Overview on the Prototype Kit

This is seriously way overdue. I had the draft written and ready to go on this blog, but things at work pretty much kept me away.  I literally had to wait till the holiday weekend to sit down and finally get it out.

I promised Monsieur M to provide a type of feedback on the whole experience with the prototype kit.  So if you’re reading this Monsieur, hopefully this helps.  I scribbled down what I could during the building process, and honestly, was having a bit of a challenge figuring out my chicken scratch amidst the splattered glue, and sawdust…

The Good

  • Easy assembly = the fact the kit had less than 10 pieces  AND the pieces were pretty obvious made assembly rather foolproof. Or in my case, “idiot-proof”. Definitely something for the novice miniaturist to get started.
  • Items were clearly labeled = Monsieur M was very kind to indicate which sides of the pieces should be attached to another via marking the areas in red. Again, thank you for making it more idiot-proof for me. 🙂
  • Quality of materials = I loved how the walls and floor were basically a wood framework that’s covered in cardboard-like material (poster board?). Reminds me of how in real houses there’s the drywall covering the actual frame.  Again, I didn’t have to sand or cut anything – everything was precisely cut so you literally start assembling from the package.  Also love how the support beams for the main room and attic didn’t require sanding and even the pegs used to connect the pieces were on the money. According to Monsieur M, he did dry runs to make sure they fit each time. Think for folks who’ve always had to sand or trim their dollhouse parts to size, this kit would be  treat.
  • Good size for rooms = upon assembly, the main room measures 8″ wide x 6″ deep x 10″ high.  Yes, this means you can’t put a whole living room or bedroom suite in it. But this is a great option for mini fans who maybe just want to showcase a particular piece of furniture (or you just want something that won’t take up much space).
  • Economical = because of its size, you don’t really have to spend much in terms of components. Most of the components I used were items I already purchased awhile back and were in storage. The only things I really needed to buy was the single window. So this gives me an excuse to splurge on things like the hardwood flooring and shutters.

Observations (these aren’t negative comments — just more like observations and/or possible suggestions)

  • Not much flexibility to bash = I got the initial impression that there weren’t really alot wiggle room with kit when it comes to changing its original structure. Granted, I probably could have explored it further but I couldn’t imagine being able to move the walls around to a different orientation, or maybe move the support beams from the left side of the kit to the right side.  Because of the grooves where the pieces needed to be glued (or where the holes were located on the floor/ceiling pieces to accommodate the support beams), I could only build the kit in its original format.

    Also, because of the way the walls were built, I wasn’t quite sure if I could for example widen the window opening or even cut another opening in the wall to accommodate a door.  Was a little fearful that if I start cutting up openings, that I might cut out parts of the framework (and therefore ruin the structural integrity of the kit).  If that had happened, not sure what I could do short of ripping out the cardboard “drywall” and jerry rigging the framework to make it sound once more.

    Another challenge was the second floor — because of the shape of the side wall and the roof it supported, the overall height of the second floor was low.  If I wanted to raise the height of the room to accommodate a more functional living space, I’d have to add height to the side wall and probably rebuild a new roof to accommodate the new piece. But again, think that have a big impact of the kit’s intended structure.

  • Thickness of the walls = the original kit walls were designed to be about 1/2″ thick. Basically this meant that for the window needed in the kit, I could only use  one that had a 1/2″ insert. It was a bit of a pain in the butt to purchase such a window at my local miniature shop — most  of them carry components designed for 3/8″ thick walls.  So I had no choice but to order the window online.   I’ll have to check with Monsieur M if it’s possible to build out the framework/walls to be 3/8″ thick instead. Part of me wonders if the current thickness of the kit walls was because using thicker woods provides better
    structural support.

Recommendations/Suggestions (aka my wishful thinking)

  • Giving users the option to build their own framework = yes, this suggestion is not for the novice builder. But it would give the more seasoned fans an opportunity to customize the framework that will make up the walls of their display kit.  Plus this might solve the issue of folks like me who might want a bigger opening to accommodate  a bay window. Or maybe having a door.
  • Increase the height of the second floor = don’t get me wrong folks.  I love how the kit gave me an attic area to decorate. But it’d be pretty nice to be given the option to adjusting the height of the room to make it a livable space.
  • Explore different ways to label parts = like I said earlier, am very thankful for Monsieur M taking the time to indicate where pieces go by writing in red pen on the parts.   But if Monsieur is thinking of making this kit available, coming up with a different labeling system might be a good idea.  Plus, it’d be useful to label what sides needs to be facing what during assembly. Granted, most miniaturists will recommend during a dry fit before pulling out the glues. But for novice buiders, they might opt to skip this step.
  • Deeper grooves on areas where parts are glued together = in the prototype, you attach pieces together either via pegs/holes, and gluing parts together. For the latter, Monsieur M. built the parts to have a type of “groove” or channel where you apply the glue and attach the correct pieces. Good news about that feature are that it helps keep the parts square while the glue dries; the second part is that the groove keeps the glue in between the glued parts.  But if there’s a way for Monsieur M to make those channels/grooves deeper (probably by another 1/16″ to 1/8″), that would at least ensure that glue won’t squeeze out between the parts (again, this is geared more to novices).

