Home Forums Terrain and Scenery If Cost Is The SAME, Would You Rather MAKE Or BUY Terrain?

Viewing 39 posts - 1 through 39 (of 39 total)
  • Author
  • #141145
    Cacique Caribe

    This is NOT a question of whether you have more time or more money.  Let’s assume you have a good amount of both.  This is more of a “are you a consumer or a producer” question.

    In other words, as the title states, if your material cost ends up being the SAME as simply buying ready-to-use, do you still take up the challenge and try to make your own terrain features (rivers, trees, hills, etc.)?

    Why or why not?

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Mr. Average

    Well, there’s a bit of a slant to your phrasing of the question, but I’ll bite.  If the cost is the same and what I want is available I’d buy instead of making, because it would get me to the table faster.  My main hobby interest is in the game and the minis, and terrain-making is for me a kind of a necessary evil.  I wouldn’t say that I am refusing to “take up the challenge,” it’s just not where I would aim my efforts given the choice.


    I like making stuff. The game is irrelevant. Done very little gaming in the last three or so years, but I’m still making stuff. Making stuff is fun and – yes – challenging. Anyone can buy stuff.

    But does assembling Woodland Scenics trees or Faller buildings count as making stuff or buying stuff…?

    My answer is both.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    Cacique Caribe

    Well, there’s a bit of a slant to your phrasing of the question …

    Slant?  Moi?  🙂

    … terrain-making is for me a kind of a necessary evil.

    LOL.  Now THAT’S what I call a slant!  🙂


    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Mike Headden

    I like to make terrain, I like to buy terrain.

    If all was equal (money, time, quality, fitting with my vision of the thing) I’d still buy some and make some.

    Sometimes my terrain is a bit of both.

    Somewhere In Sumer

    Scratch-built walls, towers, gate, bases and well with, mainly, Leven Miniatures bought buildings.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!


    I do both. Not that I am right now, my gaming and terrain making are at a standstill.


    If I can find terrain with the exact asthetic I want then I’ll save myself the trouble and buy it. It’s the aesthetic, scale and other limitations I impose on myself that forced me to make my own terrain.

    Tired is enough.
    I like tiny miniatures

    Steve Johnson

    If I could buy terrain that is the same quality that I can make (I’m a retired professional modelmaker) then I would buy it, to save time. Realistically that would never be the case because materials costs are minimal, it’s the labour that is the main cost. Plus I love to make stuff.

    Geof Downton

    Make it, ‘though sometimes that means buy a thing, or a kit, and bugger about with it until it’s what I want.

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11


    I like making things, but if something is hard to make, I’ll buy it. Define “cost”, I get infinitely more pleasure from using something I’ve made than something I’ve just bought. A lot of commercial terrain items are too big/small or just look goofy. Some are beautiful things of wonder.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Keith Barker

    The simple answer is BOTH Because thats what I do!

    I buy stuff to get it on the table quicker.

    But I also enjoy making terrain, and I can do this at odd times when I am not playing. For example I have just made a sewer for a dungeon crawl. And I really enjoyed making the sewer tiles. In fact I enjoyed it so much, whenever I got the odd free moment, I started to design another one

    And it does give a special sense of achievment when i play with them…


    Steve Johnson

    That’s a very cool dungeon sewer system you have there!


    Not really sure how cost and time could ever be equal so my answer is always going to be both.

    If money was unlimited I would buy every thing I need, ready finished, simply because there are much more talented people than me making and selling pretty much anything.

    If time was unlimited I would certainly make more myself as the satisfaction of doing so is warming to the old cockles.


    Interest include 6mm WW2, 6mm SciFi, 30mm Old West, DropFleet, Warlords Exterminate and others!

    Norm S

    On balance, I would buy because;

    costs are not hugely different,

    the terrain maker has already gone through the learning curve of making a piece look right and so it does look right.

    you can re-order off the terrain maker in 3 years time and as they use the same materials and modelling style, the items should match

    It is nice to open a parcel and have it go straight to the table. In my world I mostly do most things myself, such as painting armies etc, so bought terrain does feel like a treat.

