by: Jim Starkweather [ ]
When I got the box for this item I was perplexed as too what could be in such a large box and weigh so little. Of course when I noted it was an SiSt Tree's product I realized why. This company, who's parent company is The Model Tree Shop, is located in Scotland, about 60km south-east of Edinburgh. They sell a lot of trees (obviously) for scale modelers and railroad modelers. We were happy to get this 300mm tree, which is a perfect scale for 1/35 models.
For the metrically challenged in the USA, 300mm is a few hairs less than 12 inches. The tree came well packaged as shown in the photos. There were quite a few popcorn bits (the Styrofoam balls) that had to be plucked carefully from inside the tree. But otherwise in minutes of getting your tree you should be ready to start painting the base, trunk and branches. There were no instructions given with the tree to outline best painting practices. The plastic material that makes up the framework for the tree seems to be plastic (on the softer side). It is not the rubberized bend-em style material that some might expect. So I am guessing painting (though probably time-intensive due to all the small branches) should not be a problem using either acrylic or oil-based paints. Still a painting guide might be a nice addition to either the companies Web site or as a paper insert with the tree.
The leaves appear to be made from a synthetic adhesive, small wisps of filament, and either a natural material for the leaves or something closely mimicking one. At close observation (like most scale model trees) they will not appear very 'real', however at the right distance the illusion is very compelling and this tree does accomplish the look of a real tree under the right conditions.
Modifying the Tree
As stated above the trunk and larger branches are a semi-hard plastic. I was able to adjust the position and alignment of some of the smaller branches (a few are in odd directions for natural trees). However a cautionary attempt to adjust one of the primary branches resulted in it breaking at the point it was put together. There appeared to be a plastic pin that connected the two parts and this sheered in half. I was able to fix it though using Zap glue (although it did not bond as fast as I would have liked). So the long and short of modifying the tree is this. Yes it's doable. But be prepared to have to remake bits that you might destroy in the process. Case in point the leaves appear to be some kind of sprayed on system. So there are areas where they are attached to other areas via a web effect.
Certainly the plastic skeleton this tree is made with is more asthetically realistic than most artificial scale trees. There are some niggling issues with this tree however. Some of the joining points were not aligned (or don't match up) so some modelers might find this type of tree not to their very exacting standards. With a little creative use of cover, painting and detailing however some of those issues with be well hidden. The reality of this kit/tree is that for very little money (£15.00 and shipping to me in the states was only another £5.00) you can have a fully made tree in no time. I am imagining larger scale projects that might need multiple trees for example. These would save a lot of time and energy better spent on the model or figures. After all we all know that making a tree from scratch is no small task. And even if you succeed on making a great tree, it will doubtless look like a real tree under a magnifying glass. Neither will these. But at the right distance like most things, the magic will be that most people will treat the tree for what it is, filler, and focus their eyes on the model or figures instead.
In short with proper painting, some removal of material here and there you will have a very acceptable miniature tree that didn't take you 50 hours to make.