Overall though = I love the kit. I love how quickly it could be put together, and frankly, I found it more enjoyable to build something and only decorate it with a few key pieces.  Plus, because I live in an apartment, I could display the kit  anywhere I want to (and not hog up space).  If this became available for public purchase, I’d totally buy it.  🙂

Prototype Kit Test – Day Five and Six

Since I’m basically writing this after the fact…but am pretty happy to report that as of February 5th….the Prototype Kit is complete. At least that’s how BK and I saw it.  Looking back at my notes, I realized that if I hadn’t been interrupted with stuff at work and at home….I could have finished the kit in literally a week. Instead, the project stretched into months as I had to scramble to find time to work on it.  Decided to merge Day 5 & 6 into a single entry mostly because I managed to actually work on the kit during the weekend. Granted, not my entire weekend, but big pockets of time nonetheless.

(Note to self: buy lotto tickets. And pray that you win big so you can either work part time or retire early. Preferably latter so there’s more time for your hobbies! Oh yeah, and your husband too!)

So long brass pins! Helloo new cabinet knobs!

On Saturday morning, I ended up switching the brass knobs on the cabinet doors. They looked okay, but because the stove had silver handles, thought it looked too weird. Had initially thought of maybe getting new hardware online, but passed out at how much they’d cost. Plus, I wasn’t in the mood to really pay for internationally shipping (note to miniature retailers: maybe looking into offering imported minis from Europe might be a good idea. You will get business from crackpots like me if you do!).

Then it hit me — I had a ton of map pins in my desk drawer. Could I use them as the new knobs instead?  After wasting two pins, figured out how to cut the pins down to size, and press/glue them into the cabinet doors. Tada! New and cute knobs!

After that little stint, BK and I went out to meet some friends for dim sum (yay!), followed by errands. When we got home, my husband discovered a package had arrived for me. Talk about good timing — they were stuff for the cabinets!

Cuuutteee!!

I bought these awhile back via eBay through a UK vendor that carried 1:12 scale ceramics on the cheap. Granted, the shipping was so-so, but again, so long as you order a good amount, it balances out. I wanted everything to be in green to compliment the white cabinets and blue walls. Alas, the vendor ran out of the green color for the mini gravy boat….so had to make do with the mustard yellow. Was pretty bummed by it, but after seeing it in person…it’s quite adorable! In fact, they were so adorable….I completely forgot to help BK unpack the groceries as I started trying out ways to arrange the chinaware onto the cabinets. Luckily, we didn’t purchase alot and BK didn’t mind putting them away (whew!).

Yes! The cabinets and counters are accessorized!

Once I figured out how I wanted to arrange them, I started to apply some tacky wax on the dishes to temporarily hold them in place. Given my stubby fingers, I had to dig around for a pair of tweezers in order to put them in place.

Once the ceramics were in place, I then added some accessories in my collection to round out the rest.  Among them is the pie you see on the left side of the photo — my best girlfriend Jay’s younger sister K actually made it (along with a couple of more pies) for me as a birthday present. Jay provided beer bottle caps for the pie tin while K made the pie using clay and paints.  I was so touched by the gesture, that to this day, I guard these pies as one of my most prized miniatures.

Meanwhile, the two ceramics and platter above the cabinets I had to resort to using a cool glue gun to keep them in place. The other items on the counter and stove were actually minis I found on clearance at AC Moore years ago.  So by the end of Saturday, the kitchen was complete!

On Sunday, I didn’t get to work on the kit till almost evening. BK woke up not feeling well, so had to finish the remaining errands that day without him. By the time I was done, it was around 6 pm — and SuperBowl was starting. So while BK was on the couch watching the game (being from Massachusetts, he’s rooting for the Patriots), I was at my desk trying out some items to decorate the attic.

Holy crap - this is awesome! A mini storage box!

Since the attic was relatively small (it looks more like a crawl space if anything), I was imaging it to be more of a storage depot for boxes and random junk. When I did a search on tutorials on how to make boxes (or at least patterns I could use), I came across sites that provided printables of miniatures you can print, cut, and glue to make 3D items.

Had to admit, was a bit skeptical until I saw this tutorial to make a tote box with a lid —  it was literally a scaled down version of those file boxes we see at work. The instructions advised that you use 110lb cardstock. I didn’t have such thick cardstock on hand, but I did have 80lb cardstock. So I printed out the patterns, and followed the tutorials. It did involve alot of cutting and creasing and gluing – but hey,  I was a DIY bride, and I did exactly the same thing with the invitations. So can’t complain.

Verdict overall? It’s pretty awesome. It took me about 15 minutes to build the first box, but once I figured out where to cut, crease, and fold, the other boxes were an absolute breeze.  In fact, I got so excited that I found another mini printable site that offered things like a Victorian chest (with separate liner). I tried a couple of items but some of them didn’t turn out as nice as I thought. For now, I just resorted to assembling more boxes and a chest to make up the bulk of the attic’s contents. Once I assembled the amount I wanted, I threw in some random accessories to complete the scene. Depending on whether I’ll add more, I might end up using hot glue to permanently adhere the items on the floor….

The attic - now completed. Should I add more stuff here?

After I added the items in the attic, my husband (now bummed that the Patriots lost to the NY Giants) looked at the kit and said “I think you’re done with the house”. And he was right…think it’s safe to say that the Prototype is done and ready for an occupant!

Monsieur M, if you are reading this — thank you so much for giving me the chance to build your kit! Hoping in the next few days, I’ll get another post up about my findings regarding this kit. Overall, I really enjoyed this kit and would be open to buying more for future projects!

In the meantime though…it’s almost midnight, and I need to get some sleep before hauling my butt at 5:30 am for work. But now, I can sleep knowing this project is complete, and I can move one of my dolls into it immediately! Success!