    The chances of accidents within the home are reduced, I still have the brown paint mark on a carpet to prove it!

    On the downside ….. I have needed to ‘enhance’ one or two bought items, so bought is not always better.

    Steve Johnson

    Buildings I buy simply because in 6mm they are so cheap, that it’s a no brainer compared to making them yourself.


    Always make.
    In fact in the last 10 years I think I have only purchased plastic trees and plants, no buildings or anything, I always make.

    I suspect that is a combination of I like making buildings, am fussy around sizes and I am tight.
    But mostly I suspect it is to do with being a world builder, I like to build the setting and literally build the buildings.

    In an ideal world I would make dioramas for a living.
    I keep meaning to make something and push myself to see what I can make when I am not making something that needs to be suitable for moulding and casting.

    Always have liked scratch building.


    Make.  Not even close.  I don’t buy a lot of non-figures, but when I do, it is because of my time constraints, and I always feel bad about not just taking the time to build my own.  It falls somewhere between cheating and a lost opportunity.

    I even feel bad about buying miniatures a lot of the time, particularly vehicles, aircraft, etc.  The only reason that I don’t sculpt miniatures of people is that i take so long to do it, and we’re back to my time issue.


    If the cost is the same, I would always buy, because my artistic skills cannot match what I can buy commercially and I am never be satisfied with my own efforts.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.



    It’s a 50-50 for me. I love making terrain. I love the idea of world-building manifested as actual physical miniature terrain, with myself as the demiurge that constructs it all. However, I’m also pragmatic. Some types of terrain feel infeasible for me to scratchbuild (regardless of how much time I have), and sometimes a manufacturer that I like and trust simply does it better than I could. But when I do buy terrain, I will often re-work it or embellish it somehow, or even (especially in the case of plastic plants) cut it into pieces which I then use as materials to build something different-looking out of. So, there’s a very porous border between “buying” and “making” for me. You might describe me as a terrain-builder who also irreverently scavenges ready-made terrain.


    if literally everything is equal, buy.


    Andrew Beasley

    I really enjoy making terrain even if it does not get used but can buy better quality!

    Making bits is a great way to relax my mind and learn to accept things do not need to be perfect so:

    Buy to play

    Make to enjoy



    Haha, this thread has made me realise if I ever have the cash to buy all the terrain I want/need, I could probably use the money for living expenses and enjoy building everything myself😁.


    If you like small scale skirmish, check out http://planetares6.blogspot.be/?m=0

    Mr. Average

    Slant? Moi? 🙂

    Well, to rephrase the question, “If you had the choice, would you be an adventurous and creative person like me, or a lazy schlub who has to buy everything and can’t make terrain worth a penny?”  Answer: Yes.

    Or to put it another way and say that if the terrain on offer is as bad as the stuff I make myself, what’s the point?

    Or to put it YET another way, I build houses for a living, so I feel less than usually interested in applying that same activity to my hobby time.

    Tony S

    I’m awful at making terrain, so absolutely buy for me!  I can cut felt for forests and swamps; that’s about my limit.  And paint resin buildings.  Bought all my hills and trees.

    @MrAverage – I have a friend who did drywall for a living.  They used to flick their taping knives at the floors to get the left over mud off.  After it hardened, my friend would just collect some of them, as they made some rather interesting rocky shapes for the Sudan or Afghanistan.


    Unless the terrain is up to the standard that I can make for myself, then I’ll do it myself. That said, there is a local scenery firm that does just that, so I tend to buy trees etc from Barry as he handmakes them for less than I’d be paying for the components. Since we use the same suppliers for scenic scatter etc, there are no issue with colour incompatibility etc.

    Duncan Allen

    I like making terrain but I spend a lot of time thinking about making it rather than actually making so it often makes sense for me to buy the terrain rather than waiting until I am in the mood to make it.

