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Donnerstag, 29. November 2012

Review: Platformer Terrain System

Hey guys, recently I got a nice box full of toys from Wayland Games (who also happen to sponsor Tale of Painters so consider the banner in the right if you want to go to Wayland's site) and thought I could write up a review article about one of said toys - the Platformer Construction Set (small box variant). Made in Russia, distributed by several companies actually. Most notably by CONFLIX and Pegasus Hobbies.

I've had my eyes on this set for a while now, mostly out of curiosity. It's not really a beauty judging from the pictures but it surely is interesting to see how this can be used for tabletop wargaming and the box promises that it requires no glue at all and it's all snap-fit. Let's see how it really works.

The back of the box showes two more possible configurations and has the typical blurb which most interestingly lets us know that this set it meant to build "defensive fortifications". Judging from the pictures and kneehigh-at-best walls on the kit this doesn't exactly scream "fortifications". Looks like much fun though as as sort of industrial area or oil rig.

Now let's take a look at the sprues you find in the box:

You get one of the sprue in the left and four of the sprue in the right. The pieces are hard plastic as you will know it from other manufacturers of plastic models. It's about as hard as the plastic Games Workshop use for example but it tends to be a little more brittle so be careful when cutting these bits from the sprue.
Apart from these five sprues you get an instruction leaflet.

The instructions are clear and well illustrated. This kit doesn't require degrees in spaceship engineering but it's good to have these instructions so you get an idea how the system works. A curious thing I noticed - weird stains. Looks a bit like blood. The less asked the better. ;-)

It is also stated how you can use plastic glue if you like but it's not required. Just to be sure they also made sure to clarify what glue does. ("If cement is used the parts cannot be seperated again" ). I decided to look for myself wether I would use glue or not.

Next let's take a closer look at the parts:

In terms of casting and detail the parts are very nice actually. Details are worked out well and casting is sharp along with some elevated parts giving the single tiles a bit of depth as well. There are very prominent mould lines in parts but they are usually very well hidden so that I'd almost say that you don't have to bother with removing them (unless they are really, really visible).  On the larger parts you will see varying colouring on the plastic. It may look a bit weird but there are no notable differences between the shades of colour any any way and ther are no recesses or anything between them. You can see this on larger GW minis as well from time to time. The colour of the plastic is a matte metallic silvery grey by the way.

From left to right you got the railings bit for the ramps which connect levels. Pretty straightforward. The next part is meant to be used for the aforementioned ramps with each ramp planned to consists of two of these parts next to each other. The little tweezer-like things on the ends are positioned at such an angle that it can more or less only be positioned in one angle (even though the kit allows for leeway in this regard. More on this later.). The next four parts are more or less the bread and butter of the kit and the whole building system. It's sections of either 6cm by 3cm or 3cm by 3cm. For each section two of these parts are required and stuck together. If you ever worked with Oreo cookies you'll be familiar with the system.
The assembly itself is very simple. The instructions don't lie when it's telling you that glue is not required (but advised). You basically press the two parts together until there is an audible click when the little nubs lock into place. Once that's done the parts are VERY hard to get apart again (not that you'd want to anyway). I glued all but the first part right away though just to be sure. Once you've done that you end up with a number of tiles sections of either 3cm by 3cm or 3cm by 6cm as mentioned above. These are put together with the help of little connectors which come in either T-, L- or cross-shape, either by clipping them into place or sliding them in sideways.

This is basically how it works:

In the right you see some single sections whilst in the left you see two sections put together with an L-shaped connector. These are rounded on the edge, giving it a bit of a smooth Sci-Fi look. In the middle foreground you see two T-shaped connectors.

In the above picture you can see the connectors again. From left to right: L-shape, cross-shape, T-shape. All the connectors consist of two pieces but again due to the very comfortable snap-fit system you don't have to wait until the glue is completely dry. Put a bit of plastic glue on, snap the pieces together and you can use them right away without a thought lost to the parts maybe coming apart again.You get a very good amount of these connectors in the box. Maybe it's just the way my brain works but I could have done with maybe two more T-shaped connectors while the cross-shaped ones I find a bit less useful in general. But still, you will be fine for almost everything you will want to build from this.

