Print and Play Gamer

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Warhammer 40K: Kill Team board, featuring terrain from Dave Graffam Models

Work in Progress: Sci-Fi Scatter Terrain

Work continues on my terrain for Warhammer 40K: Kill Team, which began a couple of posts back. For the past several days, I’ve concentrated on scatter terrain for the table, building pieces from several of Dave Graffam’s sci-fi terrain kits. I’ve assembled at least 50 separate models for this board (I haven’t kept count!), ranging from simple crates to elaborate cargo pods, comms towers, and stairways. Most of Dave’s kits use PDF layers so that you can print each one to make dozens or even hundreds of unique models in a rainbow of colors. Even so, I’ve deliberately stuck with a warm color palette for this project. The orange, red, yellow, brown and gray options for most of these models look right at home on my Martian battlemat, next to the Babylon Toxic Sand buildings that are the star terrain pieces in the set-up.

Spaceport Crates

Dave Graffam's Spaceport Crates printable wargame terrain
A space marine taking cover between stacks of crates made using the Spaceport Crates printable terrain kit.

The simplest models I built for my Martian battlezone are Dave’s Spaceport Crates. You don’t even have to build these basic cubes one-by-one, thank the Emperor of Mankind! (If you’re a 40K player, you know who that is.) Instead, the kit offers 14 pages of crates stacked in different configurations–single 1-inch-cube crates; stacks of two crates; rows of two, three or four crates; and larger configurations of up to 32 crates, arranged in two layers of four crates square. As Dave usually does, he uses multiple layers to let you print crates in several colors featuring the logos of many different futuristic shipping companies. The kit also includes a 28-page, single-layer PDF file featuring a large, pre-set assortment of stacks of crates, if you prefer to skip the customizing step and go right to printing and assembling. These are super-simple models to put together, but with such a variety of great textures, they really make the most of the time you invest in them.

Spaceport Containers

Dave Graffam's Spaceport Containers cardstock model kit
Our sneaky space marine peeks around the corner of one of Dave’s Spaceport Containers.

Armored container units serve as both cover and objectives in many Warhammer games, and Dave’s Spaceport Containers kit is a cost-effective alternative to Games Workshop’s pricy plastic version. These containers measure 4″ long, 2″ high, and 2″ wide, and come with 33 different skins featuring many of the same interplanetary shippers as the Spaceport Crates kit, above. And like the crates, these models are easily-assembled boxes, though you must print them in two parts each due to their size. Even so, these big containers go together fast, and are just about the fastest possible way to fill a Kill Team battlefield with useful scatter terrain.

Cargo Pods, Both Fancy and Free

Printable Cargo Pods models by Dave Graffam Models
The pods on the left are from Dave’s free set. The ones on the right, with the extra bits, are from the full version of the Cargo Pods kit.

I’d built a few of the cargo pods from Dave’s Free Cargo Pod kit several months ago, and I had those on my shelf as this project began. I’ve since added the more elaborate, paid version–Dave’s Cargo Pod Paper Models–to my collection, and I wanted to add a few of these fancier pods to my Kill Team terrain. The free kit includes the basic cargo pod, which runs about 5″ by 2″ by 2″, with enough options to create over 50 unique models. For just $2.95, the full kit vastly expands the number of colors and skins for the pods. It also adds a large selection of three-dimensional control panels, power packs, vents, skids and other enhancements. You can configure literally thousands of cargo pods without repeating yourself. These are great kits, but the angled panels make them more fiddly to assemble than the crates and containers. You may want to give the free set a try before investing in the paid version.

Babylon Extras

This Kill Team battlezone features Dave’s Babylon: Toxic Sands modular SF model kit. After completing walls, floors, and roofs for about a dozen of the building modules, I invested a couple of evenings in assembling some of the extra features included in the kit: crates, a comms tower, and stairway units.

Crates

Bonus crates from the Babylon: Toxic Sands model kit
Our bold marine shelters among the crates included the Babylon cardstock model kit.

