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Sonntag, 12. Dezember 2021

Review: TTCombat Grey Harbor House A


Today I will conclude this miniseries of reviews with a bigger model: it's TTCombat's Grey Harbor House A.

TTCombat (a sub-division of the Troll Trader) have made quite the name for themselves by supplying inexpensive MDF kits, and LOTS of them.

Of course TTCombat also offer a range of very nice resin articles, like the porta potties you can see there in the back. 

Today I'll focus on the MDF side of their product ranges though. And they do have a LOT of these on offer, ranging from modern urban buildings over far Eastern inspired ones, Wild West, Venice (TTCombat took over and re-issued Carnevale a few years ago) over three different Sci-Fi ranges to World War two terrain and many more.

As mentioned above, their kits are generally less expensive and less complicatedly engineered than say 4Ground's offerings.

The Model

For the purposes of this review I bought the Grey Harbor House A kit. This range depicts something between rural and sub-urban US buildings.

As usual for MDF kits this one comes in a roughly A4 sized plastic baggy. The laser-cut pieces are still on the MDF sheets and the set comes with another sheet of cardboard with addional laser-cut pieces for detailling. There are no building instructions included; they're all available on TTCombat's website


This step works as usual. Cut the pieces out of the sheet (I wouldn't push out the parts. The connectors are deceptively strong sometimes, and there's just no point in taking the risk), remove remains of the connectors with a sharp knife, dry fit(!), then glue together with PVA glue.

This being a larger building, I strongly advise that you assemble with the painting step in mind. Yes, this means that boring brainy stuff will slow down the progress, but it's really worth it, especially if you plan to use an airbrush and/or rattlecan sprays for painting the model. And you'll probably want that, given the size of the surfaces.

In my case this meant that I left the whole porch superstructure, all the cardboard details (window frames, shutters, detailling on the porch superstructure) separate, as well as the door.

One thing I noticed during assembly (and I did so with another TTCombat kit I built earlier. Review coming up!) was that the parts just didn't fit well. Eventually, I had to cut down every single lid that slots into another part to make it fit. No biggie, as MDF is easy to cut, but it's no fun to cut at all, becausee that stuff is toxic as heck, and you don't want bits of it it fly around the painting desk.

As usual, I was not happy with the roof, but I planned for this building to look less ramshackle than the other ones I did so far, so I went and ordered roofing tiles from Warbases. They come in pre-cut strips you glue onto the roof one by one.

Yup, it does take a while, but it's nice work to do.

Other than that, no modifications were made to the kit. Well,one. I'm a clutz, so I insisted in gluing the door frame to the inside of the building. No problem though, I just made an outside door frame from a coffee stirrer stick.


As I had not glued on many parts of the kit to make painting easier, this step overlaps a bit with with the assembly step. First, I gave all the outside parts (apart from the cardboard detailling bits) a spray with very light grey primer. and filled the gaps with putty. This step is very important, because one of the things about MDF building is getting rid of those often very obvious connector points. So lots of putty was employed to remedy this, then I gave it two layers of spray to get a nice, even coverage. I did not spray the insides of the building, to keep the (more or less) natural colour on the wooden floor, because I made use of that later on.

At this point I noticed something about one of the outer walls:

Yikes, the cat must have run into the lasercutter there and the boards-like surface structure is off a bit. Never seen that before in laser-cut MDF, but it's no big problem. I fixed it later in the painting stage.

Here's a view on the inside:

I went with a faded-looking light blue for the walls inside. The floor got highlights on the boards and some washes. Basic stuff, good enough. You can see how on the floor of the porch I went for a slightly different and more weathered look.

Then I added grime, shade and god knows what else to give the walls more variety. The kit very much is made with gaming in mind, and there is no furniture, inside texture, or details there. One way of dealing with large surfaces is adding variety via colours and weathering effects.

You can see the back of the house here:

Just as on the inside, I made the outside look a bit more interesting by simulating some wear on the paint, and added some dirt and general weathering. All that was done before I glued on the window frames, which at that point I thought I'd paint dark blue-ish grey, just like the front porch superstructure and shutters. At a whim I decided to go with white window frames later. This led to the nice effect that the walls and the window frames have a slightly different tone of colour, which makes sense.

Speaking of the porch and window shutters, I painted a bunch of wooden texture onto those.

With MDF buildings, especially ones of that size, you'll want to get any sort of uneven/organic/fuzzy/natural looking textures and looks as you can get, to counter-act the inherently 'fake' look of MDF. All the surfaces are very, very flat, even if there's some lines lasered in. The human eye finds such surfaces off-putting. Texture is inviting, the eye's got somethign to hold on to. It instantly looks cosier and livelier. And with a wooden building, that's what we want. 

Much in the same vein I painted highlights on each individual brick in the foundation and then painted some of the bricks slighty different colours. One option would be to add a little ventilating grill or something to the foundation to imply a sinister basement.

The roof I painted brown. Not much to say there, it just seemed right. Since this is supposed to be a newer house, I didn't do anything with differently-coloured tiles, and soley relied on slight variations in colour (and then some stray leaves to add a bit of spide).


As mentioned above, I want as much fuzzy stuff on the model as possible, for a more natural look. I also like a base on a building. Helps it connect with the table around it, I think. It does take away some flexibility, but I like the look better than having the building just sit on a flat table/mat. I cut it from 3mm MDF/HDF and stuck on a on of tufts and static grass.

...and that's it!

Closing Thoughts

MDF buildings are tricky beasts. The comparatively low price point implies that they're fast and easy to do, but they always need extra work and extra investment. That'll get you nice or passable results.

This kit is a big one: Roughly 240 (including front steps) x 160 x 140mm, according to my slightly inaccurate measuring. The tiles I added add a bit to the length. So it's proper big. Feel free to add furniture, depending on the period and setting. It's almost big enough to fit some additional walls in there and make separate rooms.

This of course is a strength of MDF buildings: They can be made really big. Overall I really like this kit (well, now that it's done I like it). I paid under EUR 12,00 for it. TTCombart buildings are a steal. However, I have to add the cost of about one and a half sheets of roof tiling and various tufts to that. Even then, it's still cheaper than the much smaller 4Ground building. But also less complex. 

Size comparison

What made me a bit unhappy is that the parts just didn't fit right, and there was that sligthly off boards pattern on the one wall. The removable roof also is a very tight fit, at least the way I assembled the building. With some practice you'll figure out a way to put it on again properly, but it doesn't slot in and out as easily as on 4Ground or Warbases products. I'm also a bit confused by the purpose of this building due to the lack of a chimney. I assume that it's just meant to be a gamig piece, but I would have liked to see a way to heat it. The way it looks now I guess it will work as a lake house, for a summer camp (including murderous hockey masked man), or something along those lines. But it's hard to sell it as a house people actually live in. Sure, a chimney/fireplace/heating unit can be added as you please.

But just look at the size of the thing! Once it's all done I like it fine, and the price point is unbeatable. Getting there can be a bit testing with MDF buildings though. 

I hope that you enjoyed the review and found it useful or even entertaining. If you have any questions, maybe review requests, suggestions or ideas feel free to use the comments section below or just contact me via e-mail or Battle Brush Studios' Facebook page. The same goes of course for commission requests. See you soon! :-)

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