The year was 2006, and I had been immersing myself in hours of footage from the "making of" dvds for Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and "Lord of the Rings" movies. The "extended" dvds of those films showcased a virtual "film school" treatment of how the "miniatures" for the fantastic environments were created. I LOVE that stuff, and have always had a huge interest in the special effects of movies.
About the same time, I had moved to a different department at work, where I got to be good friends with some guys who were into "tabletop gaming". While I never really got into the actual gameplay, I was excited to see how elaborate many of the "miniature sets" were. Much of it, these guys had hand-made (or "scratch-built") for their adventures. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to experiment with some of the techniques I'd seen used for movie-making. So I started doing a lot of research online (thanks, Jaye, for all the links!) and began "digging for treasures" in the trash. Throughout the year, I began making "terrain" set-pieces, spaceships, monsters...whatever I wanted to create...and I gave it to these guys for free.
These spaceships were some of the first things I made (from plastic bottles, found objects, peel-and-stick foam rubber, wood...whatever worked). The spaceships were designed to go with a "Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers" inspired theme. I have videos of the old Flash/Buck sci-fi serials from the 1930's, so it was a blast to try to make my own ships, with a huge nod to those "retro-future" spaceships that smoked, buzzed, popped and wobbled through the stars!
The tiny figure in some of these photos gives a sense of scale...that little guy is about an inch tall.
Below is my "Villian" ship...it was meant to be dark, oily, and mean. Much of the design was determined by styrofoam packing that I had found. Part of the fun is to be inspired by the shapes of "trash treasures", then run with it.
The next one below is a small craft that didn't quite make a safe landing...lots of burn marks, and melted rocks around it.
The last one is a "Hero" ship...something Flash Gordon would hopefully be proud to fly.
Looking back at these early models today, I see that my craftsmanship had room for improvement. It was fun making the black and white image at the top of this post (composited from photos taken near my home)...feels a little like the old movies. I'll be posting a lot more of these "tabletop" things later...many with photos of the "step-by-step" building process. Stay tuned!