Reviews: May 2012
This month's reviews include 4Grounds laser cut MDF buildings and accessories and the book The Wolfenbüttel War by Charles S. Grant.
|28mm Laser Cut MDF Buildings and Accessories
Reviewed by Andy Sykes
4Ground is a new company specialising in laser cut MDF buildings and accessories for the wargamer, they are the people behind the excellent Rorke’s Drift buildings made for Warlord Games. The company is an offshoot of Tymeagain Ltd, who makes historic toys for The National Trust and English Heritage. After fulfilling the order from Warlord, 4Ground has decided to venture into the market with their own range of goodies. Already they have several buildings, wagons and other bits and pieces available.
Adam at 4Ground has kindly supplied some samples for review:
|This is a set designed to beef up the Rorke’s Drift set from Warlord Games, it contains;
12 Doors & Door Frames (designed for the buildings in the Warlord set).
1 Outhouse Cook’s Stores.
1 Outhouse WC.
1 Ox Wagon.
All the components come is laser cut flat boards, the first thing you notice is the smoked smell, which people seem to love or hate, its love for me!
Excellent photographed sequence instruction sheets are included and these are also downloadable from the 4Cround website.
The add on doors come in 4 sheets each containing 3 doors, their frames, supporting Z pieces and some intricate door latches. The doors and frames are etched with fine plank detailing showing nails and cracks. The frames fit to the inside walls, into which the doors can be tab fitted, so that they will open, or glued for strength, the Z supports go on to the back of the doors (there is matching detail on the front showing nail marks, a nice touch) and the latches slip into the doors. These give the buildings a more lived in look and something to keep the Zulu’s out.
|The next items are a little more complicated, at first the amount of parts in a board can look daunting, but don’t be put off as the instructions really are good. Also the design engineering of parts, fit and sequence of construction is first class, a lot of plastic kit manufactures could learn something from 4Ground!
The Cook’s stores is a 14 piece kit, the parts are contained in two boards, we have the roof, 4 supporting eaves, 2 long side walls, back wall and front wall with cut out for the door. The door is similar to the main building designs with, Z and latch, and also tab fitted. The other two parts are the inner supporting frames which look delicate but give ample strength. The outer parts are detailed with plank, nail, and weathering cracks and small bits can be pushed out to simulate wear.
Building this was a delight, at first, knowing the properties of PVA I was a little doubtful of how this would go, I thought that the thing would fall apart as I added more parts. In fact it went together like a dream, make certain you use good quality wood glue, use it sensibly and employ the applicator, one of which is supplied on nearly every board. In small amounts the PVA dries surprisingly fast and a strong structure soon results. After about 15 minutes, and I was taking it easy as this was my first build, a pleasing shed emerged. In fact constructing it wasn’t far off the same as building a real life sized pre prepared garden shed, a feeling accentuated by the material.
||The finished item is 100mm x 68mm and 59mm tall at its highest point, the roof is detachable.
The WC is almost a miniature of the Cook’s stores and all the above comments apply, it has an extra three parts which fit in the interior and make up the WC itself, 2 pieces for the box and a toilet seat, this is a really cracking little building and along with the shed is suitable for many settings and periods. A pack of several WC’s would be great for Wild West towns. The finished item is 50mm x 36mm and 48 mm tall at the front, there is plenty of room to fit a figure in.
The Ox wagon is a 43 part kit, this looks complicated but following the
construction plan made it easy, this has loads of etched detail and the
result is excellent the finished thing is smashing; again there is the
feeling of building a real thing instead of a model. This is so much
easier than trying to glue white metal wagons together and the result I
think looks better.
|The price too is very reasonable and I will
definitely be purchasing more of these. (It is also on the grapevine
that North Star/Artizan is going to make Colonial and Wild West teams
and drivers for this and the other wagon mentioned below.)
The Outhouse components from this set can be purchased without the
Rorke’s Drift doors, for those who don’t have the buildings, in another
set which also includes a two wheeled farm cart, which is a 15 piece kit
and again a great looking piece emerges. The Ox wagon and cart are
also available separately, as are the Rorke’s Drift Buildings for those
who don’t want the whole Zulu War set.
|Rorke’s Drift Add On Set 2
This set is a combination of 4Ground and Renedra components;
1 General Purpose Wagon.
1 Water Cart.
1 Water Jack.
5 Renedra Large Barrels.
5 Renedra Small Barrels.
4 Renedra Bell Tents.
1 Renedra Fire Pit.
2 Renedra Camp Beds.
1 MDF Camp Base 160mm x 180mm.
The Renedra components are plastic injection mouldings, well detailed and their descriptions are self explanatory, they are sturdy parts and look good painted up.
|The General Purpose wagon is a 50 piece kit, and
the comments on the Ox wagon pretty much cover this, again great detail
and a cracking finish and it also comes with canopy hoop supports.
