Arise from the shelf of shame! In the spirit of lockdown I’ve been clearing out all my old unfinished projects, including this rather nifty Japanese watermill.

Once upon a time I grabbed one of Sarissa’s watermill kits when it was on sale. This kit is designed in a similar style to their rice storehouses, with a matching roof style. As a communal building it’s built partly from stone and obviously is a bit fancier-looking. It’ll fit in nicely with the rest of my Japanese village.

The basic building is pretty simple, but you’ll want to have a think about¬† the staircase, waterwheel, etc before assembling everything. Leave the stairs off so you’ve got access to paint the stonework behind them, and while the waterwheel can be assembled you’ll want to do the same to paint the wall behind it. The waterwheel itself is actually pretty fiddly to assemble, I had to do a bit of cutting and filing to get mine to go together. It’s also a bit of a dog to paint due to all the angles. Don’t do what I did, instead paint it on the sprue and then touch up once it’s assembled.

The kit comes with a base, but frankly this is as much use as tits on a bull. The end section where the waterwheel attaches is very flimsy, and I bent mine pretty promptly. Apart from that, you’re going to want to connect this waterwheel to your existing stream or river terrain, and to my mind by far the easiest way to do this is make a custom base which matches and connects to your river pieces. I retained the kit’s own base, and stuck the whole thing onto another large base that will match my stream sections. I painted this about the right colour to match my Last Valley streams, and then on the down water side I added some gloss acrylic medium. That was a tip I picked up from Mel the Terrain Tutor, and is an easy way to make textured glossy water surfaces. It’s an acrylic gel that you just slap on and can then move around. I just teased it with a toothpick to make some little frothy waves. I found less is more.¬† Just form it into some little whitecaps and then stop fiddling with it.

The gel does eventually dry clear (but can take up to several days depending how thickly you lay it on) but I picked out the tops of the waves in pure white by giving it a heavy drybrush (some people call this a “wetbrush” as you leave more paint on the brush). I think it came out alright and was really easy to do. For the up water side of the stream I just coated the paint in a couple of layers of gloss outdoor varnish, and then gave the wheel a quick splash too.

I also modified the building itself. The kit comes with a tiled roof, which apart from being not very convincingly etched by the laser, didn’t seem right for a rural building. Everything else in my village is thatched, so I stuck some thatch made from an old towel straight over the tiled roof. I also added matchsticks and texture to the upper plastered section of the building, just because I thought it needed to look less flat.

Japanese stonework seems to be mostly dry fit of fairly rough stones (or at least designed to look that way), while the stone detail on this kit is drawn as perfect blocky rectangles meeting at right angles, and with some kind of mortar. I’m not sure if that really was a thing, or if the CAD artist was just having a lazy day when they drew it. Either way, I simply washed the whole thing in black ink to bring out the detail and then picked a few blocks out in lighter and darker shades. It’s never going to look 100% realistic, but I think it gives the impression of a stone wall. I think this kind of thing is where the resin kits still have the edge over MDF. A resin base with an MDF top half would make a really nice model of this subject.

Anyway, it’s a nice little terrain feature and an excuse to put a stream and bridge on the table, which always makes skirmish games look much prettier. Looking back at when I started this kit I see that it was 2017, so I’m happy to have got it finished at last!