We Built This City…from MDF

Welcome to the second in a series of posts regarding suitable modern buildings for 28mm superhero gaming. This was intended to follow hard on the heels of the previous post, but real life got in the way, as it has a tendency to do.

The previous post dealt with pre-moulded hard plastic and foam buildings. This time we will be looking at buildings made from Medium Density Fibreboard, more commonly known as MDF. However, I will also be covering building kits made from laser cut card, as they share more similarities with MDF kits than print-on-demand cardstock models, which I will be covering in a future post.
Over the past few years, it would appear that the price of lasers has significantly dropped. Rather than holding cities to ransom, trying to bifurcate British secret agents or mounting them on sharks, the majority of people have decided to use them to cut up bits of wood. Go figure.
This has resulted in a plethora of creative people manufacturing MDF kits suitable for wargaming. The pros of MDF kits are that they are reasonable simple to assemble, create robust structures and are reasonably inexpensive. The cons are that the majority of the kits, whilst they can be used immediately once assembled, are shades of brown. So, unless you’ve decided to game in sepia tones (which would be quite cool for a while), you’re going to have to paint them. The second is that MDF isn’t the lightest material in the world, so if you’re ordering kits from countries other than your own, you may be paying a fair bit in shipping. Bearing this in mind, I’ve grouped the manufacturers by country.
One final caveat – I will only be featuring companies that make what I believe would be found in a modern urban environment. A lot of these companies make buildings suitable for Bolt Action, VBCW, Infinity, etc. so whilst I may highlight a warehouse or factory building, I won’t be showing you pictures of Pegasus Bridge, Imperial bastions or futuristic habitation blocks.

As I’m based on the UK, we’ll start there, with Sarissa Precision. This company provides many ranges of buildings, from the wild west to the far east. For our purposes, however, we will be looking at their 28mm CityBlock range.
CityBlock 64 - Style 1
The buildings range from £15.00 for a two storey structure to £50.00 for their largest building, a two storey warehouse with a footprint of 210mm x 420mm.
CityBlock Warehouse
The basic CityBlock buildings can be assembled so that each floor’s interior can be accessed and additional floors can be purchased separately. What this means is that if you buy two buildings of similar dimensions, you can have 2 two storey buildings or one three storey and one single storey building. And if they’re painted in a similar colour scheme, you can have both (but obviously not at the same time), which is quite useful.  A bit of paint and you can end up with something like this;

Not mine, I might add, but the work of Lucky Joe, more of which can be found on his blog – link.

Sarissa have also recently released their 28mm Industrial range, should you wish to vary the location of your battles.

Factory - Large

Finally, the Gaslamp Alley VSF range has a couple of buildings that would be of use, if you wanted to build your own Gotham City, particularly the Town Hall.

Town Hall

Next we move on to Warbases, also based in the UK. Whilst they have a varied range of buildings, there’s really only one that meets my criteria, namely the Corner Tenement from their VBCW range. This L-shaped building has a footprint of approximately 232mm square and is 198mm tall. For £25.00, which is pretty good value.

Another UK company is Timeline Miniatures, from whose ranges I’ve cherry-picked their Corner Public House.

This L-shaped two storey structure has a footprint of approximately 230mm square and a height of 130mm. Once assembled, the roof is removable and the top floor is divided into several rooms. This floor is also removable, revealing the ground floor with bar and doors/stair to the upper floor. In the cut-out corner at the rear is a ground level walled courtyard. Available for a very reasonable £25.00.

Another single building, this time from the Troll Trader, a UK company which stocks a huge range of everything a wargamer could need, but also appear to manufacture their own range of buildings. This particular building seems to be only available on their eBay store – link – under their TTCombat category.
This substantial warehouse/factory building is only £25.95 and could be used on its own as your playing area, as it’s so large.

Next we move on to Wargame Model Mods, also in the UK. As with the majority of these companies, it would appear they first started manufacturing buildings intended for Warhammer 40K, so a large percentage of the buildings they make are unsuitable for a modern urban environment. However, it’s worth looking through their 28mm Sci Fi Buildings section, specifically the Commercial, Industrial and Military sub-sections. This, for example, can be found in the Commercial section and is described as a Tech Centre. Looks like something you might find at Stark Enterprises. £18.99 for a kit with a footprint 300mm x 200mm, 250mm tall.

Commercial Building Tech Centre

Or this warehouse, also £18.99, 295mm square and 200mm tall.

