One line within Noch’s large product catalogue is their laser cut card buildings, and having recently produced various industrial buildings, the big release of the latter part of this year in that range is the Winery “Hauser-Buhler”. This is intended to be the centre piece of a vineyard, and it is modelled, according to NOCH’s catalogue, after a vineyard in Bickensohl Kaiserstuhl. For those who didn’t know (and that included me) this is an area in southwest Germany that is blessed with fertile soils over volcanic hills, relatively mild winters and very warm summers, hence is largely given over to high quality wine production.
The kit box includes more than just the main winery building, as we shall see, but the main part of this review will concentrate on the construction of that big house.
The quite large and surprisingly heavy but slim box is fully packed, and this is what you get:
- Wine Workers – six pre-painted figures in various labouring poses, being NOCH set 15614.
- 24 vines – six strips of four vines complete with foliage and mounted on bases, NOCH set 21540.
- Instruction booklet for the Winery Main Building (in black and white – the colour version can be downloaded from NOCH’s website).
- Instruction booklet for the Winery Servants’ House.
- Two sprues of plastic gutters and drainpipes.
- Two colour printed paper sheets of inserts for the windows.
- Clear plastic sheet for glazing the main windows
- Frosted plastic sheet for glazing the small basement windows
- One tube of PVA type glue
- Around twenty five laser cut sheets of card of varying thickness and textures that make up both the big house and the smaller servants’ house.
As we have seen in previous reviews of laser cut card buildings from NOCH, the card stock used is top quality and precision of the laser cutting highly accurate and most impressive. Components are attached to their carrier sheets by only a very few tiny uncut points, which means detaching the parts is quick and easy, yet at the same time, none of the components had detached themselves within the box, hence none were damaged in any way.
Something new in comparison with previous kits I have reviewed is that the tiled roof panels have been pre-painted to provide a realistic variation in tile colours, while all the other components are unpainted, but made of appropriately coloured card stock. Also new to me is the inclusion of the plastic parts for the guttering and drainpipes. Interestingly, the same very high quality we see with the cardboard parts is not carried over to these plastic pieces: the mouldings themselves are not too well detailed and feature quite prominent mould seams, so are somewhat crude as far as injection moulded polystyrene kits go. It is also clear that the parts are generic rather than being designed for particular parts of the building, hence there are just four very long strips of guttering that have to be cut to length, and all the downpipes are identical.
The inclusion of the printed window inserts is a welcome and thoughtful touch, and of course using those as templates, one could quite easily create one’s own variations on a computer, if you wanted something other than billowy net curtains and houseplants on the window sills.
Inevitably we begin with those windows, starting off by glazing them on the insides. There’s quite a number to do, but the card walls are thick enough that I was able to simply place the glazing material over the inside of the window to be glazed and then cut around it (photo 1), so it’s quite quick to make and then glue them in place. The colour printed inserts are all numbered and have accurate outlines, again, making for quick cutting out (photo 2). These are then glued behind the windows (photo 3), and when viewed from the outside with the frames in front of them, the effect is quite pleasing (photo 4).
With all the windows in place and set, we move to constructing the ground floor, so that’s the two long walls sandwiched by the ground and middle floor plates (photo 5). The floor parts themselves are thick card, and with the inset connection points this means that the building is immediately quite rigid. The open ends of this resulting box are now closed off by the gabled end walls that reach to the top of the building (photo 6).
Two thick bracing walls are inserted into the upper floor and the instructions give a special note that part 20 is to be attached flat on the floor first, but note too that the two walls that go on top must be the right way around, with the cut-outs engaging with part 20 (photo 7).
Care is again needed to ensure that the sloping roofed walls of the upper storey are attached on the correct sides of the building (photo 8) as they are not identical, and also take care as the instructions incorrectly number part 35 as 33.
It’s at this point that I found a little preparation work helped with assembling some of the slotted components; the issue is that because the glue wets the cut end of the tab, it softens and expands the card ever so slightly, so that although the hole it inserts into is exactly the right size, some of them don’t fit very easily first time, and there is a risk of bending the tab if too much force is used. To get over this I compressed the tabs by squeezing with pliers to make them a just a little thinner (photo 9) and also used a fine file to enlarge the hole a tiny amount (photo 10) - actually very little work was needed but it was just enough to make the assemblies go right first time.
After the addition of some more internal roof braces, the main structure of the roof goes over in one big articulated piece (photos 11 and 12). There then follows the assembly of the various walls that extend out of the main body of the building, so a bay type wall on the ground floor, the staircase above the main door, and the large dormer type window on the upper storey. With those in place and the remaining roof supports over them, the eventual shape of the house becomes apparent (photos 13, 14). When attaching the heavy bent card of the roof supports, the parts need to be held in place while the PVA glue sets in order to overcome the tension inherent in the bend; on some of these joins I used CA glue instead as it sets so much faster.
