I like to make things, all kinds of things, and earlier this year while making some models I came across the idea of creating kits for other people to make things too!
My Kickstarter project is to develop and produce 10 new architectural miniature model kits out of etched brass sheet, and in the process launch a small business designing kits and making them available to modelmakers. The first seven kits are designed and prototyped, with three more to create during the period of the project being live on Kickstarter. The design of those last three kits will be based on suggestions from backers, and will develop with your help - you could see your suggestions take shape via the project updates!
While primarily designed for N gauge model railway builders, wargames, tabletop games and diorama builders, I have also established that the scale I work at also fits for dollhouse collectors - it is the scale of a 'dollshouse dollhouse'.
If successfully funded, the project will signify the creation of a small business called Severn Models, designing and making model kits like these.
Tweet me @SevernModels and chat about the project #AHouseInYourHand
As the name of the project suggests, we are talking about quite small buildings. You really can fit 'A House in Your Hand' at this scale, even if you have quite small hands!
The kits will be suitable for modellers working in scales 1/144 through to 1/160 - there is a small difference in the 'real world equivalent' dimensions, but I scale the work to be realistic sizes, after all there is significant variation in the size of real buildings.
For example, the main part of the brass prototype model cottage shown above measures 60x34mm (2.36" x 1.34") and scales to the following real-world sizes :
- 1/144 - 8.7x4.9 metres approx
- 1/148 - 8.9x5.0 metres approx
- 1/152 - 9.1x5.2 metres approx
- 1/160 - 9.6x5.4 metres approx
There is some variation, but all the buildings and detailing will scale realistically compared to real-world buildings.
The kits will be etched from brass sheet, with each component ready shaped to accurate size. Surface texture is included to simulate tiles, bricks, door frames etc as appropriate for the building. The textured face enables a high level of detail to be visible, as the relief catches the light creating highlights and shadows. Extra relief is gained by setting doors and windows as separate components, to glue on the inside. This gives a realistic 'set back into the bricks' look. Once painted, thin ink washes can really bring out the effect giving life and realism to the model. The windows will be cut through allowing a tiny view inside, and clear acetate will be provided to simulate the glass.
Building the Kit
The model maker will need to cut the parts from the sprue and clean off the joining tags, similar to the methods used with plastic kits. Tools and glue (not included) will be needed such as small side-cutting pliers, needle files, abrasive paper, and tweezers to hold the small bits. The parts then fold crisply on ready-etched lines, and are glued together.
Suitable adhesives are superglue or tiny dots of epoxy resin. Painting the model is recommended, but it is entirely your choice. I prefer acrylic based primer and paints, available at model shops. Paint is not included in the kit. (Always read the glue/paint manufacturers instructions!!)
Some of the pieces are rather small, so some parts of the kit will need your steady hand and keen eye. If you have ever built a similar scale kit before you will already be familiar with how tiny some things can be. As an example, a typical door in this scale will be about 13mm (a half inch) tall. The aim is for the assembly of the kit to be an enjoyable and rewarding process, resulting in a realistic and finely detailed scale model.
The Story So Far…
The first kit I developed, which I have called Orchard Cottage, has been through its design process almost to completion. Several versions were made in cardboard to test the process and the shapes of the pieces, then I had it etched in brass as a prototype. I have thoroughly tested the assembly sequence and have a couple of minor changes to make to it then I will test again with brass etch #2. It will then be ready for repeat runs to etch the finished product. Remaining tasks are to write/draw the assembly instructions, and finalise packaging.
Kit number 2 through to kit number 7 are developed through to their cardboard prototype stage, and shown in the photos below. They are almost ready for brass etch prototype #1.
Kits 8, 9 and 10 are yet to be designed. I am inviting all backers to offer suggestions of the type of models they would like to see, and I will develop them while the project is live on Kickstarter. I will post updates to the project showing these kits in progress so you can see them take shape as we go along. So go ahead, make a suggestion!
The Money & Rewards
The expensive part of the development in a new kit is having the first two rounds of brass etch made, to test the shapes and folds, to be certain of a successful kit. Each time a new drawing is sent for etching, a new photo-tool has to be created. I already funded this process for the first kit, but the remaining models still need to go through it. This is estimated to cost a total of around £1040. The remainder will go towards paying for the production runs of backer-reward kits, and I will fund the shortfall myself. I could have set a higher target fund to try and cover the whole cost, but I figure if there is sufficient interest in my product to hit a £2k target, then there is a sound reasoning behind me investing more to launch the product.
