Scenery Review: Mettle Shell by Top Down Terrain

Scenery Reviews

Top Down Terrain Logo

ChecklistTopDownTerrain

If you’ve seen those awesome display trays on Ash’s channel—well, I don’t have one.  I base all my Tohaa with a natural jungle getup, my PanO with a snowy getup, and I haven’t yet gotten to basing my Nomads… so no awesome display tray.

Top Down Display Trays

Sorry, baby, not yet

Top Down Terrain is the company, and they’re definitely new kids on the block.  Curious about their wares, and already wanting to pick up some good scatter instead of the literal garbage I’ve made…

GarbageScatterBoxes

…I went ahead and ordered Mettle Shell last month.  It’s not painted yet, but since I’m posting about my Warsenal supplementals tonight, I’d also like to give a shoutout to this piece, because it’s wowed me.

Mettle Shell is its name, and it was a tight little package, with instructions linked online.

MettleShellUnboxing

The unboxing… it was a bit daunting.  I’ve seen my share of MDF terrain, and this looked unprecedented.  I lost count, but there were something like 120+ components on 2½ sheets of MDF.  There was just no wasted space.

But an afternoon of hours, a bunch sanding, and a few tubes of glue later, it came out looking like this:

MettleShellPrimed

Hinged doors on either side open up to the interior, with an obvious ladder built onto kitty-cornered sides of the structure. I must say, the door design made me realize how utterly horrible doors are in other Infinity-compatible structures.

I love the hell out of it.

On each crate, a unique logo of some fictional company is cut in.  I appreciate each logo―it is obvious and deliberate encouragement for immersion.  I realized how brilliant this design is, since, if you don’t like it the faux logo, you can just flip around the bit and have a nice blank crate.  The pieces themselves have comfortable tolerance, and fit together without requiring much grrr.

Mettle Shell is supposed to be a shipping container, stuffed with boxes.  It carries 2 big boxes, and 12 little ones.  All 14 boxes are all big enough to provide partial cover.  I actually wish the big boxes were big enough to provide total cover, but, it is scatter.

And check this out:

HandpickedMettleShell

Boink!  I didn’t realize this was a feature until I met the creator. I realized later, like a doof, that the original listing shows this feature.

6 of the little boxes can actually snap onto 1 big box, and then all 14 boxes fit snugly inside the whole thing.  I am legitimately impressed…

It is a legitimate shipping container.

MettleShellCrackedOpen

I need to remark again how brilliant these doors are, and indeed this whole design. It’s pragmatically made for both transport and play.

When I first looked at Top Down Terrain’s listing for Mettle Shell, I didn’t realize how compact it would be.  I really don’t mean that as a detraction, though, because the use of space and the greebling is so exquisite.

MettleShellClosed

And in it all goes.

And that’s Mettle Shell.  For $30.

TheHatailSeesYou

“Why so serious,” asks a Hatail, peering at you through the crate.

The designer, Chris Matthews, actually lives in the area, and plays a shrewd game of Infinity.  I got to chat with him about his design process after an ITS mission, which you can read about here.  But one of the cool things he mentioned while we met up was that he designed it specifically with wargame rules in mind:

As is pictured above, he pointed out that Top Down Terrain cuts the holes in their components to be a minimum 3mm wide—the minimum legally wide enough, by Infinity’s rules, to draw Line of Fire through.

It’s all really well thought-out stuff.


QUALITY

Absolutely top-notch.  I’ve handled terrain from all of Infinity’s official partners, and this unit ekes out a notch above in quality.  The only complaint I have is that Top Down Terrain doesn’t have more items like it.

Artichokes5


AESTHETICS

Excellent stuff.  The superfluous details look like they have actual utility, without much in the way of random rivets, panels, or fins sticking out.  And the immersive touches were very welcome.

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ASSEMBLY

This has to be the sorest bit.  MDF terrain isn’t terrifically difficult stuff to work with, but there are so many little pieces, I could easily see the average buyer losing or breaking components during construction.  Top Down Terrain’s online instructions also could afford a bit more effort in explanation.

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VALUE

Incredible.  I still can’t believe this thing was only $30.

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COMPANY CUSTOMER SERVICE

All good.  Americans treat their customers right, and I had no problems with the experience, though nothing remarkable enough to warrant 5 artichokes.

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I liked this container set so much, I picked up their other box set, the oddly-named “Shatter Vigil”.  I’ll make a post about that when it’s assembled and painted, with Mettle Shell here whenever I get to painting it, too.

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2 thoughts on “Scenery Review: Mettle Shell by Top Down Terrain

  1. I’ve been looking at their $20 pack of vending machines, kiosks, trash cans, and electrical. Those seem like they should be appropriate accessories to add to my MAS and Systema tables.
    Still need picnic tables (Underground Lasers maybe, but would prefer benches as well), and interior kits too (maybe buying and casting the Spartan Scenics sets), but themed scatter always seems so expensive for the actual amount you get.

    Like

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