Dry heat – Aliens game board update #1

February 10, 2012

The Aliens board game game board (tee-hee) project I announced a while back is going strong. In this post I’ll take a look at what’s happening with it.

The board

In the previous post I wondered about a suitable flooring texture – brass and resin alternatives were too costly. I considered textured styrene sheets, but couldn’t find a suitable texture. In the end I settled for a cheap and easily handled material: plastic bug screen. It provided me with a nice mesh texture, and perhaps most importantly it was dirt cheap. I bought a large offcut sheet for 5€, and it’s over twice the size I needed.

Yesterday I cut a suitable shape from the sheet and glued it over the board with watered-down PVA. I left the staircase portion unglued. After the glue had dried, I carefully removed the rectangle with a craft knife. The bug screen has the added bonus of showing through the markings I made on the board earlier.

Click for a larger version

Today the mailman brought me the magnetic sheets that will be used to attach the terrain pieces to the board, so today will probably see some test fitting – not to mention testing whether the magnets have a strong enough hold. If they don’t, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board.


The game board is clogged with various obstacles, and I’ve slowly gone to work on them as well. Shown below are some of the things I intend to use.

Various scifi bits and bobs from Ainsty. I bought these earlier to use in my Triton-4 Aliens/Predator/Colonial Marines campaign – which might or might not return. They’ll serve their purpose wonderfully here as well.

Click for a larger version

Scratch-built junk. Every miniature gamer hoards up things they might need one day. Lo and behold, this is “one day”! Out will come the random bits bought from hardware stores, beads, offcut pieces of sprue and miniatures and things like that. This project is a fine way to use them, since a lot will be covered more or less with Xenomorph gunk (more on that below). There is one innovation I’m actually proud of, and that’s using my Mantic bases. I’ve assembled quite a few from ghoul and zombie sets, and until now I’ve had no use for them. Now I’ve combined them with some of the extra bug screen I have, and they make wonderful exhaust vent -type thingies. A slight problem is that in the board game all obstacles block line of sight. In Aliens, however, there is steam billowing all around the reactor room (“Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!”), so I’m thinking of using craft wool to simulate steam issuing from the vents.

Alien gunk. This gave (and might still be giving) me a hard time. While I love the biomechanical Xenomorph look, it’s a bastard to recreate in larger quantities. Ready-made resin sets exist, but that would rapidly escalate the costs of this project – something I definitely don’t want. My current choice is to go with Tetra paste, which is a somewhat elastic paste for sealing windows, bathroom tiles and the like. This doesn’t produce a neat, organic surface, but rather a creepy, gooey one. It can be crudely shaped and takes paint well. Below is a quick mock-up using a blue foam offcut and some paste. On the right you can see the same piece with a quick, patchy paintjob (black with grey drybrushing, ink wash, I’ll later add some strands of glue for that sticky look) and a Marine to give you an idea of how it looks. Definitely let me know what you think. In my opinion it looks nice enough, even if it is a slight departure from the source material.

Click for a larger version


Unsurprisingly I have a whole lot of Colonial Marines. All I needed to do was pick out a suitable selection to match the characters in the film. I took some liberties to save me some time. What I needed was Apone (flamethrower), Crowe (pistol), Dietrich (flamethrower), Drake (smartgun), Frost (pistol), Hicks (shotgun), Hudson (pistol), Vasquez (smartgun) and Wierzbowski (flamethrower). Surprisingly I had less than half of suitable minis for these fellows painted. Like the Marines in the film, the lack of pulse rifles proved troublesome.

Here are the painted ones. Apone and Drake are from em4, while Crowe and Hudson are from Copplestone Castings.

L to R: Apone, Crowe, Hudson, Drake. Click for a larger version

And the unpainted ones. Apart from Frost they’re all Woodbine designs models. Frost is an as-of-yet unfinished conversion of an em4 plastic trooper.

L to R: Dietrich, Frost, Hicks, Vasquez, Wierzbowski. Click for a larger version

That’s the project so far. Comments and critique, send them my way!


  1. This is a project that I’ll watch with great interest!
    There are a lot of PVC hardfoam boards in my man cave, waiting for my attention and I am curious about the plastic bug screen? Is it a semi-flexible or even hard mesh or more something soft like a cloth? It does appear to be pretty firm (in the mantic base picture) and hasn’t lost it’s shape.

