Wednesday, 7 January 2009

I'm a Blockhead

There's not been any gaming this week, as I've been trying to gear my brain up for my first week back in work. What I have done though, is finished off a diorama (at last! Pictures in a future post), started painting my post office (photos in future posts) and worked on my Warlock House using my Hist Arts mould. I thought I'd take the opportunity this week to have a look at these moulds.

Hirst Arts Moulds
If you've been into gaming for a while, if you've built your own scenery or if you've ever visited any half decent wargaming forum, you've probably heard of Hirst Arts. Hirst arts produce silicon moulds to allow casting of blocks and architectural elements in plaster or resin. You can then use these pieces to build a wide range of terrain pieces. Sort of like a 28mm wargaming Lego.

I'm the owner of two moulds, one for casting 'Dungeon Accessories' (Barrels, crates, etc) and one for dry-stone effect walls. The first mould is quite simply brilliant. In the space of ten minutes preparation and a little over an hour's drying time I have a range of barrels and boxes ready to go. After the inevitable, priming and painting of course... Having previously paid £5 at shows to get cast resin piles of crates and barrels, this has soon paid for itself.

The second mould is my newest. At first glance it isn't as exciting as the first, all it casts (with the exception of a couple of decorative pieces) is building blocks with a nice stone finish. However, these pieces can be used to used create any sort of building or wall structure that comes to mind. Even some lovely arched windows.

The Hirst Arts website provides a number of plans and layouts specific to each mould, as well as a gallery of items that customers have created, and there is a lively forum full of tips and tricks for getting the best from your moulds. All in all it is one of the best supported commercial sites that I have seen in this hobby.

So, is it all good news? Well no. The casting can be messy and will take a long time when building larger models. The plaster used is also important, standard Plaster of Paris can be used but most casters prefer speciality plaster which provides a harder and more robust finish. These are not particularly expensive or hard to come by, but are an additional hurdle.

There is also the issue of price, these moulds are not cheap. The current fluctuations in Sterling have meant that moulds (including postage) are at about the £30 mark. As the pound settles against the dollar, this may come down in price, but not by a large amount.

Overall, are these moulds a good purchase for the frugal gamer? Well, if you have the time and a little artistic flair, as well as the need to produce a lot of terrain (for games such as Mordheim, D&D etc) these can be an excellent choice. If you only need a couple of terrain pieces, these are not suitable. Personally, I think these are a fantastic product and should be thought of as an investment in your terrain building future!

If you are thinking of purchasing one of these moulds and you live in the UK, I would suggest that you visit Hirst Arts UK before the US site. The price may well be a couple of pounds cheaper and delivery times faster. Plus you'll also be supporting Andy who runs the Terragenesis site.

That's all for now, thanks for all the positive feedback I've received, I really appreciate your comments and suggestions. See you next week.


Ironworker said...

I've got quite a few Hirst Arts molds between what I own and what people have loaned me. My problem is that I never seem to cast only one mold at a time so I end up wiht a lot of bricks from different molds that don't alway match up. The molds are top notch though and Bruce is a gret guy. I live about a half hour from him.

Witteridderludo said...

I had the good luck of running into a set of five molds that were offered at a second hand corner during "Crisis 2008" at 40 Euro. Mostly fieldstone molds and one with wooden planking.That mold I sold on the spot to another guy who had been looking at this set as well. But he just needed the planks.
Nice deal: 4 molds for about eight Eura a piece...
Can you say "Songs of Gold and Darkness" dungeon?

Dave said...

I can't remember hearing any complaints about the moulds at all. Plus, I've personally never seen any for sale second hand. People obviously like them and want to hold onto them.

I'm pretty jealous of the five moulds for 40 Euros deal!

Ruarigh said...

I really like the Hirst Arts moulds. I have most of the Egyptian ones and have used them extensively. I do like the look of the dungeon accessories mould with the barrels and crates. I may have to get that one next or organise an exchange with you. I find the whole casting process really quite addictive!!

Dan said...

Your Year of Frugal Gaming is a lofty goal. I will eagerly watch your progress and will be doing my best to emulate the goal. I'll try to keep up on progress on my blog at

Jayster said...

I love working with my Hirst Arts blocks. I've built soem stuff for myself, and a couple of castles as Christmas presents. (Currently I use 5 Fieldstone molds.)
Only once seen a bundle of molds go up for sale 2nd hand, and they sold at very close to regular new price !!!
I think Egyptian may be my next forray :)