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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Architects of War Bombed House

Recently I got my hands on a new product from Architects of War to help add to the terrain of any European table; their beautiful, although destroyed, Bombed House.

The box this bad boy comes in is big and hefty, and the packaging leaves nothing rattling around inside.

If you pay close attention to the sticker on the box, you'll note that this piece was made in America. I've never opted out of buying something simply because it's made elsewhere, but if given the option between two identical products, I'll choose the one that's made in the ol' US of A. Some people are willing to spend a little more for things made at home, rather than abroad, so it bears mentioning. More on that later!

Inside the box you'll find that most of it is filled with the most substantial portion of the Bombed House. It's all wrapped in packing paper, with plenty extra to ensure the goods arrive safely. A roof for the very top of the building is included, and is obviously removable, which is always nice.  Additionally, it comes with four metal pieces to spice up the model: A door and frame for the side of the building, two remnants of upper floors, and a window. Rounding out the box, a paper sheet of what can be used as wall paper or carpeting.

The long view of the house is pictured above. You can see a crater from the bomb that "Bombed" this house. There are many other small details to pick out if you look carefully. A sink still hangs from an intact wall; what remains of a bathtub sits nearby; some cabinetry still lingers in another room; as well as too much detritus to include here. Suffice to say, there are a lot of little details for the talented painter to highlight here.

The stonework can be easily seen from this side of the house. You can also note the opening where the included metal door will eventually be hung. I'm really looking forward to dry brushing lightening layers on this side of the house, and in my opinion, there's nothing more evocative of a WWII ruin than a blasted building with its chimney still standing.

The stairway will eventually lead up to a partially-destroyed upper floor. I really like the chaos all the piles of battered masonry suggests.

If there was a "front" to this building, I guess this would be it. You can see what remains of a circular tabletop strewn amongst the rubble on the right. I give them a lot of credit for all the little details included in this terrain piece.

Like the rest of this model, the roof top shows little details here and there that separate it from a lesser product. Some of the tiles or shake shingles have been knocked loose or are otherwise askew. I've already mentioned it once, but the removable roof is a nice feature. I'm not saying a fixed roof, in a ruined building like this, is a deal breaker; but anything that gives me easier access to positioning models within is a bonus.

This paper with images of wallpaper, carpets, and paintings for the walls, is a nice little addition to the box. It doesn't come with any sort of adhesive backing - I think it's just a piece of paper run through a laser jet printer - but not having to hunt for images of these things, if I choose to use them, is a plus. I've never made even a flag or banner before in my war gaming background, so using these might be a challenge. They look so damn cool, though, that I feel obligated to give it a shot. I'll let you know if I was able to pull off the amazing look they did on their display model in a follow-up article!

In case you wondered, the Bombed House comes with no instructions. This can't possibly be a problem for anyone that's ever put together even the most simple model. However, to get this sheet of paper onto the walls and floors of this kit in a believable manner, I'm going to have to do some online research; and even after that, this will be my first time utilizing whatever techniques are suggested to turn this paper into realistic carpeting or wallpaper.

These metal pieces are excellent. I haven't cleaned or straightened them at all - this is exactly how they came out of the packaging. This is a huge plus for me, because I can't stand trying to bend things that should be straight back into their original position. It's really a challenge. This set delivered me the metal, straight as an arrow, and with amazing detail. Big plus here!

Without having finished, or even begun, this model, I feel mostly positive about it. The quality of the sculpting, the clarity and detail of the resin, the heft and sturdiness of it - all top notch. I couldn't ask for anything more. As a guy that would rather pay a bit more for pre-painted terrain than spend a bunch of time customizing his own, I'm not sure this kit would be for me at the eighty dollar price point. There is so much detail and flare in this box, I think a true modeller would absolutely love putting this together and painting every sink, tub, cabinet and personal belonging modeled into it. The paper they include could be used to great effect, I'm sure, by a talented and experienced hobbyist. I'm not sure, however, that I qualify as that. (Just checked - I'm positive that I don't.) I worry that this one's so advanced and detailed, that I might not take full advantage of it. A real professional can make this thing look like the model they display on their site. A hack like me? I'm not sure.

However, I'm excited to give it a shot, and that's got to be worth something. As an admitted novice, my future article on the finished product should add a lot to the review. If I can make it look halfway decent, anyone can! I own a Ruined Farmhouse from another manufacturer that sells for a few dollars more, which came prepainted. For now, that's the standard that I judge everything else on. Architects of War's Bombed House, in the hands of a skilled painter, would definitely come out better than anything I could purchase from a competitor. The question you have to ask yourself, though, is whether you would pay a small fraction more to save yourself the hours you will need to spend to get every dollar's worth out of Architects of War's Bombed House.

Take the page of decorations, for example. While I'm excited at the possibilities that little sheet of paper offers, I dread the extra time spent researching, then experimenting with, the suggested application techniques. It might go on perfectly! Or I might make an expensive terrain piece look ridiculous!

For now, I give it perfect grades on everything except the price point. I mentioned earlier, some folks would rather give their hard-earned dollars to a local manufacturer, though. If you fall into that category, and you love painting terrain, this will probably be your most favorite piece your collection.

Tell me what you think about it on the forum, and if you've got any tips for me before I start, let me know. Please!

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