Reality In Scale
These mats are 30cm x 20cm and roughly the size of a standard sheet of paper. They consist of a black spongy backing, of a fibrous material akin to kitchen filters, on top of which is scattered a layer of groundwork to represent soil. Finally, there is a partial scattering of clumps of flock 'grass' to form clumps and tussocks. The mats are packed in a plastic bag, which provides adequate protection without flattening the grass. Very little of anything dropped out into the bag or with subsequent handling, and this suggests that the adhesive is very good and the whole mat is quite stable. No fear of the stuff falling off, in other words.
MAT01 Wild Grass Type 1
This sheet has relatively flat landscape, with grey and brown soil effect, plus bright green (summer) grass clumps. At a distance this is absolutely convincing, and even when viewed close up there is very little to suggest this is not real turf. In places the black backing is visible, but not too much.
The clumps of grass are very convincing and the groundwork scatter looks very much like a soil surface.
The thick soft spongy base is shown below. This could potentially present some issues because the base is therefore not firm and stable. This is great for shaping the mat around features and getting it to conform to your base, but how do you stick models firmly on, or into, this matting?.
Below is a model from my collection, just resting on the surface. It looks fairly realistic, but it isn't really part of the scenery, just resting on top of it. I can't think how I would really embed the model so that it looks as if it is heavy and pressing into the surface layer of the soil. With a tank, it would be even more difficult to get the tracks sunk into the groundwork.
Even if the model could be firmly fixed to the surface of the mat, it is still resting on a soft black pillow of sponge. It could still therefore move around, and in some cases this could be a problem. For figures, with a small footprint area to glue to the groundwork, and a heavy upper part to the actual figure, the lack of stability would be a problem. It may be necessary to drill and pin the figure in order to get a rigid positioning.
As can be seen below, the rear wheel is 'floating' and therefore unrealistic. To solve this, I would apply glue under each wheel and then put a weight on top of my model until the glue dried hard. With some models, pushing them in this way will be tricky!
MAT08 Wild Grass and Hills Type 2
With this product, the size and general composition are the same as the first mat, but the black sponge layer is mounded into hillocks and riven with gullies to look like a more disturbed bit of land. This is subtle but convincing, and the overall effect is to look like a bit of steppe country.
As can be seen above, the folding of the underlying mat has created some areas that did not get their share of 'soil' scatter, and the black sponge is visible.
The appearance of this scenery is great for vehicles and figures. I can just imagine a diorama with Custer or some Zulus on a base like this. Vehicles look just great, so long as their wheels or tracks can conform to the undulating base. If not, they will just look perched on top of the base.
: Absolutely brilliant and realistic, even quite close up, and a ready-made base for displaying models. I will aim to use my airbrush for creating some variation in the grass, and to tie it all together. My immediate use for these mats is to provide a suitable temporary base for photographing models. Full marks for realism!
Negatives: I'm worried that the soft underlying material could present a problem. I would address this by diluting PVA into a thick cream and completely soaking the base in this. As the PVA gradually dried, I would press my model down into the surface, creating an indent for the model, and possibly sticking it into place straight off. The dried PVA in the black foam backing material would harden out, and form a solid base for attaching figures, vehicles and so on.
Since I wrote this review, the supplier has produced an advice sheet giving suggestions about how to stick the mats down onto a base, and how to firmly attach models onto / into the groundwork. Reality in Scale is innovative and helpful, and can always be contacted for advice.
Thanks to Olav Smeets, owner of Reality In Scale, for the review samples
Reviewed by Chris Lloyd-Staples, 2VP (International)
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