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Found 204 results

  1. Been a while since I've posted anything out of the Group Build area, as ive got a bit of time on my hands now thought I'd upload my latest project. A mixed unit stalking a Sherman Firefly as it travels up a French lane. My references, My work so far,
  2. MiniArt Models – A Visit By Our Man in Kiev Back in April I was very fortunate to be in the Ukraine visiting their wonderful Armoured and Aviation museums. On the off chance, once I had realised that MiniArt were based in Kiev, where I was staying, I contacted Alina through their website. Not expecting a reply, I was very pleased to then get an invite to see their operation just a short drive from Kiev near Boryspil Airport. It was a lovely sunny day and Alina, along with the company driver picked me up from my hotel. Having arrived at the factory I was introduced to Alexey, a nicer man whom you couldn’t meet. His enthusiasm, not just for his company, but modeling in general, shone through, and was a most wonderful host. He and Alina then showed me around the building. Downstairs, the two injection moulding machines and vacform machine are housed on one half of the factory, whilst the packing department is located on the other half. It was the first time I had actually been up close to a moulding machine and it was quite fascinating watching the operators working their magic, producing sprue after sprue of parts in quite quick order. I was also lucky to see all the injection moulds from previous kits sitting on shelves at one end of the room, while the moulds for the vacform buildings were at the other end. It was also interesting to learn that MiniArt had had a problem with the plastic being supplied from Russia, it being quite brittle, which I had come across in their kits. Now though, the plastic is imported from Belgium and is much more modeller friendly, being softer and easier to work with. Yurii, Alexey, Ben and Alina In the packaging department it was a hive of activity with sprues being gut to size by two staff, while another two were putting them in the poly bags and sealing them up, adding the instructions, decals, and etched brass, before filling the kit boxes. The completed kits were then moved upstairs to the distribution and packing warehouse, which, to be honest, is getting too small for the amount of kits that are being produced as there were piles of stock everywhere, particularly on the second floor where it resembled something like the large warehouse from Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant, only on a smaller scale, naturally. In the only open area there were stacks of kits being packed up and sent to the distributors around the world. I was then directed into a smaller room which was the design office, inside, three men were busy designing the latest models on the CAD stations, whilst at one end, Dmytro was building the latest test shots of the T-54B, which he has since shown off on Britmodeller. Design Team MiniArt Models was established in 2001 by Alexey, who started modeling as a child and has continued to do so to the present day. Originally a business man with several enterprises, he decided to create a manufacturing company as he saw some gaps in the presented models on market. After two years of initial research and development, MiniArt Models released its first model in 2003 – 35002 SOVIET INFANTRY ON THE MARCH. In the same year, the company released fourteen model kits to market and began distribution of the models through established hobby distribution companies. In the same year the company also introduced its first four vacuum-formed buildings in what would become a new series –Buildings, Accessories and Dioramas. Which were unique products as for that time only resin kits of dioramas and building existed. MiniArt wanted to create more convenient and interesting models using plastic. In 2004, they launched another new model series HISTORICAL FIGURES SERIES (1/16 scale) and HISTORICAL MINIATURES SERIES (1/72 scale). Test Build Area In 2005, MiniArt Models presented its kits for the first time at the International Toy Fair at Nuremburg and since then continues to showcase the products there. In 2006 MiniArt Models released its first military vehicle kit. It was Soviet tank 35025 T-70 M Early Production SOVIET LIGHT TANK w/CREW. Since then MiniArt Models started to launch various models of AFV, tanks, guns, vehicles, cars etc. Over the years MiniArt Models has much improved the level of quality and continues to strive for increased detail, accuracy and innovation. Injection Moulding Machines In 2011 a new slogan was created: “MiniArt, where innovation is always at work”. This slogan was first presented in MiniArt‘s Catalogue of 2011 with the following preamble: “At MiniArt, our goal is to create models that will feed your hunger for original concepts. At the same time, we strive to be at the forefront of molding technology. The results are kits that showcase world-class quality and uncompromising creativity. Join us at MiniArt, where innovation is always at work”. Injection Moulds In 2012 the slogan was converted to a shorter variant: “MiniArt Models. Innovation is everything”. A new and additional product line was launched in the summer of 2012 – multi-colored kits – models of buildings in 1/72 scale. This series of kits features plastic in six different colors and the buildings can be assembled unpainted for use by railway modelers, although in practice most are painted and weathered for a more realistic finish. Vacform Moulds In 2013 was released a new series in 1/35 scale Miniatures Series – Civilian Subjects. The first item in this series was 38001 European Tram. This was to be the very first model kit of a tram to be reproduced in plastic. In 2014 the company together with all manufacturing facilities was relocated to Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. The relocation was urgent and only in one week. After 3 months they have restarted the business activity starting with relaunching of manufacturing and release new items only 6 months after relocation. Sprue Cutting Area MiniArt Models continues to expand the range not only to existing series but also in developing new lines. In 2016 they launched a new series Military Miniatures with the first kit 37002 T-44M SOVIET MEDIUM TANK. The current MiniArt Models range consists of some 300 kits. In 2017 Military series was expanded with T-55 series and more kits on this line will be launched during 2017. Decals and Etch Storage Packaging MiniArt now employ thirty people, including freelancers, the ones I met were and am very grateful for allowing me to photograph them:- Alexey – Owner, and all round great guy, and wonderful host Alina – Marketing/Sale coordinator, (she is also developing her own line of products which we will hopefully see soon in stores), also a wonderful host Ben – marketing and Website designer Yulia - Accounting and Logistic Yurii - Manufacturing control Victor - Engineer (injection machine control) , Vladimir (senior), Oleksiy and Roman – Development Dmytro - Modeler(test builds) Natalia, Katerina, Anton (also a modeller) -Packing of the kits Eugenii - order packing, (warehouse control). This year MiniArt are beginning further expansion through the building of a much larger factory, in fact almost 3 times larger. I hope to return to Ukraine later in the summer to see the new factory, and will update this article when I get back. The new factory will also introduce another pair of injection moulding machines and give the company the opportunity to employ another 10 or so staff, much need in the area. Dispatch Area/Warehouse A Forlorn Pile of Trams SHAR2
