Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Creative Models Ltd'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Calendars

  • Community Calendar
  • Group Builds
  • Model Show Calendar

Forums

  • Forum Functionality & Forum Software Help and Support
    • FAQs
    • Help & Support for Forum Issues
    • New Members
  • Aircraft Modelling
    • Military Aircraft Modelling Discussion by Era
    • Civil Aircraft Modelling Discussion by Era
    • Work in Progress - Aircraft
    • Ready for Inspection - Aircraft
    • Aircraft Related Subjects
  • AFV Modelling (armour, military vehicles & artillery)
    • Armour Discussion by Era
    • Work in Progress - Armour
    • Ready for Inspection - Armour
    • Armour Related Subjects
    • large Scale AFVs (1:16 and above)
  • Maritime Modelling (Ships and subs)
    • Maritime Discussion by era
    • Work in Progress - Maritime
    • Ready for Inspection - Maritime
  • Vehicle Modelling (non-military)
    • Vehicle Discussion
    • Work In Progress - Vehicles
    • Ready For Inspection - Vehicles
  • Science Fiction & RealSpace
    • Science Fiction Discussion
    • RealSpace Discussion
    • Work In Progress - SF & RealSpace
    • Ready for Inspection - SF & RealSpace
  • Figure Modeling
    • Figure Discussion
    • Figure Work In Progress
    • Figure Ready for Inspection
  • Dioramas, Vignettes & Scenery
    • Diorama Chat
    • Work In Progress - Dioramas
    • Ready For Inspection - Dioramas
  • Reviews, News & Walkarounds
    • Reviews
    • Current News
    • Build Articles
    • Tips & Tricks
    • Walkarounds
  • Modeling using 3D Printing
    • 3D Printing Basics
    • 3D Printing Chat
    • 3D Makerspace
  • Modelling
    • Group Builds
    • The Rumourmonger
    • Manufacturer News
    • Other Modelling Genres
    • Britmodeller Yearbooks
    • Tools & Tips
  • General Discussion
    • Chat
    • Shows
    • Photography
    • Members' Wishlists
  • Shops, manufacturers & vendors
    • Aerocraft Models
    • Air-craft.net
    • Amarket Modl
    • A.M.U.R. Reaver
    • Atlantic Models
    • Beacon Models
    • BlackMike Models
    • Bring-It!
    • Copper State Models
    • Freightdog Models
    • Hannants
    • fantasy Printshop
    • Fonthill Media
    • HMH Publications
    • Hobby Paint'n'Stuff
    • Hypersonic Models
    • Iliad Design
    • Hobby Colours & Accessories
    • KLP Publishing
    • L'Arsenal 2.0
    • Kingkit
    • MikroMir
    • Model Designs
    • Modellingtools.co.uk
    • Maketar Paint Masks
    • Marmaduke Press Decals
    • Parkes682Decals
    • Paulus Victor Decals
    • Red Roo Models
    • RES/KIT
    • Sovereign Hobbies
    • Special Hobby
    • Test Valley Models
    • Tiger Hobbies
    • Ultimate Modelling Products
    • Videoaviation Italy
    • Wingleader Publications
  • Archive
    • 2007 Group Builds
    • 2008 Group Builds
    • 2009 Group Builds
    • 2010 Group Builds
    • 2011 Group Builds
    • 2012 Group Builds
    • 2013 Group Builds

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


AIM


MSN


Website URL


ICQ


Yahoo


Jabber


Skype


Location


Interests

  1. Refugees Musician Family (38084) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII there were millions of displaced populations created by the advances of the Nazis across Europe, escaping from combat or persecution, resulting in huge streams of humanity making their way to a perceived safer part of their own or a neighbouring country. People took only what they could carry, unless they were lucky enough to possess a motor car or some kind of cart, whether hand-pulled or horse-drawn. People would take their most important belongings, loading up with their most valuable goods, whether monetarily or otherwise, often comprising items that might be of use in their profession or as currency to trade when they arrived at their destination. The Kit This figure set supplies two figures, plus their possessions that they are carrying and pushing in a pram, although they don’t appear to have a baby with them, so perhaps they picked it up earlier in their journey or they had one in storage at home. The set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box, and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, plus a sheet of paper that has several pieces of art printed on it to use with the picture frames that are included on the sprues. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories are contained on four sprues, two of which are quite large, and contain several instruments that can be carried by the figures in line with the theme of this boxing. Instructions for the perambulator are found on the back of the box along with the painting guide for the figures, with additional diagrams showing the building of the three cases that are also found on the sprues. The instruments sprue includes the following: Accordion – open (Piano Accordion) Accordion – in case (Piano Accordion) Harmonic – closed (Button Accordion) Harmonic – open (Button Accordion) Marching bass drum with sticks Trumpet Guitar Violin in open case Violin & bow with closed case Mandolin Banjo There are no instructions included for the instruments, which would have been useful, but it wasn’t a stretch to guess that this sprue had been seen before, even with my memory, and it turns out we have reviewed the set when it was first released separately in 2020, which you can find here along with the instructions, just in case you pick this set up and can’t quite figure out how to put some parts together. The smallest sprue has three picture frames moulded into it, with six paintings supplied on the accompanying piece of glossy colour-printed paper, including some very famous paintings that are most likely reproductions, given their provenance. You simply cut them from the backing paper and fix them in place on the narrow rim around the inside of the frame in much the same manner as a real picture frame. If you want to add glass to the frame, some acetate sheet would be much easier to cut to shape than trying to adjust the size and shape of a glass slide cover that is often used to depict broken glass in dioramas. Conclusion The figures are expertly sculpted, and they have a care-worn look to them that would be typical of anyone that has been displaced by war, indicating their profession by their luggage, and adding the possibility of a bereavement in the near past by the presence of the pram. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Bakery Products (35624) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Inside the figure-sized box are nine sprues in grey styrene, six filled with different varieties of bread and pastries, plus three containing shallow wooden boxes with open tops and hand-holds in the short ends. The rear of the box holds the instructions for making up the trays from their three component parts, with painting examples given in the space below, which is various shades of beige and tan, with a bit of flour dusting here and there. The colour call-outs on the rear of the box are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus swatches and colour names to assist with choosing your colours. These refer to the blue colour numbers on the paintings above the chart. As usual with MiniArt figure and diorama sets, sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown on the trays to leave minimal seamlines, and the sprue attachment points of the various bread products are similarly carefully placed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. PLA ZTQ15 Light Tank (72-001) 1:72 MENG via Creative Models Ltd The Type 15 light tank was designed as a replacement to the previous generation of tanks that Chinese Army, Navy and Air Force used in high altitude areas where oxygen is limited, on soft ground where heavier vehicles would bog down, and in tight areas such as forests where the lack of mobility of larger, heavier vehicles would be an impediment. It was under development some time early in the new millennium, with prototypes seen during the 2010s, and final acknowledgement by the PLA of it entering service in 2018, by which time it had been in service in growing numbers for two years. It carries a 105mm rifled gun that can fire the usual range of munitions (including NATO rounds), plus Anti-Tank Guided Missiles that can be used to take out enemy tanks at ranges of three to five miles away under the right circumstances. It is armoured with a combined steel and composite hull, with Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) blocks fitted to the front, sides and turret, and the option of adding slat armour where shaped-charge rockets such as RPGs are expected. It can also carry heavier ERA blocks for greater protection, but as with all things, more protection brings more weight, lower speed and a greater likelihood of bogging down. Unusually for an AFV, the Type 15 has an onboard oxygen generator that feeds additional air to both the crew and the engine to compensate for the reduced power output by the 1,000hp diesel engine at higher altitudes, the oxygen permitting the crew to keep their wits about them in circumstances that could otherwise leave them confused and listless due to lack of oxygen in their bloodstreams. The coaxial machine gun in the mantlet is a relatively lightweight 5.8mm, but there is a 12.7mm remote controlled gun station on the turret roof that is mounted side-by-side with a 35mm automatic grenade launcher. On the similar but different overseas variant, the VT-5, there are significant differences to the shape of the forward hull, and the driver’s hatch is mounted centrally, whereas the Type 15 has the driver on the left side of the glacis plate. The systems of the tank are modern, offering full stabilisation of the main gun, which is fed from the bustle-mounted ammo store by an auto-loader that permitted the crew to be reduced to three, and in the event of a direct hit, the ammunition storage is designed to blow outward to protect the crew, and increase the survivability of the vehicle, something the Russian tank designers could take note of. Its drivetrain is similarly modern, using hydro-mechanical transmission, and hydropneumatic suspension to smooth the ride, while the sensor package allows the gunner and commander to share the aiming and firing of the main gun, as well as detecting incoming infrared signals, triggering the launch of smoke grenades to disperse the signal and warn the crew to move their vehicle. Because of its comparatively light-weight, it can be air-transported in pairs, and can be delivered to its intended destination by palletised air-drop, although the crew would probably need a change of underwear once they landed. It is likely to be in service with the Chinese military for some considerable time, increasing its capabilities with in-service updates as time goes by. The Kit This is the first tooling from MENG’s new 1:72 armour line, and it arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box in MENG’s usual satin finish, with an attractive painting of the subject matter on the front, and painting instructions on the rear. Inside the box are four sprues plus the upper hull and turret in light grey styrene, and a concertina-fold instruction booklet in black and white. There are no decals, so you will need to mask or hand-paint the digital camouflage patches that are dotted around the hull and turret, but if you paint the green first and mask it, that shouldn't be an onerous task. Detail is good throughout, with fine raised and recessed detail across all exterior surfaces, extending to the underside, with deeply recessed link-and-length track links, and a well-represented blast-bag on the main gun. Construction begins with the running gear, building twelve pairs of road wheels, two pairs each of drive sprockets and idler wheels, the former made from four parts each. The lower hull is assembled around the floor, adding the sides and the lower glacis plate to the front, then installing the drive sprockets at the rear, and a line of three return rollers to each side of the hull. Six pairs of road wheels and the idler wheels are slid over the stub axles, adding towing shackles to the glacis, which then leads to installing the tracks. A straight length is fitted to the return run, gluing the lower run with diagonal ends, then completing the band with curved sets of three links per end, one for each side of the vehicle. The rear bulkhead with a pair of exhausts and towing shackles is fixed to the back of the hull, after which the upper hull can be mated to the lower, adding the driver’s hatch at the front on the shallow slope of the glacis plate. At the rear, two fuel drums are made up from halves, and are fitted to the bulkhead along with an unditching beam that has wooden bark texture moulded into it along with the two straps that hold it to the vehicle. Side skirts are fitted to both sides as single parts, covering the top track run, which could probably be left off to save yourself some work. The turret assembly is built from top and bottom halves, inserting a sensor into the front, and adding the commander’s cupola over his hatch cut-out, plus a pair of sensors to the forward corners. The rear panel to the bustle is separate, and is fitted along with the two sighting boxes, rear sensors on the corners, the mantlet with sensor box on top, and the two crew hatches. Grenade launchers are fitted as three pairs on the sides of the bustle, and the single-part main gun is inserted into the hole in the mantlet, fixing a pair of sensor masts, aerial bases, additional detail parts to the roof, then building up the co-mounted 12.7mm machine gun and grenade launcher into the remote station from three parts, inserting its mounting peg into a hole in the centre of the roof, and adding a tubular part across the rear of the bustle. The completed turret can then be mated with the hull, twisting the bayonet fitting to lock it into place. Markings There is just one option detailed on the rear of the box, which is all-over sand with green or brown digital camouflage scattered over the surface. There are no decals, so none of the usual concerns over registration, sharpness etc. Conclusion 1:72 AFV modellers should welcome this new range with open arms, as they are well-detailed and yet still relatively simple to build, and what’s more, they don’t stress the purse-strings unduly. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. P-47D-25RE Thunderbolt Advanced Kit (48001) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Thunderbolt developed from a series of less-than-successful earlier designs that saw Seversky aviation change to Republic, and the project designation from P-35, to P-43 and P-44, each with its own aggressive sounding name. After a realisation that their work so far wasn't going to cut it in the skies over war-torn Europe, they went back to the drawing board and produced the P-47A that was larger, heavier and sported the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial that would also power the B-26 Marauder, P-61 Black Widow and F4U Corsair. With it they added eight .50cal Browning machine guns aligned along the axis of flight in the wing leading edge. The P-47A was still a small aircraft, and was initially ordered without military equipment to allow faster completion, but it was considered inferior to the competition then available, so an extensive re-design was ordered that resulted in the much larger P-47B, firing up to 100 rounds per second from the eight .50cal wing guns, and with a maximum speed of over 400mph, leaving just the fuel load slightly short of requirements. It first flew mid-1941, and despite being a heavy-weight, its performance was still excellent, and the crash of the prototype didn’t affect the order for over 700 airframes, which were fitted with a more powerful version of the R-2800 and a sliding canopy that made ingress and egress more streamlined, particularly when bailing out of a doomed aircraft. Minor re-designs to early production airframes resulted in a change to the P-47C, which meant that fewer than 200 Bs were made, the C benefitting from improved radio, oxygen systems, and a metal rudder to prevent flutter that had been affecting control at certain points in the performance envelope. A quick way to spot a B is the forward raked aerial mast behind the cockpit, as this was changed to vertical on the C and beyond. The production from a new factory that had been opened to keep up with demand led to the use of the D suffix, although they were initially identical to the C, but the cowling flaps were amended later, making it easier to differentiate. Of course, the later bubble-canopy P-47s were far easier to tell apart from earlier marks, and constant improvement in reliability, performance and fuel load was added along the way. The P-47D-25 carried more fuel for extended range, including piping for jettisonable tanks on the bomb racks for even more fuel. Taking a cue from the British designers, the bubble-top was developed and that improved all-round visibility markedly, although like the bubble-top Spitfires, later models incorporated a fin extension to counter the yaw issues that resulted. Its weight, firepower and seemingly unstoppable character led to the nickname ‘Juggernaut’, which was inevitably shortened to ‘Jug’ and led to many, many off-colour jokes during and after the war. Jokes that are still soldiering on to this day, despite being eligible for a pensioner’s bus pass. The Jug was used extensively in the European theatre as an escort fighter, where it performed well in its ideal high-altitude environment. Later in the war when the Luftwaffe was a spent force, it also went on to become a highly successful ground attack fighter, strafing and bombing targets of opportunity, and eschewing camouflaged paintwork to add some extra speed with a smooth (and shiny) bare metal finish. As well as flying with the US forces, many P-47s were flown by the other Allies, including the British, Russians, and after the war many other countries as the remainder were sold off as war surplus. The Kit This is a reboxing of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt, and is branded an Advanced Kit because it includes an additional sprue of plastic parts, and a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass to increase the level of detail of the kit, including the gun bays, and the ability to open the engine cowlings to display the excellent detail that is hidden away on the Basic Kit. The kit arrives in one of MiniArt’s sturdy top-opening boxes with a dramatic painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side, reserving the other side for practical details and text. Inside the box are twenty-two sprues in grey styrene, although in our sample many of the sprues were handily still connected by their runners, which simplified photography. There is also a clear sprue, a sheet of PE in a cardboard envelope, two sheets of decals, and the instruction booklet, which is printed on glossy paper in colour, with profiles for the decal options on the front pages, plus detailed painting and decaling information for the weapons and tanks on the back page. Detail is beyond excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt in the last several years, with fine engraved panel lines, recessed rivets, plus raised and recessed features where appropriate, as well as fine detail in the cockpit, wheel bays, plus gun bays in the wings and engine. If you’ve seen their AFV kits you’ll know what to expect, but this is special in this reviewer’s humble opinion. New Sprue & Photo-Etch Construction begins with the highly detailed