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Jordan Peacock

B & K Cleaners/Clothiers (Mantic "20th Century Brick" Ruin)

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A while back, I picked up a "scenery upgrade" kit for Mars Attacks.  I primarily got it for the "street scatter" elements (trash cans, stop signs, etc.), but it also had a bunch of "ruined brick wall" segments.  The off thing about those segments is that the connectors lend it a very "construction set" look: they look just fine on Mantic's "Battle Zone" sci-fi structures, but out of place on a supposedly brick building.  Ditto for the gaps that happen when two wall sections come together, as the corners bevel inward to allow for more flexibility of connection.

I started assembling a few of these pieces, and in order to address the "construction set" look, I used some Apoxie Sculpt epoxy as gap-filler.  I made a temporary texture stamp of the brick pattern with plastic clay, dipped it in water, then mashed it onto the putty in-fill.  (I never get it to line up quite perfectly, and certainly never on the first try, so I basically just mash it multiple times, moving it around each time, and trying again until it looks like it would be at least passable once it cures, if I muddle everything up when painting.)  The result is NOT a smooth transition by any means, but this is supposed to be a ruin, so I suppose a few imperfections here and there can be forgiven.  At least it looks better (IMHO) than the default connectors.

 

I have a few sign images I've pulled off of the Fallout wiki for a retro look, from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and one of them was "B & K Cleaners."  I took the modular "sign" piece and built it up with some foam core and the paper print-outs, then used some putty to fill in the edges.  The result is a sign I can plug onto the front of the store, but pop back out for storage and transport (so it's a little less likely to simply BREAK off).  Originally I had the vague idea that I could make this "generic" ruin stand in for several different businesses by having some alternate signs to swap in, but then I got the idea of having some bigger fallen letters along the side of the building -- "B & K" is pretty easy to spell out, after all.  I used a couple of fridge magnets I'd picked up at Goodwill, but for the ampersand I dug into a DWCV "letter board" set I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics.  (I've picked up letter board letters in varying sizes -- 1/2", 1" and 2" tall -- and used them in assorted "ruins."  They "pop" visually more than my printed signage, though of course I'm a lot more limited in terms of typeface and exact dimensions.)

 

At that point, I started getting a few more vague ideas of building this up as a structure and not just a corner wall facade, so I made a mat board base (with a repeating retro carpet pattern I tiled from a sample image via Photoshop), and started piecing things together.  For the front wall, there was one piece that hinted at a display window, but I didn't have a matching piece for the other side, so I used a section of resin sprue to suggest a broken support, and an old "Girder & Panel" I-beam as a random bit of ruin fallen over a gap in the wall.  (Or maybe it was *put* there later on by a post-apoc scavenger.  Who knows?)

 

The whole thing is way too "clean" for a collapsed brick building, but the Mantic "Mars Attacks" / "20th Century Brick" set is a bit abstract that way, with only the occasional "pile o' brick" piece to put here or there.  I figure that either someone cleaned out the debris (scavenging for bricks to build *new* buildings?), or else this building has a healthy dose of ABSTRACTION.  After all, the building footprint isn't really realistically big enough, and there aren't nearly enough rooms: there should surely be a utility room, a washroom, and at the very least a door that allows for going from the front lobby area to the employees-only back room without having to flip up a segment of the counter top to get through.  Oh, and there's no sign of any plumbing, wiring, rebar or other metal structural supports, and on and on and on.  I could probably go crazy trying to make these ruins look "realistic."  ;)  I'll just pretend for RPG purposes that this building is actually larger and a bit more intact than what I'm representing (i.e., at least some of the roof may still be overhead), but this "cutaway" view is convenient.

 

Nonetheless, I wanted some clutter, and I got the idea of making this not just a ruined building, but something that someone had moved into and re-purposed as a post-apocalyptic merchant shop.  So, I put little pieces of scrap wood over the "EAN" in "Cleaners" and painted in "OTHI" -- transforming it into "B & K CLOTHIERS."  Yes, get your post-apocalyptic duds right here -- the best in pre-war clothing scavenged from the ruins, mended, laundered, and even pressed.  This should make a fine addition to my "Scrap Town" facade for my "Rooby-Doo in Scary, Indiana" scenario, as if Rooby-Doo and Raggy are going to flee from a masked monster, at some point they need to run through a dressing room, clothing shop, clothesline, or other space for random bits of attire to be hanging about, so they can dash in one side, and come out the other wearing some ridiculous costumes.  Or, it can provide a resource for them to fashion some absurd disguises.

 

The counter top, crate, shelves, cabinet, a couple of wood planks and the work table are Hirst Arts Castlemolds castings.  I used stirrer sticks for random wooden planks, and some napkins soaked in watered-down acrylics for the "tarps" and various "fabrics" about the shop.  The sewing machine in the back is made from some random tiny bits, wire, and putty.  The makeshift "corrugated steel" roof over the workstation and front room is some PLA "printing tray" remnant (a side effect of my friend Chris Thesing's 3D-prints of vehicles -- I persuaded him not to toss them, as I figured I could trim off the edges, paint 'em "rusty," and use them as parts of scrap walls and such).

The ironing board and clothes rack are made from paperclips, scrap wood, and bits.  The hangers were a royal pain to make, and I don't think are actually VISIBLE in any of these shots -- they were just bits of very thin wire (originally meant for hanging pictures, I think) that I worked around the paperclip frame of the clothes rack and super-glued into place, then affixed some painted scraps of napkin paper to.

 

Several pieces are pinned (with a drill and wire) here and there for reinforcement.  It's all too easy to just glue things in place and call it a day, but I need a bit more structural reinforcement if it's a terrain piece I'm planning to transport somewhere.  For that reason, most of the fiddly bits are tucked away in recessed areas.  I had considered putting some sort of covered area on the top where the proprietor might have a bedroll and some sort of shelter from the rain, but if I do that I think it'll be a separate piece that I simply *set* on the top level, rather than affixing it into place; otherwise, it's just too much of a candidate to get broken off or crushed when I'm transporting the whole piece.  (I'm already running out of space in my "Vault-Tec Terrain Crate" piece.)

 

Anyway, if you'd like to see this "in action," I'll be running 20 hours of Fallout-themed games at Necronomicon Science-Fiction/Fantasy Convention in Tampa, Florida, October 18-20.  You can find more about it here: http://www.stonehill.org/necro.htm

 

 

 

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Great job. I definitely appreciate hearing what you think about the Mantic kit itself.

 

If you're up for writing a review, post one on RPG.net! Add your Reaper post as a Conversion section. 

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20 minutes ago, ced1106 said:

Great job. I definitely appreciate hearing what you think about the Mantic kit itself.

 

If you're up for writing a review, post one on RPG.net! Add your Reaper post as a Conversion section. 

 

Well, insofar as "reviewing" the Mantic kit, there are probably a few other details I could throw in:

Dimensions:
Although the Scenery Upgrade Kit just consists of "ruined" pieces, one standard of the series seems to be that the *intact* wall pieces are pretty close to being 3" wide and 3" tall.  Technically, there's nothing to stop me from flipping wall sections upside-down or turning them 90 degrees, and designs are ambiguous as to which side is intended to face inward or outward.  The connectors don't "pad out" the resulting wall length, so buildings can be constructed in 3/6/9/12/etc. lengths pretty consistently.  

If only I were still playing 1st edition Warzone, these would be perfect for urban ruins, since 3" high increments were usually the standard for building construction.  :)

Construction:

The connectors (coming in straight and corner pieces) make for a pretty tight fit.  The complete building kits also have some larger gap-hiding pieces, but those weren't in my set, so I don't know how those compare.  (I don't really care for the look of them anyway; they're designed for maximum flexibility in construction options, at the expense of looking like anything that makes sense on a brick-constructed building, though I suppose they could be incorporated into signage.)

 

The high-impact plastic holds up well to spray primer, but the thickness of a basic coat will make it a real chore to get the connectors to plug in properly.  I ended up having to use a set of pliers to assemble my structure here (since I primed first, assembled next), and once I go that route, I'm *not* getting those connectors back apart without breaking something.  (Note: I only used the connectors for interior segments, and used my putty-gap-filling-and-texturing approach for the exterior.)

 

Assembly is a bit fiddly, and it's not really something I'd want to build up and break down for a game and transport; the connections are pressure-based, and likely the plastic is going to worry apart if you put it together and take it apart a few times (the connectors are the pieces most likely to break from such treatment).  However, I still see value in something I can put together pretty solidly without having to resort to glue.  As for the "looks like a construction set" elements, I think most of that can be hidden in various ways when constructing ruins.  More of a concern would be if I want to make pristine, INTACT, clean, modern-looking buildings: for that, it's just going to look weird, and I think I'd be better off going with something like the Dust Tactics tenements or an O-scale hobby kit.  But in that case, there are so many options out there already that I think the Mantic structures still have their own niche to fill.

