Sunday, 29 June 2014

PST ZIS-6 Truck - Weathering Pt. 2

Now, the potentially messy bit! The application of 'weathering powder' (that's chalk dust to you and me). There's so much that can go wrong here - this stuff is apt to go exactly where you don't want it...But despite that I like working with powders.

There two ways you could go with powders, you can buy a proprietary modelling
brand - like Humbrol's - or a stick of artist's conte crayon. To be honest there's not
much between them in either quality or price, but the pre-ground powder is a little
less messy. The conte crayon is maybe a little more 'sticky' and greasy.
The object here is, simply, to 'grubby up' the paintwork and this is sort of a subjective process. I like 'grubby' stuff (oh er, matron) but it can look over the top and artificial, in short it's a matter of taste.

Having done this it can be a bit of a 'yikes' moment but you mustn't panic and remember that this is only a stage in a process, it won't look like this when you're finished!

Even if you find that you've gone a bit over the top the good thing about the powder technique is that it can be modified and even removed using an artist's putty eraser or even Blu-Tack (especially if you have coated the model with layer of gloss or satin acrylic varnish before starting...I probably should have mentioned that first).

Once the model is as grubby as I want it I'll give it a light spray with varnish just to seal the powder layer. When varnished I can then move onto the next stage which is the pin-washing stage.

And finally...The chassis...
While preparing the bodywork let's not forget about the underside of the model. I started with a base of flat black for the chassis, engine and running gear and, again, I wanted to end up with a well worn mucky, greasy finish.

In contrast to the powder effects used topside this time I am reaching for my relatively new Vallejo 'Game Color Wash' bottles - Black Shade and Umber Shade...

The umber shade over a black base give a nice oily colour with a hint of surface rust. The black adds some depth and additional shading and staining. I am really enjoying these Vallejo washes, I am rubbish at making a nice wash of the right consistency and these take the hard work out of this job.

NEXT: Another light coat of varnish and then the pin-washing.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

PST ZIS-6 Truck - Weathering experiment

Right from the start I knew I wanted my ZIS-6 to be a heavily weathered example. My thinking is that as this truck would have been a vehicle that was captured from the Soviets by the Finns it probably had already seen it's fair share of use and abuse from both it's owners!

So I am going to experiment a bit here - this could be bad news - what I am thinking is building up several layers of discolouration, chipping, flaking, dirt and grim and finally dust (and in amongst this somewhere I will be pin-washing and highlighting as well)!

Let's begin...First stage - 'discolouration'.

What I have done here is to apply some dabbs and and streaks of a slightly darker green - Vallejo's German Field Grey (830) - to stain the base coat (Humbrol's Light Olive). This is intended as a pre-chipping base BUT...

I will also be dulling and discolouring the overall tone (modulating?) by dusting the bodywork from the edges in with some black conte crayon dust! That's next...Finger's crossed.


Just a little addendum...
In thinking about how I would like to weather this truck I did have something in the back of my mind - does anyone else Pa Walton's truck?

Picture source:
Funnily enough I had the impression that this 1929 Ford Model AA from the old TV series - 'The Waltons' (1972-1981) - a lot more battered up than this, but still you get the idea. Incidentally, this model of Ford was the basis for the Soviet GAZ AA truck (made under licence), so even when World War 2 started this was already quite an old design.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Showing models using video?

I was thinking that while stills photography is nice I could present my finished models using video. That way whoever is interested in my work can get a better feel for some of the detail and scale.

So, I have knocked together this 'pilot' video - it's all very shaky as it was just a quick hand-held job using just my iPhone. Hopefully you will enjoy it and it will be useful despite being blurry in places!

I may start to do little video-blog posts as  it might help to show how I muddle through the techniques I use. But that means you'll have to put up with hearing my voice - as if my long-winded written posts weren't bad enough. :)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

German Squad B - Batch 1 Finals

I got the first batch of my Command and Squad B Bolt Action Germans varnished last night. As hoped a final light spray of matt varnish just took the glossy shine off the figures that was caused by the use of inks.