The crates are simple, 1-inch cubes, compatible with the crates in the Spaceport Crates kit. Though the spaceport crates are branded for several interstellar shipping companies, the Babylon versions are military-style crates. They can be printed in five colors, with a variety of serial numbers, labels, and levels of weathering. Unlike the Spaceport Crates, the Babylon crates are only single-crate models. If you want them in permanent stacks, you’ll need to assemble individual crates and glue them together.

Comms

The comms tower from Dave Graffam's Babylon: Toxic Sands model kit
Our stalwart marine defends a comms tower atop a building from the Babylon kit.

I revealed the Babylon comms tower in a previous post, but I wanted to show it again here with the other bonus content. This is a quick little model that can serve as a mission objective as well as blocking terrain. A comms tower looks great anywhere on the buildings, or even standing free on the ground. I plan to include at least a couple of them in my final Babylon build.

Stairs

Two versions of stairs for the Babylon: Toxic Sands model kit
Two stairways for the Babylon kit. The version on the right is assembled as designed. The one on the left is modded so that figures can stand partway up the stairs.

The stairs in the Babylon kits can be assembled with or without railings, and configured to run attach alongside a building, or to stick straight out. You don’t permanently attach them to the buildings or roofs, so you can set them anywhere they look right. Unfortunately, when the stairways are assembled as designed, figures won’t balance on a single stair. I used GIMP to modify the treads and risers to make it possible for figures to stand on the stairs. This modification sacrifices realism for convenience in play, but I think it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

Babylon and On

Over the past week or two, I did some significant kitbashing on the Babylon catwalks. Using GIMP, I made a bridge skin that works elegantly with the railings on 4-inch roof-sides. I’m pretty happy with my final solution, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet. I’ll to reach Dave Graffam Models to get permission to share my modded bridges and stairs; if I do, I’ll make a separate post and include PDFs for both mods.

Also, before I go, I want to share one quick tip. Since many of these models are a bit small–especially the crates–they are pretty easy to move accidentally during play. To combat this, I glued a couple of pennies inside each model before gluing the last panel shut. The extra weight makes them much more resistant to bumps, breezes and sneezes. I used pennies because they are cheaper than washers. I quickly found that pennies glued inside the model with white glue eventually pop loose and rattle around inside (though the weight of the pennies still keeps the model still). To prevent this, I switched to E6000 adhesive to hold the pennies in place; E6000 bonds metal much better than white glue, ending the rattling penny problem. Of course, I continued to use my trusty Aleene’s Tacky white glue for the rest of the assembly process. E6000 is too smelly and messy for general cardstock model assembly.

I’ll be back in a few days with my next update on this big Kill Team project. I’ve been working with cardstock for three weeks solid now, and I’m itching to paint some plastic. I may use the next few evenings to finish painting my kill teams, and use the next installment to show them off. Until then, though, keep on printing, and keep on playing!

4 thoughts on “Work in Progress: Sci-Fi Scatter Terrain”

  1. Great write up! I am also really enjoying Dave Graffam’s Babylon sets. They look great.

    Would you be willing to share your mod for the stair case?

    Thanks
    -Zac

    1. Sorry to take so long to get back to you, Zac–I’ve been out of town for most of the summer, and I’m just now getting back to the blog and gaming in general.

      In theory, sure, I’m generally happy to share my mods with whoever is interested in them. So I’d like to share both the stair and catwalk mods mentioned in this post. I’ll take a look at the files, and be sure they are laid out in a way that they can be printed easily by anyone, and not just me. (When making mods and kitbashes that I know I can’t share–like my recolors of Trash Mob Minis–I generally don’t pretty up the PDF files for public consumption.) At this point, it’s been so long that I don’t remember how presentable the PDFs for the Babylon mods might be. I’ll take a look later this evening, and see how much work needs to be done to make them shareable. Give me a few days to get them uploaded to the blog, OK?

      Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re enjoying those sweet Babylon models!

      –Jeff

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