A lucky find on a collectibles or junk stall was a £10 teabag box full of a small jumbled collection of miniature ceramic French houses produced by Gault.
I had never heard of ‘Gault Made in France’ but I saw the games potential of this ‘bric a brac’ straight away. They looked close to 15mm scale.
About Gault France ceramic houses
“The magic of Gault houses was born from the combination of the talents of 2 brothers: Jean-Pierre, architect, painter and sculptor, and Dominique, designer and businessman”. http://gault-france.com/gault-history/
Sadly ceramics production of this attractive little French houses by Gault ceased for a while in 2001 and finally by 2010, due to the expensive production costs of these individually made and painted houses, after about thirty years of production.
Judging by the long individual making process, I am not surprised that they had high production costs:
“Two months were needed to produce a house through 14 manufacturing stages. Sculpting of roofs, shaping and modelling of balconies, pavements…Natural drying, firing at 700°C; rinse-bath with oxides, painting, patina, dust removal, cold enameling at 1000°C and shop-fronts miniaturising. All those stages were necessary to produce a piece finally worthy of seal of Gault. The world of Gault: the charm weaves its spell.” http://gault-france.com
The Gault France site (above) by Stephane is the only English language site I can find about them. It is well worth a visit, a real labour of love. It features pages of a rare Japanese book about them, showing the commonest Provence range that my houses belong to and many more ranges on his website http://gault-france.com/
“J Carlton houses are made of resin instead of ceramic and are generally a bit smaller than the Gault Original (ceramic) houses. A key difference between the ceramic and resin houses is that the ceramic houses were entirely made by hand; each one was unique as the window styles, doors, business name and other aspects of the pieces was different on each one of the same model. The resin houses are made from highly precise molds and therefore each one of the same model are identical.” Taken from http://gault-france.com website
The resin replacements of the Gault houses still produced and available on the ‘J. Carlton’ website. These are resin moulded, much brighter and, to me, have far less character or texture than the ceramic Gault originals. Like old metal figures, the ceramics also have a satisfying weighty heft about them.
Dominique Gault personally created the design for the comic little metal figurines, vehicles, and town furniture working with a French sculptor or artist Jean-Pierre Lobel. They do not feature on Lobel’s Art Miniature range, produced surprisingly in the former French colony of Madagascar since 1995. www.figurine-artminiature.com
However the Gault / Lobel figures are still produced in metal, hand painted and sold through J Carlton or second hand online sites. I am not too sure of their size, online auction sites suggest about 1 inch high, but they turn these model French towns into something charming and comic, somewhere between Trumpton and Tintin. http://pxlentreprise.fr/jcarlton/categorie-produit/figurines/
This motley collection of Gault houses suggest lots of gaming possibilities, especially in 15mm (they would probably work with 10mm too). You can mix and move the smaller side buildings around, much as you can in the traditional wooden German toy villages beloved of gamers, to create new combinations of buildings.
It is difficult to resist moving these little houses and outhouses around to make new village or townscapes.
Like all new gaming finds, these houses rearranged into a square, a small hamlet or long street suggest gaming scenarios or just atmospheric scene setting.
With the bell tower, it could a Mexican, Spanish Colonial or southern states desert village for some of my 15mm Peter Laing Boers as cowboys or bandits with other American Civil War figures.
With some Peter Laing 15mm Romans stashed away for Christmas to look forward to as opponents to my Peter Laing Ancient troops, I can see these working as simple Roman buildings. Instead of the maker’s mark of Gault written on the back wall, I may find the words Romans Go Home written instead!
I have tried the smaller Gault buildings out on 4.5 cm Heroscape hexes and they work quite well in a token ‘toy town’ kind of way.
However they do well enough on a felt gaming cloth.
Behind the scenes and underneath Gault Houses
For those who know such things, here are the maker’s marks or catalogue numbers of the pieces I picked up.
Looking on online sites, now that these Gault ceramics are out of production, even the smallest outhouse seems to be selling for at least twice the price I paid for the whole cardboard tea box of jumbled houses. A lucky day.
