.

Here we have custom-made display cases (which is a fancy way of saying, "I put them together.") The shelves are removable so whole armies can be pulled out at one time.

The mess of a computer station, where sticky notes reminders rule the land.

The ATKM workshop. In particular, the spincaster and melting pot.
These two little fellows are vulcanizers, used to create molds.

The mold cutting and general-purpose area. Normally the place isn't so tidy, but I got sick of my own mess and cleaned up.

Products on this website are for adult collectors. Products are cast in white metal and are not for children under the age of 14. Items also pose a choking hazard.

 

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