Tiny Worlds’ Tank Traps – A Review

tinyworlds

Regular readers may remember back in August I did a review of the Jersey Barriers from Tiny Worlds Wargaming. I was rather taken with them. Not just because they were awesome but because they were awesome and an incredibly reasonable price – rather blowing the doors of comeptitors pricing models like a bunch of rampaging wargaming socialists. And bloody good for them because the disparity between some companies and others is baffling.

But I digress. So not content with producing some rather awesome barriers, Tiny Worlds have been busy producing three sets of Dragon Teeth Tank Traps. Factory fresh, slightly knackered, and totally stuffed – much like the barriers. And much like the barriers they’re rather impressive. Now one might ask how much gushing can any one man do over some resin tank traps.

Well quite a lot really because of the following reasons.

1. They look superb. As with the barriers, the tank traps graduation from new to annihilated is considered and reasonable. Nothing about it scream apocalypse weapon which is good because these barriers are designed for modern to sci-fi games. And the goods news is that they’ll fit in with World War II games as well. Huzzah!

The damaged and ruined sets also come with bases that you can place you tank traps on to make them look more scenic. This is way cool as it helps tell the story but it also means that you can buy other sets and swap them out – providing you don’t glue them down.

2. They’re immaculately cast. And I mean perfect. Not a hint of flash anywhere and no oiliness from the release agent. Underside of each trap is also completely level. The care with which these traps were cast is actually a bit mad, especially when you consider the price. A set of five teeth will set you back a measly £5.50. £6.50 if you want the way cool base. And why wouldn’t you? For a single shiny pound extra the bases look nice but aren’t so overwhelmed with detail that you won’t groan when you’ve finished your traps.

And, thinking about it, they can be the beginnings of a cool scenic/display base for a warband or some such. Added value if nothing else.

tinyworldtanktraps3. They’re versatile. And not just in the obvious sense. They’re designed to git on a sci-fi or modern game board, and as mentioned they also work with World War II and, wait for it, Fantasy. They can act as stone posts for chain fences, which, assuming you use real chains, make for a very flexible terrain piece. But thanks to the perfect casting and tidy geometric design you can create some fairly Elvish waystones. Granted if you opt for a damage waystone you’ll need to select those traps that don’t look obviously shot up. But even that can be explained away to a point.

Use one of the natty three slot bases, fill in the middle one and with a couple of sets of traps you can have a pretty cool looking High Elf gateway, magic portal…thing. Thinking about it further and with a steady hand you could fairly easily do something similar for some Necron structures.

The Dragon Teeth Tanks traps from Tiny Worlds are just brilliant. Simply designed, elegantly executed and perfectly casted. And for the price I doubt there’s a better set of 28/30mm tank traps on the market.

Tabletop World Cottage – A Review

I’m rarely surprised. I’m also rarely lost for words. But I was both of those things when my wife picked up the cottage I’d received from Tabletop World and said: ‘wow that’s amazing! Look how much detail there is!’ Now, just to be clear; my wife doesn’t like my hobby. She just about tolerates it because:

A) It was there first

B) I get a huge amount of enjoyment out of it

C) Because of this site

So the fact that she even acknowledged the building beyond something that was cluttering the end table is a red letter day. But the fact that she picked it up, took a look and then praised it could mean the world is about to end.

I tell this story so you will appreciate that when I say this cottage is a stunning piece of scenery, it’s not hyperbole, it’s not me blowing smoke up Tabletop World’s arse – that’s not how we roll at The Shell Case anyway – it’s because it is genuinely, hand on heart, fantastic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen it arrived I was struck at how pristine the casting was, plus the lack of residue, flash or that funky smell that often follows resin around from the release agent. It was, for want of a better word; perfect.

And the sculpting equally isn’t far off. The attention to detail is staggering, the organic feel of the stone is superb and the fact that you can see the roofing tacks holding the tiles in place is just mad.

