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  1. RMSh Workable Track Links Late Type For T-55/T-62/T-72 1:35 MiniArt With the release of the early track links for the T-54/T-55 earlier this year, MiniArt have now released the later style track links, as used on not only the T-55, but also the T-62 and T-72. Needless to say that you can use them with any manufacturers kits, not just those from MiniArt. In the colourful end opening box are seventeen 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. 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. There are enough links to make a set of tracks for the T-55 which require 91 links per track, or the T-62/T-72 which require 97 links per track so you will have some spare if used with a T-55, which you could then use as additional armour or in a diorama setting. Review sample courtesy of MiniArt - Distributed in the UK By Creative Models
  2. MiniArt ( https://www.facebook.com/miniart.models/ & http://miniart-models.com/ ) is to release a 1/35th Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri V-6 & V-21 kits - ref. 41001 & 41003 Sources: https://www.facebook.com/groups/greenmats/permalink/1615939271798942/ https://www.facebook.com/largescalemodeller/posts/1743221195749828 V.P.
  3. Flettner Fi-282 Kolibri V-23 MiniArt 1:35 History Although the first helicopter to enter service with the German forces in 1939 in the shape of the Fi-265, although the 6 machines built were really prototypes for what followed, the Fi-282. The Fl 282 shared the same "intermeshing" rotor design as the Fl 265, this arrangement involving two individual rotor blades crossing one another, without touching, while rotating in opposite directions and on individual masts to achieve the desired vertical lift. The Fl 282 was given an all-new engine in the Bramo Sh.14A, a 7-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine outputting at 160 horsepower. Flight testing of the Fl 282 began in 1941 and eventually involved two flyable prototypes. These two prototypes were given enclosed cockpits while follow-up units were to feature the well-photographed open-air design. It was the German Navy that saw the value inherent in the Flettner helicopter and ordered a batch of fifteen for evaluation from its surface ships. Prototypes were designated Fl 282 V1 through V7 and followed by the Fl 282A-1 single-seat reconnaissance version for launching/retrieval from German warships. The Fl 282B-2 designation was given to the submarine-launched, single-seat reconnaissance variants, which were actually two seaters, with a second seat to the rear of the frame. This was for an observer in the scout, reconnaissance or mission liaison role. The Luftwaffe was granted a production order for some 1,000 Fl 282 units sometime in 1944, these to be manufactured by the BMW for the sheer numbers required of the German war effort. But these plans were disrupted when the plant designated to build them was bombed by allied aircraft. In 1945, the Luftwaffe went on to establish a dedicated reconnaissance wing through Transportstaffel 40 (TS/40) which was to stock several Fl 282 helicopters and based out of the Muhldorf District of Bavaria. It is interesting to note, that after the war, Anton Flettner eventually went to work with the Kaman Helicopter company, renowned for using the twin intermeshing rotors on canted masts that Flettner had introduced with his wartime helicopter, and these are still being produced today. The Model The third incarnation of the Kolibri, the V-23 comes in a nicely illustrated top opening box. As with the previous kit, this could have fitted in a smaller box as it takes up about half of the available space. That said, once the sprues are removed from the two layers of plastic bags, it does prove that the tightly packed sprues have kept the many fragile parts safe from damage. The model comes on eight sprues of grey styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a decal sheet. As usual with MiniArt kits the moulding is superb with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are an awful lot of moulding pips, particularly on the tubular framework which will require very careful clean-up. The detail variation between the earlier kits is minimal, but this one does show the helicopter in it’s final form as flown by the USAF. Construction begins with the frame work fuselage; with the main bulkhead drilled, out the two piece rear seat is attached. The floor is fitted with what looks like a keel beam, before the main and rear bulkheads are glued into place, followed by the two side sections. The rear roof section is then added, followed by the two piece fin and single piece rudder. Two tubular cross members are then attached, along with two tubular engine mounts. The engine is a model in itself with a single piece block, which is fitted with one set of conrods on a circular frame and the single piece crankcase, the other conrods are separate as are the cylinder heads which are glued on next. The four piece gearbox is the attached to the crankcase followed by the output shaft. The forward section of the upper fuselage, containing the main rotor gearbox mounting frames is then attached, as are the horizontal tailplanes, control runs and, rather strangely, a two bladed propeller and protective ring to the front of the engine which sits inside the fuselage. The main rotor gearbox is made up from no less than thirty three parts, and includes all the control linkages, filters, rotor masts and other fittings. Probably the most complex part of the build is the assembly of what we could loosely call the cockpit. There are four sections of tubular frame that make the cockpit surrounds, then it is fitted out with the control column, all the control linkages, collective lever, rudder pedals, throttle quadrant with linkages attached and the two piece instrument panel with decal instrument faces, which you can then glaze with your favourite glazing medium is fitted into the new nose piece before the assembly is attached to the cockpit frame. With all this in place it is fitted to the fuselage and the rear of the cockpit fitted with its strangely shaped bulkhead and the two piece seat. The main rotor gearbox assembly is then fitted to its mounting and enclosed with three panels. There are two four piece side panels that enclose the rear seat area and a four piece under fuselage section that fits under the engine area. There are two fuel tanks, each made up from four parts, the seven piece main undercarriage, and five piece nose undercarriage. These are all assembled before being glued into their respective positions. The rear panel of the main rotor gearbox is then fitted, as are the two small instrument panels and two piece PE seatbelts which fit in the cockpit, which is then enclosed with two side panels and windscreen, which is held away from the panels by two PE struts. Lastly the two six piece rotors are fitted to their respective masts completing the build. Decals The single decal sheet provides markings for four schemes. Although all of the same aircraft they make interesting variations. The decals are very nicely printed, in register, and opaque. They do include two piece swastikas, should you wish to apply them. The schemes are:- Captured, in the service of the USAF, Nellingen, Germany, June 1945 USAF, August to September 1945 USAF airbase Freeman Field, October 1945 USAF, Camden Airport, 1947. Conclusion As with the first releases, it’s great to see this interesting helicopter in 1:35. If you buy all three, you can see the progression and adaptation of the aircraft as it became more mature. The colour schemes that the markings are provided for are also interesting and it shows how much interest that the aircraft provoked that it was still in use in 1947. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Hessian Bags (35586) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Hessian bags, sometimes known as sand bags are a coarse material that is also strong and cheap to manufacture, which is perfect for wartime use. They're also quite adept at stopping small-arms fire and shrapnel, hence their widespread use around major cities, military installations etc. More recently, they have been replaced by the modern Hesco barriers, which are like giant caged sandbags that are more modular and cover a greater area with less effort in filling. This set from MiniArt arrives in a figure-sized box, and inside are eight sprues in grey styrene. Six of the sprues contain sand bags of three types, while the other two sprues have two different sized bags and a bag full of vegetables that are good for use in the back of trucks, kitchens and so forth. The sand bags are made of two halves, and have optional tied ends that you can add for exposed ends of runs of bags. The instructions show the correct way to lay the bags down on each other, with a corner "buttress" given as an example that can be adapted as per your requirements. The bags are shaped on the underside to be laid out in an overlapping manner, and the bottom row have concave undersides to assist with bedding down on whatever you are using them with. Overall there are 24 sand bags, plus two each of the large sacks, medium sacks and vegetable sacks, which should be plenty for most uses, and the extras can be repurposed as suggested on the boxtop. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Su-122-54 Tank Destroyer Early Type (37035) 1:35 MiniArt Not to be confused with the unsuccessful Su-122 of WWII era, the Su-122-54 (Object 600) was a re-tread of the concept but utilising the more recent T-54 chassis as its basis, although this was lengthened slightly to accommodate the alterations that included a fixed casemate for the gun, which has elevation and limited traverse like many other tank-killers and Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs) to allow fine tuning of aim. It was fitted with the D-49 L/48.4 rifled main gun with 35 rounds carried onboard, and a pair of KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine guns with 600 rounds, one mounted coaxially to the barrel, the other on the commander's station on the roof, which rotated to give fire all round. The commander also had a TCD-09 stereoscopic rangefinder available for targeting, and could be used out as far as 5000m at extreme. They were only produced in small quantities (under 100), and were kept well away from prying eyes for much of their career, with NATO barely mentioning them in reports, despite them playing a part in some of the major exercises and deployments of the 60s. This could partially be due to the use of the Armoured Recovery Vehicle variant in parades that possibly gave a false impression of the type at the time. The Kit This is a new tooling from the masters of armour at MiniArt, using some of the sprues from their successful T-54/55 series. It arrives in their standard sized box, and inside are a lot of sprues of varying sizes. There are 49 sprues of grey styrene, two in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and instruction booklet, with colour profiles at the rear for paint and markings. If you're not familiar with MiniArt kits, 49 sprues might seem a lot, but if you scroll down to the pictures you'll see that some are small, and often there are upwards of dozens of the same sprue for example in respect of track links. If you have built a T-54, you will recognise the construction of the lower hull, which is achieved by adding the suspension mounts to the lower panel, threading the torsion bars through the hull, attaching all the suspension parts such as the swing-arms, dampers and such to the side, then putting the sides with separate final drive housing and rear bulkhead in place. Between the two sides is a firewall, which is there as a structural element, as there is no interior to this kit. That said, you do get a full-length breech, which is assembled with its big coaxial machine gun and slipped through the big bolted mantlet and then set aside while the casemate is made up. The roof of the casemate is first to be put together, with four hatches on the roof, mating with the other sides before the whole assembly is placed on the top of the hull. Worthy of note are the two diagonal corners to the casemate, which are separate parts that normally leads to worries about alignment. MiniArt have sensibly provided a pair of angled plates to glue inside the joints, which ensures that the sides and diagonals obtain the correct angle to mate with the glacis plate, which by now has the mantlet and breech installed. The wide fenders are also glued in place at this stage, with large tabs holding them to the top of the hull at the front, and two pins that locate into the side of the engine compartment, which is slightly raised compared to the front. The rectangular hatch sports the commander's periscope, and the larger round hatch at the rear has the huge KPVT machine gun attached to it, with twin magazines, one each side on a sturdy mount. The engine deck is made up in three sections, with louvres and hatches, plus small parts, some of which are PE for scale fidelity. A large storage box fits onto the deck once it is in place, and the rear bulkhead is decorated with towing hitches, rails and pioneer tools, plus a pair of large mud guards with separate supports on each side. The remaining two hatches are fitted, a number of supports are glued along the length of the fenders, and stowage boxes plus fuel tanks are added to any free space, as is the large side-facing exhaust on the port side. At the front, the fenders are finished off with front guards, which have PE stiffeners inside, and the single-part barrel is inserted into the keyed slot in the mantlet, with the outer saukopf-like section slid over before the two-part hollow muzzle-brake is closed up around the tip of the barrel. The vehicle now needs some road wheels, which are created in pairs with separate hub caps that hide the axle that also holds the multi-part drive sprocket and idler wheels. There are 10 pairs of road wheels needed, and two of each of the idler and drive sprockets, one for each side. At this stage various small parts are added around the hull, with a choice of day or night operations headlights on the diagonal sections of the glacis, more pioneer tools, additional stowage, aerial masts, plumbing for the additional fuel cells, and a rolled up tarpaulin that is attached to the rear of the casemate with PE straps. A common theme to Soviet era armour was the unditching beam and additional fuel drums on the rear, which were carried over to the Su-122-54, with PE straps and fuel caps that are shown from other angles in scrap diagrams to ensure you place them correctly. The towing cables are something you will have to supply from your own sources, with a requirement of two lengths of 1.1mm diameter with lengths of 175mm each, but you do get the towing eyes to terminate them with, so forewarned is forearmed. Keeping the best and most fun part until last, we come to the tracks. Yes, I'm being slightly sarcastic, as there can't be many modellers that actually enjoy putting tracks together, due to their repetitive nature. Each of the 90 links per side is attached by four sprue gates, and they are located in the pit of the concave track-pin tunnel, so will require extra care during clean-up. I found this a bit of a chore for the three links I did, but I do have easily fatigued hands, and you may come up with a faster method than I found using a sharp knife and round file. Detail on the tracks is staggering, with individual casting serials in the depths of each one, and happily no ejector pin marks to contend with. Markings There are three markings options available from the box, and the profiles are split between the inside front and rear covers of the instruction booklet. You can build one of the following: Soviet Army, winter camouflage 50-60s, marked red 326 Soviet Army 60s, marked white 318 Soviet Army 50-60s, marked white 344 Decals are printed by Decograph, which as usual have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whether you've heard of this Tank Destroyer before or not, it has a certain presence, and the angular casemate is appealing as well as a useful feature for deflecting shots away from the crew. The detail levels are excellent, with PE and clear parts to give it extra realism. The only minor gripe is the positioning of the sprue gates on the track links, but with some careful cutting and making good, no-one will ever appreciate your effort! It's typical modern MiniArt, who have made producing great kits look easy. