Review by George Riley
By the 1880s, the United States was experiencing a building boom. As rail networks expanded, new towns quickly sprang up along the right of way. Among the many popular common styles was the American Cottage. Plans for variations on this type of structure graced the pages of popular house plan books and lifestyle magazines of the period. Cottages were relatively inexpensive to construct. as well as a step up from the log cabins and “soddies” (sod houses) common in the West. Cottages also felt liberating for former dwellers of urban tenements as they moved outward to the growing suburbs. This type of housing proved to be the first step for those moving into the expanding American middle class.
The cottage style of single family home would continue to be built until well into the 1930s in a wide array of variations. While some were initially built without indoor plumbing and electricity, over time they would have all of the modern conveniences added.
Woodland Scenics’ Design Preservation Models series of Landmark Structures now offers two variants of the cottage type of residential structure. The first, the Victorian Cottage (no. 20500), features a detail package featuring a selection of diecast “fancy” millwork that includes gable ends, railings with turned posts and even a weathervane to dress up the model. Their Humble Home (no. 20600) represents a more pedestrian structure with a minimum of ornamentation.
Photo courtesy Woodland Scenics
Both kits feature common styrene wall and roof castings that, by differing their configuration, can allow the builder to assemble buildings in any number of new combinations. The molded detail on each of the parts is well-defined and crisp. Only a minimum of clean-up is needed. However, some sanding and filling is needed to reduce the mold relief on the corner joints to ensure that they are tight and square. The styrene parts have retained some of the mold release applied to the tools during the manufacturing process, so be sure to wash the parts in water with a touch of dishwashing liquid so that paint will properly adhere. The plastic pieces of our samples were quickly assembled with Testors’ Liquid Cement. Once the glue had cured, the building shell and roof assemblies were primed with gray spray primer. This step ensures proper paint adhesion and helps the modeler to identify any defects that will need to be fixed before painting proceeds.
Model and photo by George Riley
We finished our Victorian Cottage with a classic pastel yellow overall scheme with off-white trim. To achieve this using spray cans, the wall assembly was first given an overall coat of yellow paint which was allowed to dry hard for several days. The areas that were to remain yellow were then masked off with painter’s tape and oversprayed with a coat of yellow to seal the pressed-down edges. As soon as the yellow was dry to the touch the off-white trim color was applied and allowed to dry overnight. The following morning the tape was removed revealing a neatly applied paint scheme.
The Humble Home kit, on the other hand, was painted to represent an abode that appears long in the tooth with chalking and peeling paint. To achieve the rundown appearance, the wall assembly was given an overall coat of dark brown flat spray paint over the gray primer. Once dry, a thin coat of flat white spray paint was applied to the model. The white coat was allowed to dry to the touch before the walls were distressed with a fiberglass eraser and fine sandpaper. This revealed the brown and gray colors underneath the white paint.
Model and photo by George Riley
With the wall units’ painting completed, both structures were set aside, and the roof assemblies were first primed and then painted with dark brown flat spray paint. Once dry, the roof tops were masked off and the eaves were given a coat of flat white. The Victorian Cottage’s eaves were left pristine, while the eaves on the Humble Home were distressed with the fiberglass eraser. When completely dry, each was dry-brushed with light tan paint to accentuate the highlights and add depth and texture to the roofs.
The remaining assembly was the addition of the metal die-cast detail parts. Excess flash was removed from the metal parts with a hobby knife and needle files before being washed with dish detergent to remove any oils and dirt left from the manufacturing process. The parts were rinsed in clear water and allowed to air dry prior to giving each a coat of primer. Once the primer was dry to the touch, color coats were applied to each item and allowed to completely dry overnight.
Photo courtesy Woodland Scenics
Thick-bodied cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA) was used to install each of the metal detail parts onto the model. In the case of the fancy porch railing on the Victorian Cottage, additional test fitting and filing was needed to allow for a proper fit. Once added to the models, these pieces were given a quick touch-up with flat hobby paint applied with a small brush. At this point, the nearly complete cottages were given an overall spray with Testors Dullcote. This step seals the finish and will conceal any accidental glue marks on the model.
Cutting and installing the clear glazing with Aleene’s Tacky Glue completed each cottage.
While assembly was very straightforward, the finishing of these kits takes a bit more skill than most plastic model structure. However, a little patience will allow even a relative novice to construct a satisfying model. The addition of the metal details will open up a new skill set for many beginning modelers since the DPM line of structures are many railroad hobbyists’ first multimedia kits. Tutorial videos are also posted on WoodlandScenics.com on how to build these kits.
One of the many virtues of model building that we have demonstrated here with these two models is that each can be constructed to suit the look or needs of each modeler. Either kit builds an American classic in miniature. With a footprint of 3.75 inches by 3 7/16 inches, these structures will easily fit in all but the very smallest of spaces. Pristine or heavily weathered, these cottages can be used in any era from the late 1800s through the present, making these a useful addition to nearly every layout or diorama.
Item # 20500
MSRP – $23.99
Item # 20600
MSRP – $18.99
P.O. Box 98
Linn Creek, MO 65052