The photos below are squeezed to fit
onto the page, they will display larger if saved to your computer.
I really don't like most commercially available 15mm terrain because
although it is correctly scaled for the figures it tends to take up too
much space on the table. In particular, either the villages are too
large in terms of ground scale or they contain too few houses to look
like a village. Either way, items like churches tend to be huge. In any
case, why should your houses scale to 15mm (i.e. approximately 1:100)
when most tree models standing beside them are nowhere near that? (Work
it out: a fairly ordinary tree, 20 metres tall, in true 15mm would
stand some 20 cm high, and most trees are taller than 20 m.) Some
people suggest using 1:300 scale terrain with 15mm, and I can see how
that would work, but I wanted something that would look more
aesthetically pleasing alongside 15mm figures.
So I went for N scale model railroad stuff. That meant I could easily
purchase railroad track from the local hobby store and that there were
loads of quality kits for the fiddly buildings (factories, churches
etc). Allegedly N is meant to be 1:187 or thereabouts, but most of the
stuff looks a lot bigger than that and is just fine beside 15mm
figures. I find the reduced size of the resulting villages on the table
more than compensates for any oddities if you really examine up close
the size of the people versus the size of the doors and windows (and it
helps that Peter Pig tend to the small side of 15mm).
The disadvantages are that N scale can be fearsomely expensive and I
would have to make my own smaller buildings, since model railroad
people do not make 1920's Russian cottages. And once committed to such
a path though you have to make all the stuff that scale, because it
really looks stupid alongside normal 15mm stuff!
I tried desperately to find some commercial basic Ukrainian style
peasant cottages that would mix with N scale, but nothing was close
really. So in the end I resorted to casting my own in resin. Although a
hassle, it wasn't particularly difficult and after the initial outlay
it meant that I could cast up loads for very little, rather than having
to skimp on buying just as many as my budget could afford (this is only
a selection of the ones I made). In the end I made four masters, two
very small and two medium sized cottages, using spare windows from
plastic kits to cut down on the effort involved. I also made two styles
of thatched roof for each size, so that I could mix up the bases and
roofs to give a bit more variety. Another advantage of separate roofs
is that if I make northern style log cabins I will already have them
I find that the figures look OK beside them, though getting through the
doors would be a squeeze. (Remember that the figures look tall in this
shot because they stand on a base.) As you can see in this picture, the
height of the buildings is at a different scale from the width and
depth but from a high angle, such as over a game table, you really
don't notice that. It allows the doors and windows to look right while
keeping the building's footprint to a minimum (even Russians would
struggle to live in a cottage this small).
This is a factory straight from a plastic kit. Even if someone made a
model this good in 15mm it would take a huge chunk of the table, for no
advantage in game play. The chimney is a pain though, always getting in
This is a DPM kit. I like them because the windows come cast in so that
there is no fiddling about, one just slaps the sides together for the
simple ones. However, I tend to chop most kits down a bit anyway either
to reduce their footprint, remove fiddly detail or to make them less
tall and prone to being knocked over on the table. This one started
life as a three storied building.
This is what I use as the grand house of some noble family, a "manor"
in the Baltic states. The trees are from Realistic Modeling Services.
They are indeed realistic, but the price tag gives one reason to think
twice about whole forests of them. The house is way too big in terms of
ground scale, but what's the point of having an unimpressive manor?
I made this windmill, largely out of coffee stirrers. (Gee that sounds
corny! I used them because they are stronger than balsa wood, not
because I'm cheap.) The only difficult part was finding a source of
something strong to make the fiddly bits of the vanes. Eventually I got
some HO brass window pieces (thanks, Zippy!) which, being metal, are
strong enough to take the inevitable knocks.
It doesn't photograph so well, being gleaming white, but this is my
Orthodox village church, scratch built because I could not find a kit.
Basically built in cardboard; the windows are spare from a plastic kit;
the dome is a table-tennis ball with modeling paste to make it onion
shaped. Protestant and Catholic church kits are plentiful.
Since I wrote the above, I have bought some of Time Cast's 10mm Russian
terrain. Two wooden houses that will paint up nicely as town houses for
me, but are equally useful as northern village houses, and a simple
wooden church that I will probably use as a school-house or similar,
since I already have enough churches. All good quality stuff (as their
reputation would suggest).
Looking at their range I think, unless you need loads of buildings,
that N scale/10mm is quite achievable now.