by Charlie Getz/photos by the author
Walthers sells HO Merchant’s Row VI kits for $44.98. As with previous releases in the Merchant’s Row series, this kit builds into multiple adjoining stores, in this case, three mid-block units. This release represents Victorian-era brick stores that have been updated with more modern storefronts which was commonly done in the 1940-50s to “modernize” the appearance of older urban businesses. I appreciated the mid-block design as far too many such kits feature corner locations. This limits their usefulness. I also appreciated the many extras included such as alternate cornices and extra signs, sign frames and entry doors. These will be saved for future projects.
The kit consists of high quality precise-fitting styrene components, decals with matching sign frames, printed signs/window treatments and illustrated instructions. The instructions, while basic, cover assembly well with part numbers used for each part including the pre-cut acrylic windows. The cover picture on the kit box provides excellent coloration ideas. Due to the superior design/fit, this kit can be assembled in a short time, but I urge you to spend the time needed to add detail. By that, I mean painting the components carefully, adding lights and interior details or graphics and maybe extra details. I did so and it took me almost two weeks to assemble the kit. Painting will occupy much of that time. I elected to use a different brick color for each store and added C.C. Crow seamed tarpaper to two of the roofs. The roofs can be left loose, sitting on molded ledges.
I added two extra brass smokestacks, firmly glued, which act as handles to lift the roof from the structure for access to the interior. Assembly was straightforward and brushed styrene cement quickly glued the components. All parts fit perfectly, but ensure the mitered corners are tight and paint the interior walls black to limit light leak if you add lights.
Though the box claims that interior graphics are included, they are not. Good quality printed signs and window treatments are included but nothing that would suggest interior details. I elected to use both City Classics interior graphics plus room graphics produced by Roomettes for the three stores as well as the living quarters upstairs. I also added several LED lights as well, testing for light leaks. I used both the kit window graphics as well as my own plus my collection of wall signs for the various commercial uses. More external details could (and one day will) be added, especially to the front. I loved the decal sheet of colorful signs designed to fit the provided plastic sign frames for a variety of different businesses. I only used the two large vertical signs, inserting them into drilled holes and secured with ACC. However, I elected to paint and assemble all the remaining signs, saving those unused for the future. This will save time and ensure the decals are not lost.
The result is a busy-looking addition to any town’s business district. I thank Walthers for sending the sample. I was very pleased with the outcome.
5601 W. Florist St.
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3039