You were warned!
The kit itself is very simple.
the kit contents
shell assembled and dividers in place
Step two of the directions is to assemble the second floor. It follows the lower pattern level with everything glued into place.
carefully score the fold line along the peak before trying to fold the roof
This is the largest piece of the 'paper' sheet. This is what passes for a roof in this kit. Let me repeat that, the roof for this building is a piece of paper. One side has a grid pattern etched on it, the other is blank. First I painted the etched side of the paper and set it aside to dry. I used the same Uber Matte Salmon paint that I used in the previous Temple project. When it comes to assembly it is important to gently scribe the center line of the etched side to allow the sheet to fold properly. You then need to turn the paper over and slightly less gently scribe the center of the paper. Any exacto blade will work for the scribing. This scribing is critical to get the sheet to fold properly (I learned this the hard way and messed up one of the roofs a bit).
the rather frail frame supporting the roof
Next the five crossbeams are glued to the central beam for the roof. It is strongly recommended by the reviewer that you have the paper for the actual roof scored and ready when you assemble the beam and crossbeams as while the glue is workable is the best time to get the paper attached. There are four 'pegs' in each crossbeam and corresponding holes in the paper roof for each 'peg'. Trying to get 20 'pegs' lined up and into the paper is irritating enough when the crossbeams are movable. Attaching the roof paper after allowing the crossbeams to dry would probably mean the ruin of the roof sheet.
Here we have the finish assembled roof.
The dark spots visible are the wooden pegs from the crossbeams.
masked and spray-painted
In the picture above I have done the taping and spray painted the building with Krylon's 'Stone Fine texture' range "Limestone" paint. Roman stucco consisted of water, limestone powder and some sort of filler, generally sand for the poorer construction, finer sand for the medium level of construction and marble powder for the elite's buildings. After some experimentation this paint worked the best, but unfortunately it also cost the most ($11 per can at my local craft shop). Some people I know have tried to simulate the appropriate texture by adding sand to paint, but I have never been able to make this concoction work. So instead I just waited for good sales to come along and bring the paint down to manageable levels. I was generally able to finagle the price down to about $5 per can, but I am currently in my third can of the stuff as it does not last long.
In this picture I have removed all of the tape and set the two buildings I bought next to each other to show the front and back. The stone paint easily adds another millimeter to the thickness of the model which can make for some difficulty in assembly so painting on the sheets will also likely lead to unknown problems if this paint is used. When painting it is best to spray a light coat on first. Basically all you are trying to do is give the real coat something to hold on to and set up the mdf for the paint. Allow the paint to dry for 15 to 30 minutes depending on conditions and then hit it with a bit heavier coat. This stuff sets up and expands as it dries so do not worry about heavy coats of paint.
Again, just for effect I include a picture of the buildings with the roofs
on to show what the raw work looks like.
The reverse of the building showing the front also has an overspray accident that did not turn out as well, but such is life, they are the backs of the building after all. One positive note, the upper floor of the building is exactly the same on both sides so if a problem develops it can be hidden by using the wayward side as the 'back'.
One down side of this paint. The kit included several cracks etched into the walls. Many of these appeared completely filled in by the paint I used. However, when I went over the entire surface with the wash some of these etched cracks reappeared. Where that happened I went over a second time and black washed the cracks to bring them out further. I tried to 'etch' in my own cracks on the paint but these vanished completely when the wash was applied.
Overall, the good points of these kits are few. Currently this is the only option available if you wish to have Roman store fronts among your scenery. Also the kit does assemble rather easily.
The problems with this kit are LEGION. The kit does not offer a front door for the stores. The forum "stalls" would actually make a decent doorway had such been provided, but it is not. I guess the idea is that Roman stores either never closed, or trusted night time 'shoppers' to leave their payment behind unattended. Once again, no buildings are taller than two stories. In reality in Rome buildings such as these were up to five stories tall. There is no way to build these kits taller as the lower level has the stall and door and the upper level has a gabled end. Once again there is only the peaked roof. Speaking of the roof the attempt at "tiles" is HORRIBLE, easily the worst of anything thus encountered. I thought the plastic roofs in the Empires kits left room for improvement, but these are pathetic. Literally just a thick sheet of 'paper'. The kit looks alright, but the roof lacks all structural support and in a game where having characters take to the roofs and walls like Gangs of Rome, setting a 30 ish millimeter metal figure on this roof is asking for tears in the structure. Additionally, there is no support for the roof. In the temple kit the roof has a plate that stabilizes the entire structure, but no such attempt was made in this case. The Empires roofs are a sheet of plastic glued down on a sheet of mdf and they seem down right luxurious compared to this roof. Beyond being just a sheet of paper the roof tile pattern is not a tile pattern at all. Just a grid etching in paper. It may even be the same etching from the temple mdf roof, just on paper instead of mdf.
Unless you have to have them I would NOT recommend these models. With a LOT of work on your part they can just get to serviceable for gaming purposes, but not for historical reality sake. I can see no way that they will survive even restricted usage for gaming every time the roof is taken off and set down to adjust figures it will be in some danger. Transport will place these roofs in serious jeopardy. Empires claims they are working on a Roman line, so maybe there's will be better, although their roofs look bad too. Empires also makes a building in their Spanish range that might work so I will look into that.
This is the last of the Sarissa general buildings. I do have the Gladiator Amphitheatre that I will be building during my off time in May. It does look more like the temple kit than this shop kit, so I am hopeful that it turns out well. My next project developed from a happy fact I learned while working on this project combined with a major online retailers desperation to get me to add their phone app to my phone for some reason. So watch for some more buildings before the Amphitheatre.