What to do if you want buildings for your battlefield?
Having begun some basic wargaming with Bolt Action I wanted to make my own little 'training ground' with which I could learn more about the rules and become familiar with the tactics of the game.
My brother had put together a lovely little 'French Village' for our introductory game with buildings made from card, the designs downloaded from the web - cheap and cheerful! And while that was great for our demo game we both soon began to crave the ability to place our little soldier inside the buildings (if we had been able to do that he would have probably have won the game).
|Armourfast's plastic battlefield cottage is typical of the mid-priced kits|
available, but the facility to open up the building so as to place soldiers
inside is restricted, without doing some modification to the basic kit.
|4Ground's 1/72 (20mm) Pre-painted MDF European pair of semi-detached|
cottages. Very nice but at £20 a pop a village could get very expensive!
Picture source: Plastic Soldier Company Store/4Ground
Well, as it turns out there are quite a few option for MDF buildings - painted and unpainted - that are a bit more reasonable than 4Ground's current offerings. Ironically, I cannot be the only person that thinks their buildings are a little pricey as PLC has dropped the prices quite dramatically on their online store - that European Cottage was originally an eye watering £39!
After filtering through the options I still decided I would like to see what pre-painted model looked like (I figured if I still was worried about cost I could use the sample model as a template with which to maybe build my own cheaper buildings in card or Kappa board perhaps). At length I came upon some models which seemed to be what I was looking for on eBay...
|Picture source: Star Fort|
Star Fort sell their cottages in a choice of colour - for walls and roofs - and in either an 'intact' or 'ruined' state. So the basic cottage design can be had in a choice of 12 varying configurations. Naturally, the basic building can be opened up to allow soldiers to be placed inside, which is one of the principal advantages over the cheapest card models.
Another advantage - particularly for the travelling wargamer I imagine - is the flat packed makeup of the basic kit. The cottage can be put together (and taken down again) in a minute...
|You receive your Star Fort cottage in several plastic bags containing the|
principal components; walls and floors, roofs and doors and windows.
|Everything is held in place by slotted holes, if storage space isn't a|
consideration you can always glue some of the parts together. Here you
can see the ground floor.
Then you just pop on the roofs to complete your little dwelling (at this point I haven't attached the exterior detailing). I opted for the 'ruined' cottage in 'mid grey' with a 'terracotta' roof...
It was a doddle and everything fitted together exactly as it was supposed to, so even if you had to assemble a whole village of these cottages it really wouldn't take that long.
I'm really impressed. While cost is an issue there is no doubt that these little cottages look terrific assembled and on a table top layout. Some may have a problem with the slightly 'cartoon' look of these models, I did worry about that myself, but honestly they look terrific at the distance you are meant to see them at.
|Picture source: Star Fort Miniatures|
So, yes, I am a convert. I will just have to put my village together a bit at a time (a house or two a month maybe) and in the meantime populate the rest of my training battlefield with card models. As usual, you pays your money and takes your choice I just happen to like the aesthetic of these models.
On scale and quality: Well, naturally I couldn't resist taking a snap or two of the semi-completed cottage with a couple of my German infantry and I have to say that the scale looks spot on for 1/72 (though I guess they would be fine for 20mm too). And while I can't do a side-by-side comparison of my cottage with one of the ones made by 4Ground I cannot see how they differ that much in quality (judging by the photos I've seen).
Finally, I really have to put in a word of praise for Colin at Star Fort. After ordering on eBay I received regular progress reports about the model - as I believe these are made-to-order - and this was greatly appreciated.
Colin mentioned that he they hope to expand on the range and I do hope that they do (some commercial buildings and maybe a windmill would be nice). At the moment they have two basic designs, these cottages and a building which looks a little more urban - but, remember, these can be had in a variety of colour combinations so actually they have quite a few choices on offer.
|Star Fort's European urban town house. Pic: Star Fort|
Link: Star Fort's eBay store
Link to Star Fort's new web site: www.starfortminiatures.co.uk