The Command Group consists of the First (or 2nd) Lieutenant and two 'body guard' riflemen. The first batch of Squad B (my second infantry squad) has an NCO (with SMG), a rifleman and a rifleman with Panzerfaust. The final number of infantry in Squad B will total nine men.

My Bolt Action German Command Group.
Initial batch of Squad B of my Bolt Action German infantry.
I am generally pleased with this batch of soldiers as I think I have taken my painting up a level, both in the improved brushwork and the new techniques I have employed. As I mentioned in my prior posts not everything that I tried from the 'Painting War' magazine worked, but a lot did - or at least I was able to come up with solutions based on the tutorials that worked for me.

Ironically, because I have used all my German infantry as guinea pigs, the overall quality of my first Bolt action infantry force will be something of a mixed bag. But that's why I started with the Germans first - I didn't mind them looking a bit shabby in places. (I would have hated to have made a bad job of a British unit!)

My detailing is improving - I'm rather pleased with the job I made of the
infantry kit and accessories.
Well, I just have the remaining members of Squad B to paint - using the techniques I liked so far - and then that will be my very first ever wargaming force completed. I can then go on to do one of two things next - start the opposing American infantry force OR continue on with the German theme and complete the supporting fire teams for this 'army'.

But, for the moment, I'll have a rest from the figures and get back on with my Finnish Army transport project for some variety.

Friday, 20 June 2014

German Squad B - Detailing Part 2

When do you stop detailing? I suppose you can go on and on, luckily I did have a plan and I stuck to it. My main concern was the completion of the insignias - I stopped short of rank badges - and the toning down of the helmet camo.

I'll admit - and I wouldn't normally say this - that I'm quite pleased with what I've done here, small jobs that they were. I kind of feel that I'm starting to get somewhere. Though I'm really glad I didn't have to do lot more helmet insignia, I wouldn't like to have to do a full army of these!

I've said this before and I will say it again, however, you have to give Zvesda a lot of the credit here by producing such a beautifully crafted German officer figure - it made my job easier.

Next: Basing.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Star Fort 20mm MDF Laser-cut European Cottage

While writing my review of Star Fort's 'Cafe de Normandie' I realised - going back through my photos - that I hadn't posted up last month's purchase of their 'European Cottage'. So, let's rectify that!

Now, I won't do a full blown review of this product because - essentially - it's a pristine version of their 'Ruined Cottage' which I did review. Obviously, the 'war damaged' sections present in the 'ruined' cottage are replaced with complete and unbroken sections.

Photo source: Star Fort Miniatures.
Aside from showing what the undamage building looks like the accompanying photos demonstrate some of the colour scheme options that Star Fort gives you when you order one of these cottages. I opted for an ivory structure with light grey roof and the exterior furnishings came in a pleasant sage green.

So, by mixing and matching the colour combinations, you could put together a little row of cottages - or spread them throughout your 'village' - without it seeming too lacking in variety.

Naturally, like all Star Fort model buildings, the main feature is the ability to break the structure down so you can easily transport the model (as presumably you will have a few) and access the interior to place your infantry. The tab and slot system used to hold the various parts together also allows you to quickly remove a roof section or a floor facilitating defensive cover for your troops or even house-to-house operations!

There's plenty of room in this little building for a Bolt Action squad, and the provision of windows on all sides of the cottage means you practically have 360 degree coverage (there's also a front and back door on the ground floor).

There's very little wrong with this model at all as it does very much what it sets out to do. It's easy to put up, easy to take down and is very pretty to boot.

Do I have any criticisms? I suppose I could say that, like Star Fort's other model buildings, there isn't any proper staircase included - just a hole in the first floor to indicate where one might be (in theory). But if that really bothers you do what I will be doing and make a little set of ladders!

