Tabletop World is a new company that specializes on making properly sized 28mm tabletop scenery. Especially noteworthy are their authentic looking buildings which they create in a very unique way. As you may know I'm a scenery buff, an addict for high quality buildings (I'm speaking of Forge World kind of quality). So when I first saw some of their stuff on CoolMiniOrNot and their photobucket account I became a fan immediately. On the occasion of the launch of their website and online store I had the idea of making an interview where they could explain how they do their terrain. Luckily Mladen and Ivan of Tabletop World agreed to answer some questions.
cianty:First off, thank you for taking the time to do this.
TW:No problem, thank you for asking us.
cianty:So you have a very unique way of creating your models. Can you explain how you go about it? TW:Well, the thing is, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't find any realistic stone work on the market. No one uses real stones for making walls. It's always carved in some way, which often looks very good, but there is a small problem with realism. In our opinion, the only way to create a realistic wall is by doing it the same way it is done in real life. Making stone blocks and using them to create walls. That was the main reason we started creating miniature buildings. We really hope the public appreciates the effort behind it. When combining these stone walls with different materials like wood and plaster, with a little bit of creativity and passion for the fantasy world and its atmosphere, we came out with several life-like medieval buildings. We hope that they will spice up many tabletop battles around the world.
cianty:The buildings certainly do look amazing. How long does it take to make one building this way?
TW:We started to create buildings one year ago, and we have created only three of them so far. So it takes about four months for a single building to be completed, molded, casted and painted to be ready for presentation. So it's a lot of work and investments - like building material, all the tools, molding rubber, resin... - but we enjoy it and would have done it anyway, so why not try to offer it to the public.
cianty:Yes, it's great that you cast those models so others - like me - can benefit from your efforts. I really like the authentic look of the houses. Not only the stones but their overall structures. Do you use any particular reference material when designing a building? What is your inspiration?
TW:We're not using any references really. We get the ideas from some movies or forum discussions and put a few general guidelines on the paper. After that we simply start to build and the ideas come by themselves. We do what looks good in general. The latest building, the blacksmith's forge, started as a small shed with a chimney, and ended up as a quite big medieval buiding.
cianty:I love that building. On the 'what you get' photos I saw that the forge and the medieval inn each come with a miniature. There's a female inn keeper figure for the inn and a blacksmith figure for the forge. That's a really nice bonus. Will you continue to provide such extras? Have you any plans on producing a separate miniatures range to go with the scenery?
TW:Anybody who tried to model, mold and cast miniatures knows that they are very difficult to create. All those little pieces requires small two piece molds, and when casting, it often traps air bubbles in the face or finger region, so two out of three casts are unusable. It makes them hard and time consuming to cast. But they do make a building look realistic and make for a great size reference. We will definitely continue to make minis. We hope that this bonus to the buildings will turn a few heads towards our shop. As for the separate miniatures range, we don't plan that in the near future.
cianty:What material do you use exactly for casting the models - hard plaster, resin?
TW:We tried many materials and the conclusion was that the urethane resin from Smooth-On company (US) is the best choice. Low density when casting allows it to capture all the details, and hardness and rigidness when dry makes it a good material for the finished product. It's a bit expensive, but well worth it.
cianty:Can you tell us what buildings you have planned for the future?
TW:We don't know yet. Depends on the market. There are a few ideas like a couple of small town houses, wind or water mill, maybe a Mordheim ruin, but it will depend on what people want the most.
cianty:So you could be influenced by people sending you email requests for certain buildings?
TW:Not only that. We could be influenced by mails and forum comments, we love when people throw their ideas at us. It's like a free market research for us. That way we know what are the best projects for the future. And, of course, our biggest indicator on what to build next is what sells best.
cianty:Some companies such as Forge World or Resina Planet have buildings with a modelled interior in their ranges. Is this something you will consider for the future?
TW:We are thinking about it, and probably we'll do that. It makes the whole building more usable and therefore more interesting. One of the ideas was to create interior walls that can be fitted to any building already made. That's definitely something we will consider.
cianty:That sounds very interesting. I'd love to see that. Your painted samples of the buildings are beautiful. Will you consider writing tutorials on how you paint the stones and wood? That fire in the forge also looks really great with the light reflecting on the stones.
TW:Thank you, the thing is the paint job does take much time and effort, so that's why there are two of us. We would be more than glad to share our experience on painting different materials with anyone who has interest in it.
cianty:Great! I think I will get back to you about that.
Alright, that it! Thank for your time and good luck with your new shop!