Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Flight stands cost how much!?!

Let's start off by admitting that 1/600 helicopters are pretty damned small, apart from maybe Chinooks, Sea Stallions, and possibly Hinds. But small or not, they still need flight stands so they can hover menacingly over my battlefields. I looked at some options that are produced commercially and apart from being prohibitively expensive, my thought concerning all of them was "I could do a better job for cheaper!" So after consulting with the Johns at Picoarmoras well as a bit of trial-and-error, here is my method:

Firstly, the necessary supplies are a 40x30mm metal base, some .025" galvanized wire (music or piano wire), Gorilla superglue gel, needle-nosed pliers, and wire cutters. I don't want my helos all "flying" at exactly the same altitude, so I cut my wires at varying lengths between 4" and 5". 
This is 4.5". Next, I grip one end of the wire with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, using the closest gripping point to the handles
and then wrap the wire around the pliers,
then tighten the curl up so you have a small "curly-cue", like this:
Now, at the place in the wire where the curl ends and the straight wire begins, bend the straight part 90° so it will stand up on it's own.
Ok, now use a goodly amount of Gorilla superglue gel to stick the curly part to the metal base.
Let it dry overnight and then make any necessary minor adjustments so that the upstanding wire is exactly straight up. After this, put a blob of the superglue in the recess on the bottom of your helicopter (they come with this already molded in - damned handy not having to drill them). Now the REALLY aggravating part. Set the helicopter onto the top of the wire and hold it straight and level until the glue sets - and swear loudly as it repeatedly falls off. Refresh the glue and repeat the process numerous times until successful.
Again, check that the helicopter is indeed straight and level. Allow to dry overnight and spray with the primer of your choice,
Then texture the base, a bit thicker than usual, both to cover the wire and to add weight to the base so it won't topple over.
Lastly, paint the model, wire, and textured base and then flock it. I find that painting the wire black is the least intrusive color.

Originally, I would prime and paint the stand and the helicopter model separately, then glue them together, but I learned that the model was very easily broken off the stand. It was because the superglue was holding together only two micro-thin layers of paint. There was no metal to metal contact. Since I began to use the above method, the joint has proved much stronger. I think this will work well for smaller 1/285 helicopters too, but a bigger gauge wire would be a good idea, as well as a larger base, since the models are heavier and would need to be higher off the table. 

All in all, not a fantastic method, but it'll do until I find something better.