Before I even started this model, I’d been warned to be prepared for a lather-rinse-repeat experience. Several other builders had done it and said so. None of them said that as a bad thing, just as a warning to be prepared. And they were right. There’s a lot of the same, but look at it! This thing is imposing and impressive. The depth and layering are significant and well worth the repetition.

One thing that surprised me, though, was that there was a whole section of the building that I didn’t even know about. I hadn’t looked at the 360, because the product photo on the box makes it look like a simple (well, no complicated, but in other ways) and symmetrical building. But there’s a whole “annex” like extension on the “back” of the building (from the angle the product photo is taken).

Now, as imposing and impressive as this build is, there are not a lot of different features to photograph for the gallery above. But that’s okay. Cause it’s more about the whole with this one. The second most surprising thing about this build, for me, was how small it was. I think it’s the level of layering and details that make it seem like it has to be bigger. But it’s barely larger than the photo of the model on the box. I swear. I took a picture to prove it (because I’m that nerdy):

I put the model on top of a white box so it would be at the same height. I promise it’s not just sitting farther back. They are side-by-side.

This build does not actually have a lot of challenges to it, except for a few hard-to-align-the-tabs-and-slots sections. There’s not a single curved surface on the whole thing! But, even with that, there are a few gotchas and things to look out for. And the first one is just keeping track of all the sub-assemblies that you make along the way. In this build, a LOT of steps end up being not much more than combining the results of previous steps. So there is a ton of “front-loading,” and then what seems like a fast assembly of a building. Now, many of you know that I like to knoll out my parts before building a model, but this one added a second layer of knolling. I ended up using a second knolling sheet, with masking tape across the magnets, to knoll out the results of the earlier steps. I added the masking tap so I could label the step numbers. One of which was a “repeat 16 times” step. So many of these assemblies / preparations are very similar, this was a crucial step to keep things straight.

Admittedly, most of them are just a single part pre-folded, but still…

So, I hope I didn’t scare you away with that knolling of formed parts, but it’s there for a good reason – you spend most of the beginning of this build filling that out. Thankfully you get to start with the intricate layered spires, and then some thin wall segments (over the doors / stairs), but after that… it’s mostly columns. Columns after columns after columns. Some are different heights. Some have different angles for the bottom edge. Some are missing half of the column. But most of them have pretty much an identical “capstone” formation at the top. So you will probably get very good at forming that by the end.

But first, let’s talk about those intricately layered spires! They have to be one of the best features of the build, and they are really rather easy. The octagonal cones are fairly straight-forward, and the only thing I can say about this section is about the instructions. Because I disagree with the way they say to wrap the walls around the bases. I have found that it’s much easier to approach rectangular wrap-arounds like this in the “opposite” direction that the instructions usually indicate. Specifically, I start by folding the part into a U-shape (well, actually a J-shape), but not with the tab at the end of the two-segment side. Instead, I like to have the slot at the end of the two-segment side. Then I go about as usual, securing the base inside the wrap-around part on the 3 sides. And then the difference pays off. Because it’s a lot easier to fold a slide with a slot down over the protruding tab than it is to insert the tab that’s sticking out too far into the slot that is held in place. Unless you want to try to fold the slot “inwards” and try to insert the tab from the outside-in, but that never works well and leaves a gap at the joined edge. Yeah, I’ve probably thought about this too much.

Oh, and I did add a bit of flair to these spires, while I was in there. I chose to bend the little pillars, at the top of the four corners of the walls, in just a smidge, so the tips met a little closer. Then I twisted the little finial tip thingy at the end to a 45 degree angle on the corner. I just thought that looked better and more consistent from all angles. It’s totally optional, I just like adding little tweaks like that.

I’m realizing, as I’m reviewing the instructions, that I’m not going to have a lot of specific feedback on this build, so much as general feedback that applies to a lot of repeated scenarios in this build. So… rapid fire?

Forming all the taller columns is a bit stressful. Thankfully, Metal Earth used the “relief cut” approach to these folds, so there are only 2 or 3 small sections of perforations that need to be folded, and straight cuts between them. Down side is that these are very narrow side-strips, so it’s easy to get them bent all out of sort. Just take it nice and slow. Folding all the “capstones” of the columns is mind-numbing. Teeny tiny flaps, and trying to get that back folded over right. Fold the lower crease to 45 degrees first, then fold the upper crease the full 90. Then finish the lower crease. That’s how I tried to do it, at least.

In many areas of the build, you will be attaching window “backings.” Sometimes it will be single windows, sometimes blocks of adjacent windows. If you want the windows to appear straight do not fold the tabs. This goes for all of the columns, too. I say this as someone who likes to fold tabs when I can. And I tried folding for the first few windows and columns, but it ended up making them all crooked. For the windows, you can just straight up twist the tabs, you don’t need to worry about space. The columns, on the other hand, are a different story.

