I have been interested in model castles since childhood and over the last three decades have had countless model castle building projects using different materials including paper, card, wood, plastic, plaster and casting resin.
My hobbies include miniature wargaming, in a variety of scales and role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons so model castles have had to be practical for gaming as well as looking the part.
Access to interiors
As a wargamer and role player I am not looking for a museum quality rendition of a single castle, nice though that may be, because once I had played a couple of games over it, I would be looking for a slightly different battle field to maintain interest in the game. What is needed is a modular set of castle components, based on real prototypes that can be combined in countless ways to represent different configurations of model castles, fortresses or city walls. For this to work as an approach each modular component needs to be constructed to a very high tolerance, widths and heights of components need to be exact to fractions of a millimetre and angles need to exactly 90 degrees rather than 89.9 or 90.1 degrees. Prior to designing Sally 4th laser cut castles I have brought and indeed manufactured resin modules which have appeared to be square and a consistent size until put together in different configurations where the slight imperfections in size and squareness inherent in the hand casting process becomes apparent. The same goes for paper and card model castles. I thought that using computer printed components would ensure an exact match, but to assemble these models the pieces need to be scored, folded and glued by hand and all of these processes can lead to small differences which only become apparent when combined with other pieces. The only material (other than laser cut MDF) which I have used which is produced with sufficient accuracy to score 10 for Modularity is injection moulded plastic. Games Workshop produce a plastic castle kit, ‘The Mighty Fortress’, and I have a couple of these which have served well in many games through out the years. These fit together perfectly, each piece is perfectly square and it is a good modular fit. The problem with the ‘Mighty Fortress’ is that there are only 3 components in the system, a castle wall, gatehouse and tower.
Ideally a model castle system will allow you to start small, maybe with a single tower or a gatehouse and couple of wall sections and will allow you to purchase additional components separately as funds allow and as your gaming horizons expand. Personally, I’d like to be able to represent any type or configuration of castle that’s been built throughout history. This means availability of castle walls in different heights, a range of castle towers with varying door and height options and keeps, gatehouses, staircases and interior buildings to complete the castle.
Paper and Card buildings score well for expandability. I have brought a number of systems in the past as downloadable pdf files. These systems allow you to print out as many pieces as time and ink for your ink-jet printer allows. The Games Workshop plastic castle is only expandable by adding more off the same as walls and towers which is great for expanding to a large city wall or curtain wall but does not allow expansion to a fully featured castle. This is understandable due to the high set up cost for injection moulded plastic.
A 28mm model castle can easily have a foot print of 4’ square so most gamers need a solution that can be disassembled, put in a box and brought out again when needed. The Games Workshop model castle and MDF castles all store very well as they are light and rigid. Surprisingly the paper and card models have not stored as well, although they are very light they are not very rigid and over the years have warped or the inkjet printing has faded. Cast resin is very rigid but is heavy to store and pieces have chipped in storage.
This is linked to storage but also covers robustness in play, how strong are the pieces, will they topple over if heavy pewter miniatures are placed on top of the walls? Resin, Plastic & MDF castles all score highly for robustness, although it is best not to drop the resin models on a hard floor, the MDF and plastic bounce but the resin is likely to crack or chip. Card and Paper castles look good when first made but in use I have found that placing metal miniatures on the walls tend to make them fall over.
Access to Interiors
When playing skirmish or role playing games, it is best if you can actually place figures in side rooms in the towers or walls. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of resin castles and the Games Workshop plastic castle model. From the outside they look good but they are just solid objects that do not offer any interior access.
The above design considerations were the driver to lead me to design and develop the range of Sally 4th Castle Models which I believe score highly for all of those categories.
The technology of laser cutting allows design and production and tolerances of one hundredth of a millimetre or one hundredth of a degree. This means a finished product that’s size and squarness is the equivalent of injection moulded plastic. This means that if you buy a module now and another in five years time they will be exactly the same. This level of accuracy enables modularity as pieces are engineered to be a consistent size so that they will go together, exactly in countless combinations. Our range of castle modules have been designed from the start as a set of building blocks that can be rearranged to provide exciting wargames terrain for battles to be fought over.
Here at Sally 4th we are passionate about castles and have a list of additional pieces to design that has hundreds of entries.
We currently have curtain wall which is either 10’ or 20’ high, single or double thickness, with or without additional wooden walkways. We have wall sections with Sally Portes and with opening double gates. Our tower sections have multiple door arrangements and can be built to any height required and can be finished with a flat crenulated roof or a pitched roof. We also have courtyard sections, wooden and stone staircases in various heights and interior domestic buildings.
In the future we have plans to build 30’ walls, gatehouses, keeps, great halls and many more variations of towers. Walls and buildings.
This means that you can truly build a castle over time, starting with a single tower and adding additional features as and when required for your games.
When not in use we store our castle models in empty banana boxes. The pieces are very strong and very light.
Sally 4th Castles are constructed from layered 3mm and 2mm MDF. They are very strong. Corners are comb jointed and wall sections are mounted on terrain bases so that they will not topple over when heavy figures are garrisoning the walls.
Access to Interiors
This was a top design consideration for me. Towers and other model buildings are designed with full interior detail, including accurate model spiral staircases in the towers so the action can continue inside as well as outside the castle. Towers are designed as stacks of boxes that can be lifted apart to give access to every floor.