Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of books, miniatures, possibly other websites, and anything else we think needs reviewing!

The Trumpeter Salute 2017 Loot Haul!

I managed to escape from Trumpeter Salute 2017 at the start of April without buying a single actual figure, but I brought home a batch of scenery bits and pieces and some reading material, at least.

The haul from Trumpeter Salute 2017 all laid out. Click for larger.

It helped my wallet that Bob Murch of Pulp Figures wasn’t there, and neither was Uncle Mike of Uncle Mike’s Worldwide/Strange Aeons. The excellent folks of Imperial Hobbies did help lighten my wallet and bulk up my luggage a bit, at least, although winning a pair of their $20 gift certificates in the very generously supplied door prizes offset the wallet-lightening a good bit!

The centerpiece of my acquisitions are the Pikeman’s Lament rules from Osprey, to finally put my long-neglected English Civil War/Thirty Year’s War figures to use and get them some time on the table! Related to that I snagged Issue #87 of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, their ECW special, which has some great articles including an excellent building how-to by Tony Harwood that I’m going to be doing my own version of sometime soon.

The rest of my Trumpeter Salute acquisitions were scenery, almost all from 4Ground. Short & Gated Stone Wall Sections, Weathered Picket Fencing, two packages of 25mm bases, and finally Renedra’s Palisade Fencing package to round out the set.

I’ll be doing proper review articles on the 4Ground and Renedra fences & walls sometime soon; those posts are already being drafted.

PlastCraft Curved Modular Building

While at Trumpeter Salute I picked up one of PlastCraft’s Designed-For-Infinity plastic pre-coloured buildings, the Curved Modular Building, from the awesome folks at Imperial Hobbies, BC’s greatest wargaming store, and the only reason I do anything in Richmond other than change buses…

Anyway, the Curved Modular Building is a small building, with a footprint about 4″x4″ (not including the ramps) and about 3″ tall. It’s only 16 parts, six of which are for the two ramps off each end of the building.

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Curved building parts all laid out. Click for bigger, see text for details.

The material is all 2mm foamed PVC board (Sintra is one common brand name) that’s been colour printed on one side, presumably by computer. The printing seems very solid, certainly enough to handle transport and use on a gaming table, and foamed PVC is good solid material for gaming terrain. My space station walls are built mostly with thicker Sintra (1/8″ or about 3.5mm) that I picked up at our local plastics supply place.

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Assembled, with ramps. Infinity (28/30mm) Hassassin Bahram Fiday for scale. Click for larger.

Assembly is pretty straightforward, with the small caveat that you do need to be slightly careful with the curved pieces so you don’t kink them. I glued the two end walls into the floor with superglue, let them cure for a bit, and gently pre-curved the main roof piece with my hands and over the top of one thigh before fitting it in place. Secure one end of the roof with superglue and work patiently around the curve of the piece, adding glue an inch or two at at time along the top edge of the two walls. Once you get the whole roof glued, hold the whole assembly for a minute or two to give the superglue a chance to cure.

Pre-curve and dry fit the two end roof pieces before tacking them into place with superglue, then add the two short end walls on each porch. Glue the two ramp assemblies together and you’re done, one piece of terrain ready to go on the table. I elected to leave the ramps separate from the building to make transportation and storage slightly easier; they tuck nicely into one porch for storage.

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End with two CB Infinity figures for scale and the ramp in place. Click for larger, as usual

I like these buildings, they’re super easy to assemble and it’s kind of nice not to have to paint and detail everything yourself. The use of foamed PVC instead of the more usual MDF or cardboard allows the interesting curved roof, and the curved features in some of the other PlastCraft ColorED range. PlastCraft has just announced an expansion of their ColorED Infinity line, and they have a couple of other lines in the same range, some of which could make for fun Infinity tables. They also do most of the range in plain white foamed PVC if you want to paint them yourself.

Review: Impudent Mortal Near Future Elevators

I picked up a pack of Impudent Mortal’s Near Future Elevator Set, as mentioned in a previous post, and thought I’d put a few pictures up and do a bit of a review.