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Polish Tank Crew WWII (35267) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Those doyens of figure sets at MiniArt are at it again (where do they find the time each month?), and this time it's a set of Polish Tank Crew from WWII. The set arrives in a standard sized end-opening figure box with a painting of the intended poses on the front, and a combined instruction and painting guide on the rear of the box. Inside are four sprues in mid grey styrene, three still joined to their runner, the last one nipped off to fit in the box. Four crew are included, one driver figure with his hands on the controls, one casually leaning against his tank (presumably) and two which appear to be clutching their copolas. Two of the standing figures have chest mounted respirator pouches but these can be left off. Conclusion With MiniArt we have come to expect excellent sculpting, and this set does not disappoint, with realistic poses, drape of clothing and faces. The whole set is finely sculpted. There is some flash on this set which I have not seen on others, but it should not be a problem to remove. Recommended for you Polish tank / AFV build. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Soviet Tank Crew 1960-70s (37037) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Those doyens of figure sets at MiniArt are at it again (where do they find the time each month?), and this time it's a set of Russian Tank Crew from the 1960-70 period, when a tough black uniform was worn along with the more traditional padded helmets, also in black. The set arrives in a standard sized end-opening figure box with a painting of the intended poses on the front, and a combined instruction and painting guide on the rear of the box. Inside are four sprues in mid grey styrene, three still joined to their runner, the last one nipped off to fit in the box. Four crew are included, one driver figure with his hands on the controls, another seated figure that looks like he's itching his armpit, then there are two more standing figures. The commander is stood with one hand on the cupola, the other either holding something or giving the thumbs up, while the second standing figure appears to be out of the tank, and is carrying a folding-stock AK47 derivative and has a set of ammo pouches on his hip. Conclusion With MiniArt we have come to expect excellent sculpting, and this set does not disappoint, with realistic poses, drape of clothing and faces. The whole things is finely sculpted, even down to trigger and guard on the AK. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Mike

    Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.D/B 1:35

    Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.D/B 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Designed in the mid 1930s to be part of a pairing with the larger Panzer IV, the lighter Panzer III was originally intended to be sent up against other tanks, as well as to push through gaps in enemy lines to cause havoc with supply lines and generally disrupt the enemy's day. Production began in 1937, with few of the early marks reaching series production, using up A through D as prototypes, of which the Ausf.B was used in the Polish campaign briefly before being put out to pasture as a training vehicle along with the remaining Cs and Ds. The suspension was a work-in-progress, using leaf springs until the Ausf.E, which moved to torsion bars that were then seen on most new German designs during WWII and beyond. During the early period of WWII the Pz.III continued to do its prescribed task until the T-34 tore through their ranks, brushing aside the lighter armoured Pz.IIIs and necessitating an up-gunning of the Pz.IV with a new high velocity gun to combat its sloped armour. By 1942 it was relegated to tasks where its light armour and 3.7mm pop-gun wasn't an impediment, such as close support of troop advances. By this time it was clear that it was past its sell-by-date, and that the Pz.IV had much more development potential. The chassis went on to be used for many other developments, some of which were quite successful, such as the StuG III. The Kit This is a re-tool of MiniArt's new range of Panzer III models, the early Ausf.B with crew we reviewed recently here. While it does share some of the larger parts with its stable-mate, there are a significant number of new sprues due in part to the different suspension, but also because of the additional hull parts (stowage and such) that are visible in the box painting. There are twenty seven sprues of grey styrene, plus three separate parts, a further twenty one sprues of track links, and five more of track pins, plus a clear sprue, fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet. The usual high level of detail is present, and the modular approach to moulding allows them to produce maximum variants from their toolings. The major difference between the boxings is to be found in the track area, where different suspension units are used, necessitating the tooling of new parts that include the hull sides. The new parts have three leaf spring arrangements, with two Y-shaped suspension arms damped between them, and each arm mounting two pairs of wheels on an additional swing-arm that pivots around the centre. Each wheel has a rubber tyre around the steel rim, and a cup inside the inner wheel allows them to remain mobile after construction if the glue is used sparingly. The large drive sprocket is retained, as is the large idler wheel, although both are subtly different due to design changes. The forward section of the top deck is identical to the previous version, but the engine deck is different, having two side-by-side access doors on the flat section, each having clamshell doors, with the sloped section retaining the single doors of its predecessor. The raised centre section is identical, and the fenders are moulded in one run, but with panel lines and fasteners showing the modular nature of the real things, and some slight differences between the fixtures and fittings. The track links are identical, and are built up in sections nine links, using the perfect spacing of the pins to add them seven at a time, building into two runs of 96 links, one for each side. From my previous experimentation, the pins do hold the tracks together, but with handling they can slip free, so take precautions during handling. The jig shown in the picture is also not included in this boxing, but that shouldn't be much of an impediment, and you won't end up with your tracks glued to the jig. For two decal options there are additional track links draped over the front of the machine, to add extra armour to the area, which are made up and secured in place with PE brackets. Another addition to one of the options is a set of wooden stowage boxes around the rear of the tank, covering most of the engine deck apart from the access doors on the flat section. The boxes are made up from styrene parts, but with PE brackets, latches and padlocks where appropriate. Despite this not being an interior kit, the turret is quite well appointed, with a full breech assembly, twin coaxial machine guns, turret baskets, seats and other equipment supplied in the box. The side doors can be posed open or closed, and have PE trim on the inside, with more PE parts forming the little hatches for the sighting gear and coax machine gun openings in the mantlet. The turret sits in the opening of the hull and is not locked in place, so you will either need to remember this, or fix it in place to avoid dropping it with handling. Markings There are four decal options in the box, with some optional personalisations made to the kit depending on which you choose, as pointed out throughout the build instructions. The decal sheet is small due to the genre, but from the box you can depict one of the following: Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt. (ZbV)40 attached to the SS Division "Nord" XXXVI Army Corps, Karelia, Summer of 1941. IV Panzer-Zug 3.