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Paper_Waagh
08-29-2012, 10:11 PM
When my gaming group gets some new thing in the mail (computer, tv, roomba cleaning robot, etc.) we look at the styrofoam packaging material and decide if it can be used as a building for our gaming table. Often times the answer is yes, once we **** our heads to the side and let our imagination run a little wild.

This got me thinking. This same sort of pre-molded styrofoam could be used to create floorplans from the get-go. So, you could get a piece of styrofoam that is a large mansion/dungeon piece, stackable for multiple layers, and modifiable with a hot wire cutting tool (Say for external dungeon connections. )

The idea is based off of custom molded EPS like you find in shipped items, similar to this one:
http://univfoam.com/images/customCutEps.jpg

Only, my own idea would look more like this rough sketch up that I have here:
http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/538663_3953024176621_1635736205_n.jpg

Google Sketchup allows me to mock up ideas fairly quickly.

I knocked out two of them today playing around.

The first is a Parking garage, which shows off the Stacking concept fairly well.

http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/528000_3953024976641_754002111_n.jpg

The other is an Arena. Its not as versatile as other ideas, but you can imagine it being placed in the middle of other tiles to be part of a bigger complex, or on its own as a part of rpg adventure.

http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/249793_3953026136670_1204945755_n.jpg

My question is this, what sort of price point would you be willing to buy an unpainted styrofoam structure that covers roughly 2ft x 2ft for?

So my questions on such a product is this:

The product would be supplied unpainted, pretty much as shown here. What price point would you consider buying this product at?

Next, as you can see there are not external entrances or even windows at this point. This is, at the moment a design decision, as it allows a purchased floorplan to work on multiple levels. However, would you prefer NOT to have to cut external entrances in yourself, limiting the variability of the design?

DarkLink
08-29-2012, 11:17 PM
If you could figure out an easy way to basecoat it, then I could see you charging something just slightly less than GW terrain prices for it, depending on how detailed your modding is. If you've got lots of rivets and bullet holes and stuff, you could get decent money for a large piece of terrain. Surf the internet for terrain makers and see how they price their stuff. I'd link to stuff for comparison, but I don't buy terrain so I don't really know where to look. I'm sure some of the other people here can help with that.

The pitfall to keep in mind is that aerosol cans will melt styrofoam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3riHDhhoPw). I could see someone ordering your new product, trying to spraypaint it to be quick and efficient, only to ruin their new piece of terrain. I'd stick a big warning about that somewhere in the box/bag, and to try and get a simple basecoat in case someone is illiterate.


And, I'm not gonna lie, I've thought about making my own terrain exactly like this before. I'm just too lazy, and I've never needed to bring terrain because I've always played somewhere with plenty of it already.

Paper_Waagh
08-30-2012, 09:29 AM
If you could figure out an easy way to basecoat it, then I could see you charging something just slightly less than GW terrain prices for it, depending on how detailed your modding is. If you've got lots of rivets and bullet holes and stuff, you could get decent money for a large piece of terrain. Surf the internet for terrain makers and see how they price their stuff. I'd link to stuff for comparison, but I don't buy terrain so I don't really know where to look. I'm sure some of the other people here can help with that.

The pitfall to keep in mind is that aerosol cans will melt styrofoam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3riHDhhoPw). I could see someone ordering your new product, trying to spraypaint it to be quick and efficient, only to ruin their new piece of terrain. I'd stick a big warning about that somewhere in the box/bag, and to try and get a simple basecoat in case someone is illiterate.


And, I'm not gonna lie, I've thought about making my own terrain exactly like this before. I'm just too lazy, and I've never needed to bring terrain because I've always played somewhere with plenty of it already.

Ideally, I want something greatly less than GW terrain. I want it to be fairly genre neutral (for most things) with the user able to take it and make it their own. For example, may of the designs will be simply a set of hallways and rooms. Whether those are a dungeon, the interior of a spaceship, or even a high rise is completely up to you, the player. As such the designs will be fairly feature free. (In effect, translate the pictures you see above directly into styrofoam, and you have the look already).

Price wise, I'm wanting something that is sturdy enough to use, but cheap enough to really cut your teeth on. Don't like a column, cut it out. Want a door, cut into it. Hell, even turn around and take out the entire outer wall on one side if you don't like it or have an idea for it. After some of the research on other sites, I'm guessing the price range will be between $10-$20. A price range where you can feel confident cutting into it without fear of really screwing it up. Afterall its a merely a trip or two to mcdonalds to pay for it.

Paper_Waagh
08-31-2012, 10:47 AM
If you could figure out an easy way to basecoat it, then I could see you charging something just slightly less than GW terrain prices for it, depending on how detailed your modding is. If you've got lots of rivets and bullet holes and stuff, you could get decent money for a large piece of terrain. Surf the internet for terrain makers and see how they price their stuff. I'd link to stuff for comparison, but I don't buy terrain so I don't really know where to look. I'm sure some of the other people here can help with that.

The pitfall to keep in mind is that aerosol cans will melt styrofoam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3riHDhhoPw). I could see someone ordering your new product, trying to spraypaint it to be quick and efficient, only to ruin their new piece of terrain. I'd stick a big warning about that somewhere in the box/bag, and to try and get a simple basecoat in case someone is illiterate.


And, I'm not gonna lie, I've thought about making my own terrain exactly like this before. I'm just too lazy, and I've never needed to bring terrain because I've always played somewhere with plenty of it already.

