House of Balsa false front building kit

1:24 kit for Maggie's Bakery
Kevin Strong
1:24 scale, false-front building kit
House of Balsa
10101 Yucca Rd.
Adelanto CA 92301
Price: $39.95

1:24 scale, plywood and balsa building-flat kit for wood-frame storefront. Dimensions: length, 9½"; depth: 1¾; height: 9½"

Pros: Good instructions; easy construction; laser-cut parts fit well together
Cons: Not suitable for outdoor use; smaller parts can break if not carefully removed from wood sheets
Anyone who models indoors has likely faced the problem of not having enough space for both trains and buildings. A common solution is to turn to building flats—facades that can be placed against the wall to give the illusion of a streetscape without taking up more than a few inches of space. House of Balsa offers a series of building-flat kits designed for just these installations, including a railroad depot, saloon, hotel, general store, sheriff’s office, barber shop, church, and this one—a bakery.

The kit comes neatly packaged between two pieces of cardboard. There is a handful of laser-cut sheets of balsa and plywood, as well as printed instructions for the assembly. I recommend reading over the instructions prior to beginning assembly of the kit, to familiarize yourself with the process and the parts.

All of the parts are numbered, with the instructions referring to the numbers to help you use the correct parts. There’s also a full-size diagram showing the part numbers on the completed structure. The parts themselves are laser cut from the sheet, with only small breaks in the cuts to hold the pieces to the sheet. Most of these are easily broken by gentle pressure. However, it doesn’t take much for “gentle” to become “overbearing” so you might want to cut them out with an X-acto knife instead—especially if you lack a delicate touch. The balsa is particularly fragile, though the plywood pieces tend to break off in the layers of plywood.

One of the first steps in the instructions is painting the pieces. I heartily recommend this, as painting the bakery after everything is completed requires painting a lot of trim, which I find particularly tedious. Painting the pieces separately prior to gluing them makes the assembly go quicker and easier. The kind of paint you use is entirely up to you. You can use spray paint but the lightweight balsa parts are likely to get blown away by the spray. You’ll need to come up with some means of sticking them to a surface before you paint them. I used old-fashioned brush paints, as it was 20 degrees outside, and spraying outdoors wasn’t an option. Note that if you use a thinner type of paint, you’ll need more coats along the edges of the parts, particularly the plywood ones. With thicker paint, this isn’t an issue. Colors are, of course, up to you, though the instructions use the yellow and white of their example. I chose the same colors because I had them on hand.

With all of the parts painted, construction can begin. The instructions provide ample photos, so they’re easy to follow. In some cases, the parts themselves have numbers burned into them so all you have to do is match the part numbers. On the storefront itself, there are laser-cut guides to help align the parts and keep things square and plumb.

Construction took one evening in the workshop. The instructions recommend using CA cement, which (since this is for indoor use) I figured would be sufficient. If it were for outdoors, I’d use a waterproof wood glue. In my experience though, balsa and the plywood don’t really hold up to the elements so I wouldn’t recommend using this product outdoors.

The kit comes with a sign that says Maggie’s bakery. It consists of a wood background with the letters laser cut so you can pop them out. A set of thicker laser-cut letters is provided that are intended to replace the thin ones that you just popped out so that, when the sign is on the building, the letters stand out in relief. It’s an ingenious system, though a little tedious to place the letters. It takes patience, especially when placing the inserts in the openings of the “As,” Bs,” etc. Fortunately, House of Balsa provides extras in case you lose some bits. However, you may choose to name the business yourself, so you may or may not need to worry about that.
The building comes with clear plastic for the windows and a photo mural that you can use for the interior.

Overall, I found this to be an easy kit to assemble and the end result is very nice. If you’re tight on space on your indoor layout, I think these will be right up your alley. \


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