A lot of the columns could probably be secured with a simple twist and done. But there are some that would get in the way of adjacent parts if twisted into the way. So, for the most part, I twisted and folded the tabs when attaching the columns. Which also allowed me to ignore the directions and attach the columns before the window backings for the “vertical” window block backings. The instructions have you attach those first, but then it become difficult to get a good seating on the column tabs, not to mention being able to access the tabs to twist them.

Another area where I disagreed with the instructions is when forming all the building sections that are capped by those layered spires. In each of the sets of instructions, it says to attach all the columns, and then fold the parts up. I highly recommend that you ignore that, and fold the base parts first. And, contrary to my usual advice, I would even suggest that you fold them the full 90 degrees. The edges on these are rather stiff when folding, and there is an adjacent etch line that can often end up bending some instead, especially if you are trying to finish the fold after the columns are attached. It gets a little fun getting the spire inside, but the fold is much better if you do full 90 degree folds at the beginning. I know, because I did it both ways; my usual way first (75 degree folds) and then I tried it with the full 90. Wish I had started that way.

Of course, that makes accessing the insides of these a little fun, but I’m telling you it’s worth it. And word of warning… don’t expect them to actually look rectangular once you’ve formed them. Mine were super-wonky and not at all “parallel rectangular solid” shaped at all, at least until where I started putting all the assemblies together.

In Steps 29 and 30, you have to attach the thin wall segments you build in Step 5. Be prepared to be frustrated. This part is thin, easy to mangle, and has several tabs to align. Oh, and the lowest tab doesn’t seem (at least in the one I built) to be quite low enough, by maybe a tenth of a millimeter. You can force it into place, but it fights you. Add that to the three upper tabs and the little crenellation that almost collides with a column… and it’s a curse-worthy section. But it’s survivable.

Here’s a minor detail that threw me for a minute. In Step 24, at least in my instructions and the current version online, there are some mislabeled Step references; The columns labelled as Steps 13 and 15 are swapped. The left of the two columns should be Step 13 (with the angled bottom edge) and the right one should be Step 15 (with the level bottom edge).

This next bit isn’t really a bit of advice, just an interesting note. In Step 27, when you are forming the side of the temple with the little annex-like extension, I’m not too fond of how the outer face of the annex is attached. I don’t know exactly why it was done this way, but the facing is attached at 3 points: in the middle-top, and then the bottom corners. But that’s just attached to the corner columns on the side, not to the actual sides of the annex. Instead, the top of the corner column is attached to the sides of the annex. Which makes for a rather weird and unstable connection. You can even see the result, because when I was doing the photo shoot above, one side of the bottom got stuck out a little, so it doesn’t look straight. I’ve since been able to convince it to seat correctly, but haven’t bothered to reshoot the photo. Mistakes are just part of the build process, right?

The rest of the build from there is pretty much more of the same until just before the end. It’s time to attach the roof, and that gets a little awkward. First off, it’s a tight fit. And it doesn’t help that there are some protruding tab slots that can get in the way of “sliding” the roof into position. But, aside from that, it’s not too bad, at least the first half. Now, to make the second half a little easier, I would recommend you consider over-folding the roof peak just a little, so that you can put together the rest of the model without having to align the parts with the roof slots at the same time. Then, once you’ve attached all the remaining “outer sections” you can “unfold” the roof into place, and secure the tabs. It is fun (challenging) trying to get a good viewing angle for aligning the slots to the tabs, but it definitely is possible.

Then, the very last step, at least for me, was straightening out all the columns and spires and tips and everything. Oh, and twisting and folding the actual spire cone toppers. I chose to align the outer for spire toppers at a 45 degree angle, because I like that. But yeah, a good bit of time was spent doing that. And it was not on film, because nobody wants to watch me do that, right?

Alright, so after all that, I’m going to throw in a couple of bonus pictures at the end, for those of you that actually made it this far (I won’t blame you if you skimmed it, I am rather verbose). This model is a great model as is, of course, but it’s also perfect for the most simple “mod” ever, if it can even actually be called a mod. The entire center area of this model is basically open, and it’s big enough to fit an LED tea light inside. So… you know I had to go ahead and try it out, right?

You know what’s hard to do in low-lighting? Get a phone camera to focus well…

And, just because my phone has a macro-lens camera, I decided to do a little Weird Perspective photo. Weird because of what I ended up doing with it (faking a camera auto-focus cycle because the whole shot can’t be in focus at the same time with a macro lens). Perspective because… well, I wanted to try to simulate the view as if you were standing there, taking a photo of the actual building from up near the front of it. So… yeah, here ya go:

According to the combined video length, plus some finessing time, this build took me roughly 8 hours. A big thank you goes out to Metal Earth / Fascinations for sending this model to me to review, I rather enjoyed it, even if it was a little repetitive. The end result is gorgeous. As always, I will include the build videos, even though I can’t imagine anyone would want to watch that much repetition, lol.