Saturday, September 12

Clayton gets “on the grass” as he reviews AMMO’s latest scenery mats

One of the products picked up by Mig Jimenez’ AMMO range has been the terrain mats that give you a ready-made diorama ready to either use cut up or as is in your own dio scene. We haven’t seen them reviewed properly so Clayton thought he would show you his green stuff…

“Stony Mountain Spring” Grass Mat
Price: 14,25 €

I have to admit, when I saw Ammo were venturing into the landscaping market I was a little excited. Whilst grass mats, static grasses and general landscaping bits and pieces have been available in around the hobby for years, they have generally been the territory of the model train enthusiasts and have been somewhat overlooked by the scale modeller.
Maybe we had trouble sourcing them or maybe we were just looking in the wrong places?  Perhaps not looking at all? I don’t know…but the fact of the matter is there was a whole world of handy, ready-made landscaping there for us to take advantage of and we didn’t even know.

So as it would happen, AMMO have recently released their landscaping range to add to their already vast array of product. Within the product is a line of grass mats, laser cut leaves and plants, but for the moment I will just focus on their grass mats.

In reality the product isn’t really all that new at all. It is actually an old Model Scene product rebranded with the AMMO label. There is no secret about it as it pretty much states it on the label. This however is more than a rebrand hitting the shelf, it is actually a very clever relationship for both parties. The relationship now gives Model Scene (who’s market was traditionally model railway enthusiasts), access to a marketing machine with a huge distribution channel, as well as a leg up into a market that had otherwise eluded them. For Ammo, it gives them a ready-made line of quality product that fits beautifully with their core product range and caters to their target market.
Although I have only seen the one mat in the flesh, there are 9 mats in the range – 
Today I am looking at the ‘Stony Mountain – Spring’ mat.
The mat comes packaged in a vac formed plastic packing stapled to a cardboard backing sheet. The transparent face means you get a good look at the product and finish if you happened to be buying this in an actual shop. Fantastic as there can be no surprises after you open the packet.
The mat measured 130mm x 230mm.
The mat itself is constructed on a reasonably flexible felt feel product. This will allow the mat to be contoured over dips and bumps in the landscape.
The mat has a mix of a basic ground cover, grass clumps, various size stones and basic ground cover foliage.
The stones on the mat are actual stones, hence they look very convincing. The groupings and variation in the sizes all help sell the illusion of actual ground cover.
The shrubs scattered through the mat help break up the grass patches and look very good both at a distance as well as up close.
In terms of scale, this mat would be somewhat limited to 1/35 scale subjects, although you might just get away with 1/48.  The thing that defines the scale really is just the stones on this mat, so possibly some of the other mat offerings way be better suited to smaller scales. 
The actual foliage is quite springy, so when using the mat in its final place, I would imagine you would need to glue your model down ensuring the grass and foliage looked like it had some weight to it. Otherwise it will look like the model is floating on top of the grass.  That said, I have just placed a model I had and took some pictures and it looks quite good to my eye.

This is a marriage made in heaven, where you and I, the humble scale modellers, are the winners. Ammos’ core philosophy seems to be to help people build and display better models and make the art or scale modelling accessible to all people.   This quality range of grass mats really makes it very easy for every modeller put the icing on the cake.  

I am sure there will be some suggesting that you could achieve the same landscaping result using traditional landscaping materials and that is true, but AMMO have again simplified the mystique around the hobby and provided an out of the box solution.
If I had one criticism it would be that the size is a little smaller than I would have liked.  That said, the size and proportion of the mat is such that it will house most 1/35 scale subjects comfortably. It’s just the guys wanting to produce a large area in a diorama that may need to start saving their pennies as matting out a large area would start to get quite costly. 

So all in all, I am a fan. I love the look and the simplicity of these mats and would highly recommend them for anyone wanting to enhance their models and display them on a landscaped base. 

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to the guys at AMMO for supplying these mats for us to use – Clayton will surely be trying them out more in his upcoming builds