All Good Ideas Start with a Prototype

This is a guest post by Chris Michaels of PoweredPlay.net, currently also on Kickstarter.

Prototyping is one of the most exciting parts of doing something completely new in the world of modeling. It’s almost God-like, because you’re creating something that has never been created before. In the modeling world, that could easily be seen as a hard thing to do since you’re typically working with someone else’s art. But being creative and creative execution – especially when it comes to mods – gives you the chance to change that paradigm.

Whether it’s trying a new type of paint, creating new add-on bits like Green Stuff Tentacles, or adding electronic effects, it’s exciting – and sometimes frustrating – to be the first to try something.

We’ve run into this a lot as we launched PoweredPlay Gaming.

Our CEO, Chris Wessling, originally wanted to find a way to light up his son’s Warhammer 40K tank when he first came up with the idea of our product. But that initial Rhino led to a Drop Pod, a Hammerhead, and then a Vendetta, a Necron Scythe, and so on.Warhammer 40K Space Marine Storm Raven

A Powered Play-enhanced Stormraven

In-fact, while we were at the Bay Area Open, we prototyped both a Land Raider and a Stormraven in just a few minutes so everyone could see what we do.

In 20 minutes, we had fully wired our Lascannons with fiber optics, had them mounted, and started looking at where else we could put lights on the wings of the Stormraven with poster tack.

Recently, we gave away a few of our kits to some industry notables, to see how they get just as inspired as we’ve been. We sent a few kits to Mike Larson, of BattleBunker Games to see what he could do with a Heldrake and more!

A Powered Play Heldrake

First, I have to say that the Heldrake model has a smaller body cavity than can hold a standard 9v battery, which our kits use. Of course, you could always hide the wires in the base and run them up to the model, but we have also been prototyping a small 9v battery pack (about the size of half an AA battery) which we sent to Mike to conceal everything inside.

With the order to “Have at it,” Mike has gone to town.Warhammer 40K Chaos Space Marines Heldrake with Lighting

Preparing the Heldrake with Powered Play components

His first thought: fiber optics. Mike drilled out the eyes and the center of the Heldrake Baleflamer and the neck connection to align with the three other holes.

He then ran a length of 1.5mm PMMA Fiber Optics so through each hole and down the neck. By stopping the three connections at the same point in the neck, Mike is able to aim a single red LED light at each end to get it to illuminate.

After adjusting the aim, and closing the neck cavity and painting, mike will then trim the illuminating end of the fiber to be as flush with the model as possible. Also, by cutting after painting, he doesn’t have to worry about the eyes getting all gunked up.

Mike is planning to do some fun stuff with the exhaust and even see about lighting the sponsons on the ribs of the Heldrake.

Adding that “WoW” factor

We also gave Mike our Stormraven that we prototyped while manning the booth at the Bay Area Open. Again, he thought of some creative ways of scattering the light – namely with Hot Glue.

Mike took a look at the rear exhaust and thought that there had to be a better way to build up the cavity, so it looked like fire coming out of the back, instead of just a warm glow from within the engines.

Warhammer 40K Space Marines Stormraven

To do this, Mike used CLEAR hot glue. I emphasize clear because white or any other kind that looks translucent when it goes into the gun, simply doesn’t let the light scatter as brightly and looks like you put a light inside some bubble gum.

With the hot glue set, Mike aimed the red LEDs at the exhaust.

Mike’s not alone with creative ways of prototyping new ideas. We’ve had sculptors, artists, painters and new hobbyists come to us with a lot of ideas.

When Chris first came up with the company, it was seeing his son’s face light up with the “wow” factor that made him want to keep building more. Now, we want to empower that same wow factor in everyone else who’s a gamer, modeler or hobbyist.

So, that begs the question, “What would you do?”