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt.(ZbV)40 attached to the fast detachment Fossi (Osasto Fossi) battle group F (Ryhmä F) 3rd Infantry Division of the Finnish Army. The fighting in the direction of Uhtua – Vuokkiniemi Karelia, July 1941. I Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt.(ZbV)40 attached to the division of the Finnish Army Corps (III Armeijakunta, III AK) Karelia, November 1941. Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt. (ZbV)40 attached to the SS Division "Nord". Defensive battles in Kestenga village area (Kiestinki) April 24-May 11, 1942. Decals are printed in the Ukraine by Decograph with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another high quality model of this perhaps overlooked early War staple of the German tank forces. Of course due to their period of operation the dominant colour is panzer grey, but a distemper scheme has been included for a little variety, and the crew personalisations of the appliqué armour and extra stowage areas brings additional interest to the model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Wooden Boxes & Crates (35581) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models More diorama and load carriage goodies from MiniArt, or even your first steps in creating a diorama of the Ark of the Covenant in storage after Raiders of the Lost Ark maybe? Wooden crates and boxes are just the thing to transport goods around the world and minimise damage, so frequently find themselves in and around vehicles of all sorts, as well as in industrial and even domestic situations, although with modern cardboard packaging, it's becoming more of a historic thing in that context. This new set from MiniArt's dynamo of production is a set of nine boxes and a hand cart, which arrive in a cardboard box of the figure type, with end-opening flaps as is usual. Inside is a long narrow bag that contains six sprues in grey styrene, plus a fairly large decal sheet with lots of fun markings on it. One sprue is used for the cart, which is the old-fashioned but still useful tipper variety that was often found in warehouses and railway platforms, but can also still be found in one of my sheds, albeit in a more modern, collapsible form. There are two identical sprues of longer, narrower boxes, and two identical sprues plus one supplementary sprue that allow you to construct large rectangular and square boxes, with additional stiffening Xs on the square boxes that resemble waist-high packing crates. The longer crates have lift handles added at the ends, and some have closure clasps, while the larger volume crates are probably nailed closed for strength. It's a shame there isn't a pry-bar included in the set! This is MiniArt, so detail is good, with a restrained wood texture on all the major surfaces along with nail marks, moulded in furniture such as handles and latches, all of which gives the set more realism. Markings Yes there are decals included, and pretty fun ones they are too. From Red Cross to Radiation warnings, recycling, warnings about water, which way up, and not to use fork-lifts, it's all there, including chemical warnings, bio-hazard, poison and fragile, plus some carrier names such as US Mail, some German ones, and various weight markers, with a couple of number stencils for good measure. Decals are by Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Nine packing crates and a trolley in excellent detail. What's not to like? All you have to do is choose a suitable colour scheme and the correct decals for the period and location. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Soviet Ball Tank "Sharotank" (40001) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This is a hypothetical design from an alternative reality where ball-tanks were practical, and although there are some quite realistic looking pictures out there on the web, this is a decidedly fictional or "what-if" design for a small infantry tank that might have been quite handy for approaching bunkers or installations with significant light weapons presence. It does appear to have some weaknesses though, such as the little outrigger wheels that if shot out, would result in a seriously dizzy crew at best, so it's probably for the best that it remains in the realms of the fantastic. The ball hull is static, with a large wide track running around the circumference, propelled by the motor inside. There would be some serious torque transfer to the hull on acceleration or deceleration, but as this doesn't seem to adversely affect those big-wheel motorcycles, it wouldn't be a huge impediment, especially as the majority of the hull won't be moving. There is a crew of five, with the top-most crew member in each side running the weapons stations, and the front-facing crew driving and operating the forward machine gun. The final rear-facing crew operates another machine-gun that faces to the rear. Oddly, the main guns face sideways in ball-mounts, which would make shooting straight ahead difficult without cooperation from the driver, which could be tricky in such a confined, noisy environment. In reality, it would probably have been a massive failure, but it's interesting nonetheless. The Kit This is the first real What-If subject from MiniArt, who usually keep their subjects in reality, or at least prototype form. A lot of effort has been put into making it appear real however, including a complete interior, which gives the model a bit more gravitas and believability than an empty shell would have done, and also opens up the possibility for dioramas or vignettes. The kit arrives in standard sized MiniArt box, with a yellow/sand colour scheme, and inside are 23 sprues in mid grey styrene of various sizes, a single sprue of clear parts, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet is bound in a colourful glossy cover, with greyscale drawings inside, and the decal options printed on the inside covers front and back. Detail is really nice for a relatively small kit, and I have to say that this is just the kind of silliness that appeals to me, as it is at least semi-believable and just a little bit left-field. Construction begins with the engine, which is quite a complex assembly, and has a large friction roller at the rear to apply power to the track. The crew seats are built up next, and then attached to the main frame, which consists of two large hoops with cross-members to retain its shape. Track rollers are fitted to the inside of the frames, and the engine, seats and ancillary equipment are all suspended from this. Ammo racks for the main guns are built up at the same time as the gun breeches and the machine guns, which also have spare ammo cans made up, and all these sub-assemblies are installed into the hull halves, which have cut-outs for the ball-mounts, a radiator grille (backed with a fairly standard looking radiator), and conformal fuel tank. In the centre of each side is a crew hatch that is operated by a wheel, with arched hinges and interlock parts included. With the breeches and machine guns fitted from the inside, and the hatches put in their required positions, the halves are glued to the frames, and the hollow tipped gun barrels are added, plus a headlight with clear lens for night operations (ha!). The track is supplied in four parts with a chevron tread and matching joins to minimise clean-up. The four parts glue around the open section of the hull, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location on the lip, and of course the two "trainer-wheels" that stop it from tipping over. That's all there is to it! Markings As it's all fiction, it's probably more a case of choosing the scheme that appeals to you, and as there are a choice of six, it should be pretty easy. You can of course mix and match decals and scheme, as no-one (sane) is going to be complaining that it isn't accurate! From the box you can build one of the following: Red Army, Summer 1942-43 Red Army, Summer 1942-43 Mobile Checkpoint, 1st Belorussian Front, 1944 Captured Combat Vehicle. Wehrmacht unit, Eastern Front, 1944 Polish 1st Armoured Brigade in the Red Army, 1944 1st Belorussian Front. Battle for Berlin, 1945 Decals are by Decograf, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The shark mouth is going to be quite popular, I'd expect. Taken from MiniArt's website Conclusion An awesome trip into alternative history that's got a certain hokey appeal, partly because it looks like it could possibly have worked. The internal structure has been well thought-out, and the variation in decal options makes for a fun project that shouldn't take too long to complete. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Schweres Wurfgerät 40 (35273) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models The Schweres Wurfgerät was a portable rocket launcher that could be set up and taken down by a small crew, and launch three 23cm or 32cm Nebelwerfer 41 crates from a simple angled framework. These were spin-stabilised rockets that carried either high explosive warheads in the smaller diameter, or 50 litres of an incendiary mix of oil for the larger 32cm rocket. Both types are suspended in wooden crates of the same external dimensions, so they were interchangeable without any adaptation to the launcher, which fitted three abreast, and could be targeted by changing the angle of firing. The rockets were launched by an electric signal, and due to their rather noxious vapour trail the name nebelwerfer literally means "smoke bomb". These weapons were used in stand-alone framework launchers as in this kit, as well as attached to the side of a half-track, which gained the nickname Stuka zu Fuß, "Stuka on foot", and cobbled to an artillery piece, as reviewed here. Their smoke trails made it likely that they would attract return fire, so mobility was key, which led to the easily transported versions finding favour, and the self-propelled half-track version even more so, which probably makes this one the most unsafe for its crew to dilly-dally after firing. The Kit This is a new kit from MiniArt, but there are some shared parts with their recent German Rocket Launcher with 28cm WK SPR & 32cm WK Flamm (35269), as per the link above, due to its use of the same crated rockets. With the addition of the framework launcher parts and a set of crew figures, they have created this alternative firing method, which makes it even more likely that they'll be pinning these same launchers to the side of an Sd.Kfz.251 in the near future. Inside the modest box is a weighty twenty sprues in varying sizes of grey styrene, plus a decal sheet and a short instruction booklet. Detail is good, and all you'll need in addition to complete the build is a length of fine wire to replicate the firing lead. There are six of each of the 32cm and 28cm warheads, made up from four parts apiece, and surrounded by a framework crate that consists of slightly different internal structures to accommodate the different diameters of the rockets. The frame is very simple, with a separate cross-bar with lugs to hold the crates low on the frame, and a self-entrenching tool at the bottom that hinges to accommodate the different trajectories. The frame is propped up with another C-shaped frame that has multiple right-angled sections welded along the vertical length, which attaches to the main frame via a short peg and wingnut top, allowing the modeller to choose their own launch angle during construction. Another two pegs are driven into the ground, with just their tops depicted in the model, in order to stop the spade from slipping during firing. There are five figures on the largest sprue in the box, with a couple of extra crates that aren't used into the bargain. There are four crew with one at each corner of one of the crates, carrying it with the flip-down handles that will need to be glued in the extended position during construction, rather than vertical for launch. The last figure is of course the officer bossing everyone around, with hand on hip and finger outstretched because in his mind the launch frame is obviously very difficult for mere soldiers to find. Two of his underlings are without tunic, while the other two have their tunics still on. One of each pair has a cap on, and the officer has the peaked cap, long boots and riding pants to pick him out from the rest. As always with MiniArt, the sculpting of the figures is excellent, and the natural poses will help with realism once they are sympathetically painted and placed in a diorama setting. Each figure is broken down into torso, head, separate arms and legs, plus cap, and in the case of the officer, a pistol in a holster on his belt. Markings The rockets were usually grey, while their crates could either be natural wood or dunkelgelb, while the launch frame could be anything from German Grey, olive green to dunkelgelb or bare wood. The decals are stencils for the rockets and their crates, with white or black lettering on the crates, depending on whether you have painted them a light or dark colour. The figures are dressed in standard Wehrmacht colours, which are called out in an ensemble picture showing their final arrangement, which has been lifted from the box picture. Decals are by Decograph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion If these odd weapons appeal to you (like they do me), it's another interesting alternative launch method to add to the cabinet, and a good model into the bargain. The crew figures add a little human scale to the model, and would look good on some rough field, or amongst the ruins of a city or town. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. T-55A MOD 1981 Soviet Medium Tank MiniArt 1:35 Having reviewed the massed ranks of MiniArt’s T-54, we are now still in the T-55 zone. As with the other T-55’s there are many similarities and the MOD1981 adding to the more aggressive look that . As with MiniArt kits with interiors there are a lot of sprues, If counted individually, there are one hundred and thirty two, of grey styrene, plus one of clear, three sheets of etched brass and a smallish decal sheet. The very colourful box, quite a bit deeper than a standard tank kit box, has a nice painting of the tank on the front. On opening you are greeted by the mass of sprues, many of them quite small because of the tooling's modular nature, with quite a few parts going unused for this boxing. The sprues fill up just about all the space in the box, leaving only room for air between the sprues, anyone familiar with the old Krypton Factor will realise getting all this back in the box is one of life’s little challenges! I failed when I had completed taking the photos. Construction is almost identical to the earlier releases, complete with the full engine, which is a lovely model in its own right, and consisting of forty two parts if you include the engine mounting cradle. The lower hull is then fitted out with a multitude of parts that include the torsion beam suspension, multi part axles, gearbox covers, and interior escape hatch plus PE beam covers. The interior is then built up from the fighting compartment floor and includes all the pipe work, seats fire bottles, steering mechanism and internal bulkheads. The interior and exterior of the sidewalls are also covered with detail, including the large racks of shells for the main gun, with additional shells stored around the fighting compartment. The detailed sidewalls are then glued into place, as is the engine assembly, engine compartment firewall and other ancillary equipment. The upper glacis plate is then fitted as are the three piece road wheels, drive sprocket and idlers. The turret ring assembly is the attached, followed by the rear bulkhead, each fitted with more detail parts. The engine deck is then built up and the separate hatches are able to be posed open or closed as per the modellers’ wishes. The deck is topped off with PE grilles in their frames and the large hinge for the main hatch. There are sixteen lengths of