So I can now say that I own a property in Provence or two … albeit in miniature.
This is partly because the game board was a “take it as found”, scrounged before skipped notice board, rather than a purchased or commercial notice board as I think Bob Cordery used. Bob may have put his board dimensions on his post.
Recent Heroscape hex-periment blogposts
I have been intrigued and quite curious to see how Bob Cordery will incorporate these into his Portable Wargame set up. I enjoyed his stylish and smart coastlines, well worth looking at these on his blog:
The Heroscape hexes are versatile enough that you can flock them, paint them or plant a tree on them.
The Heroscapers gallery section on terrain https://www.heroscapers.com/ has some interesting ways of building walls, hedges, fences and walls of buildings around the outside of the hexes so that you can place figures inside. Something to try perhaps for a French-Indian War or Civil War stockade fort section.
Bob Cordery measures Heroscape hex tiles at about 4cm across, but add the locking bits and I reckon that this is almost 4.5cms.
So the ‘seven hex’ almost snowflake pattern plates in my recent post about Peter Laing and Base Overhang are about 13.5 / 14 cms across at their three hex widest point on any side.
Heroscape Hexes also come in ones, twos, threes, snowflake sevens and 24s giving a variety of possible 3D or 2D shaped terrains.
The eight large plates of 24 Hexes (which that fit onto my board to make the 192 hexes of Joy) are the standard Heroscape large base plate. These are about 6 Hexes wide or for each plate 24 cms at widest, 6 hexes long about 27 cms longest edge. 2 of these combine however to make a rough rectangle of only 38 cms long, as seen making up a quarter each of my hex base board (above top).
My big 192 Hex board (an old possibly handmade but disused noticeboard) is around 79/80 cms long and 54/55 cms wide. This includes 2cms of trim at each end – effectively the trim and painted wooden gap round the edge are about 3-4cms wide, almost one hex wide.
My smaller portable game boards are two wooden box lids of 54 Hexes each. These are used as bought / found, being no carpenter, bring 40cms long, 30 cms wide including 1cm lip (3cms deep) around each side. There is some wasted space around the hex edge to box lip which I infill with AstroTurf strips for rough grass scrub. Together they make up a board of 108 Hexes, good for small fast games.
Together they would make up 300 Hexes of Joy!
I have yet to put all three hex boards alongside each other, mainly as I don’t yet have a table quite big enough. I have no games room so the smaller boards have the advantage that they can be lifted off a table and put on a shelf if things like meals claim the table. The bigger board after gaming when stripped back to the 8 interlocking big hex base plates can be stowed away easily enough or even hung on the wall as modern art.
Heroscape tiles by Hasbro / MB are currently long out of production but the starter Master Sets are fairly cheaply available on UK eBay (usually the first Master Set called Rise of the Valkyries) and with more variety on American eBay including the Superhero variants.
On Amazon pricing is bizarre – complete Heroscape new starter sets and sequels are in the £200 to £300 plus region!
However on EBay you currently pay anything from £20 for just the completist set of hex tiles through to £50-60 for a used slightly bashed starter set; Some people split sets and sell components. Beware that you can pay a lot of money on some sites for individual specialist tiles, trees, mountain sections etc. More about these sets and web links on
These master starter sets contain 85 interlocking tile sections, made up of:
8 x 24 tiles, enough for the base of my board of 192 Hexes of Joy!
and then the interesting extras that give the 3D-ness:
2 ruin corners, which need a bit of work like upper floors to make them useful
10 x triple hexes (like a triangle),
10 ‘snowflake’ seven Hexes,
10 double hexes,
26 single hexes
21 fairly flimsy thin blue water tiles.
These hexes are in a variety of colours: sand, grey rock, green grass.
I have never bought the Hexon 10cm hex system that many other gamers like Bob Cordery also use for their games. I get the feeling from other blogs that it is quite expensive but you may prefer the look, size and flexibility. Each to their happy own!
