The hobby desk has been dormant the last few months, as that space turned into storage during a kitchen renovation. But the boxes are now gone and I can get back to modelling.
To celebrate, I treated myself to some MDF Chinese buildings. First up is the 28mm Niu House produced by Warbases.co.uk as part of their 55th Day - China line.
The basic kit is very nice on it's own, but as usual, I did my best to tart it up. As my current collection of Chinese hutong buildings is scratch built using paper textures, I decided to do the same here so that everything would match. The brick and concrete patters are my usual Scalescenes OO scale sheets printed at 120%, and the windows and doors come from elements found elsewhere on this blog. Though I used the doors from the kit (with paper added to the surface), the included window shutters didn't work with my plan to add window frames and were left off. When adding paper coverings to a MDF kit, be sure to dry fit pieces first, as the tolerance between pieces may be too tight to slip a sheet of paper between.
The most challenging aspect of the build was replacing the card roof tiles with plastic tiles from Plastruct. I have used these tiles previously on roofs with a straight slope, but this kit has a curved roof line. I originally tried gluing the tile sheet down with my standard white glue and a strip of wood and some clamps to hold the curve.
Sadly, this was a complete failure, even after allowing the glue to dry 24 hours. As soon as I took the clamps off, the sheet popped back into a straight position. For round 2, I tried superglue and the clamps, which held. The only frustrating part is that my original gluing attempt caused the underlying MDF to warp. I did my best to bend it back into shape, but it's still not fully straight across the bottom edge. Hopefully it isn't too obvious.
For the small title sections on each side, I elected to use the card tiles and then glue the plastic tiles on top.
To get the slopes right for each section, I held them in position and dropped a pre-cut section of plastic rod down the middle (same rod used on the main roof). Once the superglue on the rods dried, the shape stayed. The roof elements could then be primed and painted before gluing them onto the building.
I originally cut the plastic tiles to the same length as the card ones, but quickly discovered the the thickness of the plastic tiles caused them to extend too bar over the central roof, preventing it from being able to come off and on. One by one, I had to trim back the inner tiles until the clearance was good. As a result, they don't look as nice as the outer ones, but once painted I don't think they are too noticeable.
And here's the final product:
For Copplstone Chinese figures on thick bases, the doors are a little low, but not too bad.
Here's the house with some of my earlier scratch built buildings. By using the paper textures, I think they blend in rather well.
My final verdict is that this is a very well designed and sturdy kit, and that it can really be brought to the next level if you are willing to invest some time into adding upgrades.