    I had thought about using a wire mesh, but this would be too expensive and I really don’t see myself casting several hundred floor tiles from dental plaster. My latest idea isn’t that much cheaper.

    Whiteface / Oliver


    • Thanks for the comment, Oliver! The bug screen is quite flexible, the thickness of a thick sheet of paper. It’s very durable – doesn’t really tear – but can be cut easily with regular scissors etc. Hope this helps!


  2. Thank you. All those insect screens that I have seen are more like a soft net and wouldn’t hold their shape. I think it’s time for a little stroll through the DIY store… :o)


  3. The Mantic bases with the grating on them is a fantastic idea: simple, effective and cheap. Consider that stolen for sure.

    Using the paste for the hive wall sections has potential I think. The thing is that the Alien designs tend to be less random and more structured: a bit mechanical I suppose. The current wall looks a little too random for my tastes, but if the walls were broken up at regular intervals with something else (some sort of organic pillar?) then it might well be fine.

    Maybe making some sort of tool to rake or comb the paste after application would add a hint of uniformity while still giving the gunky slimy look.

    I have one other suggestion, that might sound a bit mental but bear with me.

    When I was in college a fellow student made a large model of the space jockey room from Alien. To replicate some of the ridged sides of the room he stuck chicken bones to the walls to try to make it look like this:

    My initial reaction at the time was to scoff loudly, but he managed to make it work and I had to eat humble pie. He may have cast one section of wall and replicated it, I cant remember for sure.

    He was working in a different scale, so I dont know if it could be pulled off in 28mm. But its food for thought. Literally.


    • Of course you could also use some sort of ridged flexible piping from the hardware shop to break up the walls with something similar to the vertical cabling in the photo in my previous comment.

      That would avoid having to boil chicken bones until they stop stinking too…


      • Thanks for the comments. I did some reading on the bone thing – the idea actually came up on TMP a while back. Experts suggest that if you just boil the bones, you end up sealing loads of fat in the bone. I’ve no idea whether this would cause problems later. I think I’ll take a look at hardware stores first, but I’m not going to dismiss the bone idea. After all, what better way to create an organic look than using something organic?


      • Agreed!

        I’m a big HR Giger fan myself, and I think it would be a pity to miss out on an opportunity to make some really cool terrain. Sure it will take some extra time, but I think in the end it will be worth it.

        Perhaps this could be used for inspiration:

        It got all those elements; the combing, flex hose, and thick hose cut in little pieces and stuck in. Just adding the goo around that stuff will probably look great! =)


        • Thanks for the feedback, I actually bought some electrical wire yesterday. I’m going to use it add some regularity and structure to the whole thing. Let’s see how it turns out!


  4. I don’t know if it’ll help but one of my friends sculpts a bunch of organic stuff on top of flexible electical wire

    His blog is here: http://modernsynthesist.blogspot.com/2011/12/abomination-more-grotesque-progress.html

    For making walls and sloped out croppings It sould be possible to use some of that or the ribbed black tubing that they use for appliances and fish tanks.

    Secret weapon miniatures has some excellent infested bases if you are for stuff that has a very alien like growth on it.


    I had a chance to read through some of your older posts in regards to the various model scales and it’s been very helpsful, I really like the jungle table you were previously working on. Needs more plants though.

    I just posted a zombie game concept may like http://www.mechdudesblog.blogspot.com/ probably will run it as a modified Ambush Z game.


  5. […] just completed these five models. They were specifically painted for my Aliens board game project. What these five models reminded me of is that I [expletive] hate batch painting. It’s dull, […]


  6. I made a 3-d version a few years ago to use with the Leading Edge minis. It was a bit crude (foambord floor, walls, and obsticles) but it worked and wasn’t too bad for a 1st run, lol. I still want to make a better version at some point, once I work myself up to it. I had used elmers glue and some white caulking for the “goo” stuff. I was thinking of the plastic mesh looking material from craft/sewing projects to use as floor grating, not sure how well it would fit together though.
    Looking forward to seeing your finished product. What do you plan to use as fire markers (for burning ground blocking)? Any plans for an area with eggs and cocooned colonists?


    • Thanks for the comment Gary! For fire markers I’m planning to use smoke made from craft wool and possibly flames from one putty or another. Definitely looking to do some eggs and infected victims!


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