I generally want smaller hexes in a smaller cluttered playing area for skirmish games like Donald Featherstone’s ‘Close Wars’ (appendix to his 1962 book Wargames) so the 4/4.5 cm hexes suit me from 15mm and 20mm through to 40mm figures. It might even stretch to 54mm figures on the usual 2p bases for very small skirmishes or duels.
In this second part of 192 Hexes of Joy, I shall look at the (not very) important overhang issue of base sizes – Are they too big for 4cm Heroscape Hexes? Do they need rebasing?
It is also an excuse for some Peter Laing eye candy, if you like slender 15mm.
There also creeps in a comment or two on basing, related to “one man equals how many?” sort of maths, ground scale, unit frontages and stuff that makes my brain hurt at times.
Overhang, Rebase or Disregard?
To start with, I laid out part of my 15mm Peter Laing colonial flying column of British Redcoats and their artillery to see how they would fit onto the Heroscape hexes.
The Peter Laing British colonial artillery pieces in this colonial flying column do fit onto one hex, but the limbers do not quite fit one hex. Limbers are definitely a two hex piece even with base trimming. Two cavalry or four Redcoats fit one hex comfortably.
The geeky Peter Laing figure ID bit: British Colonial figures 600 range
F603 British infantry advancing with F609 British officer standing
M602 British cavalry walking and A623 British Muleteer with A625 Pack Mule
Not too good on my guns but probably A609 15 pdr field gun, A610 Limber and A611 seated gunner for limber, A607 again and for limber M606 Artillery horse with rider and without rider M607
Gun crew A613 Gunner with shell, A603 British Gunner kneeling and A604 British gunner, field glasses (A602 Britsih gunner kneeling with ram not shown)
Hopefully these are correct, I will amend if told otherwise!
My Peter Laing ECW cavalry are still mostly based and ballasted as they were done in c. 1983 / mid 1980s. I thought that these ‘lobsterpots’ were the finest of 15mm figures, apart from his ECW Dragoons, except I was unsure if they had very fragile short swords or pistols.
My 15mm Peter Laing English Civil War cavalry shown here fit two by two, side by side comfortably on one Heroscape hex.
I may rebase these double cavalry figure bases eventually and add some flock variety to the bases. They were based on scrounged spare railway ballast, which could do with some partial flocking for a bit of variety. Painted in my Matt Grunge Airfix / Humbrol enamel phase, I think a recoat in gloss varnish should bring the figures out more.
More Geeky Peter Laing figure ID – skip if you wish! ECW Cavalry 500 series
Left to right – M511 Mounted Officer in Helmet (definitely Cromwell!)
M510 Mounted Officer in Hat. This could be used for Cavalier officers or Royalist generals – I used a Merit OO/HO railway small dog and on occasion a Peter Laing sheep with painted ears to represent Boy, Prince Rupert’s dog.
M506 – Mounted standard bearer in hat alongside M505 Mounted trumpeter in helmet.
and the bulk of my Roundhead Cavalry – M501 Mounted Trooper in Helmet (with sword or pistol?) Lovely figures.
Other 19 Century / WW1 cavalry shown above were bought second-hand, mounted three to a base. With the more obvious overhang, I think these will need rebasing at least onto two horses per base, but probably singly.
Bob Cordery pointed me in his comments on my last blogpost (Part 1 of 192 Hexes of Joy) that the overhang issue is often a “perceptual problem rather than a real one”, depending on the exactness of your gaming style. Bob also pointed me towards a interesting post by Archduke Piccolo on grid wargames, columns into line and such manoeuvres.
To be fair, my ‘Close Wars’ type Featherstone skirmish level games hardly use many cavalry or artillery in the cluttered skirmish terrain that disrupts and defies column, line and square manoeuvres, let alone easy artillery moves. But with a bigger 192 Hexes of Joy game board, who knows what changes of game style might result?
Will I need to rebase?
My Peter Laing ECW cavalry and ECW artillery are set out on bases in about 1983 to use them with the very affordable John Mitchell ECW rules sold by Peter Laing.
