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Fantasy Villa – Getting Started

March 6, 2014

This post is the first of two or three I will be writing to document the process of building the Fantasy Villa Woodcraft Construction Kit.

**Update 17/4/14** If you would like to read the entry I made after I finally finished the kit, you can find it HERE.

Originally I got this kit to go with the furniture I made by the same brand, however since acquiring the kit I have decided that the Fantasy Villa is an absolutely gorgeous model and the kit is fantastic for the price but it’s really not compatible with the furniture set.

The furniture and the house are made to the same scale, but the house is designed to be pretty as opposed to practical and as a result a great deal of the floor space is taken up with stair cases, porches and ornamentation so to give you an idea of perspective, when it comes down to it, the largest room can basically fit the big bed and  nothing else.

So in summary:  Good model for model building but not a great toy to play with afterwards however, since I have one I’m building it but I’m also designing and building a separate dollhouse for my daughter to play with and use all that furniture in. This means that over the course of this month I’ll hopefully have completed both houses with heavily photographed instructions and advice.

fantasy villa 2

Getting started is a bit overwhelming when you open the box, realize that there aren’t any instructions and just stare at the 11 sheets of wood that are to be broken down into their zillion pieces to eventually come back together and form a big beautiful puzzle of a house.

You really do get what you pay for with this kit and the only instructions you can expect are some numbered pictures on the back of the box. Having said that, I do believe that the instructions provided are entirely adequate and fit for purpose so I can’t complain. Putting the house together (after doing a dry fit myself) really isn’t brain surgery but the box is very helpful for getting started and when you get stumped.

fantasy villa 1

Based on my experience in doing the furniture I know that the wood will swell slightly with the application of paint so I know I’ll need to refile and refit pieces later but I needed a starting point to dry fit the house so I did go through the meticulous initial filing.

I’ll say right now that you WILL need fine sandpaper for this project and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without this set of skinny diamond files that I had purchased ages beforehand for no specific purpose. The diamond files sound expensive but are actually super cheap. Just keyword search them on Amazon. They are ideal for getting into small places and helping to widen misaligned holes.

It took me a total of about 6 hours to remove, repair and file/sand all of the pieces from the sheets of punched wood. I spread the task over four days.

fantasy villa 3

I was very careful when punching out the pieces but in some cases it was just impossible to avoid the wood splintering everywhere. I even pre-sanded the back of the sheets to try and help cut down splinterage but it didn’t completely take care of the issue so there is a lot of sanding and filing involved and you probably want to have some thick superglue handy for repair work when pieces outright snap.

Again, you get what you pay for and based on customer reviews on Amazon it is clear that not everyone has the problems that I had so maybe you’ll get lucky and the punching and filing won’t be quite so labor intensive but just be prepared.

After all of the pieces were out and smooth I did a really loose dry fit of most of the house, just to get an idea of what it would look like and how well the pieces actually fit together.

fantasy villa 4

After doing the dry fit, it is very clear to me that those diamond files will continue to be invaluable going forward.

As you can see just from the photo, painting this house when it’s already assembled would be extremely unpleasant and somewhat impossible once you factor in that if the stair cases (there are 3!) were all in place you couldn’t even get your adult sized hand in there so I do have a plan to prime, sand and paint all of the pieces before I glue the whole thing together.

My plan has evolved slightly from the original which was to paint the interior and paper the exterior. Now I plan to seal/prime (sand) everything but then I’m going to spray all interior pieces, hand paint all of the trim and then (God help me) I’m going to freehand painting stonework on the exterior.

Why would I inflict such a task on myself? Well…. because it’s a challenge and I want to do justice to this beautiful model. I’m pretty sure I can pull it off and it’s going to be a beautiful keepsake for my daughter once it’s completed. (I’m sure she’ll find a way to play with it too)

Now all I am waiting for is a nice day to spray the pieces outside. In Scotland those types of days are pretty difficult to come by so the next step of this project is entirely weather dependent.

In the next installment of the Fantasy Villa project I’ll tell you all about how my plans evolve further to cope with all of the fun and exciting challenges I haven’t yet anticipated!

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3 Comments
  1. Jorge Rocasalbas permalink

    Really interesting!
    I have assembled several models, possibly from different Chinese manufacturers; after all, I get them all from the Chinese bazaar in my town (in Spain). There’s no notice of the manufacturer in any of the boxes.
    The experience with this particular model, which has larger wooden sheets (twice the standard size of other models: houses, dragons, Pisa Tower, London Bridge…), is that it compelled me to take some precautions that the manufacturer could have undertaken by himself:
    – I made DIN A4 copies of every tiny page with the drawings of the pieces. You may become blind trying to find the yellowish microscopic printed numbers.
    – I numbered every copy (11 in total) and also numbered the wooden boards. That simplified the task of finding the concerned piece.
    I would not detach any piece until I knew exactly where it belonged to. So, one by one; dry-fitting would be out the question, only for very smart craftsmen. Congratulations!
    About finishing the assembly (having done a lot of cutting and filing), I regretted (for the umpteenth time) that the box could have come with pictures of the different assembly stages as a guide. It’s difficult to guess whether the stairs are to be fit before or after completing the outer shell.
    I invested some 3 afternoon sessions; in total about 13-15 hours. But I prefer having it raw, although some pictures I have seen in Google show beautiful colour combinations. This I leave to my grandchildren.

    • Thank you for commenting Jorge! I would have really loved more photos of the completed house too. That is why I turned to the internet for guidance, because the pictures on the box just weren’t enough. I am currently doing the “Gothic” house model by the same manufacturer …. it is a lot easier if you’ve already done the fantasy villa! Sort of wish that I had done the gothic one first. I will publish another blog about it once I get around to finishing… it’s the painting and carpeting that takes me so long… but the end result is worth it. I’m sure your grandchildren will get many hours of enjoyment from your villa. :)

      • Jorge Rocasalbas permalink

        Yes; positively those are models my granson (7 years old) is thoroughly enjoying. Using them as a basis for his Lego characters and other toys. really satisfying.

        Friendly regards

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