Saturday 26 April 2014

Cheapest, Fastest Infinity Terrain Ever?

When experimenting with expanding foam, I realized how effective it could be for Infinity, a game that relies heavily on terrain.

*This is a complete 4x4 table of LoS-blocking terrain for $16 (2x $7 foam cans, $2 craft paint.)
 *It took only an hour to make. (excluding foam drying time)
 *It has a coherent theme.

 It is very cheap. 

You get plenty of foam from a can. I actually have 4 more leftover terrain pieces I'm using for another project. (It will be a lava hell-world)

Sure, it isn't the usual omgwtfthisisamazing Infinity diorama, but for someone who prefers minimum effort and cost for maximum result, I'm pretty happy with my 1-hour + $16 investment.

The "palms clumps" were Chinese H0 railroad trees from ebay. You can see the MDF coaster they are based on.

Beyond the bare minimum....
*The trees were $10 for 30 from eBay and sit on 50c MDF coasters. However it adds to the cost.
 *Obviously you could add in foamcore buildings, but the investment in time climbs sharply. 
*Drybrushing the paint on the "cliffs", and adding small scattered gravel-sized rocks would improve it a lot.
*If you want to make the board mobile, you can glue the sand to the baseboard by painting it with 50/50 PVA/water mix. 
*You could easily adapt it using white sand and grey paint for a "snow" environment. 
*The whole sand table cost me $22 and 15 minutes to make.

As you can see, plenty of line-of-sight blocking terrain makes this a solid Infinity table. It would work equally well for Heavy Gear, Tomorrow's War/Force on Force or any game that requires lots of cover.

I'd welcome ideas for other cheap, easy-to-make tables. Put a link in comments?

Quick Cheap Terrain - Expanding Foam Hills in 30 minutes = NOT RECOMMENDED

2023 - I'm not sure why people (or bots!) keep looking at this post, but this is not a great terrain method. It is merely because in Australia we cannot easily access the pink/blue foam you see in Youtube clips. Even then, I'd recommend cutting up a solid rubber camping/yoga mat instead.

Most people use dense insulation foam (either pink or blue) for modelling but for some reason I have found it impossible to get hold of.

However, whilst in the hardware store I found some expanding sealant foam.  You know, the stuff that comes in a can for about $7.  You spray it into cracks and it swells up to 3x the size.

                                                 Ingredients: Foam can, craft paint, sand, PVA glue.

#1. I sprayed the foam into messy heaps, chuckling in an immature way (you could also make a good fake dog poop from it I think!).  It takes about 4 hours to dry.

#2. Then, I used my wife's serrated kitchen knife (after a bit of experimenting, I found this was the best cutting tool) to cut flat sections to rest the models on. I also had to cut underneath to level out "bulges" of foam that appeared under the foam lump.  This took the longest time to do.

#3. I painted the sides with a single coat of $2 acrylic craft paint (remember, don't spraypaint foam unless you want it to melt!)

#4.  The hardest bit was painting the top with PVA glue. It was pretty messy.  I sprinkled sand on top and "voila!"

You can see how the foam does not quite sit "flat" on the table.  I can pile sand up around it, but this could be an issue on a "normal" table.

A few thoughts:
The foam on the bottom of a piece "bulges"  as it dries so you have to cut it flat underneath as well.  This was a bit of a pain to cut level.  I considered using a hot wire cutter but the foam is apparently "highly flammable" and I didn't want to "gas" myself with poisonous vapours.

Obviously, a second coat/drybrush would make the painted sides look WAY better. However I was already pushing my 30 minute deadline.  

By the way, the can made double as much as what I pictured here - this was the first half I did as a "trial run."  One can of $7 foam made enough "hills" to easily fill a table, so I reckon it is good "value."

Some close-ups so you can see the finish, warts and all. Miniatures are a 15mm hovertank (GZG) and Iron Winds mecha (they stand about 15mm tall).
Obviously as second coat of paint and a drybrush in a lighter shade of brown would make it look 100% better.  However this was a quick trial run before my wife forced me to go shopping...

Here is what is looks like with 28mm models with the whole table set up.