Landing PadI find that a landing pad is one of the most often requested Sci-fi buildings. This one was inspired by Games Workshop's model, which you can see in the Blood Angels Codex. I wanted to have a jungle theme to it and a camouflage pattern to match the Warehouse 51 model. I used fish tank plants to get the lush, jungle effect.

I have hesitated to make a landing pad before now. This is because they seem to me to be fairly limited in game-play terms - you can't get inside them, and the pad surface is just a big flat disk. However, they are very popular and can be the focus of special scenarios. I tried to make the pad surface more interesting by adding a decking texture and stencilling on some icons and numerals.

Tools and Materials

  1. 13 Necromunda bulkheads (but see below). Necromunda bulkheads are plastic construction panels that Games Workshop made for their game Necromunda. You can buy them without the game on sprues.

  2. 11 more Necro bulkheads or some foamcore to make the access tower

  3. MDF for the base and landing pad surface

  4. Cross-stitch fabric for the decking texture on the pad surface

  5. Styrofoam

  6. Fish tank plants

  7. Thick card for the walkway

  8. Textured paint

Method

But I don't have/can't afford all those bulkheads!

Never fear - I only used the bulkheads because they were left over from some Necromunda buildings that my gaming club re-cycled. You can get a similar effect by making your own 'bulkheads' out of card.

Landing PadUse a thick card rectangles about 3 inches square (Necromunda bulkheads are 7 cms square - about 2 inches). Detail up the surface with a cross from corner to corner made from a couple of layers of cardboard , some car repair mesh in between, and some rivets made out of lentils or punched from card.

I would make all the bulkheads from one long 3 inch high strip of cardboard, and score the card between the bulkheads so they will bend around the curve but are still joined together

Build your access tower

The tower in the pictures is made from Necromunda bulkheads. It has a door on the outside at ground level, a door opening onto the landing pad, and a pair of doors at the top level giving access to the walkway. To make an identical tower you will need four doorway bulkheads and eight other bulkheads - I used solid ones. Make floors from thick card at each level and for the roof, to give better stability. Remember to paint/spray the inside walls of the tower before gluing it together.

The walkway is just constructed from thick card (I use picture framing/mounting card). The corners and edges are strengthened and detailed by gluing on cereal box card strips with PVA glue.

If you do not want to use Necromunda bulkheads then follow the instructions on foamcore construction in the methods part of the site (or in the many foamcore building projects) and build one from scratch. This is a very simple construction and should be quite easy to do. The tower in the example is approximately 9 inches high by 4 inches deep and 3 inches wide.

Work out the dimensions of your landing pad

Landing PadIf you are using Necro bulkheads you are going to have to work to the size of circle that 13 bulkheads gives (or however many you decide to use):

Take your bulkheads and arrange them in a circle. Stand your access tower in position or leave a gap for it if you are building one from card. If you are making your landing pad from card, or if you have difficulty getting a good circle with your bulkheads, you may find it easier to draw a circle on the base for reference. This is much easier to do if you can remember your high school geometry...

Make the rough base

Now that you know the size of your project you can cut the base, preferably from plywood or MDF for strength. Then cut two pieces of 2 inch thick polystyrene (styrofoam). You now have to make a styrofoam shape that has a flat 'hill' in the centre that is the same height as your bulkheads:

Landing PadDraw a circle onto <strong>both</strong> layers of the the styrofoam that is about an inch in radius smaller than your ring of bulkheads(using that high school geometry again to get the radius) and then cut right through both pieces and remove the circles of styrofoam. The circle from the <strong>top</strong> piece can be put to one side. You can throw away or recycle the doughnut bit that is left over.

The circle from the bottom piece is left whole, and the landscape bit around it is cut down to the right thickness to form the base. This is difficult to describe, but the picture should help. If you prefer, just build up a hill of styrofoam in the middle of your base using layers and offcuts of styrofoam. If your bulkheads are solid then it doesn't matter what this looks like - its main job is to support the bulkheads and landing pad surface. If, like me, you want the rocky crag inside the landing pad to be visible though the bulkheads then you will have to be more careful. If the circular crag inside the landing pad is going to be visible then carve it into a craggy shape with a knife, as in the picture above.

Glue the layers of styrofoam together with PVA glue and tooth pick 'nails' and then glue the whole thing down to the base. Mix up some wall filler to a consistency slightly thinner than toothpaste and brush it all over the styrofoam base. This is very messy.

Making the pad surface

The landing pad surface is cut from a circle of MDF, to a size slightly larger than the circle of bulkheads.

