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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spotlight: 4-Ground 15mm Stone Hotel and Damaged Log Village

by Maurice Kent

I recently came into possession of two building sets from 4-Ground ltd., thanks to Scott Simoneau's excellent NovaOpen mid-war tournament.  Below, I'll walk you through both sets and provide some thoughts on them.  Both sets are great for Flames of War, so hopefully you find this introduction to them helpful.

The first set is the 15mm Stone Hotel, which clocks in at 17 GBP retail.  This set is a 3-story building with removal roof.  It comes pre-painted in a beige stone with blue roof.  It also has a set of decals to give you some variety in naming the hotel.  Each level comes off and has a floor, so you can put individual teams at the appropriate windows.

Note: the trees in this article are from Toob/Safari Limited.  You can get them at Michael's with their standard coupon for a good price.  I think they look great with Flames stuff.  3-4 tubes and you've got a nice variety of tree types for your table with 0 prep required.  Sure they're cartoony, but it's a very clean tree solution.
In terms of construction, these kits have what I would call a lot of parts.  They're labeled pretty well to help you through the process, but they definitely take a bit of time to work through.  You need a bit of Elmer's glue, but otherwise they're pretty self-contained.

In terms of detail and quality of construction, this kit is off the charts.  It comes with fully detailed windows and doors, as well as window sills, and the inside of the tunnel walls on the right side of the building is similar to the external detail.

U.S. Rifles for scale

The instructions recommend rubber-banding each of the levels as you build them to prevent warping, but I found this unnecessary for one important reason: the walls are double-layered.  As you'll see below, there's an internal set of walls that fit quite snugly into the external walls, providing excellent stability.  The building is rock-solid.

Deuce and a half for scale
As you can see from the above photos, you won't be able to fit many Flames of War vehicles into the tunnel, especially tanks, not that that's a huge issue.

All the floors laid out.  Here you can see the internal wall pieces.

Each of the middle floors can fit about 4 standard teams and quite a bit more command teams.

Detail of the internal walls and windows
In the above picture, you see little pegs sticking out of the top of each floor in the corner.  These slot into holes on the bottom of each floor, as seen below.  This adds greatly to the overall stability of the model.

At 17 GBP (~$27), I think you're getting pretty good quality that only takes a moderate amount of assembly and no painting.

The second set is the Damaged Log Village.  At 22 GBP retail (about $35), you get three damaged buildings and six or seven building extensions for customization.

The three buildings with roofs removed.
Like the hotel, this set comes broken down into a large number of pieces.  I found this one a bit more confusing to assemble, just given the fact that you had so many different structures to construct.

House 1 with Fallschirmjager

As you can see, the attic of each building is partially intact, allowing you to place bases up there as well (especially if you don't glue the roof on.  This is made easier due to a similar peg/hole system used in the hotel).

House 2 with Soviet occupants

House 2

House 3 with an extension

Marder III crew keeps the vehicle from really fitting with the roof on

This one goes here, that one goes there!

House 1 with the roof off.  You can see the dual-wall system here.  It's worth noting that the internal sections are detailed/textured on these buildings, unlike the hotel.

The window shutters and door frames are inserted separately, which was kind of a pain in the rear.  Being lazy, I jammed in the few that didn't fit right, which actually turned out ok, as they fit well with the battle-damaged look of the buildings overall.

Some extensions

I really like this set.  I'm not sure if I need to add some additional color to the buildings, although I may just go for a quick brown wash.  Since they're wood, they probably are fine right off the sprue, however.

Overall, I'm quite impressed by 4-Ground's stuff.  You might be able to get more bang for your buck elsewhere, but I think that if you're looking for quality buildings that are quick to assemble and need little-to-no painting, this is the way to go.

"Maurice Kent is a part-time space cowboy and acknowledged addict when it comes to toy soldiers.  Based in the Maryland suburbs of DC, he has edited and translated for a variety of games and comics."

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