Flatpack Fever: Terrain and Basing for the Future


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12 June 2022
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Words by and Photos by Andrew Fielden of Flatpack Forces & Full Colour Fantasy

On the front cover of the April 2022 issue of Miniature Wargames are some free bases from Flatpack Forces. But they make other products to aid our gaming so we asked Andrew to explain some of what they do for the readership. This is what he said. - John Treadawy.

HOW TO START 

Getting into tabletop gaming using miniatures can be a daunting prospect. You need to chose the game system; read and hopefully understand the rules; collect your miniatures and terrain; make paint and get ready said miniatures and terrain. Then – finally – you can get to have a game.

In fact the spectacle of the game in play is one of the most attractive features and the miniature making and painting is one that can absorb many hours. Unfortunately this can be more hours than there are available to get the miniatures ready for battle so the odd leg up here and there can be most welcome. Purchasing ready-made, textured and coloured bases and terrain is quite expensive. This is where the tabletop ready bases and terrain that Full Colour Fantasy have developed come in mighty handy.

With the surface ‘carved’ out to give a full texture and then coloured the bases and terrain give the instant look and feel of almost any environment from the interior of a spaceship to sand blasted deserts. Furthermore it is not limited to any particular size or shape which means that terrain tiles, walls, roofs and bases are all suitable for production. Whilst bases have been chosen as the initial release and as the freebie for this copy of the magazine there are already many more products in the pipeline and ready to use buildings should be available by the time this edition hits the news stands.

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WHAT ELSE?

The company has been trading for about three and half years and initially offered ‘2.5D’ standees which are still available on the website. Using the same technique, buildings were developed and a castle was made out of flat MDF complete with the full colour system. This was showcased at the UK Games Expo in 2019 and received a lot of very positive attention. They have also been making game tokens and accessories as bulk orders for others in the gaming world, for example full colour tokens for Simon Miller’s game To the Strongest.

The technique works reasonably well for terrain but... it is still flat and... well it looks it. Hence the reason that many people who buy MDF buildings use them as a carcass to which a textured surface is then added prior to painting.

Then two years ago a technique to add colour to a three dimensional surface was demonstrated to the company and then the search was on to find a way to reliably manufacture a textured surface at a decent speed and with a high degree of accuracy. That accuracy element is particularly important since the human eye is very good at spotting a small deviation, down to 0.1mm, it seems.

COLOUR

So with all this in mind what is the best way to make the items to be coloured? Initially 3D printing seemed like a good way forward and indeed it can make very accurate pieces with great texture however it is relatively slow even with multiple machines running. Plastic injection pieces were also examined, these again work well and once tooled can be manufactured at high speed. Unfortunately the tooling is expensive and the decision to make a new design is not to be undertaken lightly.

Finally, however, a method to carve into high density fibreboard was found that gives great accuracy, and yet is both flexible for altering the design and does so at a reasonable speed. Now there are walls that look and feel like they have been made from bricks. The lava flows almost burn to the touch and the cracked earth is as dry as a good martini!

THE FUTURE 

In the pipeline there are terrain tiles for both wargaming and role play gaming. For the wargaming side we have been working in conjunction with Ivan from Wargame Print. His designs are used by many of the playmat manufacturers and will be very recognisable. They are working on a rigid hex tile system that can build a tabletop very quickly. One particularly interesting feature of this system are the river and road sections being recessed. This uses the carving technique to create a depression in the terrain: after all rivers do not float above the surrounding ground and – quite frankly – it does look rather strange having rivers and roads perching over the top of their environment.

In a similar vein the RPG tile system takes full advantage of the carved and coloured system with base tiles using the same surfaces that are available on the bases. The tiles themselves are designed to interlock along their edges to help prevent movement during game play. Adding a couple of magnets to the back and onto a magnetically attracting surface means that you then have a game surface that is resilient to both knocks and bumps. The walls are also fully carved and coloured onto 12mm wide MDF. These can sit quite happily on the top of the tiles, however – for added stability – the tiles themselves can have a magnetically attractive surface so adding magnets to the bottom of the walls can make for a very robust playing surface.

This combination can also get over one of the real headaches that face a Games Master when setting an RPG encounter on the tabletop. This system allows rapid placement of the encounter area so no need to setup in advance or to ask the players to take a coffee break while doing the next room. In fact you can even use the pieces to transform in front of the players giving some interesting new features to the game itself.

Of course with the ability to make walls and roofs there are also buildings coming into the mix (above). These are being developed along a couple of ways; the standard building kit with the full textures but also a range called re-mountables. The re-mountables are so called because they can be put up and taken down to lie flat for storage. All in all – when it comes to gaming and terrain – there is certainly a lot to look forward to.

Find out more by checking out fullcolourfantasy.com to check out this company’s work. 

 

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The front cover of Miniature Wargames Magazine

This scenario was one of many that appears in Miniature Wargames Magazine, our monthly publication for all kinds of wargames! You can check out our latest issue, or previous issues by clicking here

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One Day, One Whole Army... 

A feature from Miniature Wargames Magazine, entitled How to Paint an Entire Army in a Single Day

If you have a stack of miniatures in need of painting, preventing you from bringing anything new to the table, check out this article, where we hear from a contributor who managed to paint an entire army in a single day!

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