Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pico Scale Building Availability

I just got a bunch of Monopoly City buildings in the mail, bought at Boardgame Geek's virtual market. I'd seen the wonderful city pieces produced by Fen Edge Wargaming for his dieselpunk air combat games and I wanted something similar for my 3mm sci-fi set up. Turns out that Warren Colegrave was selling his copy of the Monopoly City on the 'Geek for a very reasonable price. Mr. Colgrave lives in Canada, but he politely agreed to sell me only the building pieces and to send them to me in a cushioned envelope in order to avoid customs fees.

Two weeks later they arrived in Brazil and I started painting.

The pieces from Monopoly City are all different scales and sizes, but they work well together and with old-style Monopoly houses and hotels, as well as the Microform white metal buildings in 1/900 scale that Ana Paula gave me for Christmas in 2010.

I've mounted them all on plasticard and the resulting blocks can be combined in any number of different ways to make cities, towns and villages.

Here are some quick photos of everything I've built so far, laid out along with some roads. The roads have not been pinned down to the table, as they should be, so they look a little sloppy. Also sloppy is the camera work, which is certainly not as crisp as it could be. I plan to take some better pictures soon.

These buildings have been put together over the past 7 years, a bit at a time (excpet for the newly acquired Monopoly City pieces which were all done in a week). In spite of the varying scales and the fact that some of the buildings have windows painted on while others are more abstract, everything hangs together quite well, I think.

The first shot shows Picoburg before I laid down the roads, suburbs and airport. In the upper left- and lower right-hand corners, you can see the industrial districts that are made completely of MC pieces, as are the downtown highrises and the apartment complexes on the edge of town.

To the left of center is Olde Towne, the historical city center, with cobbled streets, the cathedral and a medieval city block made out of PicoArmor's Monopoly buildings. The low-rise housing complexes are simple wooden blocks covered in cardboard and gussied up with balsa bits and plasticard. You can also see some Microform buildings in the block just south of the business district.

Here's a shot of the city from the suburbs and surrounding farmland. The airport and roads have also been placed down now. Most of the village pieces are made out of a combination of Monopoly buildings: some PicoArmor, some Brazilian plastic Banco Imobiliário pieces and some old-school wooden houses and hotels picked up on Ebay. The airport is scratchbuilt.

Roads are painted and textured artist's canvas. They should be pinned down and look better when they are. Here, they're just thrown down and it shows.Since I've taken these photos, I've also trimmed their margins a bit. As you can see, they are too wide here.

And finally here's an aerial shot of most of the city, some farms and a suburb. Next build: Picoburg Federal University, home of the Fighting Pixels!

On my "to buy" list now are Brigade Games wonderful 1/1000 (2mm) pieces (which can be seen here at PicoArmor). I plan to put these down on their own blocks, so that they can be used seperately from the pieces shown above. I think they'll look just fine together, however, as long as they are used en masse.

Recent discussions on TMP have revolved around what buildings one should buy for 3mm gaming. I hope this shows that a wide variety of materials can be used, almost indiscriminantly and without much care for "proper" scale. Here we have pieces that go from 1/700 to 1/1200, but the overall effect is quite acceptable. Of course, some care must be taken when composing blocks and even moreso when putting blocks together in cities, but still...

So the answer to the question of "What buildings should I buy?" is "All of them". You should strive to have a wide variety of pieces available in your modeling kit which you can mix and match as the mood takes you (or as period demands).

The best, most beautiful pico terrain pieces out there are by Angel Barracks (3mm English early 20th century town) and Rod Langton (about 1.5mm for Napoleonics). AB's village will set you back 30 quid, however, while Langton's town hall alone costs five pounds!

The entire MC set cost me $25.00 CDN (and that includes shipping). It came with 6 skyscrapes, 8 office buildings, 8 high-rise apartment blocks, 16 houses, 3 prisons, 3 nuke reactors, 3 garbage dumps, 3 football stadiums, 16 small factories,  3 waste treatment plants and 3 windmills. 100 PicoArmor houses will run you $7.50 USD. Old Monopoly stuff can be bought on Ebay for a song. The shipping's literally the most expensive part!

Another boardgame that can be mined for terrain pieces is Big City. Because this is a classic eurogame, currently hard to find, it'll set you back a bit more than MC. Still, the pieces look to be compatible with MC and a copy is up on the 'Geek right now for $32.00 USD.

There's also Irregular Miniatures 2mm stuff (which is closer to 1/1200 scale, actually). I love IM and they will always have a fond spot in my heart for introducing picoscale gaming to me. I have to admit, however, that their terrain is simply not up to current market standards, however. Nor does it mix very well with the other lines noted above.

Finally, if you need 3mm American Civil War stuff to go with your O8 Union and Confederate armies, there's the old Simply Six line, now defunct, but still sold by Pico Armor while supplies last.  Peter Pig's 3mm Hammerin' Iron line, which I hear is quite good, also has a 19th century U.S. American riverside town in 1/600 scale.

I hope this gives prospective 3mm players an idea of what's available and what can be done with regards to 3mm urban terrain. You can also take a look at Steel On Sand's wonderful comparison shots of some popular 3mm terrain lines. When one uses all these pieces together, en masse, the difference between 1/1200 and 1/600 really doesn't show. If you're only going to be using a few buildings, however, it's probably better to make these all one line or a couple of easily matched lines.


  1. Those look excellent - to my eternal shame, I've also got some of the Monopoly City modern buildings gathering dust somewhere - must drag them out into the light soon!

    It's surprising how well the smaller-scale buildings go well together - something that wouldn't work with their larger cousins - your shots of Picoburg alongside the Skyscrapers really brings this home, and you make some insightful points with regard to their use - oh, and thanks for the name-check in the text!

    Cheers, ;-)

  2. I think if I used only a few pieces here and there, the scale differences might stand out more. But in a mass configuration like this, I think it actually enhances the city by creating the illusion of depth, especially if you put the smaller scale stuff more towards the center.

  3. Thanks for the praise! I need to get some better shots done soon, however.

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