Register Lost Password About

  Latest All Misc MoTM Models Build Instructions Retired Models
28mm MoTM: Gypsy/Circus wagon

643 views  16 comments  7 likes  4 followers

You must be logged in to like, follow, purchase items, or to add comments.

Click either 'Login' or 'Register', above.

Sorry - this item is no longer available.

28mm Model-of-the-Month for June is a Gypsy/Circus wagon.

This is the first model in our new "Model of the Month" (MOTM) project.   Each month we're planning to make a limited run of a different model.

The first in the series is a 1/60th scale ("28mm") model of a highly ornate "Gypsy Caravan" (properly called a "Romani Vardo").

These wagons were originally made for traveling circuses and painted to look impressive as they paraded through small towns.

But when the Romani people discovered them, they were an instant hit and are more often considered to be the home of the iconic Gypsy fortune teller. 

A real Romani wagon

The model comes as an unpainted kit.


Build Instructions:

Remove parts from the sheet using a box cutter, modeling knife or scalpel: 

If you're planning to paint the model - it's much easier to do so BEFORE you glue it all together.

First locate the parts for the base of the wagon, the axles, and the shafts:

Glue the front axle part into the hole in the shafts - make sure the etching is facing upwards on the shafts and forwards on the axles:

Insert the spike through the round hole in the base of the cart and glue the round boss in place - try not to get any glue onto the base of the cart so that the front wheels will be able to turn.  Leave a little gap between the round boss and the base to allow the shafts to flop towards the ground when the cart is parked without a horse.  Then glue the rear axle into the rectangular hole in the back of the wagon:

Glue the wheels onto the axles - the large wheels go on the rear axle, the smaller ones at the front:

Locate the walls of the wagon and the back brace:

Glue the sides onto the wagon (etching facing outwards):

Before the glue sets, glue the front and back wall in place.  The side walls need to be angled outwards slightly to fit the shape of the front and back walls:


Glue the decorative parts onto the sides of the wagon - make sure you have them the right way around (look carefully at the photo below - see how there the heads of the snakes on the sides of the wagon face forwards) - make sure the holes for the windows are aligned with the window frames - and that the top of the decorative pieces are lined up with the tops of the side walls:

Glue the back brace into the holes in the back wall:

Next locate the roof parts.  Note that there are two choices for the front strip - one has generic "circus" etching - the other is "Madam Varda" with some kind of evil-eye/fortune teller symbol.  Pick either one and discard the other: 

 The five roof planking sections includes two slightly wider strips (one with a hole in it) - those go at the sides of the roof with the slightly narrower strips in the center.  Also, one end has pointed "tabs" on it - and those go toward the rear of the roof.  Glue the square-ended tabs into one end section:

 Glue the pointed ends into the other - then make sure everything is square and tight before the glue sets:

 Glue whichever name plate you decided on to the front of the roof.  You might decide that you wish to place items inside the wagon - in which case you should not glue the roof down...but if you do decide to glue it, it should be positioned with a large overhang at the front of the wagon and a smaller overhang at the back:

 Next, find the parts of the front staircase:

 Glue the four planks into the holes on one side, then onto the other:

 The staircase can be glued to the front of the wagon if you intend it to always be "parked" - or leave it loose so that it can be hitched to a suitable 28mm cart-horse model.

 Finally, locate the three small parts for the chimney:

 Glue the two rings over the chimney itself:

 Then glue the chimney into the hole on the roof - orienting it so it's vertical:

All done!   Enjoy your model!


Reader Forum: 28mm MoTM: Gypsy/Circus wagon

You must be logged in to add comments.

Click either 'Login' or 'Register', above.

From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-10-26 12:09:15  

We do plan to re-release old Model-of-the-Month kits eventually - maybe to fill in gaps when I don't have time to make something new.

The Gypsy wagon was definitely one of our more popular kits - so it'll come around again eventually, I'm sure.

I don't think we wound up with any spares - but I'll ask Renee.

From: Thunder  Date: 2017-10-25 18:49:04  

Wow, what awesome feedback. Thanks for taking the time to write up all those details.

I have several thousand minis on 1” bases. I went to put a mini inside a wagon and was surprised the base wouldn’t fit. I thought I would send you some feedback on my experience.

I hope you make more of these circus wagons. I have three and would love a couple more different styles. They really are exquisite models when all painted up.


From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-10-25 05:43:41  

Firstly - NO! The model was designed from actual plans of a full-scale 1890's "Vardo" wagon...the exterior size of the kit is definitely correct for 1:60 scale (1"=5').

We are very careful to work from real source data where it's available.

The problem is not the size of the wagon - it's the size of the bases on your figurines. If you use a 1" base (which is 5 feet wide to scale) - your figurines won't be able to stand in a space that's less than 5' wide...and there are lots of places in the world that people stand in that are less than 5' wide...including gypsy wagons!

In a 5'x5' space, you could easily get four people...not one! So if you use a 1" base (and I completely understand why) then you have to accept some limitations on the spaces you can physically put them into.

Garry Gygax chose a 1"=5' scale for the true 28mm models that were around at the time - and the 1" grid was added later to represent the amount of space a person would need to swing a sword in combat - this was to avoid the situation where players would try to pack too many people into the width of a dungeon corridor and claim that they'd still have room to fight.

Well, just try swinging a sword inside a gypsy wagon - trust me - it ain't happening!

So when we make models, we end up having to compromise.