But more than that, it feels like a run down home. It has the detritus of habitation but it’s not exaggerated, it doesn’t shout. It isn’t covered in skulls… It does have a bucket though. And the best thing about those signs of wear and tear is that they can all be mended.

The attention to detail continues into the inside of the house – yes you can lift the rood off – as the floorboards are rough and uneven and the plaster cracked or coming away from the wall in some places. It really is really quite gorgeous. Combine it with a few other bits of a detritus and an out house and you’ve got yourself a handsome piece for any fantasy game.

The rub is that it’ll set you back around £30. When you consider that the Dreadstone Blight from the Games Workshop is only £20 you’d be forgiven for asking why you’d part with your hard-earned cash. And the reason is simple. It is as close to a perfect example of a 28mm fantasy/medieval house that I’ve ever seen. It is a marvel of design and creation.

It isn’t the biggest house or the most versatile, but that’s okay. Buy cheaper more robust scenery to be clambered all over. The Tabletop World cottage is something to be admired. Place it on a board and it will tell a tale whether it’s on the edge of a ruined district of Mordheim or next to a river.

I love this piece because of its beautiful simplicity and because I know how hard it must have been to achieve for the person charged with its creation. I love its design and look. I love the obvious care that was taken to cast it. It really is stunning. And that’s without paint.

If I’m honest, for the money you’re probably not going to buy more than one but the important thing is that you buy one at all. Just because you should. And then you’ll have no choice but to look at what else Tabletop World has to offer…

Check out more of Tabletop World’s range here.

Ainsty Castings Tech Tunnels – A Review

Regular readers will remember that on the run up to Salute I came over a little bit mental and decided that I simply had to own this…

Img_4155-1It’s the Tech Tunnels range from Ainsty Castings. This particular layout is four-foot by four-foot and will, with all the groovy extras, plus a few others not shown, costs roughly £440.

Now, before you recoil in horror and close your browser window in disgust let’s thinking logically for a moment. That money gets you an entire, self-contained four by four board. Made from resin. Boxed up it weighs a tonne! Let’s look at it another way, the four by four Zone Mortalis board is £350 without anything. Granted it’s not directly comparable because they look and will play dramatically different but you get the idea. It’s not that expensive considering the sheer volume of stuff you get. And because it’s modular you can jiggle around with the layout giving you no shortage of iterations which only increase if you choose to make the board smaller but with more twists and turns. Plus there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from buying the board in stages because we can’t all be utterly bonkers like me.

But on to the kit itself.

Let’s make one thing perfectly, crystal clear: the tech tunnels looks fantastic all laid out on a board. Even unpainted it’s the coolest piece of terrain I will ever own. I love the classic sci-fi styling with a few industrial touches which make it, with the right paint job incredibly flexible. I bought it for a game I’m developing with a couple of The Chaps and it suits perfectly. But the thing that really tickles me is that Andy, from Ainsty, doesn’t like it very much. How high do you standards need to be to not like that?!

But anyway, as I said, the combination of crisp lines and semi-exposed piping means that this set will pretty much fit with any board short of something super industrial or grimy, like, for example, the deep underhive of Necromunda. But then again, you paint it up right and you could probably get away with it.

The casting quality is very good. The set contains something like 28 large corridor sections of one type or another and they were all pretty much flawless. The only thing worth noting is that they don’t all marry up exactly. It’s not a complaint by any means, it’s just something worth noting but it’s much to do with the subtle expansions and contractions that the pieces experience during the casting process. It’s noticeable but it doesn’t really detract from the overall look.

The various wall sections have doors which helps give the board a sense of scale but the nice thing is that because they’re cast into the wall quite thin you can punch them out with no effort at all to have doorways that are either open or at various stages of destruction. If you opt for the latter then just be careful storing them as resin, as we all know, likes to blast itself into oblivion.

The aforementioned overall look is one of tight, close range fighting that is only going to end with bodies littering the floor. The board creates a brilliantly claustrophobic feel. Think the scene in A New Hope when the Storm Troopers storm the Blockade Runner and you’ve got the right idea. Games will become a morass of sneaky feints, cutting through rooms, close range fire fights over barricades, crates and data terminals, all rounded off with daring charges down corridors into the teeth of enemy guns. And it’s going to be fantastic!

Which brings me on to the accessories as without the details the rooms are just big empty spaces. Albeit ones with cool walls. Much like the corridors, are a testament to Ainsty Castings’ quality. Taken, predominantly from the Base Camp range, every item has been given just as much attention to detail as the corridors they’re going to spruce up. The breadth of range means that you can style the rooms of your board towards a specific purpose. It means that on my board I have a billet room, medical bay, security office and systems room. And lots and lots of lovely narrow corridors to fight down. At it all looks so damn good.

As I say, it’s a big lump of up front money, they’re also not going to suit every game. They’re also going to force you to play a specific style of game play but that doesn’t really matter because it’s an indulgence. A piece of something special that every gamer should own in on iteration or other. Not every game will or should be played down narrow corridors but sometimes you just have to play a game that’s going to be knee-deep in guts. And that’s exactly why sets like this exist.

Topographic Art

I’m on a bit of a scenery kick at the moment provoked by the discovery of Amera and they’re excellent plastic terrain – the review of which can be read here –  and I’ve since bought the Dreadstone Blight terrain piece from the Games Workshop for use in Mordheim. I’ve even painted, yes painted, a resin cottage I was bought almost a year and a half ago for my birthday.

Since making the decision to get a Necromunda campaign going amongst the chaps I’ve been looking at things that would work well as Necromunda scenery, my original stuff having long since gone in the bin because, well it was crap. I’ve got an abundance of the new plastic multipart scenery from the Games Workshop and it is thoroughly excellent but Necromunda needs to be more than buildings. It’s gantries, towers, heavy industry, sewers, generators, pumps etc etc etc.

There’s no shortage of scenery out there. And there’s some real treats too like Micro Art Studio; a Polish company that are producing some quite tasty stuff. Aside from some pretty sexy scenic bases and some green stuff moulds, they do quite a bit of resin and hardfoam scenery that really is quite nice. I’m not totally sold on the value for money side of things but there’s no denying what they produce looks good and they’re probably the only ones doing it to such a high standard.

But the real treat was the re-discovery of Ainsty Castings. These guys have been knocking around for ages and it’s a company a mate of mine has thrown hundreds of pounds at over the years. I can say categorically that the quality has come on in leaps and bounds.

For one thing there’s no shortage of industrial looking sets  and, considering it’s resin, for a pretty reasonable price:

This ‘Flameblade’ compound is £45 but for an awful lot of barricades, a shack and a couple of other bits. From what I can see the detail is there but in a nice little touches rather than overly fussy sculpting. At the end of the day it’s the models cowering behind the barricades you want to be paying attention to.

Overhead piping is something I never thought I’d see in a wargame beyound sprayed McDonalds straws (other straws are available) on the side of coke cans and Pringles tubes. It looks like a cracking set and it lends itself to the narrative and feel of Necromunda wonderfully. £40 might make you wince but it’s quite a decent amount of resin in the box and by the looks of things you don’t have to stick the pipes down which gives it some flexibility.

The final set that really caught my eye is the Silos. Not a lot to say here other than they look brilliant and add something extra to the upper levels of the game – i.e. sweet sniping points but narrow gantries making camping a risky business should you come under fire. They look nice and robust too which makes me feel happier at the thought of trying to store them. At £30 for the set it’s actually pretty good value as they’ll occupy as much as space as a couple of sets as a Games Workshop Manufactorum kits bit offer something a bit original, albeit without the choice. But, to be honest, sometimes you don’t need your scenery to be multipart and dripping with detail. And as you can see there’s enough detail to have some real fun with this stuff.

Res-up

I thought, following my review of Amera’s plastic island set I’d write a post about working with resin (I apologise for the poor photos, my camera died leaving me with just the wife’s iPhone (other smartphones are available)). Specifically scenery. This isn’t a how-to guide per se more just the differences in working with resin as a material over plastic.

