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Hirst Arts' Tomb

by Andy Slater

Hirst Arts' TombPlease note that this review of Hirst Arts' Tomb mould is a sub-section of my main review of Hirst Arts moulds and is probably best read in conjunction with the main review. You should also note that I deviated from Hirst Arts' design in order to create a base made entirely with full square tiles (because I prefer games that are played on a grid). Thus the piece in the image to the right (my version) is different from the one over at Hirst Arts.

The Tomb project as described in the instructions at Hirst Arts requires that the mould be cast 14 times and unlike some of the other moulds in my possession, this one really does need to be cast a significant number of times before you can get anything interesting done. Admittedly there are sub structures that can, and in fact must, be constructed in advance and that can be started after only a few casts, but it's pretty dull stuff. Thus I decided to do the bulk of the casting at the same time as casting blocks for other projects on which I could do some interesting construction in between casting sessions.

My finished model weights about 700g so I reckon you'll be able to cast one from a 1kg bag of plaster if you are careful. But you will have to be careful. The mould that I used is shown below and I've drawn red lines around the parts (and areas of parts) that gave me the most trouble with trapped bubbles. These are the areas to which I suggest you pay particular attention and especially part [1] because you need 12 of these, 8 are highly visible on the finished piece, and it's a swine for trapping air. I ended up doing extra casts of this piece to get 12 that I was happy with.

Hirst Arts' Tomb

Unless you're happy to waste plaster, I also suggest that you pay close attention to the quantities of parts that you cast. Hirst Arts instructions say that the mould needs to be cast 14 times however you only need 8 casts of parts [2] and [3]. While some parts will be useful for other projects, these are not particularly useful and as they are quite large, I reckon that having 6 of each going spare would be something of a waste. I cast 9 or 10 of each (to get 8 good ones) and then stopped filling these parts of the mould on subsequent sessions.

There are other parts of which you only need a few, and indeed there are some of which you don't need any (marked with a yellow X). These pieces are in the mould because parts from it can be used to adorn other Gothic buildings and some of the parts that don't get used in the tomb project will be useful for that purpose. Of course if you're just wanting to make the tomb then you may prefer to save plaster by not casting these pieces.

Hirst Arts' TombSome parts need to be adjusted for this project. The instructions at Hirst Arts suggest using a craft knife and while this might work fine with PoP, I was using Keramin and my recommendation is that you make adjustments using abrasive paper. In the image to the right I'm adjusting the decorative trim on one of the gable arches by drawing them across 60 grit paper. Note that I'm using only gentle pressure and letting the abrasive paper do the work. For finer adjustments just use finer paper. Simple as that.

As already mentioned, I wanted to adjust the floor of my model such that it was made up whole squares and this meant that I also had to make the main structure half and inch narrower. This was done as illustrated in the images below.

The leftmost image shows four assemblies. The top two have an area marked for removal while the bottom pair have already had this section removed by rubbing on sandpaper. After checking that they matched, each pair was glued together. Material was then removed from the ends to reduce them to a width of 3.5" measured against the floor tiles.

Hirst Arts' Tomb Hirst Arts' Tomb

The most difficult part was in keeping everything square and in fact ended up needing a bit of filler when I assembled the final structure. The image below shows the worst of my blunders before and after filling.

Hirst Arts' TombI filled the gap with ready mixed Polyfilla. Should you find yourself needing to do this, wet the plaster first. A paintbrush loaded with water is enough. This stops the plaster sucking the moisture out of the filler immediately that they come into contact and gives you a little more working time. A cocktail stick is an ideal tool for transferring a small blob of filler onto the gap, and then using the side of the stick to push it in. Excess filler can then be removed using the same stick and wiping it onto a piece of kitchen paper. Finally the pointed tip can be used to clean out any lines that have been filled and to draw joint lines back into the filler.

I also had to make a few adjustments to the roof to accommodate my alteration to the width of the structure. Of course if you make your tomb as per the instructions are Hirst Arts, you won't need to do any of the above messing about.

A final tip with regard to the construction is to assemble the floor with the good side facing down onto a nice flat surface. This ensures that when it's dried and you turn it over, you end up with a nice flat surface to your floor despite the tiny variations in the thickness that you are bound to get when you cast the tiles.

Painting & Finishing Touches

Having assembled the main components I set about painting it. Note that by 'main components I mean:

  1. Floor
  2. Sarcophagus
  3. 6x columns
  4. Upper Structure WITHOUT roof 'tiles'.
  5. Roof Ridge

This meant I had easy access to all areas and it's especially useful when it comes to drybrushing the lead roof if those pieces are not fixed in place.

Hirst Arts' TombFor the stonework, Hirst Arts suggests a three-stage paint scheme and I selected three colours from the range of Inscribe Acrylics that I generally use for painting the larger areas of my terrain pieces, namely: Burnt Umber, Caramel, and Desert Sand. I must confess however that in addition to the three stages suggested by Hirst Arts, I ended up applying a number of additional washes and drybrushings before I was happy with it.

Finally I added a base, made from polystyrene and coated with Javis No.19 flock. The floor of the tomb is not glued into this base so I can remove it and put it on a gridded surface when/if (see conclusions) I used it for gaming. The base is just for display purposes.

The figure is Tiriel from Hasslefree Miniatures and the birds were carved from sprue.

Conclusions

Although I like the finished piece I have my doubts about how well it would stand up to use on a gaming table, and if you'd need to transport your terrain to and from game session and/or store it anywhere other than in a display cabinet then I suggest you give this one a miss.

I also feel that the mould is rather more limited than the other moulds in my initial batch of six (see main Hirst Arts review). I have seen other terrain pieces that make good use of the pieces from this mould however they have generally employed pieces from other moulds in Hirst Arts' Gothic range such as the basic blocks from The Wizards Tower. If purchased as one of a number of moulds from the Gothic range then I guess you'd be able to make good use of it however, if like me, it's largely a case of having fallen in love with The Tomb, then I guess it's a question of whether the cost of the moulds can be justified in order to make just the one model.

Hirst Arts' Tomb

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