First, I have to say that Walt, the man behind Impudent Mortal, is awesome to deal with. He’s incredibly quick to reply to emails, worked with me to figure out the best way to ship his stuff to Canada (the US Postal Service having recently cranked it’s foreign rates to moderately silly levels) and I look forward to doing more business with him and his company in the future!

So on to the elevators. They’re laser cut from a mix of 3mm MDF and 1/16th cardboard (greyboard), which gives them some nice details and makes them slightly finer-grained than some of the scenery out there that just uses MDF. The base, walls, and door frames are MDF, while the doors are layered cardboard and card is used for details on the interior walls and floor as well as around the door frame.

Each elevator — you get two in the pack — is 3.75″ wide across the doors, 3.5″ long, and 2 1/8″ tall. There’s 11 pieces of MDF total and about 28 total pieces of greyboard, that count being inflated by the fact that the grilles that detail the floor are all separate pieces, 16 of them.

There are also eight small control panels of laser cut acrylic, which go in the openings on either side of the doors. They’re not visible in any of my photos because I haven’t installed them yet; they’ll go in dead last after I’m finished all painting and weathering.

Everything fits together with the ease we’ve come to expect from laser cut scenery, and while most pieces are pretty obvious in their placement and function, dry-fitting and testing as you go (before applying glue!) is always advised.

The doors slide in and out of the door frames vertically and fit very well, loose enough to actually move but snug enough not to fall out while transporting or handling the piece. Each door is three pieces of cardboard, so it has details on both the inside and outside and they’re reversible, which is nice.

One thing I couldn’t initially find on the IM site is the actual instructions for these elevators; turns out they’re tucked into the ITS and Paradiso Scatter Terrain Instructions PDF as that was the set they were originally part of.

I’ll post more pictures on a future post once I’ve gotten some paint on my elevators. Two is probably enough for any single tabletop so I’m not sure I’ll order more, but I’m very pleased with them; they’re unique cover items for an Infinity table and provide more options and opportunity than the classic packing crate or cargo container. They’ll look great as scatter on the space station terrain I’ve been working on!

If IM ever decide to do more of this style of terrain, the sort of thing you might find in a space station or cargo facility, I’d be very interested.

Eureka’s Tachanka, Part One

About ten days ago I made an order to Eureka USA for a few things, most importantly their Russian three horse Tachanka/crew in cap.

What the heck, you ask, is a tachanka (also found spelled “tchanka”)? It’s a Russian vehicle developed during the Great War and used, in various forms, right through the Second World War. A lightweight, sprung carriage with two, three, or sometimes four horses out front, a Maxim machinegun mounted to fire out the rear, and a few crew holding on for dear life. It was designed to give machinegun support to cavalry units. Wikipedia has a bit more, if you’re interested.

The Eureka tachanka has been around for ages, but it has a bit of a mixed reputation among RCW/BoB gamers. The crew figures are undersized, is the usual complaint, and I’ve also heard comments about the beastie being fussy to build.

That said, it’s the only easily-available tachanka, and the presence of such an eccentric and unique unit in an RCW/BoB force is a powerful lure!

So to start off, here’s what you get.

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The Eureka tachanka all laid out. 25 parts including crew and horses.

Three horses, three crew (driver, gunner, assistant gunner), a Maxim on the usual Russian wheeled cart (4 pieces) and 15 parts for the tachanka carriage itself, most of which are suspension. The whole thing is cleanly cast and there was a minimum of mold lines and flash to remove, most of it between the horses’ legs.

The small piece of paper with the exploded view is useful as a reference, although I think I’ll wind up printing the photo of the assembled tachanka off the Eureka website as well for additional reference. The front wheels/suspension/horse-attachment bit is the only really complex subassembly, although the fenders on the sides are going to require some gentle, careful bending to fit them into place and keep them symmetrical. I’ll put it on a “shadow” base like I did the armoured car I did a couple of years ago to help strengthen the whole thing, and probably use a small amount of putty out of sight on the underside to reinforce things here and there.

As I assemble the beast I’ll get some photos of it along side Copplestone & Brigade RCW infantry and cavalry, to attempt to answer that whole question about the scale of it. Onward!

