Sometimes you just have to murder a darling

I’ve changed my mind on putting LED lighting in the bases for my Abyssals.

Originally my plan was to have a bunch of flaming braziers dotted around the bases with blue flickering LEDs inside for the fire, to match the blue fireballs of my colour scheme. I’ve used LEDs a little bit in the past with my Abyssal Dwarf army display board and a dragon that I’d half built for them with (again) blue LED lit fire coming out of its mouth. It was something that I was looking forward to and thought it would give an extra wow factor to my army.

I’d begun with some small scale testing of various LEDs, learning a little bit more about electronics and soldering to avoid some of the problems I encountered wiring my Abyssal Dwarf display board. I bought a suitable brazier 3D model for printing and did a test building the flame around an LED with hot glue used for the flame. It worked great.

I wouldn’t say I launched into full production at this point, but I did step it up and began buying up the required electronics components and printing a sizeable number of braziers and battery boxes:

However. There was a little doubt at the back of my mind and after talking out loud to myself on the subject, I decided to scrap LEDs in the bases for this project.

Time was a consideration. Running the wires, doing all the soldering and everything else would be a substantial amount of work. While the LEDs might be a nice gimmick, I am pressed for time with my Abyssal project and I feel that any time spent would be better spent on improving painting elsewhere.

The big issue was that of discrepancy.

You see, Mantics Abyssal models heavily feature sculpted flames. They’re not transparent, they’re opaque, so I have to paint them. I can’t run an LED to them without recasting the models in a transparent resin, which is just a big fat no. I don’t know resin casting and recasting dozens of models, many of them fairly hefty, for the sake of running some LEDs in there just isn’t worth it to me. Again it’s even more time spent, and it’s something that may not even work well in the end.

So I would end up with painted flames in the hands of the Abyssal models, yet having LED lit flames on the bases. The painted flames would have a little bit of OSL, the LED flames wouldn’t. They would be a murky whitish colour while the LEDs were turned off.

These are two completely different modelling techniques that don’t mesh well together. If I were to have LED lit flames then all the flames in the army should be LED lit. The other option, which I’ve decided to go with, is to drop the LEDs and paint all the flames. I can still use those printed braziers, but add some sculpted and painted flames to them.

I may come back to LED lighting for the display board, time depending, because I have an idea for using them that doesn’t involve flame. For the models themselves? No LEDs. In an army without sculpted flames these could work really well and I’m sure that I will use these things one day, but not in an army that has loads of sculpted flames already.

I could have kept ploughing on with the LED idea, despite a few misgivings. I could have fallen to sunk cost thinking – knowing that I’d spent so long and a not insignificant amount of money getting this to work so dammit I’m going to press on regardless. In the end I find it’s often better to take a step back, review a technique and assess whether you’re continuing with it because it will genuinely add to your army or whether you’re continuing because you’ve already spent so much time on it.

In the end, you sometimes just have to murder a darling.

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