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  1. German 3.7cm Pak 35/36 auf Pz.Kpfw. 35R(f) (83895) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd With a chassis originally designed by Renault, the R35 was a light infantry tank used by the French army in their unsuccessful defence of their homeland at the beginning of WWII, after which it remained in service with the German forces as a beutepanzer, where it was either used in second line service, or heavily converted to a makeshift gun carriage and used as a self-propelled howitzer. There were almost a thousand R35s in service at capitulation, and they had been found by the Germans to be unreliable, poorly armed to combat tanks, and with too little armour. Nevertheless, all the remaining vehicles were taken on charge by the Germans and more than a little tinkering with cutting torches ensued. This type had their turrets removed to mount the 37mm Pak 35/36 and served as roving light gun emplacements, after fitting of an extended splinter-shield that still left the crew exposed at the sides and rear. The gun was well-liked by the artillery crews of the day, although by 1942 it was hopelessly ineffective against a well-armoured target, and was being replaced by the 5cm Pak 38 as early as 1940, then the more widely-known Pak 40 in 1941. It was given a brief reprieve in the run-up to obsolescence by the use of a tungsten cored shell that gave it greater penetration, but its days were still numbered. When faced with the new T-34 that began flooding the battlefield when Russia counter-attacked, it would ricochet harmlessly away unless it could fire from close-range to the side or rear, which was dangerous even before it was attached to the inadequate 35R chassis. Couple that with the enemy troops that would be on the field and the lack of any meaningful protection of the crew, and many were killed before they could engage their targets. The Kit This is an minor re-tool of Hobby Boss’s 35R kit that we reviewed here some while back, sharing seven sprues and upper hull with its progenitor, as well as a Photo-Etch (PE) sheet that differs only slightly from the original. The new sprue contains all the parts needed to build and mount the gun, with a simple new decal sheet finishing the package. Inside the top-opening box are eight sprues plus the upper hull in sand-coloured styrene, two sprues of tracks in brown, a fret of PE, decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide. Inside the box is a card divider to keep the parts in place during shipping, and one sprue is partly wrapped in foam sheet to further enhance protection. The engine is first to be constructed, with a two-part block that is heavily detailed with additional parts, a great many of which are absolutely tiny, which goes together in stages that results in a very nicely depicted motor for your R35 chassis. Work then commences on integrating the engine with the lower hull, beginning with the sand-cast rear bulkhead, which has the idler tensioning devices and towing hook added, after which the radiator, cooling fan and tin-work ducting are assembled with the power-take-off wheel projecting from the rear of the box. The hull itself is made up from two side panels and a floor piece, into which the radiator housing, a styrene/PE stiffening plate and driver controls are added. The side panels are fitted out with three return-rollers and a final drive housing per side, and four bogies with two wheels per housing and a big suspension spring are built up. Two more solo bogies, two drive sprockets and two idler wheels are also constructed, and are installed on the suspension mounting points on the hull sides. At the same time the driver's seat, fuel tank and engine-mount bulkhead are placed within the hull, and the cast bulkhead closes up the rear. After adding a few more driver controls and their linkages, the drive-train is dropped into the hull, with a transmission housing added to the front, and prop-shafts joining it to the sprockets, completing the drive-train. Given their small size in 1:35, HB have decided to go down the link and length route with the tracks, and it's hardly surprising. The straight track runs are made up from six parts with a few links in between the curved lower sections, and twelve individual links at each end. Each of the individual links have three sprue gates, while the moulded lengths have additional dead-end tabs that protect against short-shot links, and also double as ejector-pin locations, saving the delicate detail from marring by mis-alignments. Unless you're going to the trouble of using metal replacements, these should do you proud with a bit of sympathetic painting and weathering. Give them a rub with an artist's pencil to impart metallic sheen where they get worn, and you'll never know they weren't metal. With the tracks in place, the full-length fenders are added, along with a little stowage and a big bottle-jack on the right rear. The upper hull is detailed inside with the driver's instrument panel, plus a choice of actuator for his vision hatch, which can be posed open or closed. The final drive inspection hatch is added along with some PE parts, as is the lower part of the driver's hatch, with the upper section added in the open or closed aspect, depending on your whim. The hull is then closed up by fitting the upper hull and a host of pioneer tools that are threaded through their tie-down blocks to be added to the sides of the hull, together with the silencer/muffler and exhaust, the feeder pipe for which comes from the rear of the vehicle. The gun is last to be built, a process that begins with the carrier for the barrel, which is dropped on top and has the breech block inserted into the rear of the gun tube. It has a hollow muzzle thanks to a little slide-moulding, and it is joined by all the aiming and elevation mechanisms, then the mount with pivot-point is closed around the cradle. The splinter-shield is a single part, which has some small parts added before it is slid over the barrel and fixed in place with the addition of a bracing strut. Underneath the cradle a custom mounting adaptor is made up with turn-buckles allowing removal on the real thing, and this receives the gun’s pivot peg. There are two holes in the front of the upper hull, which accept the pegs on the bottom of the mount, leaving the crew having to stand in the turret ring, which is still present and unaltered. At the rear a shallow retaining-rail surrounds the engine deck to help crew and equipment stay on the tank as it moves. It's a bit of a lash-up, overall. Markings There is one decal option in “field grey” depicted on the painting guide, although there are two rows of serials from 0-9 and four additional crosses with a yellow centre on the sheet to give you some additional options if you wanted to depict a certain vehicle. The option presented is identified only as “Erwin”, without any information regarding where and when it was used, which is par for the course with Hobby Boss and their decals. The decals are mostly white, with just the yellow printing on the four unused crosses. They’re perfectly adequate for the task, and have good colour density and sharpness, but a tiny difference in register between the white and yellow of the unused crosses. Conclusion It’s a nice kit of a woeful tank destroyer (read: tank irritator), and it would have taken a brave man to man that gun whilst under fire. Well-detailed and conveniently small to fill up a small gap in your cabinet or corner of a diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. B-Type London Omnibus 1919 (38031) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd After the invention of the motor car, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to apply it to carrying us proles around in groups, partly because the general populous couldn’t dream of affording a car at the time, but also because it cut down on traffic in the sprawling metropolis that was early 1900s London. The London General Omnibus Company – LGOC for short, developed the Omnibus X, the omnibus part relating to everyone or all. It was replaced by the improved B-type Omnibus which has seats for 16 inside and another 18 less salubrious seats upstairs that were open to the elements. It was capable of breaking the speed limit of the day and could do a staggering 16mph on the flat, with headlights being introduced just before WWI began. Up to 900 buses were shipped to the continent to bus the troops around the battlefield from trench to trench, with up to 24 fully-equipped men being carried on the two decks. Of course, the word Omnibus didn’t last long and gave us the Bus that we know and don’t really love today. At the end of WWI, the remaining operational buses were also used to ferry the soldiers back to the UK, but it can’t have been very comfortable or quick on balance. Those that were still in decent condition resumed service with minor changes before they were finally retired in 1924. The Kit This kit is a recent tooling with a number of kits in the range, beginning with the militarised version in olive drab (39001), and now we’re looking at the second (third in terms of kits), later iteration of the civilian version with a new portrait-style box painting. A number of the original sprues from the earlier variants are carried over, and another new sprue is included to portray the updated areas around the radiator and front axle. There are unused parts on the new sprue in the form of lights and wing mirrors, which hints at an even later version being in the works. The decal sheet of course is brand new, and the Photo-Etch (PE) sheet has been further re-organised to accommodate the curved advertising hoardings on the staircase and new number plate choices. Detail is excellent with a full chassis, engine and interior included in the box, giving you just about everything you need to build a detailed replica of the 1919 omnibus. In total there are nineteen sprues in grey, three in clear, a PE fret, large decal sheet and of course instructions with painting and decaling guides in the front and rear covers in full colour. Construction begins with the engine, which is well detailed and even has diagrams showing you how to wire up the spark plugs with some of your own wire if you wish. The exhaust manifold and big clutch flywheel is added to the block along with a load of ancillary parts and hoses, then the gearbox is made up with its short drive-shaft to link it to the engine later on. The chassis is made up from the two side rails and cross members, then the engine is inserted from below while the fan belt and blades; starting handle; leaf springs for the suspension, and a large rear axle are all added, then flipped over to begin work on the engine compartment. A wood-textured bulkhead is installed aft, and at the front the newly tooled radiator is assembled and fitted to the front of the chassis, then linked to the feed hoses that were added earlier. A small linkage is made from 0.3mm wire and joined with an end-piece that completes the link, which has a couple of scrap diagrams to assist you, one at 1:1 scale to ensure you have it right. The chassis is flipped again and the new front axle is built then inserted into the leaf-springs, while brake rods are threaded along the length of the vehicle to provide the meagre braking force to all wheels. The gearbox gets a guard fitted to its bottom as it is inserted into the chassis, at which point it is also linked to the back axle with another drive-shaft that is bracketed by a piece of PE. The chassis is flipped again, and the gearbox is linked to the cab, with steering wheel, Toot Toot! style horn plus the cab floor with foot board and cut-outs for the steering wheel, foot brake and other pedals (right-hand drive of course). Now the front and back of the engine bay are linked by the fixed centre panel, and you can build the cowling in either open or closed positions with PE plates attached to the vertical panels. The chassis continues again with the exhaust pipe and muffler, which has a PE lip added to each end of the welded cylinder. This and the remaining driver controls are fixed into the chassis, which is then set aside while the passenger compartment is built. The passenger compartment starts as a U-shaped floor with duck-board flooring, which receives end panels that are first fitted out with glazing. Seats are added along each side with back cushions fitted later, and the sides of the lower floor are made up with glazing and long narrow openers at the top of each pane, capable of being posed open or closed by choosing different glazing parts. The front of the passenger box is also the seating area for the crew cab, with seat board, a thin cushion, and a cylinder in a pair of PE restraints installed ready for the later joining of the two assemblies. Long advertising hoarding brackets are fitted on the window frames outside and the lower floor is set to one side while the upper floor is made up. This has a slightly curved floor, solid sides, front and back, and four rows of double seats facing forward with a central walkway. Various rails are added to the top, beginning the handrails for the winding stairs, as well as ceiling-mounted grab-rails for the floor below. The two floors are joined together, and the staircase is begun at the bottom with the step-on platform at the rear, which allows access to the lower floor and leads to the stairs winding up the back of the vehicle. These steps are curved and have two parts added together, then strengthened by a side panel, and two curved sections on the outside that are combined safety rails and adverting hoardings that have three PE panels fitted to the outside ready for the included adverts. A number-plate and more handrails finish off that area. Underneath, the double length mudguards are glued to the cabin by brackets, and then the whole assembly is installed on the chassis along with front mudguards, crew steps, set of lights and a front number plate. The wheels were built up earlier from a central hub surrounded by two tyre halves, and with drum-brake for the rear wheels, and simpler wheels for the front. Now that she’s stood on her own four wheels for the first time, the side-mounted people catchers are installed under the chassis between the front and rear wheels, preventing anyone unlucky enough to fall between the wheels from getting squished by the heavy back end. Markings The bus is painted in a dull red overall, with various accent colours from wood, metallics and brass colours, while many of the standard markings such as the destination and general stencilling are applied as decals. The adverts are all printed on the rear page of the instruction booklet and must be carefully cut out and pasted onto the hoarding boards in the top floor sides and rear of the bus, taking care to use a non-marking glue. The reverse of the adverts are gloss white, so glue absorption shouldn’t be a major issue. The standard decals are shown applied to the bus inside the front cover of the booklet, while various new advertising options are shown there and on separate pages at the back of the booklet next to the adverts themselves. This gives a pretty wide range of options to the modeller who takes a mix-and-match approach, but there are four options from London in the 1920s provided to get you going. Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This highly detailed kit provides you with everything you need to create a great replica of the 1919 version of this early bus. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Repairing on the Road (35295) Mercedes Typ 170V Cabriolet with Figures 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. The cabriolet option was sporty and offered the well-to-do buyer luxury and wind-in-hair fun on dry days, and a slightly less windy experience with the fabric roof deployed. It shares many of the panels of the saloon version, although with no pillars behind the windscreen for a sleek look. It was often used as a staff car in the German military throughout WWII, and like all cars it broke down from time-to-time. The Kit This is a reboxing of a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon (35095), with new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes, plus a set of four figures, two of whom are doing their best to get their officer’s car up and running again. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. This boxing has sixteen sprues in grey styrene plus a bodyshell part in a protective box, clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), and decal sheet. The instruction booklet completes the package and the cover is printed in colour and covered in profiles to assist with painting. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column added at this time. The dashboard is put together with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism and put to one side while the twin font seats with PE fittings and the simpler rear bench seats are installed onto their supports in the cab area. The exquisite little rear bodyshell is retrieved from its protective box, and it is immediately evident that it would never survive shipping without this, so it’s a godsend. The rear sides of the cab are fitted with interior and windows on each side, indicators on the A-pillar, the dashboard, rear lights and bumpers/fenders, while the wheels are made up. Each wheel is made up from a layer-cake of three middle parts to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with marker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub to differentiate it, and it fits on a boss at the centre of a recess on the boot/trunk later on. The main wheels are added to the corners, and the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround is assembled, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap are added at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central bracket that forms the hinge-point for the folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. The new bodyshell is lowered into place, the steering wheel and PE horn ring are installed, and the windscreen is assembled from frame, PE wipers, clear glazing and other small parts inside the frame, then slid down between the two arms moulded into the bodyshell. The suicide doors are made up from outer skin, door card and clear window, with an optional window stub if you are posing them wound down. Handles and winders finish them off, and you can install them closed or any angle to allow egress. If you are leaving the hood down, the folded hood is provided as a single part that has the mechanism added to each side. In the up position the complete hood is one piece, with the mechanism applied to the sides and an ovalized window filling up the hole in the rear. The main headlights have clear lenses, a wing mirror is attached to the left wing, and an optional luggage rack is provided for the rear, made up from two layers of boxes, a delicate frame and PE straps to give it extra realism. The final parts to be used are the four figures. The officer is of course watching his men work with impatience, while his driver leans idly on the side of the car. The lower ranks are working on the car, leaning into the bonnet twiddling things, hopefully with some idea of what they’re doing. Sculpting is up to MiniArt's usual high standard, with realistic poses, sensible parts breakdown and location of mould seams along natural folds. Markings The decals extend to number-plates, military emblems and a white circular area for the bonnet of one of the decal options. You can build one of the six options below: III./JG52. Luftwaffe, Eastern Front, Ukraine, Summer 1943 272nd Infanterie Division, Wehrmacht, Normandy, France, Summer 1944 Wehrmacht, Eastern Front, 1944 German Police, 1942 Wehrmacht, Eastern Front, Winter 1942-43 Luftwaffe, Italy, 1943 Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s a highly detailed rendition of a rather slick cabriolet from the pre-war/WWII era, with the figures adding a little humanity and an example of mechanical frailty to an already great kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Messerschmitt Me.262A-1a Fighter (81805) 1:18 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Schwalbe had the distinction of being the first jet engine fighter to see active service, and was respected by the Allies due to its speed and manoeuvrability, care of the advanced axial-flow engines that burned brightly, but not for very long. It came too late with too few airframes entering service due to delays with the engines, and the German high-command's insistence that every aircraft should have a myriad of variants sporting different configurations that brought with them further delays and confusion. The A-1a was armed with four Mk.108 cannon mounted in the nose, which resulted in a concentrated destructive power for this innovative aircraft. It could also carry bombs under the nose, or a palette of unguided rockets under each wing, thanks to Hitler’s infernal meddling that helped the Allies win the war. The Kit This is a reboxing of the kit that was released by Hobby Boss/Trumpeter’s sister company Merit International in 2013, which I think has also been available as a completed display model at some point in the past, although I couldn’t prove that in any way shape or form. It is what I’d call a project model, because it provides the base level of detail you would expect from a 1:48 kit, but in this scale of 1:18, which is roughly 2.67 or 2 2/3 the size, the detail seems spartan in places, and softer than you might like in others. In addition, due to the huge size of the kit (the fuselage is almost 24”/60cm long) it uses screws to hold some of the larger parts together, which have plastic covers that will need filling to make them melt away, and it is moulded in tougher ABS plastic to maintain structural strength. Inside the big top-opening box are a lot of parts separated into two sub-boxes with the fuselage taking up much of the remaining space. There are thirteen sprues and four engine nacelle halves according to the instructions, but the fuselage, intakes and exhausts and some of the other parts are supplied off their sprues in my boxing. It’s all moulded in grey styrene, and there are three very firm flexible tyres, a bag of thirty screws of four types, plus a large decal sheet in the bottom of one of the boxes. The clear parts are bagged in bubble-wrap, as are the two large nose weights that are simply 45mm lengths of 14mm bar that have been dressed roughly and given a coat of something shiny to prevent corrosion. If you have a copy of the excellent 1:48 Hobby Boss kit to hand, the parts will be very familiar, as it is almost a straight “blow up”, or pantograph (a slightly outdated term now) of that design in terms of how it builds up. Construction begins with the nose gear, with the strut having a clip-on retraction jack and wheel made from the black tyre that has the two sides of the hub pressed into the central hole. This clips into the gear bay part, and has the two cylindrical nose-weights attached to the top in a retaining frame with a cross-brace keeping them in place. The four Mk.108s are then made from two-part breeches, a top section and the barrels, which will need drilling out after you’ve flattened off the tip that seem to have been tooled with safety in mind rather than crispness. The bay floor and bulkhead are fitted together and the guns are placed on top with ammunition guides leading away through the floor for each one. A frame holds the barrels in place, with a bracing rod linking it back to the bulkhead, then the assembly slots over the nose gear bay, with a small bulkhead attached to the front. The cockpit is next, and has a front and rear lamination to the instrument panel, adding dial decals as you go, then slotting it into the top section of the cockpit tub. The lower tub has the side console detail skins and controls added, a pair of rudder pedals, control column, and electrical panel fitted, before the seat with separate side panels and bulkhead behind it is slid into the rear. The tub is bookended front and back by another pair of bulkheads that suspend it within the fuselage above the main gear bay. The fuselage can be closed up at that point, after installing two spreader bars in the open lower section to ensure a good mating surface between fuselage and wings. The cockpit and nose gear bay are slotted into receivers on the inside of the fuselage, and you are exhorted to also put the canopy in place then too, which traps it between the fuselage sides and the cockpit, allowing it to open and close without glue. The rudder is also trapped between the fuselage halves, and then you glue and screw the two halves together, choosing the correct covers for each screw, as they are shaped to match the contours of the fuselage. The radio bay door is also popped in, although there’s no detail behind it out of the box. They clearly had a 2-seat version in mind, as there is a large rear insert behind the cockpit, which has the usual turtle-deck and T-bar added before it is glued in place – glue the D/F loop in place now at your peril. The rest of the canopy is clipped in place at this time too, and it’s worth stating that the clarity isn’t 100% here. They have a very slight cloudy aspect to the panes, and this may or may not disappear after dipping in Klear/Future, plus there’s an odd ‘bullseye’ in the left curve of the canopy part that creates visible distortion from some angles. The engines are next, and are made from two main halves that push together using internal turrets/receivers, then have the intake with trunk screwed inside, and the exhaust made in a similar way, with decent fan detail in both ends. The three-part exhaust bullets are then centred within the trunk, and of course there’s another one to be made up for under the other wing. The completed engines are then mated to the lower wing with a couple of screws from the inside, and the main gear legs are built up with more clip-on retraction jacks and two-part hubs round flexible black tyres. The bay doors attach to the back of the struts, reflecting its “toy” roots, with no internal detail moulded-in. The wing is completed with the upper panel fitted over the top, trapping the slats, flaps and ailerons in place, all of which have T-shaped hinge points either separate parts or moulded-in. A clear(ish) wingtip light is also trapped on a pip during closure. The wings are screwed together with 3 screws and contoured caps, then the process is repeated for the other wing. The two completed wings screw together at their roots with three more screws, and have the internals made up and screwed into the assembly to be seen later from inside the bay. The wings and fuselage are then brought together with more screws and caps, and the smaller mid-line bay doors are made up and inserted into the centre, although the instructions seem to depict them closed, which isn’t usually the case. It's looking like an aircraft now if you back off far enough to be able to fit the whole thing in your vision, and we’re about to have a break while you make up the two fuel tanks on their stubby pylons, install them with RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) bottles under the trailing edge of the wing, an aerial under the wing, and a stubby antenna under the fuselage. With the model sitting on its own wheels, the tail is built with movable flying surfaces, then the upper nose panel with cannon ports is put in place, and here I feel the lips around the teardrop shaped apertures is too soft. The gun bay panels behind it can be closed or posed open on the central spine, with a pair of stays supplied, then the final part is a pitot probe at the tip of the port wing. Markings You get two decal options in the box with precious little background information as we’ve come to expect from Hobby Boss. Check your references in case there are any discrepancies between the portrayal and reality, and make your own decision. From the decal sheet you can build one of the following: As you’d expect the decals are massive and benefit from their size, having nice crisp outlines, legible stencils and detailed dials for the cockpit instruments. The swastikas are included in two halves each for territories where the symbol is legislated against, and you get what appears to be a good selection of walkways and all the commonly depicted stencils along with some rather large crosses – whether the stencils are spelled correctly I will leave to a German speaker to decide, as they have printed their own name as “HobbyBoos”, which isn’t a confidence boosting goof. Conclusion This is a LARGE model. You don’t fully realise that fact until you open the box, and then you take a deep breath and begin opening the bags wondering where you’re going to put it when finished. Personally, I feel that it is a model that you should take your time over, detailing the heck out of it, maybe adding a full set of rivets to the skin, although maybe not as they were supposed to be puttied over, which may come in useful, as the panel lines are quite deep and wide. For the internal details that us modellers usually obsess over, I’m hoping that the aftermarket companies are already getting their upgrade sets into production. As it stands it’s more of a toy than a model, but with the right builder a stunning replica could result, as the shape seems to be about right, and all the major components are there for you to go to work on. The transparency issue is a downer, but it’s a good candidate for someone to come along with a resin or vacformed replacement, the latter being almost below scale at 1:18. Recommended, after reading this review thoroughly. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Road Signs WWII Italy (35611) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII many road signs were removed in case of invasion to hamper the exploits of the invading forces and slow them down while they decided where they were. When substantial military activity was underway, the need to know where you’re going arises, so any signs removed need replacing if you're attempting to marshall your troops, and new ones are required to stop your men and materiel from becoming lost. This set is full of signs of this nature, and includes military signs to guide their troops to rally points, service areas and so forth as they didn't have the luxury of GPS and satnav back then. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the contents on the front and brief instructions on the rear. There are three medium-sized sprues in grey styrene in the box, plus a decal sheet on thick white paper that contains all the painted descriptive fronts of the signs. As well as the signs themselves there are a number of posts on which to hang then, one of which is a lamp post with detailed base and simple light fitting. Each sign is meant to be either metal or moulded with a restrained wooden texture that will show through the decals if you use decal solution during setting. Some of the larger signs are also made from a few planks, so the joins will also show through the decal. There are fifty-one signs, so there will be a few decals left over, and on the back of the box you can see a few examples of these make-shift signs pinned in groups to the various posts, but it's entirely up to you how you lay them out. Conclusion Dioramas rely on the minutiae of the background to give that "lived in" look to the terrain, and signage is essential for all but the straightest of roads. The addition of the lamp post gives extra height to any road scene, and the painting guide helps with painting the plastic parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Musical Instruments (35622) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Humans are a creative species, as well as a destructive one. We’ve been making music since prehistory and with our penchant for using tools, we’ve been making instruments for just about as long. This set is brim-full of instruments, and contains enough to make an orchestra, although it would be a fairly odd one. It arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and inside are two identical sprues in grey styrene, plus a small piece of white paper with sheet music printed on it for you to cut out and use. On the sprues you can find the following instruments: Accordion – open (Piano Accordion) Accordion – in case (Piano Accordion) Harmonic – closed (Button Accordion) Harmonic – open (Button Accordion) Marching bass drum with sticks Trumpet Guitar Violin in open case Violin & bow with closed case Mandolin Banjo Construction of the individual elements is simple, as you can see from the instructions, and they will stand or fall on their painting. Treat them as individual models and you’ll be good to go. As there are two sprues, you should have plenty of instruments for a number of projects, and the detail is just right, needing only a few additional straps where appropriate on the accordions and drums for example. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Stowage & Accessories Set – British FV510 Warrior (SPS-073) 1:35 Meng Supplies via Creative Models Ltd We reviewed the new Meng Warrior here after the second tranche arrived with Creative, but we’ve had this stowage set since the initial release, as it went out of stock almost as fast as the kit itself! They’re now back in stock, so here it is. The set arrives in a brown cardboard box with the contents shown in a large sticker that covers the majority of the top flap. Inside there are two bubble-wrap bags of resin, totalling fifteen parts, each with its own casting block, carefully attached with the smallest of contact points to reduce the amount of clean-up needed. The largest part is a long rolled up tarp/awning that is attached to the side of the Warrior’s slat armour, with three Bergen day-sacks, two jerry-cans, and three Camelbak-type drink reservoirs that a soldier can strap to his back or attach to his Bergen, with a drink-tube draped over his shoulder and a handy bite-valve ready for a quick drink at any time. These things must be a godsend for troops in the Middle East, where the heat can have you dehydrated in hours or even minutes if you’re working hard. The Camelbaks have separate straps that are attached on each side of the narrow pouch, and one strap has the drink-tube fastened in place, although the picture on the box shows them loose. If you wanted to portray that possibility, scraping the moulded-in tube off and replacing it with some wire would do the job, adding a drop of super glue to depict the blunt T-shaped bite-valve, shaping it when dry. A quick Google should tell you if the military tubes are blue, but I suspect they might be green, but you know my memory. With resin, you should take the precaution of wearing a mask when cutting or sanding it, as the tiny particles are harmful to your health if breathed in. Washing the parts in warm water will also improve the adhesion of paint, as there may still be some moulding release agent on the parts when you receive them. Take care not to use water that is too hot, as this may cause deformation to more delicate parts, but this technique can conversely be used to fix warped parts, using cold water to “freeze” the changes in the parts. Conclusion This is a beautifully crisp, detailed set, but it isn’t what you’d call cheap. If you think it’s worth a punt, pick one up soon, as they seem to be flying off the shelves. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. German Delivery Car Type 170V (35297) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but different due to the boxy load area behind the drivers. Of course, some of them found their way into military service with as saloons, or as the van for carrying small loads. The Kit This is a rebox with new decals of their recent Lieferwagen kit that has the same new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes for the wagon. The original 2012 kit was highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are twelve sprues of grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column with PE horn-ring added at this time. The dashboard is integrated into the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen inserted before this is dropped over the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small rear window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four with a spare one lurking under a false floor in the back. Each wheel is made up from a layer-cake of three central sections to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub and no cap to differentiate it. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece with the pocket for the spare tyre to fit inside, and this sits over the rear arches and is supported at the front by a lip on the rear of the cab. The load area is then finished by adding the slab-sides and roof to the body, with a few ejector-pin marks that will need filling if you plan on leaving the door open. Speaking of doors, there are two options for open and closed, with moulded-in hinges and separate door handle, plus the number-plate holder above the door in the centre. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the rearward opening "suicide door" type. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator with an angled PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. A pair of PE and styrene windscreen wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, a pair of clear-lensed headlamps, wing mirrors and indicator stalks on the A-pillars finish off the build of the van. To differentiate this from the previous kit, MiniArt have included a PE roof rack that is folded up and fitted to the exterior drip-rails around the roof, with a whole page of the instructions devoted to a set of card boxes of period German products that are folded up and glued together to give the truck something to carry. Markings There are four decal options in the box, including two military and two civilian vehicles, the latter belonging to the Railways and post departments. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany, 1940-43 Reichpost, Germany, 1940-45 Unknown platoon Sanitary Vehicles, Wehrmacht, 1941-43 Unknown unit, Wehrmacht, 1943-45 Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The boxes are printed on glossy paper with tabs printed to facilitate gluing, so you may want to matt them down after construction, as most packing boxes tend to be of a matt finish. Conclusion This is yet another well-detailed kit of the old Merc van, and if you’re not a vehicle modeller you have the two military types to choose from, or the civilian types would make for great background fodder for a Defence of the Reich diorama, either intact or in a semi-demolished state courtesy of the ongoing fighting. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. British FV510 Warrior TES(H) AIFV (SS-017) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The Warrior was a design by GKN that won the MCV-80 contract at the end of a very long process, reaching service in 1984, twelve years since the beginning of the project. GKN Defence eventually ended up as part of the BAe conglomerate, with service and supply passed over along with the intellectual property. After lessons learned in the first Gulf War, upgrades to armour and other systems were made to protect the crew, which was made easier by the original design having no weapons ports on the side of the vehicle, which with the benefit of hindsight was a feature more suited to the last war than the next. The weight crept up to almost double its initial level, which required changes to the torsion suspension, upgraded to keep the same ground clearance as before, as well as new carbon-ceramic brakes that helped slow down the now bulkier vehicle, which is capable of speeds in excess of 40mph on metalled roads. It can carry seven full-equipped soldiers plus a crew of three, and is capable of keeping them safe within for 48 hours if required, but it wouldn’t be a nice experience by any stretch of the imagination. With operations taking place in the Middle East, an improved Environmental Control Unit (aircon) box was fitted to counter the hot and dusty conditions, plus the appliqué armour and cage armour outside that give protection against small arms fire and shaped charge weapons such as the Rockt Propelled Grenade (RPG). The small turret carries a 30mm Rarden L21A1 cannon, which packs more of a punch than the typical 25mm guns used in other current IFVs, although it is not designed with tank combat in mind, so doesn’t carry any anti-tank missiles for weight saving reasons. The recent versions have a fully-upgraded active night vision system and clear armoured glass around the top of the turret that gives the crew better situational awareness, and the added rear infrared camera above the rear ram-operated door allows the troops to exit the vehicle with a good idea of what awaits them during those vital few seconds after disembarkation. There are plans for an upgrade programme to keep the Warrior in service until 2040 and beyond, which involves a stabilised 40mm cannon as well as many other improvements to the electronic systems for battlefield awareness to keep the vehicle and crew in the best shape possible. As usual with these things, it is currently running over budget and behind schedule by a substantial margin, begging the question “was it ever thus?”. The Kit This is a brand new tooling of the modern Warrior, and we’re a little behind with our review because the first batch in the UK were very popular with the average AFV modeller, who snapper them all up, and who can blame them? The kit arrives in a standard Meng top-opening box and inside are five sprues and three separate hull and turret parts in light grey styrene, a clear sprue with self-cling wrapping to protect it from scratches, a turned brass Rarden barrel, a bag of individual track links, a tree of poly-caps, a small but thick fret of nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE) brass, which is also protected on both sides by a sticky clear plastic cover. Detail is excellent and visible on all parts from the hull halves to the track pins. It’s also a comprehensive package, with wheel and track-pad masks on the PE sheet, and a two-part hinged track jig on the clear sprue that is a step above the earlier editions, as are the tracks – more on those later. As well as the instruction booklet there is also a four page detail booklet with holes punched in the top, giving a little information about the real thing you're building a model of. Construction begins with the lower hull half, which has C-shaped armour block added above each suspension mount, which then has the two-part torsion bars and swing-arms inserted to latch upon sockets in the centre of the hull. The upper hull has two hatches on the glacis plate, the larger one for the engine, which has a four-panel mesh grille, grab-handles and intake scoop fitted before being glued in place, while the smaller transmission hatch is just a single part. Lifting eyes are attached to the sides of these heavy panels, and grab-handles are fitted to the lighter transmission hatch, with another grille on the forward section of the upper hull and another on the raised intake on the left along with more grab-handles. The two hull halves are put together, mounting firmly on six pins and turrets within, and having the final drive housing installed on pins at the front of the lower hull. The rear bulkhead has the large stand-off brackets pushed through from behind before it is fitted, then the chassis is flipped and the armoured final drive covers and underside protection are glued over the original hull, and the idler axles are attached at the rear. Make up your own wheel pun here, and then make up twelve pairs of road wheels with a poly-cap trapped between them, the same for the smaller idler wheels, and a pair of four-piece drive-sprockets again with more poly-caps. The return rollers are also paired, but are fixed in place with glue so won’t rotate. The road wheels simply push in place onto the axles for ease of painting, which is handy. Notice I've already put a set of pins in this length, they just need a tiny bit of clean-up In the past Meng have supplied good tracks and bad tracks, but this design is IMHO is one of their best. There are 79 links in each run, and you will find the parts in two places. The main track links with moulded-in pads are in the bag, with one sprue gate per part for minimal clean-up. The links are put together by slotting them together on the pin moulded into one of the joints, holding together relatively well already. The two-part clear jig holds seven links, and when closed over it has slots ready to take the track pins, which should be left in groups of six on the carriers that they are moulded to. Insert the pins firmly to secure them in position, then open the jig and cut off the carrier to complete the job, giving the pin heads a buff with a sander if needed. They work perfectly, and the track is incredibly flexible with good detail throughout. With 158 to put together, it shouldn’t take too long, especially as there is almost no clean-up required. If Meng’s engineers are reading this, please stick with this method. The basic hull is completed, but there is a lot more to do still, to add the accumulated upgrades over the years. First up is the appliqué armour for the lower glacis with lifting eyes and a gridwork applied before it is installed. The front mudguards are also set in place at this time too. More armour is added to the upper glacis, with a palette of pioneer tools and grab-handles glued on with a wire-cutter and fire extinguisher to the side. This drops onto the original glacis with some more grab-handles nearby, plus a hatch and angled panel with grenade launcher also fitted. Nearby, the driver’s hatch is still vacant, which is filled by the two-layer hatch that has a closure handle and three clear periscopes inside, plus two exterior panels with their own miniature windscreen wipers moulded-in, all of which need a coat of transparent blue to show their bullet-proof material. The hatch is fitted, another