Landing PadThe pad sits on top of the bulkheads and will be glued down to them, but don't do this yet. A notch is cut out of the edge of the pad to make it fit snugly to the access tower (stand the tower on it and draw around it). To get an interesting surface texture like metal decking glue cross-stitch fabric to the landing pad surface.

This will look more convincing if you cut it into triangles and arrange them so they are radiating out from the centre (see the top-view photograph, below). Glue strips of cardboard over the joins in the fabric and add rivets or lights with lentils or circles punched from card.

Landing PadWhen painted the cross-stitch fabric gives a reasonable metal decking effect (well I think so, anyway). After gluing it to the landing pad seal the surface of the fabric with thinned PVA glue to toughen it and prevent it going fluffy.

Painting : Stage 1

You may need to do some painting before finally gluing the landing pad together. If you want the rocky crag in the centre to be visible through your bulkheads you should paint it now, before gluing the landing pad down. Spray the crag black, and then dry-brush with grey, working up with a lighter grey and finally a very light white. If you want to use spray paints on your bulkheads you will also need to do this separately before fixing it down, otherwise you'll spray through the holes and all over your crag, won't you?

Fixing the landing pad to the base

The easiest way to deal with this stage is to glue the bulkheads to the underneath of the landing pad. A hot glue gun is ideal for this. When the assembly is dry you can lower it over your crag. If your bulkheads are cardboard you may find it easier to glue them in a ring onto the base and affix the landing pad on top, using the top of the crag as the main gluing surface.

I painted the bulkheads and tower before fixing them to the crag. I took the landing pad with its bulkheads attached and sprayed the whole thing black. Then I over-sprayed with a Camo Green aerosol spray to get the camouflage effect you can see in the pictures of the final model.

When this preliminary painting was complete I glued the landing pad down to the base over the top of the crag. The main fixture was therefore a ring of hot glue (or PVA) between the bottom of the bulkheads and the filler-covered surface of the base. This model was heavy, and I knew that sooner or later someone was going to pick it up by the landing pad rather than with their hands underneath. This might well tear the pad off the styrofoam base. I had to find a more secure way of fixing the bulkheads down.

Landing PadThe answer was cat litter. Yes, the Imperial Tech-priests had to truck it in by the ton and mix it with vast quantities of PVA glue. It shows as that rubble-looking stuff near the entrance in this picture.

I made a sludge out of cat litter and slightly thinned PVA glue, and then spread this around the bottom of the bulkheads. After about three days it set rock hard and fixed the bulkheads down very securely. If you are using cardboard bulkheads I suggest, therefore, that you think about having a flap at the bottom that you can fold flat against the base and cover with cat litter in this fashion.

Painting the icon and numerals

Landing PadThe double-headed eagle and roman numerals were sprayed straight onto the landing pad surface through a stencil. Before doing this paint the pad surface by dry-brushing silver onto the black finish. This works best if you use the brush diagonally against the weave of the cross-stitch fabric.

I made the stencils by finding a suitable graphic or font on the Web and stretching them to the required size before printing onto paper.

I then carefully cut the shapes out with a craft knife. I sprayed photo-mount to the reverse of the stencil and temporarily fixed it in position. An ordinary white aerosol can was then gently sprayed through the stencil to make the pattern.

Finishing off the base - plants and paints

As I said in the introduction, I wanted this model to have a jungle feel to it.

Landing PadStatic grass was glued to the top of the rocky crags to look like a fertile soil layer, and I used a lot of fish tank plants on the base. This is not as expensive as you might think, provided you use the right plants. The ones to look for come as mat for burying in the bottom gravel of a fish tank. (The rocks are not really blue - this photo has a strange colouration.)

As you can see in this picture, this type of fish tank plant is made up of a lot of little 'plants', each one on a plastic spike that makes a mat at the bottom. Landing PadYou can pull them off to get individual plants and then glue them onto your model to make lush, expansive clumps of jungle. If you have problems finding this type of fish tank plant I suggest you print out this picture and take to to the pet shop. I have pulled most of the plants off this example to show you how it is constructed. Fix the plantlets to the model with a blob of hot glue and/or poke a hole through into the styrofoam base and stick the plant into it with a dab of glue. In England a base of plants like that in the picture costs about 1.99 pounds (just over $3) and goes a long way - the whole model used less than two sets.

The remaining areas of the base were covered with textured wall covering, sprayed black, dry-brushed with brown, and then decorated with patches of static grass.


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