Usually the buildings and terrain I collect for wargaming are made from resin. The buildings from Thomarillion (produced by Ziterdes), however, use a very different, unique material: a light-weight, dense hard foam. Ever since I first saw their products I have been both intrigued and sceptical, but never found a good reason to buy any of these products. That was until I saw the new release the Broom Binder House, at the Thomarillion booth at the Tactica. It is a bit bigger than what I have seen from them and I immediately thought it would fit perfectly with the Stronghold Terrain buildings, such as the Town house.
MaterialThe first thing you will notice is the weight. As someone who is used to handling resin and plaster terrain I find it very unusual to lift off such a light-weight piece. Of course, this is a good thing, though. Especially pieces cast in plaster are very heavy and when they break - they explode into a hundred bits. A piece of hardfoam does feel safer. On the other hand, if you accidentally hit this on the table edge or whatever then you still do end up with dents which may even be more difficult to repair than on conventional resin products. All in all, I find the hardfoam to be sufficiently sturdy, though.
After unpacking the house I encountered the most awkward thing about the foam: the feel. It felt like it was dusty/friable(?) - like there were lots of super tiny crumbs all over the surface. When you rub your finger across the surface it feels like tiny dusty crumbs come off but when you look at your fingertips - there is nothing. It was weird (in a negative way) but that turned to fascinating (in a positve way) after undercoating the entire piece, because now - with paint on it - the surface feels totally normal.
When you paint the model you will notice the biggest disadvantage of the hardfoam. Although it does hold lots of detail it still is only foam in the end. The surface is rougher than traditional resin casts with a number of air bubbles here and there. So the casting quality is definately lower than comparable resin products (especially the flawless Tabletop World products).
|A large hole in the "wall plate" beam had to be filled with modelling putty|
Detailing and StyleThe appearance of the Broom Binder House immediately reminded me of the excellent buildings from Stronghold Terrain: beautiful timber-framed houses, suitable for historic and medieval fantasy settings alike (with no crazy symbolism à la Games Workshop such as cheesy skulls and spikes). Their styles are quite similar (e.g. in contrast to the very authentic and realistic timber-frame structures of Tony Harwood's creations for GrandManner).
Overall the house may not look very spectacular but it does have a few nice touches. Most obvious is the curvy roof which gives the building a lot of character despite its standard rectangular shape. What I also like is the wood beams that break up the stonework of the ground floor and make it look at lot more interesting.
On the other hand there are a couple of spots of sloppy workmanship on the model. You can see rather large bits of glue where the roof is fixed to the walls. It would have been nice, had these been cleaned up on the master model. On the painted model this is barely noticeable, though.
The last thing to mention is that the building has no accessible inside. Looking at the bottom you can see that the walls of the model are very thick. I assume it would not be possibleto produce buildings with modelled interior and thinner walls as they would probably break too easily.
VerdictAlthough I am not entirely sold on the material I am quite happy with the building. I appreciate these types of modest medieval houses. Working with the hard foam was an interesting change from the usual resin. If you have not yet tried one of Thomarillion's buildings I recommend you try it.
The Finished ModelSo, finally, here is the painted model - complete with Gierburg posters and ivy from miniNatur.
|The Broom Binders House with a few|
Pike & Shotte militia men from Warlord Games
Update March 3rd: The model is now available in the Thomarillion shop.