Russian Civil War with Chain of Command

We had a quick and messy intro to the TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command/Through the Mud and the Blood WW1 hybrid today with my Russian Civil War figures. Chain is originally a WW2 platoon-level set of rules with some of the core rules based on the WW1 Mud & Blood rules we have been playing for several years, and in the December 2014 Christmas Special the Lardies closed the circle and provided an adaptation of Chain for the Great War, pulling rules out of M&B as needed to replace or supplement the basic Chain rules.

Our forces were as follows:
One short platoon of Bolshie Reds – four rifle sections of 7-10 men each, two Senior Leaders – who rolled hot for their Force Morale which was at 11 to start!

One short platoon of Whites, two Senior Leaders, three rifle sections of 7-10 men, 1 Maxim MMG with four crew, not as into this whole Civil War thing as the Reds with a Force Morale of only 8.

I hadn’t actually sat down to figure out the exact force balance on this particular force mix (TFL provide tools to do that, though) and we ignored the Support Points rules today and just ran with these basic forces, but it got us a good tight game with lots of back-and-forth until the White’s Force Morale collapsed to 0, so I think I was more or less right. Almost certainly too many Senior Leaders for either side at most stages of the RCW, but for an intro game I’m not fussed.

The first third of the game was all in the White’s favour; their Maxim deployed to fire down the village street and blotted out one Red rifle section single-handed, while two of the White rifle sections shot up, Pinned, and then close assaulted a Red rifle section that had pushed across main street and hunkered down in one of the hamlet’s houses but was isolated from any Red support.

The Whites had a string of dead Junior Leaders which pummelled their force morale, though, and pinned their Senior Leaders down acting as section commanders. The breaking point came when one White rifle section and the platoon Lt. launched a singledhanded close assault through the rear door of a house with a basically unsuppressed Red rifle section in it and got bashed all to hell, killing not a single Red and being thrown out into the open ground where irritated Reds quickly Pinned and then Routed them with close range rifle fire, killing the Lt in the process and routing the Whites with a FM of zero…

I’m absolutely certain we did a couple of things wrong, I know we missed rules and in some cases deliberately ignored them, but it was a good quick game and a great intro to CoC.

The Patrol Phase & Jump-Off Points are great, the Patrol Phase is much tenser and more tactical than the opening few moves of most games are, and JoPs mean less random wandering around the tabletop and more direct action!

The Command Dice mechanic isn’t as flavourful as M&B’s cards, but it’s quick and interesting, and often forces you to make difficult choices as to who to activate when. The actual Chain of Command Dice mechanic is also interesting but we didn’t use it much except to end the Turn and once to avoid a Force Morale check – there are more options for using Command Dice that we didn’t explore in this game.

I really like the fact that Chain has a Force Morale setup; sometimes in M&B it felt like you could feed men endlessly into the storm with just a bit of luck on clearing Suppression until everyone was dead. Not happening in Chain!

The actions/activations setup has been both clarified and expanded in Chain over M&B. Movement and fire, suppressive fire, and overwatch are all improved from M&B. The vehicle rules have had some expansion and clarification as well, especially with regards to Shock and vehicle morale.

For larger games, especially at conventions where I want to have two-four players per side I’ll probably stick with straight M&B, but for smaller games Chain/M&B (should we call it “Chain of Mud”?) is probably going to become my go-to system. I’m looking forward to more games and to getting to know the rules better!

Impudent Mortal Paint Rack

I first heard of Impudent Mortal when Richard of TooFatLardies used two of their buildings to build himself a very nice brewery for WW2 gaming. Rich got his through Minibits in the UK but it turns out Impudent Mortal is over on this side of “the Pond” down in the States.

I was interested in the universal brick look of the industrial buildings, which are the sort of Victorian/early-20th C brickwork you can find almost anywhere in the world right up to the present day, so I finally ordered a pair of brick buildings, a 6″x4″ rectangular building and a larger L-shaped building.

I also ordered one of their paint racks, the 66-bottle 3-level Reverse Eyedropper Paint Rack Extra Shelf, as most of my paint collection is Reaper Master Series in the very nice dropper bottles.

