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Author Topic: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers  (Read 1180 times)

Offline Chris Abbey

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Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« on: July 03, 2018, 10:02:19 AM »


This thread is going to be all about building modular terrain using Sally 4th Terra-Former tiles. Terra-Formers are kits to build 1' / 2' / 1'x2' modular terrain tiles. The kits are made from sturdy, precision cut 3mm MDF, with a range of different profiles available that includes hills, cliffs, roads, paths, rivers, streams, canals, beaches, quays, trenches, sewers and many more. The tiles incorporate strong rare earth magnets for perfect alignment and to prevent in-game drift.



We're kicking off the thread with some great photos that one of our US customers, Ismail has sent in to us today.



Ismail has just added this great bombed out building constructed on a plain terra-former tile and a trench section built into a straight hillside section.

Check out our Terra-Former Gallery page for loads more photos.
http://wargamesbuildings.co.uk/Terra-Formers/Terra-Former-Terrain-Gallery
Chris Abbey
Www.sally4th.co.uk

Offline Brandlin

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2018, 02:25:13 AM »
I've made things like this myself and loved the modularity - not sure how you can do it for the price you are charging though - they look great!
Brandlin - where inspired wargaming and modeling projects come to procrastinate.

Offline Chris Abbey

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2018, 09:34:42 AM »
Glad you like it. I had also been trying to make modular terrain like this since I was 17 in my Dad's Garage, (I'm 53 now!). The game changer was really the combination of precision laser cut components so that every piece is precisely the right size down to 0.01 mm, and that because of this angle is exactly 90 degrees together with the strong rare earth magnets that grip the pieces together.

When you've got the foundations right using the Terra-Former frames the rest is straightforward and I've seen a lot of people achieve some very impressive results with them.

Online Daeothar

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2018, 10:10:28 AM »
Exactly! 8)

I've had sketches for just such a system for ages, but always feared the problems the inprecise cutting of the boards would create. The only place where you could get your MDF cut was at the local building supplies store(s), but they all have a disclaimer at their sawing department that exact cuts cannot and will not be guaranteed and a certain amount of deviation must be accounted for.

And therefore no use for our purposes.

The other option would have been doing the cutting myself, but that would have meant investing in the right equipment (saws, table, etc)

Then these lasercutting services started to emerge, where you could send in your designs, and they would cut them for a fee per cm. A good solution, but possibly quite costly.

So when I saw this product reviewed in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, I was elated! And when I build my new table, this is what I will be using for my terrain for sure :)

Great work from your customer on the building and trench; it'll look awesome once complete with the other tiles!

'He who stumbles around in darkness with a stick is blind. But he who sticks out in darkness is...fluorescent'

Painting Goal for 2018: 100 miniatures - Tally per 12-11-2018: 89

Offline Brandlin

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2018, 10:49:50 AM »
I already have a garage full of wood working tools, and have made frames like this very easily.

You certainly do not need to have them laser cut. Any correctly set up table saw will do the job. You simply set up stop blocks on jigs that you reuse so all the measurements are the same. What matters is not the accuracy of the cut, its the repeatability of the same cut. Same for a pillar drill for the magnet mounting holes. Both tools together will cost significantly less than the laser cutter.

As a hobby we seem to jump to laser cutting as the defacto cure-all for making anything. I understand the issues with volume production and there is a certain marketing cache with adding "laser cut to 0.01mm accuracy" to your advertisements.

I accept entirely that not everyone has a table saw... but then even fewer people have laser cuttters!

Also the laser cutter allows you to cut curved edges something that you would need a router table and template cutter to do repeatedly otherwise.

I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with laser cutting. As I said in my first post they look great and the price is VERY competitive. I guess thats the difference with the laser cutter, one man can run 3-4 machines and keep the labour cost down, whereas more traditional machines require one man per machine/process. I doubt I could make the boards paying myself minimum wage for the price they are being sold for!


One thing that I did notice on some of the gallery pictures was that the larger tables look a little 'faceted'. Each of the hill boards look to have been modelled with a flat surface connecting each edge. The thing to remember about boards such as this is that the only place that has to be accurate is the board edge - what happens on the surface bounded between the edges can be sculpted however you like. Gentle depressions or rises across that surface would help to hide the faceting. Having said this the 'hill' boards that change elevation are what makes this stand out for me from similar products such as the base ix battleboard 5000 series.

« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 11:52:19 AM by Brandlin »

Online Daeothar

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2018, 11:10:52 AM »
Oh, I know it can be done, and I'm confident enough in my own capabilities to be certain I would be able make tiles to exacting sizes.

It's just that after seeing the Terraformers products, I did some calculating, and I would have to create more tiles than I would ever need (or would be able to store!) to recoup the investments in a good table saw, the table to use it on/in, plus the material costs for the MDF.

And then I'm not even calculating the most important factor (these days); the time spent making them!

In my teens, I would have gone all DIY, simply because I would not have been able to afford ready made products, but I'm at a stage in life where my disposable income exceeds my disposable time, so the choice is an easy one... :D

Offline jmilesr01

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2018, 01:01:36 PM »
I've built about 32 of the terra former squares and think its a great product and priced at a fair point.  I do have a full wood working shop so could replicate these myself but the incremental costs savings isn't worth the time - in my opinion and your milage may vary.

I do think the product makes terrain building even more accessible for people who neither the inclination or tools to build create these on a DIY basis and any product that expands the hobby base should be applauded.  If you've been hesitant on building terrain because of lack to tools give these a go.

Two hearty thumbs up from me.

Now if I could just keep the magnet polarity straight!

Two tips

1) I split the magnets into two groups and mark one set red and one set black just to keep the polarity straight.

2) I use a heavy duty form of duct tape to line the magnet holes and give the super glue something to additional to grab onto.

https://lairoftheubergeek.blogspot.com/2018/03/terrain-squares.html
Miles
http://lairoftheubergeek.blogspot.com

Offline Codsticker

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 04:46:27 AM »
Very good advice jmilesr01. It looks like you might be able to camouflage the seams with some flock- is that your plan?

Offline jmilesr01

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2018, 12:16:59 AM »
I use static grass for flocking - it hides the seems well


Offline Chris Abbey

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2018, 11:48:10 AM »


I use foam flock from Lukes Apps.
I find that works really well for hiding joins as well.

Offline Codsticker

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Re: Modular Terrain Building with Terra-Formers
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2018, 03:58:11 AM »
I have lots of both so if I go  this route I am covered. :)