track links tracks are of the new individual link type, with the separate pins. Now while this step is ratehr fiddly, the tracks do really work and go together without too much fuss. The fenders are fitted with stowage boxes, fuel tanks and spare track links plus front and rear mudguards before being glued into position. The two fuel drums mounted to the rear of the tank are assembled and glued into their mounting frames, as is the unditching beam and the pipework for the fender fuel tanks. The turret is another new moulding, which has even more equipment in it than the earlier versions, due to the improved technology. New parts in this kit include the extra armour fitted to the interior of the turret and turret roof. The rest of the turret interior includes the full main gun breech, radios, training motors, seats, hand cranks, and other equipment, but with additional sighting equipment for the main gun, and more spare ammunition boxes for the co-axial machine gun, which is just as detailed as before, consisting of sixteen parts, plus another eight for the new sighting system. Ready use shells are added to the inside of the upper turret along with a multitude of brackets and clamps. The turret roof comes complete with all the periscopes and hatch details for the commander and gunner positions, a highly detailed KPV 14.5mm heavy machine gun, consisting of twenty nine parts, and the rolled up tarpaulin. The single piece main barrel is glued into the breech, and fitted with a choice of two mantlet covers. There are many more grab handles fitted to the outside of the turret on this version, not to mention brackets and clamps. Finally the driver's wet weather cover, that fits over his hatch can be posed stowed or in place. If you are stowing it, there are some PE straps to tie things down on the bustle. The turret assembly is then fitted to the hull, completing the build. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller five options, showing the decline in usage of this vehicle in the 1980’s. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- T-55A – Of a limited contingent of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan (OKSVA), the 40trh Army of the Turkestan Military District, during the 1980’s. T-55A – Unidentified Marine Corps Unit of the USSR during the 1980’s. T-55A – Recommended colouring of armoured vehicles for desert backgrounds, as published by the Ministry of Defence of the USSR 1977 T-55A – Recommended colouring of armoured vehicles for plant backgrounds, as published by the Ministry of Defence of the USSR 1977 T-55A – Recommended colouring of armoured vehicles for snowy backgrounds, as published by the Ministry of Defence of the USSR 1977 Conclusion These beasts of tanks, and models are really coming thick and fast from the moulding machines of MiniArt and you really just can’t fault them. There is so much detail that it could overwhelm a modeller unless their mojo was really cranked up. But if you break the build into bite sized pieces as sub-assemblies, painting as you go, there shouldn’t be a problem. Not one for beginners or maybe even intermediate modellers, but there are versions being released, without interior, that would perhaps be more suited to their level to gain experience before tackling a full interior build. As bang for your buck goes, these have to be some of the best value kits around these days. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  13. German KFZ-70 truck with 7.62cm F.K 39 gun MiniArt 1:35 The Mercedes-Benz L1500 was actually a redesigned version of the pre-war 1500 commercial vehicle. While the 1500 model had a cabin which provided seating for, the A model received a body to allow transport for up to seven and for carrying shovels, ammo and other equipment. A few chassis were completed as lorries. However, most of these chassis were used to make personnel carriers. These vehicles were extremely durable. The Mercedes-Benz types L1500A and L1500 can easily be differentiated from the predecessors by the design of the front section. The chassis frame was visible below the radiator mask on the predecessor model L1500 but the radiator cowl of the L1500S/A reached over the bumper and covered the chassis. L1500A 4x4 and L1500S 4x2 trucks were developed by Mercedes-Benz Company in 1941. The basic type of body was designated Kfz.70 and vehicles were also built by Steyr and Horch with this designation on their own chassis. The vehicle was widely used, frequently as heavy staff cars. Also, different bodies were built on L1500A and L1500S chassis, particularly fire trucks, radio cars and ambulances. The radio cars and ambulances mostly used the 4x2 L1500S chassis. The L1500A was produced from June of 1941 until July 1943, with 4900 being made. It became the vehicle of choice for the German infantry. In bad weather conditions, the body was equipped with foldable top and canvas panels, which could be attached to the doors and sides. They were powered by a 6-cylinder, 3-litre petrol engine giving a top speed of 52 mph. The type contained in the kit is that of the 4-wheel drive version which had an unladen weight of 5269 lbs and a gross weight limit of 8995 lbs. The model is contained within a very attractive, bright and colourful box that MiniArt have made their standard. Inside, there are twenty three sprues in grey styrene, two of clear, three sheets of etch brass and a smallish decal sheet. Once again, MiniArt have included, another kit, in the form of a 76.2mm F.K. 39 gun. The truck itself was actually first released in 2012, but it’s still a great kit even though it is quite complex, especially with the running gear. All the parts are beautifully moulded, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but quite a few moulding pips that will ensure extra clean-up time will be required. The build starts with the nicely detailed engine with the block, head and sump being glued together followed by the addition of the starter motor, alternator, water pump, auxiliary drive belt, cooling fan, cooling pipes, oil filler pipe. The gearbox is then assembled from three parts and glued to the engine assembly, along with intake manifold. The two chassis rails are fitted with four cross-members, silencer, rear mounted tow hook, and a four piece engine mounting frame. The four leaf springs are then attached via their support hangers. The transfer box is assembled from ten parts and put to one side. The front differentials/axle is made up from twenty one parts, whilst the rear consists of only thirteen. The four piece front bumper and six piece radiator grille are also assembled at this point. The engine, front bumper, radiator grille, axles and transfer box assemblies are then fitted to the chassis, along with the drive shafts and exhaust tubing. The four wheels are each made up from inner and outer hubs, the outers having the tyres moulded on, and an inner ring. Once assembled the wheels are glued onto their respective axles. The engine bay bulkhead is very well detailed with a large number of fixtures and fittings, such as oil can, air filters etc. This goes for the cabin side of the bulkhead too, with steering column, pedals, stowage box. The cabin floor is fitted with a box girder frame on the underside. The two steps are also assembled at this point and fitted with a storage box one side and a fourteen piece jack. The interior is then fitted to the floor, this includes the rear bulkhead and parcel shelf, five piece fuel tank, driver and passenger seats for the front and two bench seats for the rear. More details are added in the form of the gear stick, hand brake, a nie piece heater, four rifles, each of four parts, and the spare wheel. The cabin sides are then attached and four more rifles added. On the underside of the cabin, two large stowage racks are fitted along with two steps. The front mudguards are fitted with lights, reflectors and corner marking poles while the windscreen is also assembled from ten parts. The engine bulkhead is then fitted, as is the two piece dashboard, followed by the windscreen assembly and steering wheel. The doors are all multipart, with