The nearest foamboard supplier is 30min away, and it's $10 an A2 sheet. The actual pink foam other modellers seem to effortlessly obtain for sculpting cliffs etc - well here in a rural Aussie town, I've never even seen it in person.
Enter the humble pizza box.
Relatively heat and water resistant, and comes in convenient sheets with a rip-on-the-dotted-line. A quick visit to the local dollar shop and I had obtained a few packets of coffee-stirrer thingies - you know, the better option than paddle pop sticks for doing wargaming boards for a dollar each. My biggest expense - 3x $5 balsa sticks in 5mm. One I got for $2 as it was broken. Yay! I was intending on breaking them anyway... OK to work...
My initial challenge: Any pizza bought, the boxes have to be turned into terrain, of a sort I can use for more than one project.
Unfortunately I hit a snag. My son keeps winning pizza vouchers from coach awards at hockey. He's not the best player, but that mix of industrious and well-mannered that attracts awards. Normally these awards are shared around a bit; but the lad has a new coach each week lately and thus picked up about 3 in a row. So I am waaay busier than expected and my paint projects have been put on hold as I deal with the pizza box onslaught...
I decided on some medieval terrain - ruined towns a la Mordhiem (or more strictly speaking, Vermintide 2 on PC). For a non-stickler for detail like myself, it can be "European" from any era from medieval to modern day - so I should get some use out of it.
Next, I decided to use a uniform base size. This is so I can use it for experimenting with terrain rules - which probably will feature in a game design post soon (#remindme) - allowing consistent coverage within grid squares. I kind had a 6x6 or 4x4" in mind but ended up with these 90c Bunnings coasters cos I'm lazy. So far I've spent $6 on stirrers, $12 on balsa wood, $10 on coasters and $5 on black spray paint. So my terrain isn't free - but it should be only a few dollars per terrain piece.
I've also involved my children.* *(well, they invited themselves)
This tends to triple the work time and also will reduce my available materials as my daughter will inevitably hijack some of my stuff for side projects (I predict she will also make her own houses and terrain according to her own specifications and it won't match my intended table at all.)Wood Elf sentinels. More 3D print goodness....
On the other hand, it IS just pizza boxes. Not like it's foamboard - which conceivably could be worth it's weight in gold. Also, with my kids involved, precision is impossible which kinda removes the onus of doing a careful job. So some time will be regained there...
1. I cut the pizza boxes using templates I found on "Devs and Dice" Youtube, and just cut extra holes/access points. I probably should have glued the boxes back-to-back to add thickness but I'm working with kids. We ain't waiting around for glue to dry!
2. Hot glue to the bases. Foamboard would definitely work better here as it's easier to hide drips. If so, I'd probably wrap the walls around the coaster instead of sitting it on top.
3. PVA internal balsa beams to support floorboards. My daughter is 'queen of floorboards' and enjoyed artistically arranging coffee stirrer 'planks' atop the balsa beams in a manner that met my "wrecked with gaps but can hold a mini, must be able to put a ladder to the next level" guidelines.
4. Back to dad then for external scaffolding and wood bits. The most annoying and fiddly stage. Foamboard would have been much easier. You could just drop a 5mm balsa in the corners of the building rather than using two coffee stirrers like I did to be the 'corner posts.'
5. Some PVA and sand for the outside of the base. I'll probably do some bits of scattered boards/junk/rubble inside the buildings but right now my aim is to use up the pizza boxes, not win an award for most detailed terrain.
6. Spray with el cheapo black spraypaint.
What? No further work? Well there will probably be a second post where I pretty them up, but right now it's all I need for night scenarios. I'm experimenting with light/darkness/vision mechanics for my horror homebrew rules and a night board just seems apt. It'll get coloured down the track.
Anyway, might as well show my latest painted LoTR. Like the terrain, they need a touch-up down the track.
Still more buildings to make but tis a freezing 13 degree celsius night here in Queensland. I am driven inside!
My LoTR models painted is now 331 done in 2023. Only a few more to eclipse my total of 335 in 2022. I tend to spend 15-20min each night as my kids are in bed, applying a single colour to a dozen or so minis. It's pretty unsatisfying for a week or so then *boom* all of a sudden another unit is ready...
It's a far cry from when LoTR was my "Moby Dick" - a project which headlined my lead pile of shame... Now my secret shame is Infinity* - I have probably 200 models bought back when I loved the game in 1st ed - back before 'rule bloat' killed it.
*Random thought: Infinity seems to do OK - has it weathered the new "Dark Age" brought on by the resurgence of GW - that is (in my opinion) in the process of killing off bigger games like Warmachine, or Malifaux or X-Wing? Maybe it's just quietly puttered along, having never overrreached itself like Warmachine or rebooted itself quite so often as Malifaux? Also I notice X-Wing seems to have died off - has the SW:Legion etc killed it or was it the publisher change?