A trip to Big Ben
Last Wednesday (19th August), I took a trip up to see the guys at 4Ground. I like to ‘touch base’ with manufacturers when I can, ideally in person and when you have an invite to see the 4Ground factory, it’s not one you turn down! The company is run by the family team of ‘Big’ Ben, Adam and Cad Jeal.
The company started less than four years ago has now blossomed to have several hundred products, including their famous painted MDF buildings, ready made trees, gaming tokens and custom paints. They specialise in pre painted MDF buildings, although Ben would be quick to point out that they envisoned the kits as undercoated, expecting gamers to add additional detail (such as roof tiles or highlighting) afterwards. Thus 4Ground paints range matches their builidings.
I was given a quick tour of the premises, including their latest machine, the Speedy 360 which is being tested by the manufacturers on site. As the 4Ground site runs virtually non stop (except for weekends), it’s an ideal site to test products to the extreme. I was also shown some conversions, such as the plague cart, made from a 4Ground cart and Mantic plastic undead. So what have 4Ground got planned next?
The model railway business is big, probably bigger than wargaming. The new range called Trackside and Waterways, distributed by a company called 4Track, will launch a range of 20mm ‘OO’ gague models for the railway market. We also discussed the 4Ground paints. The paints are specially formulated to withstand the laser treatment, but those additives make the paints very expensive. It may be possible to reformulate the paints range without the additives and thus make it cheaper for 4Ground customers. There was also talk of a water soluble wash for the Model Railway line, which no doubt would have applications for wargamers as well.
Their expansion into other fields does not mean they’ll neglect gamers. Far from it… Recent releases include the ruins of Daldorr and there are plenty of plans for new ranges and to expand old ones. The Arab builidings will soon see their own set of walls and there’s talk of several new ranges. Firstly there’s the Jesserai Science Fiction range which will see releases in 28mm. The ruins of Daldorr will expand with underground dungeon floor packs. The World War 2 range will look eastwards to expand the existing Russian ranges. Finally we may see some more American themed terrain, suitable for the Prohibition era. Very cool indeed!
We had a long chat about various subjects, such as “Why don’t 4Ground do unpainted buildings?” Ben told me they had no plans to do a specific range and besides the market already had quality products from Warbases and Sarissa. As there was a demand for them, they plan to offer their current ranges unpainted as a special order if people wanted it. Adam and Cad even had time to try a game of Black Ops which we played on their excellent Arab village scenery. Adam won in record time, finding where Cad had hidden the stolen nuclear device.
My sincere thanks to Ben, Cad and Adam, plus the rest of the 4Ground team. I did ask with tongue firmly in cheek when their 28mm MDF Airship and 28mm Tramp Freighter was coming out (which got a laugh), but the joke was on me when I heard that such crazy projects are not beyond the realms of possibility. I’ll made a bet that, judging by the way their ranges are expanding, in 3-4 years time they’d be in their catalogue! We’ll have to check back then and find out.