As regular readers of this blog might have noticed, my stash of 15mm Central European buildings is starting to look rather shabby. Aside from a few very nice farms bought in 2015 from Tiger Terrain for the Waterloo Bicentennial refight (which reminds me – I haven’t done an article on those!), all of my scenery dates from the late 1980s and early 1990s (as seen in this photo of my Lobositz 1756 demo game from a 1998 copy of Wargames Illustrated).
As can be seen, the core of my existing collection is a load of resin and stonecast models once manufactured by The Drum. This beautiful, though small range was later taken over by Mayhem Miniatures, and is now owned by SHQ, but the moulds are sadly now in a very bad state, judging by some ex-The Drum Spanish buildings I bought from them in 2019. The Drum’s models were absolutely beautiful when they were new, but mine have taken a lot of knocks over three decades, with the stonecast ones being particularly prone to chipping. If you look very carefully at the photo above, they were already chipped in 1998 and the church had already lost the tip of its spire!
The rest of my existing buildings are a set of ‘Germanic’ resin models by Hovels which I had for Christmas in the 1980s (I think all Napoleonic wargamers of that era have had that set in their collection at some time) and a load of timber-frame houses scratch-built for me from card, foamboard and balsa by my good friend, the extremely talented Gareth Beamish.
As it happens, I wasn’t actually looking for a load of new scenery, but I was looking for an Essling(ish) Granary and Aspern(ish) Church for my forthcoming Aspern-Essling refight. My mate Phil Portway then pointed out that a company I’d never heard of called Total Battle Miniatures (TBM) did a Esslingish granary model that would fit the bill. I ended up getting the granary… along with a Town set, a Village set and a couple of Hamlet sets…
The curious feature of this range is that every building is designed to perfectly fit into a 50x 50mm or 50x100mm recess on the village tile. The tiles then have hedges and walls moulded on. the Hamlet tile is shown above, with some 15mm figures and TBM buildings shown for scale.
The flexible nature of the tiles means that they MUST NOT be painted with spray paint, as that will simply crack and flake off. TBM recommend using acrylic paint, but I experimented with my usual thinned Humbrol enamel and it worked absolutely fine, though did stay sticky for a few weeks afterwards, which was strange.
Having since painted two more tiles, they have now been painted for over six months and show absolutely no sign of cracking or flaking, so I’ll stick with enamel paint (I still have the large Town tile left to paint).
Here’s the Hamlet tile again with some different buildings. The casting was exceptionally clean and crisp on these models and there was absolutely no clean-up required whatsoever.
As with almost all wargames scenery, the scale-footprint of the buildings is reduced, otherwise the larger buildings (such as Essling Granary) would be absolutely gigantic on the table and in terms of game ground-scale would be as long as a 12pdr can shoot! It’s an eternal problem with wargame scenery, especially when we want to have famous buildings on the table, but which then fill an unhistorically-large area of the battlefield (e.g. Essling Granary and the Waterloo farms). The solution used by TBM seems to have been to exaggerate the vertical scale to make the large buildings look big, while keeping the footprint the same as the small buildings (50x100mm) and I have to say that it works really well! It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it works for me.
Note that the church supplied with the town set comes with three alternate spires – a tiled spire, a lead/copper-clad spire and a copper-clad onion dome. I’ve drilled and pinned them, so I can swap them around from game to game. The lead-clad spire is shown above and the tiled spire is shown here. If you buy the church as an individual model you pick which spire you want.
Lastly, here’s the church with its copper-clad onion dome.
I do like my new buildings. They’re already serving as back-drops for new photos and I can’t wait to get them in a game. 🙂