Wednesday, November 13, 2013

REVIEW: Instant Mold

For hobbyists looking to get in to serious customization, the ability to duplicate parts can be incredibly valuable.  There are a variety of methods available ranging from easy to hard, cheap to expensive. How does this lower end product stand up?

I'm fairly new to the model gaming hobby, but I've been around molds and general modeling for a couple of decades.  Back in school I made all my molds from silicon rubber.  It's great, but messy, expensive, and requires some know-how and equipment to do it well. Not to mention at least 12 hours (if you're going to do it the sloppy way).  For proper molds that you'll make a tons of casts off of, you'll need 2 days of total working and curing time.  Not exactly convenient when you want that part RIGHT NOW!

Out of curiosity, I picked up this box of Instant Mold from Amazon for ~$10 several months ago after having to do a little more green stuffing than I'd have preferred on one particular model.  The box sat around for a while before I found another need for it.

According to the box description, it was going to be a pretty easy process.  Dip a couple sticks in hot water (170 degrees to be precise), wait two minutes, knead, and form around your part.  Once the mold cools, you can stuff it with Green Stuff or Milliput and get your parts. Sounds almost too good to be true.

Well, I'm happy to report, works like a charm, at least for the purposes here.

Now, before we go any further, I absolutely do not condone duplicating models that someone else put their hard work in to and owns the copyright on.  Messy business, bad karma, illegal, don't do it.

For this example below, I bought some bases for my figures.  As you'll see below (or maybe not from this photo angle), I didn't make full molds of the bases, but I wanted to be able to duplicate some of the tiles on them for further customizations- they only make (4) 40mm base designs, and I've got a squad of 5 figures. Needed to chop one up and do something different to one of them to make it unique from its prepackaged brethren. This particular manufacturer makes basing kits- basically a sheet of flooring just like the ones on their prepackaged bases (in this case ancient church tile) so you can make your own versions.  They make those kits for just about every one of the multitude of styles they produce...except the one I chose.  Grr.

Originals on bottom, dupes on top

Instant Mold to the rescue.  I nuked a cup of water for about a minute, checked it with my cooking thermometer, and went to work. I kneaded two bars together into a brick wide enough for these two bases, squeezed them in, and waited for a few minutes.  Actually I think I went to bed, but it wouldn't take all that long.  Next morning I worked up some Milliput and squeezed it in.  When I came home from work- voila! Perfect tiles ready to chop up and customize. Total time is probably about 15-20 minutes on top of your standard Green Stuff or Milliput curing time. If your part can be removed while the putty is still soft, even better. 

VERDICT- PASS!  This stuff is great.  Now, you can tell if you look really closely there's a tiny bit of detail loss on the surface.  Not sure if that's due to the Instant Mold, the Milliput, or user error, but it's pretty minor so whatever.  On the deep cracks, you could probably work it to pick up those details if you wanted, but as I said, I just wanted the surface tiles.  If I ever want amazing, perfect duplicates of whole parts, this will not be my chosen material- I'll go RTV silicone and take my time.  I suppose I could TRY making a 2 part mold with Instant Mold, but what's the point?  For this kind of purpose- picking up a small detail, or duplicating that one little piece you lost, how can you lose for $10? Oh, and it's reusable! Just put it back in water and knead it up again to mold something new. Perfect!

One last molding tip- remember any time you make a mold, you're going to lose 5-15% in size due to shrinking of both the mold and casting material depending on what you're using.  And that's not a uniform shrink- you'll lose more in the fat areas than the thin. Plan ahead kids. The more you know *ding*


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