I’ve raved about the wonders of your local dollar general for cheap terrain building materials, but I wanted to take a quick look at some unique pieces, namely the Christmas seasonal decorations (yes, I’ve had these since December and only now have started thinking about doing anything with them). It’s worth looking for each national holiday, especially Halloween. I picked up some wonderful late autumn orange and red maple trees suitable for 28mm games last October, and occasionally there are useful Thanksgiving decorations. The best part is the price: at a dollar each, you can fill your table for much less than buying railroad or gaming terrain.
Trees: I picked these up in packs of two or three. There’s a usually few different styles: nice green conifers, brown, dead-looking pine trees, and orchard trees, some with fruit. Some trees come flocked with fake snow which makes it easy to put together a winter-themed table. The height is suitable for 15mm for large trees, but you could cut them down if you want. Fortunately, the height is fine for smaller 28mm scale trees as well, which really helps if you’re gaming on a budget. Martian tripods are roughly 40′ tall, so these trees fit nicely with the 15mm scale.
Walls, Fences, and Buildings: Some of the Christmas packs came with potted plants and brick walls with little lanterns on top. The pseudo-Victorian theme fits well with AQMF, although you will probably want to repaint the pieces. It’s certainly the plans for my little wall segments. These little walls are resin rather than plastic.
The buildings are plaster or ceramic and suffer from scale strangeness. The doors and windows on some buildings looks much too large while others are too small. I’m not sure if this is an issue or not, as I think you could easily fix the problem with a little modeling (I happen to be a scale-snob, so it bothers me when there’s noticeable differences in scale on the gaming table). They are hollow and some windows have holes in them to allow for tiny lights to be placed inside, opening some interesting ideas for theme games.
Another issue is size. The Christmas village houses are fine face-on, however they appear more shallow than the front would suggest. I don’t consider this a major issue (unless you’re OCD about your scale, like I am).
The buildings are pre-painted, but poorly. If you’re interested in repainting them, then at least it’s a basecoat to help your paint stick to the ceramic. The faux snow on the rooftops also bothers me and I haven’t decided what to do about it. I’m leaning toward fixing it up to look more realistic, then using these particular buildings for winter scenarios.
Everything considered, these are perfectly suitable little houses for 15mm 1900-era terrain. At $1 each they are great for filling a table fast, allowing you to replace them at your leisure, and to fill out a pretty badass Christmas village around the holidays. I had ten unique buildings at last count, more than enough to represent an entire village. With trees and walls from the same source you can play terrain-packed tables for $20-30 (the price you might pay for a single HO-scale building) with little to no effort. If nothing else, it’s a good way to get started. Now I’m kind of interested in painting one up and seeing how it looks.