Top Down Terrain Review
Well hello there, beautiful people, it’s your friendly neighborhood ARCangel and today I’ve got a review for a great firm out of Redmond, WA called Top Down Terrain. Made up of husband and wife duo, Nastasya and Chris, they produce high quality pieces at a fair price. They sent me some of their stuff to check out, including a brand new piece that they wanted me to preview for you folks. Let’s get to it.
First up we have a fun little widget that they released a few months back. If you’re like my lady, the painter in our household, then you hate putting LOS marks on your base. Free handing it is always iffy, and paper templates can be a chore. Worry no longer then, because Top Down has you covered with these.
They come in line and dot and can be used with both brush and air brush. They can also double as terrain pieces if you like really weird looking planters. The fit is tight, like most of the products they sell, but they go together without too much fuss. I like the little bit of etched detail in the middle, and the slots for the brush or the paint spray are right where they should be. They fit the models just fine, with more than enough play to position them and not worry about scratching any of the new LOS paint off.
The only real con I had was that unlike most of the other products I’ve gotten from Top Down, the laser didn’t cut through enough on these and it led to a couple of slightly damaged parts. I may have gotten a dud, but if you do pick them up, just be careful when you punch your parts out.
Next up is something that I actually picked up myself a few months back, but I liked it so much I wanted to show it here.
This is their scatter terrain set, Shatter Vigil. It comes with all that you see here, and since we got it, there hasn’t been a game we haven’t used it. The trash cans fit at the corners of our buildings, we use Marc C’s M4, and the detail on the terminals and vending machines is superb.
I especially like that the terminals can fit most S2 model in them adding a little extra depth, pun absolutely intended, to the cover of the piece. The only complaint I had was that the power box was a pain to put together. It has no base plate and a lot of fiddly bits, so I’d recommend super glues rather than Elmer’s, and patience.
In the realm of scatter we also have the Mettle Shell Container.
I already picked up the boxes myself, but Nastasya was kind enough to send over the container with the rest of the samples to round out the set for presentation. So, first things I just have to say, I love this container. I love the detail, I love the working doors, and I love its presence on the board. I love everything about it. If you don’t pay attention to the directions the roof can be fiddly, when you put it together, but other than that, I have no complaint about it.
The boxes inside are great as well. They have nice etching and clever company names like Sanjuro Security and, Sagan Industries. They’re just the right size, whether alone or stacked, to provide cover, and the larger central box makes for a decent “dumpster” stand in if you’re looking for that visual. I especially like how they all nest for storage, which is great if you’re space conscious like myself. The level of detail, and the precision of the design is really nice on boxes, a piece which, in a lot of cases, is really simple and easily ignored.
Second to last is the meat of the Horizon Drive line, the Mk.I and Mk.II buildings.
I was sent the Mk.II but the only difference between the two is the second story, pop that off and put the roof back on and you’ve got the Mk.I. The building is a great piece, and so long as you pay attention to the directions and aren’t an idiot like me, it goes together like a charm. What you’re supposed to do, is put the walls together first, using those corner pieces to hold them, then put the floor on. For whatever reasons, I decided to put the wall into the floor then force the corner pieces into place, cursing Chris’s name while I worked. Remember kids, don’t be me, be smrtur. I have to be honest. I looked for cons in this piece, and other than some discrepancies in the pictures on the website, and the actual finished product, I really couldn’t find any. It has great coverage, an amazing level of detail, and working doors for Pete’s sake! I really love the wall design that gets etching on both sides, and the AC unit on the roof is a nice extra touch.
Overall the piece is great and with it sitting comfortably at only $30 USD it’s a good buy. Heck I got this one for free and I already want to buy another.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the piece de resistance, drum roll please, I give you THE MK.III!
See what I did there, with the buildup for the little building? Yeah, fine, laugh at me all you want but at least I’m enjoying myself. The Mk.III is the newest addition to the Horizon Drive line, and I was actually a little underwhelmed by it at first. My biggest complaint with the entire line is the size of the catalog. I want to build a table out of this stuff, with bridges and walkways, and everything I’d find in other lines, but I can’t. I can’t even use other stuff with their buildings because there is nowhere to plug a bridge. It’s the biggest bummer I have, and this just didn’t really feel like the big project that it was supposed to be. It didn’t feel like it expanded the catalog in a meaningful fashion. And then I played with it a bit. I used it by itself, stacked in two, on top of the Mk.I and Mk.II and I realized that the Mk.III is something that was sorely missing from Horizon Drive.
Its foot print is great for filling that little blank space we all end up with on our boards, it gives huge presence to an already big building, when you stack it on the Mk.II, and when put together like it is above, it’s a cute little stack of artsy apartments, or poor folk housing. It’s got character. It also has the same great level of detail as its predecessors and the same pros they have. At $11 for one, or $20 for the pair I think it’s a steal, and I’m definitely going to be picking up a few more for my table in the near future.
I’m also a big fan of how they handle wastage.
This is all that is left after the big container and the LOS markers, and I can tell you that it was much the same for Shatter Vigil and Mettle Shell when I got them. It’s a small detail, but it matters to me because it feels like I’m really getting what I paid for, rather than paying extra for the terrain manufacturers’ equivalent of our beloved Tactical Rock; I’m looking at you Uhlan!
If you couldn’t already tell, I really like this company. Chris is an immensely talented designer, with an attention to detail that I envy. He and Nastasya put together some really unique and well thought out pieces, and I just can’t get over the little bits and bobs that set it all apart from other offerings. Whether it’s the nesting crates, the working doors, or the flipped walls, each piece has something about it that in a lot of cases would feel like a gimmick but here, because of how cleanly it is executed, feels just right. I know I said it a lot already, but I would really recommend giving Top Down a try. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as I have. I have other terrain reviews and more coming up soon but until then, thanks for reading and I’ll see you, on the table.