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  1. StuG III Ausf.G Interior Kit (35335) Feb. 1943 Alkett Prod. 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why. The SturmGeschutz III was engineered based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removing the turret and front deck of the latter, replacing it with an armoured casemate that mounted a fixed gun with limited traverse. It was originally intended to be used as infantry support, using its (then) superior armour to advance on the enemy as a mobile blockhouse, but it soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer, hiding in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly into its path. With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets, the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by higher velocity unit that were also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the end of WWII. The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and while equipped with guns were unsuitable for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield, being withdrawn in '41-42. By this time the StuG III had progressed to the Ausf.G, which was based on the later Panzer III Ausf.M, with a widened upper hull and improvements in the armour to improve survivability for the crew. Many of the complicated aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified into the bargain, which led to a number of specific differences in some of the external fitments around the gun, such as the Saukopf mantlet protector. The Ausf.G was the last and most numerous version, and was used until the end of the war with additional armour plates often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from the Allied tanks and artillery. The Kit Some of you may remember our review of the pre-series StuG.III from MiniArt a few years back, and you might expect there to be some cross-over of parts. There doesn’t appear to be any however. Some individual part meshes may have been re-used, but the sprue layouts are all different, and as you can imagine the addition of the interior further separates the two kits, as does the inclusion of the crew figures in this boxing. This is to all intents and purposes a new tooling, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the MiniArt style, with attractive artwork and profiles on the side. Inside the box are sixty-eight sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, a good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) fret of brass parts, decal sheet and glossy-covered instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear covers. Detail is excellent throughout, which is just what we’ve come to expect from modern toolings by MiniArt, with so much detail crammed into every part of the model, which includes the aforementioned interior and individual track links that are clearly a new moulding, as they are different from the earlier kit. Construction begins with the interior, which is built up on the floor panel, which receives the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine, and a covering part that makes moving around a less dangerous prospect for the crew, while it also holds the support structure for the gun, which is made up from some substantial I-beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15o travel for fine-tuning the aim. The rear bulkhead panels are set against the engine mounts to give them the correct angle, then the firewall bulkhead is made up with small drawers and various other details added before it is fitted into the floor. The driver’s seat is built from parts on a shaped base, and his controls are placed within easy reach of his feet and hands, with the option of adding a linkage for the hand controls from your own wire or rod stocks. Attention shifts to the transmission that distributes the power to the drive-wheels, diverting the engine’s output 90o into the drive sprockets at the front of the vehicle. It is made up from a number of finely detailed parts, with gear housings and their retaining bolts on each side, working out to the brakes and clutches, then rearwards to the drive-shaft that leads back into the engine compartment. It is set into the front of the vehicle, crowding the gunner, but leaving space on the floor for a number of shell storage boxes that have holes for the individual shells to be inserted after painting and application of their stencil decals, as per the accompanying diagrams. The engine is then built up from more parts, resulting in a highly detailed replica of the Maybach power pack, including all the ancillaries and pulleys that you could wish for. There are a number of parts inserted into the engine bay in preparation for the installation of the block to make it sit comfortably on the mounts, with a large airbox to one side with a battery pack on top. The sides of the hull need to be made up in order to finish the engine bay, and these two inserts are outfitted with strapped-on boxes, gas-mask canisters, pipework and the outer parts of the brake housings, complete with the spring-loaded shoes straight out of a 70s Austin Maxi. Unsurprisingly, another big box of shells is made up and placed on the wall, and in the engine compartment a large fuel tank is attached to the wall, with a fire extinguisher placed next to it. These two highly detailed assemblies are offered up to the hull along with the front bulkhead, which has been detailed beforehand with various parts, and the glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches are given a similar treatment, including an instrument panel for the driver’s use. A few other parts are inserted into the front of the hull to integrate the sides with the hull, and the glacis gets some heavily bolted appliqué armour panels fixed to the exterior, before it is put to the side for a moment. Tank engines are under immense strain pulling the huge weight of the armour, so they need an effective cooling system to cope with this. Two radiator baths with mesh detail engraved are built up and attached to a hosing network, with a fan housing on the top and more hosing across the top, plus take-off pulleys and belts providing motive power for the twin fans inserted into the top of the assembly, with even more hoses and other details added before the completed system is inserted into the rapidly dwindling space within the engine compartment. On the top of the engine a pair of small canisters are attached to depressions on each side of the apex, and my best guess is that they are air cleaners, as they resemble smaller versions of the Fiefel units seen on the back of the Tiger. Moving forward, the transmission inspection hatches are fitted with a choice of open or closed, as is right for such a highly detailed model. The rear bulkhead is detailed with towing eyes and simple exhaust boxes with short pipes fixed to the outer sides. What looks like a many-legged park bench is made up and has a PE mesh part applied along with a port for manual starting of the engine, and this is installed mesh-side-down on the top side of the bulkhead, with a pair of thick hoses slotted into place once the glue is dry. Additional thin guides are later placed under the “bench”, and pins with PE retaining chains are added to the hitches before the lower hull is put to one side for a while. The gun is represented in full, with a complex breech, safety cage and brass-catching basket present, and a large pivot fitted onto the two pins on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse and sighting gear is installed on the breech, with a small seat for the gunner on the left side to keep him stable while aiming at his next target. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are encrusted with yet more detail, including a pair of MP40 machine guns with ammo pouches, equipment and stencil decals on the rear panel with a big extraction fan in the centre of the wall. The detailed radio gear is bracketed to a shelf that is installed on one sidewall, with more boxes and stencils adding to the busyness of the area, plus the option of adding wiring from your own stocks to improve the detail even more. The other side is also decked out with boxes that require more wiring, all of which is documented in scrap diagrams where necessary to offer assistance in increasing the authenticity of your model, which is all joined into the shape of the casemate with the addition of the front wall, which has a large cut-out to receive the gun in due course. The front of the casemate is built out forward with a sloped front and some appliqué armour, then the commander’s cupola is prepared with seven clear vision blocks, lenses and PE parts, set to the side for later, while the casemate is dropped over the front of the lower hull and joined by the breech assembly, which is covered by an armoured panel after armoured protectors to the mounting bolts have been glued over them. A bridge over the top of the insert encloses the breech, then it’s time to prepare the roof with some details before covering up the interior, then making a choice of how to finish the commander’s cupola in either open or closed pose, but you just know you’re going to leave it open to show off all your hard work. It has a number of PE latches and a set of V-shaped binocular sighting glasses in the separate front section of the cupola that can be open or closed independently to the main hatch. The gunner’s hatch is a simpler affair consisting of a clamshell pair of doors, with the machine gun shield just in front of it and a well-detailed MG34 machine gun with drum mag slotted into the centre. This hatch can also be closed, but why would you? The engine is still hanging out at the back, which is corrected next, building up the engine deck with short sides and armoured intake louvers on the sides, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay, allowing the viewer to see plenty of engine detail through the four access hatches at this point. Two types of rear appliqué parts can be added to the slope at the rear of the deck, then an armoured cover to the extraction fan is added to the back of the casemate, with short lengths of track to each side as extra armour and spares in the event of damage. The tracks are held in place by a long bar that stretches across most of the rear of the casemate. Under these are sited the barrel cleaning rods, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents, and all of these can be posed open or closed. A pair of jerry cans and the jack block are also made at this time for later addition to the engine deck. A pair of road wheels are used on some of the decal options, and these have long pins through their holes that attach them to the rear pair of hatches on the engine deck. One decal option also has a field modification of PE railings around the rear of the deck with an additional bracket to store two jerry cans, and on the back of the beast another two spare road wheel sets can be pinned in place in the same manner as the other two. As yet the StuG has no wheels, so the addition of the swing-arms with stub axles is needed, adding the highly detailed final drive housings under the front, plus additional suspension parts that improves damping further. The idler adjuster is covered with armoured parts, and a group of the pioneer tools are dotted around the sides of the engine deck, after which the paired wheels are fixed to the axles, with drive-sprockets at the front and spindly idler wheels at the rear, plus a trio of return rollers on short axles near the top of the sides. The tracks are individual links that are held together by pins, and a jig is supplied to assist you with this, although I had to remove mine from the sprue to be able to build up a short length for this review. There are 94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, plus a little flash on the highly detailed sides, which will need scraping away with a sharp blade. I created a short length in fairly short order on the jig, coupling them together with the pins that are moulded in pairs at the exact same spacing as the links when together. You push them into the links whilst still on the sprue, taking care to push them straight in to avoid breakage, then cut them off cleanly with a pair of single-blade nippers. The result is a very well detailed track with flexibility to adjust them around the running gear of your StuG, and as they are a tight fit, they shouldn’t need glue, but I’d probably set them in position with liquid glue once I had them how I wanted them on the vehicle. Once they’re in place, the fenders are attached to the hull sides, with the mudguards and PE fittings added once the glue has dried. More pioneer tools and stowage are added to these, as space was a premium on these vehicles, and every flat surface ended up with equipment on it. This includes a convoy light and either a highly detailed PE fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer. Shovels, pry bars, jack blocks and the jack are also found on the fenders, as are the two towing cables, which have styrene eyes and you’ll need to supply the cable material yourself, with a pair of PE tie-downs holding