Otherwise, and remember I am being a stickler here, the lean-to roof (on the little side extension) is not entirely well thought out in it's design. It just sort of hangs there freely and does tend to slide off if the cottage is knocked. I would have preferred and an extra little tab or rail that you could fit to the underside of the small roof at the bottom to prevent it from sliding off.

But really, it's a lovely little piece of scenery and there isn't much else like it in 20mm - the main competitor for Star Fort's offering being the very expensive 4Ground offerings. At £14.99 and with the colour choices on offer this is a wonderful little buy.

Link to Star Fort's official web site and online store:
- Please note: This site is brand new and still under construction, therefore you might be as well contacting Star Fort by email and asking about availability until their online store is fully populated.

Star Fort email: | Telephone (UK): 078580231362

Link to my previous Star Fort building reviews:
> 20mm Painted MDF 'Café de Normandie'
> 20mm Painted MDF European Cottage - 'Ruined'

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

German Squad B - Detailing

I did a bit more to my little Germans last night, this involved picking out the details and finishing off the rifles. We're very nearly there though...

At this point it's perhaps interesting to compare one of my early attempts at one of my 'Squad A' Germans with one of these latest examples...

Early attempt at these figures on the left, latest figure on right.
I think my technique has visibly improved somewhat, certainly the level of detail has gone up a notch. But I still feel that this current technique - based on tutorials in the 'Painting War' magazine - is a little long winded and could be streamlined to suit my requirements better. I really don't want to spend this much time on painting figures when I suspect that skipping one or two of the tutorial's convoluted intermediate stages will still get me a happy medium between the two results shown above.

Next: Weathering the camo helmet covers and then basing.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

WT's 20mm Unpainted 'Cafe Gondree' review

Looking for reasonably priced 20mm laser-cut buildings on the web I came across an unpainted MDF kit by Wargames Tournaments described as the 'Cafe Gondree'. It's a model of two-story, sort of split-level or conjoined pair of buildings which is meant to represent the historic cafe in Normandy that - for a long time - was thought to have been the first liberated house on D-Day...

'The Gondrée Café, located at 20 m from the Pegasus Bridge and the whereabouts of Teresa and George Gondrée, is often presented as the first house in mainland France have been released. However, the historian Norbert Hugedé published in his book dedicated to Deadstick operation that is the house opposite, belonging to Louis Picot was controlled first in combat. Home Gondrée has opened its doors to Allied soldiers in the early morning of D-Day.' [Source: Wikipedia]
Cafe-Gondree [Source: Public Domain]
What's in the bag?
The model comes on three 3mm MDF sheets with the components attached to these 'sprues' by tiny tabs. The basic material that the model is made from is simple bare MDF so it's a reddy-buff colour. As usual there are the slight scorching around the cutout parts which is the signature of laser-cutting. But I rather like this slight discolouration, otherwise the kit is very plain.

The photocopied instructions suggest you start with the roof, or rather the roofs as there is a seperate roof section for either side or level of the house. You just pop the component parts off the encompassing sheet and slot the parts together by means of the usual tab and slot system.

It was at this point I began to suspect that this MDF model was not really designed to be easily disassembled again for convenient storage (like the Star Fort MDF buildings I have made). The WT structure is, I think, intended to be a more permanent one.

Sure enough, when it came to the insertion of the first floor it was clear that this model would not be easy to take apart and also was not designed to allow easy access to the ground floor. The first floor sections snapped tightly  into place within the surrounding walls and there was then no way to take them out again without taking the whole building apart!

This was very disappointing and I started to think of ways that I could modify this kit to be more like the ones I bought from Star Fort Miniatures. At the same time I also began thinking about how I might paint the house so that it would fit in with those other buildings I already had.

(Painting is not absolutely necessary I suppose. As a piece of scenery it's adequate as is and I have seen pictures of war games where these vanilla MDF buildings have been used 'in the buff'.)

The issue of accessing the ground floor so that you could place infantry in the house and also easily disassemble it for transportation or storage was a more frustrating one. It looked like I would have to remove some of the integral tabs and then make some of my own in different places to solve this.