  3. Road Signs WWII North Africa (35604) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII the North African theatre was a constant round of taking and retaking territory, with locations changing hands more than three or four times on a daily or weekly basis, with German, Allied of Italian masters seemingly interchangeable, while the locals carried as best they could while trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. This set is full of signs of this nature, and includes military signs to guide their troops to rally points, service areas and so forth as they didn't have the luxury of GPS and satnav back then, which is probably why we have it now. The Kit These signs relate to the North African Theatre of Operations, and arrives in a shrink-wrapped, top-opening, figure-sized box with a painted example of what’s in the box on the front, and a set of instructions inside. There are eleven sprues of styrene parts, plus a large decal sheet with the sign fronts to complete the set. One sprue seems to be made up of wooden box sides, but these are actually repurposed into signs and are used throughout the set along with the custom arrows and the posts that they are applied to. In addition, a sprue of parts for a telegraph pole is included, but this is repurposed into more sign posts to suspend those signs you’ve got, a set of three oil drums spread over six small sprues, and a small quantity of sandbags of various sizes to act as bases for posts that aren’t driven into the ground. There are 51 signs on the decal sheet for you to use, using the guide on the box or going off as you see fit. There’s a bit of flash on some of the telegraph insulators, but those are parts that get left on the sprue, so it’s not an issue, and you’ll find some bags of vegetables and hand pumps knocking about on the sprues for your use or otherwise. The decals are printed by DecoGraph, and have good registration, clarity and sharpness, with a thin carrier film fitted closely around the printed areas. Conclusion Great diorama fodder, as the devil’s in the details. The printed decal signs are so much better than most of us could do with a paint brush, and will add a little extra realism and a some humour to any diorama or vignette. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. British Military Lorry B-Type (39003) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Built by the Four Wheel Drive (FWD) company, this was a very early truck used by the military of Britain and the US during WWI, beginning in 1915 with a small order from the British Army. It was full of curious technology from a modern standpoint, but then vehicles of this type were still in their infancy, so that’s hardly surprising that there were a few dead-ends. It was originally supplied with solid tyres and the front wheels had a strange toed-in look due to the suspension geometry set up to give a light steering load. Its T-head engine produced a monstrous 36bhp and it could be connected to all four wheels or either front or rear in the event of necessity or damage to either drive-shaft. It also had a distinctive pig-nosed front due to the fact that the engine was mounted below the cab, with only the radiator housed in the front and precious little (read: none) cover for the driver and crew. Over 12,000 were made up until the end of WWI, with them finding a ready market in the post-war period in the civilian sector, sometimes with pneumatic tyres added to improve the ride quality. The Kit This kit began with the militarised version in olive drab (39001), and was developed into the London Ominbus. Detail is excellent with a full chassis, engine and interior included in the box, giving you just about everything you need to build a detailed replica of the truck. Construction begins with the engine, which is well detailed and even has diagrams showing you how to wire up the spark plugs with some of your own wire if you wish. The exhaust manifold, big clutch flywheel are added to the block along with a load of ancillary parts and hoses, then the gearbox is made up with its short drive-shaft to link it to the engine later on. The chassis is made up from the two side rails and cross members, then the engine is inserted from below while the fan belt and blades; starting handle; leaf springs for the suspension; and a large rear axle are all added, then flipped over to begin work on the engine compartment. A wood-textured bulkhead is installed aft, and at the front the large radiator is assembled and fitted to the front of the chassis, then linked to the feed hoses that were fixed earlier. A small linkage is made from 0.3mm wire and joined with and end-piece that completes the link, which has a couple of scrap diagrams to assist you, one at 1:1 scale to ensure you have it right. The chassis is flipped again and the front axle is built then inserted into the leaf-springs, while brake rods are threaded along the length of the vehicle to provide the meagre braking force to all wheels. The gearbox gets a guard fitted to its bottom as it is inserted into the chassis, at which point it is also linked to the back axle with another drive-shaft that is bracketed by a piece of PE. The what must have been uncomfortable solid tyre wheels, and the front vehicle lights are made up and set to one side. The chassis is flipped again, and the gearbox is linked to the cab, with steering wheel, PARP! style horn plus the cab floor with foot board and cut-outs for the steering wheel, foot brake and other pedals (right-hand drive of course). Now the front and back of the engine bay are linked by the fixed centre panel, and you can build the cowling in either open or closed positions with PE plates attached to the vertical panels. The chassis continues again with the exhaust pipe and muffler, which has a PE lip added to each end of the welded cylinder. This and the remaining driver controls are fixed into the chassis,. The rudimentary drivers cab is built up and installed onto the chassis which is then set aside while the load compartment is built. The load bed is built up from the bottom part, and four sides all of which have fine wood grain moulded in. Underneath five mounting rails are added for mounting to the chassis. The load bed can now be added. The front mud guards are then assembled and these can be mounted along with the lights and a front grill over the radiator. A rudimentary bumper is added for one of the decal options. Finally the wheels can be added. Markings A small decal sheet from Dechograph is included with the minimal markings seen on wartime truck. Markings are included for four Royal Army Service Corps trucks from WWI. Conclusion This will be a good model in its own right, or great in a WWI diorama, Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Pigeons (38036) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. No, that’s not a typo. Pigeons. An absolute necessity for any diorama, or indeed any model. There simply must be a pigeon in, on or near every model you ever build - it's a well-known fact. Now MiniArt have solved your problem with sourcing sufficient pigeons to make your dream of permanent pigeon patronage (PPP) come true. Some call them rats of the sky, or vermin, but love them or loathe them, they get around and are seen everywhere in any town or city, especially where people feed them. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, and inside are six sprues, linked in pairs. There are two different sprues, so three of each in grey coloured styrene. There are no decals (no surprise there), with instructions and painting guide found on the rear of the box, showing that there is a huge variety of colours and patterns seen on your average pigeon. Their poop isn’t documented though, so you’ll have to look up the FS shades for the white splatter with black blobs they seem to leave wherever they go. Each bird has a separate set of legs for detail, and they are striking a few different poses to add further variety to your models, aside from the paint jobs. There’s a little flash here and there, but that’s easy to remove, even on small parts like these, and don’t forget a small paint brush to detail all those feathers and stripes that are a theme on their flight feathers. Conclusion Awesome! Well, for pigeons they are. Nice little models that are much simpler than making your own. A scrape of the seams, a little glue and you can be “doing the pigeon” with Bert and Ernie with 36 tiny-weeny models of these feathery, beady-eyed, food scavenging nuisances! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. British M3 Lee (35270) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Grant eschewed the mini-turret on the commander's cupola that resulted in a reduction in height and a minor simplification of construction and maintenance for very little loss in flexibility, due to the coaxially mounted Browning machine gun in the turret. It was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and have expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The primary changes in this boxing are the inclusion of a new cast turret with no machine-gun turret-let on top, and the inclusion of British equipment inside and around the exterior. We've come to expect great things from miniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included The original release we reviewed here was the full interior kit, now for those of us who dont build full interior kits (like myself) we have the great kit without all of that stuff. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 70 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, 2 sprues of equipment/tarps; and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsors. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior best close them up! The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Two large bins for the rear are then built up. When we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return wheel at the top, and there are three per side. The wheels with their moulded-in rubber tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. There are two different types of track in the kit depending on which marking option being done. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. Mike built a test section up with the interior kit, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. There are both WE-210 & T-41 track links included, and use depends on marking option. With the tracks in place, the side skirts can be installed and the additional stowage boxes can be fabricated from their parts and attached to the hull with PE brackets, their shape conforming to the surfaces that they are placed on. The side skirts are finished off with mudguards at the rear by boxing in the tops of the track runs. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull, then the single-part main gun barrel is nipped from the sprues, has its seamlines removed and is joined to the optional two-part blast-bag that has excellent realistic-looking canvas wrinkle and sag moulded in. We're still not quite ready for the turret though, as there are a number of PE parts stretching the length of the side-skirts which are used to hang additional stowage in the real thing. These fit onto small depressions on the sides of the hull, and scrap diagrams show the correct way to fold the perpendicular front sections. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret halves joined, the aerials are then added. Next up is the reduced height British spec cupola with grab handles and a choice of open or closed hatch with periscope in the port door. The commander's .30cal weapon is mounted on a curved fitting on the front of the turret and is fitted with a drum magazine that has moulded-in bullets plus a separate short length that feeds into the breech, sandwiched between the two end-caps with built in mounting frame. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim along with the hatches. The turret can then be fitted. There are additional parts for British Army specific stowage included in the box, which is good to see as a personalised model often looks better than a basic kit. Their locations and colour are shown on separate colour diagrams that can be found at the front of the painting diagrams. Decals There are 4 options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, split between camouflaged, green and sand coloured vehicles, as the Grant and Lee served mainly in warmer climes. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options. From the box you can build one of the following: Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (overall sand) Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (earth / sand) Eighth ArmyNorth Africa 1942 (green / sand) - without top machine gun turret Captured tank , North Africa 1942 (overall sand) - without top machine gun turret Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed area Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Grant as it was supplied to and used by the British Army. The detail incorporated in styrene even without the interior is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. T-55 Mod. 1970 With OMsh tracks (37064) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers. Starting in 1970 these tanks were fitted with the 12.7mm DShK 1938/46 or KPVT loader's anti-aircraft heavy machine guns. These tanks were known as Model 1970. OMsh track is the standard type fitted to all T-54/55/62. These were later upgraded to the RMsh type which was fitted to the fitted to the T-72. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are 80 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. A series of extra cans for the 12.7m gun are added to the turret sides. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood made earlier. Markings There are six decal options, and plenty of colour (and operator) variation, which is nice to see. From the box you can build one of the following: 101 st Mechanised Rifle Regiment, 5th Guards Motorised Rifle Division of the Soviet 40th Army, Afghanistan early 1980's. Presumed Syrian 85th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade, Beirut Lebanon June 1982. Unknown Iranian unit, Iran-Iraq war 1980's. Iraqi Army, Al Mutla District, North Of Kuwait Operation Desert Storm 1991. Peruvian Army, 2010. Kurdish Peshmerga unit, Battle of Mossol 2016. The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the tiny nuts holding the snorkel to the rear of the tank. It is a fabulous kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Dinner on the Front (35325) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Soldiers need to eat. It’s an immutable fact, and during an advance such as those pioneered in Blitzkrieg, they need to have their feeding facilities either with them or close at hand behind the lines. During the advance into Germany by Soviet Russia toward the end of WWII, the space between battles were filled with soldiers either sleeping or eating. We’ll ignore the other stuff they may have gotten up to for decency’s sake. This new set from MiniArt depicts one such incident that could have taken place within a building or shack, where the squad takes the time to rest and enjoy a meal together before their next task. Arriving in a figure-sized shrink-wrapped top-opening box, the set includes some elements that you may have seen before, plus a set of five figures to use with these parts. There are eleven sprues in the box, one in white and the rest in grey, plus a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret of brass that supplies parts for the Samovar, handles for the pots and a few pieces of cutlery. Build up is simple as you’d expect and careful painting will be key to adding realism to the ingredients for this snapshot of life in WWII Soviet military. The scene is exactly as you see it on the box art. Five men, three sitting with food or drink, while one tends the fire, and a Commissar or Officer in a greatcoat stands and eats from a billy-can with a spoon. The soldiers all have typical leather boots and quilted uniforms, and that Soviet staple the Ushanka ear-flap hat in fur to keep their heads warm. Also included in the set is a table, pots, crockery and cutlery to fill it, a Samovar self-heating urn and a barrel-shaped wood-burning stove (how fashionable!) with large chimney. Four chairs complete the scene, but there are other Easter eggs hidden away on the sprues such as a makeshift stick rotisserie using a pair of y-shaped sticks and cross-brace, lots of odd-looking helmets, tools and sundry items from the typical soldier’s inventory, which includes plenty of rifles, PPSh machine guns, grenades and pistols. My example had a few parts rattling round inside the heat-sealed bag, but it also had a missing torso, which is a shame but won’t affect my review other than to say that this is a first for me with MiniArt, and advise you to always check your new acquisitions for possible missing parts. As always with MiniArt, the sculpting, figure breakdown and naturalistic poses is excellent, with detail incorporated everywhere and seams placed at convenient locations to minimise clean-up time. There is a page of the instructions devoted to the making and painting of the soldiers, and at the bottom of that is a list of accessories with names and painting suggestions laid out for you to copy. In addition, on the rear page of the instructions above a copy of the salient parts of the box art, you will find a selection of four posters printed for you to add to the walls of whatever dwelling you intend to place the set within. The paints called out during the build are referred to by a table on the back page that converts them to Vallejo, Mr.Color, Lifecolor, Tamiya, AK, Mission Models, Hataka, AMMO and plain English, which is always helpful. Floor not included Conclusion As is pretty standard from MiniArt, this is a great set with details that add realism everywhere you look. Good news if your Soviet soldiers are getting hungry. Highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  9. Evening folks. Thought id better make a start and post my maiden build on the forums. A 1/35th BA-64b Russian scout car by Miniart. The build will pretty much be straight out the box as it’ll take too long for any detail sets to arrive. I have already made a start on the gearbox and chassis, leaf springs and rear axle. The chassis had some pretty noticeable injector pin marks and recesses on the underside of the frame. Nothing a bit of green putty can’t fix. anonymous pictures website Cheers Andy
  10. Hello guys, my T-70M Miniart is finished some picts
