Monday, July 19, 2010

Sculpey vs. Milliput

For the last week I have been working on several Battletech related projects. One of those is basing a couple different companies of mechs for various factions. I had been using Iron Wind Metals hex bases, standard bases, for most of them. However, two mechs were just too big for those bases. One was an Atlas and the other was a Battleaxe. I could have ordered some larger bases, but I thought I would try and make some of my own. I also thought I would make two different types and compare them—one base made from Sculpey and the other made from Milliput.

Sculpey is a polymer clay which is flexible like molders clay, but can be baked to harden it. You can get it at most craft stores for two or three dollars for 2oz. I broke off a bit (about one quarter) and rolled it into a ball. I then flattened the ball with my palm until it was about 1/3 of in inch thick on a small slice of wax paper. I then laid a standard hex base over the flattened ball as a guide and cut the ball into a hex. Finally, I set the mech (Battleaxe) on the newly created hex to ensure the hex was the correct size and proportional to the mech—it was. I then placed the hex and paper on a pan in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, I took out the hex and let it cool. Once cool, I placed the mech on the newly created base, but the base had shrunk and warped just a little. It was enough that the mech no longer fit into the space I made for it, so I had to take a knife and carve out a little of the hex to allow the mech to fit. I also had to sand the bottom of the hex to eliminate the warping that took place in the oven. It was not that much work, but it was an extra step.

Milliput is an epoxy putty not unlike Green Stuff or Kneadite though cheaper. It costs about six dollars at most hobby stores and I think you can get it even cheaper from a hardware store (though I have not tried). Milliput comes in two different tubes within the 4 oz. box. I took an even amount from each tube and blended them together. The blending of the two components creates a chemical reaction that causes the putty to harden in a few hours. You can notice it start to harden in the first 15 minutes. So I followed the same steps above with the exception of the oven and the type of mech (I used an atlas instead). With Milliput, you simply leave it to harden.

In the final analysis, I prefer the Milliput to the Sculpey, because I do not have to do that final step with the oven. And with the Milliput, I did not get any shrinkage (Seinfeld reference) or warping. Though the Milliput is a bit more, I think it looks better and it is equally workable after it hardens as the Sculpey. Plus, I can use it to mold and sculpt other things.

Have you used either of these products and have you had similar results?

Can you recommend any other product for creating bases or sculpting anything for that matter?

E-6000 is the glue I use for attaching mechs to their respective bases. It works very well and it cleans up easily.


  1. How about an ANTI-Recommendation: I've tried plumber's Epoxy Putty for the same purpose. This is a 2-part epoxy putty much like Kneadatite (Grey instead of Green) but is lower quality (more grainy and brittle when hardened), it starts hardening VERY quickly (~2 minutes), and smells funny (toxic???). It works, but I cannot recommend it as a replacement for either cast metal bases or Kneadatite:
    1) Making putty bases is not a good use of my time if off-the-shelf bases are available.
    2) It is not as good for sculpting.

  2. I use Milliput and think while expensive it is a quality product.

    However, I've always made my own bases using plasticard, cutting around a template by scoring with a knife and snapping. I really don't like thick bases, as for me it takes the model out of the terrain, and the effect that I want is that the model blends into the terrain.