In the meantime, however, I resolved to complete the basic construction as directed so I could see what the 'finished' cafe looked like.

As I had resolved to definitely paint the model I did not attach the many window shutters that the kit comes supplied with. This gives the finished building a rather bare and characterless look - I'm sure it does look a bit better with the shutters in place.

Obviously my MT cafe is not really finished, I'll now start 'upgrading' it - first by modifying the way it assembles (and disassembles) and also I will apply some attractive exterior decoration.

But for £14.99 do I think I got value for money? Well, the obvious answer is not really - Star Fort's MDF models are far superior to this effort and are either the same price (for their cottages) or a couple of pounds more for their own cafe (which I reviewed yesterday). In fact, while it was a complete co-incidence that SF's cafe model arrived by post just a couple of days after buying WT's cafe the ability to compare the two like-for-like really highlight the Wargames Tournaments model's deficiencies.

In short, I will have to do a lot of work to bring the WT model 'up to scratch' which negates any sense of value for money that one might have derived from this eBay 'bargain'. I highly recommend you save your money and buy Star Fort Miniatures 20mm painted cafe instead, the extra couple of quid would be well spent!

One last thing about Wargames Turnaments models - other than eBay I found their catalogue of 20mm buildings hard to track down. Thier website - - neither seems to list their 20mm offerings nor this kit.

Finally, here's an interesting tidbit (talking of value for money). While looking for some photo reference material for the 'Cafe Gondree' I came across what I initially thought was the WT model all painted up and customised...

Photo source: 4Ground models

But...This isn't the WT model all fancied up, it is a different 20mm version of the historic cafe made by 4Ground Models - available pre-painted and with lots of additional decorative detail!

Photo source: 4Ground Models
Interestingly, the 4Ground version does allow you to access the ground floor by making each complete floor of the house a separate unit which stack on one another.

So why not buy this instead - you may ask yourselves?

Typically of 4Ground - who I think count themselves as the premium laser-cut model makers - they charge an eye-popping £32 for this model!

This is what started me looking for alternative suppliers of 20mm MDF kits in the first place, their prices are far more than I am happy to pay for a piece of scenery. (And I don't think I am the only one that think so either - Plastic Soldier Company has had to slash the prices of the 4Ground models they sell on their website. I presume they weren't selling!)

Anyway, the good thing about this little find is that it both gives me an idea about a colour scheme for my WT 'Cafe Gondree' and some hints about how to make it more accessible.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Star Fort 20mm Painted MDF 'Café de Normandie'

Owing to Star Fort's generosity I have an example of their new laser cut buildings, one of their growing range of painted 20mm MDF architectural scenics. Having been impressed by the initial 'ruined cottage' I had purchased from them I was very keen to add items of a similar quality to my collection.

Finding building models of this quality in 20mm (1/72 scale) is something of a challenge as the vast majority of such laser cut building kits seem to be in 15mm or 28mm to suit the needs of war gamers who seem to prefer these later scales. 20mm war gamers apparently make do with 1/72 or HO/OO scale card, resin or plastic constructions and the proliferation of these laser cut kits is, as yet, not so widespread in this marketplace. Star Fort seem to want to change this.

Description - "Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once..."
This new building model is a two-story affair of a commercial type typical of the towns of Northern Europe (including Eastern Europe) during the First and Second World Wars. I personally find it reminiscent of the sort of small-town or suburban Belgian or Dutch hôtel which would include a cozy café bar or restaurant on the ground floor.

Star Fort Miniatures have given the model the title of 'Café de Normandie', but they say that they will provide a choice of two cafe signs in the production model; Cafe Exmes (Normandy) and Krakauer Cafe (Berlin). Additionally, they will be pleased to produce custom signs to order so that '...if you want a personalised name or want a boulangerie, boucherie, drogerie or bäckerei, just let us know when ordering.' Now that's a very nice touch. The cost of this model is £16.99 (plus postage).