Communication from Walt at Impudent Mortal is fantastically quick and shipping is similar; everything arrived while I was away in northern Alberta then had to wait until I got back to the real world before I could do anything with it! Both buildings and the paint rack arrived tightly wrapped in heavy cling-wrap, the industrial version of your standard sandwich wrap, which kept all the components together very nicely inside the box.

I’ll get the buildings covered properly when I assemble them soon, but my first impression from dry-fitting the smaller building and then properly assembling the paint rack is that everything fits together easily and solidly. All the Impudent Mortal stuff is laser-cut from 3mm MDF, which will make for very solid buildings and a very solid paint rack.

Instead of shipping their stuff with instruction sheets IM has both videos and PDFs on their website, which has the advantage of giving you an idea of how everything fits together even before you buy it. The paint rack I bought is 14 pieces: two vertical sides, six shelf pieces, and the rest bracing at the backs of the shelves. Each shelf level has two pieces, the top piece with larger holes to hold the body of the dropper bottle, and the lower piece with smaller holes intended to hold the top of the lid of each dropper bottle.

Each level also has half a dozen smaller holes in each back corner, intended to hold brushes, sculpting tools, pencils or other small tools. That’s a useful way to use up the corners too small to tuck one more bottle into, but the lower pieces have holes in them too, which is odd – it means only the lowest shelf can actually be used to hold most things, because a brush or pencil put in one of the top shelf’s holes will just fall through. Leaving those corners of the lower pieces of each shelf pair solid would make them more usable.

Assembly was easy and quick and the fit was good. Lay one vertical side piece out, add all six shelf pieces with a bit of white glue, then drop the other side piece in and click everything together one shelf piece at a time. The various braces go on and keep everything square, and you’re done. Maybe ten minutes after I started I had the paint rack on my crowded painting bench and was loading paint into it!

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Workbench with new Impudent Mortal paint rack, 12 October 2014. Click for larger, as usual.

Making space for the new rack forced a badly-needed reorganization of my fairly small and very crowded painting bench. The small holes for paint brushes and tools will allow me to downsize the round white tin on the left to some sort of smaller container soon, now that files, pencils and such are tucked into the new rack, and the space-consuming clutter of overflow paint bottles from the homemade rack on the left is now nicely contained in the new rack. The shelves on this particular rack are far enough apart that you can fit GW or Tamiya paint pots between the top and bottom pairs of each shelf level, which is a nice bonus. You even have space to do that with a few pots per level when all the holes have dropper bottles in them – see the right-hand side of the middle shelf in the photo above!

The top shelf of the new rack will eventually hold my collection of acrylic artists inks that I use regularly on figures, but give the weight of those bottles I have had to leave them off until the glue had properly dried on the rack!

The IM racks are available in several different styles to fit different types of bottles; this one is about 12″ wide, 8″ deep and just under 12″ tall. Highly recommended and good value for money.

Hope everyone is having an excellent Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, if you’re lucky enough to be a Canuck, or a good ordinary weekend if not!

Lizards & Lunatics

Had two small orders come in last week. I have been saving money for an epic bike vacation to Europe in a few months (Vienna, Austria to Nantes, France over six weeks!) and not ordering much new stuff for wargaming the last few months, which is one of several reasons it’s been quiet around here. Nevertheless, some new stuff comes in every so often!

The first order was from Impact Miniatures, all Blood Bowl/fantasy football related stuff. A set of three block dice, two of their football markers, and eight more Baby Crocs – Skinks, basically, for their Sarcos Crocodile team, which I bought last year.

The footballs are neat. I haven’t confirmed with Impact, but I’m pretty sure they’re 3D-printed – they’re a slightly flexible resin-like stuff, with a large spike-adorned football and a ring/loop so you can hang the football of a figure’s arm or around their neck or shoulder when they’re carrying the ball. Imagine the sort of cheap charm ring you get in Christmas crackers, except in white resin and with a spiked football instead of a fake jewel. It’s a great idea for Blood Bowl or other fantasy football games and a much easier way to show which figure has the ball than the freestanding individual balls, which can be awkward to balance on some figure bases.