Another issue is that we use 1/8" plywood so that our models are strong enough to survive game play. 1/8" is around 7.5" to scale - which is a lot thicker than the walls of a real Vardo wagon...so we have to choose between making the outside look about a 15" too big - or the inside be a 15" too small...and we choose the latter because the external appearance of the wagon has to be right. If we used realistically thick 1/2" planking like on a real Vardo - then we'd have to make the kit from 1/30" thick material...basically a light cardstock...which would never survive on a gaming table. So if the outside is "right" then the inside will be too small...that's kinda unavoidable.

For buildings and other places where exact figurine positioning might seriously matter (eg for combat) - then we *DO* choose the size of the building such that you can get a few 1"x1" based figurines inside...so we might use a 1" wide corridor - even though a 5' wide corridor is ridiculously wide for most old buildings. This causes a lot of problems for us with things like staircases - if you make them wide enough for figurines, then about half the space in a medieval-size house would be staircases! So everything gets a bit bigger than it should be. We can get away with that with buildings - because real world buildings come in all sizes.

But if I do that with things like vehicles - then the models either look ridiculously large compared to the horse figurine that's going to pull it - or they look kinda "fat" if I make them wider but not taller.

So the art is in the compromise.

We believe that things like wagons are "scatter terrain" - things that need to look right and cover a realistic amount of ground area...which they most certainly do.

Most of our customers wouldn't even attempt to put a figurine inside the wagon - but instead would remove the figurine from the table and simply note that so-and-so is "inside the wagon".

The other problem with putting figurines inside something like that is that figurines are almost always made in exciting action poses - swinging large weapons over their heads and such. This means that inside a claustrophobic wagon where a 6' tall human would have to bend their heads down to even stand inside - we need maybe a 24mm ceiling height. When you take a "heroic scale" 30 to 32mm figurine - and add another centimeter of "excitingly posed" weapon - we'd need to provide ceiling heights that are twice what is realistic!

When we first decided to make medieval buildings - I took a trip to our local gamer store and measured all of the figurines they had for sale. The only one I could find that was 28mm tall was a peasant hobbit with no weapon! Even the dwarves were over 6' tall to scale! Absolutely 100% of the humans would make excellent basketball players!

We toyed with the idea of working in 1:50 or even 1:48 scale - but then the problem would be that we still have a 1"=5' scale across the ground - cast in stone by the rule books.

The feedback we get from customers is to oversize buildings but keep everything else strictly to scale - and that's what we do.

It's all a compromise.

From: Thunder  Date: 2017-10-24 19:13:33  

One small critique of these Circus/Gypsy Wagons is the scale is a touch smalll. You can’t stand a standard mini on a one inch base inside, the wagon is too narrow.


From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-09-10 08:38:20  

We only had two entries - which was (to say the least) disappointing, so we have decided to call it a tie and split the $50 prize 50/50 between you and the other entrant.

Renee should be in touch by email...if not already.

From: Warfaror   Date: 2017-09-09 05:27:06  

What happened to painting contest - did I miss something?

From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-07-10 07:11:56  

@Alarian: Sorry to hear that. Sadly, plywood is not a 100% uniform material (stupid trees!), so sometimes (hopefully rarely!) this kind of thing happens - and even less often, may slip through Renee's eagle-eyed inspection. If you ever have problems in the future, let us know (preferably, email a photo of the problem part) at mail@letsrunwithit.com - and we'll ship a replacement part to you within a day or two.
From: Alarian DarkWind  Date: 2017-07-10 07:03:15  

Got mine a few days ago and it's great. One small problem with mine was the holes onthe end caps for the roof had been cut too far down and there was no wood on the bottoms of the holes. I was able to get around it though and all is assembled now.

From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-07-07 05:15:20  

@geekjeff: Renee will contact you via email.
From: geekjeff  Date: 2017-07-05 21:16:02  

ACK! Had this tab left open and I could have sworn I had purchased one of these lovelies. Any chance there's still one available somewhere?

From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-06-29 11:42:01  

@Evillego: Oh - and when removing parts from the frame, be sure to cut BOTH sides of the little tabs that hold them in place or you may splinter the part when you wiggle it loose!
From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-06-29 11:39:43  

@Evillego: Oh - and when removing parts from the frame, be sure to cut BOTH sides of the little tabs that hold them in place or you may splinter the part when you wiggle it loose!
From: Steve Baker  Date: 2017-06-29 11:36:45  

@Evillego: Evidently you got yours - but right now, we've shipped all of the orders that came in before the 20th. Last batch should go out on July 1st unless someone comes along and orders 50 of 'em!

For getting things out of the 'frame' - I use an Xacto knife with the square-ended blade. Seems to work best for me...even with the smallest parts.

@Warfaror: I like your thinking! :-) As you can see, the July MoTM are ready to be unlocked late tomorrow. The August MoTM is done - but I'm having trouble picking a nice color scheme to paint it in...so I'm holding off a bit on posting photos. We're releasing our 12" long Elven Longship...which can be assembled two ways to make either a ceremonial vessel or a warship.

From: Evillego  Date: 2017-06-27 02:22:06  

Got mine today as well, a few bits were a little fiddly to remove from the frame, but nothing that wasn't fixable with some glue.

Looking forward to the next installment!

From: Warfaror   Date: 2017-06-26 20:15:56  

Got mine today - looks great, I will see if I can get it together this weekend. Your goal is to ship a new one very month, my goal is to have it done before the next one arrives. Great new business model.

From: Evillego  Date: 2017-06-26 00:56:02  

Hello! When should we expect these to ship?