The key advantage of these MDF laser-cut kits, however, is their ability to be easily assembled and disassembled allowing easy access to the various floors during a wargame and convenient transportation to and from games. This model is no exception as it allows the roof, attic floor and first floor to be removed so that infantry can be placed inside.

Unboxing - "Oh, my God! The Gateau from the Chateau!"
The kit comes in a compact little box which fits nicely through your letterbox. Now this is a small detail but I personally hate missing parcel deliveries and so the fact this model can be delivered when you are not in is a good thing in my book! Though, of course, this may change if you go for one of Star Fort's larger city dwellings.

Everything is wrapped in bubble-wrap and organised into several small plastic bags. As I found with their 'ruined cottage' Star Fort give you quite a number of small delicate MDF embellishment with which to decorate you building.

The major components - being made from 3mm MDF sheet - are quite sturdy, but do be careful about how you handle the smaller components. The small architectural details have been beautifully and intricately laser-cut and there are some very fine and delicate pieces. Obviously these are intended to be glued to the main components so will eventually benefit from the mutual solidity that that joining provides, but until then do handle with care!

The four main wall sections are painted - on the exterior sides - in a browny-buff-cream colour (all interior or 'hidden' surfaces are white) and the base is done in a mid-grey colour. Floors are patterned with a floorboard design in a buff colour and have a hole cut in them to represent where a staircase might be. I say 'might be' because a staircase is not actually included in this kit.

The second packet of main components are the roof sections and the ground floor passageway. This is a particularly novel aspect of this building - Star Fort have chosen to give the cafe an entrance which is hidden down an enclosed alley which runs from the front to the back of the place. Inexplicably, though, they have not added the entrance itself on either of these alley walls. I know, technically, this is a 'hidden' feature but I would have liked to have at least have had a door etched onto the wall.

The two bottom panels are the alleyway walls with subdivide
the ground floor - note the lack of an entrance! The thin white
panels are the 'planks' that support the first floor. At the top are
the four roof sections. 
[Actually, while you might think that this alleyway is something of a strange design I have been to a pub in Brussels that is almost exactly like this. Access to the pub is by means of a little alley to one side of the ground floor...Only they do have a door!]

The 'fiddly bits' are next, and occupy two smaller plastic packets. One has the three small attic windows which must fixed to one of the larger roof sections, the stone alleyway surrounds and parts of the cafe window frames. The second has all the 'green' wooden window frames and shutters.

I particularly like the lovely decorative ground floor window frames. These are very delicately produced and are very effective. Also, the green window furniture and cafe signs are a lovely colour and really evocative of the period.

At this point I should point out that - unlike Star Fort's cottages - this building is apparently not being offered in a choice of colour combinations. I think this is because it is such a unique design of building that two in the same model town would be a little much. Though if you wish to add a second of these in a row of commercial buildings it would be easy enough to repaint it in your desired colour scheme.

Construction - "You may wonder what I am doing...."
My kit did not come with a printed instruction sheet. Star Fort, I understand, will be hosting all of the instructions for their buildings on their website but - as you can imagine - putting these little models isn't exactly difficult. Still, there are some parts which may have you scratching your head as to their final orientation so it will be as well that there is some construction notes somewhere.

All the main parts use a tab and groove system so you can dovetail them together or slot them into the base. This is, of course, central to the model's solidity and key in allowing it to be put together easily and then taken apart again - no glued required (in theory).

At this point you may wish to decide whether you want to glue on the exterior detail before you try putting together the main walls or do put them one once you have the main walls in place. I suggest gluing them on after you assemble the main shell of the building as some of the decorative items are designed to fit flush with the base so you will want to glue them on with the walls fixed in position.

Let's start putting up the main shell of the cafe - the exterior walls - and the two interior walls of the subdividing alleyway on the ground floor...

Having got those in place I can start to add some of the exterior details - at least those that I think would benefit from being glued in place with the main walls erected (the cafe's main ground floor windows and 'stone' arches that decorate the entrances to the alleyway).