triangular panel, front light clusters and other small parts are installed, followed by the clamshell top hatch with handles, louvered panel and headlight cages, then stowage boxes, other small parts including more grenade launchers are also glued in place. The rear door also has two layers and a glass vision port, and on each side of it are the rear fenders and large mudflaps to help reduce the dust kicked up, another fire extinguisher, an angled box with rear lights and cage surround the lights, a large tool box above it, and on the other side the much improved ECU, both of which are made up from individual panels to maximise detail. The first part of the bar armour is attached to the stand-off brackets on the rear door, then the side appliqué armour panels are first fitted with brackets, they have the nicely-moulded bar armour panels fixed, stop-ends and the Electronic Counter-Measures turrets on L-shaped brackets at the rear, before they are both added to the vehicle sides, and the curved panel on the starboard front, upstand panel on the glacis and a sinuous bundle of cables from the hull to the ECU are added on the roof. The turret has no interior, but instead has a cylindrical pivot inside with poly-caps slowing down the movement of the barrel when fitted. It is clasped between the top and bottom halves of the turret, with an additional panel under the mantlet. The roof is almost covered by the two large hatches, with internal inserts, handles and external grab-handles added before they and their hinges are fitted to the roof along with six clear vision blocks with armoured covers, an aerial base and rotating periscope. What little space remains is taken up by the dual sighting boxes with clear fronts and external housings that can be posed with the protective bullet-resistant covers either open or closed at your choice. The coax machine gun barrel is slotted into the inner mantlet, then the highly sloped outer mantlet is installed along with a lifting eye, then two large armoured glass panels are mounted on the sides of the roof, with the front being protected by two large outer boxes over the sighting gear. Smoke dischargers are mounted on pattresses on the cheeks, with more brackets, equipment and boxes that are later partially hidden by more slat-armour and a stiffening bar that spans between the armoured glass panels to prevent knock-down by enemy fire. The gun sleeve is slid into the mantlet, then the brass barrel with hollow conical muzzle is slipped into place until it stops, with a small section pointed out in 1:1 scale for painting in silver, representing the recoil length of the barrel in its sleeve. The turret twists into place on a pair of bayonet lugs, and that’s it. Markings Any colour you like as long as it’s desert sand. There is only one decal option in the box, but as there aren’t many decals on any AFV (for the most part), if you can source some extra number plate decals (there is ONE spare set on the sheet), you can depict other vehicles. From the box you can build the following: B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords), British Army, Durai East Region, Helmand, Afghanistan, 2011. There are of course the two PE masks for the wheels and track pads, allowing you to paint the hubs of the wheels and the rubber track pads without worrying about paint getting everywhere. The fit is exceptionally snug, but don’t forget to clean the PE parts if any paint creeps underneath, and take care with the quantity of paint you’re spraying or brushing, as thick paint stands more chance of seeping through. Decals are printed in China and of sufficiently good quality to be used with the model. Conclusion It’s an exceptionally well detailed kit that should please most modellers out of the box, and the bar armour is well-moulded given the limitations of styrene moulding. It’s already popular, and deserves to be. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Car Maintenance 1930-40s (38019) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models ltd Cars were still really in their infancy during the 30s and 40s, and thankfully for their owners were quite simple compared to today’s standards, having mostly mechanical systems with only the lights and carburettors using electricity in general. They would frequently break down at the side of the road, where a well-prepared owner could often fix them, at least well enough to enable a dash to the nearest garage for a proper fix. If the repairs were more serious, a scheduled appointment at the garage would be in order anyway. This set depicts two repair scenarios on the box, and that’s what you get. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are five sprues, four containing the figures and one containing the accessories and tools, with some of the smaller flat tools to be found on a tiny Photo-Etch (PE) fret in a card envelope. There is a lady in a knee-length skirt pumping up a tyre using a foot-pump, a man in shirt-sleeves lying on his back under the car with PE tools around him, while the two other mechanic-types are cleaning the car with a cloth, and twiddling something under the bonnet whilst leaning over the fender or radiator. In addition, a track-style pump and an old-skool car jack with PE handle are included as staging for your diorama. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus additional parts if you wish to use them in a diorama. Conclusion The cars featured on the box art are of course not included in the set, but if you were to aggregate one or more of these figures, plus a pack of the various garage forecourt sets released by MiniArt together with some of your own buildings either bought or scratched, a detail-packedd peacetime diorama could be put together. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Ukrainian Tank Crew at Rest (37067) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unsurprisingly, Ukrainian tanks have Ukrainian tank crews in them, and like other humans they need to have a rest in between drills, exercises and actual combat, to stretch out, eat, relax and even sleep. This set provides four figures of such gentlemen relaxing on boxes beside their tank having a chat, a snack and a sneaky cigarette. The kit arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box that has instructions on the rear, and inside are eight sprues in grey styrene. There are four for the figures, and four more identical sprues that carry ammunition boxes and even the shells within, the latter being surplus to requirements but always handy for a diorama. Three of the figures are in a seated position, two shooting the breeze, one cutting up some food for a snack, while the other is leaning/sitting on something like the side of the tank or a higher box. The food guy is bare headed with shaved sides to his head, while the other three have the padded helmets with comms that are typical of Soviet and formerly Eastern Bloc countries and their vehicles. A box can be made from each of the four sprues, and although the internals are there, they aren’t used because no-one’s going to want to sit on an open box. Sculpting is up to MiniArt’s usual high standard, with high levels of detail as well as realistic texture and drape of the clothing, topped off with naturalistic poses. The instructions on the rear giving painting guides as well as showing the part numbers, with swatches of camo for those of us brave enough to attempt it. Parts breakdown is also sensibly along natural seamlines, with separate heads, torso, arms and legs, plus flat-tops to the heads with hats and side panels moulded separately for better detail. The bread man has a number of small pieces that represent a loaf with a couple of slices already cut, and in one hand he has a block of something resembling cheese, which he is about to cut with the knife moulded into his other hand. Conclusion A great little set to add a human scale to any Ukrainian tank in a vignette or diorama. It also shows that soldiering in the field is mostly passing of time while waiting for your next orders, with some abject terror mixed in at times. Is it me, or does that chap on the left look like more than a bit like Mr Vladmir Putin? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. German Road Signs Ardennes, Germanny 1945 (35609) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII German forces loved to signport their way around the countryside, and often when they retreated there wasn't time to "scorched earth" everything. This set is full of signs of this nature, and includes military signs to guide their troops, distance and direction of nearby towns and so forth as they didn't have the luxury of GPS and satnav back then, which is probably just as well. This is one of their range of sign sets, in the shape of German road signs from the Ardennes, most likely used during their long retreat during the Allies' D-Day offensive and the following Defence of the Reich. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the contents on the front and brief instructions on the rear. There are five sprues in grey styrene in the box or four if you ignore the fact that the large one has been cut to fit the box, plus a decal sheet on thick paper that contains all the painted descriptive fronts of the signs. As the box art implies, you also get a concrete telegraph pole alongside the signs, of which there are thirty-eight in total spread across two identical sprues. Each sign is either metal or moulded with a restrained wooden texture that will show through the decals if you use enough decal solution during drying. Some of the larger signs are also made from a few planks, so the joins will also show through the decal. There are 48 decals on the sheet, so plenty of options that could be spread over multiple dioramas. The telegraph post is made from two halves with lightening holes through the centre, and a pair of isolators on each side, for which you’ll need to add some wires either taut or cut and dangling from the post. Conclusion Dioramas rely on the minutiae of the background to give that "lived in" look to the terrain, and signage is essential for all but the straightest of roads. The addition of the telegraph pole gives extra depth to any road scene, and the painting guide helps with painting the plastic parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Russian K-4386 Typhoon-VDV (VS-014) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The buzzword MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected is a key feature of modern Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), with the Allies learning hard lessons from their operations in the Gulf, where HUMVEEs and even Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) were ripped apart by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) left by insurgents, killing and injuring many in the process. The lessons haven’t been lost on any major army, and since 2010 the Russians have been developing the Typhoon project to produce a line of MRAPs to protect their troops during transit, using common components such as engine, suspension and electronics to make a range of vehicles for specific operations. The KamAZ-53949 is a 4-wheeled armoured patrol carrier on which the K-4386 is based, which shares the modern design, angled undersides, protective seats and use of composite components, adding a large Remote Control Weapons Station (RCWS) that mounts a 30mm auto-cannon along with a coaxial machine gun on one side and grenade launchers on either side of the main weapon. As well as the mine protection, the windows are all bullet-proof, with seating for five in the passenger compartment, and three crew, capable of 80mph on metalled surfaces, with adjustable height suspension allowing a relatively high speed over rougher terrain, assisting with infil. and exfil. operations immensely. This variant is for the Russian airborne forces, the VDV (Vozdushno-Desantnye Rossii), they of the stripy tshirts, so is also air-deployable to maximise its capability. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from our friends at Meng, only trailing behind the real vehicle’s deployment by a short while. As usual with Meng, the kit arrives in a compact box with their traditional satin finish and a nice painting of the type on the front. Inside are five sprues and two separate hull parts in a light grey styrene, a clear sprue, four flexible black tyres, four small springs, a short run of 8 poly-caps (not pictured), a fret of nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE) brass containing just the radiator grille, a small decal sheet, and the instruction booklet with colour profiles in the rear, all bagged separately to resist chaffing in transit. One word of caution is that the springs are loose within the turret shell bag, and these small items could be easily lost if you open the bag incautiously, so I have put them in a ziplok bag with the PE to keep them safe. Meng have produced partial interior for the crew and passenger areas, with a lot of detail moulded-in, and sensible use of sliding moulds to improve detail and reduce unnecessary parts, which sometimes elicit cries of “over-engineering” from some quarters. The clear parts are especially clear, although I miss the days when you would receive them with a tint of blue/green that gave the impression of the thickness of a piece of laminated bullet-proof glass. It’s not a major issue, but I really liked the look of them and wish they’d bring it back. Construction begins with the angled boat-style lower hull, onto which the suspension and drive-shafts are fitted over a number of steps, resulting in the suspension able to move by leaving the arms unglued. The axles stubs are snapped into place at the ends of the swing-arms, with armoured covers fitted over the central section, with the front bumper/fender, steering linkage, rear cross-brace and the braking system fitted next. The struts have the working springs slid over them and are then slotted into the lower hull floor, with a quarter turn locking them into place in the receivers and the big mudflaps fitted while the hull is upside down - this gives the suspension some realistic bounce. The tapered lower hull with the axles is attached to the underside of the floor, and the four wheels with two-part hubs trapping a poly-cap have the tyres pushed over the lips, then are pushed into place on the ends of the axles. Attention turns to the interior, with the drivers and co-driver’s seats first to be built from three parts each including the long protective supports that prevent spinal injury from intense explosions under the hull. These are glued to the floor of the crew cab, then a near-vertical steering column with central gear-selector between the seats are both added, to be joined by the dashboard with instrument binnacle that has decals that give it plenty of visual interest and realism. The two pedals attach behind, then the trim panel is added to provide the attachment to the floor. That sub-assembly is installed behind the engine compartment and it is joined by the five wall-mounted three-part passenger seats in the rear. The uneven number of seats is due to the remote turret’s “basket”, which sprouts from the floor in a tapering enclosure that has a monitor screen and control box on its side, with decals for both the screen and the side of the equipment box, the former having a silhouette of a trio of 