  11. Street Fruit Shop (35612) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Lots of street traders appear round the world, and as is the case with all good car chases from the 70s, a lot of them sell fruit. This set from MiniArt depicts exactly that. It’s a fruit shop based on a couple of palettes, an angled stand on which various fruit boxes are set, an umbrella to keep the sun off, and a two-bay cooler branded with the promise of Mojitos stored inside. That should please Sam Axe at least. The set arrives in a figure-sized top-opening box shrink-wrapped for freshness, and inside are fifteen sprues in grey styrene of various sizes that are best characterised as smallish. In addition is a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and an instruction booklet with some printed boxes and the canopy for the umbrella printed on the back page in full colour. Construction begins with the cooler, which is made up from individual panels with a small divider that hides the compressor in the bottom of the machine, plus the two sliding lids that are the source of arguments between siblings when one wants something from the other door and traps the other’s hand in the sliding lid. One of the two decals supplied can be applied to the front for a bit of light relief once you have painted it appliance white (probably?). The angled fruit stand is next with a framework under the slatted top, and the two palettes are each made up of top and bottom halves, with a clever technique used to apply the three underside parts as one by using linking sprues that are removed after the glue has set. The umbrella frame is begun with a pole to which six fine arms are added at angles to match the canopy colour changes, which is the last part joined. The printing is only on one side, so if you want to go for extra realism, you may consider spraying some paint lightly on the white side of the canopy before you glue it to the frame. Just like the real thing the umbrella drops into a two-part base to finish it off and hold it down. There is also a solitary PVC garden chair on its own sprue that is awesome to behold. Just like the real thing, and if they had moulded it in white or green, it wouldn’t even have needed painting. You don’t even have to remove most of the seams, as these things are pumped out of similar moulds to those making our model parts with very little finishing done to make them smooth and stylish. Now for the fun part. Beside the umbrella canopy are a number of boxes of various types and brands, with instructions printed nearby describing how to make them up once you have cut them from the paper. These where the six small sprues full of plastic fruit come in, with oranges, pears, kiwi and those fruit with the red jelly-like seeds inside, the name of which escapes me right now. There are also boxes for bananas, which are all moulded in little hand-like bunches of three or four to arrange as you see fit. Finally, there are water melons in whole or halves as well as honeydew melons similarly displayed. You will have to paint these little marvels appropriately for the ultimate effect, but the moulding is excellent, as is the wooden texture on the various wooden parts. If you want another coloured umbrella, just use the original as a template and make your own for a bit more variation from the set. Conclusion Dioramas live or die by their realistic background artefacts, or clutter. This is an excellent way to populate the streets of many warmer climate or Middle Eastern street scenes with your vehicles or troops trundling through. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. LGOC B-Type London Omnibus (38021) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd After the invention of the motor car, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to apply it to carrying us proles around in groups, partly because the general populous couldn’t dream of affording a car at the time, but also because it cut down on traffic in the sprawling metropolis that was early 1900s London. The London General Omnibus Company – LGOC for short, developed the Omnibus X, the omnibus part relating to everyone or all. It was replaced by the improved B-type Omnibus which has seats for 16 inside and another 18 less salubrious seats upstairs open to the elements. It was capable of breaking the speed limit of the day and could do a staggering 16mph on the flat, with headlights being introduced just before WWI began. Up to 900 buses were shipped to the continent to bus the troops around the battlefield from trench to trench, with up to 24 fully-equipped men being carried on the two decks. Of course, the word Omnibus didn’t last long and gave us the Bus that we know and don’t really love today. With the side glazing easily broken by the men’s equipment and gun butts, it wasn’t long before many were covered up with planks, making for a dark but less draughty lower deck. Some were even converted to mobile homes for pigeons, with a loft built on the top deck and able to be driven from place to place where telegraph or telephone wasn’t a suitable means of communications. At the end of WWI, the remaining operational buses were also used to ferry the soldiers back to the UK, but it can’t have been very comfortable or quick on balance. The Kit This kit began with the militarised version in olive drab (39001), and now we’re looking at the civilian version on which it was developed. A few additional sprues are included to improve the comfort of the passengers by adding cushions to the seats, and to add a safety barrier to the area of the side between the wheels to prevent people from being swept under. The decal sheet is also brand new, and the Photo-Etch (PE) sheet has been re-organised to accommodate the curved advertising hoardings on the staircase at the expense of number plate choice. Detail is excellent with a full chassis, engine and interior included in the box, giving you just about everything you need to build a detailed replica of the early omnibus. Construction begins with the engine, which is well detailed and even has diagrams showing you how to wire up the spark plugs with some of your own wire if you wish. The exhaust manifold, big clutch flywheel are added to the block along with a load of ancillary parts and hoses, then the gearbox is made up with its short drive-shaft to link it to the engine later on. The chassis is made up from the two side rails and cross members, then the engine is inserted from below while the fan belt and blades; starting handle; leaf springs for the suspension; and a large rear axle are all added, then flipped over to begin work on the engine compartment. A wood-textured bulkhead is installed aft, and at the front the large radiator is assembled and fitted to the front of the chassis, then linked to the feed hoses that were fixed earlier. A small linkage is made from 0.3mm wire and joined with and end-piece that completes the link, which has a couple of scrap diagrams to assist you, one at 1:1 scale to ensure you have it right. The chassis is flipped again and the front axle is built then inserted into the leaf-springs, while brake rods are threaded along the length of the vehicle to provide the meagre braking force to all wheels. The gearbox gets a guard fitted to its bottom as it is inserted into the chassis, at which point it is also linked to the back axle with another drive-shaft that is bracketed by a piece of PE. The chassis is flipped again, and the gearbox is linked to the cab, with steering wheel, PARP! style horn plus the cab floor with foot board and cut-outs for the steering wheel, foot brake and other pedals (right-hand drive of course). Now the front and back of the engine bay are linked by the fixed centre panel, and you can build the cowling in either open or closed positions with PE plates attached to the vertical panels. The chassis continues again with the exhaust pipe and muffler, which has a PE lip added to each end of the welded cylinder. This and the remaining driver controls are fixed into the chassis, which is then set aside while the passenger compartment is built. The passenger compartment starts as a U-shaped floor with duck-board flooring, which receives end panels that are first fitted out with glazing. Seats are added along each side with back cushions fitted later, and the sides of the lower floor are made up with glazing and long slim openers at the top of each pane, capable of being posed open or closed by choosing different glazing parts. The front of the passenger box is also the seating area for the crew cab, with seat board, a thin cushion, and a cylinder in a pair of PE restraints installed ready for the later joining of the two assemblies. Long advertising hoarding brackets are fitted on the window frames outside and the lower floor is set to one side while the upper floor is made up. This has a slightly curved floor, solid sides, front and back, and four rows of double seats facing forward with a central walkway. Various rails are added to the top, beginning the handrails for the winding stairs, as well as