Arising from the depths of the box optimistically-named “terrain WIP” on my shelf comes another MDF kit from Sarissa. This time it’s a nice simple watch tower. This’ll be handy for wargames set behind the lines whether that’s a WW2 commando raid or some ultramodern Black Ops sneakiness

MDF terrain is good at some things and not so good at others. It needs a bit of help to represent buildings made of stone or brick, but you really can’t fault it for wooden structures.

This kit is from Sarissa’s “Far East” range alongside a lot of houses on stilts and that kind of thing. I think this kit is generic enough that it could work for anywhere in the world, depending on how you build it. The pics on the Sarissa site show the roof done as it covered in palm leaves, which is a great look for Asia, but I’ve done my with a bit of roofing iron to make it a bit more universal. Ditto the basing, but you could definitely make this look Asian or African just by how you do the roof and basing.

I’d probably say “change the roof” is my mantra for personalising MDF kits. The roofs they come with are pretty universally mediocre (and often just plain bad), and it’s the first thing you see when you look at the model.

In this case the default roof comes with a pretty uninspiring kinda-sorta roof tiles pattern, and has the common issue of big lugs showing through. I think we can do a lot better with minimal work.

The roof in this kit is actually slightly different to the one shown in the instructions, they seem to have changed the design to make it more easily removable. In doing so they’ve made it a really, really loose fit, so much so I had to add a couple of extra bits of sprue just to help it line up snugly. To be honest, there is good enough access through the sides that I think gluing the roof in place is a legit option, you can get a miniature in there easy enough.

So to customise the roof I just added some corrugated cardboard, painted it a faded red, and then kept throwing dirty washes, ink, etc at it until it looked tired enough. I added some match sticks along the edge of the cardboard just to make it a bit more rigid and handleable (is that a word?)

It’s not a complex kit, but does have a number of interlocking parts that need a bit of jiggling to get together. I’d suggest assembling it as several main assemblies that you keep separate until you’re done painting them (eg: base, legs and platform base, platform walls, roof). It’s easier to do your basing or get access to paint/stain the nooks and crannies if you can partially disassemble it.

Speaking of staining, I’ve done most of the wood using an ink stain instead of paint. I like the way MDF soaks this up and leaves a slightly grainy texture, and to be honest it’s much quicker than painting. The only detail on it that needs picking out are some bolt heads, then I just gave the whole thing a quick drybrush to highlight the edges.