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…
- 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
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. 🙂