ceiling-mounted grab-rails for the floor below. The two floors are joined together, and the staircase is begun at the bottom with the step-on platform at the rear, which allows access to the lower floor and leads to the stairs winding up the back of the vehicle. These steps are curved and have two parts added together, then strengthened by a side panel, and two curved sections on the outside that are combined safety rails and adverting hoardings that have three PE panels fitted to the outside ready for the included adverts. A number-plate and more handrails finish off that area. Underneath, the double length mudguards are glued to the cabin by brackets, and then the whole assembly is installed on the chassis along with front mudguards, crew steps, choice of lights and a front number plate. The wheels were built up earlier from a central hub surrounded by two tyre halves, and with drum-brake for the rear wheels, and simpler wheels for the front. Now that she’s stood on her own four wheels for the first time, the side-mounted people catchers are installed under the chassis between the wheels, preventing anyone unlucky enough to fall between the wheels from getting smooshed by the heavy back end. Markings The bus is painted in a dull red overall, with various accent colours from wood, metallics and brass colours, while many of the standard markings such as the destination and general stencilling are applied as decals. The adverts are all printed on the rear page of the instruction booklet and must be carefully cut out and pasted onto the hoarding boards in the top floor sides and rear of the bus, taking care to use a non-marking glue. The opposite side of the adverts are gloss white, so glue absorption shouldn’t be a major issue. The standard decals are shown applied to the bus inside the front cover of the booklet, while various advertising options are shown there and on separate pages at the back of the booklet next to the adverts themselves. This gives a pretty wide range of options to the modeller who takes a mix-and-match approach, but there are several options provided to get you going. Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. There is a small addendum sheet included with the initial release, due to a misspelling of the word “Bridge” on the main decal sheet, so remember to discard those before you apply the wrong ones. Conclusion If you’ve been planning to adapt the military version to civilian use, now you don’t need to, as this highly detailed kit provides you with everything you need to create a great replica of this early bus. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of https://www.britmodeller.com/reviews/graphics/bin.jpg
  13. Modern Oil Drums 200L (35615) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd We’ve been addicted to fossil fuels since coal was first burned, sparking (Sorry for the pun) the industrial revolution, and now oil and fuel in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drums are an easy way to store and transport relatively small quantities without spilling them, and they certainly beat a wicker basket any day of the week! Arriving in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, the set includes eighteen sprues in grey styrene of two sizes, plus a small decal sheet, and instructions with painting guide on the back of the box. There are only two different sprues included, but you get multiples that allow you to build up 12 barrels and 6 manual hand-pumps if you feel the urge to use them. There are two types of barrels with different types of ribbing, one having many ribs the other having only a few. The bottoms of the barrels are mostly reused lids from different sets that have their raised writing flipped to the inside, with two styles of tops with filler caps at the edge. The hand pumps have a long dipping stick, a handle to crank, and an applicator that will need you to supply some hose or substitute to complete. Markings The back of the box gives you brief instructions for construction and suggests paint schemes and decal locations for your delight. The decal sheet is by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion A whole barrel of fun for your vehicle or diorama base! I’m sorry to reuse that one again. They’re detailed, with decals to pretty them up, and a decent quantity that could last you a few models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Hello lads. Today I have a little video of BA-64 that I have finished a while ago. Model is in 1/35th scale. It is a little car, quite easy and enjoable to build, so I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick build. Hope you'll enjoy the movie. And few pictures:
  15. T-55 Czechoslovak Production (37074) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are 73 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood made earlier. Markings There are six decal options, and plenty of colour (and operator) variation, which is nice to see. From the box you can build one of the following: Czechoslovak People’s Army, 70s A Lebanese Army unit during Nahr El Bared battle in May 2007 Armed Forces of the Republic of Chad Second civil war in Chad. Presumably 2009 Tank division of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, Presumably Om El Khanfousa, Sept 2001 Armoured forces of the National Transitional Council of Libya. Assault on the city of Sirte, Libya, beginning of Oct 2011 Armoured unit of the Syrian Arab Army, Syria, presumably 2013-2014 The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the tiny nuts holding the snorkel to the rear of the tank. It is a fabulous kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. T-55 RMSh Workable Track Links Early Type 1:35 MiniArt With the numerous T-54 and T-55 variants produced by MiniArt it was only a matter of time that they would produce a new style of workable track link system for them. I was lucky enough to see the initial designs and learnt what the team were up to in a visit to the factory last year. That design process has at last borne some fruit with this their first set. In the colourful end opening box are sixteen sprues, each with twelve links and twenty four pins. Each link is removed from the sprue gates and cleaned up. Be aware that the styrene is quite soft, so be careful if using a blade to clean up, might be best just to use a foam emery stick. With the links cleaned up you then join each link together and insert a pin, add a drop of glue, in my case I used Tamiya extra thin, so you have to be careful not to put too much on as it can wick up the pin and you won’t get moveable tracks. With the pin glued, just snap off and fit the pin on the other side, rinse and repeat until you have a full length of track. They are very much like the metal tracks you can buy from Miniarm but actually easier to assemble as I find the resin pins Miniarm use are too fragile to fit in the metal links. The length of track I built up as shown in the photograph took about 5 minutes once the links had been cleaned up. Conclusion This set represents a much better solution to the click together style MiniArt used to use. They are so easy to put together that even the most ardent opponent of individual links should be happy putting them together. They really do work too as my photo shows. I now hope they include these tracks or ones like them in all their new tanks and other tracked vehicle kits. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  17. Hallo This is my way to get a little distance from modelling aircarft. This famous truck is my first of many. The AAA I also did. In a few days I show you this truck too! Happy modelling
