In January of this year I discovered a new name in the market of card buildings - Stoelzel's Structures, named after its creator, Carl Stoelzel. I am always on the look out for new buildings to populate Mayhem City, venue of my All Things Zombie campaign. What really attracted me to this new range of models is that they came with interior detail, furniture and props. Always a good thing, in my opinion! This is why I am such a big fan of World Works Games. I ordered and downloaded Carl's initial releases and was very impressed with them. Whenever he released a new model, I'd buy and download it. This way, I kept up to date with his output. He kept churning new stuff out every month and the more I saw of them the more I liked them. So, a couple of months ago I decided it was time to take the plunge and build one of his models. The one I chose was the Cottage.
Here it is, showing the front and one side. Its dimension are 7" long by 7" wide by 6.5" tall and it is a single storey building.
This view shows the back of the Cottage and another side. I added the ridge tiles along the top of the roof. They're made out of thin card and I painted them slightly darker than the other roof tiles.
Here is the front of the Cottage, and as you can see, I have added my 28mm scale figure of Vampifan to give you a sense of its size.
Moving round in an anti-clockwise direction, is one side of the building. Regular followers of my blog will be well aware of my mantra when it comes to card models - always go the extra mile.
In the case of windows I always replace those on the printed wall with transparencies. The Cottage did not come with a separate sheet of windows as some models do, both by Carl and other companies. In this case it didn't matter that much as the windows were featureless and lacked any tracery. So I was able to replace them rectangles of transparency paper.
Here's the back of the Cottage and I must admit to being slightly surprised that the building only has one entrance/exit. My brother, who is an architect, picked up on this straight away and said this design would fail planning permission. Speaking as a layman, I don't think it's that important but what do I know about building regulations and health and safety law?
The opposite side of the Cottage is identical to the other side, even down to the weathering!
Moving on, we now come to the interior and to use a bit of adspeak we can see the Unique Selling Point of a Stoelzel's Structures model - it is designed to be used with foamboard. The walls and floor are reinforced with 5mm thick foamboard. I normally reinforce my buildings with mounting card, which is 1.5mm thick, so this was a major change for me. I have kept clear from reinforcing my buildings with foamboard because you have to take into account the thickness of it when working on the interior. To be honest, you still do with mounting card but to a much lesser degree. Fortunately for the person making the model, Carl has taken the thickness of the foamboard into consideration and his measurements are spot on. I found that using foamboard instead of mounting card just as easy. Those not used to reinforcing their models may find some difficulties with using foamboard. Top tip - never try to cut it in one go. I use three passes - first to cut the top card, second to cut the foam and third to cut the bottom card. Oh, and always use a sharp knife. If the blade starts to get dull it will tear the foam, not cut it.
The Cottage has been divided into three rooms with a large chimney situated in the centre. The fireplace in the chimney faces the front door. Wherever possible I have tried to use Stoelzel's furniture to furnish the rooms but in a few instances I have had to resort to using non-Stoelzel furniture, which was a shame but a necessary evil at this point. Perhaps in the future Carl will make the items I had to replace. Above the fireplace is a flatscreen TV that came from the WWG Mayhem Mega Mall set (sorry, Carl!). The settee and easy chair in front of the fireplace and TV were from the Cottage set. All of my furniture items are reinforced with mounting board. The dining table and four chairs came from The Stoezel's Modular Mansion 2 - The Estate set, whilst the cupboard just above them in the photo above came from the Stoezel's Victorian District Townhouse.
There is a small niche between the back of the chimney and the entrance wall to the bathroom. I decided to fill that gap with a grandfather clock, which also came from the Victorian District Townhouse. It was a perfect fit. The bath and toilet were both part of the Cottage set. Interestingly enough, the thickness of the bath is the same thickness as a sheet of mounting card. Coincidence? The two tall cupboards in the bedroon were scratchbuilt by me. I wish I'd waited until I'd bought the Modular Mansion 2 - The Estate set, as it contained a medium sized and large dresser, which I'd have used instead. Ah well, I wasn't to know. Next to the cupboard against the side wall is a small table, which is part of the Cottage set. On the same sheet as this table are a few table lamps. These did not come with instructions on how to build them, which is a shame as they are quite complex models. On the other hand, they do come with the biggest light bulbs I have ever seen, so I didn't mind too much omitting it.
Against the left hand wall in the large room shown in the photo above is the kitchen area of the Cottage. From top to bottom are a kitchen sink unit, an oven, a washing machine and a fridge. The kitchen sink unit came from the WWG TLX Mayhem Apartment. Once again, I was too hasty in adding it. If I'd waited a couple of weeks until I bought the Stoelzel's Modular Mansion 3 - The Asylum, I'd have found some useful sink units there, some with metal surrounds and others with wooden surrounds. Alas, too late was the cry! The cooker and fridge are both from the Cottage set. I have one criticism to make about the cooker. The control panel is behind the four rings. Surely, from a health and safety aspect, it should be at the front. This is where it is on the oven in my house. The washing machine came from Jim's Dollhouse Minis, a useful website for furniture and fittings.
In the bathroom, against the rear wall in the above photo is a sink, that came with the Cottage set. Moving down to the bedroom, the two beds and the chest between tham are also from the Cottage. I do think that the beds are too small. I measured them and they are 30mm long, which sounds good for a 28mm scale figure. But... they look underscaled. A length of 35mm would have been much better. Also, they are very low to the ground. I countered this by sticking them to a rectangular offcut of foamboard. Raising them by 5mm made a notable difference. Note that all of the doors of the Cottage can open and close. Each side of the door is reinforced with thin card with a sandwich filling of masking tape for the hinges.
The Cottage itself was very easy to build, especially as I have had loads of experience in reinforcing my card buildings. If I'd only used the furniture items provided with the set I think it would have looked very spartan. I felt it needed a lot more furniture adding. I am genuinely sorry that I couldn't furnish it purely with Stoezel products but at the time I had to work with what was in my collection. How was I to know that I'd find most of the missing stuff in future sets from Carl?
My experience of building the Cottage has only whetted my appetite to make a lot more Stoezel's Structures models. Indeed, I am now working on Carl's Warehouse model. I said in a previous post that Stoezel's Structures are now my favourite card models, having knocked WWG from my number one place. Carl is making the type of buildings that I want to use in my model city. I just wish I had more time to get them all built as there isn't one in his catalogue that I don't want to make. If you'd like to know a lot more about Stoelzel's Structures I can recommend joining or just checking out his online forum, which can be found here
I've found Carl to be a very friendly bloke. Best of all, he listens to suggestions and will, if valid, make changes to a set. Customer service at its best!
Incidentally, I buy all of his products from the Wargame Vault, which can be found here
Check it out, as just today Carl has added three new models.