The other day I stepped into Mind Games, Melbourne, in the hope of finding something usable on the second hand table.
Instead, I found a product from a startup company by the name of Bold Frontiers.
Card, MDF CDC, products are not new. The idea of precision cutting something that approximates a structure is a well established principle. For the wargmaming table these structures can look good enough – very good indeed with a little detailing. The idea of slot together objects such as trees is not new either. Though I cannot pick where I’m sure that the Bold Frontiers offering didn’t strike me as being out of left field so much as being more a damn-fine implementation.
Representing a forest scape is a tricky proposition. The GW trees I use are bottle-brush fine, but they serve the purpose. I have spruce trees from a model train manufacturer as well. What these excellent models cannot represent is the clutter that surrounds a forest floor. Anyone who has ever been near a natural forest knows that that the ‘difficult’ terrain classification applies because vision and movement is truly obscured. We reflect this in rules, but the table still looks bare. Personally I try to add extra bits and pieces to imply deadfall and clutter, but it is still just an approximation.
This is where Bold Frontiers trees seem to offer the solution.
Out of the box
The Forest Pines Screens: Set 2, includes four sheets of thick card gloss printed material. These pop out easily to create 3 stands of conifer forest ranging from 23cm to 14cm. The important thing is that these are not individual trees as one usually expects. They are forest stands representing several trees superimposed over each other and implying depth.
Once slotted together, and the fit is generous, the trio provide the illusion at LOS level of a dense forest scape.
Construction is easy and no fuss. There is no chance of failing to figure out how the pieces go together.
On the table
Here are a few shots that show how the trees look at LOS with some 28mm figures. At this eye line the view of a forest works well. It makes a pleasant change from the conscious trick that we play usually where we agree that that abstract area represents a forest with all that it implies. Here LOS of sight is direct, true and realistic.
From above we have easy access to the figures to move them around. How often have you had to move the tree to move the figure, apologising that the model tree was an abstract rather than literal representation?
The artistic representation itself what I would describe as ‘cartoony’. There are a limited number of colours and the lines are bold with limited shading. The colour choice suggests depth, however, and one is given the pleasing impression of a forest rather than a bunch of trees. Overall, the rational choice of colours and shading is enough to convey the artistic impression of a great depth of trees at eye level. It’s not a photograph, but it gets the message across.
I like the whole notion of representing a forest at LOS level while still giving easy access to move the figure.
I like the price. I bought my sample set from Mind Games for $15, and I know I can get them cheaper from MilSims. But at $5 a stand of forest it compares favourably with the $46 for a single GW wood stand. But…
Here, ultimately, is the artistic difference. Personally I model because I like to play with toy soldiers. As such, this offering from Bold Frontiers is beautiful as it is low effort and is an abstract representation. However, if I were a more literal modeller I would be disappointed because they are, after all, two dimensional presentations and not all all as beautiful as a fully rendered tree.
This is taste rather than a con, of course, as Bold Frontiers have produced a sound product at a sensible price that fulfils a need. I found no reason to accuse them of false representation: the packaging is transparent and the product offering is clear.
I dropped an email to Chris asking after his plans. He was prompt, and friendly, and gave me the impression of a bold artistic vision heading into the future. For me, this is a strong endorsement. Personally I like the idea and I like the product, and I will be using them in future.
Chris tells me that a website will be up soon where the expanding range can be viewed. I know that he has three sets out, and there may be more. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.