A couple of days ago I posted a little teaser of a table set up for Sunday night's game. The battle report from that will be coming soon, but in the meantime, here's a look at my experience with the table's centrepiece - the 28mm Grand Stone Hotel from 4ground.
|If my wife can bring home expensive shoeboxes, then so can I!|
I've shown some of my Sarissa Precision buildings before, and I'm still a fan of those. However, I keep saying these days that I don't have a huge amount of time to spend on hobby stuff, so the fact that the 4groUnd buildings are pre-painted was attractive - just knock 'em together and they're table ready, with the option to add more detail later if I want.
Opening the box did dispel that illusion pretty quickly. The kit comes as thirty-odd wooden sprues, with 4 A3 pages worth of instructions, a bag of elastic bands, and a dozen clothes pegs. These turned out to be crucial later. Clearly, assembling this beast was going to take some time.
|This heap of sprues is about three deep. It's a big old kit.|
|Rubber bands become useful during ground floor construction|
So, at 10:30 on Thursday morning, I made a cup of tea and got to work. The first job was to check that all the sprues listed in the instructions were actually there. After that I started popping things out and gluing them together. The instructions suggested that I might need so sand off some edges, but I actually found that everything fit almost perfectly as it came off the sprue - on a couple of occasions I had to make some slight adjustments with a knife but that was definitely the exception rather than the rule.
|Even at this early stage, we have working doors and nice big rooms!|
The combination of very well fitting parts and painting did mean that some pieces fit together extremely tightly. This actually caused me a bit of trouble as I was dry fitting everything first before I glued it and struggled to get some bits back out to apply the glue!
|My mistake with the instructions creates a need for loads of pegs|
- Photos with incorrect labels
- Photos with no labels at all
- Photos where a specific part is never mentioned so you're not sure when it should have been added
- The worst offender - complete mirror images of the real kit
|The loft needs a bit of holding to keep it together|
|The first two floors sit together, lots of rooms there|
Remember I said that I checked off all the sprues against the list in the instructions earlier? Well, each one also has a picture of the sprue. I didn't pay too much attention to these as I was mainly using the part numbers, but...
|Spot the difference!|
... my windows sprue has one less skylight than the one in the picture!
This actually prevented me from finishing the model, so I decided to take a break for the day before my aching back (from stooping over a table all day) gave out completely.
|As far as I got at the end of the day|
I'm pretty impressed with the response! Cad from 4gRoUnD emailed me back within half an hour, apologised for the missing part, and promised to put that and some paint (to cover up the glue that got everywhere when I had to reposition things) in the post to me. He also gave me a 10% off code to use on their website, so I'm happy with that!
Cad also mentioned that 4GrouNd are aware of the problems with their instructions and are looking into improving them. I think that would really help, as the models do look great so the instructions are a bit of a weak link for them at the moment.
|The front of the hotel|
|And the back, including the missing skylights|
Having run a game over it, and spent some time stroking it possessively, I can say that the quality is pretty high, and the two sided walls (internal and external sides are separate pieces) mean that the finished model is nice and sturdy - useful when you keep taking levels off to get inside. It looks really nice, and it's a big piece when done, so makes a nice centrepiece for a table by itself.
On the other hand, at £85 it ain't cheap, and it took a long time to build. The instructions weren't great either (although 4GROUND say they are working on that). I was missing a piece, but I got a good response when I contacted them.
I have to say that I'm very happy with it altogether. It's probably the most expensive single hobby item I've ever bought, so not having any buyer's remorse afterwards is a very good sign for me!
Watch this space for a battle report featuring this very building...