Sunday, 27 August 2017

20mm Eastern Front villages

For some reason, while 20mm or 1/72 is extremely well catered for in terms of figures and vehicles, the same can't be said for terrain and in particular MDF buildings. I have several from the Charlie Foxtrot Models range that I particularly like and use regularly for games set in Normandy or other parts of Europe. So, it's always good to hear about new ranges in 20mm and I was particularly pleased to see the 20mm buildings from Sarissa Precision for the Eastern Front.

I have a few of the small Russian village houses from Blotz but I've always wanted to add some more variety. I particularly liked the idea of a church and that's one of the offerings from Sarissa. They also have a nice looking Russian house that would add variety to those I already owned.

What I liked about their buildings is the addition of the greyboard fine features that add a level of detail that lift the buildings. My only issue was with the dome on the roof of the church which clearly shows the limitation of MDF.  I wasn't overly concerned and thought a bit of work with some filler or similar would sort that one out.

At the same time I put together the Russian village house and the two will work well together and look good to scale with my figures and vehicles.

There were two things that I wanted to change or improve. I wanted to add roof tiles to the church and add planks to the house roof, but the most obvious thing to work on was the church dome. Since embarking on this project I've seen articles in other forums suggesting you use the dome moulds designed for the end of curtain rails. A bit late now! I had already decided to use some kitchen paper towel soaked in diluted PVA to wrap the dome.

The roof tiles were from Charlie Foxtrot. They are easy to apply and work very well with absolutely no wastage.

Next I went to work on the dome and decided to try a papier mache approach.

This worked reasonably well, but not well enough, so once it had dried I also gave it a coat of plaster and was then a little happier. Here it is with roof tiles and the dome but, as is plain to see, the dome looks far too large. Perhaps it would all tie in with a coat of paint?

I wanted a faded dark wood effect for the church and a gold dome. I didn't think painting it gold would work so went for a faded yellow/brown. It's not quite as bright as it looks in the pictures but it still looked very wrong. This wasn't going to work.

I decided to abandon the MDF dome altogether and find something elsewhere. While researching pictures of real Russian churches I began to think the domes were not dissimilar in shape from the end fittings for curtain rails (which I now know are called finials. It's amazing what you learn while making little model buildings). So, off to the hardware store I went and I found these.

With a little bit of surgery I removed elements from the top and the bottom to get the desired shape. I then re-used the MDF cross from the original Sarissa model and attached that to the top.

These domes can sometime be gold plated, but I'm assuming a fairly modest Russian community for most of my villages and it looks like blue domes are also popular. I did however indulge them with a gold cross. I think this is much improved and I'm happy with the result. A great enhancement for little cost and little work.

The village house worked well among my existing houses. These I had painted in a hurry for a game I was putting on and I have never been totally happy with them. So I decided I would give all of the houses a new roof and a new paint job. Unfortunately I didn't take an work in progress shots for that bit of work, but here's a before shot.

With the village houses repainted and re-roofed here they are in a game setting.  

Wooden fence are very characteristic of these villages and they tend to be the tall type with reasonably close boards like these:

I wanted to create something that would serve as a base for a village house, but I wanted flexibility on how I could use them. So I started with a base for a single house surrounded by a fence.

Having a house permanently attached to a base was too rigid a solution and so they were made in a way that allows different houses to be placed in different ways. 

At the same time, as you can see from one of the contemporary pictures, these houses were often adjoining and so the fences form a continuous line. With that in mind I made another two bases of the same size, but this time I left one side open.

This allows me to join them together without doubling up on the fence lines, like so:

The base with all four sides fenced can then butt up against the open end to make a row of three houses. I also made a fence that could close off one of the open sides should I want a different configuration.

This gives me scope to line three up together.

And then with houses:

Having an open unfenced side on two of the bases allows me to use my other freestanding fences to make up larger areas or different shapes:

I also wanted to have a few replacement fences for those that have been breached by vehicles, so I made a couple of those in different sizes.

Lastly I also wanted a few destroyed wooden houses and reworked a couple of earlier ones I had made using cork floor tiles. There is nowhere near enough debris around them, but I wanted them to be functional for figure placement, so I'm happy enough with the way they've turned out.

And so for the effect of some HE, or a drive through by a heavy vehicle here's a 'before and after' shot.

Many of these had their first use in our Chain of Command campaign 'Storming the Citadel' and you can see how they worked in this after action report.


  1. Nice Terrain does make a big difference when gaming, agree the Sarrisa building are nice, like the piping of your buildings and they all look spot on.
    cheers John

  2. I have the same set waiting to be built. I thought I'd use filler on the church dome but based on your experience I think I'll try to find a smaller, solid wooden ball from a craft store or something..

  3. Excellent work! Hugely impressive. Can I ask, what paints/colours did you use for your faded wood effect please? I'm struggling not to make mine look too "new"

    1. Thanks Adrian, glad you like them. The wood is painted using Dulux paints, I buy sample pots and use them for all my terrain painting. 250ml goes a long way and is inexpensive. The wood is first painted a darkish brown (Dulux Peppercorn Rent). I then dry brush with a bluish grey colour (Dulux Western Myall) and then finally another light dry brush with a lighter shade of grey (Dulux Timeless Grey). If it looks a little too grey I sometimes give another more random light brush with a buff/khaki colour (Dulux Arava). I hope that's helpful..

  4. Where do you get your fencing?

    1. I made them myself by cutting out thin strips out of balsa wood and gluing them with PVA glue. They are mounted on MDF bases.