Crystal Caste Fantasy Medieval Inn

The front of the prepainted fantasy inn for 25mm scale miniaturesMuch like the Crystal Caste Farmhouse Series, the Crystal Caste Medieval/Fantasy Inn #40001 comes prepainted on the outside, has hinged opening and closing doors, removable roofs, and is felt lined on the bottom so as to not scratch your gaming surface. Unlike the Farmhouse series though, not all of the inn’s doors are openable. The green doors on the second story are facades and do not open.

The inn is richly detailed on its exterior with its own small well supplying it with water. The inn has seen its share of use and abuse over the years with a battered roof repaired with spare shingles, boards, and thatching. Around the exterior are more rocks and bits of debris. The inn is well painted except for the side of one of the gates, which was bare of paint on my model. The interior is also not detailed and is a flat matte black.

A view from above of the weathered and worn miniature fantasy inn.The fantasy inn is perfect for gamers who play RPGs or war games using 20-25 mm bases, particularly for skirmish games where figures can make full use of the exterior walkway. The walkways though don’t allow figures on 30mm bases to be placed on on them except at the corners, so using the Crystal Caste Inn for Hordes, Warmachine, or Malifaux would be quite restricted, much less the plastic line of Confrontation.

The Fantasy/Medieval Inn retails for $98 with is footprint measuring roughly 9.5 inches x 7 inches. The wooden walkway’s supports do extend the size it takes up on the table to an area of 9.5 inches x 10.5 inches. The walkways are about 2.5 inches from the table. Vertically it reaches a little under 6.5 inches to the chimneys and the vertex of the roof. Even from the same manufacturer, I think most gamers would be better off getting a Farmhouse Cottage and Farmhouse Stable for $85, but that is ignoring the design of the inn.

The only real flaws I have found in the Inn are the non-opening doors on the second floor, the lack of paint on the side of one gate, and its price, but its price and quality is comparable to other prepainted terrain manufacturers, if not superior. Another “flaw” that may irk some GMs is how tempted players will be to play with it during an adventuring session if used for an RPG. The inn is also towards the end of its production run, but you can still get yours from Crystal Caste.

Michael Bowling from Crystal Caste

The Crystal Caste Farmhouse 25-28mm fantasy buildings are among my favorite gaming products. With opening roofs and hinged doors, they come wonderfully pre-painted on the outside. My review of them is here. Mike Bowling, head of Crystal Caste, was exhibiting at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show and he explained a little bit about Crystal Caste’s process and what some of Crystal Caste’s next products will be.

Crystal Caste’s Next Pre-painted Terrain

Crystal Caste Toxic line of D6sCG: So I’m talking with Mike from Crystal Caste, the makers of the Farmhouse series and, of course, dice, you guys make a whole bunch of dice, right?
CC: We have a full range of acrylic, stone, mineral, and metal dice.
CG: And you were saying you may have a Wizard’s Keep or Tower in terms of prepainted terrain for the future?
CC: Yeah, we’re thinking about expanding into a different direction, rather than expanding the Farmhouse set. We’re considering maybe a Wizard’s Keep. We think that might be a good addition.
CG: With opening doors?
CC: Oh yeah. Multi-level. We’re trying to make components so that a gaming group can have something that they can use over and over and over. So we think that we’ve done the small manor, the small Farmhouse set, we’ve done the Inn, so now we’re looking to do something else. We’ve been thinking about maybe doing like a ruined tower. Some ruins of some sort.
CG: But it’ll all be, at least the exterior, fully painted?
CC: Yes. That’s correct.
CG: How much does it add to have the doors on the hinges? [Like the Farmhouse series]
CC: It’s really not much more additional cost to design it that way and I think we’re known for quality products. Crystal Caste has always worked hard to make something that we would want to play with ourselves and we have high standards, so when you see that most 3D-scapes don’t have moving parts, we thought that was a way we could set ourselves apart from our competitors.
Crystal Caste's Farmhouse Barn with opening doors and damage to the roof.CG: It seems to me a consumer, that you may not have been pushing this quite as hard as some of the other products you carry like dice. You do a lot more business in dice.
CC: That’s what we’re known for. We find that when you make a good-, you have to stay profitable to stay in the industry and so whenever we release something new, we do a run that will be profitable for us to do without overextending ourselves and we find that you don’t really have to market it that much. Gamers know who makes good stuff and they will come to you. We’ve sold a factor of 10 or 20 times more from our website of these types of 3D-scapes than we ever have at trade shows, even through the wholesale market, because people know to come to our site. You can’t believe the amount of traffic we get and people know. You know, it’s like they just come every month or so and they check to see what’s new.

