Review: Sarissa Precision 28mm Japan MDF terrain

Rating: 4 stars

Sarissa Precision Ltd are a company that produce high quality MDF terrain in various scales at a mid-range price. This review is looking at their Japan range of buildings, which are useful for playing games in the Sengoku period – especially rules such as Test of Honour

I have a number of Sarrissa’s buildings in my collection – they actually make up the majority of my scenery that I use for Test of Honour and other games.

Village House

Probably one of the most basic of the buildings in the range, the Village House is a simple box with a few added details, including steps and window shutters.

Very easy to assemble, and looks perfectly decent on the table.

Temple/Shrine

The Temple/Shrine is slightly more complex to assemble due to upright supporting beams pushing through the raised floor. This is easier as it looks, as you can push each individual side through the floor, and then secure and glue the base afterwards. A little care has to be taken with this kit, especially in storage, as the uprights are quite fragile and could be prone to breakage.

Otherwise, the building is of solid construction and relatively easy to assemble. The angles on the roof may need to be addressed, as with the existing kit, the roof pieces leave a groove where they meet.

Temple Bell

The Temple Bell is probably one of my favourite buildings in this range. The base and roof are relatively easy to construct, although I did find a bit of an issue attaching the steps to the base, as it is quite difficult to get the sides to slot in whilst ensuring that the top step also remains slotted into place (I ended up removing the bottom slots and simply gluing the side walls in place).

The main latticework frame is designed to slot together, and is rather tight, which means that unless to trip some of the parts slightly, getting everything to align requires a measure of brute force and ignorance.

One of the only downsides to this kit is that the central bell is made from a construction of MDF and grey card – but the card, when is place, does not quite fully surround it’s MDF mould, leaving a small but noticeable gap

Watermill

My other favourite building in the range, the Watermill, when built, is a thing of beauty.

Building it, however, has a number of issues.

The main part of the building is essentially a box, containing a false floor. Constructing it is a little awkward (I felt I could have used a third hand on a couple of occasions) but it all fits together quite well.

Then there is the water wheel – each paddle is separate, and has to slot into two parts of the outside wheel whilst at the same time linking to a spindle that runs through the whole construction. You have to be very careful about orientation when assembling this, otherwise you end up in the position I did.

The spindle that runs through the middle of the wheel is square – made up of two lengths of MDF. It is designed to fit through the middle of the water wheel, and then through the lattice-work of the wheel support – except you will notice that in the picture, the spindle is diagonal, rather than square…

…yes, I got the orientation wrong when assembling the wheel, and by the time I noticed my error, the construction had pretty much set solid. The only thing left to do was to whittle away along a length of MDF until it was of a size that I could rotate it in the lattice work – it certainly added an unneeded complication to the construction, so it’s one to look out for if you build this kit.

Also, I then complicated matters by gluing the wheel to the mill before I painted the building…which has created a new set of problems when I come to paint the building.

Never mind. It is a beautiful building, but construction has its pitfalls.

Rice Store Set

At one point it was a touch and go whether these Rice Stores would get built, or end up in the rubbish bin.

I like them as models, but putting them together is something of a challenge. Each model has four walls, each in two parts, which are designed to slot and slide together – except that they a tight fit. A really tight fit. I ended up having to shave the ends of the bars so that they would fit through the slots, and resort to using baby oil as a lubricant so that the various pieces would slide together so that I could subsequently glue them.

They look nice enough, but are horrible to construct.

Bridge

The bridge kit is also something of a challenge to put together – not so much difficult as frustrating. Each plank is individually attached, which means that once you have placed the planks in the slots on one side of the bridge, you then have to match all the pegs and holes up with the other side of the bridge in order to get the whole thing to push together – a feat that is easier said then done.

When complete there are two issues – if you look at the base of the bridge, you will notice that the MDF has been broken. This is because the base of the bridge actually joined together – which may have added strength, but meant that the bridge couldn’t actually be placed so that it went over anything – a bit of a design flaw.

Also, the edges of the bridge, with all those pegs on show, is a bit unsightly – even when painted. It may have been nice to have several pieces of grey card included with the kit in order to cover these up and make the final bridge look better.

Torii Gate

A small kit – the main thing to look out for with this is to ensure that when all the various layers of MDF are glued together, you get them aligned as smoothly as possible, otherwise you may leave yourself an extra job of having to sand the final model off to achieve a smooth finish.

Yatai Stalls / Rice Cart / Geisha Cart / Lanterns

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Sarissa produce a number of smaller kits which can be used as scatter terrain. most of which are a mix of MDF and grey card. The Yatari stalls are simple to construct, although care has to be taken as some of the parts have very thin pieces of MDF which can be easily broken.

The Geisha cart is predominantly of card construction, with only the chassis being of MDF – the final product feels a little flimsy.

I do really like the lanterns – they may be somewhat oversized, but are well-engineered and are big enough to hold an LED light (examples I have seen look very effective)

Conclusion

Sarissa has a wide range of kits available for Japan. They are generally well-engineered and, with a couple of exceptions, relatively easy to construct. The models look good when finished, and take paint and inks well (they are not pre-coloured) – etched detail in the MDF still shows through after painting, which is a bonus on certain features.

The building all have easily removable roofs, which makes playing inside them during games a straight forward proposition.

A very nice range of buildings which look good on the tabletop – highly recommended.

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