'Tangos' about to be blown to bits, plus another decal for the buttons around the MFD (Multi-Function Display). This is inserted into the floor in preparation for the turret fitting later. The lower hull has a set of tanks on the sloped sides, with handed duplicates on the opposite side, but the numbering on the instructions is a little unclear here, only noting one part number per tank, although as the parts are next to each other on the sprue it’s not difficult to resolve. The interior of the upper hull is painted white, and the two-layer bullet-proof glazing is glued carefully into the windscreen frames, the outer part giving it the bulky look that typifies the MRAP breed. The front grille has vertical slots, which are backed by the single PE part that has fine mesh where needed and solid sections for gluing to the rear of the plastic part. Clear lenses are inserted into the depressions on each side of the grille, with the LEDs depicted by a ring of small recesses around a larger centrral one, ready for highlighting with a little careful painting. The two-layer doors are essentially a very similar shape, but the rear one has the window almost totally closed over by armour panels, with just the smallest of observation windows and a thick chunk of bullet-proof glass behind them, plus pull-handles and locking mechanism added below. The crew doors have larger glazing panels and more standard handles and latches, plus a four-part door mirror for each of them, for which you’ll need to source some shiny surface, using a Molotow chrome pen, or the new Liquid Mirror from Stuart Semple which I’ll be trying out soon. The back door is fitted to the rear bulkhead, and along with an internal equipment box slides onto guides on the upper hull together with the front grille. The back door is flanked by a pair of panniers that act as passenger protection for them as they leave the bus, for a few steps at least, which can be crucial if you’re loaded down with gear. They are both made up from a number of parts including rear light clusters that need painting, and they then slide into the rear of the hull, butting up against the rear bulkhead. The deep-wading muffler runs up the starboard A-pillar with a quartet of windscreen wipers added in a fairing over the top of the screen and a pair of stop-ends finishing them off. A pair of bullet-proof observation windows are glued into place on the sides of the main compartment, which can then be dropped onto the chassis with no glue applied to the turret ring base. More accessories are added in the shape of a towing bar, aerial base, grab rails on the diagonal roof edges, stowage rails along the waist, crew steps at the rear and sides, then a turret ring adapter on the roof. Turrets are fun in my estimation, with this one having an almost complete outer, that has four lift-eyes on the roof and six grenade launchers on the mantlet face. Inside is the pivot point for the 7.62mm coax MG attached to the side with a poly-cap inside for later. The main gun has a semi-cylindrical mantlet with two axles on the opposing flat sides, attached to the turret base by a pair of pivot-points that again have poly-caps inside them to allow the gun to elevate. The turret is closed up and the 30mm 2A42 autocannon barrel is shrouded and has a TV box on top, with the same process except for the top box, for the 7.62mm PKTM machine gun. The MG slips into its slot and is retained by the poly-cap, while the main gun is glued in place in the mantlet, completing the build, save for twisting the turret into place on its bayonet fitting. Markings There are two decal options in the box, which is fair because it has barely seen service. One is Russian green, while the other has a tri-tonal faceted camouflage scheme, which is the more exciting of the two. From the box you can build one of the following: Army 2017 International Forum, Kubinka, Moscow, 2017 Russian Generic Tri-colour Camouflage Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion After their Gaz Tiger, this is a welcome addition to their Meng Russian/Soviet product line, with lots of detail moulded-in that is everything we have come to expect from them. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Cobblestone Section (36043) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Cobblestone roads have been around since before the Romans, and were prominent in Europe until after WWII because they have ease of maintenance and simple extraction and re-laying thanks to their modular nature. The downside is that they’re slippery when wet and modern vehicles with pneumatic rubber tyres struggle for grip under some circumstances. I first encountered MiniArt when I bought one of their vacformed diorama bases, before I became aware of their wider product range. This set is one of those diorama kits, and arrives in a smallish top-opening box, with two sheets of vacformed cobblestone section measuring 252mm x 173mm per sheet with a depth or "plinth height" of 5mm. Also included are two sprues of injection moulded grey plastic that provides a heap of street furniture, including bench seats, bollards, wrought iron fencing, manhole covers and grids. Construction is simple, consisting mostly of prepping the vacformed sheets, which are produced on female moulds so are dotted with small raised “pips” where the air has been drawn through the negative mould to ensure a faithful copy. These will need slicing or sanding away and any gaps filled, which shouldn’t take long. The bases are quite flexible, so will need some bracing from behind, and I have backed mine with sheet balsa wood glued in with epoxy in the past, but other materials would be similarly useful. If you intend to use the street furniture, most of it can be planted on top, and stiffened with pegs if you desire, but the manhole cover and grid will need sections cutting out of the base before they can be used. Careful marking and cutting will be the watchword, and I hope don't need to warn you not to do this on your lap. Markings After a priming, you can paint the cobbles in shades of grey or brown, accenting them with other shades, and using pigments in dry or liquid form to fill the interstices, wiping the excess off the faces of the cobbles to obtain a realistic finish as illustrated below. Conclusion Diorama bases can be a dark art if you’re unaware as to how they’re created, but these sets are able to short-cut some of the production process, having excellent detail and grounding your model in the real world rather than just floating on a shelf. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. German Soldiers with Jerry Cans (35286) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Tanks and other military vehicles are thirsty creatures, and you can’t just pull up to the pump in wartime to refill if you’ve misjudged your intake at the last fuel stop. Vehicles usually carry some form of spare fuel either in bespoke containers strapped to their hulls, or in racks of jerry cans, named after the excellent German design, a name that is still in use today. They are also used to carry water and other fluids, as both humans and vehicles can be thirsty too. This set depicts a pair of German Wehrmacht soldiers refuelling their vehicles or topping off the radiator in the field, together with a number of jerry cans and the less famous prism-shaped “Toblerone” tanks that sometimes carry oil, but these have “Kraftstoff” embossed on the side. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are eight sprues and a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two sprues containing the figures and the remaining six full of parts for the cans. The PE fret contains centreline parts for the jerry cans and clasps for the filler caps. The two figures are both standing, one in a peaked cap bending at the waist to offer the can up to a low receptacle, while the other is standing up straight in a greatcoat, pouring at roughly shoulder height. Their construction is shown on the rear of the box, which also shows the building of the two types of can. There are six jerry cans, which are made up on a central PE flange with styrene shells to each side. The triple handle is glued to the top, as is the cap, with the choice of a complete styrene version, or a more detailed styrene cap with PE clasp that allows the modeller to pose the cap off for filling or emptying. The Toblerone cans are two parts and have a PE handle attached to the top edge, with moulded-in handles on each endcap. Various painting options for the cans are given on the rear, with the water containers bearing a white cross to prevent accidental contamination with the wrong fluids. A key to the letter codes is printed below with Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, a colour swatch and the name of the colour in English to assist you with picking suitable shades from your own stocks. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus spare jerry cans if you use them in a diorama, as you can see above. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. T-34/85 Czechoslovak Prod. Early Type 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by sometimes crude methods, and thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front. The designers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without grinding to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. Czechoslovakia was subsumed by the Nazi war machine in a two-stage operation just prior to the outbreak of WWII that began with the Sudetenland, and it stayed under the Nazi jackboot until the beginning of 1945 as the Soviet juggernaut rolled back the Germans to their old borders and beyond. The incoming Soviet influence provided the Czechs with T-34/85s to jump-start the Czech army, and once they themselves had completed their integration of the area within the Soviet Bloc, Czech factories began making their own under license, with over 1,800 made, some of which were exported abroad to Soviet friendly allies in either new or used condition. The tank itself was a kind of Frankenstein made using moulds and specifications from different factories, and occasionally adding in a soupçon of other people’s technology, such as some knock-off German Notek convoy lights in the very early issue. They stayed in Czech service a lot longer that they perhaps otherwise would, had the Czech soldiers in exile not been already familiar with them, but by 1954 production was ceased and geared up for license building of the T-54 to replace it. The tanks sold abroad often had very short, violent lives, passing through the hands of various Middle Eastern and South African nations, with losses heavy when they were faced with a more modern enemy. The Kit This is a boxing of MiniArt’s new T-34 line, and as well as being of an early type with the larger gun and turret, it is also a full interior kit, so the box is loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes. In total there are seventy eight sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and back covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, which is the reason for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and cheaper for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving many different options to choose from very much more promising for us. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull and suspension. The floor is fitted with four tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear, and many of the interior parts are fitted into the front of the floor, joined by ammo stowage below the turret location, plus ammo cans for the bow machine gun, driver controls that include foot pedals and linkages, with the driver’s and machine gunner’s seat completing his area, each of which have generous side bolsters to prevent them from being tipped out of their seats on rough ground. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside wall, and numerous equipment attached in between, including fire extinguishers, ready-rounds and some small PE parts. These are joined to the floor and the engine is begun, complete with the whole block, twin banks of pistons and rocker covers, exhaust manifolds, ancillaries and a sturdy trestle mount on which the engine rests. Radiator panels, first-motion shaft and clutch are fitted next as the block is inserted into the rear hull along with the radiators, fuel tank on the sponson, then another bulkhead behind the engine, with a cut-out that surrounds the clutch that in turn mates to the transfer box and brake drums that fit up against the final drive housing at the very rear of the vehicle. Various brake and transfer linkages are added on top with the generator for the electrics and two air intake boxes and hoses, one on each side of the bay. The exhausts pass over the top and are later covered with external armoured tail pipes, but in the meantime the upper hull is begun. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, complete with light-weight sliding stock for the gunner’s comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured protection, hinge for the driver’s door, convoy light with cable, and a set of five spare track links attached to the lower area. Inside a small instrument panel with decals for the dials is installed below the lip of the hatch. A light interlude of making the additional fuel tanks for the sides of the hull, complete with carry-handles on each end then takes us to the upper hull. The top and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have a myriad of holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way, and this is then joined by the glacis plate with PE stiffener plates at the sides. At the rear the engine is still exposed, which is next to be addressed, by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead before attaching this large panel that can be fitted closed or hinged down for maintenance, and has a number of holes drilled out, depending on which decal option you are building. The bulkhead has a circular inspection panel in the centre that can also be open or closed, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers to the sides. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvers that are added with a central inspection hatch, then dropped over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers are fitted over the basic louvers, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, and the mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with more simplified flaps to the rear, again with the PE details. Small parts and various pioneer tools or stowage boxes are made up and fitted onto the sloped sides of the hull, with racks of winter track grousers attached to the flat portions of the side and fuel tank supports behind them. At this stage the driver’s hatch is also built with twin clear periscopes, hatch closures and external armoured cowls for the ‘scopes and hinges. By installing a gas-strut part inside the hatch rim earlier, you can set the hatch open to expose some of the interior, and fitting the bow-wave deflector half way up the glacis you can ensure his knees don’t get wet. For the fifth decal variant an additional pair of tanks are installed on the rear bulkhead by using two curved brackets and four-piece tanks with PE shackles holding them in place. Going back to main construction, ten pairs of wheels with separate hub caps are built with two drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the rolling part of the tracks. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply three lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. The side tanks are fitted to their frames with PE shackles on both sides with the short, ribbed containers having a styrene fitting that hooks to the frame with a PE hook. The headlight fits to the join between the sloped glacis and sides on a mixed styrene/PE bracket with styrene rear housing and clear lens at the front, which is protected by a complex sloped cage. Clever folks that they are, MiniArt have tooled a jig to help you accomplish this easily, so you take the delicate PE part and bend it to shape around the jig, attaching it to a PE ring that you have pre-rolled, and fitting it onto the bracket on two pins for ease. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as great at spreading the tank’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share. There are two track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick, to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each piece, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. The turret starts as a C-shaped part with three sides moulded into it, which has inserts within for the interior skin, with ready-rounds, radio gear, spare periscope glass and other equipment needed for fighting. The roof is separate and has a large cupola with clear vision blocks and binoculars built into the bi-fold hatch, plus a more simple hatch for the gunner, both of which can be fitted open or closed. The roof also has two more periscopes under armoured shrouds, and two vents on the rear, which are covered by a linked armoured mushroom cover. A few small nubs are removed from the turret sides again, as they won’t be needed for this variant. The gun breech is made up from a substantial number of parts with another 7.62mm DT machine gun mounted coaxially in the mantlet, before it is set to one side while the busy turret floor is completed. The floor part first has a lip inserted within the ring, then is detailed with seats, traversing equipment, plus a stack of sixteen accessible rounds in a frame that is mounted in the rear of the bustle for easy access. The inner mantlet is prepared with the main gun’s mount, plus elevation hardware and sight, which is glued to the turret floor and has the breech slid in from behind and joined by the coax DT with its mount. Another seat with PE leather strap suspension is strung between the turret side and the breech, then the turret top is fitted over it and joined by the gun tube, which is a single part, and has an outer mantlet slid over it once inserted. An aerial, some grab handles, stowage loops and lugs are dotted around the turret and a folded canvas sheet (of your own making) can be lashed to the bustle with some PE straps that are included on the fret. Dropping the turret into place in the hull completes the build. Markings There are six decal options in the box, and due to the length of service of the Czech produced T-34s, there are a number of more attractive camouflage schemes, rather than just green or winter distemper white. From the box you can build one of the following: Czechoslovak People’s Army, late 1950s Czechoslovak People’s Army on winter manoeuvres, late 1950s Czechoslovak People’s Army, late 1950s National People’s Army (NVA) German Democratic Republic (DDR), late 1950s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Tank Platoon, Lebanon, early 1980s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Tank Platoon, Lebanon, early 1980s The decal sheet isn’t huge because this is a tank, but the sheet is printed by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The markings and decals have been developed with assistance from Samer Kassis Archive, a prolific photographer of Soviet armour. Conclusion The T-34 played a huge part in the Soviet response to Operation Barbarossa, albeit after a substantial delay caused by Stalin’s apparent indecision. It was a stalwart of their defence then offense, sweeping the Germans aside thanks to its sloped armour and weight of numbers. This kit shows the internal workings of the vehicle in extreme detail, and gives a good idea of just how cramped and claustrophobia-inducing it was. If interiors aren’t your thing though, hold on and an exterior kit will no doubt be along shortly. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Sd.Kfz.173 Ausf.G2 Jagdpanther (TS-047) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd After the Nazis encountered the formidable Russian T-34, their medium tank project took a new turn to become the Panther, which proved to be one of their more successful designs and is still admired today for its technical prowess and abilities. The need for tank killer “ambush predators” took the chassis of the Panther, removed the turret and superstructure, replacing it with a casemate and powerful high-velocity gun in a new mount with elevation and limited side to side movement that was used for fine-tuning targeting. The heavily sloped glacis extended to the roofline, giving the vehicle a sleek look that was echoed at the sides, with a step down from the roof at the rear onto the engine deck. The G1 variant used the Panther A as a base, while the later models designated G2 were based up on the Panther G chassis. The same Pak 43 88mm gun was mounted, in an internally fixed mantlet initially, and later externally bolted in the G2. As with all WWII German tanks, the design was complex by comparison with the enemy's, so production was slower, which was probably just as well as it was a capable tank, just like is turreted progenitor. The gun was almost unstoppable by armour at the time, the engine had enough power for the task in hand, and it wasn't overweight, so the transmission could handle the power easily. If there had been more of them, they could well have had an impact, certainly slowing down the Allied advances (providing they could have fuelled them), and making gains more costly in men and materiel. Its “misuse” as infantry support and as a standard tank also helped the Allies with attrition, as tanks were destroyed or abandoned due to relatively minor breakdowns, then scuttled if the crews were able to do so. The Kit Meng have tooled a couple of Panthers in 1:35, and it made sense for them to add a Jagdpanther to their line due to the overlap in parts and research. We reviewed their Ausf.A and the later Ausf.D, with the Jagdpanther G1 here and after a couple of years (has it really been that long?) we now have the Jagdpanther G2. Meng have a well-earned reputation for producing good, well-detailed models, mainly because that's what they keep on doing. I'm a fan of Meng, and I also love the Jagdpanther for no reason that I can divine, so I apologise in advance (again) if I come across a bit giddy at times. The kit arrives in a standard Meng box with attractive artwork and that satin finish I like so much. Inside are ten sprues in sand coloured styrene, a small clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in varying thicknesses, a run of polycaps, two lengths of braided metal wire, a tiny decal sheet, turned aluminium barrel, length of brass chain, instruction booklet with colour painting guide on the rear pages, all printed on glossy paper in a narrow sub-A4 portrait format. In addition to the booklet there are four pages of information about the type on thick stock in several languages, which has a row of three ring-binder holes along the top edge. First impressions are excellent as usual, and there are common sprues between both their Panther G and the Jagdpanther G1, with a few new parts on two additional sprues, plus a redesigned PE brass sheet, and that short length of chain. Detail is excellent throughout, and the inclusion of things such as a turned barrel and realistic braided wire for the towing cables is good news, as it's just one less thing to have to add to your model, and keeps costs down, which will doubtless be appreciated by many. New Parts Construction begins in the same manner as the Panther with the paired road wheels with a polycap between each one, plus the idler and drive sprockets. The lower hull is built from floor and two side panels, with two t-shaped braces holding them to the correct angles, so that when you fit the rear bulkhead it should slide perfectly in place. Various bits of suspension and drive train are added to the sides, as are the stub axles through the holes in the hull sides. These have a small additional peg at the end of the swing arm to allow the modeller to set them at the correct (neutral) ride height, and before installation the small holes in the back of the arms that are there to prevent sink marks are filled with small inserts, even though they probably won't be seen. The upper hull with the engine deck and radiator bath sections are then made up and glued on the lower hull, with the overhang above the tracks closed in by additional panels. The road wheels are interleaved in a similar manner as the Tiger to reduce ground pressure, so must be put in place in the correct order to prevent complications, so take care here to put types A and B in the appropriate places, after which the tracks are needed. The links are individual, with twin guide-horns that are supplied as separate parts that must be added into the small square holes in the links before you can glue them together. The position of the sprue gates on the links are on curved surfaces, which makes removing that last fraction of a millimetre that much harder, requiring a circular diamond file or similar to do a good job. This slows the task down quite a bit initially, although as with all things you'll probably speed up near the end, which is exactly what I did on my short test run, electing to add the horns dry to the links, and glue them in place. The links fit together snuggly, and hide all the seamlines as well as any less-than-perfect sprue gate removal, so it's not the end of the world, but the task will be a fairly long one, and as the guide-horns are small and tapered, they love to ping out of your tweezers at the slightest variance in pressure. Once all the links have their horns in place, a relatively swift gluing of links should leave them flexible enough to drape around the wheels, and taping or chocking them in place will give you the realistic sag behind the drive wheels that you need on the top run. The upper hull that was installed earlier is merely the liner, but the front panel is exterior armoured surface, and this needs a hole drilled in the side of the plate, and a port removed from the glacis with a sharp blade. The side armour panels are in need of holes for the tools, and after they are fixed in place you have a vehicle that looks more like a tank. Small PE parts are added to the exterior along with other fixtures such as the lights, towing shackles and pioneer tools that are a must for any AFV. The rear bulkhead is fitted with armoured access panels and two tubular exhausts, which have welded armoured lowers and are surrounded by the angular stowage boxes that usually fare badly in reversing incidents. The later tubular Notek convoy light is hidden away on the left lower exhaust, with a scrap diagram showing the correct colours and its location on a bracket attached to the left exhaust, which is another new one on me. The engine deck has three louvers, two of which are rectangular and have PE mesh covers, the other a raised circular cast unit that has its own PE insert, while on the sides a run of narrow PE fenders are fitted with styrene brackets, which later also act as hangers for the schurtzen side skirts. The crew heater unit fits over the left circular aperture, and has a fan, PE mesh grille and wedge-shaped PE adjustment covers that fit inside the top lip. A rack of spare track links and tools are added above on the right, with more tools on the left, plus a tube containing barrel cleaning rods on the left side of the hull attacxhed by a bracket. The central lift-off cover to the engine deck was a source for some variance, so flashed over holes are drilled out as needed for this version. The jack block was omitted on this version, but the jack is stowed between the exhausts, then the rear is finished off with the crew hatch, spent shell-ejection port, and aerial base, with an antenna base on the right of the crew door, and one towing cable on each side of the hull, made up from the supplied braided cable and styrene eye parts. The roof of the fighting compartment has a simple flat mushroom vent, as well as crew hatches that can be left open or closed, and clear periscope parts around the surface. The rotating sighting periscope is made up and dropped into the roof, then secured by a ring to allow it to rotate if you wish, and a choice of flat or curved central vents to finish off. The roof is then glued in place. The bow mounted machine gun was surrounded by a domed armour panel called a Kugelblende, which came in two flavours with a stepped aperture and a smooth one. The machine gun barrel is fitted to the ball mount and trapped in place by the installation of this part, or it can be left off and covered by a plug with styrene lanyard that was fitted during deep wading for example. The gun breech is surprisingly detailed considering this is a "no interior" kit, and this is built up over a number of steps before being pushed through the riveted mantlet. The Saukopf (literally "pig head" due to how it looks) that protects the vulnerable gap between mantlet and breech is slid on next, then the completed assembly slides into the glacis and can be glued in place to accept the turned barrel once it has been topped & tailed with the three-piece flash hider, and four part gun sleeve. The barrel is keyed, so there's little change of it going in upside down unless you are very determined and prone to violence. With the barrel glued in and the nickel-plated Schurzen put in place, that's main construction over with. This boxing includes a crane arm that could be fitted above the rear deck to accomplish heavy lifting tasks during maintenance. It is made up of a vertical pole with two bracing struts that attach half way along the roof, then a jib that is supported by a length of cable and a chain that sets the angle of the jib. A pair of lifting pulleys are made up and laced with PE chain according to a scrap diagram, then the completed assembly is fitted to the roof as shown in the final step. Markings There are three markings options in the box, and a tiny decal sheet covers them all, with six crosses being the only content. Each option is heavily camouflaged, as the Germans were at this point in the war running scared of the Allied fighters such as the Typhoon, Tempest and Thunderbolt who could roam at will due to the almost total lack of Luftwaffe by then. Unit Unknown, German Military, Germany, Spring 1945 Unit Unknown, German Military, France, Late 1944 sPzJgAbt 654, Alsace France, late 1944 Decals are printed in China in black and white plus a red Meng logo, and have adequate registration, sharpness and colour density for the task, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion I said the same thing about the G1 kit, and again will put up with the slightly fiddly tracks for the sake of the rest of it. Superb detail and moulding, relatively simple construction (ignoring the track), and it's another Meng Jagdpanther. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. MB Military Vehicle (VS-011) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The Willy’s Jeep is a WWII legend that shows no sign of diminishing, beginning in the 30s with a need for a four-wheeled drive light vehicle to transport small numbers of troops and officers in a rugged chassis that became more urgent when hostilities began. The Bantam was a competitor, and some of the design cues leaked from one competitor to another, but the ultimate winner was from Willys-Overland and was manufactured in huge quantities by various factories in the US and elsewhere. As well as being almost ubiquitous in the European Theatre, they were sent almost everywhere else too, and continued in service to the end of the war and beyond. Many fans of the type still collect and renovate them, with a huge market for second-hand parts, and some serious in-depth knowledge out there that makes us modellers look like amateurs. As well as their Officer transport role, they were used for reconnaissance where speed of exit was sometimes more important than infiltration if the Nazis caught you snooping about. It had leaf-spring suspension with four-wheel drive capable of ploughing over the roughest territory thanks to its 60hp engine and three-speed gearbox with high and low ratio drive modes. Over half a million were made during the war with more made after, and the design evolved into a civilian vehicle, whilst the brand Jeep became a household name that continues today. The Kit This is a rebox of a brand new 2019 tool from Meng that was originally released as a Wasp Flamethrower Jeep under the code (VS-012), which seems to have passed me by at the very least, and has a higher product code, which possibly means a change in release dates? Ok, I’m confused now. Anyway, this kit is a vanilla Jeep with a .50cal Browning M2 on a post in the rear, so it’s just what the doctor ordered. It arrives in a small top-opening box with Meng’s usual high-grade box art, and inside are three sprues of sand-coloured styrene, plus the Jeep bodyshell and the Browning breech separately, plus a small clear sprue, a decal sheet, and of course a glossy-covered instruction booklet with colour front and painting guide inside the rear. Detail is everything you would ask of a Meng kit, with a complex moulding of the majority of the bodyshell, and lots of lovely detail added along the way. This is a full interior kit, so construction begins with the little 4-cylinder L134 "Go Devil" engine with a two-part block, sump, ancillaries and fan at the front, plus transmission at the rear and the front section of the exhaust on the left side of the engine. This is then mated with the ladder chassis, with an engine support fitted underneath. The front and rear axles are then built up with their leaf-springs on each side, plus the drive-shafts leading into the differential housings that are offset from the centre. The front axle has the steering equipment added, then the exhaust/muffler are strapped to the chassis moulded into a protective shield for the transmission box. Before the bodyshell is fitted out, the steering column is slid into place through the engine bay, and a number of small holes are drilled from underneath the transmission tunnel and the left front mudguard for later use. With the shell flipped back over, the firewall with ancillary equipment is put in, and the tailgate section is glued into place, with the various lights picked out in red or amber paint as you go. There are also some holes that need filling in the outer skin of the tailgate, so have a little filler at the ready, preferably before you get too far down the line with integrating it into the shell. Inside the centre section of the crew area the 15-gallon fuel tank is positioned along with a fire extinguisher, gear stick and 4WD levers. In the front of the engine compartment the radiator assembly with the hidden headlamp housings within are assembled and slid into place, then the body is dropped onto the chassis in much the same way as the real thing. The wheel wells are empty, but that’s about to change by the making up of the four wheels from two halves each with moulded hubs in each one, and a simple chunky tread that lends itself well to injection moulding imprinted on the rolling surface. Each one attaches to the axle and should be glued in place for security, and if you feel the urge, you can add a small flat-spot to all four to imply weight. The battery and radiator header are installed within the engine bay, then the bumper-bar and coaming with instrument panel (with decals) are glued in between the two bays, with the air box and bonnet/hood added in the down position, or flipped open by the use of a hinge bracket that fits to the bulkhead. The windshield consists of frame and clear glazing panel with a groove in the centre to accommodate the frame, and a rifle stowed across the lower panel in a rain cover for easy access, and the two window-control grooves are fixed to recesses in the side frames. A little first aid kit is added to the transmission hump along with a decal, then it’s time to make up the seats. The seats in a Jeep are framework with pads on the back and seat, and here the back pad is moulded into the frame along with some pretty realistic-looking creasing that also extend to the separate cushions. A pack is fitted to the underside of the passenger seat, but bear in mind that on the back of the uprights of both these seats are ejector pins between two lateral supports, so deal with those before you do anything else. In the rear is a two-part bench seat, and around the passenger compartment the framework for the tilt is stowed away in three sections. The various accessories are yet to do, so the front light and its protective hoop are added to the left front wing with a couple of pioneer tools on the body behind it, the wing mirror on a long stalk attaches to nub on the left side of the shell, then the “accessory” steering wheel (ok, it’s fairly important) is glued to the top of its column, two corner grab-handles are attached at the rear, another larger fire extinguisher is put on the holes you drilled through the right fender, two ammo boxes are made for the rear and the back of the vehicle is dressed with a spare jerry can and a spare wheel on a bracket. The big machine gun is optional, but why not include it? The column has three additional props to support it, and with the height of the mount added, it’s high enough to fire over the heads of the crew although it might make them a teensy-bit deaf. The breech is a single slide-moulded part that is separate in one of the bags, and it takes one of the hollow-muzzled barrels from the sprue, a breech-top, cocking handle and the twin grips at the rear, which is fed by the ammo box with moulded-in link on a bracket to the side. Alternately, you can mount a .30 cal with a slight change in the mount and a smaller ammo can. The gun is glued into the floor of the jeep and a wire-cutter is attached to the front bumper-bar, finishing off the model. Markings There are three decal options included on the sheet and they’re all olive green – aren’t they all? Almost at least. From the box you can build one of the following: Company A, 70th Amour Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, US Army, Normandy, France, 1944 36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Regiment, 9th Army, US Army, Northern France, 1944 21st Army Group, British Army, Normandy, France, 1944 <ul style="list-style-type:upper-alpha"> The decals are printed in China, with good register and colour density, but the small stencils are just blocks of colour rather than text, which might upset the purists a little, but at less than a few millimetres across, they won’t really be seen. Conclusion Everyone loves a jeep, and this one has a lot of detail packed into its tiny frame. They’re great in the background as well as the foreground of any diorama, or just as a new addition to your shelves. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Soviet Infantry Tank Riders Set 2 (35310) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Getting a lift on a tank was a treat for the foot-soldier that occasionally turned sour if their lift came under fire from an enemy tank. Sometimes they’d ride into battle on the back of a tank, using the turret as cover until it came time to dismount. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting on the front and instructions on the rear, and inside are seven sprues of grey styrene with parts for four figures on the two large sprues and accessories on the others. Three of the figures are kneeling on the tank's deck, while the fourth is sitting with his legs over the side clutching his PPS sub-machine gun. One of the other figures is carrying a PPS, the third is aiming down the barrel of a PPSh-41, and the remaining figure has a Mosin-Nagant Type 38 carbine resting across his lap as he hangs onto a grab-handle to steady himself. Moulding is excellent as usual with MiniArt, with sensible parts breakdown of separate heads, torso, arms and legs, plus individual helmets, weapons and various ammo pouches and bags, water bottles, grenades and entrenching tools. There are 2 each of the PPS and PPSh-41s, plus three of the carbines, with a choice of sniper scope, bayonets and even a clip of ammunition. The PPS has spare mags, and the PPSh has a choice of curved stick mags and drum mags, with all of them having mag-pouches moulded on the same sprues. The instructions on the rear show the figures complete, and have parts pointed out with sprues letters and part numbers, while the paint codes are in pale blue boxes that correspond with a table underneath in swatches, Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO codes and the colour names. Conclusion Four realistic figures with natural poses and plenty of additional accessories that will give any Soviet tank a human scale, and with sensitive painting will bring your model up a new level of realism. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Focke Wulf Triebflügel Jet Fighter (40009) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Toward the end of WWII the Nazis were desperately casting around for wunderwaffe, or Wonder Weapons that would turn the ever-increasing tide against their attempt to take over Europe and probably the world. This resulted in some possibly more left-field designs being considered, when under normal circumstances they would more likely have been dismissed out of hand. One such project that has since gained traction in the minds of the Luft'46 community and beyond is the concept of the Triebflügel from Focke-Wulf, which was little more than a rocket-shaped body with a rotating set of arms with ramjet engines at their tips providing the motive power. This arrangement was to enable it to take off vertically, which was of greater interest as the front lines got closer and air bases became bombed-out rubble, as was the use of the simple ramjet that was propelled up to speed by single-use rockets, all of which used little in the way of strategic materials or complex technology. It went nowhere in terms of production of course, and had some critical issues that would have needed to be addressed if it had gone further, such as the counter-rotation required to offset the torque of the motors was supposed to be supplied by the cruciform tail pressing against the air, it would have to land vertically with the pilot facing forward and the rear view obscured by the still rotating aerofoils and engines to name but two. As usual with WWII German designs, they would have wanted to make it a jack of all trades, so a Nachtjäger variant and fighter variant were bound to have happened if it had gone into production. Post war the Convair Pogo was to attempt a broadly similar flight profile with similar issues raising their heads and helping ensure its eventual demise. If you've been following the Marvel Avengers film franchise (MCU), you'll have seen Red Skull absconding in a very Triebflügel-esque aircraft at one point, which although undoubtedly CGI could actually be attempted now with our computers and other technologies. We just need to find someone with too much money and who is just daft enough now… The Kit Until fairly recently there hasn't been a modern injection moulded kit in larger scales, and now we have two in different scales, and in 1:35 we now have several variants, which is great news. This new boxing includes a frangible clear nose cone with a stack of 24 unguided rockets under the dome that can be fired into bomber streams in much the same as was proposed for the diminutive Natter, plus more what-if decal options, including one that has some British roundels with a yellow underside, and others in US and Soviet service. The spoils of war! The kit arrives in a shrink-wrapped standard sized top opening box and inside are thirteen sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) in a small card envelope, a good sized decal sheet and the instruction booklet with a colour cover that includes all the painting and decaling profiles on three of the four sides. I have one of the smaller models as well as the MiniArt Nachtjäger kit (reviewed here, Boarding ladder equipped variant here and interceptor reviewed here), and this is a simple update to the Interceptor with new parts added to include the rocket-equipped nose cone and utilising the clear tip that has been on the sprues from day one – I feel vindicated! Detail is excellent, with lots of rivets and panel lines visible on the exterior, a nicely appointed cockpit and the cannon armament included in bays either side of the cockpit. There is also extra detail in the wingtip motors and the landing gear is substantial, partially from the increase in size, but also because of the design of the main leg. Construction is almost identical to the other boxings and begins with the cockpit with a floor part forming the basis and having rudder pedals, control column and bulkhead added, then the seat, pilot armour and a full set of PE seatbelts. The side consoles are attached to the upper section of the cockpit that is added from above and also forms part of the gun bays. To the consoles are added a number of PE levers to busy the area up, after which the instrument panel is fitted across them with decals provided for the instrument dials. The guns aren’t used for this variant due to the space taken up (in reality) by the rocket pack, so as well as the plates to cover the upper bay openings, there are new parts to fair over the lower bays too, giving the aircraft a sleek form. The cockpit can then be surrounded by the nose, which is in two halves and has a short tubular section that helps support the spinning wing section. A rear deck is dropped in behind the pilot's station and the rocket nose and clear cone are added to the front, with careful alignment key to obtain the best join. The canopy is a three-part unit with fixed windscreen and rear plus opening central section that hinges sideways if you're going to open it. The wings spin perpendicular to the direction of flight on a short section of the fuselage, which is built up with three sockets for the wings on a toroidal base, over which the rest of that section is installed and left to one side until later when the assemblies are brought together. The simple engines are built up on a pair of stator