separate windows, handles and hinges. The rear window, frame and side panels are then attached to the body, followed by the door assemblies and roof with a rather fragile looking three piece frame. Alternatively, you can build the vehicle with the roof folded down in a single piece attached to the rear of the parcel shelf. The body assembly is then glued to the chassis, along with the radiate grille assembly, pioneer tools, step assemblies, front mudguard assemblies, and additional lights. The bonnet panels are then fitted, and these can be posed open or closed, as can the door assemblies which are also fitted at this point. This completes the build of the truck. The gun is built up next, with the assembly of the two trail arms. Each is made up from two pieces, which are then fitted out with numerous detail parts, such as the trail blades, which consist of eight parts each, gun cleaning rods, grab handles and PE brackets. The trails can be posed in either firing position or towing position. The gun mounting, which includes the axles for the wheels, is made up from thirty parts alone. The trails are then glued to their hinge points on the mounting. Each wheel is made up from four parts, which when assembled are glued to the axles. The gun itself is assembled from nine parts, whilst the slide is made up from fourteen parts. The right and left trunnion mounts are built up from six and thirteen parts respectively, these are fitted to the mounting, with seven further parts that represent the elevation tubes and hand wheel. The gun assembly is fitted between the trunnion mounts and in turn is fitted with a four piece middle splinter shield. The main shield is fitted with a multitude of parts, both inside and out before being fitted to the the gun mounting via two support arms. If the gun is to be posed int eh towing position, then the gun locking arm needs to be fitted across both trails and the towing eye positioned onto the truck hook, with a locking pin that is attached to the truck with a PE chain, which may be best replaced with real chain. In addition, MiniArt have included two ammunition boxes, complete with two types of shell and some empty cases, for use in a diorama with the gun in the firing position. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller just two options. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The names of the different companies are included, as well as their respective registration plates and insignia. The options:- KFZ-70 of the Wehrmacht from 1943 to 1945 in an overall dunklegelb with a dark khaki roof and window frames. KFZ-70 of the Wehrmacht, based in Ukraine during the winter of 1943 – 1944, in overall German Grey whitewashed with the gun in dunklegelb, which has also been whitewashed. Conclusion I just love these trucks from MiniArt, they are so well produced and can be used in so many situations. This set will look good on its own or as part of a diorama with the inclusion of some of MiniArt’s fine troop sets, either in the transport of firing poses. It is not a kit though for the beginner, or even an intermediate modeller as it is quite complex as mentioned above including plenty of small PE and plastic parts. Review sample courtesy of Creative Models
  14. Shar2

    V-55 Engine. 1:35

    V-55 Engine MiniArt 1:35 The V-55 is a huge V-12, 580hp water cooled diesel engine used in all T-55 variants. This kit is taken from the superb interior kits of the T-55. As I said in my reviews of the full kits this is a beautiful model in its own right. Well, looks like MiniArt heard me and have released a separate kit of it. The small, yet attractive box with artwork showing the engine in its completed state, contains four sprues of grey styrene and a length of copper wire. Construction is as in the full kits, starting with the two piece sump, onto which the starter motor and alternator are attached, as is the electrical tube that sits between the cylinder heads. Each of the cylinder blocks are made up from six parts, each completed assembly is then glued to the sump assembly. The exhaust manifolds are then attached, along with the three lengths of pipe at the rear of the engine, and two lengths at the front, which in turn are attached to the separate water pump. The engine fitted with a seven piece cradle, followed by the exhaust silencers and their attachment blocks. The air filter is made up from eleven parts. Once assembled the filter is glued to the front of the engine and two recirculation pipes fitted between it and the exhaust silencers. The copper wire is then cut to length and used as glow plug leads Conclusion This is a very nice and useful little kit. You can use it in the MiniArt kits that don’t come with engines, or use it on its own as part of a workshop scene in a diorama or whatever your imagination can come up with. Review sample courtesy of
  15. US Machine gun set (37047) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Continuing their current theme of providing the modeller with a full range of ancillary items to bedeck and festoon dioramas, vehicles and vignettes, this set takes the theme of machine guns seen on US Army vehicles since WWII. Namely the Browning M2 0.5" Heavy machine gun and the smaller Browning M1919 0.3" Medium machine gun. 4 of each type of gun is included along with various mounts, ammo belts and feed boxes. The quality of the mouldings is superb throughout and PE is included even for the perforated sleeves if you wish to replace it. This will be a perfect set for anything needing to have a Machine gun mounted, or for diorama purposes. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Vodka Bottles with Crates (35577) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Fancy a snifter? This quirky little set contains enough vodka to sink a 1:35 battleship, along with the crates that make carrying multiple bottles a breeze. Arriving in a standard figure-sized box, it has a strangely weighty feel to it due to the density of the plastic inside. There are twenty four sprues in light sand styrene, and a further twelve in clear styrene, plus a decal sheet for bottle labels, and instructions on the back of the box. Two of the sandy coloured sprues are used to make up a box, which has a set of dividers inside to hold the bottles stable. There are spaces for 20 bottles inside, and each clear sprue contains that exact number, but in two styles, so as it's more likely that you'll have one type per crate, use two half sprues per crate. The decal sheet contains six types of label for the bottles, with 42 of each type, so a few spare as long as you don't screw up too many. All you need to do is apply the decals and paint the bottle caps before you can install them in the crates. The crates will need painting, and using a dry brushing technique should bring out the moulded-in wood grain nicely, and if you have any decals spare, you could paste one to the side of the crates like in the photos. Conclusion Another great accessory set, and in total you have twelve crates of vodka for your various dioramas, backs of Russian trucks or for whatever other purpose you can think of. Just remember to drink responsibly. Cheers! Review sample courtesy of
