I recently decided to make myself some dedicated pin markers for my Bolt Action games. I’ve been getting a bit fed up with using counters as they can be a pain to pick up and move and look a bit out of keeping with the rest of our scenery.
One trick I’ve seen a few people use for various game systems is to use old HeroClicks bases. These are effectively a plastic dial with a flat top (once the figure is removed) onto which you can model whatever you want. Giving it some thought I decided to include a recess for the order dice on the top, that way I can move the pin dial and the dice at the same time (lazy I know).
So before I jumped right in and made lots of the things I thought I’d make a few to see how well they work in game. Here’s what I came up with.
Making a Pin Dial
So now I’m happy with my first batch of five it’s time to make another ten, that way I’ll have enough for our 1,500 point games even if the God of pinning smiles on my opponent.
Making a pin dial is very easy and only requires a few items:
- A Heroclicks figure
- Foamed PVC, Plasticard, mount board or matches
- Dial Templates (BoltAction.net)
- Two part putty
- Bolt Action Order Dice
The two part putty isn’t strictly necessary but makes blending the recess for the dice a lot easier.
Preparing the Base
The first thing you need to do is to remove the figure from the base. This is easy to do with a sharp knife but do be very careful and always cut into a cutting mat, not towards yourself.
Once you have removed the figure from the base (don’t throw them away, they make great statuses and corpses for other games) pop the base in two (a sculpting tool or flat head screwdriver works well for this).
If you find that the top piece has a lot of glue left on it from where the figure was attached, spend a few minutes with a knife and sand paper to get the surface nice and flat.
I’m using slightly older style bases for my pin dials so I found it useful to cut away the little ledge on the view slot to make it more even (this is a personal choice).
Making the Dice Surround
The first thing to do is to make some rails to hold the dice in position. For this I use some strips of Foamed PVC cut from a piece of offcut from another project, but you could use plasticard, mount board or matches just as easily.
I started by using one of my Bolt Action dice as a template to draw a rough pencil line where the four side need to go (this doesn’t have to be exact).
Next I glue the back rail in place. This needs to go as far back as possible to prevent the front rail obscuring the numbers on the dial. I’m cutting my lengths of plastic longer than they need to be as it’s easier to trim them back later than try and get them the right size now.
Once the back rail is dry I add the two side rails using the dice as a width guide (with care you can do this without getting glue on your dice), make sure that the dice isn’t going to be too tight or you will have trouble putting the dice in and out of it during a game.
Before I fit the front rail I use the dice as a guide to cut back the side rails to the correct length.
(Whilst making this tutorial I made a batch of ten bases. This helped speed things up as by the time I got to base ten the glue had dried on base one)
Preparing the Lower Section
The lower section of the base doesn’t require much work at all.
Firstly the based has a small peg on one side (at least mine did). This is the registration peg and gives the base its click, locking the numbers in the right place in the view slot. For us this is a problem as the numbers on our dial may not match the registration pin positions and without a figure on top the base needs to be very easy to twist.
To fix this I simply use a sharp knife to cut the peg away (takes about 30 seconds). If in doubt at this stage you can always snap the top back on and try it out. Don’t worry if it’s still too stiff to turn at this stage.
Next I need to add my new dial face. I got these from BoltAction.net (an excellent site that I would highly recommend to all Bolt Action players). In the Downloads section you want to grab one of the Dial files from the Misc. Section (there are two font styles to choose from).
I then printed these onto an A4 sheet of Inkjet labels (I used one with four large labels per sheet). Make sure you print it at 100% or it won’t fit the bases correctly. The advantage of using labels is that you can simply cut them out, peel off the backing and stick them in place without the need for glue.
The base is now basically done. All it needs is some detailing to match your existing figure bases or your tabletop.
For my bases I’ve used a two part putty (I use White Milliput as it’s cheaper than Green Stuff and dries faster and I find it easier to use) which I use to blind in the dice rails. Take care when you are doing this to keep the groove around the edge of the base clean of whatever basing material you use as it can make your base tight to turn if it becomes blocked. Once this is dry I can then apply scenic details to my base in a similar way to my figures.
If you do find that once your base is finished and snapped back together it’s too tight to turn the best solution is to give the top of the dial a light sanding. The most likely places causing the dial to stick are the groove around the edge, the edge itself (especially if it has paint and varnish on it) and any rough areas on the underside of the top piece. It shouldn’t take much to get it all freed up and ready for action.
Just to show you what else can be done, here is an example I made using matches and coffee stirrers.
These only take a few minutes to make and are very cheap (if you have or can get some old HeroClicks figures cheaply). In fact I managed to make ten pin dials in less time than I has taken me to write this blog tutorial.