cockpit, starting with a choice of seat style. One option has the seat put together from base, back and two side parts, which have elements of the seatbelts moulded-in, and are finished off by putting the remainder of the lap belts on the seat pan. The other option uses new parts to build the seat without belts, adding the belts from the PE sheet separately. A pair of support are inserted into recesses in the back of the seat, then it is installed on the ribbed floor, which has control column, plus seat-adjuster, and two other levers inserted, after which the rear bulkhead, one of the cockpit sidewalls and the front bulkhead are fitted, trapping the rudder bar with moulded-in pedals between them. The starboard sidewall has an oxygen hose added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail painting as well as the location of the decals that need to be applied. The head cushion is applied to the head armour, then the other sidewall is detailed with four controls and a PE wiring loom, numerous decals and more detail painting, so that it can be inserted along with the instrument panel and auxiliary panel, both of which have decals for the dials, with a choice of two for the main panel. The tail wheel is made up in preparation for closing the fuselage, building a four-part strut that holds the wheel on a one-sided yoke, then adding a small curved bulkhead with sprung bumper at the front. The fuselage halves are further prepared by adding two extra detail parts to the short sill panels that have ribbing moulded-in, and should be painted to match the cockpit. At the rear on the underside, the supercharger fairing is slotted into the starboard fuselage along with the tail gear bay, and at the front, a cooling vent and an insert are added to the underside, fitting another vent to the port fuselage half in the same place. The fuselage can then be closed around the cockpit, adding the aerial mast into a slot in the starboard spine, although whether that will remain there until the end of the building and painting is a moot point, and I’d be tempted to nip it off at the base, gluing the base in to act as a socket for the aerial after the heavy work is over. The engine is created by joining the two highly-detailed banks of pistons together by a keyed peg, adding the push-rod assembly to the front, the ends of which mate with a circular support that is the frame onto which the cowling panels are added later. The reduction-housing bell is detailed with magnetos and other parts, plus a collet at the centre where the prop-shaft would be. This is joined to the front of the engine as it is mounted to a bulkhead at the rear, again on a keyed ring. The convex firewall at the front of the fuselage is detailed with a ring of fasteners, the cylindrical intakes with PE mesh grilles, or you can utilise the similar less detailed part from the Basic Kit if you plan on leaving the engine covered. There is a fuselage insert in front of the cockpit, and that has the two-part gunsight with clear lens and PE backup sight and link-plate added to the middle, and it is inserted under the coaming and joined by your choice of firewall that closes the front of the fuselage. The intake trunking at the bottom of the nose cowling is made from five parts and installed in the lower panel, and you have a choice of open or closed top cowling panels by using additional parts. To leave the cowling open, the engine is fitted to the detailed firewall along with the lower cowling and the three sections of cooling gills. the closed option is surrounded by all four cowling segments, and at the rear you have a choice of installing open or closed cooling gills, using different parts to achieve the look you want, sliding the assembly over the completed engine, to which you can add the wiring loom if you are feeling adventurous, using the helpful diagrams near the back of the booklet, which also includes diagrams for wiring the gear bays. The rudder is completed by adding an insert at its widest point (the bottom) to avoid sink marks, and it is mated to the fin on three hinges, allowing deflection if you wish. Under the tail, your choice of bare or canvas-covered wheel assembly is inserted in the bay, with doors on each side, or if you are building your model in flight, a closed pair of doors is supplied as a single part, adding a small outlet further forward under the fuselage. The upper wing halves have well-defined ribbing detail for the gear bays moulded-in, which is augmented by fitting two rib sections, front and rear walls, and an additional structure that has a retraction jack pushed through a hole in one of the wall segments. The gun bays and their extensive ammunition stores are supplied in this boxing, using different upper wing panels with the bays opened. The gun bays themselves are built from a mixture of styrene and PE surfaces, making up a four-compartment box into which the gun breeches are inserted, linking them to the outer wall with ammo feed chutes, and placing the ammunition boxes with open tops into the upper wing from within. The closed bay option is shown with just the barrel stubs projecting from the leading edge, while both options install the wingtip lights and a pitot probe in the starboard wing. A scrap diagram of the lower wing shows the location of the flashed-over holes that you can drill out for rocket tubes or pylons, then the flaps are made from two sides, plus a pair of hinges, and these are glued into the trailing edge of the wing with the ailerons, then the lower wing can be glued to the upper, along with two inserts at the tip and to the rear of the gear bay, which includes a flush landing light. Three PE bay edge strips are inserted over the open gun bays, adding a PE indicator and PE bay prop to hold the styrene panels at the correct angle, the gun bay hinging forward, the ammo bay hinging aft. The same process is then carried out in mirror-image for the other wing, omitting the pitot probe and landing light, after which the wheels and their struts are made up, each wheel made from two halves plus a choice of three hub types, and two styles of tyres are also provided, one without a flat-spot, the other under load on the ground, leaving it to your taste. The struts are detailed with separate compressed or relaxed oleo scissor-links plus stencil decals, and they are mated with their wheels, plus the captive gear bay doors, the lower door made from two layers, again to avoid sink-marks. The wings are glued to the fuselage with a stepped joint making for a stronger bond, and the elevator panels are each slotted into the tail, and have separate flying surfaces that can be posed deflected, each one a single part. If you are building your model with the gear down, the inner gear bay doors are fitted to the fuselage, which contains the inner edge of the main gear bays, so remember to paint that while you are doing the bays. If you plan on making an in-flight model, there are two single parts that depict the closed main bays, or you can insert the two struts with their wheels for the grounded aircraft. The four centreline supports are fitted between the main bays for some decal options, then the model can be flipped over to stand on its own wheels so that the canopy can be installed, gluing the windscreen at the front, and deciding whether to pose the blown canopy open or closed. The prop is also fitted, and this is made up from two parts glued perpendicular to each other, each holding two blades in opposition, and the spinner moulded into the front section. The Jug could carry quite a load, whether it was extra fuel, rockets or bombs, and all these are included in the box, starting with the two-part pylons, which can be depicted as empty by inserting a cover over the business end. You have a choice of four styles of tank, a 108gal compressed paper tank with a ribbed nose and tail, a 200gal wide and flat tank, the third 150gal streamlined tank with flat mating surface, and the last one slightly smaller at 75gal. All but the third option has a pair of sway-braces between them and the pylon, which fit into slots in the pylons. They are built in pairs to fit under the wings, but the first two options can also be used solo on the centreline support. The bombs use the same pylons, and can be built in 1,000lb, 500lb or 250lb variants, each one made from two halves for the body and two parts for the square tails or thinner PE fins if you prefer, and mated to the pylon by a pair of sway-braces that varies depending on size. There is also a smoke generator that looks like a drop-tank with a spout on the rear, which would be used to lay smoke for the Allied troops below to cover their actions, at least temporarily. The final option is a pair of three-tubed rocket pods, which are made from two halves, plus inserts front and rear, which have their mounts moulded-in, and attach directly to holes drilled earlier under the wings. A large diagram shows the correct location for all the pylons and their loads, and you are advised that drop-tanks weren’t carried under the wings with the rocket packs, which seems sensible. No-one likes to fly home with their wings blown off, after all. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and a page near the rear of the booklet shows the location of all the many stencils on a set of grey-scale profiles to avoid cluttering the main profiles. From the box you can build one of the following: 62nd Fighter Sqn., 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, July 1944 – Pilot Capt. Frederick Joseph Christensen Jr. 61st Fighter Sqn., 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, June 1944 – Pilot Lt. Col. Francis Stanley ‘Gabby’ Gabreski 82nd Fighter Sqn., 78th Fighter Group ‘The Duxford Eagles’, 8th Air Force, Duxford, September 1944 – Pilot Capt. Ben Mayo Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion There are a few other kits of this fighter on the market in this scale of course, but I have a feeling that this will soon become the de facto standard in due course as the selection widens. The detail is exceptional and better still than the alleged ‘Basic Kit’ that preceded it. VERY highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Audi R8 LMS GT3 2019 (CS-006) 1:24 MENG via Creative Models Ltd The Audi R8 is a two-seat sport car from German auto-manufacturing giant VAG, and was introduced in 2007, based on their R8 Quattro concept car, with the same four-wheel drive platform that was heavily based upon the Lamborghini Gallardo initially, then the Huracán for the second generation, with a predominantly aluminium space frame beneath the sleek body panels, reusing the R8 Le Mans Prototype name on a vastly different looking vehicle. A soft-top Spyder was introduced in 2011 giving purchasers the wind-in-your-hair feeling at high speeds, while it was introduced into motorsport just after launch where it fared extremely well, looking fast even when parked. The motorsport-tuned offering was race-prepped on delivery, and cost roughly 2.5 times the street car, but there’s a lot included for the money, driven by a V10 5.2 litre engine outputting over 500hp through all four wheels. Its power, agility and reliability made it a popular purchase for GT racing teams, and a great deal of success followed over the coming years. In 2011 the LMS Ultra was launched, incorporating all the updates over the preceding years along with a wider bodykit that gave it a better aerodynamic performance, plus enhanced software that made gear transitions faster and smoother, widening the torque available to the driver across the range. The R8 moved to the second generation in 2015, with the race-spec option following swiftly behind, incorporating a substantial price rise to almost 440 EUR and a power output nearing 600hp. The intention of the revised Evo was to improve the driver experience to satisfy the wide range of driver types that were behind the wheel of these cars due to its popularity, although the price is still an impediment to anyone of normal means, so we can’t all pick one up to go racing, more’s the pity. The Evo II arrived in 2021 with another price rise, more improvements to aerodynamics, engine and transmission reliability, torque output and heat dissipation, leading to a further improvement in driving experience for the racers. Production was intended to stop in 2023 but was delayed due to the ongoing demand for the type, so it should be seen for some years yet on the track, as even though Audi Motorsport are withdrawing from GT3 racing along with several other major manufacturers, they have agreed to provide tech. support and spares to customers until at least 2032. The Kit This is a new tooling from MENG that is a tribute to the career of this impressive sports car, which is evident by the effort that has clearly gone into creating this model and its packaging. The kit arrives in one of their usual satin-finished boxes with stylised painting of the subject on the front of the top-opening box. Inside are six sprues and a bodyshell in off-white styrene, four flexible black tyres in two sizes, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) metal with a dark grey coating, a sheet of sticky mirrored labels for the wing and rear-view mirrors, a sheet of black self-adhesive logos, a sheet of fabric-like material with the seatbelts pre-cut, four black poly-caps, pre-weeded masks for the windows on a clear backing sheet, large decal sheet, instruction booklet printed in colour with profiles on the rear pages, an informative booklet detailing the history of the R8 in four languages, which spans over two sides in English, with comparable space in the other languages, which are probably Japanese, Chinese and Russian or other Cyrillic language at a guess. Detail is superb. It’s a MENG kit after all. The quality of the mouldings is first-class and the accessories that come with the kit should mean that most modellers won’t have to expend more on aftermarket, although some are bound to anyway. Construction begins with the flat floor pan, which has a splitter added to the front, and the initial suspension arms in the space where the wheel arches will be. Some detail painting is required along the way, the shades called out in MENG/AK and Acrysion codes, which extends throughout the process. Inner arches are fitted over the front suspension, slotting struts and combining hubs to brake disks with moulded-in callipers, trapping a poly-cap in each one. The hubs are joined by inserting a steering linkage through the back of the arch and clipping it to the arm at the leading edges of the hubs without glue so that the wheels can remain steerable. The lower rear arches are similarly inserted, adding a latch-part for the bodyshell at the rear. Things move to the interior next, making up the seatbelts using the pre-cut material from the sheet mentioned earlier. The various pieces are threaded through the belt furniture to create five-point racing belts, all of which slip through slots into the rear, gluing the ends out of sight. The interior is bereft of any creature comforts in order to save weight, and is instead detailed with the absolute bare necessities for the driver’s use and safety. It starts with the pedal box and fire extinguisher, adding three boxes into the passenger side on the right, another cylinder behind the driver’s seat, and a custom centre console that has a colourful instrument panel decal applied after painting. The steering wheel of a modern racing car is a complex piece of equipment that is covered in buttons, plus an Audi logo, mated to a two-part steering column that is fitted under the dash with a small instrument panel instead of the usual binnacle, with a tubular vent extension directed at the driver to keep him cool. The entire dash is made from carbon fibre, which is replicated here by six shaped decals with carbon weave incorporated, which will need careful application and plenty of decal setting solution to ensure they conform to the shape of the dash. The completed assembly is fitted on a pair of turrets at the front of the interior, then the now complete interior is placed in the floor pan using the same technique. Whilst this model might look like a kerbside kit, the mid-mounted V10 engine is visible through the rear window, and is supplied as part of the kit, all the way down to the sump. The V-shaped block is made from top and bottom halves, adding cylinder heads to the top of each bank, painting them red, and the plugs black. An end cap is added to the transmission with drive-shafts exiting each side, and detail parts are dotted around the block to add interest. Two exhaust manifolds are made from separate halves, adding the exhaust tips at the rear, and fitting them under the cylinder banks on depressions in the surface. The air intake pathway is built from a side-by-side trunking that has a tube laid crossways and two boxes under it, adding it to the top of the engine once completed, installing the completed engine into position in the aft of the floor pan. Like all racing cars, a substantial roll-cage is found inside the car, made from just three parts initially, the aft section with a box-section profile, while the frame in the cab is tubular. It is painted and then installed on the floor, stretching back past the engine assembly to provide extra protection from behind, in the hope that the driver doesn’t get too close to the power plant in the event of a crash. A small bulkhead is made up from a styrene part with a clear upper portion, adding a two-part reservoir to the left side within the engine compartment, then the roof of the cage is made from another large part that is well-detailed, and mates with the rest of the cage to complete the driver’s protection. The rear suspension is created in a similar manner to the front, making up hubs that have a poly-cap in between them and the brake disk/calliper combination, slotting the pivots into holes in the swing-arms, and adding a suspension strut with gaiter in between the arms and an A-frame incorporated into the roll-over cage. The top of the inner arches are fitted to the top of the lower parts added earlier, then the wheels can be made from two pairs of well-moulded rim with spokes around the perimeter, slipping the correctly sized tyres over the front edge and butting them up to the lip at the rear of the rims. Each rim has a pin moulded into the centre rear that slides through the disk hub and into the poly-cap, allowing them to be fitted and removed during construction and painting, whilst letting them rotate freely. The bodyshell has the MENG logo and copyright details moulded into the interior roof in raised letters, plus a few ejector-pin marks in case you want to hide those with some filler and careful sanding. There are also a couple of sprue sections across the windscreen and rear window cut-outs, which should be nipped free and the sprue gates made good before proceeding. You should also decide on a colour to paint the interior, as only some parts have been picked out for painting black, while the main inner surfaces colours are left to you to decide from your references. The window glazing is supplied with masks to assist you with painting the surrounds black, which is the first task, and extends to the front, rear and side windows. A large recess is cut out of the bonnet for the cooling system, which has a deep ‘bath’ inserted that has a two-layer fan assembly inserted before painting and installation. The headlamp reflectors are painted chrome and are inserted into their cut-outs from within, adding another intake in the bumper, after painting it red and applying an R8 decal