You can opt to disassemble the main walls again now to add the rest of the exterior detail if you wish as the windows and shutters might be more easily glued in place while the walls are laid flat.

Next I reassemble everything and add the first and second floors. At this point you might - like me - have a bit of a grumble about the lack of interconnecting stairs between the floors but this is something you can easily remedy yourself if it bothers you that much (this may be a future project).

Incidentally, I didn't worry too much about gluing the windows on too straight. If they are a bit wonky it just adds to the rustic charm!

This shot of the interior shows other the subdividing 'alleyway' on the
ground floor and the supporting 'planks' which you place the first floor on.
As mentioned, Star Fort do not include sets of stairs but do put stairwells,
in the form of two holes, in the two upper floors.
Finally we come to the roof. I have to say that while I understand that Star Fort have come up with the simplest and most logical design for this sort of roof the gaps left between the apex of the uppermost roof section is a little unattractive.

Again, due to personal preferences I might have to do something about this and add a simple decorative peak just to finish it off. And while I am at it I might add a chimney. But neither of these two items affects the function of this model at all.

The attic 'dormer' windows, however, are another story. These are a little bit more fiddly, both to put together and to fit to the appropriate roof section. PVA is a particularly slidey glue after all!

For me, in a way, these additions are the least satisfactory parts of the model IF your priority is for the model to fold flat for transportation and storage. The dormer windows should be constructed and glued permanently in place, there are no slots to temporarily fix them to the roof and so make them detachable. Is this a big deal? Not really, they only add a little more space when you pack the kit up.

Be sure to leave these components so that the glue has time to dry before
attempting to fix them to the roof section. I would have preferred an additional
 set of slot and tabs so you could fit them securely to the roof.

Well, that didn't take long! Before you know it you have a fully painted and ready to go cafe. Am I happy with the result? Mais bien sûr, il est magnifique! [That's a big 'yes', by the way!]

In conclusion - "Simple plots are always the best."
René Artois - Cafe owner
The purpose of Star Fort's range of MDF laser-cut buildings is, I think, pretty specific and as such will appeal to wargamers looking for a particular set of features. They are quick and easy to build, require little modeling and no painting skills, are sturdily constructed and can be assembled and disassembled very simply.

This sort of model will appeal to the travelling wargamer who is perhaps more interested in playing his war games than spending time producing historically accurate and ultra-realistic period architecture. Also, 20mm wargame aficionados will appreciate this addition as the availability of such kits in this scale is still a little thin on the ground.

As to style, I know some modellers and gamers criticise MDF building models as being too simplified and somewhat 'cartoony' for their liking. But as I remarked when I made my first Star Fort model, I think this sort of characterture of a building lends itself well to the less serious and 'casual' styles of tabletop wargaming, like Warlord's Bolt Action. To my mind these sort of games are to wargaming what publications like 'Battle' and the 'Commando' comics were to war fiction, they aren't meant to be realistic takes on what war is - they are pure escapism.

For people like myself who are wanting to get into Bolt Action via the cheaper - and more varied - route of 20mm instead of the full-blown 28mm Star Fort Miniature's range of buildings are a very welcome addition to the marketplace indeed.

Finally, a note on quality. As I pointed out earlier the components are cut from 3mm MDF sheet so the larger supporting items are very sturdy indeed. With the decorative embellishments firmly glued on - with a strong PVA - these buildings are a lot more hardy than cheaper card or plastic models. Also the paint seems to be quite durable and I don't think it will be apt to chip (I guess it's washable too, by using a moist cloth if that's important to you).

Star Fort Miniature intend to produce a 'ruined' version of their cafe, as
they have done with their series of cottages.
At the end of the day it is a case of horses for courses and whether Star Fort's offering will suit you has much to to do with what kind of wargaming you do. If you are one of those chaps who painstakingly recreates historical battlefields down to authentic period landmarks and buildings for club demos and events then perhaps these are not your 'cup of tea'. But for people like me who have a more casual interest in tabletop gaming and where storage space is a crucial consideration and want to spend more of their time making little armies and playing with them than they do making little towns then these charming little buildings will be right up your street!

