We Built This City…

Whilst superhero battles can take place in a wide variety of environments, from the blue area of the moon to the Savage Land, the majority of them occur in the city. So, whilst you may have amassed a large variety of terrain and scenics for other wargames you play, chances are that it won’t be entirely suitable for superheroic skirmish.

So, as the first part of a series of posts on this subject, we’ll be looking at 28mm modern buildings, suitable for constructing a city for your supers to do battle within.

Unlike when I first started gaming, there are several material options when looking for modern buildings – pre-molded plastic, laser-cut MDF or print-on-demand cardstock. Each material has  pros and cons, mainly to do with price and what I call the “Faff Factor”, i.e. how much additional time and effort must I invest in the building before it can be used.

As this would be an extremely long post if I tried to cover everything at once, this first post will concentrate on my personal favoured material, namely pre-moulded plastic. Further posts will cover MDF and cardstock, and we may even venture into the realms of scratch-building.

When I say pre-moulded plastic buildings, I’m primarily talking about plastic kits that you put together yourself. Detail is molded directly on to the plastic parts, they don’t take long to put together and can be used on the table straight away, although they can benefit from a lick or two of paint. I will also be covering pre-moulded foam buildings, which kind-of fall into the same category.

So we’ll start with the oldest manufacturer who initially started making suitable buildings way back in 1947. I am, of course, referring to the O Scale model railway buildings under the Plasticville brand made by Bachmann. As these were originally sculpted and made in 1947, the majority of the buildings do have a 1950’s vibe and are more suitable for small-town USA, rather than Metropolis and are primarily single storey structures.

Image of 45610Image of 45610

The parts of these kits tend to come in two or three different coloured parts and are remarkably simple to put together. I have the fire station, cathedral and aircraft hangar and these were glued together using standard superglue. Detail is good and they are just about the right scale for 28mm. Some of my previous posts have my buildings used as scenic backdrops for my figures, so feel free to have a look at how well they scale up.

You can pay anything from £15.00 to £40.00 in the UK, depending on the size of the model and where you bought it from. Availability is the issue, however, especially in the UK. There used to be two sites that specialised in Plasticville, but one is a dead link and the other no longer stocks it. However, I have found that Tower Models, based in Blackpool, appear to have stock, so if you’re in the UK, try there first. Be advised that they’re listed under “American On30”, rather than “O Gauge”. If you’re in the US, there are many, many individual sellers of these items, plus eBay always seems to have a plethora of these kits on sale.

I first became aware of these kits and their suitability for wargaming use through the Combat Zone Chronicles, so if you want to see what can done with them, take a look at this site, specifically the “For The Table Section”.

Next, we have the Dust Tactics Warzone Tenement, from Fantasy Flight Games. Designed as expansion for the Dust Tactics miniature game, this modular multi-part kit has enough parts to create a two storey building that echoes the design of New York brownstones (apparently).

The building comes with card inserts to represent floors, but is essentially just the shell. If you want a slightly larger version, look for the “Operation Cerberus” expansion, which has a three storey building, along with a couple of miniatures and a rulebook.

The only potential issue with this kit is availability, as it appears the Fantasy Flight are no longer supporting this particular game, so stocks will soon dwindle to nothing. However, it is still in their webstore at $29.95, so might be worth ordering sooner rather than later – Fantasy Flight Games.

The beauty of this kit is what you can do with it – some examples can be found at Chicago Skirmish Wargames, Craven Games, and for a different take, Wyrd Games, where some enterprising chap has used the buildings for Malifaux!

Now for something a bit newer – namely Mantic Games 20th Century Brick Battlezones, which are a development/expansion of the Mars Attacks miniature game. These are red plastic kits, molded with obvious brickwork, which come in the standard 3″ square Battlezone panels, that can be clipped together in a variety of different configurations.

20th Century Brick Town Centre

The kit above is the “20th Century Brick Town Centre” and can be bought from Mantic Games for £59.99. There will be smaller, individual kits released later on, but this is the ‘smallest’ for the time being.

For a close up view and review, check out Mel, The Terrain Tutor’s video on YouTube, as he was one of the first to get his hands on these from Mantic, to prepare some display models for Salute – Link.

Now, if you want your city to be a little more Gothic, (as in Gotham, rather than Warhammer 40K) try Pegasus Hobbies Gothic City Building kits.

#4923 Gothic City Buildings Large Set
There are several different kits, all compatible, with which you can construct huge sweeping Gothic structures, with flying buttresses, arches, etc. Can be bought directly from Pegasus Hobbies for $32.99, but is available from a great many other outlets.

Next we move to Amera Plastic Mouldings, who specialise in vac-formed plastic scenery. Whilst the majority of their product is designed as battlefield ruins, two particular kits do stand out as usable for superhero gaming, namely Z241 Ministry Building and Z253 Industrial Building.

Z242 - Ministry Building without base

As you can see from the picture above, the Ministry Building is pretty substantial, with a footprint of 35cm square. And that’s without it’s base! And this monster is £22.99 (with base £27.99).

Z253 - Industrial Building

The industrial building is also pretty big, with a foorprint of 30cm by 20cm, for £14.95.

Both come as individual white plastic vac-formed sheets, that require gluing together, but are apparently pretty robust when constructed. Both can be found under the Future Zone section on the website.

Our final port of call is the German manufacturer Ziterdes, who manufacture 28mm buildings out of hard foam, mainly for fantasy/historical gaming. However, within their range of “houses” there are three buildings that are ideal for superhero gaming; the Apartment House – 29.99 Euros

The Bank Building – 49.99 Euros

The Abandoned Factory – 33.99 Euros

The picture of the bank building above shows how the actual buildings come, whereas the other two show them once they’ve been painted. For a more comprehensive look at the buildings, which shows how each floor is a separate module, take a look at the Ziterdes website.

So, this concludes our look at “plastic” buildings. Whilst I know that there are other manufacturers out there, I have just concentrated on those that make suitably “modern” buildings. If you can think of any I’ve missed, please let me know.

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2 thoughts on “We Built This City…

  1. Another really useful post crow, especially as I’ve been casting about on the look out for some suitable buildings for my supers games (and Zomicide too now!), I have got a few MDF ones I bought at Salute from the terribly named “Wargames Tournaments”, these are basically just two and three storey shells, that I hope to get round to detailing and finishing in the not to distant future.

    I do like the plasticville diner though (it a converted 50’s US caravan) and may add one of them at some point too.

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks again, Roger. Having experienced a similar problem regarding modern urban scenery, I tend to keep my eyes open for suitable buildings. As it appears to be a regular question on forums, I thought I’d share the fruits of my research. Next planned post will cover MDF buildings. At some point there may also be a tutorial on scratch building street furniture, as a friend of mine reckons I should share how I made my fire hydrants (featured in the picture of the repainted Hydra Operative).

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