I've got a manufacturer that can do the item in a grey color as seen here:
http://benchmarkfoam.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Benchmark_Foam_Custom_Molded_Packaging_2_146_WML.j pg

olberon
08-31-2012, 02:36 PM
i really like the idea! only problem i have is painting it, which can be solved by spraying some kind of sealer over it.

also think about vacuforming terrain boards. :)

SotonShades
08-31-2012, 02:42 PM
Forge World used to do a few sets of foam based terrain. The problem with it, from the manufacturing point of view, was that it is surprisingly expensive to produce unless you are running huge batches, so unless you garauntee you can sell it in big numbers, you are going to have to price it fairly high. Of course, CAD/Cam may have made tooling easier, allowing you to make the moulds more cheaply and driving these costs down, but it is certainly something I suggest you really look into before you consider selling anything like this.

From a gaming standpoint, styrofoam is very fragile. Dropping a few heavy metal models or even plastic pieces with sharp edges can quickly see a very decent looking terrain set look like an old childrens toy, assuming it doesn't get broken completely. Several of the fatures in your mock-up ideas look like they would be very easy to break off during a game/transport/storage unless they were fairly well reinforced and almost all of those sharpe edges would quickly get worn away. Have another look at the styrofoam packing you used as an example. Almost all of the corners will be bevelled/rounded with a radius not dissimilar to the shoulder pad on a Space Marine. I don't know if that is the limit of what will safely come out of a styrofoam casting (again something to check with the manufacturer) but if you cant get that radius down significantly, it will detract from your overall design massively.

As Darklink has said, Painting something like this, unless you have a decent airbrush, can be a nightmare. Not at all impossible, but certainly a no-no with spraypaints. Those hobbyists with ready access to the tools to do it well will generally be more willing to pay for higher quality and shell out for a more sturdy option (such as resin casts)


Now please do not get me wrong, I am not knocking your idea. If you can get it off the ground and working well, I'll be one of the first going to your website to order a few tiles, especially if you can make them modular so they won't move apart during games, but can be taken apart for storage. But be aware of those pitfalls for a start and I am sure there are a few others.

Paper_Waagh
08-31-2012, 03:52 PM
Forge World used to do a few sets of foam based terrain. The problem with it, from the manufacturing point of view, was that it is surprisingly expensive to produce unless you are running huge batches, so unless you garauntee you can sell it in big numbers, you are going to have to price it fairly high. Of course, CAD/Cam may have made tooling easier, allowing you to make the moulds more cheaply and driving these costs down, but it is certainly something I suggest you really look into before you consider selling anything like this.

From a gaming standpoint, styrofoam is very fragile. Dropping a few heavy metal models or even plastic pieces with sharp edges can quickly see a very decent looking terrain set look like an old childrens toy, assuming it doesn't get broken completely. Several of the fatures in your mock-up ideas look like they would be very easy to break off during a game/transport/storage unless they were fairly well reinforced and almost all of those sharpe edges would quickly get worn away. Have another look at the styrofoam packing you used as an example. Almost all of the corners will be bevelled/rounded with a radius not dissimilar to the shoulder pad on a Space Marine. I don't know if that is the limit of what will safely come out of a styrofoam casting (again something to check with the manufacturer) but if you cant get that radius down significantly, it will detract from your overall design massively.

As Darklink has said, Painting something like this, unless you have a decent airbrush, can be a nightmare. Not at all impossible, but certainly a no-no with spraypaints. Those hobbyists with ready access to the tools to do it well will generally be more willing to pay for higher quality and shell out for a more sturdy option (such as resin casts)


Now please do not get me wrong, I am not knocking your idea. If you can get it off the ground and working well, I'll be one of the first going to your website to order a few tiles, especially if you can make them modular so they won't move apart during games, but can be taken apart for storage. But be aware of those pitfalls for a start and I am sure there are a few others.

My manufacturer and I have discussed this. I need to sell between 2-3k of the first set of 3 tiles to make back the cost @ 15/tile.

After that its around 5-800 need to sell for each new tile to make a profit.


I've also updated the pictures to better represent the final product. The manufacturer is doing them in a grey foam, and the new texture represents that.

JxKxR
10-28-2012, 01:06 AM
Could you print out a booklet of instructions on how to work with the foam? Like first page spray paint melts Styrofoam. Then detailed suggestions on how to detail the terrain. How to cut doorways and windows and such.

I'd take out the columns since they would only work for Romanesque buildings. The big thing you have going for you is how empty they will come. A blank slate to create on. In the booklet you can suggest what size dowel rod to use for columns. That first pic looks like a tau command center minus the columns.

I'd also sell them in one box, stacked 3-4 deep, as a set. So I'd do a parking garage set with a roof section, 2 middles, and a floor level. I'd do the coliseum with the a double deep arena area, and one prison level with man sized cages, another prison level with beast sized cages. Then a complex set with big open rooms, just get creative with the shape and size of the rooms. This one could be the inside of a space ship, a military facility, chemical plant, etc.

The problem I always have is where do I put all the terrain I have, and have made. The 2ft x 2ft is a bit big and the foam is brittle so storing it is something I would take into consideration. I don't know if I would spend the money on something so cheap that would take up so much space... hmmm, I guess I would pay $15-$20 for a box of 4, but not a penny more. If you can you should make it cheaper. If it's cheaper than $15 I wouldn't think about spending the money. You'd get a lot more business, but less profit.

ElectricPaladin
10-28-2012, 09:06 AM
Honestly, I wouldn't buy a product like this. If I wanted [email protected] terrain made out of disposable materials, I'd hunt down some household trash to stack on the table. If I want quality terrain that I can paint, customize, and feel really good about putting on the table, I want it to be made out of something with more detail and durability than styrofoam. Unless the price is incredibly right on this product, I'll save my money to buy something worth it and use free junk until I can.