I already have eight Baby Crocs, so why double the local population? So I can proxy Baby Crocs as Halflings and field a BB team of Croclings, mostly! I’ve heard that Halflings are a challenging team to use and don’t expect them to win much, but what the heck, they’ll be entertaining. Corey also has a team of Impact’s Scotlings (Halfings in kilts with cabers) so a Scotling-vs-Crocling matchup should be entertaining.

I’ll also be using a few of the extra Baby Crocs as auxiliary figures for my existing Sarcos team. Cheer-crocs with greenstuff pompoms added to their hands, maybe an apothecary-croc with a barrel of go-juice to get injured players back on the pitch, that sort of thing – the fun, oddball sideline figures that round out a BB team.

Oh, and for the Treemen on the Croclings team, I’ll probably pick up a pair of these Reaper Bones Spirit of the Forest figures and convert them a bit as swamp-flavoured Treemen. Like the Impact Trollcast resin figures, the Reaper Bones plastic resin figures are a great thing, nice figures in easy-to-convert material for a very good price!

The other order is from Statuesque Miniatures in the UK, and as oddball as the Impact order was, this order was definitely crazier. Crazed, in fact, and lunatic, as it included six Frothing Loonies, a small girl, and a pulp hero & heroine! All part of a special introductory bundle deal Statuesque had put on back in the first week of March.

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Lunatics & Heroes. 28mm figures from Statuesque. Head sprues for the lunatics at the bottom, headless lunatic bodies, then (L to R at top) Lillie, Pulp Girl & Phantom Ace. Click for larger, as always.

The six loonies have three different bodies and a sprue of six heads. Because I got two packs of three figures each, I have two of each body and two full sprues of heads, so I have half a dozen spare lunatic heads now – fodder for converting other figures, perhaps! The bodies are in hospital robes (yes, they’re all partially open at the back, in proper hospital robe style…) and have shackles on their wrists. The heads look suitably lunatic, and most have obvious scars across their shaved heads where diabolical, insanity-causing surgery was undoubtedly been performed by mad doctors!

The small girl is Lillie Poots, who wanders the world curious and unafraid, her path lit by the large lantern she holds up in one hand.

The pulp hero is Phantom Ace, a large man in flying leathers, helmet and goggles, with a pair of automatic pistols, one in each hand. Pulp Girl, his crimefighting companion, is a slender teenage girl with some sort of mystical or weird-science apparatus on one wrist and hand.

All the Statuesque figures are very cleanly sculpted and beautifully cast, with hardly a mold line or casting vent mark to be seen. The adult figures are bulky 28mm, sized to go with Pulp Figures, Copplestone and other common pulp lines. The only downside to them is they’re all designed to fit on slottabases, which I strongly dislike – my Blood Bowl teams are the only figures I own that I mount on slottas. I’ll be snipping the mounting bars off all of these figures and putting them on pennies or other flat bases to match my existing pulp collection. That aside, they’re lovely figures and I’ll be keeping an eye on Statuesque in the future as they expand their pulp ranges – I believe they’re going to be adding asylum staff and other asylum denizens at some point.

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Finished

Finally have the Sarissa CityBlock 28mm lasercut MDF buildings to a table-ready state, including another hand-painted advertising sign on the side of one of them.

Here’s all seven buildings (six CityBlock plus one Narrow Townhouse from the Gaslamp Alley range) stacked up somewhat awkwardly:

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All seven MDF buildings, ready for the tabletop. Scale provide by three 28mm Pulp Figures reporters. Click for larger.

In one of my earlier posts, Chris had asked in comments about how these buildings came apart, so here’s the Hotel Atlantic spread open:

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The Atlantic Hotel spread into it’s constituent parts; three floors and a roof. Click for larger, as usual.

You can see I haven’t (yet) done anything with the insides of any of these buildings; beyond possibly splashing a coat of plain paint in, I’m not sure how much I’ll do inside them.