Looking up close at my John Mitchell rules, 1983 based English Civil War artillery, I think these are probably influenced by reading Terry Wise. He has much the same vignette triangular layout for artillery in his Airfix Guide to American Civil War Gaming, all to do with measuring firing angles and whether the guns need to be manhandled and relaid to fire at a different target.
There is a clear overhang of one hex from such vignette artillery basing. In fact seen overhead, this gun base spreads over 3 to 4 hexes, plus limber another one to two hexes.
To be honest, I am not that finicky now about rules for relaying guns, angles or lines of sight basing.
Looking at the photographs however I think that I may need to more compactly base or rebase my Peter Laing artillery onto a smaller near one hex affair.
Limbers, however, are as long as they are, even if bases are trimmed a bit at either end.
In real historical battle situations, the artillery train of limbers, horses and supply waggins were a bit of a nuisance or an encumbrance to the manoeuvrability of troops from one attacking or defensive position to another. Maybe they should occupy two hexes and also be classed as impassable or not allow troops to pass through them. This should add some clutter to the battlefield, much as terrain features do.
Defending such slow-moving vehicles such as baggage or supply wagons, limbers or ammunition caissons, along with their attendant civilians and family members proves for an interesting scenario.
Ground Scale, Bases and Unit Frontages
At this point I usually get a little frustrated with rule sets that start to fret about one man equals so many others on a set ground frontage of such and such. Buildings on this ground scale etc, frontages etc. My brain doesn’t do such maths on its hobby days off and as I am not playing set rules in competition at big brigade, division or Battle level, there is no need.
That is what I play 1 figure: 1 man small skirmishes with ground as it is, buildings as they are, often from another scale too – 15mm games with OO/HO railway huts or buildings etc., from whatever I have in stock.
A typical example from my childhood branch library is David Nash’s interesting little 1974 Hamlyn All-Colour Paperback book Wargames, pages 27 to 30:
Some of David Nash’s rule ideas I found completely bizarre, such as the “I can’t see you” correct or incorrect line of vision over a hill, where “line of vision must relate to the ground scale”. Of course those two figures could see and shoot at each other! A Lionel Tar reversed periscope could have told you that.
Otherwise I found David Nash’s curious little Wargames book a thought-provoking and well illustrated read from the local library, especially when thinking through rules. I now own that exact same well thumbed library copy (with the beautiful Dewey Decimal System number 793.9) Certainly a book worth revisiting in a future “on my bookshelf” style blogpost.
Here are more puzzling pages from books that I had or borrowed as a young gamer, including the affordable but strange little Know the Game – Wargaming booklet by Phil Barker / Wargames Research Group that I (was) bought as a youngster (EP Publishing, 1976/8).
Time Scales, Troop Scales and Ground Scales were earnestly explained. I stuck to 1 man equals 1 man until the John Mitchell ECW rules set out unit sizes.
Elsewhere in time I have stuck to 1 man equals 1 man, which David Nash concludes:
“For modern warfare, it is usually accepted that one piece represents just one piece … This is because there has been a change in the form of warfare. Up to about 1860, unit cohesion was of a paramount importance, but thereafter improved weapon technology increasingly demanded a much looser type of warfare.” (David Nash, Wargames, p. 30, Hamlyn, 1974)
Phil Barker’s Know the Game: Wargaming book was part of a series of 1970s illustrated individual booklets that were advertised as covering “every major sport and pastime … from archery to yoga.” This somehow put me playing with Airfix figures on the same level playing field (!) as Rugby, Football and every other major sport.
“A figure representing a Roman legionary … [herein a bit of maths] …represents 20 men in 4 ranks of 5.” Help, my brain is beginning to hurt here.
However some passages in this odd little booklet made instant sense, such as staggered figure basing for Ancients, admittedly using Airfix Ancient Britons rather than grown-up metals on my childhood budget.
At the end of all this careful explanation in books, I still think what suits me and my style of gaming best is 1 man equals 1 man, 1 gun equals 1 gun etc. at any scale above my handful of 1/300 figures (Imagine individual skirmish figure games at that tiny scale!) So I will slowly base or rebase on these lines.