    Cacique Caribe

    Making bits is a great way to relax my mind and learn to accept things do not need to be perfect so: Buy to play Make to enjoy

    I couldn’t agree more!

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/with/72157710630529376


    Have to kind of chuckle at Mr. Average’s last comment.

    Though I don’t build many landscape models at work any more (mostly industrial and mechanical sthings), for decades I spent my days at work, building 3D roadway and topographical models under very short fused deadlines for trial, then would go home and build modular terrain for gaming using the same methods and materials.  One caused an ulcer, the other cured it, despite performing the same process for each.



    I like painting terrain more than making it but the point is moot as I never have enough time and painting units seems a never ending project.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.


    Make it. It just doesn’t feel right to spend money on terrain rather than on figures. I can make terrain. I can’t make figures.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    Mr. Average

    Another sideline here: is the cost the same only if you assume your time is worth nothing?

    Cacique Caribe

    Another sideline here: is the cost the same only if you assume your time is worth nothing?

    Factor in whatever you consider cost.

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/with/72157710630529376


    Factor in whatever you consider cost.

    Indeed. I don’t think this was meant as a serious debate or as an attempt to define what anyone’s time is worth, just a bit of fun.
    I myself am not reading anything more into it than that.

    Mr. Average

    I’m not taking it seriously… curse this internet! So much nuance is lost in the text. Please imagine my posts above being spoken with good-natured irony! There’s a joke in my part of North America to the effect that “It’s cheaper to do X, if you assume your time is worth nothing,” usually in reference to having only one choice and it being a bad or slow option.

    My point was mainly that my hobby time is down to about twenty minutes a week, unfortunately, so at the moment I ration heavily. If I could spend that time on the game instead of the prep, to wit: scenery building, I would probably call it a net gain at the moment. I’ll also say that as the member of a pretty large club I’m a bit spoiled as well, since those who DO like terrain building provide for those who don’t, and we have some pretty lovely sets in our clubhouse which allow us all to kind of specialize.

    Nathaniel Weber

    Tough question. I’m usually happy with the results when I make terrain that doesn’t demand perfection—-so natural features (hills, trees), ruined buildings, foxholes/trenches/earth bunkers, trash-bashing scifi terrain where oddball boxes and plastic containers can be slapped together into fun terrain are all in my wheelhouse. I’ll usually make those rather than buy.

    But things that demand, or at least need more of, perfection, I’ll buy because my modeling skills aren’t up to them. So, multi-piece river sections that need to line up; unruined structures of any complexity (especially if I want them to have removable roofs); fortifications that are more complex than simple holes in the ground; these are things I buy.

    However, even these broad rules have tons of exceptions. This year I invested in newer, nicer trees, mostly from model railroad companies; I got into a lot of laser cut MDF terrain, even of subjects I usually do myself (a ruined church from Sarissa, for example); etc.  And even though I’m comfortable making ruins and rubble, I’ve purchased rather than made a lot of resin ruined terrain over the last year.

    So my answer would be both, except when…

    Nathaniel Weber

    As an aside and a follow up: there is one type of purchaseable terrain I doubt I will ever buy—high-end gaming mats. I have nearly bought one a few times in the last few years, as companies like Cigar Box have tempted me, but every time I almost do I go back out to my gaming trailer and set up a game with my home-made gaming mats (fleece or felt with varying shades of spray paint and a patina of years of fallen-off flock and bits-of-lichen) and remember I’m perfectly happy with my dirt-cheap home made solution.

    Aaaand the exception to that rule is when I eventually need a hex mat, because I’ll be f*!*^ if I ever try making my own hex mat again.


    25 years ago I was in my local model shop, and saw a roll of transparant hex sheet.


    I actually don’t really like making terrain.  So if it costs the same, I’d rather buy.


    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    bruce ross


    More time playing games then

Viewing 39 posts - 1 through 39 (of 39 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.