JMTN blog

(Japanese Model Train Newsletter)

New Greenmax city building kit review

Finally released are Greenmax’s long-awaited modular city building series …

There are 4 items in this range …

  • 2101 Business building ‘A’ 3Floor base kit (dark brown) 
  • 2102 Business building ‘A’ 2Floor addon kit (dark brown) 
  • 2103 Business building ‘B’ 3Floor base kit (beige)  
  • 2104 Business building ‘B’ 2Floor addon kit (beige)  

The only difference between 2101 & 2103 and 2102 & 2104 is the colour. Whilst I like the beige, I think the dark brown one is a little unrealistic (actually I would call it ‘Hankyu Maroon’ 🙂 ), but the good thing about these kits is that you can easily repaint the various parts before assembly. Another big advantage is that all the parts clip together, so you can experiment with different configurations first until you find one that you like, before gluing together the final result permanently.

2101/2103 (to be called the Base kit) comes with the following sprues …

1x set of 4 roof fences (2 side & 2 end) + joiners to extend the roof sections
1x base & 1x floor/roof
1x wall interior joiners (2 side & 2 end) + joiners to extend the wall sections
1x ground floor wall sections (7 different types of single width (1 glass door with awning, 2 doors, 1 shutter, 1 duct, 6 blank), 1 double width window, 1 five width entrance)
2x upper floor wall sections (14 single height (10 window, 3 blank, 1 with doorway), 2 double height with tall narrow window) + door & terrace
1x floor/roof (x2) & signs (3 types) + joiners to extend the roof sections
1x ground floor window glass (2 entrance door/window, 1 double width window, 1 glass doorway for ‘door with awning’)
2x upper floor window glass (10 single height) – see above
2x upper floor window glass (2 double height)  – see above
1x 1 half circle & 1 star shaped signs, 1 awnings, 1 verandah
1x roof structure, 1 fan duct, 1 machinery box
1x sign sheet
1x common instruction sheet
p4157525 p4157526
there is also a selection of signs, A/C vents & grilles, vending machines etc. printed on the ends of the box, that you can cut out and use
p4157527 (base kit) p4157528 (addon kit)
2102/2104 (to be called the Addon kit) comes with the following sprues …

2x upper floor wall sections (14 single height (10 window, 3 blank, 1 with doorway), 2 double height with tall narrow window) + door & terrace
1x floor/roof (x2) & signs (3 types) + joiners to extend the roof sections
2x upper floor window glass (10 single height)
2x upper floor window glass (2 double height)

The base is 74.5mm wide x 80mm deep, which in a show of unprecedented co-operation is coincidentally the same depth as the Kato Diotown city buildings !!! The height of the ground floor section is 30mm and the upper floors are 44.5mm. With the additional roof details, a 3 floor building would be 105mm high. The Base kit comes with 1 ground floor + 1 upper floor (2 floors) section; the Addon kit comes with 1 upper floor (2 floors) section, so by using as many Addon kits as you like, you can have an odd-numbered floor building as tall as your imagination 🙂

To start with the ground floor, you can choose either a wide entrance section, or a series of smaller sections. The standard front width is 5 sections, and there are 5 different single width (either blank or with a variety of door/window combinations), 1 doublewidth window & 1 five-wide entrance pieces. These sections are fixed to the wall joiners such that any window glass is sandwiched between the two. The standard side walls are 4 sections and can have a similar combination of 4 different blank/door/window sections. When assembled together, the 4 wall sections then slot onto the base, and the roof section drops in to lock it all together. You can then add roof fences and/or a roof utility structure if you wish. There are also a variety of entrance awnings and signboards you can add to the ground floor. A sticker sheet is supplied with a variety of window blinds & curtains and advertising signs etc.

The upper floors work the same way and have a combination of single or double height windows, blank sections or one with a door & terrace. The upper floors just clip on the top of the floor below, and you can add as many as you like for a variety of odd-number floor building heights.

The only thing I don’t like about these kits is that the number of wall pieces in each kit is just enough to fill the space needed for each wall section, so you do not have any choice as to which parts you will use – you can only choose where they will be placed in the wall (unless you buy extra kits to get more parts). For example, I may not want a building with a wide front entrance, so the only way around that is to use that piece maybe on the side or back of the building where it cannot be seen when placed on the layout 😦

For variety, as all the wall sections have a scribed ’tile’ finish, it would be easy to cut them cleanly to make a different height or width section if you wanted a narrower building, for example. This is another way to free up wall parts so you have more choice of which ones to use. Also there are a number of different joiner sections included which allow you to combine the wall and roof sections to expand the buildings horizontally to make wider or deeper versions, or even ‘L’ shaped configurations.