Note to self at any point during reading the above books:
Remember Mark, relax, it’s just a game, just a board game, an elaborate game of “chess with a thousand pieces” as Donald Featherstone and others described it, each piece with its own movement and attack rules as you / each gamer decides, tinkering with other’s rule sets as we all do.
After considering such (not very) important issues as basing and frontages, ground scales, troop scales and time scales, it must be time for some reckless time-distorting chariot racing around a hex board circuit.
Rules to follow, but a good bit of fun … Ancient Britons versus Ancient Egyptians versus Assyrian chariots anyone?
I hope you have enjoyed the Peter Laing eye candy, and enjoy the comment by Phil Barker in Know The Game – Wargaming on suppliers under Obtaining Metal Figures c. 1976/8 on Peter Laing’s expanding range:
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 3 August 2017.
Meanwhile over on Sidetracked, literally my Man of TIN gets Sidetracked blog for anything to do with trains, https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com, my 15mm Peter Laing figures try not to blow up trains too much in the big desert wastes of 192 Hexes of Joy.
If you have enjoyed this blogpost, please ‘like’ my post or leave any comments, disagreements etc via the comments page. Thanks, Mark, Man of TIN.
Playing around with a larger board as Bob Cordery has been doing, I scrounged an old scrap noticeboard with bevelled edge and painted it ‘chrome green’ acrylic to match Heroscape hex green.
Filling it with the large Heroscape 24 hex base plates, I fitted 8 of these large 24 hex base plates into the board with a thin narrow gap round the edge.
If I were not using a found board with a prefitted sloping trim, at least a further edge line of single hexes could have been easily added, giving another 16 hexes, in total 208 hexes of joy.
Gamers with some carpentry opportunities or checking available notice boards should be able to make the hexes fit the board and trim, rather just my ‘make do and mend’ / working as found approach
Instead for ease and speed, I kept with 192 hexes and decided to paint the gap and edge, so that it does not stand out quite so ‘wooden frame’ like in any photos. I was quite tempted though by Bob Cordery’s smart looking approach with a white neutral edge and the wooden frame around, especially thinking about hanging the frame in between uses on the wall!
Still 192 Hexes of Joy – A big jolly emptiness to fill.
Wood glue was used along the joins of each board underneath and this has proved sufficient to hold the large hex plates together in place so far. If I don’t like the hex board, I should still be able to remove and separate the plates again. Failing this, a hot glue gun will do the sticking job robustly.
Tempted to check the strength of the adhesive, I could have hung the board on the wall. It still has its mounting cord on the back from its previous life as a noticeboard. However the rest of the household were not convinced that we could pass it off as modern art, especially once I had painted the frame edge green too.
Pausing before piling on hex terrain and figures to look at this beautiful big empty ground space, various games suggest themselves – chariot or horse racing games, surely what off-duty officers and troops do to keep busy in peacetime. Cross country running games, hare and hounds…
Even the hexspaces repainted yellow or gold could become a hive for some kind of sci-fi social insect game? Or alternative “hive” modern art. There must be some biological, physics and logistical reason why bees do these hive hex grid shapes of honeycombs.
Previous Portable 108 Hexes of Joy
Previously on Man of TIN I have used two box lids with a combined hex grid of 108 (each lid holding 9 by 6 hexes). This does not counting the four to six half hexes (infilled with scrappy clumps of AstroTurf) that exist along the raggedy hex edge on each board. These half hexes can be doubled up and counted as a whole for the purposes of counting hexes for moving or firing ranges.
The river in the set up below can be counted as one or two hexes wide and / or impassable, whatever you choose.
Hex size, overhang and avoiding rebasing figures?
I was interested to read the discussion on Bob Cordery’s blog Wargaming Miscellany about overhang of bases such as guns and crews or vehicles and limbers, with interesting discussions in the comments section about the overhang issue and Zones of Control.
I set up a quick skirmish game scenario to check this issue out using Peter Lang 15mm WW1 / WW2.
An easy scenario of a contested river crossing – but how to do the rivers on the new larger board?