vanes and have multiple fuel injectors moulded into their rear with a rounded cap in the centre. These are installed inside the cowlings that are moulded into each wing half so it would be wise to paint this and the interior of the engine pods a suitably sooty colour before you join each wing. There are three and all are identical. The final main assembly is the aft of the aircraft, and the four retractable castor wheels are first to be built. Each single-part wheel sits in a single piece yoke, which in turn slides inside a two-part aerodynamic fairing. One half of this is moulded to a strut, which slides into the trough within the fins in one of two places to depict the wheels retracted or deployed. If showing them retracted you ignore the wheel and yoke and install the clamshell doors, turning the assembly into a teardrop shape, but if using the wheels, you glue the fairings folded back exposing the wheel. The main wheel is in two halves, as is the yoke, and should be capable of taking the weight of the model when finished unless you intend to load it up with motors or other silliness (go on, you know someone will!). The aft fuselage parts are brought together with two of the castor assemblies trapped between the moulded-in fins, and the other two trapped within the separate fins that fit perpendicular to the seamline. The main wheel then slides into its bay if you are going wheels down and has the clamshell doors fitted open, or you use just the doors for an in-flight pose. It's good to see that some detail has been moulded into the interior of the doors, as they are quite visible on a landed display. The three sections are brought together at the end by placing the wing-bearing part onto the upstand on the aft fuselage then adding the nose, with its upstand sliding inside the lower one. This traps the rotating portion in place, and hopefully allows the aforementioned rotation to continue after the glue has dried. All that remains is to plug the three wings into their sockets, add the PE D/F loop and add the aerial on the spine. Markings There are six decal options provided on the sheet, and they vary from each other and from previous releases quite substantially with some plausible and just plain fun options given for your entertainment. From the box you can build one of the following: Jagdgeschwader 52. Defence of Berlin, 1946 Captured Triebflügel in service of USSR Air Force, Nov 1946 Air Group “Regenschirm” Air Defence of the Reich, 1947 Captured Triebflügel in service of US Air Force, 1947 Reich Air Defence, 1946-7 Captured Triebflügel in service of RAF, 1947 Decals are printed by DecoGraph and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The instrument decals have just the dials to place within the painted panel, outlined on the sheet for your ease, and there are split Swastikas there if you want to use them and your locality doesn't have laws about such things. Conclusion This is a really nice rendition of this weird aircraft design with some interesting decal options and a reasonable method for entry and exit. We already have winners in the Interceptor, the boarding ladder equipped variant and Nachtjager with this one joining the team as number 4. The rocket pack in the nose is a fun addition unless you’re on the receiving end. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Wooden Pallets (35627) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd You may have seen our review of the recent Hand Pallet Truck Set, well now we bring you the subset of that set, which like Sand People are back but in larger numbers, as Obi Wan predicted. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting on the front and brief instructions on the rear, and contains twelve sprues of pallets, with one pallet per sprue, plus a small decal sheet for the stamps found on the sides of the pallets. The construction is simple, but clever. The top surface is moulded as a single part, while the lower section is moulded as three parts joined together with three spacer bars that are cut off after the two sections are joined together. Each rod narrows at the end so that clean-up will be minimal, although you have to be careful with them as the joins are necessarily quite weak. Holding one plank while gluing them one at a time over the little guide markings on the upper part seems to work, leaving clean-up of the sprue gates and spacers until after the glue has set. The wood grain moulded into the parts is typical of the rough but tough wood used to make pallets, and the small decals for the ends can represent the heat branding easily thanks to their small size. For the pallet nerds amongst us here, the pallets scale out to 800mm x 1200mm, which is the equivalent to EUR1 in the Euro Pallet table, and ISO1 in the ISO pallet table. Isn’t that nice? The decals are correct for the type, and they are shown in the correct places too, which shows some serious attention to detail that must have been acquired with the aid of copious cups of coffee to avoid nodding off! Whether the nail holes are moulded in the correct manner, and if there are 75 of them is for you to research, as I’ve had enough and need a snooze. Conclusion A dozen pallets for your post WWII diorama. Not very exciting, but necessary if you’re depicting any kind of storage, shipping or factory type sceen. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. French Petrol Station 1930-40 (35616) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd With the proliferation of the internal combustion engine in the early 20th century, petroleum/petrol or gasoline/gas stations began popping up over most of the developed world to meet the demand of the newly mobile populous. France was one such nation, and the now familiar sight of a building with branded petrol pumps and equipment on the forecourt have become the standard indicator of a gas station. The Kit This set contains the likely accessories and equipment found on the forecourt of many European gas station in the 30-40s, and leaves you to source or create the buildings yourself. It is a reboxing of their recent German Gas Station kit, just adding different barrels and a new set of decals. The kit arrives in a shrink-wrapped small top-opening box (a little larger than a figure box), and inside are ten sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a small fret of Photo-Etch brass, and a decal sheet. The package is completed with an instruction booklet, and all the sprues are closely packed in a heat-sealed bag, but the majority of the elastic bands had snapped in transit again, so perhaps MiniArt still need to source some more durable bands? Four sprues hold parts for two fuel barrels, with a hand-pump included and some small cans of varying shapes and sizes that you may have seen in other sets so far, plus a five-shelf storage unit to stash tools and the cans on. The major parts are used to create two pumps that stand on pillars, with the mechanicals hidden away in a cylindrical housing that can be posed open for business or closed, thanks to the two clamshell doors and PE clapping-plate that fits to the inside lip of one of them. Two clear halves of the brand sign are added either side of a circular frame and fitted to the top, and as these were often a semi-translucent white with a logo painted or etched on the front and back, there is an opportunity to put in lighting if you're adept with those types of thing. You'll need to provide a little wire to represent the hose from the body to the nozzle, so make sure you have some to hand. The remaining parts are used to create a stand-alone petrol or diesel compressor with a large receiver tanks underneath that has wheels at one end to allow repositioning wheel-barrow style. A set of handles and a spray gun are included, the latter needing more wire to act as the air hose of whatever length you choose. Markings The decals are printed by DecoGraph on a small sheet with good registration, colour density and sharpness, plus a part of the colour instruction sheet is devoted to printed replicas of typical signage, posters and so forth that would be found on the walls of stations at the time. No, the posters don't really look like that - I blurred them a little to make them unusable. Fair's fair. Conclusion Building a fuel station is a fair task, but not as difficult as making the hardware to go with it. This set takes all the hard parts out of the finishing touches, then it's up to you to hunt down a suitable building or build your own using your diorama skills if you have them. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Propane/Butane Cylinders (35619) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Hand-portable bottles of gas have many uses from patio heaters (think of the environment!) BBQs, heaters and even modern fork-lift trucks. They come in various sizes and a confusing array of connections, usually with a protective collar around the top and another at the bottom to stand them upright with ease. You’ll find them all over the place from garages, to caravans, at the back of houses and even lurking around after being tipped by people who can’t be bothered to dispose of them correctly. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting on the front and instructions on the rear. Inside are five sprues of grey styrene in a heat-sealed bag, plus a small decal sheet. The instructions are very simple, with each bottle made from two halves, a single bottom-ring, and a one- or two-part top collar. The regulator is moulded into one side of the cylinder, and each collar has a corresponding pit on the top of the cylinder for correct registration. You can paint them in any colour you like, with some options shown on the instructions, plus placement of the decals that are included in the box. The sheet includes a number of standard Flammable Gas warning diamonds in red, the words propane and butane in white and red, plus patio gas for your BBQ and patio-heater (damn you!) needs, which are repeated in white only in Cyrillic text for MiniArt’s local market and those modelling Eastern European subject matter. The painting guide consists of arrows and numbers that correspond to a table at the bottom that show colour swatches, Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and colour names for our ease. Conclusion The background of any modern diorama is a great place for one of these cylinders, tossed in the bushes, or leaning against a back wall somewhere. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Hand Pallet Truck Set (35606) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Pallets are a great way to store and move goods in modular chunks, and the pallets are cheap, made from ugly but strong wood stapled together so they're almost disposable and frequently find their way onto bonfires. To move them around they have slots for forklift trucks to slide into, but for small lifting jobs there is the pallet truck, which is a hand operated device with a pull-lever that you also use to pump up or release the hydraulics that lift the forks and allows you to move the heavy pallet with relative ease. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, with a painting of the subject on the front and instructions on the rear with painting guide. Inside are seven sprue of grey styrene and a small decal sheet, the locations for which are given on the back of the box in the painting guide panel. Construction is simple, attaching the two sides of the four pallets together, then snipping off the spacers for the lower part once the glue is dry, as these hold the parts in the correct orientation during assembly. The pallet truck is more complex, having a set of wheels at the tips and two pads at the rear. The attachment at the rear of the forks is made up to form a triangular assembly where the hydraulics are housed, then the wheels are added at the bottom of the steering axle, with the handle fitted above, which has a moulded-in lever to set the forks up or down when the handle is pumped. As a taster, a sprue of large plastic drums are included to begin loading up your four pallets. These are moulded in halves with separate lids and clip-down handles on the larger of the two. The are the same as those found in the Plastic Barrels & Cans set we reviewed here, so you know where to go if you need more. Markings The decals consist of stencils for the pallet-ends, the pallet truck itself with some warnings and guides, plus a few markings for the barrels with a choice of four on the sheet. Obviously, you can paint the parts any colour you like within reason, but the instructions show a yellow or red truck, while most pallets are left in bare wood, occasionally daubed with a blob of paint for identification. Your references will serve you well in your final choice of colours. The decals are probably printed by DecoGraph, although there isn’t any room on the sheet for their logo. They have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The painting guide provides swatches, Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and colour names to make finding a match easy. Conclusion Good for your more recent diorama, adding extra realism where needed, even as a background item. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Auto Travellers 1930-40s (38017) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Folks just love to drive ever since the first car hit the roads, but when the motor car became more affordable to the mildly affluent, its use began that steady spiral to mass adoption that is causing us some issues today. MiniArt have released some new vehicle kits lately, amongst them the Mercedes L170 cabrio that we reviewed here recently. If you check out the cover of that box, you might spot a few familiar-looking folks. This set is here to fill up your civilian vehicles with passengers, and arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the four figures on the front, and instructions on the rear along with colour guide table at the bottom. There are five sub-sprues, four of which are still attached to their feeder sprue, and it is this group that contains all the figures. There is a gentleman leaning absent-mindedly against the sill of the car door, a lady in the driver’s seat about to drive off without him (maybe they had a row?), plus another couple who seem to be still talking whilst loading the car with a hat box and possibly her overcoat. In addition, there are three pieces of luggage on the separate sprue, a briefcase, trunk and the aforementioned hat box. All the figures are broken down sensibly into heads, torso, arms and legs, with the skirted ladies benefiting from clever moulding to give them realistic-looking draping skirts, without the horrible “legs stop at this bulkhead” effect seen in older figures. It's MiniArt, which means that the sculpting is excellent, the drape of clothing realistic, and parts breakdown and seams sensibly placed to minimise clean-up. The luggage pieces are similarly well-designed and fit together with ease so that seams are hidden well, and they also have separate handles for added detail. Conclusion Another great set of figures from the masters. You can probably stretch the set to three vehicles if you feel like it, or put them all in the one car for fuel efficiency - who doesn't appreciate company when driving? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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