Monday, January 16, 2012

Terrain Project: Techno-crates

or: "I'll try to contain myself"

I think it's safe to say everybody who is in to Infinity got in to it to a large degree because of the awesome visual designs. I love how it recalls the style of Japanese anime. While Corvus Belli has some great miniatures, they don't have any terrain. Other game systems do, but the Infinity players have to find what they can from other sources. Micro Art Studio has purpose-built pieces, for example, but there are plenty of manufacturers out there. One generic source of terrain is papercraft. Recently we started using papercraft to bulk out our tables, and one of my favorites is this sci-fi looking shipping container.

Using this container as a template, I went ahead and built up a 3d version using styrene sheets and tubes. The whole process took about two weeks worth of modeling during the evenings. More than I expected, but worth it (so far). This is my first full scratch-build, so it has been a learning experience. For example, I've learned that drilling 1,144 holes in a 2"x4" sheet of plastic is a sure way to court madness.

The rest of the RM guys have opted to assist with the financial aspect of the next phase of the project: Makin' copies. This weekend I ordered casting supplies, and I hope to be able to get to work on that aspect shortly.


  1. Wow.. that is amazing work! Really looks good. Will be interesting to see your casting attempts as this looks awesome!! Will be warching with interest also.

  2. That looks spectacular! Very impressive!

    Are you planning on perhaps selling this to the general public at a later date or is it purely for personal use? Because... I'd love to have some of that on my tabletop. :)

  3. I'm planning to take things in baby steps. First order of business is to get a servicable set of molds. If I'm able to do that, I'll try to make enough castings to distribute to the RM crew. Then, I'll assess the situation and make a decision about making it available for sale. If I do, based on what I already know about casting, it would be limited run, since it's fairly labor intensive (maybe 2 castings per night) and messy.

    BTW, this is a hollow item and has no bottom panel. The walls are about 1/4" thick, so they're sturdy. I did it this way to reduce weight, reduce resin use, avoid sculpting the grillwork bottom, and make it easier to cast in one piece. Since the outline of the container is uniform (rectangle), a simple styrene sheet will easily close the void over.

    1. Very well done! The attention to detail is incredible, and I would love to see this expand into a whole set.

      I suggest trying out casting in hydrostone plaster over resin as it is much cheaper and will not wear out the mold as quickly. Check out Hirst Arts for some good examples, and a good community on all things casting/mold making.

    2. Lo Pan, We must heed Mr. Revenant Autumn's words. Seems like good advice.

    3. The plaster is a good option and I seriously considered it, but in this case, I want to "go with what I know", at least for the first run. Besides, the sensation of the extreme exothermic chemical reacion of the resin overflow over my bare hands is so very sweet. But perhaps I've said too much...

  4. These containers are awesome. Just plain awesome. Now I'm even more jealous that you guys have an Infinity group instead of just a few younger friends who can only play when they're not away at school.

    If you're ever looking for some more paper containers to break up the monotony of the normal rectangles (those Devil Team crates really are pretty sweet, though), check out this series that TommyGun did.

  5. We just had our weekly Infinity game night and one of the guys took a look at the container master and said- "well, you know, in my job I have access to a CNC machine, if that might help..."

    Oh, had the whisky not been served in such abundance I may have throttled him. In a friendly way, of course, as we are all gentlemen.

    23 millon hand-drilled holes and 13 side panels hand beveled with individually beveled edges and custom cut components grumble grumble I'm a crotchety old man rhubarb rhubarb grumble grumble.

  6. Just out of curiosity, where did you come by that papercraft shipping container? Its great quality and I'm wondering if its available in any other flavors.