So, having built seven of the things but not actually written a full review, what did I think? First off, I like them, and will definitely be ordering more of Sarissa Precision’s buildings at some point. They’re solidly built, well designed, have enough detail to look good right out of the box, and are also easy to add extra detail to. Everything fits together very well, the laser-cutting is crisp and precise, and the CityBlock & Gaslamp Alley buildings are good generic city filler buildings, similar to thousands of real-world buildings all over the world, pretty much anywhere Europeans influenced architecture. Use them as-is, you could be nearly anywhere in North America, the UK or much of Europe; add a few “local” touches (different street furniture, a few different buildings for flavour, etc) and you could be in Shanghai, Cairo or Singapore just as easily!

I’ll do a couple of things differently on the next batch of MDF buildings I build, though. First of all, painting MDF is like painting a sponge. The stuff absorbs paint and water like crazy, and is actually quite hard to paint as a result. You go through a surprising amount of paint to get decent coverage; and because of the absorbency you can get streaky or blotchy paint coverage very easily. A couple of my buildings required a second coat of their base colour, and painting details like windowframes and the signs was harder than it should have been because you needed thin, wet paints and a well-loaded brush to get good coverage. So I’ll be doing as much painting as possible before assembly next time, instead of rushing assembly this time just for the joy of having complete buildings sitting around!

Spray cans or an airbrush might actually work better than brushes for basecoats on MDF, if you have access to an airbrush or a better selection of spraypaint colours than I do currently.

I’ve got a whole pile of small scenery detail bits that have been building up on the edges of my painting desk recently, so with these buildings out of the way it’s on to them to get them done and into play, then onto more figures! We’re having a Pulp Alley game tomorrow that should feature all my new buildings, so look for photos of that soon too.

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Part The Third

Progress continues on my seven Sarissa Precision buildings, albeit at a slower pace than I’d intended!

Basecoat and drybrushing is done on all seven buildings, gravel roof details likewise in place on all seven, most of the doors and windowframes are painted, and I’ve started cleanup and finishing.

I’ve always liked the looks of the big hand-painted signs and advertisements on the sides of older buildings, so given the wide blank side walls of the Sasrissa CityBlock buildings, it seemed natural to break out the smaller paintbrushes and go to it!

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Newly-painted Hotel Atlantic sign on the side of the three-storey Sarissa Precision CityBlock building. Click for larger, as usual!

Still some cleanup to be done on the basic lettering, and I might yet redo the red ornamenting in both top corners, but the basics are done and I like how it turned out. This was all done freehand with a brush over some light pencil lines for guides, after I used Inkscape on the computer initially to play with letter sizes and spacing and figure out some basic guides. The “Hotel Atlantic” seemed like a good generic name, likely to occur anywhere in the English-speaking world, or even in non-English-speaking areas as the hotel set up to cater to English-speaking travellers.

One of the other buildings has a blank white square on it currently; later this week I’ll figure out what sort of sign or ad I want on it, too.

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Part The Second

Having assembled my new Sarrisa Precision lasercut buildings, it was time to consider adding some extra details to really make these buildings “pop” and bring them to life. One of the things I wanted to do was add detail to the fronts of the buildings, especially the cornices at the roofline, which are often quite elaborate on brick or stone urban buildings built in the late 19th or early 20th Century.

As I’d assembled these buildings I’d reflexively kept the bits of MDF from inside the windows and other openings in the models, and looking at the little pile of lasercut leftovers, I realized they’d be perfect for basic detailing and adding some relief to the fronts of my new buildings.

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The three-storey Sarissa Precision building, and the sorted offcut bits of MDF. Click for larger, as usual.

There were more than enough bits and pieces to do the fronts of five of the seven buildings, with leftovers to keep going on the remaining two if I decide, although I’d like to use some light card in layers for a slightly different look on the last CityBlock building and the Gaslamp Alley townhouse.

Here’s all six of the CityBlock buildings stacked up, five of them with basic ornamentation added with “scrap” MDF.

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All six CityBlock buildings stacked up, five of them with front details added. The statue is roughly 28mm tall, just for scale. Click for larger.

Next step is chimmneys and other rooftop detail. I’ll use basswood and plastic tubing for chimmneys, and create roof hatches, vents and roofwalks from basswood and card. Masking tape for tarpaper or paint and fine gravel will complete the roofs, then there’s painting to be done!