XLC, which stands for the Extraordinary Laser Company are another UK company, who primarily manufacture terrain for WH40K, but had a recent successful Kickstarter which funded their pre-printed MDF building kits. Yes, you heard correctly, pre-printed. No faffing about with paint, you can just stick them together and use them immediately. Their Kickstarter concentrated on terrain that was what I would describe as grungy industrial, such as this L-Shaped Factory at £14.00:

P1180230

Or this Retail Unit, which comes with a choice of signs, at £12.00:

Talking about pre-coloured MDF buildings, I will briefly mentions 4Ground here. However, whilst their buildings are highly detailed, with comprehensive building instructions, resulting in wonderful looking buildings, they don’t really cater to superhero gamers, as their buildings are more for the Historical and Fantasy gamers. However, some of their Whitechapel to Baker Street range, which can be found under the World at War section, could possibly be used for older buildings, depending on what style of city you’re trying to create. Probably the most useful is the Police Station:

However, because it’s 4Ground and it’s pre-coloured sheets, intricate detailing and multiple parts, you do pay for what you get and this particular building is £134.50.

Next we move over the Channel to Poland and Multiverse Gaming Terrain. This Polish company is a relative new-comer in the field of MDF building kits, but what they may lack in volume, they certainly make up for in innovative style. For our superhero city, we need to be looking at their Dark City 30 range of buildings and terrain, such as their Corner Apartment Building, a three storey structure with a quite innovative door system (the idea for which I shall be stealing for future scratch-built buildings), which is that the door is separate to the building, on its own base, so can be open, closed, partially ajar, knocked down or missing without having to worry about weakening hinges.

A little more expensive than some buildings we seen so far at 31.99 Euros, but I’d say that the level of detail you’re getting is worth it. They have also just released this Old Diner, at 17.99 Euros.

They also do fire escape kits and Art Deco style gargoyles and Atlas statue kits that you can add to other buildings you may have, to add additional detail. The pictures above show what can be achieved with these kits, as they do, of course, come unfinished. However, I have a feeling that they may very well be getting some of my money in the near future…

Also from Poland is Micro Art Studio who are more well-known for their resin bases and the fact that they secured the licence for the Discworld Miniatures, rather than their MDF buildings. Or to be more exact, their HDF (High Density Fibreboard) buildings. As with most European scenery manufacturers, the majority of their output is either ‘Designed for Infinity’ or ‘Designed for Malifaux’, as it appears that European wargamers don’t actually play anything else. However, Micro Art Studio do their own game of Steampunk skirmish, which is called Wolsung. They manufacture and produce the miniatures for this game, as is obvious from their website, but also do a small-ish range of buildings and scenic terrain for this game. Along with what is described as “steampunk” walkways, walls and what appear to be bus shelters, they do two buildings that are of use to the superhero gamer, the XIX Block of Flats at 34.44 Euros:

And the XIX Century Warehouse at 49.20 Euros:

Both are two storey structures with internal detailing, such as walkways in the warehouse and separate floors and internal walls in the block of flats. Interestingly, as the warehouse has doors on both storeys, you can combine the roof with either of the two storeys to make a single storey structure. Worth looking at the website for alternative views of both buildings.

We now cross the Atlantic to the United States and we’ll start with LITKO Game Accessories. LITKO have two ranges of buildings of use to the superhero gamer – their 28mm Buildings under their Terrain and Buildings and their Main Street range, which is primarily storefront type buildings. The first range has several modular block buildings, which are a little dull in my opinion, but does have this rather nice Urban Garage at $24.95:

The Main Street range is a little more detailed, with 6 buildings ranging from the $24.99 Al’s Diner kit:

Comes Unpainted

to the 3 storey Joe’s Place building kit at $74.99:

Comes Unpainted

And this is what you can do if you have a fair few of them:

main-street-buildings-heade.jpg

Of course, the above picture does represent an investment of about $500, but you get the idea.

We now move on to Demo’s Laser-Cut Designs, another company from the USA, and their Modern/Near Future Buildings. Whilst the first few buildings in this section represent ruined building corners, as you scroll down you get to the more interesting, complex and unique kits. Need a 5 storey office building with accessible floors, standing just under 13″ tall and costing around $50.00? Sorted.

Or a gas station with accessible interior (including gas pumps, counter, fridge, shelving and toilets) and roadside stand for under $40.00?


Or a structure that claims to be Modular Warehouse, but we all know is a not-quite-abandoned lunatic asylum on the edge of town, for $50.00?

Lots of other kits on the website, very reasonably priced, so worth taking a look.

Next we have Gamecraft Miniatures, also in the US, and their range of 28mm MDF kits. The majority of their kits are aimed at wargaming in the Middle East or are multi-storey ruined buildings or shells, However, hiding amongst these is this rather nice 7-11, which seems to be missing an ethnic store-keeper…


$30.00 on it’s own, or can be purchased with a base and gas pumps for $41.00.

Some of you may already be familiar with our next company,  CorSec Engineering, as they are probably better know for their fabric gaming mats, rather than their buildings. However, they do have a small range of MDF buildings which can be found under the Terrain menu, then 28mm Modern Terrain. Unlike most of the other manufacturers on here, CorSec use a mixture of MDF and styrene to create their kits, which allow for curved surfaces that you won’t find in a kit made entirely from MDF.

