Katakana SFX Tokens, Tracks, and Dust

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March 3, 2017 by catomighty

A big step towards making the senshado tabletop look pretty was making various markers and tokens to befit the environment.

Track markers to show damaged tanks that are capable of repairing during the game are easily made from spare tracks!  Plastic Soldier Company kits usually come with short sections of extra track links to put on the tanks.  But if they are not all used for that, they can be glued together into longer lengths to use for markers.  Some of their kits also come with the option of one-piece or separate track/wheel assembly.  If you use the one-piece options on the models — the extra track pieces are perfect to flatten out, cut to length, and used as markers.

Markers to show tanks that have taken full moves are done in traditional miniatures gaming style — bits of cotton balls that have been stretched out and spray painted in a variety of grey and tan dusty colours.  Quick and easy dust-cloud markers.

I made additional types of Shrinky Dink tokens using some of the katakana that are used in the manga for SFX.

do “Do” is the katakana that is always used for the “Boom!” of guns firing.  (“Do” is also used for some of the explosions of shells hitting, and for some engine noises.)  I made these tokens in red-orange to mark tanks that have fired in a game turn.

ga, gigo, zu : “Ga”, “Gi”, “Go”, and “Zu” are among the many engine noise SFX used in the manga.  I chose these for being ones that are frequently used as single-character SFX, and made them in blue-black to mark tanks that have taken a short or stationary move.

I’ve used Shrinky Dink technology before to make tokens for Dragon Dice.  It is a fairly time-consuming process, but yields fabu custom tokens.  Only use the brand-name Shrinky Dink Frosted Rough n’ Ready plastic for making tokens.  The off-brand plastic yields very poor results.  I picked up a Shrinky Dink toy oven at the local big box craft store; this is perfect for prototyping.
Once I’m ready to start big-batch production, I fire up the kitchen oven.  I lay out the prepared Shrinky Dinks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While prototyping these tokens, I started by punching out the plastic sheet with a 1.5″ scalloped circle lever punch that I already had on hand.  Those test tokens came out a bit larger than I wanted after they were cooked and shrunk down.  So I picked up a 1″ scalloped circle punch.  Interestingly, these cooked down to less than two-thirds the size of the bigger ones.  I preferred the smaller of the two for reduced clutter on the tabletop, so went with that for production.

I tried a variety of colouring options, and settled on colouring the rims of the tokens, drawing both a circle around the perimeter, but also colouring the very edge of the plastic all around to yield a better colour density.

As I was prototyping and then making all the markers, I checked them out on the light green felt seen in the photo above.  This led to a problem in actual game play on a dark green microfleece blanket — the tokens were difficult to spot and read against the darker colour!  And another problem arose from players frequently placing the tokens face down, leading to mis-spelled SFX in photos.
Both of these problems were fixed by spray-painting the backs of the tokens.  I tested a few in Silver, Flat White, and Gloss White; settling on the Gloss White as the best backing colour.  To paint the just backs of the tokens with minimal paint getting on the sides, I mushed them into Play-Doh first.  A lid from a large yogurt container served to hold a thick schmear of Play-Doh into which the tokens were smooshed.  After painting one batch, I could just flip the Play-Doh over and re-use the other side for the next batch.

Now, the tokens [almost] always get placed face up, and are easily read.

And, umm, I might have prepared enough tokens to handle a 16-player tournament should the occasion ever arise…

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