The initial design was based on my desire to explore designs that stretch out perpendicular from the caste wall rather than along it. To this extent the hut was built into a very short stretch of wall with it's garden extending out in front of it. The hut was detailed with doors and a table and fireplace in the interior. The garden had rows of flowers, trees and shrubs. Job done the design gets put to one side for a month or two whilst I assemble some other designs.
I revisited the herbalists hut on a spare wet evening, pulled the relevant parts from stock and started assembling it. It was soon apparent that nice through the hut was it wasn't playable. You couldn't get the fingers through the doorway to do much in the interior. Despite being a nice design it fails because it's not playable, if it's not playable it can't sell. The garden stretching out infront was also very fragile and it seemed unlikely to pass any engineering critique about sets holding together. Photo's of the original design are shown below.
At about the same time I'd being re-appraising how Lego actually designs it's sets, thinking more about access which in turn foster playability. There's a good reason that the Lego designed sets all have open backs, eg. 6067 Guarded Inn, or wide frontages, eg. 6040 Blacksmiths Shop. Whilst I might desire to get my models away from being just simple extensions to the wall there is a certain width that they have to be in order to have an open front that allows them to be played with.
I knew that I wanted to retain the bulge to the wall, it gives the exterior of the wall a little texture and stops it being just a uniform ribbon of grey. I also wanted to keep the fireplace but it had to move to somewhere more accessible. The design evolved by adding a 4444 panel to the side to get it width and moving the fireplace to the front and centre. Originally I tried to use round macaroni's to form the fireplace but it qickly became apparant that a small square would be more appropriate. The table was retained and by raising it by a plate I was able to tuck it right back into the alcove that the 2345 corner panels made up. Most importantly this alcove isn't too deep therefore it's easily accessbile to put bottles and items onto the table. The garden became a single row of flowers on a 6x12 plate with a tree and scrub bush, enough to elicit the feel of a garden without going too over the top. Being loose it could be positioned anywhere infront of the hut.
Minifg choice was the good wizard in pale blue. As a small set I decided that it didn't need an additional soldier minifig looking over it. LDD screen captures are shown below.
I'm trying to work to a similar set design criteria to what the Lego designers would work to, a more detailed explanation can be found in my earlier posting on The Maidens Tower.
Story: Not much. Herbalists make medicine to releave wounded troops. Equally if the childs imagination is more fantasy orientated then it could be that the herbalist brews magic potions that confer strength, invisibilty or maybe copious facial warts. There's fun to be had with a little imagination, but the imagination is required rather than it being blatant.
Playability: With the redesign the interior of the hut is accessible, the fire on the front very easily so. Not present in the design, but added for the realisation in ABS are gardening tools, a spade, a sickle a knife.
Build-ability: Pretty easy. No fancy techniques, the hardest part is probably the positioning of the flowers as they each need rotating to a different angle so that they fit neatly on the 2 stud spacing they've been given.
Cost: At 112 bricks it's of a similar size to 6041 Armour Shop and would fill a similar price point.
Consistency: It fits in very well. Modernists may balk at the use of the old style apple tree but it is all part of the 80's ambiance. The anachronisms are the srcub bush and the arched window at the back of the alcove. The red highlights over the firepit match the colouring used on 6040 Blacksmiths Shop.
I'm very happy with it after the redesign that has opened out the structure. It has purpose but looks sufficiently different to make it easily discernable from either 6040 Blacksmiths Shop or 6041 Armour Shop. The freestanding garden allows it to encroach into the castle grounds in the same way that the weapons stand in 6041 Armour Shop can be positioned away from the main structure.
Edited by The_Cook, 03 April 2012 - 09:32 AM.