I stopped by the factory and visitor center of Prince August while on vacation in Ireland The factory is located to the west of Cork just outside a small town called Macroom. Signs along the road point the way.
Prince August was founded in Sweden by Jan Edman and moved to Ireland in 1976. In 1987, Lars Edman (Jan’s son) began the Mithril line of Middle Earth figures intended for the ICE RPG. The sculptor was Chris Tubb, who remains until today Prince August’s solitary sculptor. In addition to the Mithril line, Prince August makes hundreds of other sculpts: Irish heroes, various military figures, and Chess sets. They also produce lines of miniatures called Warzone and Chronopia (the latter aka Drakar och Demoner), originally for a game set in the Mutant Chronicles world by Target Games from Sweden. The game is now owned by its daughter company Paradox Entertainment. Licenses were briefly given to Excelsior Entertainment (which went on to become Cauldron Born) and COG Games (as usual, it’s all very convoluted). The games are not in production, but it appears that the minis still are (although some were destroyed).
However, Prince August’s focus doesn’t appear to be selling the figures, but the molds and modeling kits for you to make the figures yourself. Each kit comes with a prepared mold, clamps, metal, brush, pan, instructions, etc.
See the process of miniature making, mold making, and more of what the store has to offer after the break.
Using the Molds
The process works as follows:
Spread some of the white powder onto both sides of the mold and then tap/knock the powder off. I forgot what the powder is, and why this is necessary.
Place the two pieces of the mold together.
Place the wooden pieces on either side of the mold pieces to strengthen the sides.
Attach the clamps. The mold is ready to use.
The metal can be heated in the pan on any normal cooktop. WARNING: The metal is mostly lead-based, so use the standard cautions that apply to handling lead.
Quickly pour the molten metal into the mold. Most people lift the pan too slowly, and by the time the metal reaches the mold it has already started to cool – it cools quickly. After pouring the metal into the mold, knock/tap the sides of the mold several times to let out any air bubbles.
The mold is ready in a few minutes. Use the wire cutters to cut off the unnecessary part of the figure (the slot into which you poured the metal) and use the firm brush to smooth the surface down.
The Making of the Molds
Chris sends master sculpts to Prince August, which uses them to make the molds.
It starts with rubber …
… and the mater sculpt.
Into the machine, and voila.
Into the box they go.
For making their own miniatures, Prince August uses spin-casting, a process I described in my post about Iron Wind Metals.
Pouring into the spinner.
Unpacking the spins
Ready to cut.
It surprised me that they were working with such high lead content. When I asked them, they acknowledged that some places have a problem with this; their packing includes warnings. And a small amount of their products are pewter-only, but they say that pewter doesn’t work well. When I asked the above lady doing the spin casting if she was working with pewter-only or lead metal, she didn’t know!
I hope she washes her hands after work.
Here’s a little of what they have to offer.
I don’t know much about miniatures, but these are probably pretty cheap.
A chess set.
Bye bye, Prince August.
That was fantastic. thanks. I think reaper did a video tour recently.
“Spread some of the white powder onto both sides of the mold and then tap/knock the powder off. I forgot what the powder is, and why this is necessary.”
So that the lead doesn’t stick to the mold?
There are a few points I wish to address:
1. “They also produce lines of miniatures called Warzone and Chronopia” We don’t produce these lines. We bought the original stock from Target Games in 2005 and are selling those. Nor do we provide moulds for these ranges. We provide moulds for our Prince August ranges of chess sets and miniatures only.
2. “Spread some of the white powder onto both sides of the mold and then tap/knock the powder off.”
The powder is talcum powder (pure). It does multiple functions. It helps release the metal from the rubber easier than without it, and it allows air to escape as it acts as a layer of tiny particles that stop the 2 halves of the mould sealing air into the mould.
“The Making of the Molds”
The master figures are made by Chris from ‘milliput’ or similar branded modelling clay. This hardens with heat (even in ones hand). Once we receive these masters, we use them to make silicone rubber moulds, these are very different rubber from what you saw at the factory. That was vulcanised rubber, more like car tyre rubber.
Once we have a silicone rubber mould we cast in a hard metal, often bronze. This becomes the new master than we can then place between two sheets of black vulcanised rubber and put into the press. It takes about 20 minutes and 2 tonnes of pressure and about 170 degrees Celsius to make the moulds we sell in our shop.
One final point.
“When I asked the above lady doing the spin casting if she was working with pewter-only or lead metal, she didn’t know!”
That lady would not use the term ‘pewter’ as would be unfamiliar with what that entails in regard to metal content but would know our label ‘5 star’ metal, which we class as pewter. She is well aware of what metal she is using as she has different machines for each type or our tool maker would have a fit. She is a very shy lady not used to talking with the public and may have not expressed her meaning accurately.
I am glad you enjoyed your visit, and I hope next time I get a chance to talk with you.
Prince August webmaster.
Which rubber I need to use to make lead Pb parts,I see everything in this site but I dont now which rubber to use for lead parts.
Prince August does not sell the raw black rubber as it is impossible for customers to create moulds without a press. Prince August makes the moulds themselves.
If you want to make moulds then look for silicone rubber. Be careful, most of these brands of rubber require a vaccuum chamber to remove the air bubbles.
Alternatively if you have a master figure we can provide a custom mould service.