There seems to be very little available to help construct a z-scale city/townscape. Rokuhan, the Japanese z-scale manufacturer has a limited range of small buildings, and Faller, a German model maker, produces a number of buildings but mostly in European and older style.
I finally found a small Japanese manufacturer called Sankei which produces laser-cut papercraft models of a fairly wide variety of Japanese buildings and many in the required 1/220 scale. Here’s an example of a generic-looking commercial building being put together:
- The instructions are written in Japanese, but illustrated really well so no Japanese language skills are needed.
- A sharp craft knife is needed to separate the parts from the provided sheets – look for the tiny attachment points and slice them cleanly.
- You’ll need glue to assemble the parts, they don’t snap together. I used just the tiniest bit of PVA – it dries slowly enough to allow re-positioning if needed, but quickly enough that the model soon takes shape.
- Look out for symbols printed on the parts, they’ll tell you when it’s important to get a piece the right way round.
- You can buy them on Amazon here, but if you’re buying more than one or two go to HobbyLink Japan and collect together a few under the same postage.
The Sankei buildings look great (especially considering the low-cost compared to other plastic model kits), have a surprising amount of detail for such a small size, and a fairly fun and relaxing to put together. Recommended!
Interestingly, after building a few of these, I’m beginning to feel that building similar things from scratch might be possible, with a decent quality card stock. If I’m feeling adventurous I might try this in the future…