I must admit it’s some time since I last did any scratch building of this type (alarming so in fact – at least thirty years!). Some of the techniques and equipment look familiar, others are much more advanced than anything I ever tried. However they do all look achieveable with a bit of practice, and the right tools to hand.
The production of each model is explained in great detail, with each step accompanied by a photograph. In one or two cases I had to use a magnifying glass to spot the differences, although they would have been more obvious on the real model, and it is obvious better to have too many pictures than not enough!
The projects are well chosen. First we get three mud brick houses, going from simple to complex. Next are three varied projects at different scales – this includes a gunboat, helping with the book’ an impressive level of variety. There is one exception to the scratch building – the railway station at El Alamein is an exercise in improving an existing MDF building model, and I must admit the results are very impressive.
Section three looks at two very different huts – one simple thatched hut and one Sudanese domed hut, each using very different construction methods. That is one of the strong points of this book – the author uses a wide range of construction methods, some using purpose-make modelling materials, others using cut-up packaging materials, tiles or items out of his ‘bit’s box.
Section four looks at general terrain, and includes one fairly simple patch of rough ground (using some of the methods I used all those years ago), and one more complex scene built around several different sections.
To my novice eyes this looks to be a rather useful guide to the topic, and it certainly has me inspired to give it a go. All I need now is an excuse to build a model hut!
Our second review comes from a more experienced modeller and painter
A lavishly illustrated how to book full of full colour photographs detailed the construction of 9 buildings and 1 gunboat in a spread of 15mm and 28mm scales. The author has an easy to read style explaining clearly the construction with a passion for building terrain. The book is full of useful tricks and tips with discussions about the pros and cons of various materials and using scrap parts to good effect.
He discusses a range of paints and glues which is useful but the range is narrow and does not mention various very famous brands which is surprising especially considering the growth in paints and materials specially designed to aid terrain building such as textured paints, water effect paints and resins.
The book does have some great tips about sourcing useful and readily recycled materials and I particular enjoyed the tips on adding greatly to MDF laser cut buildings which have grown hugely in range and availability in recent years and are the go terrain type for many gamers especially those on a budget.
The two most impressive projects in the book are a 15mm gunboat used on the Nile and the 28mm railway station from El Alamein which are great projects and very detailed , other projects are less impressive in the end product and at times the final result is let down by the painting standard which is not bad but fairly average.
The book is great if you want to learn techniques on some basic pieces ready for larger projects and if you as the author see building your own terrain as key part of the hobby, but don’t expect to be able to produce the quality and complexity now seen via laser cut MDF or 3 D printing STL files. In this respect the book represents the dying craft of the older gamer / hobbyist and that alone makes it a good read.
Section One: Mud Brick Houses
1.1 Simple: 28mm Mud Brick House No.1
1.2 Intermediate: 28mm Mud Brick House No.2
1.3 Bir Acroma Well: 28mm Mud Brick House No.3
Section Two: Various Scales
2.1 15mm Gunboat Melik
2.2 15mm Middle East/ African Mosque
2.3 28mm Railway Station at El Alamein
Section Three: African Huts
3.1 28mm Generic African Thatched Hut
3.2 28mm Sudanese Domed Hut
Section Four: 28mm Modular Terrain
4.1 Rough Ground/ Rocky Terrain
4.2 Oasis: Bedoiun Tent, Well and Palm Trees
Author: Tony Harwood
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military