Monday, 7 January 2013

Tealight smoke and explosion marker

A while ago I said that I would get round to making some of these, to basically improve the visual aspect of a game. Lots of flashing lights etc, with some smoke to mark the demise of an AFV or other vehicle. I saw some LED markers at Bovingdon, my apologies for not remembering the name of the company, but they were using them to show a musket line firing - they also had sound effects, and they looked pretty good. However, having spent my money at Grubby Tanks, Sgts Mess,some small trees and the Bring and Buy, I didn't have enough to indulge my wargaming habit.

Fortunately, being a bit tight, I decided to make some. I didn't want to make a lash-up and the main sticking point was how to get the smoke. The topic has come up on the Guild forum a few times, but cotton wool was too thick, it clots when painted. Foam rubber was not really practical, but I had an idea that synthetic kapok, the kind used for stuffing soft toys, pillows and cushions would work as it can be teased out into plumes. Cleaning out part of the shed located some kapok. A purchase of tealights from my prefered electronic supplier - the cheapest, and away we go.

Firstly, the tealight has the cover and led protector removed for painting

The base is then sprayed black. Use a good quality paint spray, as it will need a thick dark base. Don't forget to use the LED cover for the LED, or you will paint the LED. You can remove the cover later when it's dry.

Next,the kapok will need to be paintd with a light dusting of black spray paint, nothing to thick. It will also need to be teased into plumes for glueing to the base of the tealight. One that I tried earlier failed/shorted, as I had put too much glue on or damaged the wire connection.
With the kapok attached to the base, and dry, switch on and thats your marker done.
Here's one that's operational.


  1. Is it not too big for 1/72 scale tanks?

  2. They seem to fit ok, placed on the deck or turret of a tank or truck etc, though I did think about trimming the bases down. However, with the kapok 'smoke' wrapped around the electronic mechanism, it gives a kind of realistic billowing smokey fire. Quite unpleasant.
    The main purpose was to make an alternative to a fluffy ball of cotton wool, that would be 'realistic' but cheap. There are pics of the markers in action in my KGN and BG posts.