They do a shopping mall shops, a fast food restaurant, a convenience store and a gas station island, varying in price from $16.99 up to $59.99. However, the images on the website are CAD images and I could not find any actual pictures of these kits on the web. I may be speaking just for myself here, but I prefer to see actual photographs of what I’m buying, so unless I come across these at a show, am unlikely to be getting any of their stuff. Consequently, if you want to see the computer-generated mock-ups of these kits, go to the website, as I don’t intend on showing them here.

Now, the next manufacturer I’m featuring is Impudent Mortal and what I want to highlight from these guys you can’t actually buy yet, as it was part of a Kickstarter campaign that won’t be on general release until Winter 2015. This was their Warehouse District and it’s just gorgeous – go to the Kickstarter page and watch the video. If you’re a Batman Miniature Game player and didn’t get in on this, you’ll be kicking yourself. Several buildings were part of this, including StarTech:

Falcon Storage:

and Smiley’s Chemicals:

There are plenty more images on the Kickstarter link, so go and feast your eyes. Winter’s not that far away and you needed something for Santa to bring you…

Leaving the US behind, we now head to Australia and BP Laser Miniature Scenery. Whilst they do 28mm Sci-fi buildings, these are more suitable for Infinity or similar games, but for the superhero gamer, there are a few gems in the 28mm Steampunk range…

BUILDING 32 THREE STOREY BRICK BUILDING

The above is their Three Storey Brick Building, which also comes in Two and Four storey variants. Unlike other manufacturers, the floors are not modular, so this is effectively a wooden box. But it’s a well-detailed, multi part wooden box that is AU$20.00, which is approximately £10.00. The two-storey one works out at £7.50 and the four-storey one approximately £12.50. Even factoring in shipping costs, that’s pretty good value and you could easily fill a table for less than £100.00 (excluding shipping).

Our final manufacturer is LaserCutCard, which appears to be a joint venture between someone who lives in South Africa and someone in Australia. The reason I’m including this company is that the kits they supply share more similarities with the MDF buildings above, than the cardstock buildings we’re all used too. They’re laser-cut (obviously) from card (also obvious) but the design and intricacy of the parts mean that the finished model is as strong as and detailed as some of the MDF kits above.

Whilst the kits they produce seemed to be aimed at the Warhammer 40K gamers, with ranges for Chaos, Cyborg (i.e. Necron) and Orks, there are some kits in their Futuristic range that were probably designed for Infinity, but I feel would be suitable for superhero gaming. These are the Futurehab Shop at $17.00:

And the FutureHab Corner Bar at $19.50:

You wouldn’t think these were card, would you? The webiste has many more images of each kit, showing what they look like in their assembled but unpainted forms, the interior walls for the bar and how the corner shop cleverly disassembles and stacks inside itself for ease of storage.

And had to share this image where the company strength tested their smallest model (a picnic table), just to show how strong their kita are once assembled:

That completes my round-up of MDF buildings – no doubt I’ve missed a few, but I was concentrating on those I felt suitable for modern superhero wargaming, so some manufacturers wouldn’t have been suitable. If you’re not a superhero or modern gamer, I hope that I’ve highlighted some companies that you may not have heard of.

Comments, either here or on The Miniatures Page, are always appreciated and if you like what I’m doing, then you can follow the blog via WordPress Reader or by email, which will alert you to new posts.

Tune in next time, when we’ll be looking at print-on-demand cardstock buildings!

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6 thoughts on “We Built This City…from MDF

  1. You’ve done it again crow! another truly inspiring post! As I’ve said before I’m hoping to start building up a board for our superhero (and zombie) games soon, and your recommendations really are most appreciated, there is some gorgeous stuff out there, and I think MDF is the way I’m going to go, some of this I’ve seen before but a lot of it I haven’t.

    Many thanks, Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger. As I’ve spent a lot of time looking for suitable buildings for my own games and I regularly see posts asking where to source suitable buildings, it seemed like a no-brainer to share my research, so people don’t have to spend valuable painting/gaming time looking. Just go to my blog and all the links you need are there. Or that’s the general idea. If you’re planning on doing zombie games, Google Ray Keim. His website Haunted Dimensions has a section for free downloadable paper models and he’s done both the Bates Motel house and the house from the Amityville Horror. You’ll have to rescale them to suit your chosen scale as I believe they’re 1/64, but imagine the look on your players faces when they realise just what buildings they’ll be investigating!

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  2. Pingback: “I Think This Building Should be Condemned…” | Carrion Crow's Buffet

  3. Thanks for this post, I’m just starting to get into the Marvel Universe Miniatures Game and this gives me some good starting points for terrain.

    Like

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