Friday, 21 September 2012

What's That Coming Over The Hill...?

It's another hill! Yes, I thought I'd take Scriptor Lord Stylus's advice and put together a proper version of my terrain hunt from the other day, along with pictures and snide remarks.

This came about because I popped into the old Match Toolshed a couple of times this week. I usually only nip in about once every two-three months, just to check I'm still an addict; three times in three days is a miserable record for me.

I can now understand enough Swedish to give appropriate replies, although only in broken Sweglish.  I had a nice conversation about how one can use bicarbonate of soda to replicate snow on miniature bases, plus much wise head nodding regarding the new-look 40k chaos stuff (a giant brass eagle, for example).

I came back the day after on discovering I'd got no functioning black paint. And I came back the day after that because the excellent Mrs Kraken had heard my cries and also nipped in to buy some black paint, so I was swapping a pot of Abaddon Black for some blue ink, in expectation of a legion of blue and yellow Tzeentchian marauders. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I suspect the skull racks on the sides are
vending machines for necromancers
that brought fractious kids to the fight.
Anyway, I was mightily impressed by the Witchfate Tor model painted up in the window display. I'd seen it on the site, but not realised just how damn big the piece is. Uselessly impractical, I'd have thought, though. I can't think of a lot of battles where you'd want to fight gradually up four floors, unless it was a story-led game. But good looking all the same.

Now, Kasfunatu's pad is swimming in scenery (not literally, as Stylus noted in his recent comment, there's no lakes or rivers). But I'm always interested in what alternatives the world has to GW branded products, and how much they might cost.

Forgeworld counts as GW, but nobody here would deny (I hope) how good their scenery looks. Expensive resin, but durable and obviously produced with the right mood in mind. Forthcoming, to back the new 40K, is this range of modular scenery: -

Those bottom two would work fine as city-themed fantasy stuff, especially with a sort of wraithbone elf temple colour. But the top two are clearly sci-fi. A mere £75 quid a pop, about 33% more than the excellent Realm of Battle (rrp £175 and your arms). With that as a baseline, what other tabletops could you grab off the net?

Zuzzy do a very good range of roll-out rubber tabletops. For a mere $52 plus p&p, you can get a 6' by 4' latex surface with your choice of burned out city, not burned out yet city, lush wood, burned out wood or barren wasteland textures. Designed to take a decent drybrushing, I think they look good.

Two of them come with an appropriately themed range of scenery, either giant hollow treestumps or a good range of sulphurous crags, all neatly price at between $8-$26 (something like 5-18 quid). Cheaper than GW by a long way, before postage at least.

Dunno about durability, though. Latex rubber isn't exactly bulletproof, and they admit on the site that if you paint them with anything more than light drybrushing, your paint will probably flake off with repeated rolling-up.

Ziterdes seem to be German. They're definitely not English, at least, the translation on the site is woeful. But they also do some decent modular alternatives to GW: -

There's a range of about ten of these sections, each with their own features, and you can buy a pack of several for a mild saving. Each chunk is 23.5" square, so they're a little smaller than GW stuff. But six of them would be a good-looking table. 30 Euros per piece is about the same as the Realm of Battle board, though.

Their range of scenery is nice, with some great-looking aztec style ruins and a very nice LoTR theme throughout. It's also generally cheaper than GW equivalents, the price difference being that these are moulded in styrofoam and perhaps a bit crumblier. And they've also got a fairly promising-looking rivers pack.

A very nice Dwarven Crypt

Definitely not the Argonath
Hudson and Allen do some great looking pieces. Loaded with detail, most of them have removable roofs. I think they'd probably be better for diorama work, though - I suspect that there's little to be gained by lifting off a roof to place three or four blokes inside. Apart from great photography, of course. 

The buildings are moulded foam, usually pre-primed with grey latex paint, and go from tiny and cheap... huge and centrepiecey... 

More goodness from Scibor, who's range of ruined statue stuff is great and have a matching set of pre-moulded resin bases: - 

25mm squares
CnC Workshop in Australia do a lot of flat-pack DIY corkboard stuff. Punch them out and assemble yourself - I think these look good, but I'd bet good money that's only if you spend bloody ages painting them really well. Otherwise you'll have flat squares of card with crude windows stencilled on. Laughably, they offer a pack of 'scatter terrain', which is their way of telling you to pay about $20 for some card circles you can then build craters and rocks on. Hah. 

This, I'm pretty sure I can do myself, thanks. 
Finally, if for some reason you're swimming in money, Grand Manner would be a good place to look. Frankly stunning pieces, mostly for historical periods, but everything up to the Medieval period could fit a Warhammer game. Their medieval towns and villages particularly. 

Among their most impressive ranges are their excellent modular castles and forts, all of which would lend great options for a siege-based game. Which we don't generally play many of, but you know, the option's there. 

The nicest thing about these models is that they offer a painting service. It's even got two levels of expertise, either 'wargame standard', which gets you basic colours and highlights, or 'collector', which adds shading, flock and basing. But you'll need to sneeze money out for this, though - Wargame doubles the price, Collector triples it. And frankly, it's a slur on Wargamers, that we don't have the same standards as some ponce who won't even play with the damn toy. 

The Napoleonic Convent is a snip at £907.
I kid you not.

 Anyway, there's loads more out there if you're feeling curious. From shops selling coloured cloth blankets to people doing frankly amazing things with card, it's all out there. And it depends a lot what money or time you have to invest, of course.

I guess the moral here is that exorbitant as GW stuff is, it's actually not a great deal more than most other hobby scenery. Very few of these pieces above are modular, there's not much in the way of options you can choose at home. You can do more for less cash, of course, but only if you have the time and skill!

Having flogged all my scratch built or box-setted stuff off some time ago, I'm back to stacking books and battling for coffee mugs in the foreseeable future. Although I still have a lot of DnD floortiles, which I'm sure I could press into service if needed. Or invest in inch-square carpets. 


  1. A useful overview of what's out there, especially for someone who mainly relies on The Big Board (two 6x2' pieces of hardboard, connected with a hinge and sprayed green) and a couple of cardboard buildings from White Dwarf.

    Those are nice rivers from Ziterdes - but the prices looks like it translates as over £10 a segment (with an ominous 'in den Warenkorb' added in there) - maybe Match Toolshed and Forge World aren't so dear after all.There were some nice bridges and rivers at Terrain Workshop where I get my movement trays, but they look to be discontinued (so I guess they're just 'Workshop' now).

    And then of course there's the chap who built his own modular gaming table, which also transforms into a storage rack.

    Anyone any good at welding?

  2. Bumped into another interesting site. It specialises in adding stuff to your bases, which makes it interesting for lazy arses like me: -

  3. And another one! Very cheap and excellent laser-cut MDF buildings, movement trays and so forth: -