So as to overcome the unsightly structural slot fixings and provide a recessed appearance around the windows, all of the walls are now clad in a thinner layer of card; these parts feature chamfered edges so as to provide a more precise and attractive join at the corners (photo 15). Something to be aware of is that because the window bars are extremely thin, there’s a number of places where the cardboard tended to de-laminate itself and sections of paper detached themselves from the frame (photo 16). Mostly this isn’t too serious, and I was able just to pull the loose layer off with tweezers leaving sufficient card in place for the appearance to remain acceptable, but in a couple of places I glued the bars back in as the whole piece had detached from the window.
In photo 17 we see some of the beams that support the tiled panels, and some of those tiles in place in photo 18 (observe, too, the engraved pattern on the balcony door). Some care is needed to get the tiled section into exactly the right position and then to hold it down on the curved beams while the glue sets. Note the unpainted edge of the tiled section and the noticeable dots where the attachment point was cut through; at the end of construction I touched these up with some red-brown acrylic paint to improve the appearance.
These upper storey tile sections are followed by the main roof tiles which fit very well, though care is again needed to ensure that they sit correctly and the gaps at the joints are closed (photo 19). With the roof on (photos 20, 21), everything that now follows is details.
On fitting the black beams to the upper walls, the instructions note that there is some subtle engraving to represent the joins between the timbers which is to face outwards (photo 22). When it came to the beams that support the attic window wall, the parts are very small but of very thick card and I found that each one split apart when removed from the carrier card; it was possible however to pick each half up together with tweezers and glue them in place without too much difficulty. The appearance seems OK, perhaps the split ends even look a little authentic, like a split end of an ancient timber (photo 23).
Next we see the balcony tiled floor (making sure not to confuse it with the tiled front door step…) and the surrounding wall in place (photo 24), and then the building up and installation of those front door steps (photos 25, 26, 27). The low basement windows are now clad all around in stone, and stone surrounds are also added to each window (photo 28) – this stone effect being quite flat, but none the less an impressive piece of detailing for something that is just cut and textured cardboard. Optional pieces of stone can be added to the corners of the walls as one wishes (photo 29).
Moving to the gutters: dimensions are given in the instructions and the gutters were cut to length. Mostly the gutters can be glued by the edge strip simply under the overhang of the roof, although on the stairway roof there is very little tile overhang and so I trimmed the gutter edging back to just three protruding points and then drilled matching holes in the wall (photo 30). The gutter was then glued securely to the wall (photo 31).
With the gutters in place the drainpipes were measured up and cut; as mentioned previously a fair amount of sanding and filing was needed to remove the noticeable moulding seams on these parts. Although bent connection pieces are provided, which attach the straight downpipes to the gutters, they seemed to me to be far too big for this building, and I was able instead simply to bend the pipe with two pairs of pliers, the plastic keeping its shape well enough and not cracking, with just a little whiteness appearing at the stress point. With two or three of the pipe supports threaded on to the pipe, it was then attached via small holes drilled into the cardboard walls (photos 32, 33). There is no indication on the walls of where they should attach, so it is up to you to decide how many pipe supports to use and where to drill the locating holes; needless to say care needs to be taken when working out where to drill the holes, as repairing mistakes may not be straightforward.
Final details are on the roof: the chimney is made and attached, and then the ridging tiles cut out and glued on (photos 34, 35). The ridging tiles do provide a nice finishing touch, covering over the joins and providing a decent realistic look. As with the edges of the roof tile panels, the carrier attachment points of the ridge tiles were also touched up with brown paint, as well as one or two other points on the tiles in corners where paint had been slightly damaged. I should point out that the texturing of the tiles is superb, and that with the mottled painting on top, in my view the roof looks really very good, particularly once the ridge tiles are added.
The end result is a very impressive model, all the more so for being made almost entirely of card and with only the tiles having been painted. Although comprehensively detailed, it didn’t take too long to build, largely because virtually all of the parts take very little preparation and fit well. Only the pipework provided any kind of real challenge, I think, and in relation to the rest of the kit it is somewhat inferior; it is also the only part that could definitely do with being painted, probably in black. The entire finished item is robust and quite heavy, although both during and after construction, some care is needed with the corners of the tiled roof sections where they overhang the thicker card underneath, and which are very thin and quite delicate.
I would say compared to the industrial buildings I reviewed previously, this is something of a step up in quality of detail and finish, with the completed model looking quite nicely complex in terms of both detail and colouring, and approaching a more realistic finish than we have seen before from unpainted cardboard models. One slightly incongruous detail I noticed is that the house has only one door on the ground floor… I’m not sure where that sits in terms of fire regulations!
Remember that I have only described the main house in detail here, and that the box also contains the second smaller building, as well as the set of figures and the vines. I must say that, despite the inclusion of the two models and other accessories in the box, and although the house is very nice as we have seen, I can’t help thinking the price tag is still quite steep.
I understand from NOCH’s website that the N scale version of this same kit is set for release in January 2015.
We thank NOCH for providing this kit for review! Please tell retailers and vendors that you saw Winery Hauser-Buhler here - on