Monster Fight Club State of the Union & Metropolis Update

Monster Scenery: Metropolis
by Monster Fight Club
Durable, Full-Color, Buildings, Urban Terrain, and City Street Game Maps for your Tabletop Games

June 2020, Charlottesville, VA, US
22:46 - 1 April 2021

Update #29

Monster Fight Club State of the Union & Metropolis Update

First off, Happy April 1, 2021. Here in Charlottesville Virginia, the weather is finally starting to feel like Spring. The birds are singing, flowers are coming up, and the cherry tree down the road from the office has started to bloom. Locally, there is a sense of optimism that things are slowly getting better. Everyone in the office has been fortunate to be safe and healthy through the pandemic and are optimistic the vaccines are starting to be available locally. Most of all, we want to thank you again for supporting us during this Kickstarter. Because of you, we were able to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and keep everyone on payroll with no layoffs. In fact, we were able to hire two more people on the manufacturing side to help keep things moving in the right direction.
Our intent when we launched Metropolis was to produce everything in-house. We have all of the equipment required to produce quality plastic miniatures and scatter terrain, as seen in our Cyberpunk RED miniatures we have been producing this past year. We have the CNC and Laser Cutting equipment needed to cut down the large sheets of bulk material for the walls, roofs, walkways, and other printed pieces. We have the UV Printing engines going full speed every day in order to keep up with the thousands of buildings pledged for. Everything has been going as planned except for one critical part, the corner clip system.

We designed the corner connection system around a two-story-tall "L" connector that allows any two walls to connect without glue, using a cleverly designed pinch fit strong enough to keep everything locked together tightly - but also simple enough so the buildings could be easily taken apart again for easy storage. In the Kickstarter, we showed videos of myself (John, Monster-in-Charge) quickly assembling and disassembling buildings, using 3d printed FDM parts that worked exactly as intended. After the Kickstarter ended, we started producing the 40+ molds required to get all of the other plastic parts into production (such as the benches, barrels, dumpsters, and other pieces).

Everything has gone according to plan except for those corner "L" clips. Like the flux capacitor though, the corner clips are what makes the entire system possible. The first problem was actually getting good parts out of the mold. The cross-section of the long narrow pitch-fit slots kind of look like a pair of crab claws. Each slot contains a slight, but long, undercut 90 deg apart from each other that caused a number of issues that even flexible sliding cores didn'€™t solve. For people that know about making molds, that's a seriously complicated issue, for the average person, this means that the parts tend to get stuck in the mold and have a very hard being removed. We overcame this problem in-house but then ran into another snag.

After solving that mold issue, we discovered that the plastic we use to make all of our miniatures and scatter terrain ended up not quite having the correct mechanical properties required to maintain consistent sustained pressure in the pinch fit channel. This means that after you put the building together, the corner would slowly lose its gripping strength and the corners would become weaker over time. This did not happen with the 3d printed parts. The miniatures plastic did not have enough memory to return back to normal after prolonged use.

In order to get the L-Clip to work as designed, we would need to use a different type of plastic that was not compatible with our existing equipment. That left us with two options: Option 1 was to FDM 3d print all of the corners in-house (over 30K corners) which was not practical, even with a farm of 3d printers. Option 2 was to ask our tool maker in China (whom I've worked with for over 20 years on various other projects) to help us produce the proper steel tooling molds that could use the required type of plastic (HIPS). We chose option 2.

It turned out the L-Clip proved to be a challenge for even tooling experts with over 30 years of experience. After multiple attempts (over a dozen) at making the part as originally designed, we were asked to modify the clips, splitting them longways and requiring you to assemble them. We were not happy with this possibility and not willing to compromise the product. As usually happens in my darkest hour, inspiration struck. Fast forward to version 28 of the "L"-clip, and as Dyson said of his vacuum cleaner design, we finally got it. :)

The new design fixes all of the tooling issues we had with the previous design and allowed us to use the required type of plastic. What I'm even more excited about is that it also solved some game-layout design limitations we had with the previous system. During the Kickstarter, many backers commented on it would be great if we also had corners that would allow for one-story building and also asked if we could do connectors to make three-way interesting (T-Corners), or even four-way corners (Plus-Clips) so that internal walls could be laid out if desired.

The original clip was 140mm long (two-stories tall), allowing it to connect a pair of two-story walls at a right angle. So, all of the buildings were designed around that limitation.  However, the new clips are segmented, which means you can rotate some of them when assembling a wall to create three and four-way intersections.  This opens up tons of possibilities for internal walls, more complex ruined structures, and future projects.
We know you'€™re disappointed about any further delays and we are too.  However, we'€™re excited about the new, redesigned clips and think you'€™re ultimately going to be getting a better product that'€™s more durable, with more possibilities.

At this point, assuming there are no further delays, we would expect to be packing and shipping everyone'€™s orders in September 2021. Production of the full-color walls is about 85% complete and all the other plastic pieces are well underway.  Now that the design of the corner clips is finalized and with the tool maker, we expect to be finished with all our in-house production well before the updated corner sprues arrive and be staged and ready to get your pledges out as soon as possible.

It is also my personal intent to include something special and unexpected to every backer as a continued thank you for your patience and understanding as we do everything in our power to get you all the best possible product without making any compromises.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and we will share more soon.

John, Monster-in-Charge

Update #29

This is only a preview of update. Read full version on update's page on Kickstarter.

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