Home Forums Terrain and Scenery 3mm Scale Cityscape

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    Mr. Average

    I am a huge 3mm Scale booster. But I also like cities. City-fighting is kind of the Holy Grail of 3mm Scale for me. It’s either expensive (Gamecraft charges something like $30 for five buildings), difficult to find (the little colony bits from Firestorm Armada went out of print for some unfathomable reason, upsetting me immensely). Or worse, it’s both difficult to find AND expensive, AND annoying to build out of a myriad of parts. Sigh. What to do?

    Well, today, I finally decided to deal with this – for me, anyway. I had been planning to go “down the club” today, but this blizzard in the Northeast has scotched that plan and no mistake. So what to do on a day off? Work on my comics? Yes. But also, a chance to work on a few lightweight side-projects I’ve had on the table. My Techno-Sengoku Jidai, for example. And in that I uncovered some sample packs of Picoarmor 3mm material I had saved up from… well, the last time I made an order. Which made me dig out my copy of Ganesha Games’ decidedly lightweight yet still incredibly fun game Samurai Robots Battle Royale.

    Part of the fun of a game like SRBR, though, is fighting in cities, like any honest Mecha TV show will have in spades. However, as I mentioned above, at 3mm scale, cities are a horrendous pain in the backside to find. Until now. Behold:

     photo IMG_1354_zpshprfacc7.jpg

    The good folks at Hawk Wargames (you can see my PHR army in progress in the background there) have made their cardstock building patterns available online. So with a stack of 110lb card paper, a color laser printer, and a bit of plain white glue, I have managed to make some 3mm scale Dropzone Commander buildings. Basically, I put the individual sheets together and printed them at about 1/3 size, which gives you nine small-scale parts sheets per letter size page. That makes them just about right for 3mm scale. And the advantage is that when you scale down a building like this, the thickness of the paper is increased relative to the size of the parts, so these little buildings are plenty sturdy, as evidenced by the mech standing on top there – he’s a solid metal Heavy Gear TEF Battleframe that will soon be part of an Eastern Coalition force attacking Japan, with the heroic United Nations and JSDF units (tanks and BOLO seen there) taking up the defense.

    So there it is! With a little practice I hope to reduce the build time on these structures – right now I can do one in about fifteen minutes but I’d like to do them a bit faster. Cost: effectively zero, since I’m not counting the overhead for the paper and the printer, which I already had on hand. Difficulty – maybe moderate, since the parts are small, but it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. Time: not bad, probably breaking even with what it would take me to paint actual cast scenery, or a little faster. Appearance: pretty damn good, I have to say – blends well and at table distance is very convincing.

    I also have a spare 24″x24″ plywood board I will use as the base, and I’m digging out some appropriate parts to make the city streets come to life. Urban combat at 3mm Scale – hurrah!

    By the way – added benefit: Scaling the buildings to 50% (that is, four parts per sheet instead of nine) gives you wonderful 6mm scale buildings, too. To wit, an earlier prototype that was too big for 3mm but just right for 6mm.

     photo IMG_0199_zpsmk4mhq1c.jpg

    Personally, I think the look is great, and it saves a lot of time painting buildings, that could be spent painting more miniatures.


    Thanks! Have bookmarked the download page. With em4’s plastic mechs this will be a cheap way to do a giant stompy robot game.

    Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!

    Mr. Average

    Amen to that! The effect is really very striking, and for very little effort and essentially no money, assuming you have glue, paper and a color printer. Another advantage – easy to replace a building. You can even make them disposable if you want – actually crush the buildings when you stomp them. I wouldn’t do it, myself, but one COULD.

    The teeming metropolis of Pico City takes shape – a half an afternoon of work and it’s already coming together nicely!

     photo IMG_1357_zpsg3anzdrj.jpg

    A word of advice from the process – cut the tabs long, so they fold more cleanly, and for the larger buildings, place a second roof piece in the base, to help them hold their shape.

    Thaddeus Blanchette

    You could also try scaling them down to 2mm — 1/900 — they might even look BETTER. I have found, in fact, that mixing 1/900 and 1/600 buildings in Picoburg works just fine.

    Also, a protip I recently learned: “edge” your buildings in black with a marker. At that point, they will look 100% non-paper.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Mr. Average

    Scaling down to 2mm scale would be a cleaner conversion from 10mm scale, at 20% of the original. It’s what I might try next for cities that treat as area terrain. In this case, the fighting is at street-level, to wit:

     photo IMG_1360_zpsgrrlzjl0.jpg

    So the buildings are a bit more individually important.

    Also, I haven’t bothered to black the edges – it always gets runny when I do it, for some reason, and spoils the model. But again, someone with a steadier hand could surely do that.

    Not Connard Sage

    Also, I haven’t bothered to black the edges – it always gets runny when I do it, for some reason, and spoils the model. But again, someone with a steadier hand could surely do that.


    Use a paint pen? 😉

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Mr. Average

    While searching for another miniature I stumbled upon THIS gem:


    It may not – in fact probably IS not – cost-effective in the general sense to 3d print a whole urban area, but maybe one day. It does have the makings of a very interesting alternative, though.

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