 

Accessories:
Also included in the scenery upgrade kit (comprised of sprues of the "ruined" pieces and "street scatter") are some decorative bits.  There's a "signage" connector that serves as one of the straight connectors, with a hole in it, so you can plug in a small rectangular "sign."  It could possibly work as a store sign out on the street, but it's pretty small, and since it just plugs into one of the connector spots, it's also strangely located; I just used it as a structural support for building a LARGER sign around it, so I can take advantage of the fact that I can plug or unplug it fairly easily.  (It's a tight fit when I base-coated it, but since it's  a ROUND peg, I can apply a twisting motion to more easily get it in and out, versus the square-plug connectors.)  Alternatively, there's a decorative piece that looks either like a hanging potted plant holder, or a suspended light (the painted examples show it used as a light, flanking the front entrance of a building) that can plug into the same segment.

Another decorative connector piece looks like a utility box of some kind, with an embossed electrical warning symbol on it.  Nice touch.

 

The street scatter terrain is a lot of fun, and vague enough in detail that I could get away with using it either for modern settings, or for somewhat retro settings (Fallout, etc.): a trash bin, mailbox, corner street sign, stop sign (embossed), picket fence (just one per sprue, sad to say), spilled boxes (with what look like cans rolling out), and a few makeshift street barricades.  Honestly, I wish I could get a few extra sets of just the "scatter" sprue, since I feel like I could make more general use of many of those pieces.  (The picket fence is much better to use for miniatures gaming than the various O-scale railroad-hobby picket fences, etc., that seem to be most readily available, since it's thicker and sturdier than the thin and fragile plastic used for most railroad hobby accessories of that sort.)

Compatibility:

I haven't tried it, but I am guessing that these tiles would interconnect with the more "futuristic" Battle Zone modular sets, since they have the same dimensions and connector system.

 

The wall sections are slightly shorter than Dust Tactics modular buildings from the "Cerberus" and "Warzone Tenement" add-ons.  (Or, another way of putting it, is that the Dust Tactics buildings are slightly over 3" tall; width is inconsistent, since the Dust Tactics buildings have a peculiar way of linking together "A" and "B' type wall sections of differing width, and the connector columns are separate pieces that add to the footprint as well.)  I've seen some impressive examples of terrain that combines Mantic, Dust Tactics and Tehnolog terrain for a retro-futuristic "Blade-Runner-esque" effect, but I imagine that some shaving, filing, and gap-filling would be required to get them to mesh up nicely.

 

Due to the 3" standard for the full size walls, these match up very nicely with both 1"x1" and 1.5"x1.5" battle grids.  As such, they combine nicely with Secret Weapon Miniatures "Urban Streets" tiles (foundation boards and sidewalk sections are divided into 1.5" squares, and each tile measures 12"x12"), or with my Hirst Arts "HeroClix" boards (1.5"x1.5" grid).

 

Features seem to mesh well with "heroic" 28mm scale (AKA 32mm), such as Chronoscope.

Aesthetic:

Assembled, it looks like something built from a construction set.  The gaps at the edge of each modular section are beveled in a way that I DON'T expect the corner of a brick building (let alone a midpoint along a straight wall) to be.   As an abstraction, it gets the job done.  Base-coat the brick sections grey and dry-brush in brick red, and you can get "good enough for tabletop" pretty quickly.

 

I personally don't care for the solid windows in the "intact" wall sections: I'd rather have hollow window panes, and use some clear blister plastic to fill them in (either whole or cracked).  "Opaque glass" is something I put up with as a compromise when painting pewter or resin minis, because "you can't paint something to make it transparent."  However, when I'm dealing with plastics, I can't help but feel that those window panes should either be clear or empty; the ruined pieces already have some empty (or nearly empty) frames, so I figure it should at least be structurally possible.  However, having clear "glass" inserts would probably have significantly bumped up the cost of manufacture AND the assembly difficulty, and I think these were made with the intent of keeping the skill level fairly low and toy-like, since they were meant for a *board game*, as elements that *could* benefit from a bit of hobby-work, but didn't necessarily need it to look decent out of the box.

 

I just wish those solid window sections were at least thin enough or light enough plastic that I could realistically hope to trim them out with a hobby knife, or some similar solution.  There's no way I'd take a Dremel to it -- I'd have a real mess on my hands for sure.

 

 

 

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