I recently ran across a TMP plug for TRE Games Inc., what looks like a one-man operation by Tim Erickson (Minnesota, USA) offering a variety of laser-cut kits for 15mm and 28mm structures, fantastic flyers, and accessories. I’ve been on the look-out for good looking rural buildings suitable for use on the tabletop, particularly for the American Revolutionary to Civil War time periods. TRE Games’ 15mm Early American Buildings looked like they fit the bill.
First a plug for Tim and TRE Games. From the easy to navigate e-commerce enabled website, with quick turn-around on my order, the careful packaging and great instructions, to the prompt and inexpensive shipping using the USPS priority mail pack, Tim has a great operation going.
I was also impressed with the quality of the kits themselves. I ordered six of his Early American buildings: Church, Rural House, Barn, Farm Building, Large Cabin, and Outbuildings.
Here they are assembled (L-R): Church, Farm Building, Rural House, Large Cabin, and Barn, with outbuildings in back.
Some close-ups: first the farm building and rural house.
Here is a hamlet featuring the farm building, cabin and rural house side-by-side,
My favorite overall is the church seen here about to be burned by a column of British regulars.
The outbuildings are an interesting kit. There are three buildings, which seem to represent a storage shed or possible chicken coop, a small outbuilding (possibly a external kitchen or smithy given the large central fireplace) and a wood shed.
The storage shed and outbuilding can be aligned back to side to create a slightly larger utility building.
My least favorite, I’d have to say, is the barn. It’s well executed…but looks a tad modern to my eye with its hipped roof. That’s not to say it isn’t appropriate to the period…just that A-framed roofs were probably more common, particularly in the American south where the bulk of my gaming is set.
Each building comes neatly packed in a 4×6 inch resealable plastic sleeve with clear illustrated instructions. The kits themselves are cut from 1/16 inch Ash wood, with a base made of 1/8 inch Birch plywood.
Pieces that small are fragile by definition, but with careful handling and use of a Husky razor knife, I experienced no breakage during unpacking or assembly. What’s also cool is that most sheets include extra beams and key supports, just in case you break one (or three). With the extras and the frames from the six kits, I now have a great odds and ends assortment for future scratch-building projects.
The large cabin (below) and small cabin were probably the easiest of the six kits to assemble, just four walls, a door, the roof, and a fireplace.
Having put together other MDF laser-cut kits with lots of fiddly parts, I found that the TRE Games models strike a nice balance between minimizing the number of parts that need to be assembled while incorporating maximum detail into the wood itself, so you end up with something that looks realistic to the eye. Of the six, some were easier builds than others, but none were difficult or required more than about 10 minutes.
One assembly tip, especially if this is your first time working with laser-cut kits. Thin wood at that scale is prone to warp or bow slightly at the joints if your glue is too wet and/or if you apply too much pressure holding the edges together waiting for the glue to dry. You are more likely to have difficulty aligning the roofs than the walls, whose overlaps give a precise, fairly tight fit with minimal pressure. When applying the roofs, I had a few small gaps that I either covered up with ridge poles, or which are only noticeable under close scrutiny. If I had to do it again, I would have used my yellow carpenter’s glue uncut instead of watering it down to aid its flow.
And one observation as to size. The buildings are advertised as 15mm scale and certainly match similar buildings I’ve purchased at 15mm scale. If you stand 15mm troops next to them, however, they seem somewhat out of proportion and perhaps more suitable for 10mm figures if used in a 1:1 skirmish tabletop setting. You can see that in the pictures above, which feature 15mm Essex AWI British figures painted by Paul Potter. However, I think they’ll be perfect for mass battles at 15mm scale, where individual buildings are out of scale by definition. And that’s what I bought them for, so I’m happy.
Will I paint them? Probably not. Maybe a light whitewash for the church and I may do some research to see exactly when red painted barns came into vogue. For the others, I intend to leave them rustic looking.
In sum, a big thumbs up for TRE Games 15mm Early American Buildings. I plan to keep my eye out for new offerings and am especially hoping to see a 15mm take on their 28mm Country House. I also love the look of the Mexican church, but alas it is too small to work with my 18mm Blue Moon wild west gunslingers. TRE Games also has some tremendous Japanese buildings and accessories for samurai-style games.