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Xeroxed Ammo Boxes?

Getting the Right Mix

Before you start mixing silicone, make sure you are well prepared. Cleaning tissue, rubber gloves are useful if you want to keep your hands safe, your working surface clean and your marriage together. To make a perfect mix, a scale is useful (though I admit I used guesswork in the past, and that worked well, too. Only when you use guesswork you always end up with a leftover of one of both (expensive) silicone components.

You also need a disposable container to mix the silicone and something to stir with. Those plastic thingies that fast-food restaurants offer to stir the coffee work fine. In the background you see a LOT of the ammo boxes I discussed above. They are easy to cast and always are useful for dioramas, filling the truckload, etc... Notice that several of them are colored when I used a dye to color the resin.

A good kitchen scale comes in handy. I explained to the missus that this is indispensable to bake cookies. I admit I used it to bake cookies indeed. Twice already. Maybe I should bake some next weekend to convince her that I didn't just buy it for modeling purposes.

The screwdriver next to the scales is an interesting tool. It has a very broad rim, and can be used as a mini-crowbar. I use it to remove lids from paint jars, silicone pots, etc... Very handy!

I must have mixed silicone at least 100 times and resin a 1000 times by now. Only a few months ago, I discovered the wonderful world of dye. Adding a dash of color has several advantages. First of all, it makes mixing easier. As long as you see streaks of dye or streaks of white in your mixture, you know that you have not yet stirred the mixture well enough. This is extremely important. If you do not mix both components of the silicone extremely well, you get pieces that do not cure properly. If you have a mold that has liquid pieces in it, you can throw it away and start all over. Furthermore, uncured silicone is next to impossible to remove from your original. It happened to me several times. There's a smiley for that.

A word of warning though. Don't use too much dye. The chemical component of dye seems to influence the curing process if you use too much. I especially had problems each time I mixed blue and yellow dye together to make green molds or green resin. Reds and yellows work fine individually, and mixed into orange, too.

Copyright 2002 - Text and Photos by Jan Van der Cruysse (General Failure). All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

About the Author

About Jan (GeneralFailure)

I live in Belgium, Europe. Though modeling was big on my list of hobbies, I spent all my time refurbishing the home we bought a few years ago. I promised I'd be back some day. That day can't be far off, now.