  18. Soviet Railway Wagon "Teplushka" (35300) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Railway trucks/wagons have been a major way of getting goods, livestock and even people around the countryside, and as the Soviet Union was geographically huge the railway was a primary mode of transport for goods and materiel come wartime. During Operation Citadel and the Soviet push back, many battles over stations and marshalling yards took place, and such wagons (Teplushka means boxcar) were often part of the backdrop. This four-wheeled unit was capable of carrying 8 tonnes and had a sliding door on both sides, with a small stove against the back wall for when live cargo was carried. The Kit Arriving in a standard-sized shrink-wrapped MiniArt box, the first thing that strikes you is how heavy it is. There are 37 sprues of grey styrene inside which accounts for most of the weight, a card envelope with two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) parts inside, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet with a glossy cover and first page carrying the painting guide and some interesting posters and placards to put on your model. Construction begins with the underpinnings, starting with the central brake assembly in an H-frame which later forms the middle cross-rails of the chassis. The two axles are next with their wheels each end and leaf-spring suspension prepped for when the chassis is ready for them. The H-frame is joined with four more cross-rails to the main chassis rails, then stiffened by four diagonal cross-braces and a pair of end beams that accept the buffers and shackles later on. Firstly, the sides of the body are widened with a row of stand-off brackets on each side with a finishing rail and doorstep added to the sides after those are set up. Now you can put the suspension assemblies on the chassis-rails and push them slightly apart to accept the axles, which spin freely in depressions within the suspension assembly on their conical ends. The flat bed is fitted next in two sections, while the side and end panels are stiffened up with bracing and windows that can be posed open or closed, leaving the doors in the centre of each side open at this time. Before the roof it made up, the inside is decorated with three simple wooden platforms at each end, the top one of which is half depth and tilted upwards, possibly for luggage. The stove is also made up from a single body part and additional doors, grilles, top and smoke stack, then it is put to one side while the rest of the wagon is built up. More stiffening braces are added to the top of the side panels and the outer corners, plus a rail for the doors to slide on later. The roof is a long assembly made up from two sections that have wooden planking moulded on the inside, and a panelled roof with raised edges externally, braced from the inside by seven curved cross-rails. There's a small pre-engraved circular cut-out in each panel but you only need to cut one out to accommodate the smoke stack, with the stove sitting on a PE plate with a small scoop to top it up with fuel. That and the roof go on together, as the position of the stove is determined by the roof panel. It's up to you whether you decide to fill the other engraved hole, as it's unlikely to be seen unless you have eyes on stalks. The doors on each side have two layers, the inner side having a planked lower section and a diagonal bracing across the top. The pulley-like wheels are fitted onto the door frame while it is being laminated, and PE furniture and styrene handles are made up to complete them. A PE drip-rail is also attached over the door and its slide rail after it has been folded to an L-profile, then the doors are popped into place top first with the bottom edge dropped into the lower guides. Then it's just a matter of making up four three-part buffers, the brake rods with hooks on the ends, and the couplings that attach to them. That's the truck done, but now you need something to sit it on. There are four sprues filled with rail parts including 20 track-ties/sleepers, four sections of rail, linking parts and number of track spikes. The spikes on the inner edges of the rails are moulded-in, so the inner flange on the rails are inserted there first and secured by the separate pin on the outer edge. Do this 40 times (2 per sleeper) and you have a decent length or rail to put your truck on, and the beginnings of a diorama or vignette. Finally, you need to acquire a short length of chain to attach the last two hooks to the ends of the boxcar. There are also a pair of triangular mounts in the box that act as braces for the patriotic posters if you are using them. Markings There are seven sets of markings on the decal sheet with green and shades of brown the background colour onto which you apply the decals and some of the 28 posters and patriotic slogans that are included in the colour pages of the instructions. South-Western Railway. The train car with demobilised soldiers of the Red Army, 1945 Kuibyshev Railroad. Railway carriage as part of a military train 1942 Orenburg Railroad. Railway carriage as part of a military train 1943 Sanitary railway carriage of unknown military train, 1943-44 Deutsche Reichsbahn (imperial Railway Administration) occupied territory of the Soviet Union, 1942-44 South Ural Railway. The train car with demobilised soldiers of the Red Army, 1945 Railway carriage of unknown military train, 1942-45 The decals are printed by DecoGraph and they are all either red or white with no registration to worry about, but good sharpness and colour density. You can also decorate your carriages with some of the posters by cutting them out and pasting them to the sides either as indicated on the examples, or by making up your own arrangement. Conclusion This detailed kit is perfect for either adding to a train/loco, or as a participant in a diorama using the included rails. The painted example from MiniArt's website above shows the truck with a bunch of demobilised soldiers aboard, as per one of the markings options, although you'd have to source those yourself. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Cabriolet B German Car Typ 170V (38018) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. The cabriolet option was sporty and offered the well-to-do buyer luxury and wind-in-hair fun on dry days, and a slightly less windy experience with the fabric roof deployed. It shares many of the panels of the saloon version, although with no pillars behind the windscreen for a sleek look. The Kit This is a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon (35095), with new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. This boxing has 14 sprues in grey styrene plus a bodyshell part in a protective box, clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), and decal sheet. The instruction booklet completes the package and the cover is printed in colour and covered in profiles to assist with painting. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column added at this time. The dashboard is put together with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism and put to one side while the twin font seats with PE fittings and the simpler rear bench seats are installed onto their supports in the cab area. The exquisite little rear bodyshell is retrieved from its protective box, and it is immediately evident that it would never survive shipping without this, so it’s a godsend. The rear sides of the cab are fitted with interior and windows on each side, indicators on the A-pillar, the dashboard, rear lights and bumpers/fenders, while the wheels are made up. Each wheel is made up from a layer-cake of three middle parts to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with marker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub to differentiate it, and it fits on a boss at the centre of a recess on the boot/trunk later on. The main wheels are added to the corners, and the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround is assembled, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap are added at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central bracket that forms the hinge-point for the folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. The new bodyshell is lowered into place, the steering wheel and PE horn ring are installed, and the windscreen is assembled from frame, PE wipers, clear glazing and other small parts inside the frame, then slid down between the two arms moulded into the bodyshell. The suicide doors are made up from outer skin, door card and clear window, with an optional window stub if you are posing them wound down. Handles and winders finish them off, and you can install them closed or any angle to allow egress. If you are leaving the hood down, the folded hood is provided as a single part that has the mechanism added to each side. In the up position the complete hood is one piece, with the mechanism applied to the sides and an ovalized window filling up the hole in the rear. The main headlights have clear lenses, a wing mirror is attached to the left wing, and an optional luggage rack is provided for the rear, made up from two layers of boxes, a delicate frame and PE straps to give it extra realism. The final parts to be used are the figures with a young lady driving, and a gentleman in a suit and hat (homberg?) standing beside the car in the same pose as depicted on the box top. Markings The decals extend to number-plates, and six examples of colour schemes are printed in the instructions for your convenience. You can of course paint them any colour you like, or follow the guide, which gives you these options of which you can build one: Belgium, 1940s France, early 1940s Berlin, German. Early 1940s Silesia, Germany. First half of the 40s Anhalt, Germany. First half of the 40s Kyiv, Ukraine. 