It feels as though I have always been aware of the Lilliput Lane range of miniature buildings – I regard them as collectibles for oldies with an excess of pocket money and shelf space. Not very interesting, not my kind of thing, overpriced and far too cute for my taste, but certainly very nice if that’s what you like.
|Hinton Hunt 20mm ECW soldiers with Lilliput Lane Scottish buildings - not bad?|
A few years ago I made a conscious (and not easy) decision to use underscale buildings on my wargame table – my figures are sort of 1/72-ish, which translates to about 20mm, but I use 15mm scale buildings as a matter of policy. They look fine, they take up less space on the battlefield (and are therefore a bit less of an offence against the age-old mismatch of vertical and ground scales in the games) and they are, of course, cheaper than their bigger cousins.
My Peninsular War buildings are of various makes and came from various places – I like resin buildings, and I enjoy painting them myself. I am aware that I have buildings from Eureka, Hovels, JR Miniatures, Battlezone and others I can’t remember. Sometimes the scale slips downwards a bit – some of my buildings, judging by the ease with which the men could pass through the doors, are a bit tight even for 15mm, but it’s amazing how the convenience numbs your sensitivity to this inaccuracy. It is true that an HO or 25mm church would look more natural with the miniature soldiers, but this is more than outweighed by the fact that it would be the size of a fair-sized village on the battlefield.
|My standard issue, home-painted 15mm Hovels|
When I started on the ECW, I bought in a pile of Hovels Medieval, Northern European and “English Rural” series buildings, and some rather more Germanic things from JR, and I’ve been working my way through the painting of these as time permits. When my interest in this period suddenly performed a lateral arabesque in the direction of Montrose and his chums, I had a need for some Scottish looking buildings, and was surprised when a search on eBay for “Scottish” and “buildings” threw up some examples of Lilliput Lane products. Of course, most of them were unsuitable, and prices were generally very unsuitable indeed, but there were a few very interesting examples on offer.
I am not a convert, I will not blossom into a collector, but there are a number of very useful pieces out there. There are a few problems, apart from price – these items are all sorts of different sizes and scales, and very few sellers bother to put dimensions in the listings; the models themselves are collectible without any attempt to have a constant scale - having said which, Lilliput have recently produced their “Full Steam Ahead” series, which are specifically targeted at (very wealthy) N-Gauge model railway enthusiasts.
The trick is to ignore the new stuff and the listings aimed at serious collectors – there are some real bargains among the clearances of someone’s late grannie’s bits and pieces, especially if, like me, you could not care less about the missing box and deed (certificate of authenticity), and are happy to get out the paints to touch up chips and scratches. In fact, I have been known to drybrush some erstwhile collectible with Khaki Mist #4 to tone down the colours a bit – enough to send genuine LL collectors screaming for therapy.
I am also happy to snip off the happy wedding couple from a rural church scene (or lose them inside a tree), so I am a real heretic in the LL world. It is also necessary, of course, to check on sizes. I have had a couple of minor failures, but they can always be stood on the top of a distant hill, or put back on eBay – how can I lose at these prices?
|On the face of it, this would make a decent wargames piece - bad news is|
this is a limited edition, so I'd have to sell my own house to buy it. Nah - not
suitable, far too collectible for me...
A complete battlefield covered with LL buildings would be an abhorrence by any standards – the more complicated set-pieces cover too much ground anyway, and do not lend themselves to having soldiers placed as a garrison – but I am now keeping a gentle eye open for suitable bargains on eBay – mixed in with the Hovels and similar they can look impressive, and they give extra interest.
I am currently chasing a nice little windmill which looks just about right to stand on the next hill from my Hovels mill, and there are a number of slightly chipped manor houses which would go well as the centrepiece of a village or a siege scenario. I’m a bit embarrassed about it, to tell the truth, but it’s all good fun.