Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Shovels and Terrain

While the North East of the USA is buried under several feet of blowing snow, I am hunkered down in my basement, building terrain and gluing gravel to my hands.

A few summers ago, I made a modular gaming table for my home.  The table started with a wooden frame that locked down onto  my dining room table.  Next, you layed two 6' by 2' sheets of textured masonite down, and used pugs to pin this surface to the frame to ensure nothing could shift.  This system granted me a stable textured gaming surface, to which I could add a variety of thematic terrain collections.  Here is the table, the day I finished it, arranged with some of my first terrain:

Since finishing the table, I have worked to create a set of terrain that matches the themes of a variety of armies I have collected.  At this time, I have a Daemonworld set, complete with Armorcast skull piles, a Necron Tomb World sporting sphynxs and sarcophagi, and a Tyranid jungle composed or re-purposed plastic plants and twigs.  To this assortment, I have long wanted to add an industrial complex, to accompany my Vraksian Militia.  To this end, I have created a variety of terrain features.

As you can see from my first picture in this post, I have bought a few of the GW Manufactorum kits.  By combining several kits, I was able to make two spectacularly large, line of sight blocking pieces.  Here is the other, modeled after a cooling tower:
In addition to the GW terrain, I got a bit more creative.  I purchased a G-Force Training Facility playset, which is a toy set that looks like this:
I bought this from Amazon last year for around $12.  As you can see, the toy set provides a great supply of industrial looking structures, just begging to be kit-bashed.  Here are two of the terrain items I made from the kit:
Never you mind the plush Stimpy doll in the background...  Lastly, I made 5 of the following terrain items from some Armorcast product and some energy drink cans:
In order to get the required 10 Red Bull cans for these items, I simply asked my students to collect a few.  I teach kids that drink three of these a day, every day, so it didn't take long.  Sure, there I could make a snarky comment on the hyperactivity that such a dietary regiment could cause, but then where would I have gotten my Warhamster terrain otherwise?  And no, before anyone asks, I did NOT buy Red Bull and give it to teenagers; they legitimately chose to consume the drinks on their own.  Oh, speaking of abusing kids:

You may have noticed that the bases of all of these terrain pieces are made of nicely cut and sanded masonite.  Thank you, woodshop students!  Yes, I outsourced the cutting and sanding of the masonite to a few of my other students who have excelled in our school's woodshop classes.  And no; these kids were not using power tools while jacked-up on Red Bull.

Aside from about 40 oil drums and gas cans, the only remaining feature to add to this industrial complex, is a set of roads I purchased from GW.  The Urban Roads kit, was a spool of foam, printed with a color sci-fi road on one side.  While this item would be great to have on my gaming table, so far, the foam has only really curled and wiggled.  Due to being shipped in a spool, the foam seems to have retained it's curve, and refuses to lay straight.  I used a blow-dryer in an attempt to return the foam to it's "memory" state, how it was created, but have had poor results.  I suppose I am going to have to buy a ton of plastic card, cut it to shape, and glue the road down to it.  If anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears.
It's just too bad that the temperature is so low:  I would love to get some spray paint going on these pieces.


  1. That's some great looking terrain. GW does indeed make some nice models, but taking the time to rough them up a bit, covering them with rocks and dirt, makes them all the more believable.

    Just how many sets did you buy to get that many smokestacks?

  2. Roll it the other way onto itself. Let is sit for a couple days. it helps, but isn't perfect.

  3. Warhammer: I think I bought two or three kits, but I also had a bag of ruin parts from a games day "build and take", which was really just a "take and take".

    Loquacious: I appreciate the tip; no idea why I didn't think of that!

  4. I wish they came with more smokestacks in a given kit. I think I wound up with 2-3 after buying 5 buildings. I guess I just need to find a way to convert some up...

    Thanks for the reply.

  5. I am sure you can get piping from a DIY store; maybe pvc, or copper.

  6. Dan, I've been considering making a table of my own and was wondering how you made the hills and if you had any specific advice for a first attempt. Cheers on the great terrain.

    Could you give me some more information on the build-and-takes? I'm trying to get a group from my local club to go up to Chicago for the 2011 Gamesday.

  7. No problem, Heretic. The Baltimore games day had a workshop called "Build and Take", where you could build a terrain kit, and take it with you. At the end of the games day, the GW reps just gave all of the left-over sprues to whoever was there. Yoink!

    As for building hills, maybe I should make a post about that in the future... As for the short version, buy some pink foam, and use an electric foam cutter to sculpt them into hill shapes. I then painted the foam with textured paint, added layered colors, and then added a bit of lichen. That's the super short version.

  8. These look great. It's nice to see people expending as much time and talent on their terrain as they do on their armies.

  9. Just lay some books on the road for a couple of days or let your students sit on it during classes.

    Nice ideas for the Daemon- and Necron World by the way.