1948 Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s a highly detailed rendition of a rather slick cabriolet from the pre-war era, with the figures adding a little class to an already great kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Lieferwagen Typ 170V German Beer Delivery Car (38035) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but different due to the boxy load area behind the drivers. The Kit This is a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon (35095), with new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are six sprues of grey styrene, four in a deep yellow colour, two clear brown and two clear green. There is also a decal sheet and a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column added at this time. The dashboard is integrated into the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen inserted before this is dropped over the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small rear window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor, with the steering wheel and PE horn ring added late on. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four with a spare one lurking under a false floor in the back. Each wheels is made up from a layer-cake of three middle parts to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub and no cap to differentiate it. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece with the pocket for the spare tyre to fit inside, and this sits over the rear arches and is supported at the front by a lip on the rear of the cab. The load area is then finished by adding the slab-sides and roof to the body, with a few ejector pin marks that will need filling if you plan on leaving the door open. Speaking of doors, there are two options for open and closed, with moulded-in hinges and separate door handle, with the number-plate holder above the door in the centre. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the reaward opening "suicide door" type. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. A pair of PE and styrene windscreen wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, a pair of clear-lensed headlamps, wing mirrors and indicator stalks on the A-pillars finish off the build of the van. The dark yellow sprues are there to give you some cargo to fill the doorway, and each one has the parts to make up one beer crate with dividers inside to reduce clinking as it was moved around. These are then filled up with the 80 bottles in brown or green that are found on the transparent sprues. You’re even treated to set of decals to add as labels. Markings Get your sunglasses out folks! These were commercial vehicles during peacetime, so they were designed to attract attention. There are three options depicted in the instructions, with plenty of decals devoted to the branding on the sides. From the box you can build one of the following: IIC-406396 Winkler Brau, Mainburg, Germany, 30/40s IM-83369 Zwickauer Vereins-Weißbier, Zwickau, Germany, 30/40s VH-59610 Lauterbacher Biere Spezialität: Weizenbier, Lauterbach, Germany, 40s Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is such a well-detailed kit of an old Merc van, and even if you’re not a vehicle modeller normally it would make for great background fodder for a diorama, either intact or in a semi-demolished state thanks to urban combat. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Fuel & Oil Drums 1930-50s (35613) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd There’s no escaping the fact that we as a society have been addicted to fossil fuels starting with coal during the first industrial revolution, and now oil and fuel in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drums are an easy way to store and transport relatively small quantities without spilling them, and they certainly beat a carrier bag any day of the week! Arriving in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, the set includes eighteen sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, plus a long thin decal sheet, and instructions with painting guide on the back of the box. There are only four different sprues included, but you get multiples that allow you to build up 12 barrels and 6 manual hand-pumps if you feel the urge to use them. There are three types of barrels, two of which have different types of ribbing moulded in, the third having separate pairs of rings around them, which you are advised to thin down by 0.5mm internally before fitting. The tops and bottoms of the barrels are mostly reused lids from different sets that have their raised writing flipped to the inside, but a new set of French lettering is included for the third type of barrel with “Jupiter” or “Poudres Cre” raised lettering on the top where the filler caps are. The hand pumps have a long dip tube, a handle to crank, and an applicator that will need you to supply some hose or substitute to complete. Markings The back of the box gives you brief instructions for construction and suggests paint schemes and decal locations for your delight. The decal sheet is by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion A whole barrel of fun for your vehicle or diorama base! Detailed, with decals to pretty them up, and a decent quantity that could last you a few models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Soviet Tank Crew 1950s (37053) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd After WWII the Cold War began, and our former allies became our enemy although war was never declared, but was sometimes fought in proxy wars around the world. In the 50s Soviet armour was a key component of the expected invasion of Europe, and their tank force was substantial. Their crews still wore clothing similar to that worn in WWII with some evolutionary changes from lessons learned in the field. The average crewman would wear black overalls with an element of cold protection and padding, calf-length boots and a padded tanker helmet that at least softened the frequent knocks that must have been commonplace in such a confined environment. This set arrives in a figure sized end-opening box and as advertised on the front it holds four figures on separate sprues that can be posed on and around the vehicle. The officer figure is wearing a flat peaked cap and is consulting a map from a folio, while one crewmember squats either on the ground or tank, another leans with his arms over the lip of his hatch, and the final member is stepping on something with his hands on what could be the lip of his hatch. Each figure has separate arms, legs, torso and head, with the helmets made up from a central top section and hanging sides for a more realistic look, and they each have a bag slung over their shoulders that is another separate part. The crewmen have additional Y-shaped parts to represent the cables for the comms gear sewn into their helmets, and the commander has a pistol on his belt and the map is moulded into his hand, separately from the rest of his arm. Sculpting is as ever spot on, with sensible breakdown of parts along natural seams, superb understanding of the draping of different materials, and realistic poses and proportions that all add realism to the finished figures. The painting and construction guide can be found of the back of the box in colour, with paints called out as numbers that relate to a table below converting between Vallejo, Life Color, Tamiya, AK, Mission Models and Hataka brand plus the colours and their names in English and Ukrainian. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Continental R975 Engine (35321) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Originating as the Wright R-975 Whirlwind, the Continental engine was a license-built engine that was used in a number of US tanks and other armoured vehicles, far outstripping its service as an aero-engine. Tanks such as the M4 Sherman, M3 Lee, M7 Priest, M18 Hellcat (spookily I'm watching a documentary with this type right now) and many other lesser known examples used the engine, which was generally placed with the drive-shaft horizontally, leading at least in part to the high profile of some of these vehicles. Without the airstream of flight to cool it down it had to be cooled actively by a huge fan to prevent overheating. It was a complex 9-cylinder radial engine and was often lifted out of the vehicle when deep maintenance was required as it was just easier to have it mounted on a trestle than fishing around inside the close-fitting hull. The Kit This is a stand-alone kit from MiniArt that can be used alone, or in conjunction with any suitable AFV kit with the rear opened up for a repair-shop diorama or vignette. Arriving in a top-opening figure-sized box, it holds five sprues in grey styrene along with an A4 3-sheet concertina layout instruction booklet. The detail is excellent, and you can build either an early or late variant by exchanging some parts along the way, as well as including a trestle stand to mount your finished engine on. Construction begins with the piston bank with delicate cooling fins well-defined