Matakishi's Tea House

A simple little site...

By Dave Bezio

Changing the buildings.

I got my Ertl Cowtown Ranch in the mail today..I gotta admit I'm a bit disappointed, mainly because of the size. Everyone said it was the same scale as 28mm, but it actually all looks smaller than 25mm to me...and since I'm using the semi-larger Black Scorpion minis, most of the stuff just looks way to small (the chairs and tables for the bar look like kiddie tables). Other than the buildings, windmill, cattle, and maybe the stagecoach, I'm not going to be able to make much use of the other stuff.

Oh well.

The buildings are the best, but they are going to require some painting before they look decent. My main problem is they look really bad with the ones I already made. This puts me in the position of having to play with a mishmash table, just use what I already made, or scratch build some cool buildings asap (and with the holidays upon us that's pretty much out of the question right now).

The steer are just a tad on the small side, but they are nice little figures, and one of the main reasons I purchased the set, so I’m going to use them. They don’t look that bad unless you really analyze the size difference.

I’m torn on the windmill. It looks decent, but it doesn’t have any wood grain on it (probably because they use it with all their sets), so it won’t paint up too impressive looking. It doesn’t look like it would be too hard to scratch build something similar, and that would have a more rugged look…but of course, that would take more time and money. I’ll probably hold off till I get some play time in and see just how much I’m going to be playing. I’m hoping to get a regular campaign going, but if I have to pull teeth to get people to play…well…

The stagecoach is small, and the wheels are put on terribly cheap (the other wagon is way too small, it looks like a child’s toy next to the figs). Since the horses are also too small, if you add those to the stagecoach it looks bad. This was one of the main reasons I purchased the set, so it was a huge disappointment.

Now I think all this stuff would look good with 25mm scale, if you are using the smaller figs…but for my Black Scorpion ones it just isn’t working.

Covered Wagon

It took me a bit of searching to find a covered wagon in a cheap plastic cowboy set that was about the right size for 28mm mini use. I finally got this one in a $4 set. The horses that went with it were too big and looked dumb anyway, so I used these ones I had left over from another project where I got the 6 horses for $2.

I found the wagon at a train/hobby store in Appleton WI (looking for static grass). They had a little rack of plastics. Most of the wagons in the sets were a slightly larger size, and just when I was going to give up I saw this set with a smaller wagon (although everything else was the larger plastic cowboy size). It was the only one, alas. It looked fairly generic. A bit more expensive than the $.99 ones I usually see, but worth it for the wagon.

The horses came from Kmart, and I'm pretty sure it is a regular stock item. It was in the section by the other plastics (army men and such). It was a display box full of small square tubes with animal heads on the top (a horse, in this instance). There is also a spider, lizard, Dinosaur, and cow set (although the cow has generic farm animals in it including chickens, a horse, a cow or bull, and a dog...I think. Only the cow, bull, and horse look to be about the right size, the rest are too big.) is a go at one of the Ertl cowtown buildings (the simplest one first).

I cut out a piece of hardboard (the kind used on clipboards.) for the base.

Since I started painting the Ertl Cow Town buildings, I'm really liking the way they look.

However, they are just so much larger than the little foamboard ones I made that they just don't look good together. Not only that, but the detailed plastic painted ones look so much more 3-D than the foamboard/printed ones that I just don't feel good about it.

So...having a little more time before I play (with the holidays and all) I decided to take a little time and try to put together a scratch built house or two to go along with the Cow Town ones to flesh out Davestown before my first game.

I started last night, and it's about half finished (building). I think it’s coming along nicely…but once it’s done and painted will be the real test.

I thought this was going to be awful expensive, but, my additional costs amounted to $2! For the base structure I’m using the Saloon foamboard house I already built (one of the larger buildings). For material I’m using a few of the hobby sticks I already have, a pack of popsicle sticks from the dollar store (200 sticks for $1!), and for a door, a cabinet door from a piece of doll house furniture I also found at the dollar store.

The first is the Cow Town Stable ready for play. I thought long and hard about how to make the signs and in the end decided that I was going to go with a natural (sloppy) sort of painted by a real person look. Not sure if I'm 100% in love with it, but it'll work for now.

The second pic is my scratch built work in progress...the popsicle castle! You can still see the old saloon stuff underneath through the windows and the sign. Once painted I think it will be a gun shop. It has that sort of Jed Clampet look. It looks funny right now, but hopefully after a good coat of paint....well, we'll see, if it looks like shit nothing is lost except a couple hours of work

I got my scratch built done today. 3 days of work (well, not constantly, but you know). My hand is sore as hell from chopping popsicle sticks (not near as easy to cut as Balsa wood!).

I was really worried about half way through the painting, as it wasn't looking that good, but I kept at it and worked on the weak areas, and by the time I was done I had a building I really liked.

I wish I would have thrown some mini figures into the pictures below, but didn't think about it untill too late...oh well. Coments or advice always appreciated.

All I have to do is paint up those other two Ertl buildings and the "new" table will be ready to go...a lot better than the original IMHO.

The holiday sort of slowed everything down, but I got another cow town building painted, the Sheriffs office. Davestown is starting to look a lot different than the original.

Well OK, the fourth and final cow town building is done! I was saving the most difficult for last, and to make matters worse I cobbled together a porch with roof to make it a little cooler. I had to build a porch anyway (as I did with the Sheriffs office) as the plastic ones just look sort of crappy and fake...but that didn't stop me from carving off pieces to piecemeal this together. I like how it came out...I know it sounds like an excuse, but I have a terrible cold today, and it probably would have been a bit better if I was feeling well. Nothing I did today seemed to work out right (you should have seen me taking down the Christmas lights outside), and my hands were a bit shaky (for the lettering and windows). But hey, I like the end product just fine.

Last night I glued the building together and glued it to the base (I used model glue for the building and Elmers glue in excess to glue it to the base after scoring the plastic) and let it dry overnight.
I built the porch in about a half hour. Carving all the plastic crap off the roof and floor is what took so long, it was at an odd angle.
The rest of the building I just sort of picked at in between all the other things I had to do today...which was good because it gave paint time to dry, and me time to relax.
I also worked on a few odds and ends inbetween, like the outhouse which I finished, and the windmill, which isn't done.
All in all I would say it took about 3-4 hours from start to finish, if you combined it all (painting up the signs took the longest). Buildings are fun because I like to be sort of "sloppy" when I do them. I think they look better, a little more "realistic" if they aren't really perfect. I might be wrong, but I like the way they look.

Davestown pdf

Davestown is available as a 2.5Mb pdf.