Tuesday, March 18, 2014

X-Wing Miniatures Custom Asteroids

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures homemade asteroids

I recently had to use a little Great Stuff spray foam insulation around my house, and when I was done I had a lot left over, so decided to experiment to see how it would work for making asteroids.  I’m pretty happy with the results, so I’m sharing the process for other Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures players.
The cans of Great Stuff are around $7-8.00, and that was the only thing I had to spend money on.  Plenty comes in the can: After some minor hole-filling around the house, I easily had enough left over for at least 50 asteroids, if I cared to make that many.

I have experience with art and with miniatures painting, although I am *nothing* compared to some of the terrain/miniatures builders and painters you can find elsewhere on the internet.  Much of the stuff I list below is the same thing other people do better than I can, and most of this process has been described before elsewhere.  I’m just detailing it all here with my variations on it for the sake of completeness.

I think I’ve seen people mention using craft foam for asteroids. I had heard of people using Great Stuff to build terrain before, but I’m not really seeing anyone specifically mention it for asteroids.  Some people use pumice stones, which look fantastic, but one advantage of Great Stuff  is that it’s very light, easy to shape, and can be easily glued.

Note: follow all warnings on the can of Great Stuff.  It is very sticky, so avoid contact with skin and clothing, and don’t use it in an area that doesn’t have good ventilation.

Materials required:

-Great Stuff foam
-Electric drill
-Needle nose pliers
-Hot glue gun
-Sharp knife
-Paper clips (large size)
-Plastic caps from milk jugs, water bottles, and juice bottles (an assortment of sizes is ideal)
-Paper clips
-Acrylic paint & a brush

Shaping the asteroids:

   1)      Spray small blobs of the Geat Stuff onto scrap newspaper or cardboard.  It expands to several times its original size as it dries, so only use a small amount
   2)      As the foam starts to set, use something small and disposable (a toothpick, a twig, etc. – not your finger, unless you want a sticky mess) to manipulate the foam into bumpy shapes.  Try to get some peaks or roughness.
   3)      Let the foam cure until the center is dry. Overnight works best.
   4)      Tear the dried blobs of foam off of the paper. Use a craft knife or other sharp knife to peel and cut away parts the smooth skin. I liked to leave some smooth areas, but you might not.

   5)      Use your finger nails to pinch out craters and break up any straight lines into more irregular forms.

Painting the asteroids

1)      Thin down some black acrylic paint so that it is pretty liquid. Paint over the asteroid, using the brush to work the paint into the holes and crevices. Allow to dry.
2)      Mix a dark gray or brown (whatever color you think as asteroid should be). Paint over the asteroid, leaving recessed areas and the undersides of ridges with some black for a shadow effect.
3)      Add some white to the paint, and go over the asteroid again, dry brushing higher areas to make highlights. Repeat this step with increasingly lighter paint if you want more highlighting.

Building the bases

   1)      Using a very small drill bit, drill holes in the centers of each bottle cap.
   2)      Straighten the paper clips with needle nose pliers.
   3)      Twist one end of the paper clip into a flat loop, or some other shape that would provide a surface to which to glue the bottom of the asteroid.
   4)      Poke the other end of the paper clip through the hole in the bottle cap, then use the pliers to twist that end into a flat gluing surface.
   5)      Holding the paper clip steady against the top of the inside of the bottle cap, hot glue it in place.
   6)      Hot glue the other end of the paper clip to the bottom of the asteroid.
   7)      I painted the paper clips black, but I’m not sure how durable that is going to be.  The paint might peel off too easily, so you might want to try wrapping the paper clip in black tape, or wrap it in masking tape before painting it black. Alternately, black vinyl coated paper clips might be ideal.
   8)      I cut out disks of black scrap felt and glued them to the tops of the bottle caps so that they matched the play area.  I painted the sides of the bases black, but I think next I will go ahead and wrap the sides in felt, too.

The asteroids are much more stable then I feared they would be; you can bump them and they won’t fall over easily, because the foam is so light.  The one that was just a little top-heavy was fixed by hot-gluing a penny inside the base, although it didn’t really need it.

Just by coincidence, the bottle cap bases I picked to use fit very nicely on the six different asteroid tokens that came with the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures core set, but I might cut my own out of the black felt and paint them.

In the future, I think I’ll dot the felt play area with white dots for stars, and then do the same for the asteroids bases to “camouflage” them.  I think they will blend in nicely.

DIY asteroid terrain


  1. Interesting and I'm not surprised once again at your talent and ability to do this, but I don't think it's a project I'd like to take on. It seems like sooooooo much work that requires so many tools. But quite impressive.

  2. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!


I'm eager to hear your thoughts!