Friday, January 19, 2024

Win some, lose some: a kit review

After pulling out a selection of kits to consider which would work best in the scene I had in mind to make around my newly jazzy chair, it seemed silly to put them away again, especially as I'm trying, this time round, to make some progress and some room.

(Let's ignore the irony of putting together a kit to make some room in the kit stash, and ending up with an object that takes up more room, but somewhere else, shall we?)

Of the kits, option 4 (the Mid-century modern dresser (walnut) by Mini Materials, priced at US$20, but now discontinued) seemed the best place to start, as I already had all the pieces laid out, and it looked like it had been designed to basically snap together. 

I ignored the tiny tube of super glue that they had supplied with the kit, and instead went with my trusty Weldbond.

As I thought it was a very quick build (I put the first parts together during a half-hour lunch break, and also managed to make and eat lunch as well as start on option 3), and the instructions, although very clear, were hardly needed (even, so they also provide a video to guide you through construction!)
One-twelfth scale modern miniature kit of a mid-century modern dresser, in walnut
Because the walnut plywood pieces had the woodgrain on both sides, I was able to choose which side of the piece I wanted showing on the outside: and I was impressed that they chose to use the walnut plywood for internal structural pieces (and the base) that I would never (or seldom) see again. In fact I did have a moment where I considered how much extra work I'd be creating for myself if I replaced them so I could use them later in another project.

I was impressed with the added struts on the inside to hold things steady, but wished that they didn't have tabs showing through to the outside of the dresser, and that since they did, the designer had chosen to locate them so it looked like they were at the bottom of both 'drawers', not just the top set.
Side of a one-twelfth scale mid-century modern dresser kit, with tabs from internal pieces showing through on the outside of the dresser.
While I'm showing you a close-up view, I do like the fact that they have routed the front piece deeply enough to make it look like they are real drawers, and the handle details.

I struggled again with the look of the slots on the top of the dresser, feeling that they detract from the sleek mid-century modern line, but much admit they are growing on me:
Top of a one-twelfth scale mid-century modern dresser kit, with tabs from internal pieces showing through on the outside corners of the top.
Speaking of struggles, the only time I struggled with putting the kit together was when putting the back on: it didn't want to slot into place, but worked when I turned it around and then gave it a wiggle.

To sum up: I thought this kit was brilliantly sturdy and easy to construct for the price, and also liked that it needs no finishing once constructed. I'd be tempted to purchase some more of their kits (especially the walnut ones) if I wasn't so focused on killing off my mortgage, and the postage and exchange rates weren't so vile at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier, I also started on option 3 (the Modern dresser by The Tiny Timber Co, priced at US$12) at lunchtime, figuring I could leave both builds to dry for the afternoon and finish them off after work.
One-twelfth scale modern miniature dresser kit under construction
I kept having to tell myself that this one was almost half the price of the Mini Materials kit (and that I've probably been well spoiled by the pricing and contents of the JWT Dollshouses & Miniatures kits) because I was struggling with it from the start.

The kit contained just 5 pieces (so no base), and no instructions. The wood was thinner and it was very obvious which was the outside of the kit as only one side of each piece had the nice wood grain.

As I started glueing it together (using my jig, as the carcass didn't self-support) I wondered if I should glue wooden block into the internal corners to give it some extra strength and support, but decided that the designer probably knew what they were doing.

I felt quite chuffed as I glued the back on to it after work, giving myself a pat on the back that I'd completed not one, but 2 kits that day.

After I returned from running a few errands I unclamped both dressers in readiness for the after photos: and discovered this:
Two one-twelfth scale modern miniature completed dresser kits, with the front one leaning backwards at an angle
It would seem that lack of instructions had lead to me making a booboo when putting it together, and I thanked (just)past me for not adding the blocks inside, Because it made it much easier to convince the still-curing glue to let go.
Leaving me with this:
Two one-twelfth scale modern miniature dresser kits, with the front one in pieces
Guess it's back to the drawing board with this one.

To sum up: Although I like the look of this kit generally, its apparent ease of construction tripped me up, and overall I found the end result was flimsy, so I'd be concerned that it might easily break, especially as it doesn't have a base to provide support. (To be fair, the company does give you the option when buying from them to have the kit assembled, but that would almost double the price, and probably increase postage cost significantly as it would take up more room than a flat pack).

I'll have another crack tomorrow, before I become too tempted to just shove it in a bag and back in the kit stash, and after I've done a focused dry fit.

In related news, I've been thinking about a JWT Dollshouses & Miniatures sideboard kit I have, and how easy it would be to add sliding doors (or the suggestion thereof) to the front, and if the end result would work with the jazzy chair. Watch this space...

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