The rewards for backers are based around me sending you the kits from the first production run, and also your chance to name a kit. If you're not a modeller, there are options where I will build them for you! Have a read through, I hope you find a reward that fits for you.
I hope you can join me on this project, and get A House in Your Hand! or a barn, or a stable… ;-)
The Model Kits
The cardboard models will evolve into brass kits like Orchard Cottage if the project is successfully funded. All the windows on the card models will ultimately be clear through, just like those on the brass model. You don't need to choose which models you want in your reward until the end of prototyping (likely September).
Kit 1 - Orchard Cottage
- Dimensions : main building 60x34mm, extension 21x18mm
- Materials & Detailing : random pattern bricks, tile/slate roof, timber lean-to extension, porch canopy, dormer windows
Kit 2 - a half-timbered house (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : main building 64x30mm, extension 22x20mm
- Materials & Detailing : half timber & render, tile/slate roof, brick extension & chimney, porch canopy
Kit 3 - a barn (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : overall 67x38mm including steps
- Materials & Detailing : stone walls, tile/slate roof, external stone stairs, timber doors can be fitted open or closed any angle
Kit 4 - a classical style home (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : main building 57x37mm, extension 27x27mm
- Materials & Detailing : rendered walls with cornerstone details, classical style porch with reeded columns
Kit 5 - a single-storey home / bungalow (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : main building 65x54mm, garage 33x22mm
- Materials & Detailing : rendered walls with cornerstone details, timber lean-to garage with felt roof, workbench for in garage
Kit 6 - stables (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : right part 63x31mm, left part 42x24mm, overall footprint 63x72mm
- Materials & Detailing : random pattern bricks, tile/slate roof, split stable doors can be fitted open or closed any angle
Kit 7 - a pair of semi-detached homes (name to be confirmed later)
- Dimensions : 68x34mm
- Materials & Detailing : modern bricks, tile/slate roof, twin chimneys, combined porch canopy
Kit 8 - a church, as requested by the backers!
- Dimensions : main part 65x31mm, transept protrudes 18x14mm each side.
- Materials & Detailing : stone block walls, tile/slate roof, half timbered bell tower with vent panels on all sides.
Kit 9 - shops, as requested by the backers!
- Dimensions : 64x30mm
- Materials & Detailing : brick walls, tile/slate roof, extra layer of brass shopfronts for more relief, window display shelves glue inside behind main windows.
Kits 10 - a stone-built farmhouse, as requested by the backers!
- Dimensions : 60x34mm for the main part, plus 27x10mm.
- Materials & Detailing : stone block walls, slate/tile roof. The chimney can be put anywhere along the ridge, and the doors are interchangeable with each other.
Kits 8, 9 and 10 were the result of backer suggestions, designed during the funding period.
Mini-reward kit for the £8 pledge - Kit 11 : Two sheds/outbuildings
Also, if you already backed for more buildings, you can add this to your haul by increasing your pledge by £7, and it will ship with your main reward. The kit includes both sheds.
Shed 1 : 29x15mm, brick walls with corrugated roof
Shed 2 : 21x16mm, wooden planks with felt roof
Risks and challenges
A large amount of the design and development work is already done, by way of the cardboard models. I have tested the brass processes with the one kit design, and am confident it will provide an excellent medium for architectural model making.
The brass model already done has demonstrated the standard I can expect from the etchers, they are most helpful so I don't anticipate difficulties in that process. In the event of needing to find a different etcher, this may delay production a little, but at the moment I can't see this being necessary.
I still need to finalise packaging methods, for which I have some good and cost effective ideas lined up, and also produce assembly instructions, which just relies on my time.
Risk is kept to a minimum - no bulk production will be done until each brass prototype has been successfully test-built by me. Once approved, every brass etch is made from the same photo-tool, ensuring consistency.
I have a full time day job, so my work on the project will be evenings and weekends. I expect the project to take about two months after being funded to complete it. Time is my biggest challenge, but seeing as the project has got this far, I'm sure as heck not going to stop now!
- (31 days)