This weekend I completed a little ruined Dutch cottage to whet my appetite for the forthcoming exciting new range of 28mm WW2 Dutch figures by May ’40 Miniatures.
I spotted this Airfix model by chance in a half-price sale at a local model shop. I nearly walked past, because it was 1/76 scale – way too small for 28mm miniatures, I thought.
But the architecture of this model kept drawing me back to look at it. It was just so like the little brick cottages I had often ridden past on my bicycle during my trips to the southern Netherlands to visit extended family.
Then I noticed that the model didn’t have a floor, so it might be easy to add a foundation to the bottom of the walls, and so heighten the front door. Maybe, just maybe, this could actually work with 28mm miniatures after all?
Ah well, at half-price, even if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t break the bank. So I splashed out and bought one to test.
Opening the box at home, I found a very nicely cast one-piece building in resin. There was also a small packet containing four photo-etched brass window-frames and some panes of plastic ‘glass’ for them.
The model itself is rather curious. As I’ve already said, the design is spot-on for what it is trying to portray. It really does feel like a Dutch cottage – as I remember them, anyway. But why oh why a ruined one? Firstly, I would’ve thought an intact cottage would have much wider appeal, to all those Dutch model railroaders for example.
Secondly, the ‘ruining’ isn’t particularly well done – there’s an odd square hole in the roof, total ruin at the back of the cottage but without any rubble, floorboards that look like they’ve been carefully cut rather than smashed, no rafters showing where the roof has come down, etc. The only ruining that looks right is where several windows have been peppered with bullets and small projectiles, presumably to target enemy marksmen sheltering inside.
Anyway, on with the project. As I had envisaged, it was dead easy to add a 1cm deep ‘foundation’ layer of foam-core board to the bottom of the walls. This of course detracted from the distinctive very low window sills of a Dutch cottage, but it still looked OK. And it did make the door much higher, so that a 28mm figure could fit through (I haven’t got any Dutch yet, so there’s a couple of rather out-of-place French Foreign Legionnaires in my photos!). I also added some flooring on the ground.
Painting was easy. I first spray-painted the model black overall. I then painted the brick areas with grey, and dry-brushed them with a terracotta colour. This left the grey showing though as mortar. However, I thought this looked a bit stark, so I added liberal patches of a dark wash to tone down the mortar. I also picked out a few bricks in differing shades of brown and red. I was really pleased with the result, which as you can see from the pictures, has come out quite realistic.
I dry-brushed the black roof with dark grey, and then picked out all the trim with a very light grey, exactly as per the painting guide on the box-lid.
The brass window frames are a nice touch that really bring the model to life. However, only four sets are supplied, which means several windows have apparently had their frames completely blown out with no trace remaining. I thought this looked unrealistic, so I chopped up one of the window frames into several pieces, so that each ruined window could have at least a bit of frame still clinging tenaciously. I also found some frames in my spare parts box that fitted the small upper windows perfectly.
I cut the ‘glass’ panes to represent shattered glass – surely the windows wouldn’t have remained unbroken with the whole back of the house gone!
Finally, I decided the building looked silly without rubble. I found an old brick in my garden, and smashed off a corner with a hammer. I pulverised the piece of brick with the hammer, until it was just brick-dust and grit. I mixed this with PVA glue, and then slopped dollops of the mixture onto the house. I inserted some broken window-frames and pieces of old brickwork from my spares box into the piles of brick gloop, and – hey presto – perfect rubble!
If I was being really pedantic, I should probably have done something about the chimneys – or, rather, about the lack of fireplaces and the odd positioning of the chimneys just above windows. But there is a limit to even my pedantic-ness!
So there you have it, a small ruined Dutch cottage, perfect for 28mm.
OK, it does still have a pretty small foot-print (10cm by 7cm). But I don’t think it will look too out-of-kilter, as you can see here with it placed beside the Perry Miniatures colonial church for comparison purposes.
Overall, a very nice little model that I think will work for my 28mm gaming. I just hope that Airfix will also make an intact version of this cottage one day!