The first thing to remember is; Resin is not your friend. It’s fragile, it’s easy to ruin, it’s often badly cast with badly fitting components, it’s shavings are toxic, it’s weight makes it tiring to work with & it doesn’t like being painted.
The second thing to remember is; some of the nicest models ever made have been cast in resin.

So what should one do when working with resin?

Rank & File
It’s important to filed down the rough edges and bits of flash. Depending on the type of resin and the complexity of the casting there can be an awful lot of cleaning up to do. Resin is funny stuff. It’s a big to file and often be very timing consuming. Not because it’s terribly tough stuff, but quite the opposite in fact. Resin will practically melt beneath the gaze of a standard needle file. But the shavings will also get stuck in the grooves to the point that after a minute or so you’re filing resin with resin.

An emery board is the perfect file for resin as it’ll do the job without gouging the resin. I, however, couldn’t find my two emery boards so instead I went against my own advice and used a needle file. The resin used for this fantasy house is not the best grade so the rough approach was exactly what it needed to get rid of all the flash and mould lines.

Keep it Clean
One of the byproducts of casting resin is the hideous residue that is left all over the pieces. It’s not something you can see or touch but it’s there and if you attempt to paint over a resin cast without washing it first, all you’ll achieve is creating some very interesting splodges sat on the resin like a spilled drink in zero gravity. Most will tell you to wash, literally wash, your resin in a sink full of hot soapy water. Although this is good advice, there’s two things wrong with it – 1. it takes ages to dry, and if one drop of water is left when you undercoat you are simply buggered. 2. any washing up liquid left to dry out will make your paint flake.

So my Shell Case top tip is use general purpose anti-bac wipes. They do the exact same job as washing up liquid, if not better, without soaking the model and it’ll dry within a few minutes. You may need a couple just to make sure you’ve been thorough but it’s quicker and a hell of a lot less faff than chucking everything in with the dishes.

Putting my Fortress Grey where my Gob is
So on to the important part – painting. Something that doing the review for Amera taught me was that when it comes to scenery; keep it simple. Some scenery, like Games Workshop’s excellent multipart plastic kits, having staggering amounts of detail on them. Which is fine, but the need to paint them isn’t the same as the want to paint them. And it’s an important distinction. Wanting to paint every single skull, pipe, vent, grate, bulk head and light to the best of my ability exists in a very real state within the vaults of my mind, however, my need to put down som scenery that looks good and enriches the gaming experience for me and my opponent/s is far greater. And I imagine that’s the case for the majority of gamers. So keep it simple.

The house I was painting had lovely texture to it. Uneven walls, wood floors, coarse log supports, wood braced doors and windows. But all of it can be painted well and quickly because the result is, for a piece of scenery like this, is the same. It took me no more than 20 minutes to paint the red on the exterior walls, start to finish. The same to do all the black wood detailing. The parts that took the longest were the ‘natural’ wood – so floor boards etc – as this had a four stage process but even then we’re not talking long. Which brings me onto another top tip – keep your colour palettes simple. Pick the colour you’d choose as a base, then go a shade darker & lighter – as in chuck in a spot of black or the next shade up for a 50/50 mix.

Basecoating everything a shade or two darker than the original colour you’ve chosen allows you to essentially lo-light for free so long as you don’t go in too heavy in your next layer. And for goodness sake, don’t be afraid to drybrush where appropriate. It’s scenery for goodness sake. This is the one time when ‘that’s good enough’ is good enough.

The end result is a piece of resin scenery that looks passable but offers an interesting and useful gaming feature for the Mordheim campaign I’m running for the Chaps. And, start to finish (including filing, gluing, breaking it, gluing it again, painting it, breaking it again, finishing it, then rebuilding it), it only took a couple of hours.

So there you go; some handy tips on how to prep & paint resin. Hopefully it’s been of help, or at the very least mildly interesting…