My tabletop scenery has to be modular because I have no permanent gaming table and live in a rather small flat. Nevertheless, I manage to accumulate stuff continously. My special weakness seems to be buildings, as I recently realised that there are more of them than will fit unto my small playing area. However, I have a love/hate relationship with miniature houses: Usually, I don’t like to paint them, sometimes even hate it, and, which is the most annoying thing, I don’t like resin: its dust is poisonous, paint won’t adhere properly, and if it comes in several parts more often than not they don’t fit together too well.
What follows are some comparisons between 28mm pirate buildings, based on my experiences. I might do another report on 15mm medievals.
The first 28mm buildings I bought were from Stronghold Terrain, a small German manufacturer. I got the Small Cottage and the Old Shed. Both have some resin parts, but the big elements (walls) are cast in dental plaster. They are very fine structured, and especially the Old Shed is great fun to paint and looks good even with my mediocre skills (the painting tutorial on the Stronghold site helped a lot). The Shed has become our favorite building, featuring in almost every pirate scenario we set up.
On a whim, I also bought a house by Ziterdes, another German manufacturer. What brought it about was a sudden fancy to paint a building, which is a rare enough occurrence to justify the spending. The interesting thing for me was the material: It’s not resin, but some kind of hardened foam. The house comes in one piece, the structures are pretty good and detailed, and the paint adheres nicely (I think it is even primed, I didn’t prime it and everything worked fine). Also, it’s very light, which is a good thing for storage.
These buldings were all more or less generic medieval/fantasy designs. When I decided that I wanted to have a Caribbean town, I had to look to other places. The first order went to Brigade Games and got me the Hacienda and a two storey town building. These came in several parts made out of resin, and I cursed like a sailor while cleaning and assembling them. It was such a hassle that I still haven’t finished the Hacienda. Don’t get me wrong: the assembled and painted building looks just fine, but if you hate resin, there is not much fun in putting them together – you have to smoothen pieces and fill gaps with green stuff.
Alas, for Caribbean buildings there is not much of a choice, so another order for resin went out to Games of War, from whom I already got a fine sloop. The two modular two storey ‘pirate buildings’ also came in several pieces, but these fit together nicely, especially since each element is one floor, so there is no fumbling around with walls, which is always a hassle.
After reading an article on MDF buildings by Warbases on another blog, I ordered some of those. I like to work with wood and PVA glue, so they were fun to assemble. Also, of course, the price is unbeatable, probably even if you build from scratch. However, there is not much detail. So I beefed them up a bit, adding pan tile roofs and a scratch built balcony on one and priming them with acrylic to give the walls some structure. I am quite content with the result. I wouldn’t want to have a complete town out of them, but mixed with the other buildings they look nice. They are easy to assemble, great fun, and offer plenty of opportunities for conversions, so from the perspective of handling these are probably my favourites.
Lately, I realised that no town in the Spanish Main can be without a church. After some browsing, I decided on the Spanish Church from Grandmanner. The reason was that both K. and I thought it looked the best, and I also wanted to try out the famous and famously expensive stuff Grandmanner produces. Considering shipping and the fact that customs decided to take their share it was indeed forbidding expensive, and I am not yet sure if it was worth the price. It’s resin, but the parts have a good fit. At first I was not too impressed, but when painted it shows a lot of detail and looks really good.
So, where does that leave me? It seems that for most of my 28mm requirements, there is no way around resin. If I were to play Science Fiction or Steampunk, I could choose from an increasingly attractive range of MDF buildings. But for Caribbean style stuff, resin is the material. Fortunately, I now have collected the most important parts for my pirate town, so I might give buildings a break. On the other hand, my 15mm projects also demand housing, and I have already accumulated some houses and a castle which are waiting to get painted.