Good basic how to read it when he posted the three part thing. Good job General.
JUL 29, 2002 - 07:51 PM
Great job. I have toyed with the idea myself. I think I will have to wait until I get in a house, but when I do I will pick out my favorite resin aftermarket stuff and have some fun. Is it O.K. to copy stuff if your not going to sell it?
JUL 29, 2002 - 10:37 PM
1) Legal aspects. I'm not familiar with legal aspects in the US, but I think the issue is governed by copyright law. I think you can compare the situation to copying music CD's or newspaper articles... technically it is not allowed but you probably won't be thrown in jail if you do it for your own personal use If you plan to sell the copied stuff from someone elses originals... good luck with it . 2) Ethical aspects. Making an original is expensive. You have to pay someone to do it properly. Making an original takes a lot of time, and time is expensive. The price per figure/object is calculated on the number of pieces the manufacturer expects to sell. If we all start copying they sell less, thus they have to be sold at a higher price. And in my heart, it is not correct to copy. Only when I see very simple pieces at a ridiculous price, I admit there's a temptation. When you feel such temptation, get up and catch some fresh air outside or surf around on Armorama for a while until your criminal intentions have faded away. 3) Economical. Let's imagine you have a nice figure or object. You like it so much you consider making a resin copy. Stop. It will be cheaper to buy a second new item. Only when you need several, the fixed cost (price for your silicone mold) per mold starts to pay off. Don't forget there always remains a variable cost (price of resin, your time, material to mix,...). I can't possibly tell you how many pieces you have to copy before this becomes cheaper than buying an original. Much depends on the price of the original and the complexity to copy it. Not all items are as easy to copy as an ammo box!!! In general, casting copies becomes cheaper than buying new stuff when you need three or four... Resin casting may do to aftermarket models what MP3 did to the music business. Some say that was a good thing, others say it is not. Depends mostly on whom you ask. Now go back to that modeling table and do right.
JUL 29, 2002 - 11:13 PM
Great article :-) I too have toyed with idea for items of which I might need many (ruck sacks, bed rolls, etc.) I like your mention of disposal "stirring thingies". Do I understand that you can not use any kind of release agent in the original container to help get mold out? Would the release agent interfere with mold setting process? As far as legal ramifications: If you modify the original, say repalce rope handles on ends of ammo boxes, to give variety, you are no longer copying the "original".
AUG 03, 2002 - 10:53 PM
I'd be surprised if it would be that easy to evade copyright law. It is not because you change a few words or sentences (even pages or chapters) in a book that you have the right to copy it and sell it under your own name ! In fact, it would be interesting to learn if there have been any legal cases on resin-copying of models. Then again, I hardly suspect there's much legal danger in copying for your own use... as long as your activities and their results are limited to the intimacy of your modeling room !0:-)
AUG 04, 2002 - 04:11 AM
How safe are resins and silicone on the lungs etc.? MSW
AUG 17, 2002 - 08:28 PM
I'm no lawyer, but I really don't think there is a problem with copying items for your personal use. That is -- as long as you don't plan to sell or give away any of your copies. I have never "bootlegged" a complete kit, but I have made plenty of copies of parts over the years. As long as I don't claim that the copies are anything they are not, I can't see how it would be a problem. For instance, if I buy and build Tamiya's M4 with a three-piece final drive housing, make a mold and copy that housing, then use it on the front of a back-dated M7 Priest, I would tell people what was on the nose of that Priest: a resin copy of the Tamiya final drive. Is it ethical? Well, it's as ethical as anything else we do in this hobby. What about when we give away copies of magazine articles, photos, pages out of reference books, kit instructions? What about when we tape a show off the History Channel to use as reference? Or make a copy of that tape to send to a buddy who doesn't have cable? For at least a decade, Academy made its money selling direct copies of Tamiya kits. I don't think the lawyers are going to line up at my door to sue me for making a few bootleg parts to go on my own models. One final thought: How many times have you bought an aftermarket resin hull or turret kit and been able to tell the "donor" kit? Lots of times ...
AUG 17, 2002 - 09:56 PM
Very few resin or plaster pieces are actually copyrighted. Sometimes the box artworl is, but rarely is the actual product. I make a lot of "kit bash" sets that I resell, often using the vacuform based models (almost impossible to build because they are so thin!) and use them to create RTV molds. I then repour the items in plaster, and resell the new version. I don't represent the kit as being my original, unless it is. I never reproduce an entire kit and try to sell it, but I often find a door here, a wall there, and a window from a third kit, and then produce a "new kit" that I will resell. I charge a modest price for my time and effort to convert the pieces, cover the costs of my molds (RTV is VERY expensive!), and have never had a complaint. I also sell debris kits, using pieces of poured kits that had flaws... every diorama needs a little more rubble eh? And yet no one else sells this sort of product. I would NEVER reproduce a copyrighted item, nor allow anyone to copy and claim as original any of my copyrighted originals... especially if they claim the work as their own. I imagine most model mfr's are about the same in that vein. - Keith
AUG 19, 2002 - 02:26 PM
I will copy anything I want to as long as it is not for sale and for my own use heck I made about 300 plus 88mm shells for that Kursk dio that I was working on plus about the same number of 75 mm. So all I can say is that if the lawyers want to line up at the door go right ahead but by golly you better bring the police with you cause you are going to be needing them!! Now on Microsoft stuff this is a different can of worms here they say you can not copy it and by golly they mean that.
AUG 19, 2002 - 07:49 PM
I have just made my first castings. think they came out well. AS I made them for me and no for profit (read sale) I dont get any sleepless nights. I would gladly buy a kit of certain spare parts but realize what I need and what a manufacturer can maKe money on are two totaly different things. Also many of the garrage guys pieces are original manufacturers parts modified in some fashion. So I think I wouldn't worry to much if at all about making parts. In any caseThanks Jan for the help in learning and conquering one more skill in our hobby. Josh Weingarten aKa shiryon :-)
AUG 19, 2002 - 10:39 PM