Here's a nifty little trick to really urbanize your game setup a LOT. In conjunction with the home-made rubble illustrated in another article on this page, you'll be hard-pressed to come up with something better for as little money. Soon you'll have highrises in various stages of ruin, stackable on top and expandable to the side - perfect for urban warfare!
You basically need to find yourself a good looking "shell" for a building. The best and cheapest that I've found are the cheapie plastic "storage crates". I've found them in dollar stores, office supply stores, (shudder!) Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc. They range in size from small to large. The best ones are molded in black plastic, I'll explain why in a moment. So let's get started!
Scale Model Highrises from Plastic Storage Crates
Well, I guess it's not much to look at, huh? Kinda useless for gaming other than to store magazines in. But.... wait a minute.... turn it upside-down! Hmm.... that does kinda look like a modern office building shell after all! Wow wasn't that easy? NOW how much would you pay? BUT WAIT....THERE'S MORE!!!
A little deft work with the hacksaw, and a useable doorway shows up. Needless to say, if you're gonna use multiples of these to make higher stories, you'll want a few boxes with no doorway cut out.
Spray paint the 'model' with gray auto primer. Use only a downward angle as depicted above. Remember when I said that the black ones are the best? That's because if you use a downward angle with the auto primer, the ridges sticking out will not have any paint below them, creating a grungy looking artificial shadow. It's another trick to make your models and game setup 'pop'.
Keep your spray can about a foot to 16 inches away from the model, as you don't want to glob too much paint on it, just give it a good even dusting. Also, wear a respirator when spray painting or priming. You'll be glad you did when you get old. Lastly, do not spray paint or prime when it is too cold and damp (never dries) or when it is really friggin' hot (appx 95 degrees F or higher) as the paint can literally partially dry on it's way from the nozzle to the model. It'll be really rough in consistency.
Above is our sample model. What I've done just for extra embellishment is over-sprayed a few splotchy areas in red brown auto primer and then a few quick spritzes with white. I've also taken flat black and given a light dusting to the base of the 'model'. Be sure to thoroughly coat the model with flat clear lacquer when you're done.
The model is good as it is, but you could add as much embellishment as you want: You could dry-brush the edges, add a roof to the top with a piece of polystyrene, and the front 'plate' just cries out for a rotted sign. You could print that off on your own home printer and just rub some pastel chalk on it for aging as a final step.
They're hackable - they're stackable ! The AMAZING PLASTIC MILK CRATES! You can make either full buildings or broken up walls and corners with these things. They're cheap and they're good looking. What more could you ask for?
LASTLY: If you live in the UK and have a reliable source for these things, please email me (see the 'contact' link on the home page) and I will post this info on the site. Some of my UK friends are having a bit of trouble finding them. Thanks, and good gaming!
I've found a manufacturer here in the US, and it looks like they do international orders. You'll have to check it out on your own, as I don't know if they sell to individual retail customers, but it might be worth a shot.