Back in the late 1990s, when I still lived in the “snow belt” northeast of Cleveland, Ohio, I sent away for several finished rubber terrain pieces from an Australian company known as Miniature World Maker. They were well done and ready to throw down on the gaming table, and my kids and I got a lot of initial use from them as is. I wrote an article on the company and its products of the time for the now defunct magazine, The Zouave, which started my relationship with its publisher, Ivor Janci, who I now consider a good friend. (Ivor and I of course are now collaborating on yet another full-color scenario book, this one for Brother Against Brother.) Miniature World Maker was kind enough to help sponsor a wargame of mine at HMGS-Great Lakes’ annual Advance the Colors gaming convention then held near Dayton, Ohio.
Years later, I still use MWM’s products for many of my wargaming activities…
As the MWM terrain pieces arrived, they were ready-to-play. However, I did not like the rubber rocks that came around many of their fields, so I cut them off and gave them to a young gamer for his usage. I sliced many of the larger fields into smaller ones that better fit with my 15mm ACW Johnny Reb 3 gaming needs. I later sold the rubber roads to my good friend Doug Rogers before I moved to York, PA, and I have seen recent photos that indicate Doug is still using my old roads, and they appear to be in fine shape as well.
The fields and other pieces I kept have held up quite well despite a decade of being jammed into boxes, dragged to a myriad of gaming conventions, survived a ride in the back of hot moving van in summer heat without melting or warping, and a few attacks by our cat. The coloration is still strong and unfaded, and the flocking for the most part still intact on those few pieces that started with flock. Flexibility is still good, and the pieces show no signs of cracking or chipping. They appear to be as flexible as they were in 1998 when they first arrived at my house.
Since that time, not only have the products from Miniature World Maker survived, so has the company itself. They have expanded their line with many new products since I first became aware of this “Down Under” terrain maker, and they recently ( March of 2008 ) have developed a brand new website that is easier to use and navigate. Be prepared – the website is exhaustive and extensive, as this company has hundreds of rubber terrain pieces to peruse. It will take some time to open each page and look at what they offer. I think you will be amazed at the variety.
While I much prefer the outstanding resin terrain pieces from Doug Kline’s Battlefield Terrain Concepts, the products from Miniature World Maker offer the gamer another option, and I have blended the two, as well as my own homemade terrain pieces together into a rather eclectic, but highly functional, mixture of terrain that offers variety on the gaming table.
Click photo to enlarge. Blended table, with MWM’s rubber fields, Doug Kline’s pieces, and several of my own creations. This game won an HMGS-East award for best game of its time slot at Historicon in Lancaster, PA.
With the exchange rate between the Australian and U.S. dollars, MWM’s products are affordable and easy to use. Some dealers at HMGS-East conventions such as Historicon carry these Aussie products, and the Internet site offers international shipping (which can be as much or more than the products themselves).
MWM’s products would be VERY useful for kids playing with toy soldiers, as they are so sturdy and unbreakable. They could also be used for dioramas with Britains and other figurines.
For an example of blending these rubber terrain pieces with the GHQ Terrain Maker system, see my previous blog entry regarding GHQ and look at the first photograph. There are a couple of MWM’s products shown.