Saturday, August 11, 2018

Two-Story "City Block" Building

City Block MDF building by Sarissa Precision (28mm) with 20mm modern Africa figures
I decided that I need more buildings if I want to do a big skirmish set in a town. The great thing about 20mm as my chosen scale for modern Africa, is I can use buildings from all kinds of scales and they don't look too off -- 15mm, 20mm, 1/72 scale, and 28mm. I have scratch-built a number of my buildings, but it is very labor-intensive (and fiddly, working with foam core). So, I decided to try out one of the MDF buildings that the market is burgeoning with right now.
The unpainted, assembled City Block buildings from an image on Sarissa Precision's website
At Historicon 2018, I picked up three MDF buildings from Wargame Tools LLC. Terry Jones is a nice guy, and I bought my MDF container ship off of him a couple years back. As I was flipping through his inventory at Historicon, I noticed that he was carrying buildings from Sarissa Precision, as well as TTCombat (who made my freighter). I really liked one of the small, simple "city block" buildings and picked it up. I decided not to buy the extra story, which he sells, because I wasn't sure how this would turn out. This is mainly because I am not the biggest fan of MDF buildings, in general. I think they have a certain "flatness" -- or 2-dimensional look to them, sometimes. Plus, I've seen people through them on the table unpainted thinking they look accurate, but this definitely strikes me as wrong looking. I know that I can simply give the wood a texture if I like -- stucco or whatever -- but that would seem to work against the texture that is incised on them already. I also picked up two apartment buildings from TTCombat, but chose to build the Sarissa Precision one first.
The bare bones instructions -- note my two arrows I added pointing out "notches up" on the side pieces that I missed
I can honestly say that I have never had a building go together easier, and be better designed, than this kit. Although the instructions were very bare bones -- I missed one subtlety that more written text would have prevented. Luckily, it was not dry yet, and I could correct my mistake. It comes in three levels, including the ground level, the upper story, and the flat rooftop. I chose this building because miniatures could easily be deployed on top of the roof, and all the windows were "open" so figures could shoot through them. The biggest surprise was the simple but clever way the three levels went together. There were two rectangular tabs on the top of the ground floor and upper story, and these fit easily and snugly into the floor of the level above. I thought I was going to have make some modifications to make the roof and upper story come off easily, but I did not.
The building went together SO easily. I used rubber bands to add pressure and keep the walls square while drying
Once the three levels were glued together with Tacky glue, I left them overnight to dry. Then I sprayed them with Krylon acrylic black spray primer. Next, I had a decision to make. What color, and how to paint the walls? They were incised with laser cut lines to represent block stone -- like a limestone or travertine style office building. The reason I generally like resin buildings better is their cuts are deeper, and dry-brushing is easy. I decided to paint the base coat the stone a craft paint called "Raw Siena" -- a somewhat leathery brown that I hoped would stay in the crevices between the stones and on enough of the stone face once I dry-brushed its flat surface.
I REALLY like how the color turned out on this building -- I feel it has the golden glow of aged limestone
I let this dry overnight, too, and then dry brushed the stones Howard Hues Colonial Khaki. I shook my head as I completed each of the tree levels. I wasn't happy with the look. Like I said, not enough relief in the thin, laser incising. Oh, well, maybe when all put together, it would look nice. From that point, I began working on the details. I went with Iron Red (craft paint) for the wooden parts on the windows and main front door. I trimmed the edges with Dark Brown. The interior walls were painted a light gray. I decided not to wash the gray, as the black base coat showed through in an irregular enough fashion that it did not look to "cookie-cutter" sharp. After all the details were finished, I set it aside to dry.
Close up of the entrance of the building. I think it looks fine with 20mm figures -- even though it is 28mm scale
I had decided the previous night to try a brown wash on the Khaki dry-brushed walls, hoping it would settle in the crevices even more. In a bit of serendipity, it did an amazing job of "mellowing" the stone color to look like aged, golden limestone. The difference between it prior to washing and after were so striking that I was upset I hadn't taken a photograph the night before! After the walls dried, I painted the sidewalk out front (also thinly laser etched). I decided to use only two rows of stones for the sidewalk, and do the the rest as a kind of grass "tree lawn" in front of the building. I flocked it with my usual method and added in some tufts here and there to give it that 3-Dimensional look.
A look at the printed floor pattern I glued into place
I decided to dress up the floors of the two levels with a printed wood grain pattern. I simply Googled "Doll+House+printed+floors" and came up with a number of sites. I chose a pattern I found on Pinterest, of all places. Resizing it in Photoshop, I simply printed it off at the local copy place in color. I trimmed it to size and I think it adds a nice little touch to the building!
The top piece -- the roof section -- is flat topped, which I liked. I flocked the roof with mixed gray stone ballast
The final touch was to flock the flat rooftop. I have seen buildings that have a crushed stone look to the rooftop like this, and thought this would look better than just a basic paint. I like the way it gives texture to the building, too. I painted it black, then painted it again in white glue, pouring on Woodland Scenics Coarse Gray Blend Ballast.
A look at how the ground floor and the sidewalk in front of it -- this was the easiest MDF kit I've ever assembled!
All in all, I am VERY happy with how this MDF building came out. It makes me look forward to putting together the two TTCombat ones I purchased next!

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