Sliding or clipping the tiles together works very well. It's not too hard (maybe a tad too easy/loose sometimes if anything) and for the most part the parts stay together very well. I have one thing to note though - there are pretty prominent mould lines on the connectors. I removed them and I'm not sure if that was the smartest of moves because I think they give the whole thing additional structural strength and keep the single tiles from wobbling around. I did remove these mould lines quite rigorously of some parts and I wish I hadn't. It's not like they don't work any more or fall apart, I just think that the fit would have been tighter with the mould lines on. In general though the fit is pretty good and I would imagine that it would be even better once the pieces are basecoated/painted/whatever.

So after lots of cleaning (maybe a bit too much as mentioned above) and putting together I worked out a sort of  thing I was rather pleased with and which makes use of almost all parts that come in the box:

I also added some 28mm miniatures for scale. So what did I notice during putting this thing up - Firstly, the girders/supports aren't exactly the epitomy of structural strength. These things love to move to weird angles. In general, the L-shaped connectors seem to prefer acute angles over right angles so you will have to rearrange the girders sometimes. I've read reports of people liking to actually glue the bottom parts of the girders to bases to stop them from moving around. Speaking of the girders - those come in three sizes and also can be connected (like the ones in the left) so you get taller ones.

The ramps, as I mentioned before, come in two narrow parts. This may seem weird at first but does serve a purpose. The thing is that they are exactly 30mm wide and if you add the railings you end up with a ramp that is just wide enough to have a miniature on a 25mm round base move between it. If you happen to use lipped bases like many skirmish wargamers like to do I suggest either not using the railings or use a third piece of plank to make it wider. Those three won't  fit together completely due to the way the snap-fit system works but it's a way to make the ramps work for larger bases. Alternatively you just don't glue the railings to the ramps of course but I think that these really add to the nice look of the kit. If you use them though I strongly suggest gluing them in place or use some pins to strengthen the conections. When I assembled the piece or moved it around the railings kept on falling out from the smallest moves.

The overall stability, once all is assembled, is absolutely sufficient which means that you could put a metal Warjack or Dreadnought on top of the platform without any trouble. This kit will allow you to build all kinds of weird thing you can think of  from a radio station to oilrig-looking things, elevated listening posts and so on and so forth.

One more thing is adressed in the instructionst - unsightly gaps:

In this picture you can see how the connecttors don't reach over the full length of each section and they often end up not quite in place (as I masterfully recreated for this picture especially). This was taken care of too in a way by the inclusion of these:

These little gap fillers are meant to be glued into these gaps in case you want to make the build permanent. They fit really well and if you glue them in place properly they will be hardly noticable.

Now the box lets you know that the scale of the model is 28mm but you won't have a problem using this for games with models of any scale really. Okay, the one part which depicts a control panel might look a tad out of place if you're using 6mm scale models but apart from that I think that you won't have much trouble integrating this kit into your sci-fi/space opera/steampunk/dieselpunk or even modern wargaming tables if you are willing to stretch your imagination a little. What I found though is that the railings and "cover" you can add (unless you add whole walls) would work remarkably well for 20mm scale models. For those and 15mm scale models you might even make this kit work for several smaller earth-level buildings. Here is a possible version of that with a 28mm scale model and a 10mm scale model next to it.

Too small for the Scout Sergeant in the right, too big (and thematically unfitting anyway) for the Musketeer in the left but for models between that it should work nicely I think.

Now, as usual the last part of my reviews, the price. This is where this kit really, really shines. I got mine for less than seven British Pounds and  they don't cost more anywhere else. You won't be able to fill a whole gaming table with this small box but, apart from there being a large variant which has double the amount of sprues, this kit will get you a rather fetching building or at the very least a heap of cool bits to jazz up your gaming table with and at this price point you can hardly do anything wrong. Heck, you even get your money's worth if you hack everything up and turn the pieces into piles of cityfight debris.

At this price you also can't expect miracles. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this kit. It's good quality, good casting, well thought out and the system works. Okay, some parts are a tad wobbly and I think I'll end up glueing together some "modules" and not leave everything interchangable simply for painting purposes and the hassle of always being tempted to build something new.

This kit is well worth its price and I think that it can be used to bring something new to any wargaming table. Especially players of Necromunda will love this kit especially. Terrain always seems to be a bit of the red-headed stepchild of wargamers. If people have the choice of spending money on new miniatures or a bunch of rocks they usually will go for the miniatures and terrain itself often is expensive. In this case though and especially at this price you can't do much wrong.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Feedback is always appreciated and if you have any questions or requests, just let me know via the comments section or on Facebook, e-mail and so on.

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