Other Crystal Caste Products in Development

CG: Is there anything that’ll be new in terms of pre-painted miniatures?
CC: Yes, but we’re still developing them, so I can’t-, I really don’t want to go into it, but we do have another set coming out. We’ve got a new dice line coming out called Dragon Fire that we think is going to be a very well-selling line of dice. We have some new giant dice that are coming out that are in our toxic colors. And we’ve come out with a new four-color printing process that we can adhere to any dice surface that you have.
CG: To brand them?
CC: Yeah.
CG: Now what about Crystal Caste’s educational outreach?
CC: Yeah, we have a segment, a part of our company called Effective Teaching Tools and it’s manipulatives, you know, hand-held teaching aides that we sell through to the educational market. We bring the catalogues to the trade shows, but again, that’s more-, we get a lot more teacher traffic on our effective teaching tools website. And it’s something again that we don’t push hard at education shows. People just find out about it and they, they come to you. The key is making a good product.

Craven Games Preoccupation with the Farmhouse Series

Closeup of the Crystal Caste Farmhouse Cottage for 25-28mm miniatures.CG: Who designed the Farmhouse series?
CC: We had a sculptor in Europe that designed it. [Doug Marshall]
CG: They’re manufactured in China?
CC: Yes.
CG: And you just placed an order for a whole bunch of them and now it’s done?
CC: Yeah, yeah, no, we do one run. And as I said, we don’t try to overreach. We do something that we think will sell reasonably well in a year or two and then we move onto the next piece.
CG: And what about the Inn, you said it’s actually close to being sold out?
CC: Yeah, I think we have-, I don’t know that we’ve got more than ten or fifteen pieces left.
CG: And that’s also fully-
CC: Yeah, fully painted. That’s our first piece. It’s a beautiful piece, fully painted, very nice piece.
CG: Well, thank you!
CC: Thank you, I appreciate you coming by.

Crystal Caste Farmhouse Buildings

At first glance, Crystal Caste is only a dice manufacturer. But as one of their brochures and thoroughly scouring their website reveals, they are out to help gamers with as many useful products as possible. The prepainted Farmhouse Buildings fit that bill incredibly well. All of the series are felt-lined on the bottom to protect your playing surface, have brownish orange tiled roofs, and come in specially contoured styrofoam packaging. They are made in China. The Barn and Stable are also asymmetrical with separate little side areas jutting off and out, which adds visual interest.

Easily the most useful (and greatest value) piece is the Cottage. It has an opening front door and a backdoor. It is 5.5 inches wide by 3.25 inches deep. It is roughly 6.5 inches tall including the removable roof. The second floor extends out a quarter of an inch over the front of the cottage. Inside there is a small lip from where the second floor juts out the quarter of an inch. You would need to glue something on the opposite interior wall to create a shelf to add your own second story floor insert.

The next most useful piece I would suggest picking up is the “Stable”. It has two separate detachable roofs, one over the little annex area which has double swinging doors that can fit three Games Workshop cavalry models inside. Two doors on the front lead to the interior of the stable with exterior steps leading to the second floor, again with a functioning door. Its width is just at 12 inches, with about 4 inches of depth, though the roofs extend further. It is about 6-6.25 inches tall, so shorter than the cottage.

I added the Barn to my collection and in the second Youtube video you can see what a beast this piece is. Coupled with some of the other buildings or by itself this is an objective worth fighting over. Unlike the Cottage and Stable, the Barn has no red brick pattern. Instead, it matches the second stories of the other pieces with the wood and yellowish stucco or plaster. It has one huge roof that removes, then a tiny external storage shed attached at the back with removable roof as well. Large barn doors let livestock and fleeing peasants out and villainous raiders in. It does have two doors in the rear for a quick escape. The Farmhouse Barn is just over 11 inches wide. The main portion is 5 and one eighth inches wide, though the front doors add about an inch in the front, while the rear storage adds just under two inches.

There is actually a fourth piece which I have stayed away from: The Farmhouse “gate house and wall” (40003). While it matches the rest in appearance, the stucco or plaster over the bricks is a little too suggestive of Spanish conquests for my tastes. It also would look awkward standing alone, I think. Another Youtube user has the entire set in his collection of miniature terrain.

Obviously these would be great for any fantasy game, but the burned-out tiles on top stand out as evoking Mordheim to me. They are not ruins and very much intact, but they do have some battle or environmental damage. When I think “fantasy” and “red brickwork” I do also think of Privateer Press’s Iron Kingdom. These are the only bricked prepainted buildings in my collection, though Warmachine bases are too large to fit up the Stable’s walkway.