PAPER OR PLASTIC

   

 
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 Written in June 2000 by Gunnar SillÚn

When visiting Waterloo in Belgium, you can buy two quite different kits for models of the same building. The building is the farm "Haie Sainte" which gained its distinction as the Wellington headquarters during the 1815 battle at this very spot. One of the kits is for a plastic model and comes in a customary box from Airfix. The other kit is for a paper model and comes as a flat packed set of sheets DIN A3 from the French publisher HEROIC DECOR. Both kits state the same scale - 1:72. The cost of the kits are also equal. The paper model costs about 8 dollars and the plastic model round 25 cents more.

 

The paper kit looks good when you open it. Nice colours and inspiring lay-out. The building instruction (in French) seems to be sufficient (if only my knowlege of French had been). My only objection concerns the recomendation of rubber glue. The building method differs slightly from that of common cut-outs. Some paper parts are to be glued to pieces cut out from a sheet of laminated cardboard which is also included in the kit.
The building of the model took me about four pleasant hours. The result is good even before adding details like plants, tools and people. When looking very close there are some oddities though. The use of photographic means to reproduce surface structures gives a false feeling of realism. One door or window looks to be an individual with its cracks and wears. But the next door or window shows to be an exact copy of the first one with cracks and wears. At least to me it gives the impression that the designer is not exerting himself enough in his job to cheat me that his model is reproducing reality.
The plastic model states skill level 1. Even a beginner could put the parts together. Actually most parts snap together with a minimum of adaption job. It is a pity though there are no nice and healthy glues to use with plastic models.
The detailing of the model is a bit stiff or hard. Walls look more to be built from 20th century concrete blocks than from 18th century bricks. The reproduction of naked wood is an unreflected and unsuccessful attempt to pretend life. The aimed at realism is not reached.
  It took me about two rather boring hours to put the model together. But then there are no windows or doors beyond the gates  (doors and windows are not included in the kit!) and all painting is still to be done
Here are the two built models together. Striking is that the stated scale 1:72 can be so different. The plastic (Airfix) model is definitely not over 1:100 if there is any reason at all to talk about scale in this case.
  The differences between the models give lots of entrances to discussions about historic accuracy. None of the kits include any pictures of the real house or any reflections on the historic reconstruction of it.
  What I know for certain is that the paper model was much more pleasing to build and also gave a more convincing result.