The items they have released this time look quite different from samples shown at trade shows last year (see this post), so hopefully this will be the start of a series of different types of city buildings with different outside treatments.

This is an excellent addition to the range of city buildings that have been recently coming out of Japan, but could also be used in an urban layout scene as a modern city building from anywhere in the world by using some appropriate signage.

These kits have already proved very popular, and even though they were only released just last week, many Japanese shops have already sold out. If your own dealer cannot get these, please contact for availability & pricing.

There was a post here when these were first announced, where you can see some pictures of sample parts, but when I have put some of these together, I will post some photos of the variations possible with actual buildings.

As I got one of each colour, I used the beige kit to take photos of the parts, and the dark brown one to do a test assembly. After putting it together to see how it ‘worked’, here are my conclusions …

  1. On the ground floor, you cannot place any of the doorway pieces at the end of the wall, because the plastic protruding out of the back of the wall will foul the edge of the corner.
  2. Many pieces (including the window/door glass) have ‘mould’ lines on the surface. These would not be apparent if you painted the pieces as the surface is still smooth. 
  3. After cutting the pieces off the sprue, you really have to make sure the edges are completely smooth, otherwise either the parts will not fit correctly together, or your wall sections will bulge outwards.
  4. Even though you are supposed to be able to do a ‘trial’ assembly before gluing it together, some of the parts will snap together but others will not stay in place by themselves. The building you see below was held together with Blu-Tac !!!
  5. As I have said above, the lack of extra parts means you are forced to use all of those included, and in my opinion it does not let you create a realistic looking building. However extra sprues of parts can be ordered directly from Greenmax, so that would cost less to get extra door/wall sections for variety rather buying a whole kit.
  6. The instruction sheet is very comprehensive, and most graphic, so don’t worry if you cannot read Japanese 🙂 There is one error thought – part G10, the single door awning, is on the sheet as G7, which is actually a verandah support.
  7. Many of the detail parts would benefit from a little painting, particularly the ground floor door/shutter/duct pieces, as they blend into the wall sctions too much to be visible. Also the grills etc on the roof structure could do with some highlighting.

p4157501 p4157506 p4157503 p4157505

This sample was put together in less than 1/2 hour, using all the parts in just the Base kit, except for the roof railings, verandah/awnings & the signs. The Addon kit would let you increase the height of the building by the 2 upper floors you see here.

p4157504 this is a close-up of the wall sections, showing the door & shutter pieces

Despite the odd negative comment (what kit is perfect anyway !!!), this is an excellent set of kits, very useful to anyone modelling urban scenes anywhere in the world, and very good for scratchbuilding/kitbashing.

Here is the results of my first attempt at putting one of these together. I started with the maroon coloured one (which I didn’t like), and repainted all the parts various shades of gray. Then I decided I wanted a narrower building than the 5×4 parts supplied, so I opted for a 3×4, which is a similar size to the existing Greenmax city building kits. Even though I did not use the 5 wide entrance section, I was still short one blank ground floor wall section, so had to cut the entrance and use the two side pieces joined together. Also I think there are still not enough upper floor blank wall sections as well. I found it is difficult to cut the backing panels to a smaller size, and keep the wall section evenly flat. I added some Kato rooftop structures (the Greenmax one supplied was nearly as big as the whole roof area !!!), and thought that seeing the balcony wall sections has a separate door, I would leave one of them open. I don’t like those long window sections, and I think each kit has too many of them – in his case I used them as if that corner of the building was the stairwell/elevator shaft area. I hope you like the ironic name I chose for the building 🙂

p4227544 p4227545 p4227546 p4227547 p42275481 p4227549

April 11, 2009 - Posted by | Greenmax, model review


  1. Interesting rework. It helps me get an idea of what I’m getting myself into with the next project around here.


    Comment by Joe | April 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience and the review! I expect my kits to be arriving this week (I hope) and appreciate your insight!

    Comment by Jerry | April 20, 2009 | Reply

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