in the single-piece moulding. The bell-housing is added to the front along with push-rods at the rear, then a set of conical panels that focus the incoming air on the pistons with a cross-member support resting on a wedge on the bell-housing. The huge fan fits over the tin-work, and behind the exhaust collector ring and ancillary parts of the motor are fitted, interlacing into a complex-looking assembly that is reasonably simple when completed according to the instructions. The early exhaust is supplied in two parts, while the later version has separate pair of tubes that come out closer together. With all that glued and painted, the engine mount is glued in, passing around the ancillaries on both sides, then adding more parts to complete the equipment block. Finally, another v-shaped tube is attached, having early and late versions again, as do the additional small hoses that complete the engine. The Trestle is made up from five parts replicating the metal maintenance stand with castors moulded into the bottom frame to make moving the engine a much easier task for the maintainer. It is specifically designed to hold the engine on both sides of the front engine mount, exposing much of the motor’s greeblies for inspection. Markings There are no decals, but throughout the build the colours are called out using a boxed-in number that relates to the chart at the end of the instructions. Codes are given in Vallejo, Mr. Color, Lifecolor, Tamiya, AK Interactive, Mission Models, Hataka, AMMO, plus their names in English and Cyrillic. Conclusion The R-975 was used in a surprisingly large range of WWII Allied fighting vehicles, so anyone wanting to either show off the power plant next to their latest creation, or as already mentioned in a diorama scene, this is an excellent choice as it is loaded with detail and has early and late options that are sensibly placed to left and right of the page. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. M4 Quad Maxim AA Machine Gun (35211) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Maxim machine gun was developed during WWI into a capable weapon, and was used by a number of nations, sometimes on opposite sides of no-man’s land with different names. By WWII it had been replaced to an extent by other more modern designs, but it still saw some use, often in Russian service as an Anti-Aircraft gun. One such use was a quad mount that were seen in use on trains, mounted to open wagons to defend against incoming air attacks. Mounted on a conical base that was fixed to its intended carrier, it was able to pivot and elevate as one, with the cooling jackets linked to one reservoir for ease, and the guns controlled by one trigger while the operator leaned into a pair of braces that allowed quick repositioning to track an enemy. The Kit This kit from MiniArt is intended to be used with your own choice of mount, be it a railway wagon, a truck or even a horse-drawn carriage with pictures existing that back up that unusual option. It arrives in a figure-sized box with painting guide on the rear along with a suggestion for a possible mount. Inside are ten sprues in grey styrene, plus a fret of Photo-Etched (PE) brass in a protective card envelope. A small instruction sheet is also included to guide you through the complicated build process. Construction begins with the base, with a three-arm mount at the very bottom, and bracing struts helping reduce flex. The height adjustment wheel and locking mechanism are mounted, the latter being higher up near the pivot. The four ammo cans are all made up identically with a grab handle and feeder chute with PE guide at the bottom. They are linked together by a box-shaped bracket with PE stiffeners running across all four, then the gun frame is made up in preparation for the weapons. These are each made up identically from a main breech and barrel/cooling jacket part, to which mounting hardware are added, in order to correctly mount is on the frame, then link the cooling jacket hoses into the frame and add the lead-adjustment wheel that moves the ring-sight from side-to-side according to the operator’s estimate of the speed of flight of the bullets and movement of their target. The operator’s yoke is added, flip-off muzzle caps are installed on PE chains dangling from the barrel, then the magazines are offered up from underneath with a few small parts added to finish off, including the important ammo belts. In addition, there are 15 spare magazine boxes to clutter up your mounting area. Markings There are none, but the mount, ammo cans, framework and cooling jackets were painted Russian Green, while the breeches were a dark metallic colour that I think we should call Gun Metal. Conclusion It’s a cool looking item to put in the back of a truck or wagon, but that horse-drawn option would be a bit unusual to depict, but you’d best release the horses before setting it up to fire. Highly recommended. They’re currently on discount at Creative as I type this, so hurry up! Review sample courtesy of
  25. M3A5 Lee - Exterior Kit (35279) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Lee was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. Another major user was the USSR under lend lease, the Soviets did not like the tank and its nickname was "a coffin for 6", not surprising in a way as at the time they were facing panthers and Tigers with it. The tank underwent some substantial changes including cast, welded and back to riveted hulls plus changes in the power pack and loss of the side doors to stiffen the hull. The riveted hulls suffered from rivets popping off and becoming projectiles when hit, which could be just as lethal as a penetrating round and was never fully eliminated. The Late version deleted the side doors and left only one pistol port, it also had different wheels and drive sprockets. The M3A5 was a diels engined version the the riveted M3 The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and are expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The full interior kit of the Early Lee was reviewed here. This boxing now comes without an interior. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 60 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the front and rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsors. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior best close them up! The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Two large bins for the rear are then built up. When we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. At the read the exhausts are added with their protective plates and the rear mudguards are added. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. The lower hull is finished off with a pair of short plates over the drive wheels and a host of additional equipment filling up the interior with more shell storage, tanks and auxiliary generator. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. Before it can be installed the super-structure must be built up to accommodate it, including the sidewalls, the curved surround and the angled front panels of the glacis. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, and an instrument panel is fitted to the inside of the glacis. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Fuel caps are added along the way, and when we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and armour plates protect the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted.. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Lee's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return roller at the top, and there are three of these assemblies per side. The wheels with their moulded-in tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. Mike built a test section up fro the previous reveiw. That said, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret ring is added. Next up the US machine gun turret is added to the top of the main one. The small turret is built up with the gun and it mantlet being added, the lower ring is added as the main two part hatch. This is then fitted to the main turret, and the main turret then added to the hull. Markings There are a three options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, all of them green From the box you can build one of the following: US Army training unit USA 1941 US Army training unit USA 1941 (painted as an enemy tank) Brazilian Army, 2nd Battalion of Combat Cars, 1950s Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Lee as it was supplied to the US, Canadian and Red Army, plus a couple the Germans pinched. The detail incorporated in styrene is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering that's going to be echoed with the Grants and further Lees very soon. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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