This wagon is usable for so many periods and places and it is available
separately. The wagons and carts are my favourite pieces, I think they
are an excellent idea and I’ve tried suggesting to 4Ground that they
make more specific models in the future but that is just because I am an
The Water Cart & Jack (Stand) come on the same board, 5 pieces
for the board and 11 for the cart simple little models which are
designed to hold Renedra Barrels, also universal for many periods and
The last piece is a simple base designed to make a FOG style camp,
all of this set is obviously suitable for other uses than the Zulu War.
||Old Timber Framed Cottage Pre-Painted
This is a MDF multi part building kit but not only that it comes pre painted. The come in 7 boards;
Inside Walls x 2.
Exterior Walls x2 .
This is a very well finished product all the walls and roof pieces are pre painted, the door, windows and floor are self coloured. Assembly is straight forward and everything fits well, the windows are impressive with a lattice of tiny open squares. The top of the roof and upper floor are removable so that figures can be placed inside. The painting and attention to detail is good, small holes show wattle and can be removed for damage effects.
|The chimney is the most complicated construction and is topped off with a
turned and coloured piece of dowel. This doesn’t even need touched up
when completed though you could do if you wished. This is excellent
value at £16 and you can save by buying them in pairs.
A vanilla unpainted version is available for £10 but comes with not as much detail and no interior walls.
All in all these products are first class and I highly recommend
them. I will certainly add more to my own collection. Well done 4Ground
and I wish you all the best. Thanks to Adam for the samples.
Check out the website for more pricing and buying options:
|The Wolfenbüttel War
by Charles S. Grant
Reviewed by Neil Smith
The Wolfenbüttel War is the latest in a series of linked wargames scenarios devised and written by prolific wargamer and writer Charles S. Grant. Grant’s idea is to provide a narrative context in which wargames can take place thereby making them more strategically realistic. In this case, Grant presents his readers with four scenarios forming a fictional 18th century campaign loosely based on the Waterloo campaign of 1815. In addition, the author provides all the technical information required to run the campaign effectively. Grant’s imaginative approach to gaming is let down, however, by framing it in a distinctly unimaginative and sometimes careless production.
|After the obligatory foreword and introduction, Grant gets down to business. He begins by narrating the origins of the Wolfenbüttel War between the combined states of the Electoral League and the Duchy of Lorraine. Both sides are then given their strategic dispositions and orders, and after another brief narrative section, including a cute account of the Markgräfin’s Ball, we get into our first action at Ginly. The scenarios contain few surprises. They consist of an introduction, background, terrain, victory conditions, a map, some game mechanics, a report of the action as fought by Grant and his friends, and a linking section that takes us to the next scenario. From Ginly, we go to Vierarm and Varew; then conclude the action at Silverhausen. Grant ends The Wolfenbüttel War with a ‘biographical’ guide to the commanders, notes for game organizers, and a brief ‘wash-up’ concluding section in which he outlines changes he would have made when fighting the scenarios.
As a concept, The Wolfenbüttel War is nicely imagined as well as neatly constructed on paper and on the wargames table. As a historian, I would have preferred Grant to turn his considerable administrative talents to an actual campaign of the 18th Century rather than an anachronistic fantasy, but I confess to pondering the Waterloo campaign with tanks and an 18th Century Gettysburg campaign. Grant also writes with enthusiasm and it is clear he enjoys constructing his “tabletop teasers”. Unfortunately, the finished product does not match Grant’s vision. Outside of the idea, The Wolfenbüttel War is uninspiring. The maps are amateurish, and along with the uninspired photographs of the battles, give the production an almost pre-internet, pre-digital camera feel. Careless production is also evident in the lack of coherent copy-editing and the inclusion of easily avoidable typos; e.g. are Lorraine and Lorrain different entities? Overall, I like what Grant is attempting with his linked wargames concept, but outside of diehard 18th century enthusiasts, looking for fresh inspiration, I am not sure who would buy this product at £16 with so much alternative and cheaper material available on-line and in print.
Last Updated On Friday, June 01, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront