I started my gates at the beginning of 2020 by building the basic structures out of some laser cut MDF girders I had picked up years ago, intended for Necromunda terrain. I used 4 girders in a rectangular arrangement to create each vertical and the gantry across the top, and detailed them with some rivits (1mm hemispherical nail art beads). I designed them to slot together, but left them in pieces because I knew I wanted some ability to disassemble the gates for storage. The thinking was the verticals would be permanently attached to bases and then the gantry slotted in for play.
Once I had the basic structures I spent a long time (by which I mean a year!) thinking about what to add to them, looking at other peoples gates and building a big list of ideas. Here’s that list:
- Painted on the reverse of or painted over old road signs and other sheet metal, and mounted on the gate
- Rusted old car bodies leaning up against the gate posts with the gate number painted on the roof/bonnet
- Numbers cut out of sheet metal and bolted to the gate
- The start gate is not numbered, but will feature the Gaslands logo, each letter cut out of a different type of sheet metal (probably with a faded/chipped paint job too)
- Instead of/as well as being numbered the finish gate could have old checkered flags hanging below the gantry, and a checkerboard line painted across the road/ramp below.
Gate direction signage/control – race gates in Gaslands can only be passed in one direction:
- Green lights on the front of the gate, red lights on the back
- Repurposed road signs – stop, stop ahead, no entry on the back. Direction arrow signs on the front
- Spike strips angled so they impale the tyres of any cars driving the wrong way
- Direction arrows painted on concrete ramps/road surface between the gate posts
Gate impact protection (they’re strong structures, but the producers need to protect them from inevitable crashes and impacts, and ensure the cars generally come off worse):
- 55 gallon drums – filled with concrete
- Tyres roped and chained to the inside of the gate structure (providing some rare impact relief for vehicles too)
- Tyre stacks
Televised carnage/executive intervention (remembering that Gaslands is a TV show, with producers intent on audience satisfaction and not necessarily the wellbeing of the contestants):
- Remote controlled weaponry (heavy machine guns, gatling guns, rockets, lasers) underslung below the gate
- TV cameras
- Speaker racks (for the live audience – maybe even large TV screens?)
- Everything mounted on gimbles or on rails like a TV studio
- One rail might be a repurposed car exhaust
- Power cables for all this equipment should be trailed through the structure of the gates, some of it run through and down enclosing pipes for protection. Underslung cables hanging down from the overhead gantry, loosely grouped up with old rope, metal brackets or chains.
Other decoration/general detritus
- “Worship the car” – wheels, gears, steering wheels, exhausts, engine blocks and other old car parts bolted, welded or chained to the gate. Also random road signs – a chance to hint at the arenas location (I will be indulging my love of Americana)
- Additional reinforcing beams and sheet metal welded or bolted to the structure – make it look a little less uniform (and also strengthen it for play!)
- Sheet metal, old road signs and rusted corrugated iron bolted or chained around the posts to enclose them and deter climbing
- Barbed wire and anti climb spikes around posts
- Old torn flags hanging listlessly from the top gantry or embedded in concrete filled drums
- A ladder going up to the top of the gate (attached or leaning to) – for production crew to fix equipment or reload an HMG
- Stacks of old road signs and other sheet metal leaning against the gate posts
- Tyres, bits of engine and twisted metal buried in the sand around the posts (counts as difficult ground)
Here’s a couple of hours work using various ideas from the list – and finally a use for this large mechanicum skull bit I have had in my bits box for a while (though I replaced the pulley wheel with a car wheel – see “car worship” on the list above. Also present are a couple of cameras, a couple of lights, a rocket launcher and a heavy machine gun.
Once I had added a few bits to the basic structure I sat back and looked at how it was coming together. The various additions were good, but I definitely needed more. But there was something more fundamentally wrong and eventually I decided the aspect ratio of the gate wasn’t right. It needed to be wider, shorter, or both. I’d also seen many people angle the corners of their gates and I think this looks much better than a square edged corner.
I set about re-engineering how the horizontal part of the gate would attached to the gate posts, envisioning some angled corner connectors that would widen the. I also decided that the posts needed shortening by 20%, a couple of centimetres. This time I had a drawing so I could be sure that the final shape and aspect ratio would look right.
I extended the top strut with some thick 2mm plasticard. The inside of the modified and shortened verticals could then slot between these extensions, and the extensions themselves would sit on the top edges of the front and back of the verticals. Then I encased the whole corner in more plasticard, filling gaps with some plastic putty and then detailed with scrapes, dings and rivits. This arrangement involves quite a lot of semi-accurate plasticard work but should be strong enough to withstand the rigours of gaming.
Next up: (lots) more details.