them in place on each side. The barrel of the gun has a large bulky Saukopf mantlet cover, which is made up from three parts with a barrel sleeve moulded into the front, which the single-part barrel slots into, tipped with a detailed three-part muzzle brake to give it the correct hollow look. It slides over the recoil tubes of the gun, closing up the rest of the interior, and the last parts of the kit are two whip antennae on the rear of the casemate. Figures In this boxing we are treated to a set of crew figures for the vehicle, which consists of five figures on a single sprue, starting with three figures standing in their hatches, one hard at work driving, and another apparently sitting on the glacis plate leaning with one arm resting on the gun perhaps. Each figure has a choice of heads and four have either peaked caps or stahlhelms that perhaps might not often be worn in the confines of a tank. Sculpting, pose and material drape is up to MiniArt’s class-leading standard, and adding these chaps into their place of work gives the model a sense of human scale, emphasising the claustrophobic nature of being a tanker. Part breakdown is standard with heads, hats, torsos and separate limbs, plus a couple of lugers in holsters and another MP40 that could be laid on the deck near one of the figures. A colour chart gives paint numbers for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya brands plus colour names for your delight and edification. Markings There are five decal options in this boxing, and from the sheet you can build one of the following: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Luftwaffe-Feld-Division “Adler Division”, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Luftwaffe-Feld-Division “Adler Division”, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung “Grossdeutschland”, Okhtyrka, Ukraine, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 210, Eastern Front, 1943 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. Conclusion A stunning model of an impressive tank destroyer that saw action the Eastern and Western fronts in relatively large numbers. There’s enough detail for the most ardent adherent to, well… detail. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Tempo E400 Hochlader Pritche 3-Wheel Truck (38025) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The A400 Lieferwagen was another of Hitler’s standard vehicles that is perhaps lesser known than the Beetle. It was originally designed as the E400 and produced by company Tempowerk Vidal & Sohn from 1938, and was joined by an identical Standard E-1 that was manufactured in another factory. It was one of the few factories that were permitted to carry on making civilian vehicles, although this permit was eventually withdrawn as the state of the war deteriorated for Germany. After WWII ended, the company began making the type under the original E400 name, and it had a different BMWesque twin panelled front grille. It continued in production until 1948 when it must have dawned on someone that one wheel at the front was a really bad idea, even if it was cheaper. A concept that lingered on in the UK much longer so old geezers with motorcycle licenses could scare other road users effectively, and by carrying a football in the boot, they could emulate a giant whistle. It’s an old joke, but it checks out. Unsurprisingly to anyone that watched that episode of Top Gear, the wagon was a little unstable in the corners due to its single front wheel, and the weight of its front-mounted engine probably made matters worse, with a chain drive from the motor to the wheel. The two-stroke 400cc engine in the A and E output 12 hp that gave it sluggish performance at best, which was probably just as well due to that front wheel instability. The driver was situated behind the front wheel and short cowling that hid the engine away, with a pair of side doors for entry and exit, and a single-panel windscreen that overlooked the bonnet/hood. The open load area was to the rear of the vehicle, with drop-down sides and rear tailgate for easy access to the contents. The Kit This is a brand-new tool kit from MiniArt, and was released at the same time as the more militaristic A400, to give the modeller some choice. This unusual little vehicle arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are six sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet on glossy paper with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. It’s a full-body model even though that body is small, so you’ll get to build all the internal parts and during the process possibly learn a little about how it works – I did. Detail is as good as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a lot of it and what there is well-finessed. Well considered use of slide-moulding also improves the detail without increasing the part count, and makes parts like the forward cowling a feast for the eyes. Construction begins with the small cab floor, which has a planked texture engraved on its surface, and is fitted out with foot pedals, a hand-brake lever and narrow cylindrical chassis rail, plus a battery attached to the floor on the left. The front bulkhead has a clear rounded windscreen popped in, a short steering column and a droopy lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen frame, this time leaving the two bunny-ear indicators intact because they are suitable for this version. The windscreen assembly is attached to the front of the floor with a pot for the washers and the conversion stub of the steering column, with a pair of PE wiper blades added in a boxed diagram later. The padded bench seat for the crew is slotted into the floor, and the back is attached to the rear bulkhead that has two side parts and a small clear window for later joining to the floor, and you’ll need to find some 0.3mm wire 24.6mm long to represent the linkage to the floor-mounted brake lever and the back of the cockpit. The steering wheel and rear bulkhead are glued in, then the two crew doors a made up, having clear side windows plus winders and handles that are quite delicate for realism, then they are installed on the cab, remembering that they hinge rearward in the manner sometimes referred to as suicide doors. The rear chassis is built around a cylindrical centreline part with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and having hubs with brake discs added at each end. A sturdy V-shaped brace is added between the ends of the axle and the other end of the cylindrical chassis rail, with a large joint between them. The rear wheels are made from a main part that includes the tyres and back of the hub, with a choice of two inserts slipped inside to represent two different hub cap styles, that are then fitted onto the axles on short pegs, with a brake-line made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire and are closed up then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis. The load bed is a single part with more planking engraved into both surfaces, adding side rails, lights and a PE numberplate frame fixed on brackets before the upstands are made. The flatbed sides are able to be posed upright, or folded down in the open position, typically for oversized loads or during unloading. Small clasps are included for the corners, and the peg should be cut off for the closed option. The little engine is one of the last assemblies, and is superbly detailed with a lot of parts representing the diminutive 400cc two-stroke motor and its ancillaries, including radiator, fuel tank, exhaust with silencer and chain-drive cover that leads to the front axle. The completed assembly comprises the motor, axle and the fork that attaches to the front of the cab and is wired in using three more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”. An easy way to earn that badge! After the rear axle and chassis tube have been fitted under the load bed and mated with the cab, the slide-moulded cowling for the engine is fitted-out with two fine PE radiator meshes, an internal deflector panel, PE numberplate for some decal options, a pair of PE clasps on the lower rear edge of the bonnet, and a tiny hook on the top in between two rows of louvers. The cowling can be fixed in the closed position or depicted open, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof’s drip-rail, holding it up past vertical against the windscreen. A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a pair of wing mirrors on an angled arm are glued to holes in the front of the bulkhead on each side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance of that the etched rivets are what holds it in place. MiniArt have considerately included a whole sprue of parts for you to add to the load bed of your newly-minted E400 wagen, including ladders, fencing, posts, parts of a bench and table, so use those at your whim, or load it up with a loose cargo, such as a big pile of sand as seen in the profiles below. Markings There are four decal options from the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the job it is tasked with, one having been overpainted due to a change of ownership of the vehicle perhaps? From the box you can build one of the following: Hansestadt Hamburg, 1940s Berlin 1940s Nürnberg, 1940s British Occupation Zone, Hamburg, late 1940s Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s weird, so of course like it, but MiniArt have also done a great job with making an easy to build, well-detailed kit of this quirky little German grandfather to the Robin Reliant. I guarantee there will be more of these coming soon. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Pigeons (38036) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. No, that’s not a typo. Pigeons. An absolute necessity for any diorama, or indeed any model. There simply must be a pigeon in, on or near every model you ever build - it's a well-known fact. Now MiniArt have solved your problem with sourcing sufficient pigeons to make your dream of permanent pigeon patronage (PPP) come true. Some call them rats of the sky, or vermin, but love them or loathe them, they get around and are seen everywhere in any town or city, especially where people feed them. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, and inside are six sprues, linked in pairs. There are two different sprues, so three of each in grey coloured styrene. There are no decals (no surprise there), with instructions and painting guide found on the rear of the box, showing that there is a huge variety of colours and patterns seen on your average pigeon. Their poop isn’t documented though, so you’ll have to look up the FS shades for the white splatter with black blobs they seem to leave wherever they go. Each bird has a separate set of legs for detail, and they are striking a few different poses to add further variety to your models, aside from the paint jobs. There’s a little flash here and there, but that’s easy to remove, even on small parts like these, and don’t forget a small paint brush to detail all those feathers and stripes that are a theme on their flight feathers. Conclusion Awesome! Well, for pigeons they are. Nice little models that are much simpler than making your own. A scrape of the seams, a little glue and you can be “doing the pigeon” with Bert and Ernie with 36 tiny-weeny models of these feathery, beady-eyed, food scavenging nuisances! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. 1.5T 4x4 G7117 Cargo Truck w/Winch (35389) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-synchro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The Kit This is a reboxing and minor re-tool of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt that is coming to your favourite model shop right now. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the cab and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-six modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a tiny bag with some metal chain within, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the new ladder chassis, which has the new shaped ends to accommodate the winch, and leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank with PE straps, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on U-bolts, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail and stowage area are attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The roof and windscreen frame are moulded as one, with a headliner insert and rear-view mirror that are inserted within, and the three-part radiator housing is made to be used later. The firewall and roof are joined with some of the dash pots fixed to the engine side of the firewall, while the doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The dashboard inserts into the front bulkhead with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box. The diagonal foot panel is joined with the firewall and decked out with three foot pedals, a stud and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up on the floor from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits round the rear of the cab back wall, with small ovalised window and PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two flat clear parts in a styrene frame that is posed open or closed later on. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis and the engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included that has Chevrolet embossed on the vertical sides and some holes drilled in the rear of the fenders. The aforementioned windscreen has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts. The spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and the front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wipers hung from the top of the frame, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this doesn’t appear on the sprues, and there’s a good reason for that. It is constructed completely from PE, and two jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, and another small curved section is added to the left of the grille as it is glued in place with the help of some CA. The hood/bonnet is able to be fitted open or closed with two styles of clasp and in the open option, a PE stay is provided. Two tie-down hooks are fixed to the front bumper iron too. The winch is started by creating the mounting arm with motor, then the bobbin can be created either with a two-part styrene representation of a full reel, or an empty bobbin that you can load with some of your own material or leave empty. It is offered up to the arm and secured in place by adding the short arm that mounts the other end of the axle, before being fixed to the underside of the vehicle at the front, with a protective C-shaped bar over the front. A short take-off shaft is also added under the chassis to provide motive power to the winch. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture on the underside, and a thick rear section with hooks, separate rear lights and moulded-in reflectors. The shallow sides and front have separate frames and a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, with PE closures and chains on the rear gate that can also be fitted open or closed, as can the seats that run down each side. The four rear mudguards are held at the correct angles by PE brackets, and on one side a pioneer toolkit is lashed to a frame with PE fixings holding an axe, pick axe, and spade. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the toolkit on the right side of the flatbed. The five hoops that support the roof are inserted into the tops of the verticals along the side of the bed and the bed is then installed on the chassis. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and twin wheels at the rear, made up much earlier in the instructions for some reason. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hub. The winch has a length of chain and you need to supply a length of rope from your own stock, plus a styrene hook and eye to complete its installation, with the end hooked over one of the lugs on the bumper iron. There are two extra fuel cans on brackets with PE tie-down straps on the running boards, plus a pair of buckets with PE handles for you to bend and fit in place. In addition, a crew of two American Army driver figures is included on two separate sprues, one wearing overalls and a cap and twirling a tyre iron, while the other soldier in standard GI uniform is pushing down on a track pump that he is standing on to keep it in position. Each figure is made up from individual legs, torso, head and arms, plus the aforementioned pump and tyre irons. Markings There are a generous seven markings options on the decal sheet, in a variety of markings and with a pale grey US Navy vehicle for a little variation from green. From the box you can build one of the following: 93rd Infantry Division, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1943 8th Air Force, 56th FG, 62 FS Halesworth, England, 1943 45th Division, 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, Sicily, Italy, 1943 US Navy, 1944 Red Army, Germany, February 1945 Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), 1st Expeditionary Infantry Division, Headquarters Company, Special Transport Troop, Italy, 1944-45 Brazilian Expeditionary Force XXII Tactical Air Command, 350th Fighter Group, 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron, Pisa, Italy, 1945 Decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII on the Eastern and Western fronts as well as the Far East, where it played an important but unsung role in the defeat of the Nazis and the Axis, lugging weapons, ammunition, men and supplies to the front and sometimes back again. Add the winch to move things around a bit, and with the included figures, you’ll be a happy modeller. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Tempo A400 Lieferwagen 3-Wheel Delivery Van (35382) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The A400 Lieferwagen was another of Hitler’s standard vehicles that is perhaps lesser known than the Beetle. It was produced by company Tempowerk Vidal & Sohn from 1938, and was joined by an identical Standard E-1 that was manufactured in another factory. It was one of the few factories that were permitted to carry on making civilian vehicles, although this permit was eventually withdrawn as the state of the war deteriorated for Germany. The wagon was a little unstable in the corners due to its single front wheel, and it had a front-mounted engine that probably made matters worse, with a chain drive from the motor to the wheel. The two-stroke 400cc engine in the A output 12 hp that gave it sluggish performance to say the least, which was probably just as well due to that front wheel. The driver was situated behind the front wheel, with a pair of side doors for entry and exit, and a single-panel windscreen that overlooked the short, tapered bonnet/hood. The load area was to the rear of the vehicle, with two doors at the back to keep the contents safe, and with a number of rear bodyshell designs available. The covered van was common, although flatbeds and other designs were available. The Kit This is a brand-new kit from MiniArt, and will be joined by other variants, one of which we already have in for later review that is the post-war E400 with twin grilles and a flatbed rear. This unusual little vehicle arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet on glossy paper with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. It’s a full-body model, so you’ll get to build all the internal parts and during the process possibly learn a little about how it works. Detail is as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a lot of it and what there is well-finessed. Considered use of slide-moulding also improves the detail without increasing the part count, and makes parts like the forward cowling a feast for the eyes. construction begins with the small cab floor, which has a planked texture engraved on its surface, and is fitted out with foot pedals, a hand-brake lever and narrow transmission tunnel, plus a battery attached to the floor on the left. The front bulkhead has a clear rounded windscreen popped in, a short steering column and a droopy lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen frame, and two bunny-ear indicators that are lopped off the sides of the screen as they relate to other models. This is attached to the front of the floor with a pot for the washers and the conversion stub of the steering column, with a pair of PE wiper blades added in a boxed diagram later. The padded bench seat for the crew is slotted into the floor, and the back is attached to the rear bulkhead for later joining to the floor, and you’ll need to find some 0.3mm wire 24.6mm long to represent the linkage to the floor-mounted brake lever and the back of the cockpit. The steering wheel and rear bulkhead are glued in, then the twin rear doors with their opener linkage are made up with the two crew doors next, having clear side windows plus winders and handles that are quite delicate for realism. The sidewalls of the load compartment are fitted out with a set of external arches and the rear chassis is built around a cylindrical centreline part with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and having hubs with brake discs added at each end. A sturdy V-shaped brace is added between the ends of the axle and the other end of the cylindrical chassis rail, with a large joint between them. The rear wheels are made from a main part that includes the tyres and back of the hub, with a choice of two inserts slipped inside to represent two different hub cap styles, that are then fitted onto the axles on short pegs, with a brake-line made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire and are closed up then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis. The load bed is a single part with more planking engraved into the surface, with a rear bumper rail, clear lights and a PE numberplate frame added before it is glued to the back of the cab. The sidewalls are mounted and joined by the roof, the rear doors are installed at whatever angle you like, then finally the crew doors, which hinge rearward in the manner sometimes referred to as suicide doors. The little engine is one of the last assemblies, and is superbly detailed with a lot of parts representing the diminutive 400cc two-stroke motor and its ancillaries, including horizontally mounted radiator, fuel tank, exhaust with silencer and chain-drive cover that leads to the front axle. The completed assembly comprises the motor, axle and the fork that attaches to the front of the cab and is wired in using three more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”. An easy way to earn that badge! After the rear axle and chassis tube have been fitted under the load bed, the slide-moulded cowling for the engine is fitted-out with a choice of two fine PE radiator meshes, an internal deflector panel, PE numberplate, a pair of PE clasps on the lower rear edge of the bonnet, and a tiny hook on the top in between two rows of louvers. The cowling can be fixed in the closed position, or depicted open, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof’s drip-rail, holding it up past vertical against the windscreen. A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a solitary wing mirror on an angled arm is glued to a hole in the front of the bulkhead on the left side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance of that being what holds it in place. Markings There are five decal options from the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the job it is tasked with. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichspost, Germany, 1938-45 Ordnungspolizei, Germany, 1938-45 Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany, 1938-45 Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, Germany, 1943-45 Deutes Rotes Kreuz, Germany 1943-45 Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s weird, so I already like it, but MiniArt have also done a great job with making an easy to build, well-detailed kit of this quirky little German grandfather to the Robin Reliant. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Sheep (38042) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Sheep! Why did I get the urge to ram an apostrophe after the name of this set? Sheep can be found in the fields of almost every country in the world where there’s grass. They’re a good source of wool, and also make good eatin’, if you’re not of the vegan persuasion. I prefer my sheep on the lam for wool production only, as I just don’t like the taste of lamb or mutton. Baa… This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized end-opening box, and inside are six ewes, sorry sprues in grey styrene. There are three sprues of each type, with each style of sheep, ram or lamb made from two halves, plus a wedge-shaped insert at the top of the neck with a pair of ears sticking out. There are five different types, 3 rams, 3 each of three types of ewes, and 3 identical lambs, although because of their size, their heads are separate, so you can differentiate them a little by adjusting the angle of their heads. As we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, the moulding is crisp and well-detailed, except for their wool, which is quite wooly. Ahem, sorry. Conclusion 15 sheeps in a box this size is excellent value and could be used for a number of dioramas, although best of luck getting any wool off them. Let the puns begin! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. PLA ZTQ15 Light Tank (TS-048) Chinese Light Tank 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The catchily titled ZTQ15 Light Tank has been developed by the PLA for what they call Plateau Operations. The tank is light enough to be transported by air but still has a 105mm main gun able to fire a diverse selection of rounds. The engine is specifically developed for a high altitude low oxygen environment where a second stage turbo charger will kick in if needed. The tank features newly designed reactive armour with the ability to add on other armour if needed. Crew is reduced by the use of an auto loader, The tank is fitted with an electroptical countermeasures system and a radar warning system. An export version the VT-5 has been ordered by Bangladesh where no doubt the low ground weight is seen as an advantage in the country. The Kit This is a new kit from Meng of this new PLA light Tank. As well as the two hull parts and the turret there are 3 major sprues, and 1 smaller clear one, and a flexible part for the gun cover. There are a set of poly caps for the suspension and a set of rubber band tracks. Construction starts with the running gear. 12 pairs of road wheels, two drive sprockets; and two idler wheels. Each is in two halves with a polycap going in between. We can then move to the lower hull with 6 torsion bars going in from each side. At the front the mud guards are added. Other parts for the suspension are added along with the gearbox housings, return rollers, and tow hooks. All the wheels can now be added to the lower hull, and at the front the lower armour is fitted. Next on the upper hull the engine deck is added along with the drivers vision blocks. The upper and lower hulls can now be joined. Next up the tracks are added. At the rear the bulkhead is constructed and added to the hull. The side armour pates can now be added. If wanted the rear mounted extra fuel drums can be made up ad fitted. Pioneer tools and additional hull fittings can then be added. Work now moves to the turret. The vision blocks for the commanders hatch go in followed by the gun mount. The upper and lower turret parts can be joined with the rear and side armour plates being fitted. Sensor parts are added along with the AA gun copula. The flexible gun mantlet cover goes on followed by the 7 part gun barrel To both sides of the turret supports for additional spaced armour are fitted followed by the armour. Smoke dischargers and turret baskets are fitted to both sides at the rear of the turret. Additional top armour and the crew hatches are added to the turret. The last item to be built up added is the 12.7mm Anti Aircraft gun, once this is on the turret can be mounted to the hull. Markings A small decal sheet printed in China is enclosed. This gives marking for the digi camo vehicle shown on the box art at the 70th Anv of the founding of the PLA parade Oct 2019, and a 3 colour camo vehicle as used in Tibet. Conclusion This is an usual Tank fielded by the PLA for a specific use, it will make an interesting addition to any collection of modern armour. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Italian Traffic Signs 1930-40s (35637) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII Italy joined the war as allies of Nazi Germany alongside Japan, and fought against the Allies in Europe and North Africa. When the Dictator Mussolini was ousted, Italy changed sides at the will of the people, but German forces stayed in the Italian homeland, attempting to retain Italy as part of their embattled and shrinking 1,000 year Reich. The Allies were forced to fight their way through Italy as a result, in what is inappropriately known as Europe’s soft underbelly, that was very far from soft, as any of the dwindling number of veterans of that conflict will tell you. This set is full of signs from Italy from the 30s and 40s, all of which are civilian in nature and some of the names will be familiar because of the notable battles that took place there. The Kit These signs relate to Italian civilian roads, and arrives in a shrink-wrapped, end-opening, figure-sized box with a painted example of what’s in the box on the front, and a set of instructions on the rear. There are six sprues of styrene parts, plus a large decal sheet with the sign fronts to complete the set. There are 25 signs and a number of text-only signs for the cross-style posts on the decal sheet for you to use, either using the included guide on the box or going off-piste if you see fit. The posts are of a fairly standard and narrow format, and would have been easily bent in the event of an accident. The posts are either straight box-section, or circular style, some with slightly wider bases and a round ferrule on the tip, which can be removed with a blade for some of the signs. The sign boards have cleats on the rear surface to attach them to the poles, with the straps moulded into the posts to guide you in marrying up the two parts. The decals are printed by DecoGraph, and have good registration, clarity and sharpness, with a thin carrier film fitted closely around the printed areas. Some of the sign decals have raised reflective rivets that are similar to the early British road signs, and these have been replicated on the decals. They do a great job considering they are two-dimensional artwork, but if you have access to suitably-sized cabochon rhinestones, you could replace them on top of the 2D versions for extra realism. Under the instructions on the rear of the box is a paint chart that gives colour swatches plus Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya codes, and generic colour names to assist you in choosing the correct paints for your model. It seems that the Italian sign post poles were almost universally candy-striped, so be prepared with a long length of masking tape to wrap around the post for painting the contrasting colour. Conclusion Great diorama fodder, as the devil’s in the details. The printed decal signs are also so much better than most of us could do with a paint brush, and will add a little extra realism to any diorama or vignette. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Soviet Officers at Field Briefing (35365) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The success of any military operation depends largely on its briefings before any significant battle, allocating tasks to the various combat units to ensure that the plans go according to the commander’s wishes as far as possible. When a building wasn’t available, literal fields would sometimes take the place of a table as the location for these get-togethers. This set depicts just such a briefing with the various branches of the WWII Soviet army taking part, from infantry to artillery and tankers, each with their own variation on the uniform. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and contains four sprues in grey styrene and a small sheet with the sprue diagrams and a number of maps for you to cut out and add to your finished model. There are five figures on the sprues, all standing for the briefing and sporting different styles of uniform with the common theme of knee-high boots. Three of the figures are tankers, one in overalls, one in fairly standard Soviet era uniform and the third in a leather jacket holding his padded helmet in one hand. The other two are either infantry or artillery and have standard uniforms, with their caps differentiating them. The comrade in the flat-topped cap is either bored or synchronising his watch, while the gentleman in the cloth cap is poring over a large map, which is supplied as a styrene part to which you can glue a map from the sheet, with others folded and used around their meeting. There are plenty of small-arms on the two smaller sprues, with map cases, field glasses and a case, plus a tiny magazine for the Tokarev TT-33 pistol, a Nagant M1895 revolver, two flare guns, one of which is broken open waiting for a spare flare that is quite well-disguised as a sprue-spur in the vicinity of the two smaller pistol holsters. The larger holster is for the flare-gun, but during my research I could only find later post-war holsters of this pattern, so check your references before using it to ensure it is appropriate. There are two weapons sprues, so everything is doubled up. At the bottom of the rear of the box is a table with colour swatches plus codes for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and colour names to assist you with choosing your shades from whatever brand you use. Conclusion Another great set of figures from MiniArt, with excellent sculpting, realistic poses, drape of material and sensible breakdown of parts. Highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  10. Street Accessories with Lamps & Clocks (35639) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Until the post-war age, much of the western world’s street furniture was made from cast or wrought iron, as it was relatively cheap, long-lasting and strong. A lot of this metal was hoovered up in service of the war effort, particularly in the UK where it was more of a propaganda exercise so that the people would feel like they were contributing in some way. Street lamps, bollards, the frames of benches, and fencing were constructed in this way, and because watches were still luxury items to an extent, clocks were sometimes mounted prominently on brackets or posts for all to see. This set contains a selection of these type of items, and arrives in a small top-opening box which holds nine sprues in grey styrene, six in clear, a small decal sheet and a black & white instruction sheet with colour code chart at the bottom of the back page. From these sprues you can build three posts, one with three lamps on angle brackets, one with a solitary lamp, and another with a clock mounted at its top. Each post has ladder-rest arms at the top of a fluted stem, and a wider base that is made from two halves. The lamp enclosures are made from two clear halves with a styrene top and separate ferrule at its apex. There is also a bracket and floor at the bottom into which the clear bulb is placed for added realism. There are parts for four clocks, two of which can be made double-sided by gluing two faces back-to-back, with decals for all the faces, separate hands for them all, and large domed clear lenses to be fitted over the faces. A clock or a lamp can be mounted to a fancy right-angle bracket, so you can customise the appearance of the assemblies as you wish. Additional parts can be used to make up six large circular man-holes with separate lids that have waffle-textured surfaces, six rectangular grids with separate slatted covers, three benches with iron end-frames and two identical sets of slats for the seat and back. There are also six bollards made from two halves bearing a passing resemblance to a pawn from a chess set, plus six lengths of fancy iron fencing, which are linked together by two-part iron posts with either one or two lengths of fencing between each post. Markings The decals are printed by DecoGraph for MiniArt to their usual high standard, and there are six clock faces in three styles available for your use. The instructions have colour call-outs throughout, and these numbers refer to the chart on the back page that gives you codes for Vallejo, Mr Color (enamel C-range), AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour names, which should allow most modellers to track down some suitable colours. Conclusion A great set of accessories for your next diorama. Detail is excellent, and the clear parts are just what’s needed to give your model extra realism – a lamp with an LED hidden inside maybe? Add some every day grime and weathering to the painting as appropriate to the situation, and your model will be all the better for it. Highly recommended. This set is out of stock at time of writing, but should be back in stock soon Review sample courtesy of
  11. German 20mm Flak 38 Crew (84418) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Nazis made extensive use of Flak guns of numerous types during WWII, mostly in their original anti-aircraft role, but later in the war when the Allies were advancing toward their homeland, those same guns were deployed against the oncoming troops with their barrels depressed almost as far as they’d go to make mincemeat of the approaching troops and armoured vehicles. The 20mm+ rounds that Flak cannons fired were incredibly effective against humans and lightly armoured vehicles, but could still incapacitate a Sherman if they impacted the tracks, vision blocks or any of the weapons systems, rendering them useless during that attack at least, with the opportunity of taking out any crew that tried to escape. This figure set is a reboxing of an older Trimaster offering under the Hobby Boss banner, and although they’re not brand-new, they’re still pretty good, holding up well against the more modern sets, with the possible exception of the Kar98 rifles that are a little soft compared to the best available today. If you’ve got any spares from other sets, they could be used instead. The set arrives in an end-opening figure box with a single sprue in sand-coloured styrene filling the available space. There are four figures on the sprue, and their instructions and painting guide can be found on the rear of the box along with a colour chart giving codes in Mr Hobby (acrylic & lacquer), Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol brands. The figures are all engaged in rolling their Flak unit manually, probably adjusting its position after unhitching from an unseen towing vehicle, or moving to meet the challenge of an newly discovered threat. There is a yellow arrowed bubble on the back of the box stating “Flak38 not included!” just in case you wondered, but they forgot to mention the grass in the box art painting. Where’s my grass??? Anyway, getting back to sensible-land, three of the figures are stood leaning at a sharp angle while they push with both hands against the gun, while the fourth is crouched down with his hands out trying to coax one wheel to move, which you can see on the box art above. Breakdown of the figure parts are pretty standard, comprising separate torso, arms, legs, heads and separate helmets, all of which are covered with a camo fabric. The crew are all wearing later war pea-camo smocks with elasticated cuffs that are well-depicted with realistic drape and form. They all have accessories such as mag-pouches, bedrolls, gasmask canisters and entrenching tools, plus water bottles and mess-kit in its canister. Your only choice of weapon is the slightly-soft appearing Kar98s, which in the box art are slung over their shoulders out of the way, so you might consider using tape, lead sheet or some other slim, flexible medium to create the slings for a bit of additional realism. Conclusion These figures are well-sculpted, and would look equally good pushing any form of wheeled artillery, or even a small vehicle if you felt the urge to diversify. There’s a tiny amount of flash creeping in around the edges of some parts, but it’s mostly on the sprues, although that’s only the work of moments to remove. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Kursk Bailout from the Pocket (84417) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Battle of Kursk was the turning point of WWII for Nazi Germany where they were definitively beaten by the Soviets, who had finally awoken and revealed their military might that became the steam-roller to push the invaders back to their own borders and beyond. It began with an attempt by the Germans to cut off a salient or bulge that had developed along the front line at the insistence of Adolf Hitler himself, and against the wishes of some of his generals. It began in the summer of 1943 and carried on into August, with the reversal of role of the Germans from attackers to defenders – a role that they were trapped in until the end of the war. Figures of losses on both sides are difficult to be firm about due to the nature and scale of the conflict, but the German generals never recovered from the devastation of their forces, especially in terms of manpower, which could not be replaced quickly or easily by that stage of the war. It meant that more previously protected occupations were drawn into the military, which had a knock-on effect on the production of desperately-needed armaments. This figure set depicts a small group of four soldiers who are withdrawing from combat after one of their number has been injured, necessitating his being supported by two of his comrades, one on each side. The set arrives in an end-opening figure box with a single sprue in sand-coloured styrene filling the available space. There are four figures on the sprue, and their instructions and painting guide can be found on the rear of the box along with a colour chart giving codes in Mr Hobby (acrylic & lacquer), Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol brands. Three of the figures are wearing later war smocks with pea-camouflage patterning, while the directing officer is wearing a Feldgrau uniform with jodhpur-style pants and calf-length boots. The two supporting soldiers are carrying their comrade between them as he is unable to walk, his feet dragging limp behind him, exposing the hobnails on his boot. They have their Kar98 rifles slung over their shoulders, so you will need to make some thin strips of tape or foil to create the slings, to add a little realism to the scene. They also still wear their stahlhelms, as does the officer, but only one supplied helmet is fitted with the later war cover that is also likely made of the same or similar pea-camo material. The injured man has lost his helmet somewhere near to the front, and his head has hair moulded into it. Breakdown of the figure parts are pretty standard, comprising separate torso, arms, legs, heads with flat-tops and helmets. The soldiers’ pea-camo smocks with elasticated cuffs and cinched waists are well-depicted with realistic drape and form. They all have accessories such as mag-pouches, bedrolls, gasmask canisters and entrenching tools, plus water bottles and mess-kit canisters. The officer has an MP40 clutched in one hand, and on my example there is a little flash evident, possibly due to its proximity to the centre of the sprue where the injection point is. The officer is also pointing anxiously away from the nasty Russians, with a map case hanging from his belt and the top end of a potato-masher grenade sticking from his belt. Conclusion These figures are well-sculpted, and would look good in a diorama of troops on the road back to Germany. As mentioned earlier, there’s a tiny amount of flash creeping in around the edges of a few parts, but it’s mostly confined to the centre and on the sprue itself, and flash is only the work of moments to remove. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Street Furniture w/Electronics & Umbrella (35647) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The busy streets of most Middle East towns and cities are often dotted with furniture and people sitting there, drinking tea, smoking a Hookah, and generally watching the world bustle by. In Modern Middle East, most of that furniture is moulded plastic, which is lightweight, cheap and difficult to break, unless it’s been subject to frequent hot/cold cycles such as those of Britain, which makes them brittle and perfect “You’ve Been Framed” fodder. The people-watchers tend to be older men or women, but that’s not always the case, and they sit around either watching TV on a small portable set, drinking, smoking and even playing board games to ward off boredom if the streets go quiet. An almost constant feature during the day is bright sunlight, so patio umbrellas with heavily sun-bleached canopies are often seen providing splotches of colour amongst the hubbub. This set contains just the sort of gear you would find in the description above, and arrives in a small top-opening box with twelve small sprues in grey styrene, two more in white, a single clear part, and a double page folded instruction booklet with three different canopies printed on one page and some TV pictures that you can use. Four of the sprues contain a patio chair with back and arms, one on each one. There are also two patio tables with separate legs that take up two more sprues, four sprues making up the umbrella, metal limbs and the weighted base, into which the adjustable centre-pole slots. When the parasol is built and the glue dry, you can glue one of the paper canopies in place, or use them as a template to make one of your own from another material. A wooden coffee table with curved legs fills another sprue, and the final grey sprue has a portable TV, ghetto-blaster, a hookah and portable backgammon board with pieces crisply moulded into the board. The TV is made from a front and rear part, but it also has a clear lens that can be glued into the front after you have placed one of the eleven TV screen images from the instruction booklet. I have tested them in place, and they’re really quite convincing. The two remaining white sprues contain a plate, a tray, a selection of three jugs and teapots of different sizes, three tankards, and three cups with separate saucers. Conclusion A great set to help you depict a candid scene either in the Middle East or somewhere in the rest of the world really, thanks to the ubiquity of such simple furniture and the cheapness of plastic injection moulding. relegate the hookah to the spares box and you could be anywhere from the UK to Russia. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. The Last Bridge #3 Splinter (MB24075) Post Apocalyptic Series 1:24 Masterbox Ltd via Creative Models Ltd Master box have various series of figures that have themes unrelated to history, film or TV series. The Desert Battle series is a dystopian future (aren’t they all?) that’s not too far away, and based more than a little on the facts of today. A climate crisis happens in 2023 and throws the world into disarray on a global basis. Better get stocking up on kayaks and rubber duckies. If you check Master Box’s website, there are a number of individual figures being released (you can see them in the instructions), plus a few boxed sets to fuel your fevered dreams and fill your dioramas. They’d look equally at home in any slightly futuristic, slightly dystopian setting, so if you read the back-story on the back of the box, which you should be able to read below, and it doesn’t suit you, check over the figure in isolation instead and judge for yourself where you can use her and what her backstory is. The figure arrives in an oversized end-opening figure box, with a single narrow sprue inside, and instructions and back-story on the rear of the box. It depicts a woman in hiking boots and civilian clothing, wearing a knitted beanie and carrying her whole life on her back, a her overcoat tied round her waist, and big pump shotgun in both hands, with a bandana of ammunition diagonally around her torso. As usual, the sculpting is first rate and the recent nature of the tool shows in the detail, with the figure broken down into head, torso, arms, legs, personal gear, and separate sections of long hair flowing over her shoulders, with a choice of shotguns that have differing stocks and barrel lengths. Painting of the figure is entirely up to you, as in the dystopian future you can wear what you want. The box art gives you some useful clues however, and the addition of the hair sections and her coat arms and tail draping down over her legs give additional depth to the figure. Conclusion An interesting and well-sculpted figure for you to use and abuse as you see fit. Build her as a stand-alone model or as part of a diorama with or without others of the series. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. T-55 Czechoslovak Prod. w/KMT-5M Mine-Roller (37092) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers, sometimes fitted with the KMT-5M Mine-roller. Mines are a problem for AFVs, softskins and foot soldiers alike, and there are different types used for different circumstances. Mines intended to disable tanks generally have larger charges to penetrate the thinner underside armour and tear off tracks and drive wheels, with a higher pressure required to trigger them. The resulting explosion can cripple or destroy a tank, leaving crew killed or injured, a valuable tank out of action and sometimes blocking the way. Most Soviet and Russian tanks are fitted with attachment points for mine-rollers that can be fitted as needed and clear a path for the tank's tracks to allow them to proceed. Other tanks without a mine-roller must follow in their tracks exactly or risk detonating mines that are outside the cleared paths. It's not an ideal solution, more of an expedient one that probably requires a more complete cleaning later when the enemy aren't shooting at them. It has been in service since the 60s and was used until the T-64 after which is was replaced for newer vehicles with the improved KMT-7 and KMT-9. It operated by breaking the ground up with toothed rollers of substantial weight to simulate the footprint of an AFV, ploughing up the ground and detonating any mines it finds. Its rugged construction means that it can survive explosions, although they do take their toll on the hardware eventually. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. This is an exterior kit with Mine-Roller parts included, which arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are eighty-nine sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs or triplets, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two short lengths of chain in different link sizes, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and one is included with this boxing, so the fitments and bracketry is included for fitting to the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood built earlier. KMT-5M Mine Roller The KMT-5M has already been seen when included with various MiniArt kits, and here it is in another one! The instruction booklet is included in the main kit booklet, which is for good reason as it's a fairly complex build and there are plenty of steps. Construction begins with the toothed rollers, which each have three wheels on a central axle plus two end-caps. These are fitted into short bogies that have small sections of chain attached in strategic places for later fitting at the end of the suspension arms. These are next to be built and each has a pair of pads at the tank end and a hinged arm that is long enough to keep the tank away from the brunt of the blast, as well as absorb some of the upward momentum and reduce damage to the rollers. The arms spread apart so that the rollers are placed at exactly the same spacing as the tracks, and there are parts supplied to fit the roller to your model. There are a couple a styrene rope parts in the box to further secure the assembly, with another momentum-absorbing spring at the roller end. The bogies are attached to the arms via the short lengths of chain fitted to hooks fore and aft, with another chain linking the two together with a bobbin-like part loose along its length, acting as a further damper for asymmetric detonations. Markings There are three decal options, and plenty of colour variation. From the box you can build one of the following: Egyptian Army, 1967-73 Lebanese Army, 2000s Syrian Army, 2000s The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the fine chains on the mine-roller. It is a fabulous exterior kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. The Last Bridge #5 Nadezhda (Hope) MB24077 Post Apocalyptic Series 1:24 Masterbox Ltd via Creative Models Ltd Master box have various series of figures that have themes unrelated to history, film or TV series. The Desert Battle series is a dystopian future (aren’t they all?) that’s not too far away, and based more than a little on the facts of today. A climate crisis happens in 2023 and throws the world into disarray on a global basis. Better get stocking up on toilet rolls and Pot Noodles then, folks! No really, don’t. Not again. If you check Master Box’s website, there are a number of individual figures being released (you can see them in the instructions on the back of the box), plus a few boxed sets to fuel your fevered dreams and fill your dioramas. They’d look equally at home in any slightly futuristic, slightly dystopian setting, so if you read the back-story on the box and it doesn’t suit you, check over the figure in isolation instead and judge for yourself where you can use her and what her backstory is. The figure arrives in an end-opening figure box, with a single narrow sprue rattling round inside, and instructions and back-story on the rear of the box. It depicts a woman in hiking boots and civilian clothing, wearing a knitted beanie and carrying her young child on her back, a bag over one shoulder, and an M4 derivative in her left hand. As usual, the sculpting is first rate and the recent nature of the tool shows in the detail, with the figure broken down into head, torso, arms, legs, her baby on her back sitting on a bed-roll, and a shoulder bag, with her M4 appearing to be on a sling, but it’s not immediately clear where that is. Painting of the figure is entirely up to you, as in the dystopian future you can wear what you want. The box art gives you some useful clues however, and the addition of separate front sections to her coat give additional depth to the figure. Conclusion An interesting and well-sculpted figure for you to use and abuse as you see fit. Build her as a stand-alone model or as part of a diorama with or without others from the series. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Totenkopf Division Kharkov 1943 (35397) with Resin Heads 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models The Totenkopf division were officially known as the 3rd SS Panzer Division but were more usually known as the Death's Head due to their skull and crossbones divisional badge. They were reserves during the battle of France and took part in the invasion of Russia, coming back to the Eastern Front after assisting the transfer of power to the Vichy government in France until 1943. There they took part in the attempt to stop the Soviet advances including the third Battle of Kharkov, where they were at least partially successful in holding the line for a while. They and numerous other SS Divisions were involved in a number of horrible war crimes throughout the war due to their fervent belief in their Fuhrer and the inferiority of their opponents. Although the SS were and still are a hated group, there is no doubting the fact that they were involved in the fighting and played a part in many pivotal battles of WWII. This set is a rebox of the original set and contains a group of five figures at rest dressed in winter garb as befits their involvement in Kharkov, but augmented with a set of five well-detailed resin heads to replace the originals. They arrive in a shrink-wrapped figure box, with five small sprues of figures and four of accessories all in grey styrene, plus the five heads on one casting block in a Ziploc bag. Also included in the box is a short instruction leaflet to aid in construction of the accessories such as weapons and ammo crates. All of the five are seated in various poses nursing their weapons in their laps, with thick winter clothing consisting of padded trousers and a hooded smock that only one has over his helmet. Their footwear is a mixture of leather and suede boots and one wearing boots with cloth spats over them. They all have ammo pouches, water bottles, gas mask canisters, entrenching tools and bayonets, with plenty of spares on the accessory sprues. Three figures have Kar98 rifles, and the remaining two each have an MP40 or MG42, the latter slung across his lap with a length of link shown wrapped around the breech. The link is supplied, but you might have to carry out some heat flexing and surgery in order to get it to sit right around the gun. The new heads are pretty much drop-in replacements for the styrene heads, giving you additional choices for personalisation with little effort. Just nip the heads from the casting block, give them a little wash in warm (not hot) soapy water, and trim the necks to the length and shape you want to achieve the pose you need. Each figure is broken down individual legs, arms, torso and heads, plus hoods that fit between the torso and head. The hooded character has a separate helmet front and two-part hood that closes around his head then attaches to the torso. The rest have helmets from the accessory sprues that fit directly to their flat-topped craniums, and some have woollen "snoods" under their helmets to prevent frostbite, while others are toughing it out with just their helmets. Their poses are hunched over and miserable in nature, and would suit a squad riding a tank in driving snow, or waiting for orders in bleak winter conditions. Either way, they won't get any sympathy from us. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus loads of extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama - the same goes for the new resin heads. The MG42 can be posed with a drum mag and open or closed bipod if you wish, and the MP40 has either a folded or open stock, while ammo boxes, grenade cases, oil cans, map cases, pistol pouches and plenty of spare weapons can be found on the sprues. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. US 1.5t 4x4 G506 Flatbed Truck (38056) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four axles. Under the new coding it rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The civilian vehicles could be almost as varied in form as the military options with some obvious exceptions (civilians seldom have a need to launch rockets), and they were well-liked by their drivers and crews, carrying out cargo shipping duties before, during and after WWII. They benefitted from widely available spares and the know-how to repair and maintain them, and they served long after the end of WWII. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent tooling from MiniArt, and is one of a range that is lurking about in your favourite model shop. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the cab and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-one modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a wee decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail are attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below later on, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The roof and windscreen frame are moulded as one, with a headliner insert and rear-view mirror that are inserted within, and the three-part radiator housing is made to be used later. The firewall and roof are joined with some of the dash pots fixed to the engine side of the firewall, while the doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The dashboard inserts into the front bulkhead with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box. The diagonal foot panel is joined with the firewall and decked out with three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up on the floor from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits round the rear of the cab back wall, with small ovalised window and optional PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the floor, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two panes of clear in a styrene frame fitted to the front of the cab open or closed, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that is posed open or closed later as you like it. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis with spacer rods applied, and the engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included. The aforementioned windscreen has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts. The spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust later, and the front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wipers hung from the top of the frame, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this doesn’t appear on the sprues, and there’s a good reason for that. It is constructed completely from PE, and two jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, and another small curved section is added to the left of the grille as it is glued in place with the help of some CA. The hood/bonnet is able to be fitted open or closed with two styles of clasp and in the open option, a PE stay is provided. Two closure clasps are fixed to the sides of the bay too. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture on the underside, a slim rear section with moulded-in reflectors, separate rear lights on PE brackets mounted to the chassis. The shallow sides and taller front are separate frames, and the underside is strengthened by four cross-braces. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the spare tyre on the left side of the flatbed, then the fuel filler and exhaust are added on PE brackets. It’s time for the rest of the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and twin wheels at the rear, made up much earlier in the instructions for some reason. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hub, with a pair of rear mudflaps behind the back wheels. The kit comes with a stack of ten barrels to be made up of four styles, all of which are made from two halves with end caps that are glued in with the embossed writing on the inside, and adding a separate tap on one end, with some of them having four-part stands so they can be laid down on the load bed. In addition, a civilian driver/loader figure is included on his own sprue, wearing overalls and a baseball cap with turned up brim on his head and work boots – on his feet, of course. He is made up from individual legs, torso, head and arms, plus the cap, which is separate so you can replace it with something else if you feel the urge. A top-hat or pineapple maybe? Markings There are five colourful markings options on the decal sheet from various eras of the types operation. From the box you can build one of the following: Indiana USA, 1940s Texas USA, 1945 Florida USA, 1940s New York USA, 1950 Philippines, 1946 Decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G506/G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII at home, lugging goods of all types around the USA and beyond. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Coupé G-Model (07688) 1:24 Carrera Revell The original Porsche 911 reached the market in 1963, and if you have one of those, you’re probably quite wealthy in theory if it’s still in good condition. The Carrera name had been used in the 70s for a special edition, and was re-used for the 1983 variant that saw the engine size increased to a healthy 3.2 litres with a choice of body styles including Coupé, Targa and Cabriolet, the Targa having a removable roof panel to give the occupants a wind-in-the-hair/scalp feel without the bodyshell flexibility inherent in removal of the whole roof. The flat-six engine was mated to a new 5-speed gearbox that gave it an impressive 5.4secs 0-60 time that was the downfall of many a Yuppie in the corners and on roundabouts. The American variant was slightly lower in terms of power, and was subject to their safety constraints that resulted in some pretty chunky over-riders being added to the bumpers, and IIRC (which I seldom do), a slightly higher ride height. The overall design remained stable for the most part until it was entirely replaced, with various minor adjustments to the package such as a revised dash and an increase to the size of the disc brakes to improve stopping-power. By the end of the 80s the type had sold well, but as sales began to drop off the next generation was already in-hand, with the 964 straddling the 80s and 90s with a subtly different look and technical specification. The Kit This is Revell’s new 2021 911 Coupé kit, the Targa version we reviewed a little while back, and this one has a different bodyshell to depict the hard top amongst other things. It arrives in a thick end-opening box with a painting of a silver 911 on the front, being driven by (I think) Nathan Fillon, and with a probably famous Asian lady I don’t recognise in the passenger seat. What’s going on with their artists and the occupants of their cars these days? Inside are four sprues in grey styrene, three more and a bodyshell in silver, two clear sprues and four black flexible tyres in differently sized front and rear pairs. The instructions are printed in colour with profiles on the back page, and the decals with a protective wax paper cover hidden within, along with the box-ticking health and safety sheet that you should definitely read so you don’t mutilate yourself during the build. Detail is excellent throughout, with a reasonable replica of the flat-6 engine and Getrag transmission, plus left- and right-handed dash parts that will be seen through some nice clear glazing parts. Construction begins with the motor, which is well-detailed and made up from a good number of parts with a painting guide to assist you in making a good job, which continues throughout the booklet. The basic block and transmission are set inside a frame, which is slipped into the floorpan from below along with a wide U-shaped mount that is painted black. The drive-shafts and suspension are arranged around the transmission with the convoluted exhaust system attached to the underside of the engine. The front brake disks and hub assemblies are made up with an unglued cuff in the centre of each one, joined together by the steering linkage and dropped into the front underside along with the rest of the suspension parts and a protective cover over the centre. Back in the engine bay, the ancillaries, turbo inlet and airbox are painted up and installed, then the running gear is set to one side while the interior is made up. The passenger compartment is made up from front and back sections with moulded-in rear seats and slots for the front seats in the forward section. A pair of holes need to be drilled out for the pedals of the left- or right-hand drive positions, then the central console, gear-shifter and handbrake are fixed to the centre along with a pair of pre-tensioning seatbelt receivers. The front seats are elegantly shaped with rolled cushions and separate back covers. In addition, there are a pair of contoured seat-cushions for the rear seats that fit over the moulded-in bench-type backs. The front seats secure in their twin slots in the front well, then the left door card is glued in place after a comprehensive painting and decaling, with the new rear squabs attaching in front of the simpler rears. The left- or right-handed dash is painted up and decaled with some very realistic dials, knobs and controls, to be joined by the short steering column with moulded-in stalks and a separate steering wheel, which also have decals for the logos and control instructions. The dash is glued into position with the opposite door card, then you’ll need to get some paint on the bodyshell inside and out. The bodyshell is moulded in silver, as are the other outer panels, which you will probably want to paint after the next step, which is drilling out some holes in the front wings. Incidentally, there are a couple of unavoidable sink-marks on the rear C-pillars, due to brackets on the interior. They're quite small, but it's still best to fill those right at the start to avoid any complications later. The bodyshell is filled up with the interior and floorpan whilst inverted, locating on pegs within. The front of the body is detailed with a pair of recessed headlamp reflectors that need painting with a suitable chrome paint beforehand, then have their textured lenses installed and the indicators placed in the bumper below, painting the clear part orange beforehand. The front bumper has an underside section added from below, with a choice of European or American fitments, only one of which has fog-lights and their surrounds with a number plate in the centre. At the rear, a full-width clear part fits into a groove in the back of the body, which will also need painting chrome within, and the clear part should be painted orange and red as per the diagram before insertion. The rear bumper iron shows a set of over-riders fixed either side of the number plate, but check your references to see if these are appropriately sized to the variant you plan to build. A reversing light attaches under the bumper, and this too has a clear lens that you should paint clear red. The wheels are different widths Front and Rear, so take note of the F or R on the small central sprue, although it’s fairly obvious when viewed from above. The sprue should be cut off with the sharpest blade you can find, then the hub is slipped inside to ledge on a rim at the rear after painting the outer rim chrome and aluminium, and the centres black for all four. The rims have hollow cylindrical pegs on the rear to fit onto the disk-brake hubs, and scrap diagrams show where to apply the glue sparingly. As this is the coupé version, the roof is pre-moulded into the bodyshell, so it’s a case of inserting the windscreen with rear-view mirror from the front. The doors are moulded closed, and the two side window clear parts are also inserted from outside, as is the rear window, all of which have black rubbers painted on. To finish off the build, there are two door handles, indicator repeaters and wing mirrors with separate mirror glass and a silver decal are fitted into their requisite sockets, then last of all there are twin wiper blades on the scuttle, and a retracted radio antenna added to the front-left wing. Markings The majority of decals will have been used before you get to the end, forming part of the interior or instrument panel, but also included are a set of number plates from various countries, their overseas boot stickers, plus a pair of Carrera branded showroom plates, and an engine data booklet for the firewall. The profiles show a silver vehicle as per the box artwork, but you can paint it any colour you like in reality. Decals are by printed for Revell by Zanetti, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a well-detailed kit of a very famous and much-beloved German sports car that’s a classic in the figurative and literal sense for good reason. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. German Sd.Kfz.179 Bergepanther Ausf.G (84553) 1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models The Panther was WWII Germany's answer to the surprise appearance of the Russian T-34 after they finally reacted to the invasion that was Operation Barbarosa. Although the project had been in gestation some time before, they took some design cues from the T-34 in the shape of the sloped armour, resulting in the Panther that was intended to fill the gap between the Panzer.IV and the (then) new Panzer VI Tiger. It was eventually supposed to replace both the Pz.IV and the earlier Pz.III that was really showing its age, but in reality it often fought alongside the Panzer IV. It was planned as a lighter, more manoeuvrable tank than the Tiger, and was fitted with a high velocity gun from the outset. The Germans came to the realisation that they needed a form of armoured recovery vehicle as even the larger halftracks could not recover a Panther or Tiger tank. In fact so many tanks themselves became lost to recovery efforts that order were given not to try recovery with another tank. MAN were tasked to develop the vehicle and used the Panther chassis which was fitted with a central 40 tonne winch in place of the turret and a large rear spade to dig the vehicle in. Over the winch would be placed a wooden work platform and a light crane (1500 kgs capacity). The added benefit of the vehicle was that crew protection was improved and it could work under fire. As well as the standard machine gun a 2cm KwK-30 cannon was mounted on the front, though the use of this fell off in the latter stages of the war, The Kit This is a new tooling from HobbyBoss following on from a series of Panther kits which all use parts of the same toolings as needed. As well as the two main hull parts there are 21 sprues in caramac plastic, a clear sprure, two sheets of PE, chain thread and cable. Construction starts with the lower hull, to the outside are added bottom hatches, and to the side the gearbox housings and small fittings for the suspension. Moving to the inside a frame is made up for the full torsion bar suspension thats included in the kit. the bars insert from each side with end caps on the opposite ends. This frame is then fitted into the lower hull. The suspension arms are then fitted to the outside of the hull. The row of inner wheels is then fitted followed by 8 pairs of inner wheels which must be made up. The idler wheels are mad up and added to the rear. Next up the drive sprockets are made up and added along with the outer set of wheels. Construction then moves to the tracks, these are individual links which must be glued together and assembled while the glue used still has some flexibility. There are 98 links needed for each side. Each individual link has to have two guide horns added to it. We now move to the rest of the interior. With its open hull all of this can be seen. First up the front gearbox and drive train is made up and added in following a pair of checker floor plates. Now its the turn of the main recovery winch. This is a small model on its own with a raft of parts. The thread included is used here. The inner bulkhead to the engine compartment is fitted and then the winch assembly follows it in. The front bulkhead to the winch bay can then be added, To the rear of the tank the outer bulkhead has its exhausts added and then can be fitted to the hull. This now completes the lower hull. Work now moves to the upper hull. To the inside of the front hull is fitted the inside bulkhead and all the parts for the bow machine gun. To the top of the upper hull engine grills are fitted at the rear, and at the front is fitted a light and additional recovery equipment. Engine hatches and intake fans follow as well as additional hull fittings and tools. Additional track links are fitted to the side as well as the mounting rails for the PE side plates. The upper hull can now be fitted to the lower hull. To the rear the large blade to steady the vehicle when recovering gets assembled and fitted. This can either be raised or lowered. Tow bars fit to the engine deck and then the PE side pates are fitted to each side. The rear mounted lifting crane and its stays are added. At the front the bow mounted 2cm cannon is constructed and added, along with an additional machine gun which is mounted on the front right side of the tank. To finish off the large central mounted wooden/steel deck box is assembled and fitted over the main winch. Decals Decals are provided for national markings and hull numbers only. Two schemes are suggested in the kit, one in Dunkelgelb and one on three colour camo as per the box art. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Traffic Signs Afghanistan 2000s (35640) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Before GPS or Satnav became common, sign posts were an absolute necessity for navigation, and remain a useful confirmatory backup even when you are using GPS, although soon become more useful if your satnav konks out or isn’t up-to-date. This set from MiniArt offer signage for Afghanistan during part of the US led occupation, and is based upon the same sprues as recently released signs from nearby areas, with just the decals and larger paper signs differing between issues. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, and contain six sprues, two that contain a large rectangular sign plus one each square, octagonal and small rectangular, giving eight signs in total. The four smaller sprues have two round, two small rectangular, a square, triangle and long rectangle sign, twenty-eight signs in total, with a grand total of thirty-six between all the sprues. There are also eleven poles to put your signs on, and as you can see from the photos, the rear of the signs have brackets to hang them, as well as a representation of their stamped and formed construction. The paper sheet with large signs is in addition to the decals, and one of them is larger than the supplied plastic sign sizes, so you would have to make up your own backing for that one. The decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. A white painted background for the decals will give them a higher brightness, although signs are often old, dilapidated, weathered and damaged – even shot at in war zones or areas where guns are commonplace. People just don’t seem to be able to help themselves! Conclusion Signposts are a useful background item in any diorama or vignette, so having pre-printed signs available is just the ticket to add interest and realism to your work quickly and easily. Don’t forget the bullet holes! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. NVA T-55A (37083) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory under-performing vehicle, and began as early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the comparatively shoddily-built Russian alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechoslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers such as East Germany, who also bought a number from Poland, which was where they’d previously bought their T-54s from. The term NVA doesn’t refer to the North Vietnamese Army as I initially thought (doh!), but actually refers to Nationale Volksarmee of the DDR, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik as East Germany was known before the fall of the Soviet Union. The Kit Part of the continuously expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm not looking forward to fitting it all back in. There are 84 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Crisp detail is everywhere, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollow gun muzzles and such where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or alternative short torsion bars if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull sides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower hull along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. The T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring flanges added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The twin headlights have clear lenses and a choice of bezels that fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have stowage, additional fuel tankage fitted, and lots of fixtures, handles and such, with PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side, with pioneer tools dotted around the exterior. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear a tubular stowage canister is attached to the back under the extra fuel drums that are so often seen, strapped to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are next, and are of the individual link type of a different design, requiring 91 links per side, each of which have three sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. They now have separate track pins that are attached to the ladder-sprues by small “bulbs” of styrene that make handling easier, but are cut off once glued. I built up a short length to test the system, and while I rolled my eyes at not having a jig initially, I ended up not minding at all, as it allowed me greater room to manoeuvre the parts. The track pins slot into place and should be secured with a tiny amount of glue around the outer nut, to attach it without flooding and immobilising the track joint. With careful gluing you can create a set of robust workable track links quite quickly. Quickly in terms of track building of course! The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, commander’s searchlight and cupola, plus a four-part moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are fixed, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp that you make from your own supplies is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the main searchlight together so they move in unison, and a choice of the driver's bad-weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The big 12.7mm DShK machine gun is another complex assembly with plenty of parts, a large ammo box with soviet star stamped on it and a run of link leading to the breech, which is installed on the loader’s hatch along with two more stowage boxes on the turret sides. Markings There are four decal options, and they’re all pretty green apart from the winter camo option. From the box you can build one of the following: National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s winter camouflage National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s The decals are printed by DecoGraph on blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. The painting guide gives codes from Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour swatches and the colour names. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits out of the box that I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for. It is a great kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Leopard C2 MEXAS With TWMP (Track Width Mine Plough) 1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models In 1978 the Canadian Army selected the Leopard 1A3 to be its new Main Battle Tank. These would be called the Leopard C1 in service. In 2000 it was decided to upgrade these tanks with the fitment of surplus German Leopard 1A5 turrets. At the same time armour protection was increased, and a new fire control system was added. In 2006 some of these tanks were sent to Afghanistan where they would be fitted with an additional upgrade, the MEXAS system. This stands for Modular Expandable Armour System which was developed n=by IBD Deisenroth Engineering in Germany. This is a new composite armour system which can be added to many vehicles include tanks to increase survivability in these modern conflicts where IEDs and RPGs feature heavily. The Canadians also fit a version to their LAVs. The TWMP unit for Canada was developed by RAMTA a division of Israel Aircraft Industries. The unit clears a path for the width of both tracks (1m) to 200, 250 or 300mm by moving the mines aside. A "dog bone" is dragged over the uncleared 1.5m central lane to detonate any tilt road mines. The unit fits to the front of the tank via an Engineer Equipment Interface Kit developed by Krauss-Maffei. This allows the plough or a dozer blade to be fitted. The Kit This kit from HobbyBoss is a re-boxing of the standard Leopard 1 with different parts for the Canadian Leopard C2, and additional sprues for the TWMP. Its worth noting the kit does not feature the thermal blanket and cooler fitted at a later date by the Canadians in Afghanistan. The kit looks good on the sprues with lots of detail parts. Moulding is first rate. Construction starts lower hull. Various suspension components are fitted, and the ends of the main torsion bar system and its arms are fitted. The wheels can then be built up and attached, followed by the tracks which are individual links. While at first glance thy look good and there is a jig provided in the kit to make short runs of track however it will take some work to get them right; and the end connectors are moulded to the links so will not articulate like the real ones when the runs go round the end sprockets. The next step is a surprising one in that it looks like a full power pack is provided. While the engine has many parts and looks quite detailed there is no detailing for the engine bay, and the actual block is missing all of its hoses and connector, though there is nothing stopping the modeller going to town here if they want to do an open engine bay. Then the rear bulkhead is made up. There is virtually no moulded on parts here with a lot of small detail parts making up this bulkhead. The rear mud flaps are fitted to the bulkhead at this point. The bulkhead can then be fitted. Moving to the top main hull the engine deck hatch is added, along with some side parts and the drivers vision blocks, the rear exhausts are then added along with quite a few detailed parts such as tools , mirrors etc. The lower and upper hulls can now be joined and the rear bulkhead fitted. PE parts for the engine deck are then fitted. The additional MEXAS armour packs are added to the sides of the hull and the front. The rear tow cables are then added. Work now moves to the turret which has good casting detail moulded in. The mounting points for the MEXAS armour are all moulded to the turret. After the turret is together the large rear mounted turret storage bin is made up and added to the turret, Next up the roof mounted machine gun and its mount can be added. The ECM system and MEXAS armour units can then be assembled and added to the turret. Next up the hatches and aerial mounts are added. The gun and its additional armoured mantlet are built up, There are two guns in the kit and the one with the mounting straps for the muzzle referent mirror on it. These are then added to the turret after it is assembled There is a canvas mantlet cover to add, this is a basic representative of the real thing and aftermarket detailed one are available to replace this one, in addition to would seem the Canadian's replaced the original covers with one of their own making. Like a lot of Leopard kits the kit barrel is not entirely accurate due to the complexities of the real thing and the limits of plastic moulding technology. The smoke dischargers are added to the turret and its then ready to be mounted to the hull TWMP There is one main sprue of parts for the Mine Plough and a smaller on for all of the hull fittings and additional parts. The central mount is first built up along with the ground riding skis. The side plough units are then assembled and the three parts joined. A small lenth of chain is provided for the tilt mine system between the loughs. Once assembled the unit can be mounted to the tank. Decals Decals are provided for 1 tank, though there in usual HB style there is no information on these provided at all in the instructions. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Vegetables & Wooden Crates (35629) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd MiniArt’s diorama accessories series grows every month, and if you had them all they’d make a stash all on their own! This time we’re looking at crated veggies for placing in shops, stalls, wagons and vans hither and yon for your next model. This 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 six sprues in grey styrene in the box, a painting and assembly guide on the rear, accompanied by a paint chart that has swatches of colour, Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour names below. Four of the sprues contain parts for four two-part double-high boxes with their second layers formed by adding an extra rectangular wall section with grab handles at the top to the shallow box that has a moulded-in bottom that has fine wooden planking moulded-in. The two larger sprues are identical and contain a ton of vegetables, both in tray-shaped arrangements, and as individual veg. that can be scattered around your scene, or used to augment and differentiate between the stacks inside the boxes. From the box you can build the following: 2 x Eggplant 2 x Bell Pepper 2 x Potatoes 2 x Cucumber 2 x Onion 2 x Carrot 2 x Tomato 2 x Beet Outside the boxes, you also get the following loose vegetables: 2 x Pumpkin (rotund) 2 x Pumpkin (pear-shaped) 12 x Potato 6 x Tomato 6 x Eggplant 6 x Onion 6 x Bell Pepper 6 x Cucumber In total you can build sixteen double-height crates, and the tray-shaped veggies have short feet in their underside corners to give the impression of greater quantities without making over-thick parts that would be subject to concerns about sink-marks. If you nip the legs off in some boxes, they can instantly give the impression of lesser quantities. You will have to deal with the seams on the two-part pumpkins, but a flooding of liquid glue followed by pressure on the seams to exude a bead of plastic melted by the glue should make that an easy task. Conclusion As usual, sculpting and moulding are excellent, and these accessories will help to bring your models and dioramas to life with careful painting and the addition of satin or gloss varnish to give them the correct patina. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. French Concrete Road Signs (35659) Paris Region 1930-40s 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd MiniArt have been creating a range of military and martial signs for your dioramas, and have now moved on to make sets for the general populous during the 1930s and 1940s that aren’t directly related to the war. This set includes concrete direction signs that were there before the soldiers came, although some of the direction and distance signs would have been removed as the enemy advanced, although concrete signs might have taken more effort, such as small explosive charges or a bulldozer. They were also from a bygone era when roadside safety wasn’t a major consideration, partly because accidents usually happened at lower speeds, but an impact with a concrete sign would be a dead-stop, probably in more ways than one. This 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 eight sprues in grey styrene in the box, plus a decal sheet on pale blue paper that contains all the painted descriptive fronts of the signs. There are fourteen signs spread across the eight sprues, the most impressive of which are two four-sided box signs on a substantial tapering stanchion, which is made up from two halves plus a pyramidal cap. Another two have twin posts with a rectangular sign suspended between them, which comprises two flag-shaped parts that join together, with the posts bulked out by extra parts. Again, two of these can be made. There are three styles of T-shaped signs that have front and back parts of varying shapes to accommodate stiffening rails, and two of each style can be made of these. The final type have a single post with a rectangular sign attached, and again you can make two of each of these. The decal sheet includes a mass of signs for destinations around the Pairs area in the 1930-40s, varying in size and shape to suit the different signs included in the box. They are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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