There are some very impressive MDF kits available for gamers these days. Not only are the various vendors producing the obvious models of buildings, but increasingly they are also making vehicles, crates, pylons and other "scatter" elements.
TTCombat is one such manufacturer; they have a huge range of model kits that I might describe as "gamer friendly" or perhaps "cheap and cheerful". Their buildings often have useful interior fittings, yet they are clearly designed for use in wargames as they are not totally faithful to real world sizes and layouts.
For example, the TTCombat "Sovereign" cinema has just 20 seats and no toilets or projection booth. However, it does have plenty of open spaces where one could place figures during a game. Not many movie theatres in the real world would fit this profile - and yet it's a lovely model that could play a central role in many tables set in urban USA or UK over the last 100 years or so. Anyway, I digress...
So, I bought a very simple TTCombat kit to start with: the billboard set. This contains 2 identical billboard models for the princely sum of £3.95, postage free. Yes, that's right; these models are cheaper than a takeaway meal for one!
|Early stages of construction. I found it easiest to start by fitting the legs to the underside of the platform|
There were no instructions in the billboard kit and I didn't bother to look online to see if there are any available for download. These are reasonably simple models and I put them together very easily with intuition alone. Just remember that most of the parts plug into the long, rectangular "platform" piece.
On the whole, the pieces of the model went together very well indeed:
- The fit was typically firm enough to hold in position, but not so tight that the pieces couldn't be separated again after dry-fitting.
- I did use some filler on the upper side of the platform to hide the leg joints, though you could manage without this.
- The overhanging lights didn't match their sockets quite as I expected; it seemed as if the sockets weren't quite deep enough.
These were incredibly easy to paint, at least in part because I wanted to see how they would turn out with minimal effort:
- Undercoat in grey primer.
- Paint white around the edge of the poster "frame".
- Use a black wash all over.
- Paint the undersides of the lights in pale yellow (though it's actually quite hard to see this detail, so it could be omitted).
- Print a suitable advert onto paper (12cm x 6cm) and glue it to the billboard.
- Seal. I used a spray varnish, so this only took a few seconds.
These billboards are so cheap that your time and effort to build and store them are probably more significant than the material cost. How do they do that? For me, the low price actually had the unexpected effect of making me want to finish the billboards as simply as possible, on the principle that they weren't "worth" putting in a lot of work. Don't be taken in by this; just because they are cheap and easy does not mean that these models are worthless!
Cost: 5/5. I don't see how these could be much cheaper unless TTCombat gave them away.
Construction: 4/5. No instructions, but parts fitted together well.
Usefulness: 4/5. A good scenic element, though the billboards are a bit top-heavy and might need to be based.
Overall: 5/5. Inexpensive, useful, easy to build, excellent value for both time and money.