Now I already have quite a few sci-fi buildings (mostly Critical Mass Games, RIP) so, nice as they were, I didn't fancy investing in any of their standard constructions...but what I didn't have and, funnily enough, what Matt hadn't shown, was what Warbases call a Laser Wall.
As you'll see in the picture, this is individual sections of either straight or corner pieces consisting of a wooden base and pylons, and then a glowing plastic "laser field" that slots in and out.
Each section, straight or corner, is (at time of writing) £2.50 plus p&p. This seemed like a good deal, so I bought twelve sections: four corners and eight straights.
Opening the box, I was immediately impressed: the plastic bits are indeed very glowing (mine were orange not yellow, but still looked great) and very solid as well: each is a serious chunk of plastic. The wooden base and supports are the usual Warbases laser-cut mdf, and each upright back-bit has two little holes in it to take teeny-tiny magnets to keep the fence together on the tabletop.
Getting the magnets was no problem: one day delivery from first4magnets from Amazon meant that I had them in my hands literally, er, the next day! The twenty-four magnets I needed cost me £5.50 plus another £1.10 p&p.
Building the basic fence was easy: went together in the usual excellent Warbases fashion. Getting the magnets sorted, however, proved a royal pain in the posterior!
As you can imagine, I carefully worked out the positive/negative order in which the magnets needed to go. I then used PVA glue to bed them in and waited for the whole thing to dry. I then went to build my lovely laser-walled compound and found that I had half the bloody magnets in the wrong way round!
That meant working everything out again, then popping the upside-down magnets out of the back support and then re-siting them. Whilst I was doing this, I discovered that PVA glue isn't strong enough to hold the magnets in place: you need superglue for that.
So I then re-sited all the magnets using superglue, only to discover, to my horror, that in the process I had, yes, you've guessed it, reversed some of the magnets...so I now had a number of joins in my compound wall that actively pushed each other apart! And the magnets were superglued in.
I now discovered a use for an old pin drill: popping magnets out of the frame backs: a quick tap with a hammer did the trick, although you have to be careful where the magnets end up, as they are quite small!
One other thing you have to be careful of is that there is not much tolerance for anything sticking out into the groove the plastic laser field sits in on the frames. If a magnet is not flush to the (inside) frame, or there is a lump of dried superglue impeding the groove, those lovely chunks of plastic will not sit right. It took me about an hour to carefully clear each groove (for that read angrily chop at them with an old scalpel and the aforementioned old pin drill) until the plastic at least went approximately in smoothly.
Now that I had the raw compound built and successfully sitting together, it was time to paint it. That was easy: a quick spray of grey undercoat and then a dry-brush in a lighter grey.
As you'll see in the pictures, I still haven't managed to get the walls to sit perfectly together: the bases tend to bow upwards where the plastic doesn't sit flush. However, that is a pretty clinically taken photo against a smooth, white background: on the wargames table, the bowing is hardly noticeable at all.
Here's a pic with a couple of Felids in place, to give you an idea of scale:
Well I'm happy with my new laser-walled compound, and at a total cost of about £40 once p&p is taken into account, I think that's pretty good value too.
Now to write rules and a scenario to get the thing onto the tabletop...