I cannot wait to see what the chaps at Star Fort come up with next. In the meantime here's the link to their new website (which they are still working on):

Price: The cost of SF's Cafe is £16.99 (which is markedly cheaper than the 20mm MDF buildings made by 4Ground, and yet I can see very little difference in quality).

Link to Star Fort's official web site and online store:
- Please note: This site is brand new and still under construction, therefore you might be as well contacting Star Fort by email and asking about availability until their online store is fully populated.

Star Fort email: | Telephone (UK): 078580231362

A special 'thank you' goes out to Colin from Star Fort Miniature
for supplying me with the review model.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

More WW2 building kits - teaser

While I'm still constructing my first Bolt Action practise forces I am also trying to add a building or two to my stash each month so that when my opposing 'armies' are complete I have a little 'battlefield' for them to fight on. Last month I featured a very nice little ruined cottage made by Star Fort...

And, because I was so impressed with it, I ended up buying the undamaged cottage as well! So that was a good start to a little French/Belgian village.

Anyway, a month later I decided to add another house to my stable (er, you know what I mean) but much to my horror when I followed the link I had back to Star Fort's eBay shop everything was gone! I didn't know whether that meant that they only had a limited run of items or whether they had - for some reason - decided making these buildings was not a good idea after all!

So, reluctantly, I looked elsewhere. Trouble was that I had to find something that would now match the laser-cut MDF buildings I already had. Not easy in 20mm - there are some very expensive ones by 4Ground (out of my price range) but I eventually found an unpainted MDF model by Wargames Tournaments...

Charmingly described as being the 'Cafe Gondree' I found this model on eBay for £14.99 (plus postage). While it was unpainted I like the staggered terrace design of the building so ordered it with ideas of doing some exterior decoration! It's not a bad match for the Star Fort models I reckon.

It comes flat-packed and you have to pop the parts out of their enclosing MDF sheet and it does come with a photocopied sheet of instructions. A quick flick through these immediately alerted me to the fact that this building was not as well designed as Star Fort's as you cannot access the ground floor of the building once it is constructed (important for wargamers).

I suppose I could do some modifications to make the bottom floor accessible by making the first floor removeable (somehow). We shall see.

Then a funny thing happened..!
Just as I was grumbling about having to 'make do' with the Wargames Tournament model I got a surprise email from Colin from Star Fort Miniatures! Colin was the very nice guy who had corresponded with me when I purchased their ruined cottage model and had told me how they hoped to be extending their range of buildings (which was why I was so surprised when their eBay store emptied).

He had got in touch to tell me that they had in fact just finished a new design and to ask me whether I would want one as a 'review example'. Er...YES!

Star Fort had asked me - and other customers - what sort of buildings they should add to their range. I had replied that I thought either a windmill (sniper perch), cafe or some commercial buildings like shops - as it turned out the new building they had produced was - would you believe - a cafe. (What are the chances, I ask you?)

The model duly arrived and I am just giving it a quick once over (and test build) before doing an in-depth review. So here's a wee - quick and dirty - teaser to whet your appetite. I'm excited, I hope you will be too...

An initial test assembly - minus all the fine detail - but even at this stage
you can see that this is a very handsome building - somewhat in the
Flemish/Dutch/French style. Nice!
To be honest Star Fort's cafe looks more like a cafe than Wargames Tournament's effort. Far more 'Allo 'Allo in my opinion. Here's an unboxing movie so you can get an idea of what you will get in the pack (apologies about my shaky camera work)...

I'll have the full review ready mid-week. I'm pretty sure you will be looking forward to seeing more of this delightful looking little model as I am. (How many of you are thinking that the facade needs 'Café René' painting on it?)