Saturday, March 1, 2014

Workbench #9 - Lighting Up the Reaper Bones Large Fire Elemental

"Sam" the Sorceress forgets some wise advice: "Never summon anything bigger than your head."


This is my take on lighting up a Reaper Bones Large Fire Elemental (77082) with an LED tea light. The intended effect is a flickering light shining up through the translucent plastic from the base. The light defuses through the figure and creates the illusion of flame. The challenge is working with the size and shape of the tea light.

LED tea light, unmodified.

My inspiration was Chris Palmer's project presented at his blog All Bones About It. I had different goals for my project, so I took some different approaches. That stated, I couldn't have gone forward without his example.

Design decisions:

The main challenge of this project is what to do with the LED tea light. It is not wide enough by itself to serve as a base for the Large Fire Elemental - the figure overhangs it in an unsightly fashion. The LED tea light is also over half an inch tall - a little conspicuous for a base.

After some thought, I decided against Chris Palmer's solution. His method was to modify a large plastic base to accept the LED light and battery assembly from the tea light. He then used putty to build up the base to conceal the LED assembly and support the figure. This technique, which is perfectly valid and produced a good looking result, did not appeal to me due to its complexity. I also wanted to be able to easily remove and replace the LED assembly when needed. This meant that I had to keep as much of the LED tea light intact as possible.

LED / battery assembly removed for replacement. Note the threading that the assembly screws into.

I ended up solving the issues involved by covering them up with a big chunk of plastic. A 60mm round base from Games Workshop, to be specific. Placed on top of the LED tea light, it is wide enough to accommodate the figure while disguising the LED tea light just enough not to be obvious.

It was at this stage that I decided not to paint the figure. This was a purely aesthetic choice on my part. I'm just not sold on how painted translucent Bones figures look.

Construction / Basing:

Step 1: Remove the plastic "flame" over the LED light to reduce the size of the holes I would need to drill in step 2.

LED tea light disassembled. Note the plastic cover (left top), the LED / battery assembly (right), and the plastic "flame" (left bottom.

Step 2: Drilled holes in the figure and the GW base.

Holes drilled in base and figure.

Step 3: Removed the plastic moldings under the GW base to provide a smooth surface to attach the LED tea light.

Unmodified 60mm base. Anybody know what those plastic moldings are for?

Step 4: Primed the GW base and the LED tea light (after removing the LED light / battery piece).

Step 5: Glued the tea light, base, and figure together. I took care that everything was aligned to allow the LED to poke through into the base and into the hole drilled into the figure.

Alignment after assembly and painting. Note the switch on the bottom.

Step 6: Painted the edge of the base and LED tea light black.

Step 7: Glued sand on base with a mix of tacky glue, brown craft paint, and water. Waited for basing sand to dry. Drybrushed linen craft paint on sand. Painted sand around the Large Fire Elemental black to represent burnt soil. Drybrushed grey craft paint on to black areas to represent ash.

Finished product, unlit.


Overall, I'm pleased with the end result. The effect is distinctive, even if it is a little bit of a gimmick. Disguising the LED tea light by covering it up and painting it black keeps the viewer's attention on the figure.

Who's up for barbecue?

Now I just need to wait until I run my next dungeon crawl game. I'm sure that my players will be suitably impressed when this thing hits the table. :)

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