Lots an' lots an' lots of PVC pipes an' stuff.
PVC pipe comes in various sizes from 10mm to 200mm. The smaller sizes are good for huge pipes, while the larger sizes are good when you need round buildings. Of course the most awesome part is all the little fittings plumbers use - elbow joints, t-junctions, end caps and all sorts of other bits which look awesome! There's also a range of similar pipe in black plastic for irrigational use which has some even more awesome parts! Both are available at plumbing or hardware stores - obviously the bigger the place, the bigger the range. I get mine at Bunnings.
Always keep an eye out for cheap toys which have good detail on them. You'll be amazed at what you find and what you can do with it. Some years ago, my Brother gave me a $20 'O' gauge model railway for Christmas (I was in one of my model railway phases), and I immediately realised it was the right size to build a 40K railway - I've now got several more of these sets which seem to be at Toys R Us every Christmas. The best places to get toys are $2 shops and Op Shops.
PTFE an' Solder.Polytetraflouroethylene, or 'Plumbers Tape For Everything' is a really thing and flexible tape. When you use it together with solder, it's great for making huge, industrial ribbed tubing (see the Orky Dropship Ishoo). You can buy both at any hardware store.
Intermaresting shaped packaging an cans an bottles an stuff.
There are heaps of great shapes just sitting in your pantry or protecting your new DVD player during shipping. Polystyrene packaging is often made up of interesting shapes which can become instant terrain with just a bit of paint and a base. Cans, bottles and tins are all very useful - just make sure you clean them out first. Basically, never through anything out until you've looked at it and decided whether it can be made into terrain.
Those bendy straws wot yoo drank out of when you was a kidlet.
Bendy straws are very useful when making SF terrain. They are a good size for pipes, and of course, they bend! You can easily make quite complex pipe networks using nothing else. Unfortunately, they are made from very paint-resistant plastics, so you really need to spray paint the undercoat. Any decent supermarket has them.
Orl sorts of stuff wot Plastruct makes.
Plastruct is a company which makes a wide range of very useful plastic H-Beams, I-Beams and other building materials for model railways and architectural models. They also make plastic tubes in various sizes. If you are going to do anything industrial, chances are you will want H-Beams or I-Beams or something, and Plastruct is the way to go. You can get it from any good hobby shop.
Plasticard is just sheet plastic. It's more expensive than cardboard, and does basically the same thing. It's one huge advantage of course being that it comes in a range of textures. As an SF terrainist, you'll find that some of these are invaluable - tread plate and diamond plate, and my personal favourite - clapboard siding (used for making the walls of model railway houses, but also wonderful for simulating louvered vent covers). It's available at any good hobbyshop, so go and have a nose around.
Yore bitz box.
If you are a serious modeler, you've got a bitz box where you keep all manner of spare parts from all manner of kits. Sometimes it gets out of hand, and you end up with a cupboard o' doom. No matter how big your bitz box, you will find yourself raiding it when you make SF terrain so you can get the little detailed parts which make the terrain so much better - control panels made from spare gun details, imperial eagle logos from tanks and all of that.
Not the old fashioned ventolin puffers (although they could be handy), but the
new style of powdered inhaler. I have a friend who uses 'Fleixotide' to treat his asthma and it comes in an amazingly cool inhaler. The cover is a great shape, and if you open them up they are full of interesting cogs. I think they are u
sed for some other medicines as well. This is what I am talking about:
There are all sorts of other things you might want when building SF terrain - I like to keep a stash of single serve Tuna tins, and I've made bunkers from old smoke alarm housings, but really, there's no space to list every single thing you might want. Just have a look at the supermarket and $2 shops and see what interesting shapes you can find. And never underestimate the Op Shop - everything there is cheap, and although the toys are often missing parts or broken, that doesn't matter if you'll just cut them up anyway! The secret of successful SF terrain building is to always keep your eyes open for new and interesting shapes.
Catch you next time, Hippo Fans!