kit reviews

Rating scale:

* easy and quick to put together
** easy to put together, but may take some time or attention to detail
*** requires some previous experience with kits or assembly, takes more than a day to complete
**** requires skill or dexterity to assemble, takes lengthy time to complete
***** requires skill and dexterity to assemble, takes considerable time and/or special tools
Overall scale:
* poor quality and value, not recommended
** below average quality, acceptable value
*** average quality components, a good choice
**** above average in quality, recommended
***** excellent quality, highly recommended

All ratings and reviews are the opinion of the reviewer based on his or her experience with the kit.

Manufacturer: Scientific Models, Inc.
Name/number of kit: Realife Miniatures, Heritage Series Bathroom Kit no. 197
Retail price: $32.95 (often available for less)
Ease of assembly: ****
Overall rating: ***
Reviewed by: Dawn Duperault

This kit includes 4 pieces: a towel rack, bath tub, toilet, and sink in Victorian styling. Also included are materials for making a rug and towels for use with the set.

Finishing hardware in my kit was brass and brass-toned plastic, the sink, toilet, and tub bowls were white plastic, and the sink counter was cut from 1/8" marble-toned linoleum.

All cabinet pieces are die-cut in 1/8 inch basswood, stamped on the scrap for identification. The kit I made up required some effort to get the pieces out, since most of them were not cut all the way through and would splinter if not completely cut with a hobby knife.

An 11 page booklet of instructions includes a parts list, replacement costs, and illustrations on layout and assembly. Glue, stain, gloss coat, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a "drill" for making holes for hinge nails are included.

It took several weeks of "hobby time" to complete this kit. While the pieces fit together well, each join had to be clamped until dry, and there was a lot of clamping required. The bath tub and toilet frames are panelled, and have 30-40 individual pieces of moulding that need to be carefully fitted during assembly. For this reason I would not suggest this kit for children or those with limited patience.

When completed, the furniture pieces look good, and are true to the 1:12 scale house they will be used in. I did not finish the rug and towels as suggested, since they are printed on a fabric textured plastic sheet which you are supposed to color with a felt marker.

Other kits by this manufacturer include bedroom, dining room, kitchen, music room, and library kits.

Manufacturer: The House of Miniatures
Name/number of kit: Chippendale Chest on Chest #40009
Retail price: $12.95
Ease of assembly: **
Overall rating: ***
Reviewed by: Dawn Duperault

This is the introductory kit you receive with membership into the miniature of the month club. If you join the club then a finishing kit containing stain and gloss coat, a brush, and a booklet outlining American furniture styles comes with the first furniture kit. If purchased from a hobby shop the finishing kit is not part of the package.

The instruction sheet includes a parts list, list of needed tools and materials, and a layout diagram with which you match up the unlabelled parts. Missing or damaged parts can be replaced for free by sending a postcard with the required information. The instruction sheet also includes a few paragraphs outlining the historical significance of the kit.

This kit, and House of Miniatures kits in general, go together easily and require little sanding or fitting. Occasionally a piece needs more sanding to get a perfect fit. Components are milled from varying thicknesses of basswood, usually 1/8 inch, but sometimes 1/4 inch or thicker. All pieces are pre-cut, including grooves and mitres needed for assembly. The hardware for this kit is brass, and requires some attention to install evenly.

Most kits from this manufacturer are American Colonial or Queen Anne in style, which can limit your decorating choices. They go together in a day or two, however, and are easy to finish by yourself even if you have limited crafting skills.

Manufacturer: Laser Tech
Name/number of kit: Litchfield Arm Chair CH-253
Retail price: $9.00
Ease of assembly: **
Overall rating: ***
Reviewed by: Dawn Duperault

This small kit came packaged in a plastic bag with a single folded sheet of instructions and a tiny photo of the finished chair. Despite its delicate appearance the pieces are laser cut from hardwood and are reasonably solid. All the pieces fit together exceptionally well. However, the two arm pieces are not marked in any way and positioning them just right on the chair seat and back was a little tricky. A gentle touch is needed to glue them in exactly the right spot.

Due to the laser cut there is very little sanding required. The cutting process blackens the edges of the wood pieces, which means they either must be sanded down, or covered with a dark stain or paint. I chose the dark stain on mine.

Laser Tech products seem to be very well made, but in short supply. If the price of the kit doesn't frighten you, I think you'll be pleased with the furniture from this company.

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