to the lip, fitting the rear-view mirror in the centre of the windscreen frame, then applying a chrome sticker to depict the mirror surface. The air-intakes for the brakes have their louvres applied to an insert that stretches across the front of the bumper, with another pair fitted into the fronts of the rear arches, the louvres painted red before installation, then two covers are fitted to each of the front corners, adding the headlamp glazing at the same time, plus two aerodynamic strakes on each corner. The aft light lenses are applied to the rear of the car after painting the reflectors chrome, fixing a conical lens in the space below on the right of the bumper. The doors are moulded separately from the bodyshell, and have separate hinge units applied to the A-pillars, and triple louvres added to the upper portion of the B-pillars, adding two decorative accent panels where the quarter-light would be and behind the door, plus two mesh grilles from the PE sheet in the door shut-lines on each side. The doors are made from inner and outer skins that hold the glazing between them, plus a rectangular pivot in the leading-edge, and a wing-mirror that slots into the skin of the door, which has a mirrored sticker inserted into the rear on each side. All this assumes you masked and painted the glazing in one sitting, but if you didn’t you should probably kick yourself about now. The completed doors clip into the hinges without glue, and can be opened and closed whenever you like, joining the bodyshell to the floor pan on the clips added earlier. The large mesh grille for the intake in the bumper is curved, and a jig is included on the sprues to assist with bending it to shape, but it is probably wise not to anneal it for fear of marring the slick black finish. Happily, the curve is gradual, so shouldn’t be an issue. Later variants of the R8 were fitted with a rear wing to add extra downforce, which in this case is made from two L-shaped supports for the separate wing, which has two end-caps attached after painting and decaling with a large Audi Sport logo, a scrap diagram showing the moulding overflow ‘pips’ that should be removed from the support frames. The rear windscreen is masked and framed with black paint, locating it in the styrene boot lid, which is lowered into position over the engine bay, taking care to align the slots with the wing supports that sprout out of the rear of the engine bay frame. Markings This is a special edition depicting the R8 LMS GT3 that competed in 2019, so the decals are specific to this vehicle. From the box you can build the following: Decals are printed in China, having good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. It includes carbon fibre-effect decals for the dash, instrument decals, and four dynamic dotted lines that decorate the sidewalls of the tyres, as well as the branding, red and black striping, plus those small self-adhesive Audi, V10 and R8 logo badges for the front, wing and rear of the vehicle, not to mention four Brembo logos for the brake callipers. Conclusion MENG create good car models, and this one is no exception, with high levels of detail from the box, plus many extras that would be considered aftermarket by many other manufacturers. It also helps that the R8 is a good-looking car in road-going or racing forms. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. German Sd.Kfz.171 Pz.Kpfw. Panther Ausf.A (84830) 1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Panther was Germany's answer to the surprise appearance of the Russian T-34 after they finally reacted to the invasion that was Operation Barbarossa. 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 front and side 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, which gave it enormous penetrating power that was only equalled later by the 17-pounder the British fitted to the American Sherman to make it into the more lethal Firefly. The sloped frontal armour gave it an increased effective armour thickness, but this was not so true of the side armour, which was comparatively weak, and this area became the preferred target of engaging allied tanks, especially in urban combat where this was a telling issue. Like most German WWII tanks it was filled with advanced engineering and therefore complex to produce, so suffered in terms of output volume, and this led to it being rushed into service with a long tick-list of issues still to resolve. Later production resolved most of these initial gremlins, but loses in the interim were high with many being abandoned after breakdown during combat. Confusingly, the Ausf.D was the first to enter production, with the Ausf.A following later in 1943, replacing attrition of the less reliable Ausf.Ds until they themselves were superseded by the Ausf.G, which became the final major variant with increased ammo storage, simplified design to ease production, and further improvements to reliability, although this was never fully cured with a high rate of attrition persisting due to mechanical issues, some of which resulted in catastrophic fires. The Kit There was a discussion thread within the last week here on Britmodeller about why 1:48 didn’t take off as a common scale for AFV modelling, and no-one could come up a definitive reason for it. A possible reason could be that not enough companies were willing to put their time and effort into creating new toolings, amongst others. Now we have this Panther from Hobby Boss to widen the range a little, and we suspect it won’t be the last from them. It is a new tooling, and arrives in a shallow top-opening box in the usual HB style, and inside it is divided up into two areas by a card insert. There are four sprues and three hull parts in tan styrene, a tree of translucent poly-caps, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, instruction booklet in black & white, plus an A4 sheet of glossy paper, printed in colour on both sides. Detail is good as we’d expect from Hobby Boss, and the inclusion of PE goes further in the quest for realism. Construction begins with the running gear, building up a pair of three-layered idler wheels, eight pairs of road wheels with poly-caps in the middle, suspension bump-stops, the final drive housing with two-part drive sprocket and a small wheel that helps prevent the tank from throwing a track. The rear bulkhead is detailed with a pair of exhausts linked by a cross-brace, a jack with separate handle, plus two stowage boxes with stiffening Xs moulded-in. The lower hull is fitted with armoured final drive surrounds, bump-stops, the drive sprockets, interleaved road wheels and idler wheels on both sides, finishing the lower hull by installing the rear bulkhead. The tracks are link-and-length, with long sections top and bottom, a short straight section on the diagonals, and individual links around the tightly curved ends to the runs. A scrap diagram shows the correct sag to the return run, and of course the task must be carried out on both sides of the vehicle. The top run will be mostly hidden by the side skirts, which are mounted under the sponsons on L-shaped brackets, finishing the front by adding the curved mud guards. Two towing eyes are mounted on the rear on the torch-cut ends of the hull sides, which are smooth and would benefit from adding the texture with a little liquid glue and a blade indented across the end. The upper hull is well-detailed, and should have two small holes drilled at the front of the deck, adding hatches for the front crew, racks filled with separate pioneer tools, and additional racks at the rear that hold spare track links. The large engine inspection hatch is prepared with lifting handles, the driver’s vision port is made from two parts and installed, adding a headlight to the side, and fitting track links to the racks at the rear, then covering the louvres on the engine deck with PE mesh to keep smaller debris such as grenades out of the engine bay. A two-part travel lock is mounted on the front of the hull using the two holes drilled earlier, and a tube for the barrel cleaning rods is locked into place on brackets on the left side of the hull. The turret is moulded with all but the rear face that has a circular hatch moulded into it, plus the roof. It is glued onto the lower turret part, and has a choice of two cupola types for the commander. One has a tapered cast body and vision blocks moulded-in, the other is layered from four parts and has an MG34 machine gun on a pintle mount at the front. The gunner’s hatch is a single part with a handle attached just in front on the corner, leaving just the main gun to build. This is made from the breech, which is not accurate because it won’t be seen, adding two poly-caps to the pivots, the mantlet to the front, and the single-part barrel with slide-moulded hollow muzzle slipped into the front, pushing the completed assembly back into the turret aperture to locate it. The final step involves joining the upper and lower hull halves, and adding the turret to the ring, then installing a pair of width indicator ‘lollipops’ to the front mud guards. Markings As is usual with Hobby Boss, the markings options don’t give any details of when and where the schemes were seen, but give colour codes in Mr Hobby, Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol paint systems. From the box you can build one of the following: The sheet includes three rows of 0-9 digits plus a few spare zeroes and 741 codes for one of the decal options, plus two Balkenkruez crosses in case you wish to use them. All the numbers and crosses have a thin white outline, and they appear to be in good register under magnification. Conclusion If you’re looking for a crisply-moulded 1:48 Panther for your next project, this will make a good candidate, striking a balance between size and detail, without unnecessary oversimplification. It will however be a faster build than a 1:35 scale alternative, and take up a lot less space in the cabinet. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Javelin – The Ukrainian Anti-Tank Crew (MB35229) Russian-Ukraine War Series #6 1:35 Master Box Ltd via Creative Models Ltd The Javelin Anti-Tank missile is a fire-and-forget missile that a small crew can carry into battle against tanks, firing it from a distance before making their getaway without leaving a tell-tale trail of smoke to their current position. It replaced the M47 Dragon in US service, and its automatic infrared guidance carries a HEAT warhead to the target, rearing up at the last minute to carry out a top-down attack on the enemy, where the armour is at its thinnest, increasing its chances of success. Of course, the new generation of infrared dazzler countermeasures can give the enemy a chance of surviving, assuming the detection of the threat occurs in time. The manufacturers estimate that around 5,000 engagements have been made worldwide using the system, although that number must be rising on a daily basis, given the fact that it is being used by Ukraine to defend their homeland from the invader. Usually crewed by two soldiers, the device is man-portable and can be lugged into position for use, making a soft ‘poop!’ sound as it exits the launch tube in what’s called a soft-launch, igniting the main rocket motor once it is a safe distance away from the launch-point, protecting the crew from burns, and if it is a close engagement it gives them an additional fraction of a second to down-tools and make tracks out of the danger zone. In top-attack mode, the climb at the end of the trajectory can take it up to 150m from the ground, but an alternative low-level profile rears up to only 60m to keep visibility to a minimum. The operator of the weapon can work alone for a one-shot mission, but if additional rounds are needed, the weight of the extra missiles requires a carrier to join the party, and during the set-up and aiming phase they act as target spotter and threat assessor, countering the tunnel-vision required of the operator to dial-in the target. The Kit This is a new figure set from Master Box’s Russian-Ukrainian War series, created by a Ukrainian company to honour their armed forces that are helping keep them safe from attack. There is a little bit about that on the back of the box, and they clearly state that a portion of their profits goes toward helping their fight, so you can choose whether to buy it or not, depending on how you feel about that. Nuff said. The set arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box with a painting of a Javelin crew on the front, and a depiction of the models, a sprue diagram, a swatch of camouflage and a paint chart on the rear. Inside is one sprue in grey styrene, although the box shows it in sand, so your boxing may include either colour, which is fine. One crewman is sitting down with his legs out in front, holding the Javelin launch tube on his right shoulder, looking through the sighting unit on the side, and stabilising the weapon with his opposing hand. His colleague is kneeling on one knee and pointing to a potential target, while his other hand appears to be resting on his friend’s shoulder. Both men are wearing BDUs with a tactical vest covered in MOLLE loops over their shirt. They are festooned with pouches, and the spotter has his AK-74 slung barrel-down over his shoulder by its strap. The Javelin is made from nine parts, and is a model in itself, with a patch of digital camouflage printed below the instructions. If you’re not a brave modeller, you could always paint them in a one-colour BDU, or pick up a set of decals from Breeze Decals (35-001), and apply small sections with plenty of decal solution. The colour chart shows codes from Vallejo, Lifecolor, Mr.Color, Tamiya and AMMO brands, plus swatches that should allow anyone to choose their paints from their preferred range. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprue for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Master Box’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. As well as the AK-74, there is a Malyuk assault rifle that is a home-grown bullpup AK-74 development, sometimes called Vulcan-M, which is probably just as well, as Malyuk translates to ‘baby’, so isn’t all that aggressive a nickname for a weapon. Conclusion Building this figure set as a tribute to the brave fighters of Ukraine in a small diorama base of long grass or snow would look great in your cabinet, especially if you’re one of those crazy people that can create realistic smoke and flame from a recent launch. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. T-34/85 Mod.1945 Plant 112 (37065) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in huge numbers by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front, sometimes even before the paint was fully dry. The designers combined several important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the ground load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial cramped welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged three-man turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The T-34/85 with the composite turret was manufactured from the summer of 1944 at Krasnoye Sormova plant #112 on the Volga River, with a simplified gun in the turret in the shape of the ZiS-S-53, as well as some other changes. The Composite turret was electrically operated, fitted with a flat roof that had a pair of hatches, one of which was the enlarged commander’s cupola, and with two mushroom vents on the roof to clear fumes from repeated firing. There were some messy welds between the various castings, which gives them a rough appearance 1that belies their capability. The Kit This is a new Interior Kit boxing from MiniArt’s recent T-34 line, so the box is loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes. In total there are seventy-five sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and rear covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the other Factory 112 boxings that we have reviewed here, which is one of the reasons for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and more cost-effective for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving a wide array of options to choose from more likely, which with the rate we’ve received them for review over the years seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of PE brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out additional modelling funds for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four H-shaped tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear, and a pair of pressurised bottles and an axe in the lower glacis. The low-level ammunition storage boxes are made from several parts and is laid in the floor under the turret, with a transverse bar running under the forward crew. The driver’s equipment area is built, adding levers, pioneer tools and foot pedals with actuators into position, and a rack of plate-mags in a tray behind him. The seats are each made from separate pads that share identical back and arm components, fixing them into position on opposite sides of the hull, plus a drum on the left side. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face, drilling a pair of holes near the final drive housing to mount a pair of bump-stop pads later. Additional channels are installed on the inner faces, interspersed with tanks, the inner final drive fairing, and additional suspension detail inside the front. Another layer of detail is placed over the sides, adding ready-rounds, extinguishers and small equipment boxes, plus more ammo on a rack near the bow gunner. The lower hull components are brought together while the engine block is being built, comprehensively depicting the detail of the V12 block, cylinder heads, manifolds, ancillaries and support frame under the sump, building the radiators and fan before the cylinder and two radiator panels are inserted into the rear hull, the engine longitudinally mounted, the radiators facing out along the sides of the engine bay at an angle, linking them with lengths of hose between them and their input/output points on the engine. A bulkhead with a large circular hole in the centre is fitted to the centre of the engine bay, filling the space with the cylindrical fan unit made earlier, then adding supports to the rear end, then building the transmission in the rear compartment with twin cylindrical clutch units, one on each end, followed by linkages and the dynamo. Twin cylindrical airboxes are made from three parts each, fixing them to the inner face of the bulkhead, their shapes contoured to fit around the fan component. Two thick exhaust hoses snake from the rear to the bulkhead, linking the manifolds to the rear of the vehicle. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, with an extending stock for the gunner’s comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured outer protection, fixing an armoured hinge over the driver’s hatch, towing hooks on the glacis, and some combined PE/styrene lugs above them. The upper hull deck and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have several holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way. The glacis plate it fitted to the front, then the assembly is glued to the lower hull, fitting a triangular profile tip across the front, and a row of five track links as combination spares/appliqué armour. At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching a choice of three rear panel that have a circular inspection panel in the centre, drilling some holes for some variants, removing raised detail for another, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers over the short exhaust stubs, and inserting the circular hatch in the centre in open or closed position. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvres that are added with a central inspection hatch, then the completed assembly is fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with louvred grilles are fitted over the large flush louvres later, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, putting the idler axles in at the front, and the small pads mentioned earlier next to the drive sprocket housing. A stowage box is made from two styrene parts with PE brackets and shackles, adding it to the right fender behind a dozen tie-down shackles, and three longer rails on the sloped side of the hull. The driver’s hatch is a complex affair, layered from two thicknesses, adding two periscopes, a bullet-splash shield, an actuator support bracket, and six locking parts, plus a pair of armoured domes over the periscopes on the outside. It can be fitted open or closed, depending on your choice of short or long ram on the hull interior, which also has PE detail. Another stowage box, four more rails, a 2-man saw, and brackets for the spare fuel drums are attached to the left fender, making up two more fuel drum supports on the right, and mounting three rows of track grousers where the tie-downs were glued earlier, stacking six together and using PE straps to hold them down. Three slim fuel drums are built from two halves with end-caps, a filler cap and two PE grab-handles on the ends, also making up two additional short examples, and a further two drums with wire grab-handles moulded-in. The mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with simplified flaps that have PE inner lips to the rear. Depending on which rear bulkhead you chose, different brackets and choice of drums are used, strapping them onto their carriers using PE straps, which are shown being made in a scrap diagram nearby. The longer side tanks are similarly attached, placing two on the right and one on the left of the engine deck, and adding a pair of shovels on a turn-buckle and two PE straps. Ten pairs of road wheels with smooth tyres and separate hub caps are built with two pairs of drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the running gear. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as efficiently spreading the vehicle’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test for a previous boxing, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. The turret starts with the breech, which is built up from dozens of parts over several steps, with another 7.62mm DT machine gun that will be mounted coaxially in the mantlet, with the trunnions fully depicted inside. The turret ring is inserted into the lower turret from within, and the main storage for the bustle ready-rounds is built from five frames that are attached to two angled brackets at the rear, painted, then have the shells with their decal stripes applied after painting inserted tip first, adding locking levers to nubs on one side of the frames. This is inserted into the bustle floor with a stop-board preventing them from falling out, alongside a radio box and some spare magazines for their personal weapons, which are added next with a canister and the rotation mechanism for the turret. A small round fold-up seat is added to the ring, inserting a bracket for another seat across the interior, following which the mantlet is installed, then the breech is slipped into the rear of the mantlet and joined by the sighting gear, then the coax gun in a two-part bracket. Another seat is suspended across the remaining space on three PE straps, The roof is detailed inside with periscopes, wires, lights, vents and other details, applying armoured mushroom shrouds and a short aerial to the exterior in front of the commander’s cupola space, then it is glued to the turret sides, which are moulded as one, briefly prepared by drilling out several holes beforehand. The sidewalls have an interior skin that is first detailed with more ready shells on brackets, spare ammunition magazines, and other small details, then they are glued into position. The commander's cupola is more the complex of the two hatches, made from two rings that has five periscopes inserted in the centre, then it is glued to the roof, creating the hatch frame with a rotating periscope in the fixed forward section, and a simple hatch that can be posed open or closed, adding two small parts inside once it is in position. The Gunner/Loader’s hatch is a simple circular panel with a hinge on one edge, and this too can be posed open or closed as you wish. There are addition details added to the hinge from within, differing in layout between open and closed. The turret halves are then joined, adding tie-downs, a DIY canvas roll that is attached with three PE straps, or if you don’t feel the urge to make a canvas, just leave the straps dangling, or put something else in the straps instead. There is a rectangular cover added over the portion of the breech still visible at the front of the turret, then the slide-moulded gun tube is slotted in, with the mantlet cover slid over the barrel. Rails and a few small parts are fixed to the turret sides, then the completed turret can be lowered into the turret ring in the hull, remembering that this kit doesn’t have toy-like bayonet lugs to hold the turret in place, so you must remember this whenever handling your model after completion. Markings There are seven decal options in the box and they’re all shades of green, which is what you’d expect from a Soviet era-example made in '45 and used after the war. From the box you can build one of the following: 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950 Polish People’s Army, 1950 Polish People’s Army, 1950s National People’s Army of DDR, Early 1960s Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, Early 1960s Operation ‘Whirlwind’ Soviet Army, Hungry, Budapest, Autumn 1956 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion The T-34 played a huge part in Soviet military operations both during WWII and after, finding its way into the arsenals of many Soviet-friendly nations following the war, especially once it had fallen out of frontline use in Soviet forces, at which point it became a bargain basement tank for their neighbours and affiliates. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Calvados Sellers (38071) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Calvados is a French apple Brandy that dates as far back as the 8th century, although it is also made in other countries such as the UK as Cider Brandy. Up until after WWII the produce was typically sold by men carrying round crates of bottles full of Calvados, often on wheeled carts before the motorcar took over as a primary mode of transport. This set depicts a duo of Calvados sellers in traditional garb, pulling a cart laden with crates full of bottles. The set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, two in translucent green and two more in translucent brown. If you’ve already got some of MiniArt’s sets, you might recognise the crate and the bottle sprues from other sets, but the figures are all new. Both men are standing, one in overalls and a cap, carrying a crate across his front, and the other is pulling his cart from behind, wearing an apron with a jacket over the top and a cap like his colleague. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories include parts for four crates, all parts with a wooden texture moulded-in, and with internal divides to store the bottles, which are provided on another four translucent sprues, attached to the parts via the bases for minimal clean-up. Construction of these and the cart are covered on the rear of the box, the cart having a planked wooden bed, sprung axles with cart wheels, and two supports to the front that keep the cart level when it is stationary. A fine wooden grain is also moulded into the appropriate areas of the cart to add realism and aid you with painting the model. The paintings on the rear of the box give combined codes for the parts on the sprues, plus the colour codes in blue boxes that correspond to the table near the bottom of the box rear. Conclusion More super figures from MiniArt with dynamic poses, clothing and appropriate accessories that give them their raison d’être. Perfect for your next diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Butchers (38073) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This set includes a pair of butchers at work in their profession, dressed typically in clothing that was seen before the modern age, when safety and hygiene are more to the fore, and rightly so. Inside the open-ended figure-sized box are four sprues, two containing the figures and two their equipment, various cuts of meat and a trolley. A combined painting and parts diagram is shown on the rear of the box, the part numbers in black alpha-numerical codes, and the paint in numbers in small blue boxes that correspond to a table near the bottom of the box, which gives suggested colour codes in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names to help you with choosing your paint. One butcher is standing with his feet planted wide and arms folded, hiding his bulk under a leather apron that has a cleaver hanging from a loop, with a small peaked cap on his head, and a broad handlebar moustache covering his top lip. The other man is wearing an apron under a body-warmer, and has a side of meat resting across his shoulders and held with both gloved hands, protecting his neck with a short towel. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus a sprue of meat to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama. There are two half sides of meat in addition to the one being toted, a couple of chickens or turkeys, a hog’s head, a leg of meat, and various sausages in links, rolls or as singles. The last item is a trolley that is shown made up on the rear of the box, adding two wheels on an axle to the ladder chassis, a pair of rear supports, and a stop-end on the lower. Conclusion Fantastically detailed figures and accessories that are just right for a diorama or vignette, either posed in the doorway of their shop, or behind the counter of a street market. You also get the world's happiest decapitated pig, assuring you that no animals were harmed during the making of this set. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Tool Set (49013) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd It's a constant in war or peace that equipment breaks and the mechanics/fitters must repair them, whether it's wear-and-tear, accidental damage, clumsiness, misuse or due to enemy action, it all ends up in the same place if it's deemed suitable for repair, providing it's not behind enemy lines or under heavy bombardment. From WWII onwards, fighting tended to be fast-moving, so transporting anything back to a bricks and mortar workshop well behind the lines is time-consuming, and sometimes impossible, not to mention highly impractical once the lines of communication stretch far enough, so a field workshop is used instead, bringing their tools with them. This can be anything from a literal field to a large empty building that is commandeered by the "grease monkeys" so they can ply their trade. The Kit This set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box with a detailed painting of the contents on the front, a painting guide on the rear. Inside are six sprues of grey styrene that included many tools, two small frets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, and a double-sided sheet of instructions that guide you through building the more complex assemblies. There is a compressor with received and transport trolley; a two-part anvil; two styles of bucket/pales with PE handles; a wood saw made from two laminations of PE parts; a bench grinder with two wheels; a bench vice with separate mounting plate; a clamp-on vice with PE winder; two wooden tool boxes with tubular handles and a complement of tools; two wooden step ladders built from three parts each; a bench press drill with belt-drive; a two-man saw made from three PE parts and styrene handles; a hack saw with PE blade; two oxy-acetylene gas bottles with regulators and six spares with caps; a tubular trolley with space for two bottles and cast-iron wheels; an expanding metal tool box in the closed position with PE handle, plus another with the trays swung out that has tools moulded into the trays, the same PE handle and two PE open lid parts. Other parts that need less information or gluing are various hand tools such as various sized hammers, a pick-axe, two different axes, box plane, shovel & spade, pry bar, a pump, a welder’s torch and mask, blow-torch, G-clamp, belly-brace & bit, oil can and two spanners. You are provided with guidance on the colours of everything in the box on the rear, using swatches, colour names and paint codes from Vallejo, Mr.Color, AMMO, AK RealColor, Mission Models, and Tamiya, but other than the metal tool surfaces, most parts can be any colour you wish, within reason. Conclusion Detail is excellent, and is a perfect backdrop of a 1:48 diorama, providing items that have previously been unavailable separately or hard to find in styrene at this scale before. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. StuH.42 Ausf.G Mid Prod. Jul-Oct 1943 (35385) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Following WWI the German military had identified a weakness in their forces, in that their advancing troops often left behind the support of their artillery as they moved forward, leading to a call for the creation of Sturmartillerie, which was effectively a mobile artillery piece that could travel alongside their forces, providing valuable protection. By the time the Nazis were gearing up their economy and military for war more openly, a requirement for just such a vehicle was made official, mating the chassis of the then current Panzer III with a short-barrelled 75mm gun in a fixed armoured casemate with limited traverse, which gave the type a distinctive howitzer-style look. In the later variants a longer high-velocity gun, the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 replaced the shorter gun to give it an improved penetrating power that was more in alignment with the Tank Killer job that it had become used for. These vehicles were designated Ausf.F or G, and were amongst the most produced version of this almost ubiquitous WWII tank. A project to up-gun the StuG was instigated using an Ausf.F chassis and a 10.5cm leFH 18 howitzer, taking the name Sturmhaubitze 42 or StuH 42 for short. The rounds were electrically fired, and it was to be fitted with a muzzle-brake to bleed off some of the recoil, and a dozen of this type were made from repaired Ausf.F examples, then almost 1,300 built as infantry support that were based on the Ausf.G, some without their muzzle-brakes due to the limited availability of certain metals as the war continued to turn against the Nazis, thanks to the Allied bomber force bombing their industrial base into rubble on a 24/7 schedule. The Kit MiniArt have now released several toolings of the late StuG III and this minor retool to depict the howitzer equipped sub-variant is a continuation of the Ausf.G series, which had changes layered on changes during the final batches as the war ground to its ultimate conclusion. This boxing depicts a mid-production vehicle, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the MiniArt style, with attractive artwork and decal profiles on one side. Inside the box are forty-three sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, two large Photo-Etch (PE) frets of brass parts, decal sheet, and glossy-covered instruction booklet with colour profiles in the front and rear. 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, including individual track links that are different from the earlier pre-series kit we reviewed some time ago. Construction begins with the floor, which receives the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine that isn’t part of this boxing, and the support structure for the gun, which is made up from substantial beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15° travel for fine-tuning lateral aim. The rear bulkhead is set against the engine mounts with its exhausts and towing eyes applied to the exterior later, and the hull sides are mated to the floor, with the bases for the final drive housing glued either side of a choice of three styles of front bulkhead, installing the engine firewall in the centre of the floor for structural strength. The glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches are given a similar treatment, plus another appliqué panel, and the usual exhaust covers, towing lugs that have pins with PE chain-retainers and idler protection are added to the rear, and a radiator exhaust assembly with PE grille is made up and applied above it, adding some heat deflecting tinwork to the hull. Narrow bolted panels are added to the sides of the hull in preparation for the upper hull parts that are added next. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are well-detailed externally, including vision slots and lifting eyes. The shape of the casemate is completed 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 bolted appliqué armour, 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. The commander’s cupola is built on a circular base into which seven clear periscopes are slipped, completing the task later with several protectors, PE details and a set of V-shaped binocular sighting glasses in the separate front section of the cupola that can be open or closed independently of the main hatch. Much of the gun breech detail is represented, and a large trunnion is fitted onto the two pins on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse, and sighting gear is installed on the breech, although it’s unlikely to be seen as anything other than a dim shadow within, especially once the roof is in place. The roof-mounted MG34 has a separate breech cover and a drum mag, fitting on the roof in the ready-for-action post with the gunner’s hatch open behind it, and the gun slipped through the slot in the splinter shield. It can also be posed pushed down flat with the gun absent and the hatch closed for travel. The engine deck is built up with tapered sides and armoured intake louvres added outside them, drilling two holes for three of the decal options, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay. A length of spare track links is fixed across the rear of the casemate with the fume extraction armour in the centre with the barrel cleaning rods underneath, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents. two pairs of road wheels are carried on the deck on six pins welded to the rearmost pair of hatches, with a flat stowage box mounted between them on PE brackets. In reverse of many AFV kits, the hull sides are decorated with suspension parts, the idler wheels and final drive housings, adding three turrets on each side that carry the return-rollers later. A group of pioneer tools are dotted around the sides of the engine deck, including a fire extinguisher with PE frame, after which the paired wheels are fixed to the axles, with drive-sprockets at the front and idler wheels with PE rings at the rear, plus a trio of paired return rollers near the top of the hull sides. https://www.britmodeller.com/reviews/creative/miniart/kits35/35385-stuh.42.ausf.g.mid/sprue10.jpg https://www.britmodeller.com/reviews/creative/miniart/kits35/35385-stuh.42.ausf.g.mid/tracks.jpg The tracks are individual links that are friction-fitted, using 94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, plus an occasional wisp of flash on the highly detailed sides, which will need scraping away with a sharp blade. I created a length in short order, and the result is a very well-detailed track with flexibility to adjust them around the running gear of your model, 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, one of two types of fenders are attached to the hull sides on small brackets, with mudguards and tiny 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 mounted in the centre of the glacis, and either the highly detailed PE fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer on the rear left fender. Shovels, pry bars, track-tools, 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 107mm cable material yourself, with a set of PE tie-downs holding them and the tools in place on each side. The short howitzer barrel is a single part with hollow muzzle and two-part brake insert, sliding into the short sleeve via an end-cap, the sleeve moulded into the front of the inverted saukopf mantlet that is made from an additional two parts before it is slid over the recoil tubes and breech. A pair of aerials are installed on the corners of the casemate rear wall, and variations of additional track lengths as appliqué armour at the rear, under the glacis or on the armoured sides of the mantlet. Some decal options add the brackets for the Schürzen along the sides of the hull and fenders with a few small added outriggers, although two decal options don’t have them fitted. The four PE schürzen panels per side are detailed with additional rectangular panels on their upper surface, and once the glue between the two layers of PE has cured, you simply hang them on the hooks, gluing them in place if you wish. Markings There are six markings options included on the decal sheet, all of them with varying camouflage based upon dunkelgelb with splotches or patterns of other colours to a greater or lesser extent. From the box you can build one of the following: 5.Komp. II. Abt. Pz.Reg. Hermann Göring, Italy, 1943 Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Autumn, 1943 3. Pz.Gren.Div. ‘Totenkopf’, Eastern Front, Autumn, 1943 Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Autumn, 1943 StuG. Abt. 237., Eastern Front, Elnya, Autumn, 1943 StuG. Abt. 276., Eastern Front, Autumn, 1943 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whilst it might easily be mistaken for a StuG if you don’t notice the barrel, the StuH is just a little different from the usual, with its stubby barrel, the muzzle brake giving it a more aggressive look. The detail in the kit is excellent, and it will keep you busy for many a happy hour. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. M1A2 SEP Abrams Tusk II US Main Battle Tank (72-003) Meng via Creative Models Ltd The Abrams Main Battle Tank is the direct replacement to the M60, when it was realised that the venerable design was ill-suited to further modification to cope with emerging threats that were entering the battlespace. The new design entered limited service in 1980 and went on to become the main heavy tank in the Army and Marines branches of the American armed forces. It saw extensive action in the two Gulf Wars, where it fared extremely well against older Soviet designs with minimal damage inflicted in a tank-on-tank fight due to its composite armour and accuracy at extended range. It was developed further with the AIM programme, which upgraded the battle management systems and returned the vehicles to factory fresh condition. The A2 was improved again, giving the commander his own sighting system as well as other system changes. The SEP received additional changes to its armour and systems, with a remote weapons station added later. With the involvement of the Abrams in urban combat during the Afghanistan campaign, it became clear that the tank was vulnerable in close-quarters combat, where the top of the tank was open to attack from small arms fire, and RPGs could be used with relative safety of the firing team, who could pop up and disappear in between shots, giving the tank crews little indication of where the shot originated. The problems of IEDs buried under roads or in buildings also disabled several tanks in action, all of which led to the TUSK and improved TUSK II upgrade packages, which stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit. To counter IEDs a shallow V-shaped keel was added to the underside to deflect blast away from the hull, reactive armour blocks were added to the side skirts and turret, and bullet-resistant glass and metal cages were mounted around the crew hatches on the turret to provide protection for the crew during urban operations, or if they were called upon to use their weapons in combat. A combat telephone was also installed on the rear of the tank to allow better communication between accompanying troops and the tanks, as well as slat armour at the rear to protect the exhaust grilles of the gas turbine engine, the blast from which was directed upwards by a deflector panel that could be attached to the grille to avoid cooking the troops behind. The TUSK II kit improved on the original TUSK with shaped charges incorporated into the ERA blocks on the sides of the tank, and additional shields for the crew when exposed. Both kits were field-installable, which reduced the cost and time the vehicles spent out of commission. The A3 variant is intended to incorporate many weight-saving changes, such as internal fibre-optic data transmission, lightness of armour and gun, amongst many other improvements. This is still distant and far from guaranteed, given the changes already seen in planning that have included a totally new platform, so it looks like the A2 will be around for some time yet, possibly until 2050 while the politicians make up their minds. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Meng from their new 1:72 scale AFV range, and it arrives in a sturdy end-opening box that should be as hard to crush as any top-opener. Attractive box art is found on top, while painting details are on the back of the box, and inside are six sprues of light grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet, and a black and white instruction booklet in portrait A5, with a sprue diagram on the rear page. Detail is good, with link-and-length tracks, separate ERA blocks, raised weld-lines, and detailed road wheels that are moulded individually, rather than in a long run as with earlier kits from other manufacturers. In terms of detail, this could well become the de facto standard in this scale, based on what we have seen. Construction begins with sixteen paired road wheels and two drive sprockets, all of which are made from two halves, and are set to one side while the lower hull is made up from floor and two side panels that slot into the back of the suspension mounts moulded into the floor for a strong bond. The swing arms are moulded into the floor, save for the two forward wheel stations, which are linked together by a damper, and are formed from a separate part that is slotted into holes in the side walls along with two return rollers per side. The TUSK keel, front idler wheel and rear drive sprocket are then installed so that the tracks can be made up, built from two long runs top and bottom, two diagonal lengths under the ends, and a curved section of three links to fit around the ends of the road wheels. The Abrams doesn’t have much in the way of sag in the top track run, but these won’t be seen, so it’s a little accuracy hidden away, and it’s possible the top run could be omitted to save modelling time if you feel the urge. The upper hull has headlight clusters and the driver’s hatch fitted before the lower hull it given a rear bulkhead, which also has light clusters moulded into the rear in cylindrical projections, adding a field telephone box, towing hook and eye, plus the afore mentioned blast deflector for the hot exhaust. The two hull halves can then be mated, and the side-skirts installed, followed by the curved ERA panels over the top, locating them on four lugs in the surface of the skirts. The majority of the turret is moulded as a single part, with just the rear bulkhead a separate part with the crosswind sensor pole moulded-in, adding the gunner’s hatch, the binocular FLIR box on top with optional open doors to display the clear lenses, a spare ammo box for the pintle-mounted crew weapons, and the drum-shaped gunner’s primary sight to the roof. The gun is moulded as one part with the fume extractor hump and a separate muzzle with velocity sensor, after which it is plugged into the mantlet, with coax machine gun moulded-in, held in position by gluing the top and bottom turret halves together, taking care to keep the glue away from the pivots. Each side of the turret has a set of stowage boxes with IFF placards moulded-in, topped with a lid and separate ammo can, fitted in place with the smoke discharger packages at the front on their mounts. Armour plates and ERA blocks are applied over the front portions on both sides, leaving the IFF boards exposed, and installing the top of the mantlet on a tab, again being careful with the glue. The aircon unit is fixed to the floor of the stowage area at the rear of the turret, mounting the tubular frame, IED disruptor aerials, another tubular rack for more storage that includes a couple of jerry cans, and a separate IFF board hung on the rear. Crew protection is begun by installing a protective shroud around the left of the gunner’s hatch, creating the machine gun emplacement on a ring around which the heavily modified LMG is rotated, protected at the sides by two window panels that have clear panes in the centre, and for once the thickness of the glazing is suitable for the scale. A third glass panel is fitted to the right, with another without a window on the left, which usually faces the commander’s more complex cupola. An eight-block vision-block ring is inserted from under the cupola, which has a two-part hatch inserted into the centre, then the M2 .50cal with ammo box is slipped through the front splinter guard, which has two clear panes installed, adding a three-facet fixed set with individual windows on the right, and another two-part pair of windowed panels on the left, all of which fit into the top of the cupola on slots. As if there weren’t enough guns available, the remote .50cal mount over the mantlet is attached with an ammo box on a separate bracket. To finish the build, the turret is lowered onto the hull and twisted into position, locking on a pair of bayonet lugs moulded into the turret ring that correspond with notches in the hull ring. Markings There is only one decal option supplied in this boxing, the details of which are found on the rear of the box. It’s a desert vehicle from Iraq, painted a desert tan. From the box you can build the following: The decals are printed in China, and beyond that we don’t have any more information. Under magnification they are a little hazy, but once applied they should look fine to the Mk.1 eyeball, especially after a little weathering to the finished model. Don’t let it put you off, as everything looks worse under 3x magnification. Conclusion A well-detailed new tooling of the almost ubiquitous Abrams in smaller scale, which should put some of the older tools out to grass, and allow modellers to build a more detailed, modern US MBT out of the box, and at a pretty reasonable price in our inflation-soaked world. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Men with Wooden Barrels (38070) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Wooden barrels. You don't see so many of them these days without flowers sprouting from them, but before mass-produced metal and plastic barrels became the de facto standard, they would have been much more prevalent where large quantities of anything needed to be stored. Everyone’s thinking of beer right now, but they have been used for a great many things over the years, so they’re not only found in pubs and breweries. Barrels need someone or something to move them around, most of the hard work being done by wagons called drays that were pulled by cart horses fed on hay and grain, later to be moved around by internal combustion engined trucks. Moving them the last few yards was still usually a manual job, requiring strong folk to roll them around and take them to their final resting place, at least until they’re empty. The Kit It arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box with four sprues, plus a sheet of decals for stencilling of the ends of the barrels. There are four barrels of two types, one larger than the other, plus two figures to do the heavy lifting. It is worthy of note that the barrels have plank grooves inside, so an empty barrel without a lid is just as realistic, and there are supports to allow you to place the barrels horizontally, plus a spigot for a barrel that’s already been tapped. The two gentlemen doing the lifting are well-built types, one of a slighter stature that is wearing a shirt, apron and beret, with a pair of stout gloves tucked into his waist. The burly man is wearing a simple pair of denim dungarees and boots, wearing nothing on his exposed upper body save for the bib and braces over his shoulders. He is a muscular fellow from years of barrel wrangling, and you will need to fill the joints between his arms and torso as a result as the seam runs around his shoulders by necessity. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed where possible along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. Markings The small decal sheet includes four stencils for the barrel ends, and the back of the box shows where to place them, and suggests some colours to paint the figures if you’re short on inspiration with paint codes from Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus generic names and swatches. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Great figures for any diorama with the need for some barrels and men to shift them. Put them in the background or front-and-centre of your next creation to add some human scale. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. Cheese Sellers (38076) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Anyone for a wheel of cheese? It sounds a little strange referring to cheese that can be bought as a wheel, but that’s how cheese was originally made, either as a shallow cylindrical ‘wheel’, or a portion or wedge for those with a lesser appetite or budget. Up until relatively recently, that’s how it was sold, and could be purchased from a street vendor before we sullied the air with coal dust and other contaminants. This set arrives in an end-opening figure box, and contains two figures, a cheese cart, six shallow trays, a LOT of cheese of various shapes and sizes, plus a sack trolley for the larger cheese wheels if you wish to use it. Inside the box are twelve sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a small decal sheet, and an instruction sheet for the cheese cart and trolley. The back of the box sports a highly detailed rendering of the cover art with the background removed, plus several small paintings that depict the various cheeses and the trolley, giving part numbers and colour suggestions for them all, including the figures, accompanied by a table that gives colour codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, and Tamiya. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. One character is a lady in a skirt and blouse with an apron and pleated hat indicating she’s the seller, that and the fact that she’s wearing white gloves and is cutting into a wheel of cheese. The other person is a lady in a knee-length sleeveless dress, counting her change before putting it back in the bag hung over one arm. The thickness of the hem of the skirt has been slimmed down to give a more realistic effect, as is that of the cheese purveyor. The cheeses are found on four identical sprues, plus another two with smaller cheeses and some meat, some of the cheeses of the holey variety. There are also two sprues of trays, each containing parts for three, the planked bases having the longer sides moulded-in, adding separate ends with handles cut-out of the centre. The boxes are displayed on the cart, which has a planked base, two rails with stands and suspension moulded-in, and handles at the end, across which the axle fits along with two spoked wheels. The boxes are raised to an angle on a pair of stands that locate in holes in the cart’s deck. The trolley for the big cheeses is made from a ladder with a C-shaped bracket at the bottom, an axle and small wheels, plus short supports near the handle ends. Markings You are at liberty to paint the figures, cart and trolley any colour you like, but the cheeses are usually some variation between yellow and orange, with a few exceptions such as Edam with its waxy red covering. The decal sheet that is included with the model is printed with a plethora of labels for your painted cheeses, four of them larger, the rest in more moderate sizes, which should be enough to finish the cheeses included in the box, especially if you apply decals to only the top cheese of any stacks you make. Decals are screen-printed by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whilst people wouldn’t be selling cheese in the middle of a street battle, there are still plenty of opportunities to incorporate this set into your next diorama, vignette, or just build and paint it for the sake of having it on your shelf. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Milkmen (38468) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models We don’t know who it was that first decided that cow’s milk looked like it could be good to drink, or when we first started to drink it, but start we did, and we still do unless we’re vegan or lactose intolerant. Until very recently, milk was typically delivered to your door by a milkman, driving a cart around towns and villages in the wee small hours of the morning, ensuring that we have a fresh pint to pour over our cereal or in our tea when we awaken. This carried on throughout most of the 20th century, originally with a hand cart or horse-drawn wagon, but latterly in stealthy electric-powered floats that were early adopters of greener energy, but with gigantic lead-acid batteries instead of the modern lithium-Ion cells used by electric cars. The Kit Inside the figure-sized box are five sprues in grey styrene, two containing the figures, two full of parts for milk churns, the last containing crates to carry milk bottles that are on an additional clear sprue. There are two milkmen, the parts for each figure to be found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or other natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. There are four milk churns that have slide-moulded bodies to which the base and lid are added, some of which will need scratch-built handles across the tops, one with additional handles on the sides, two with single folding handles over the top, and one more with the fixed handles already moulded-in. The milk crate is built from four sides, adding the base with moulded-in dividers to accept the ten milk bottles that are found on the clear sprue. The instructions are found on the rear of the box, and there are also colour suggestions to assist you if you are unsure of a suitable scheme. Conclusion Milk delivery carried on throughout WWII on all sides, despite destruction of infrastructure, occupation and mortal danger at times, so a pair of milkmen laden down with their wares picking their way through rubble wasn’t an entirely unusual sight. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Wooden Barrels (49014) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Wooden barrels. You don't see so many of them these days without flowers in them, but before mass-produced metal and plastic barrels became the de facto standard, they were much more prevalent where large quantities of anything needed to be stored. Everyone’s probably thinking of beer right now, but they have been used for a great many things over the years, so they’re not only found in pubs and breweries. The set arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box with five identical sprues, and instructions printed on the rear of the box. It gives you a substantial quantity of styrene barrels in different sizes with various hoop patterns. It is worthy of note that the barrels also have plank grooves inside, so an empty barrel will be just as realistic to an intrepid viewer. Each barrel can be built as an ordinary barrel from two halves plus two end-caps, or with the addition of a spigot on one end, they can be mounted horizontally on a trestle that allows them to rest on their sides without them rolling away. There are four types of barrels on each sprue, so five of each can be made, and each one can be laid on a trestle if you wish, totalling twenty barrels in two sizes and two hoop styles for each size. Conclusion Barrels are an excellent cargo for vehicles, carts, or to fill empty spaces within a building. The detailed wooden texture can be brought out with careful painting or dry-brushing, adding patina to the metal banding for some contrast. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Tempo E400 Railway Maintenance Truck with Personnel (38063) 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 finally 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 the 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 faired-in sides and rear tailgate for easy access to the contents. 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 drooping lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen’s frame, drilling two holes in the top corners, and fitting as small PE part on the bottom left of the firewall. 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, plus the bonnet latch in the centre. 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 hinge panels 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 along with the roof, 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, as if the three-wheeler wasn’t dangerous enough! The rear chassis is built around a tubular centreline member with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and adding hubs with brake discs 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 jointing part 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-lines made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire, then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis. The load bed floor is a single part, adding side panels, lights on a PE bracket, adding angle brackets to the front for attachment to the cab. The tailgate is fitted with a choice of two styles of PE number plate, adding rear arches to ridges on the side panels, then old-school swinging pegs that are fitted between the sides and tailgate. 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 under the grille, 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 louvres that hooks onto the latch at the top of the windscreen. 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 more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”. Isn’t that nice? After installing the front wheel and finishing the wiring, the cowling can be fixed in the open or closed position, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof over the windscreen, holding it up past vertical against the screen. A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a pair of wing mirrors on angled arms are glued to holes in the front of the bulkhead on each side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance that the etched rivets are what holds it in place. MiniArt have considerately included a handful of sprues of parts for you to add to the load bed of your newly-minted E400 wagen, including two track ties/sleepers, bucket, fire extinguisher, lantern, blowtorch, and various hand-tools for you to use at your whim, or load it up with a loose cargo, such as a big pile of ballast as seen in the profiles below. Figures Four figures and a collection of tools and accessories pertinent to their trades are included, in various poses to add a human scale to the model. There’s a man bending forward whilst lifting a shovel-load of aggregate, another oiling something (hopefully not the other fellow’s ear), and a chap holding a toolbag, oily rag, and a lantern, then a more smartly dressed gentleman who is either their boss, the lookout, or both. He’s holding a small trumpet to his lips as if to blow a warning note to get the crew off the lines. The two accessory sprues carry a tool bag and box, folio case, a large shovel, oil-can, lamp, lollipop, handheld torch, and a folded flag for the gang boss to wear on his hip for easy access. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing, textures and accessories appropriate to the parts of the model. The painting guide on the rear of the instructions doubles as the construction guide, and if you look carefully you’ll see that you need to supply a length of wire for the small lamp that one of the figures is holding. You’ll also need to make up the ballast or whatever it is that the shovelling man is moving, but as you’re likely to be putting him into a backdrop with your own choice of groundworks, that shouldn’t present a problem. Paint colours are given as swatches in the codes of Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO and the colour name in English, so finding a suitable shade from your own stocks will be a doddle. Markings There are four decal options for the truck on the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the operator. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichbahn, Early 1940s Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), Early 1940s Deutsche Reichsbahn, 1940s Deutsche Bundesbahn, 1950s Deutsche Reichsbahn, DDR, 1950s Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s weird with a handful of quirky, so of course like it, and 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 guaranteed there would be more of these coming, and I was right – I’ve lost count of how many we’ve had a look at now. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Field Workshop (49012) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd It's a constant in war or peace that equipment breaks and the mechanics/fitters must repair them, whether it's wear-and-tear, accidental damage, clumsiness, misuse or due to enemy action, it all ends up in the same place if it's deemed suitable for repair, providing it's not behind enemy lines or under heavy bombardment. From WWII onwards, fighting tended to be fast-moving, so transporting anything back to a bricks and mortar workshop well behind the lines is time-consuming, and sometimes impossible, not to mention highly impractical once the lines of communication stretch far enough, so the field workshop is used instead. This can be anything from a literal field to a large empty building that is commandeered by the "grease monkeys" so they can ply their trade. The Kit This set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box with a detailed painting of the contents on the front, and a painting guide on the rear. Inside are six sprues of grey styrene, two small frets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, and a double-sided sheet of instructions that guide you through building the more complex assemblies. There are four fuel barrels in two halves with interchangeable ends; a manual pump that you must provide the wire to depict the hose; a two-part anvil; two styles of bucket/pales with PE handles; a wood saw made from two laminations of PE parts; an open-topped wooden tool box with various tools; a bench vice with separate mounting plate; two trestle-style work benches; a clamp-on vice with PE winder; two three-part ‘dining’ chairs; a wooden step ladder built from three parts; a two-man saw made from three PE parts and styrene handles; a hack saw with PE blade; two three-part stools; two oxy-acetylene gas bottles with regulators and two spares with caps; a tubular trolley with space for two bottles and cast-iron wheels; an expanding metal tool box in the closed position with PE handle, plus another with the trays swung out that has tools moulded into the trays, the same PE handle and two PE open lid parts. Other parts that need less information or gluing are various hand tools such as various sized hammers, a pick-axe, two different axes, box plane, shovel & spade, pry bar, a pump, a welder’s torch and mask, blow-torch, G-clamp, belly-brace & bit, oil can and two spanners. You are provided with guidance on the colours of everything in the box on the rear, using swatches, colour names and paint codes from Vallejo, Mr.Color, AMMO, AK RealColor, Mission Models, and Tamiya, but other than the metal tool surfaces, most parts can be any colour you wish, within reason. Conclusion Detail is excellent, and is a perfect backdrop of a 1:48 diorama, providing items that have previously been unavailable separately or hard to find in styrene at this scale before. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. F-4E Phantom II (LS-017) 1:48 MENG Model via Creative Models Ltd The Phantom bears a familial resemblance to the F3H Demon due to the company of origin of the type, which was intended to be a Super Demon with a modular nose for different mission profiles, but in typical military procurement style the world over, the specification was changed completely at the last minute, and resulted in a two-seat, two-engined beast that could carry a substantial war load, a large, effective radar in the bulbous nose, and the workload spread between two crew members to prevent confusion of an overwhelmed pilot in the heat of battle. The type was adopted by the US Navy as the F-4A, and as the F-4C by the Air Force, with a confusing (to me) allocation of letters throughout its career, with more confusion (again for me) when it came to the British airframes, and don’t even mention the engines and other equipment. The F-4E was the most numerous of all the Phantom variants, with over a thousand produced for the US Air Force, and bringing the gun back to the gunfight by mounting an M61 Vulcan cannon that utilised the nose of an F-4C but with a smaller radar that allowed space for the cannon. Low-speed handling had been improved by the addition of leading-edge slats, which although it affected top-speed was a compromise that the designers felt was worth making. The engines were more powerful too, increasing the thrust available under afterburner, first flying in 1965 and reaching service soon after. Later in its career its avionics were upgraded to allow it to carry the AGM-65 Maverick missile that was a capable Air-to-Ground missile widely used in US and NATO forces. There were several sub-variants and upgrades to the most numerous variant, such as Israel, Turkey and Greece, who have all fielded enhanced versions of the E, and some US airframes were converted to the later G or ‘Wild Weasel’ variant that served in the Gulf War, eventually retiring from service in 1996. The Kit This is a minor variation on a brand-new tooling from Meng that was greeted with some happy faces when it was first announced. It arrives in a deep satin-finished top-opening box with a painting of the type carrying tanks and Sidewinders, showing off its dihedral outer wing panels and anhedral stabilisers to the rear. Inside are eight sprues in grey styrene plus six separate parts to build the airframe and wings, plus another twenty in the same colour for the weapons. The clear sprue is deeply recessed to accommodate the sliding moulds that depict the blown canopy profile, plus another seven smaller clear sprues for lenses and missile sensors. A small bag includes two Photo-Etch (PE) parts that have two swash-plates that have been etched without attachment lugs, so don’t need any clean-up, plus a turned aluminium pitot for the nose. The package is completed by a set of pre-cut and weeded masks on a piece of white paper, plus a large decal sheet and colourful instruction booklet printed on glossy paper with colour profiles in the rear. Detail is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Meng, and the main assemblies that aren’t on sprues are impressive straight from the box, as they test clipped together without glue and the seams just blended-in, most of them running along carefully chosen panel lines, which are finely engraved with lots of variations of recessed and raised detail. Construction begins with the cockpit, which starts life as a blank tub that has detail inserts with decals added to depict the side consoles front and rear. A pair of rudder pedals are inserted into the front cockpit, and the two positions are separated by a bulkhead, with another at the rear, plus a floor insert with pedals in the rear ‘pit. Both crew members get an instrument panel and control column, the panels having numerous decals applied after painting according to diagrams nearby, to add realism to the raised and engraved details already present. At the rear of each cockpit a ladder-like launch rail is fitted and an insert is fixed to the right side of the RIO’s seat, although the other sidewalls don’t have any details added. The completed cockpit is inserted into the nose of the fuselage from beneath, then a boxed-in bay with contents is applied to the aperture in the left side of the nose. Moving aft, the lower tail insert is prepared by adding the slotted stabilisers, sliding their tabs through the PE swash-plates as they are applied, with an additional scrap diagram showing them from overhead. They are allowed to pivot by a semi-cylindrical block that fits into the space between the stabs without glue, so that when the insert is offered up to the fuselage and glued in place, they should remain mobile unless you were too frivolous with the glue. The auxiliary intakes and landing gear bays are made up from four and three parts respectively and inserted into the lower fuselage/wing part along with the nose gear bay from the inside, which is made from five parts and fixes inside the raised brackets within. The engine intake path is depicted as a pair of linked A-shaped halves that by necessity have a couple of ejector-pin marks on the interior surface, which are best dealt with before you have joined them together. Once together and the seams have been dealt with if you think they’ll be seen, the front engine faces with separate bullet are inserted into the rear end and the completed assembly is slotted into the lower fuselage on curved supports and circular turrets to hold them in position. The engines themselves are absent as they won’t be seen, but the exhaust trunking is visible, and it is made up from two halves plus the rear face of the engine and an afterburner ring. There is some nice ribbing moulded into the interior of the halves, and once complete they too are dropped into supports and rectangular turrets in preparation for closing the fuselage after the wing uppers have been joined to the moulded-in lowers. The dihedral of the outer wing panels is obtained thanks to the angled tab that fits into the lower, and it is also a single thickness part. With the outer panels in place, the inner panels are laid over them and these mount on circular turrets in the lower to ensure they locate accurately on the wing. The upper fuselage is then dropped over the lower, with a variety of pins and turrets plus a pair of rectangular tabs and slots moulded into the root of the upper wing panels, which is a neat design trick. The intakes either side of the cockpit are made up from two inner layers plus the outer skin, and they fix to the fuselage by two pins and turrets moulded into the splitter plates, and by two ledges that should hold the intake skins flush with the rest of the fuselage. A quick test-fit showed that the do, which is always nice. The wings have most of their flying surfaces as separate assemblies, starting with the flaps on the inner trailing edge, and the ailerons on the outer, both of which can be posed flush or dropped by cutting off a different set of tabs as per the additional drawings between the steps that show the two options. The arrestor hook is filled out by adding the other half of the housing, and it installs between the exhaust nozzles, which are each made up on a shallow ring to which four sections of exhaust petals are added, forming a slightly tapered cylindrical can with good detail. Above the tail, the fin and separate rudder has the base fillet and a small insert glued to it before it is fixed to the top of the fuselage on three pegs, plus an insert under the rudder and a fairing over the rearmost tip of the fuselage. The inner wing panels have retractable leading-edge slats, and these can be posed deployed or tucked away by inserting spacers under the slats or not, taking care to deal with any visible ejector-pin marks under the slats if they are deployed. Unusually, the inner main bay doors and auxiliary air intake doors are applied to the underside at this stage, the latter having retraction jacks, and remembering that the interior is painted red except for the oleo on the retraction jacks. Similarly, the air-brake panel just behind the main gear bays is painted red inside, while the jack is white and the oleo metallic. The main gear struts have the two-part wheels and captive bay door fitted before they are installed with their retraction jacks and additional outboard bay door, the bay doors painted white to match the bays. The nose gear leg has a two-part scissor-link and a cylinder fitted plus two smaller wheels, then it is inserted into the bay and supported by a retraction jack, adding a combined cross-member with door actuator in the centre, which links to the bay door on that side. The bay door on the starboard side is made from two layers to match the contours of the fairing under the nose, and has a blade antenna fixed at the rear. The front door hinges forward, and is made from five parts with clear lenses for the landing light and its pass-through window, and a U-shaped actuator that links it to the strut. The bay on the port side is covered over by its door if like me you have no idea what is in there, then the fairing under the nose is installed, fitting just about perfectly into the recess on two pegs after gluing three small parts near the front. The nose cone over the radar is clipped into the front of the nose, with an oval insert on the hinge-point, adding a small flat intake under the starboard side, locating it using a peg that fits into a socket in the fuselage. You may have noticed that the cockpit wasn’t quite finished earlier, and the pilots don’t yet have anywhere to sit. The seats are made from two halves to create the shell, into which the L-shaped cushion and horse-shoe top cushion are installed, adding a top to the headbox that also incorporates the twin loops that instigate the ejection sequence in an emergency. Once painted they are slipped into the cockpit on the front of their launch rails, and the pilot’s coaming is fitted with a HUD frame and clear lens with reflector so that it can be inserted in front of the pilot and covered by the windscreen, adding few clear parts on the spine behind the cockpit. The windscreen and the rest of the canopy parts are moulded with a realistic ‘blown’ profile by using a sliding mould, so the outer surface has a fine seamline along the line of flight, which you can either ignore or sand away and polish back to clarity for additional realism. The centre-section of the canopy has a styrene part added to the front that the front canopy is hung on and a clear part behind, then the two canopy openers are joined to their styrene frames. The canopies can be fixed closed or open by adding actuator jacks into the rear, which is given a little extra realism by including the crew access ladder that is made from three parts and hooks into the port side of the front cockpit. The last task is probably best left until the very end, and it involves a choice of styrene or metal pitot applied to the tip of the nose cone. The styrene pitot is a single part that fixes directly into the radome, but if using the metal probe, there is a conical styrene adapter that fits into a 0.5mm hole drilled into the tip of the radome, into which the metal pitot slides, using CA to fix it in place. The quantity of weapons included in the box is generous, and they are shown being made up before the rest of the model is finished, possibly in the hope you won’t get bored and leave them in the box. There are three fuel tanks included, two for under the wings and one under the centreline, the two types having different styles of pylon. There are two large pylons under the inner wing, and these are augmented with strakes and defensive countermeasures dispensers to the rear on both sides, plus anti-sway braces to accept a choice of either a pair of AIM-9M or NPs with separate fins and adapter rail, a pair of AGM-65s that have separate fins, mounting pads and clear seeker head, fixed to the twin rail, or replaced by a pair of GBU-10s with separate fins, seeker heads and two mounting holes drilled out. An AN/ALQ-131 pod can be carried under the nose, or it is ousted by an AIM-7M, with another three carried semi-conformally in the depressions under the fuselage. There isn’t a traditional diagram giving the locations for the stores, instead there is a diagram showing the underside of the aircraft with various arrows and alternatives that are a little confusing to this easily confused modeller. All the weapons, tanks and pods have painting and decaling instructions after the main painting pages that should make the process relatively tedium and confusion free. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and there is enough variation in era to appeal to many modellers out of the gate. From the box you can build one of the following: 480th Tactical Fighter Sqn., 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing, USAF Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 1986 3rd Tactical Fighter Sqn., 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, USAF Clark Air Base, Philippines, May 1991 flown by LTC Mike Livingston & Weapons System Operator Maj Jim Miyamoto 152nd Sqn., 17th Fighter Wing, ROKAF, Cheongju Airport, North Chungcheong Province, ROK, October 2012 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. There are a lot of stencils included for the airframe as well as the weapons, but knowing how covered with stencils the Phantom was, it’s hardly surprising. The back page of the instructions shows the location for all the masks that are included in the box, which have been pre-cut on a backing sheet of clear paper and weeded so that they stand out, but not in pictures as you can see above. The canopy sections with compound curves are handled by using frame hugging masks, while the highly curved areas should be in-filled with either liquid mask or additional tape from your own stock. In addition, you get a set of hub/tyre masks for the wheels, allowing you to cut the demarcation perfectly with little effort, plus masks for the landing light and the see-through panel in the bay door it is mounted on. The inside cover contains a printed table of colour references that include the colour names in four languages including English and Japanese, plus a Cyrillic and another Far Eastern language that I’m not familiar with. Conclusion The MENG Phantoms are by far the most impressive to date as far as moulding is concerned from my perspective, although the absolute Phantom fanatic may find some issues if they look hard. The detail is phenomenal, and the styrene engineering techniques on show are just as impressive. It is so tempting to break open the liquid glue, but I have other builds to finish at some point before this. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. D8506 German Tractor with Roof (24010) 1:24 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tractors were a boon to farmers when they were introduced after the reliability of the motor car was proven, as they were especially useful for lugging heavy equipment around the farm, as well as the typical ploughing, sowing, reaping and transporting of crops. They also had power take-off points that could be used to drive other stationary machinery, further expanding their usefulness to that of a portable power-plant. Lanz were the leading maker of farm machinery in Germany, and their Bulldog range were the “hoover” of the tractor world in their country for many years. They were good quality and reliable, which led to them being copied by several countries, and as the initial 1921 model was improved the model number was increased until well into the 9,000s. One of the primary selling points of the vehicle was the simple “hot-bulb” single-cylinder engine that could be run on a variety of fuels and had very few moving parts, which made it easy to repair and maintain. They started off as 6L and grew to 10L engines, and their slow turnover high-torque output suited the tractor’s work very well. In 1956 they were sold to John Deere, and the name slowly fell out of use. There are still many working examples to be seen at county fairs and historic events, kept in splendid working condition by their loving (some may say obsessed) owners. The Kit This is new edition of MiniArt’s D8500 range of kits but in the larger de facto vehicle scale of 1:24, and you can still expect some more to come if their 1:35 release schedule of this series is repeated. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are eleven sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus two cylindrical tread parts for the rear wheels on their own cruciform sprues, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles of the decal options on the front and rear covers. Construction begins with the large cast metal chassis that is made up from two halves each end around a cylindrical centre-plate, with lots of parts used to create its distinctive shape. The superstructure above the chassis where the engine and ancillaries are found is roughly rectangular, having various filler caps on the top, radiator panels and louvres on the sides, plus a name-plate on the front. The driver’s foot pedals are long curved linkages to the underside of the chassis, and with these in place the driver’s tread-plated floor is installed and a big handbrake is fitted to the deck, plus a stowage box under the lip at the left rear. The windscreen frame is moulded into the rear bulkhead of the engine compartment, slotting the clear windscreen into position. The large cylindrical assembly in the centre of the chassis is filled with the clutch and drive-shaft on one side, and on the floor plate the driver’s seat is mounted on a sturdy spring, a couple of hand controls are inserted into depressions in the deck in front, then the large drive housing is mounted on the left side of the chassis, with a bell-housing and fly-wheel on the opposite side over the clutch, and two large fenders/sidewalls over where the rear wheels will be, plus a sturdy bumper-bar at the rear on diagonal cross-braces. The rear hubs have two additional layers inside for the drum brakes, ready to receive the large back wheels. The front axle has the hubs moulded-in, adding the steering arms, anti-roll bars and the linkage to the column, which is installed on the front underframe on a single pivot in preparation for the tyres. The wheels on this tractor have heavy tread to plough through mud, which are built up by layering five parts together to make a tyre-sandwich at the front, and a three-part layer for the larger rear wheels, all with crisp and chunky tread on the rolling surfaces. The tyres have their hubs moulded-in, while the rears have an additional rear hub ring added between the wheels and rear axles. The front fenders are mounted on a pair of cross-members that run under the chassis, the front support fitting under the fenders, the rearmost ones attaching to the rear. Both the attachment points have styrene nuts cut from one of the runners of Sprue A and applied to the location on the opposite side to the bolts moulded into the supports. There are seventeen nuts supplied on the sprue, so you can afford to lose a few, and there are another eight on Sprue Ea. Two large exhausts are made up from various odd-shaped parts attaching to the left side of the chassis either side of the bell-housing, with a pair of clear-lensed headlamps on an oversized cross-member on the topside. A pair of bolted supports are fitted to the sides of the windscreen frame and another pair to the rear fenders at the back of the cab in preparation for the roof, then four more sprue-based bolts are applied to the rear bumper iron where it intersects with the fenders. The curved roof panel is fitted atop the mounts, and a styrene wiper blade is hung from the top rail, then you have a choice of installing the steering wheel on the column in the cab with a cover over the power take-off point, or cut the column away in the cab, gluing the steering wheel on a rod that inserts into the centre of the take-off, with the cover flipped down for access. I understand this was for manually starting the engine, but don’t quote me on that. The steering wheel or column surgery would probably be best done before the roof and supports are fixed in place to give you more room to work. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and the suggested paint schemes vary from garish yellow to a dull grey with red fenders. From the box you can build one of the following: Regierungs Bezirk Leipzig, 1930-40s Oberdonau, Oesterreich, Early 1940s British Occupation Zone, 1940-50s Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another variation on a tractor that was once ubiquitous in and around German farms, and this one even keeps the driver dry providing the rain isn’t horizontal. These kits are also great to show off your weathering skills, or test them out, and if you're a car modeller, they'll be in scale with the rest of your cabinet. Highly recommended. It’s currently available with a generous 35% discount at Creative Models, so act fast. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Liefer Pritschenwagen Typ 170V w/Canvas (38072) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coach-builders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street in 1930. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but differed due to the practical but boxy load area behind the drivers. These vehicles were often used for years after their original purchase passing through the ownership of several operators for dwindling sums of money, especially after the war years where funds were sometimes short following the devastation in Europe. The Kit This is a reboxing of a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon and subsequent Beer, Furniture and Cheese Delivery vehicles (reviewed earlier), with the same base sprues and another sprue added to create the tilt for this covered flatbed variant. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with delicate framing, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the box are twelve sprues of grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the various hoses are shown in 1:1 and 3:1 diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The curved X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and an angled length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons and number plate at the front, plus the supports for the front fenders, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis and PE mudflaps fixed under the rear of the front arches. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column with PE horn-ring added at the same time. The dashboard is inserted below the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear dial faces for realism, and three blowers attached to the roll-top. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen with PE rear-view mirror and windscreen wiper motor housing fitted before it is inserted into the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting, plus two strips with upper hinges for the doors inserted into the edges of the rear frame. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor along with a couple of half-height body panels that links the cab to the rear fenders. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four. Each wheel is made from a lamination of two central sections to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls and shoulder tread of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into them. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies in handed pairs. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece to which headboard and tailgate that hinges on PE brackets are fitted, followed by shallow sides with moulded-in rails and cross-braces running underneath, and PE brackets for the number plate and rear light clusters added beneath the tailgate made from PE and styrene elements. The tailgate retention clips are PE, as are their latches that extend into the corners of the tailgate to strengthen it. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator that has a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a styrene surround, then the radiator core and slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, locating on a feeder tube to the radiator, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. A pair of combination PE and styrene wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, adding reflectors on the rear arches. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the rearward opening "suicide door" type, and these are joined on the vehicle by the rear cab hinges. To complete the bonnet, small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvred side panels in open or closed options, then they are glued to the top parts in either the open or closed position, inserting the open clasps to the front of the compartment for the open variant. A pair of clear-lensed headlamps, a choice of two styles of wing mirrors on the A pillar or the wing finish off the build of the van, leaving just the canvas tilt to be made. The tilt is on the new sprue, and can be built with the canvas at the rear open or closed. To close it, a single part covers the open rear end, adding PE clips along the lower sides for both open or closed options. To portray the canvas rear tied open, the curved header part is glued into the open end, then is partially covered by the rolled canvas in styrene, which has two PE straps added to the synch-points that are moulded-in. Three PE straps are applied to both sides of the opening to stop it flapping in the wind, and different PE parts with the buckles visible are used for the closed option, while the parts for the open cover have no buckles and should just hang loose. The buckles on the real tilt will be rolled up inside the canvas, so won’t be seen. The last task is to mate the tilt to the raised sides of the load area. Markings These were commercial vehicles during peacetime, so they were designed to attract attention with more colourful liveries, although the hardship of post war Europe shows a little wear and tear evident on the profiles. There are four options depicted in the instructions, and from the box you can build one of the following: American Occupation Zone, Bavaria, late 1940s British Occupation Zone, Late 1940s Bavaria, Munich, Early 1950s French Occupation Zone, Early 1950s Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is another well-detailed kit of an old Merc commercial van, and even if you’re not a vehicle modeller it would make a great background subject for a diorama, especially if a cheesy, furniture-y or boozy version doesn’t suit your needs, possibly with post-war Allied or Soviet armour making its way through town. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. G-518 US 1T Cargo Trailer ‘Ben Hur’ (35436) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII, the US used two small two-wheeled trailers for transporting additional equipment and other essential stores around the battlefield, towed by trucks and other vehicles that had at least a ¾ ton payload carried internally. There were two major variants, one for carrying many types of equipment and designated as G-518, the other a specialist water carrier that was given the catalogue designation G-527. The main contractor was Ben-Hur Manufacturing Co., which garnered it the nickname ‘Ben-Hur Trailer’, and its 1-ton load capacity in 3.2m3 volume meant that it saw a lot of action, mostly ignored by war historians and modellers alike, as it was a transport and not as interesting as the things that went bang. Nevertheless, there were over a quarter of a million built, and many of them spent their days dutifully following a Chevrolet truck around the roads and tracks of Europe and the Far East. The Kit This is a new tooling from MiniArt, launched just after the G-527 Water Buffalo we reviewed recently here, this kit is ripe for filling with useful gear that a squad may find helpful on the battlefield, or to make themselves comfortable before or after action. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box with a painting of the subject matter on the front by the prolific Volodymyr Booth, and inside are six sprues of grey styrene, a card envelope that contains a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret and a length of chain, adding a small sheet of decals and the glossy instruction booklet to complete the package, the latter having painting and decaling profiles on the rearmost pages. Detail is excellent as usual with MiniArt, including a full chassis, well-rendered chunky treaded tyres, and even a set of slat extensions to the sides of the structure with moulded-in wooden texture. Construction begins with the bodywork, starting with the two sides that have leaf springs moulded-in, which have the axle retention bolts added to both sides, PE tie-down loops down the sides, and the light cluster that is fitted on a PE bracket next to the rear suspension mount. A choice of external framework to the sides with or without the extension slats is glued to the sides, including small PE brackets at both ends of the slatted sections. The wheels are built from two parts, the larger having the outer hub, tyre carcass and the tread moulded as one, the smaller having the opposite sidewall details moulded-in. They are then put to one side while you build up the rest of the load area. The two sides are mated with the floor part, adding brake actuators underneath and on the side, and bringing in the ends to create the load box, with more PE brackets and foot stirrups to aid entry. While the chassis is upside down, the two-part inner hubs are fitted to the ends of the axles, adding a short length of 0.5mm wire to each one, and another length to a bracket under the floor. The towing frame is made from two converging lengths, which are fixed under the front of the floor on a pair of U-bolts, while a pair of mudguards are mounted on the chassis sides on pegs, inserting the wheels into their wells. The front and rear slat sections are glued to brackets on the sides, then four curved roof supports are fixed to the sides that are used when a tilt is fitted during poor weather. The tailgate is completed by adding the PE retaining pins on chains at floor level, then the two-part towing eye is mounted atop the front of the A-frame, and a jockey-wheel is built from two halves plus a yoke and pivot, with an alternate all-steel wheel if you prefer. This can be fitted under the hitch in either horizontal position for travel, or vertically for a parked trailer, locking it in place between two halves of the pivot. Another longer length of wire is fitted under the left chassis rail and hitch frame, dangling the end down over the hitch, adding a plug for the electronics, which has a hole moulded-in for the wire. The safety chains are cut to length, and are each trapped between two halves of their bracket, adding the hook on the loose end after drilling a hole in the part first. Markings There are four decal options on the sheet, with a choice of camouflage that dictates the fitment of slatted sides and/or steel jockey wheel, so take care during construction if you have a particular scheme in mind. From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Army Corps (7th Army), US Army, Italy, Autumn, 1943 US Army, Europe, 1944-45 2nd Australian Corps., Bougainville Island, January 1945 US Navy, 1940s Decals are by Cartograf, 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 trailer might not be one of the most charismatic of military vehicles, but its importance from a strategic point of view can’t be underestimated, as an army without supplies isn’t going very far, as has often been illustrated in extended campaigns throughout history. MiniArt have done a great job tooling this kit, and it will make an interesting addition behind your next softskin project, or as part of a diorama. This version has been so popular that Creative Models are currently out of stock, even though we’ve only had our sample a few days. Keep checking back though, as I’m certain they’ll be getting a restock just as soon as they can. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. BMW Z4 M40i (CS-005) 1:24 MENG model via Creative Models Ltd BMW have a reputation as a luxury and performance car company that has been building over the years with plenty of awesome and stylish vehicles coming from their stables. The Z4 is a two-door convertible coupé, and there have been three generations of the type that first entered production in 2003. Some of the designs have been an acquired taste to some, but they’re generally considered to be a pretty desirable sports car if you’re in the market for one and have the funds. The latest iteration of the design was launched in 2018 and has reverted back to using the soft top of the original design after the second version introduced a retractable hard-top. That may not appeal to all potential customers, but they have managed to halve the time for deployment to a pretty spritely 10 seconds from start to finish. It was designed and manufactured in Austria, and shares its floorpan with the Toyota Supra that is also built at the Magna Steyr factory there, as part of a cooperation with Toyota. There were initially three models starting with the M20i, the M30i and the range-topping M40i, which has a 3.0 litre straight-six petrol engine that outputs 335bhp and carries the terrified driver and solitary passenger from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. The design is angular and modern, giving the impression of speed even when parked up, and as well as looking good it also has a five-star crash rating, just in case you can’t keep it on the road or someone T-bones you. It is full of impressive electronics that manages the engine and the driver’s experience with a large Multi-Function Display (MFD) in the centre console that is updated over the air and a Heads-Up Display (HUD) for the driver to make him or her feel like a fighter pilot as they break the speed of sound (or national speed limit if they’re unwise). In line with a lot of modern premium designs, the car can be unlocked and even started with a mobile phone, although that’s a good way of having your car stolen if you’re out of sight or otherwise distracted. Production suffered from a brief halt due to the situation in Ukraine, but has since resumed, although it is scheduled to reach a natural conclusion in 2024 as the Z-series is brought to an end, presumably due to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars going the way of the dinosaur in the coming years. The Kit This is a brand-new tool from MENG, and forms part of their non-dinosaur related Car Series, and is predictably number five in that series. The kit arrives in their usual satin-finished top-opening box that has a handsome painting of the subject on the front, plus a holographic BMW authorised product sticker with the twin-grille emblem in the centre. On the sides are two side profiles of the car in blue and red, plus a little extra information and some QR codes to MENG’s social media sites. Inside are three sprues and four separate parts in light grey styrene, a clear sprue, four low-profile flexible black tyres, a short tree of four polycaps, a sheet of shiny stickers for the mirrors, a tiny Photo-Etch (PE) sheet for the seatbelt buckles, a sheet containing two material seatbelts, two small sheets of self-adhesive masks for the clear parts, a small sheet of decals, a smaller sheet of decals for the emblems that have raised chrome areas that don’t scan well, plus of course the instruction booklet that is sub-A4 and printed in colour on glossy paper with colour profiles of the two choices provided on the back pages. Detail is exceptional and includes deep detail using both traditional and slide-moulding techniques to create the illusion of reality. The grilles, lights and exhausts are particularly impressive, and when painted sympathetically, should look highly realistic. The model is a kerbside kit, so doesn’t include detail in the engine compartment, but because of the high level of aerodynamic fairings around the underside it shouldn’t be missed. The detail on the interior, wheels and brakes more than make up for that. Construction begins with the aforementioned underside, into which the front suspension units and coil-over shocks are inserted, allowing the front wheels to be steered in unison. The brake discs are made up from two layers to depict the cooling vents between front and rear surfaces, and this mounts to the hub with a polycap hidden inside, then it is placed into the wheel well, flex-fitting into place to remain mobile. The holes in the underside are filled with two inserts, and a three-part rendition of the rear of the gearbox, which is the only part of the engine visible after the build is finished. At the rear a substantial double-H sub-frame is applied to the sockets, joined by another pair of discs that are made up in the same manner, with the transmission and drive-shafts linking them and holding them in place in the wheel wells until the rest of the suspension swing-arms and coiled shocks are added over the top, which both have curved shields that are engraved with directional and handing arrows for your ease. The exhaust system is made from only two parts, but depicts the transverse muffler at the rear and catalytic converter where the single down pipe bifurcates very well, with a separate part depicting the end of the down pipe from the manifold. More suspension ironwork is applied over the exhaust, then it’s time to put the wheels on. The tyres for this kit are depicted by four flexible black circles with a suitably skinny profile and handed treads, much like the real thing, so ensure you put the right hand on the right side, as per the scrap diagrams. The tyres slide over the rims, which have five double spokes each with detailed centres showing the five studs holding them onto the hubs. These ones however have a single pin that snugs into the polycaps hidden in each brake disc, allowing test fitting and suitable BRMMM! Noises during the build process. The interior is formed from a twin tub that has a rear wall added with moulded-in speaker grilles to finalise the shape, to which the accelerator pedal is glued into the left foot well, and a short-throw gear lever is added to the centre console. The two seats are formed from the separate seat parts that are found in the bodyshell bag initially, and have their backs and belt guides added from the parts on B sprue before they’re dropped into the interior, after which the seatbelts are created from the fabric that is provided in the box, which are threaded onto the PE buckles before they’re glued in place, with a scrap diagram showing where they should fit. If you’re circumspect with the fabric sheet, you could also have some material left for other projects if you keep it on hand. The dashboard is well-detailed and has two decals provided for the central MFD and digital binnacle, under which the steering column with separate stalk ring and detailed wheel is slotted, with the brake pedal descending from the underside of the dash. The finished assembly then attaches to the interior on a C-shaped mounting at the front of the central console. The tub is completed by the two door cards, which have separate handles and a detailed painting guide in a small scrap diagram, then the whole assembly is glued onto the floorpan, locating on a number of raised shapes moulded into the top side. There is a rear shelf behind the seats, which has a pair of headrests made up from front and rear portions, and a clear wind-deflector between them that has masks for both sides, plugging into the shelf part, which fits on two tabs behind the seats, and is completed by a waffle-textured load area part that mounts on two turrets moulded into the rear wheel arches. Preparation of the bodyshell is started by removing the S-shaped sprue from the opening, then inserting the backing behind the front bumper/fender, and making up the two headlight clusters with a styrene reflector that is painted silver and black according to the key, with a clear bulb part slotting into the centre. These are glued in from behind and covered over by the clear lenses later on with the two grille sections at the front, which have exceptionally well-moulded detail within the surround. A number plate holder is supplied with two pegs on the back for the front bumper too, and a pair of inserts make up the vent detail on the sides of the front wings. The windscreen frame is moulded separately from the bodyshell, and has the clear glazing glued in along with a central rear-view mirror that is supplied with a mirrored sticker to give it a realistic look, plus a pair of well-crafted windscreen wipers that plug into the scuttle from the outside, attaching to the bodyshell from the inside, locating on three mounting pegs. The wing mirrors are moulded on triangular sections, and have clear indicator repeaters glued into the front of the shell, and more mirrored stickers to simulate the glass, inserting into the angled space between the door and windscreen frame, while the door handles are fixed into the recesses in the door skins near the rear edge. At the rear the brake cluster insert is painted silver then covered over with the clear lens, which you paint clear red and orange to depict the lights, plus another insert and lens mounted into the two vertical grooves in the bumper corners, and the central brake light is inserted in the integral spoiler in the boot lid. Under the boot lid another number plate is attached on a pair of pegs, then the bodyshell can be mated with the floorpan, inserting a pair of wide T-shaped clear parts in the back of the door cards if you are depicting the roof down to portray the tops of the retracted windows. The stowed roof is a single part that covers the load area behind the seats, which finishes the model unless you are putting the roof up. The soft top is moulded as a single part with a small interior detail section, plus the clear rear window, which has the heated screen element moulded into it, then it is placed over the interior after adding the two corner parts and the door windows if you plan on showing them rolled up. There are also masks included for the windscreen and rear window that allow you to paint the black lines around them where they join the bodywork. Markings There aren’t a lot of decals in this kit, as it’s a car afterall, not a Spitfire. There are two decals for the number plates that say “BMW Z4”, and two that are used to create the screens on the dashboard. On a separate sheet are a number of small BMW logos and name badges that are printed in relief and with a chrome finish where appropriate on most of them. The detail and shine on the decals is stunningly realistic and should look great with a quality paint job. Sadly, the scan of that sheet doesn’t show off the realistic shine of the chrome very well. It's perfect in real life. The painting instructions show the vehicle in either San Francisco Red Metallic or Misano Blue Metallic, but the Meng/AK and Gunze Acrysion codes show the use of non-metallic colours, so if you want to be truer to the real colours, you may need to check out some of the specialist paint manufacturers that cater to car modellers that want accurate paint for their models. Conclusion This is a gorgeous model of a stylish car, and really looks the part. The stamp of approval from BMW adds confidence, and the extras that are included in the box will really help with realism. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. G-527 250gal Water Trailer ‘Water Buffalo’ (35458) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII, the US used two small two-wheeled trailers for transporting additional equipment and other essential stores around the battlefield, towed by trucks and other vehicles that had at least a ¾ ton payload carried internally. There were two major variants, one for carrying many types of equipment and designated as G-518, the other a specialist water carrier that was given the catalogue designation G-527. Its nickname was the Water Buffalo, and it was capable of carrying up to 200 gallons of water, which is an essential commodity for the health of troops, vehicles and has so many other uses it would take up far too much space in this review. In total, over a quarter of a million of all types were made, and they were the most used small trailers by US forces through the war. The main contractor was Ben-Hur Manufacturing Co., which garnered it another nickname, one that was primarily used for the other variants, as ‘Water Buffalo’ is far cooler. The Kit This is a new tool from MiniArt, who are creating new kits at an astounding rate, considering what’s been going on in Ukraine this last year or so. It is accompanied by its stable-mate, and we’ll be reviewing that in due course, but first we have the Water Buffalo that’s closer to the top of the queue. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box with a painting of the subject matter on the front, from the equally prolific Volodymyr Booth, and inside are six sprues of grey styrene, a card envelope that contains a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret and a length of chain, adding decals and the glossy instruction booklet to complete the package, the latter having painting and decaling profiles on the rearmost pages. Detail is excellent as usual with MiniArt, including a full chassis, well-rendered chunky treaded tyres, and even a pair of safety retention hooks that use the chain mentioned above. Construction begins with the chassis, the two side rails having leaf-spring suspension moulded-in, which have the axle retention bolts added to both sides, and the light cluster is fitted on a PE bracket next to the rear suspension mount. The rails are glued to the floor section, which has a large cut-out in the centre, then the shorter front and rear rails are fitted to the floor. Turning the assembly over, the square axle with the lower retention plates moulded-in is laid across the suspension, adding two diagonal I-beams to brackets at the front to create the structure of the towing frame. It is further strengthened by fitting U-bolts under the front of the floor, adding stirrups to the underside of the rear, and a two-part brake mechanism on the right side. The wheels are built from two parts, the larger having the outer hub, tyre carcass and the tread moulded together, the smaller having the opposite sidewall moulded-in. They are put to one side while you build up the water tank. The oval tank is made from top and bottom halves plus front and rear end caps, fitting a hatch with closures and a multi-part hand-pump to the forward end, then lowering the assembly into place on the chassis, where it is supported by sloped risers around the edges of the cut-out. There is a T-shaped set of plumbing with three spigots per side under the front of the chassis, covered by two L-shaped assemblies that mount under the leading-edge, with three bog-standard taps or faucets as our American friends would call them on each side. While the chassis is upside down, the two-part inner hubs are fitted to the ends of the axles, adding a short length of 0.5mm wire to each one, and another length to a bracket under the tank. A pair of mudguards are mounted on the chassis sides on pegs, and a reeled-up hose with separate link to the pump is fixed on the slatted deck in front of the tank. Boxed covers are fitted over the tap block in open or closed position, locking them in place with a long PE hook for the open option that locates in a PE eye that is used on both options. The two-part towing eye is mounted atop the front of the A-frame, and a jockey-wheel is built from two halves plus a yoke and pivot, with an alternate all-steel wheel if you prefer. This can be fitted under the hitch in either horizontal position for travel, or vertically for a parked trailer, locking it in place between two halves of the pivot. Another longer length of wire is fitted along the left chassis rail and hitch frame, dangling down over the hitch, adding a plug for the electronics, which has a hole moulded-in. The safety chains are cut to length, and are each trapped between two halves of their bracket, adding the hook on the loose end after drilling a hole in the part first. Markings There are five decal options on the sheet, and from the box you can build one of the following: US Military Air Transport Service, Andrews Air Force Base, Hawaii, 1949 Unknown US Army Unit, North Africa – Italy, 1943 Unknown US Army Unit, Europe, 1944-45 Unknown Unit, Medical Department US Army, 1942/45 834th Engineer Aviation Battalion of the 9th (US) Engineer Command, Further, Germany, 1950 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whilst it might not be one of the most charismatic of military vehicles, its importance from a strategic point of view can’t be underestimated, as an army without water won’t march very far or last long. MiniArt have done a grand job tooling this kit, and it will make an interesting addition behind your next softskin project, or as part of a diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
×
×
  • Create New...