Rivers and Streams
I wanted to see what to do about river and water features on a fixed hex baseboard.
I had thought about painting the base, under where the hex plates should be, with a suitable blue so that instant rivers are available, with a big of rejigging hexes around for each game as required. This idea came from Iain Dickie’s book WargamingOnABudget. This flexible coast or river system idea would not work if I was to stick down the big 24 hex plates.
I didn’t want the stalemate of a river in the same place all the time on every scenario.
Alternatively, I could have stuck down the main 24 hex base plates but left some gaps between them, creating a couple of covered stream systems (i.e. the blue painted baseboard showing) filled in and covered over with single hex plates until needed.
I can’t still try these ideas out on my portable 54 hex boards.
Overhang or bases too big for your hexes?
As you can see it is a tight fit even for my Peter Laing two man artillery crew with an Airfix hard plastic gun from the preformed Hanomag Half-track and Gun set.
This gun is tucked in behind the natural cover of the river bank. The Heroscape river hexes built up one deep on either side of the thin blue hexes makes an effective river bank or levee.
Again the defending force’s lorry is a bit of an hex overhang. Not quite to scale, this is one of three scrounged lorries from the giveaway cover toys from a BBC comic about five to ten years ago.
Who are these nonspecific European Euro-Nation troops?
Lacking many WW2 15mm Peter Laing figures, of which only a very restricted range was made, I have padded out my WW2 forces with WW1 troops. These could of course be used to represent the original figures, which were bought prepainted, bashed and second hand. I believe them to be WW1 Peter Laing 15mm Turkish Infantry advancing (F754)
Peter Laing figures being slender and slight of detail, these Turkish infantry could also be Soviets, Greek infantry or Low Countries remembered from my childhood library copy of Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of The World in Colour.
Overhang and Zones of Control
Playing a standard infantry game causes few problems four 15mm figures to a hex. I can achieve the same with a similar base size for 20mm Airfix figures.
As soon as artillery and cavalry are added, things need a little more work.
I begin to see Bob Cordery’s issue about Zones of Control and trying to avoid the need for rebasing, moving from the 4cm Heroscape hexes to the larger 10cm Hexon hexes, or your own chessboard or grid pattern.
John Patriquin the Wargames Hermit has been developing an interesting version of the chessboard style Portable Wargame grid so ably explored by Bob Cordery. Like Bob and myself, John uses (Heroscape) hexes and Peter Laing figures.
This square grid is still not out of the question, as I have a blank wooden back on the back of the larger portable hex board. This could be painted green, a small balsa edging strip added (to prevent slide off) and grid squares marked on in full or part, as Ross MacFarlane does on his Battle Game of the Month blog such as here http://gameofmonth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/one-for-gaffer.html
In my next blog post I will show some more of what happens when you start exploring the Overhang Issue by unboxing your 15mm Peter Laing cavalry, chariots and artillery.
192 Hexes of Joy create many decisions, decisions and options …
Tipped off by some blogposts about the delights of the “Home Aquarium” section of pet stores and garden centres, I recently popped into a Pets at Home branch and spotted a 3 for 2 offer (buy 3 get cheapest free).
I didn’t tell the checkout lady the truth when she asked about my non-existent fish and tank, that these weren’t destined for underwater fish usage but for the gaming table or out in the garden / yarden for gaming.
This offer and their reasonable asking price (6 pieces of terrain for around £30) made affordable what I think are sometimes overpriced pieces of potential games terrain. I understand that it is not cheap to produce these if it has to be a certain type of safe resin and safe paint to protect the fish from chemical harm.
Some features like the old fishing boat seems Chinese or Japanese.
What I like about many of these generic buildings or features are their versatile uses. They could equally grace a garden game and stay out in the rain or appear on a games table.
With some imagination, the rope bridge could be a vital but damaged rail bridge with a narrow piece of rail track across it. It could be in Southeast Asian Jungle or the Amazon, Darkest Africa or the Wild West. It could be built in many time zones. It works across different scales or sizes of figures.
