Paul McDonagh confesses that his thirty years of architectural and scenic model making has been a process of “trial and error!” but, judging by the items we received for review this month, it would appear that this process has led him to the peak in his skills that put him up amongst the top flight of model builders in our hobby.

Paul offers a bespoke/scratch-built model making service; tell him what you want and he’ll make it. He also offers a catalogue of items (both printed and online) which have proved to be ‘best sellers’ for a wide gamut of gaming periods. These periods include Ancients, dark Age, Greek, Roman, Middle Ages, Northern Europe, ACW and AWI, World War Two and Lord of the Rings.

By way of an example, one of Paul’s catalogue items we received for review was a North American barn suitable for the ACW, AWI etc. Another item featured here is a ‘Dark Age style watch tower’ which, though not mass produced, has proven popular with clients and gives punters the welcome option to point-and-pick items for construction rather than having to come up with their own ideas. This is a useful way of marketing, on one hand, and purchasing, on the other, scratch-built models, as it acts as a springboard for ideas, and a welcome ‘lazy’ way of choosing what pieces to decorate your tabletop with.

The three models we received for review are all robustly constructed; the barn is made of a balsa core and hardwood strips on the outside, the watchtower is made with an MDF core. All three are based using MDF.

It’s the fine details on all the models that really elevate them above more ‘run of the mill’ commercially available models. For example the coiled rope hanging on the barn wall, the storage containers under the watchtower stairs and the individual leaves on the scenic woodland base.

As a price guide the three pieces featured here were – £50 Watchtower, £45 ACW barn, £25 scenic woodland base. These are very reasonable prices, coupled with the quality of Paul’s workmanship, lead me to recommend his products without hesitation.

Review originally published in Wargames Illustrated magazine, No. 255, January 2009