Similarly the tree houses could be on Fantasy or alien planets, or in Darkest Africa or Asia in a Colonial campaign.
All good Indiana Jones stuff.
A little bit of cutting and glueing work to put some balsa wood floors into the buildings should make them even more versatile. The cluttered temple floor might need some clearing or building up to be able put more figures inside.
Once again 15mm Peter Laing figures seems to suit these buildings quite well, as well as Airfix OO/HO.
I was quite intrigued setting up future game scenarios how helpfully camouflaged or painted the temple is for example when used with WW2 figures. I haven’t done matt grunge khaki camo painting for over twenty years but I found a few things in my surviving box of battered Airfix vehicles.
These were painted up in the early 1980s for Donald Featherstone WW2 rules (War Games 1962) and go quite well with these North Africa / Med / Middle East / Italy temple ruins. About time these had an airing on the games table with whatever I have left. WW2 Vehicle and camouflage scheme purists look away now!
With my small WW2 15mm Peter Laing force I can stage a few skirmishes. I have A few spare German WW1 steel helmet infantry to be painted up in Afrika Korps / desert camouflage to take on my WW2 British infantry.
These six aquarium buildings cost (after 3 for 2 discount) only around £30 in total but they offer lots of interesting possibilities for scenarios in many time periods and scales.
Ever since gazing into those childhood fish tanks, I have long had a bit of a fascination with the kitsch nature of aquarium ornaments. There is something suitably Gothic, melancholy, Romantic (and Bronteish), out of reach or abandoned about these drowned ruins and wrecks. In many cases it’s the plain surreal weirdness and lack of taste in some of the designs, they truly are the garden gnomes of the aquarium world in their “love them or hate them” colourful and kitsch nature.
I have had one aquarium piece for years, a ruined castle frontage which was free or unwanted from a bundle of aquarium stuff that someone brought into work. It has moved from house to house or garden to garden with me over many years.
This weekend would have been my late Mum’s birthday (she died last Autumn in her early 80s). Some of these tiny painted plaster houses (no doubt birthday presents) and her other collections have now been sold to make a donation to a medical charity on her / our family’s behalf but family members were all able to choose a keepsake or two.
I chose these two Lilliput Lane buildings for my gaming table.
They were two of my favourites amongst her remaining collection. They are
St. Kevin’s, a typical early Irish stone church in Wicklow
Tumbledown “Cobbler’s Cottage” (in Northants) with damaged roof.
Most Lilliput Lane houses are based on very well kept and very well groomed buildings. Both these choices looked the most wonky or battered and timeless, so most versatile as centrepieces of any gaming scenario.
The white window frames might need a little dulling down but they are well matched for size by my Peter Laing 15mm figures.
It was the detail of gravestones and flowers or the old wheel inside a shed that I found especially fascinating. I often used to wonder who lived in these houses. I half expected the door to open and a Peter Laing 15mm sized figure to come marching out or come whistling round the corner. I partly blame the 1992 BBC TV version of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers for that.
Although I admired them on their cabinet shelf, I wasn’t allowed by Mum to use them in my gaming with my 15mm Peter Laing figures. Being made of painted plaster, they are quite easily damaged and quite fragile unlike most resin games buildings. These two buildings both need a little bit of paint repair.
They are a nice way to remember my Mum, every time these are out on the gaming table or on my desk.
Lilliput Lane ceased manufacture in November 2016 with few buildings left in their online shops. Another small British company sadly bites the dust.
“The factory has been trading at a loss for some time now and we have reached the point where this is no longer sustainable. It has been a long journey since Lilliput Lane started in 1982, we have enjoyed the support of many thousands of our loyal collectors at hundreds of events all over the United Kingdom and overseas, many friendships have been made and good times had by all. It is now at a time of changing consumer tastes that the demand for our products has declined to the point where it is impossible to go on.” (Website statement)
Other stockists may have stock, along with collectors’ fairs and the usual online auction sources.
The website catalogue / website shows how these fine plaster buildings were carved or moulded in wax, handcast in silicon mounds and then hand painted.