  17. Soviet Tank Crew (35254) For flame tanks & heavy breakthrough tanks 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models MiniArt, those doyens of figures have new sets almost every week, and this one contains four crew of the Soviet persuasion, which are of WWII era, wearing leather jackets and posing in the hatchway of their tanks. They arrive in a figure-sized box with a painting of the gentlemen in question on the front, and a construction diagram and painting guide on the rear. Inside are four sprues, three of which were attached together with a runner that I cut off in order to ease photography. There are four figures, one per sprue, broken down into torso, separate legs, arms head, helmet and face, plus additional overlap parts such as jackets, goggles and helmet side flaps. All the figures have complete bodies, with their legs depicted entirely, which offers flexibility in positioning, and three are clearly leaning with their hands on the edges of hatches, while the fourth is stood with hand on hip pretending to be a little teapot. Their dress varies, with all four wearing boots, two with overall trousers (one tucked in, the other out), the tea pot chap wearing riding-style trousers with voluminous thigh panels, and the remaining figure having leather pants. If you check out MiniArt's website here, you can also see the photos that were used as reference for the sculpts, which as usual are first class. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Soviet Combat Engineers (35091) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Another useful and interesting set of figures from the masters at MiniArt. This one is a set of Combat Engineers undertaking mine clearing exercises, presumably those left behind by the retreating Germans. The set arrives in a figure-sized box with a painting of the figures on the front, and a construction/painting guide on the rear. Inside are a lot of sprues of grey styrene, more than you'd get in some full kits! There are twelve sprues in total, with only three that are identical with some metal detectoring (?) parts. There are five figures, one per sprue, broken down into torso, separate legs, arms head, helmet and face, plus additional parts such as backpacks, bed rolls, ammo pouches, a couple of detector-loops and even a couple of mines. The accessory sprues include the three mine detecting paraphernalia, pouches, a plethora of helmets, additional weapons such as Moisin-Nagant rifles, a PPHs-43 and a couple of PPSh-41 machine guns with 71-round drum or 35-round curved stick mags. There are also stick grenades, entrenching tools, water bottles, teaspoons (why?) and tea cups. On the three identical accessory sprues there are poles either for detectors, or for a probe-stick, mine flag, headphones, backpack, electronics box that runs the coils of the detectors, plus a couple of different shaped coils that aren't used in this boxing. Each figure is in a unique pose, with a prone solider with detector attached to his rifle's bayonet lug, a standing detector on the prowl, a man carrying a mine and pointing, a soldier probing the ground in front of him and finally a man kneeling down unearthing a mine that he has found with his probe. Three of the figures are wearing more typical Soviet uniform, while the mine carrier and the prone gentleman are wearing a baggy camouflaged overall that will be fun to paint. The boxart shows one with a leaf pattern, while the other has a simpler two tone camouflage cloud pattern on his overalls and helmet. A little research might be in order here. Sculpting is first class as always, and the choice of accessories gives a lot of options to personalise your scene, with just the addition of some wiring to the operators' headphones to finish off. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. Luggage Set 1930-40s (35582) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Continuing their current theme of providing the modeller with a full range of ancillary items to bedeck and festoon dioramas, vehicles and vignettes, this set takes the theme of luggage. It arrives in a figure-sized box, and inside are five sprues all containing different types and styles of luggage, as well as some wheeled goodies in the shape of a pram and a cart. The instructions are printed on the rear of the box, and deal mostly with the creation of the cart and pram, with additional steps for the bags, sacks and suitcases that are also included in the set. A small decal sheet is also provided to dot around the suitcases as you see fit. Within the box you get one each of the following: 4-wheeled cart with framework 4-wheeled pram Large suitcase Medium suitcase Small suitcase Doctor's bag Hat box Folio case Sack with round vegetables showing through Sack with longer vegetables showing through Large sack Painting suggestions can be found on the front of the box, but the choice is yours, as are the placement of the decals. The pram is perhaps the most complex of the assemblies, with the cart following closely behind, which will require a little care in cleaning up, so that you don't break any of the delicate parts. Much of the pram is more robust, apart from the handle and leaf-springs under the chassis. This will be a perfect set for anything including refugees or travel situations, where personal effects have been abandoned due to circumstance, or stacked in the back of a truck/bus etc. Review sample courtesy of
  22. T-55A Late Mod. 1965 (37023) 1:35 MiniArt 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, which 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 Kit This partial new tool is from the extensive MiniArt line of T-54 and T-55s that they've been working on for some time now. We reviewed (amongst others) their Full Interior kit of the early Mod. of this type in March of this year here, and that was a huge sprue-fest due to the modular moulding techniques and the fact that it was presenting a full interior, even including the engine compartment, so is a staggering kit! This kit doesn't provide the interior but has its own fairly large quantity of sprues, some of which it shares with its sibling, which extends beyond the larger sprues into a lot of the smaller ones too. I've taken the liberty of pinching the shared sprue pics where I can, and taken new ones for the new ones, or sprues that were bundled with interior parts in the last review. The use of the smaller sprues for repeated parts is efficient because many can be reused, and it helps to keep tooling costs reasonable, so we see more kits of similar subjects. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, wrapped in cellophane to protect it from prying eyes and damage on its way to you. Inside are two bags that hold the large and small sprues, and these spill out with great gusto when you open them. There are an eye-watering 74 sprues in grey styrene, one of clear parts, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and of course the instructions. Why so many sprues? Some of them are small and only carry 4 parts each, with for example there are 16 with the individual track-links, 10 for the wheels, and so forth. It soon adds up. It will come as no surprise that the detail is excellent, and there are options for the minor variations that occurred between units, such as two types of fuel tanks and tool boxes, the rain cover for the driver in the stowed or deployed position, and fittings for the deep wading and mine plough attachments, although these aren't supplied in the box, but vehicles were fitted with them wore the attachment points at all times. The individual track links are workable, which should make their installation easier when the time comes. The lower hull pan is decked out with the suspension mounts and hatches firstly, with the torsion bars and swing-arms added through the holes along with the ancillary suspension parts, and the optional mine roller mounts on the lower glacis. Additional suspension parts are glued to the outer hull sides, and the inner sides are slotted into place on their backside. Although there is no interior, glimpses of these parts may still be seen through any open hatches. The sides are held in place by tabs on the lower, with a similar method holding the rear lower bulkhead, and two internal bulkheads giving the hull a bit more stiffness. The upper glacis is festooned with light clusters and more plough mounts, as well as the bow-wave baffle in either plastic or PE, with a pair of clear vision blocks added to the area above the driver's position. Road wheels are built up in pairs with separate hub caps, plus the idler and drive sprockets at each end, the former held out past the side of the hull on an adjustable axle that is moved to correct track tension on the real thing. Each wheel set is pegged onto the swing-arms, and can be left mobile with careful use of the glue. At this stage the first part of the upper hull is added in the shape of the turret ring, which overhangs the hull sides, and has small inserts fitted before it is cemented in place. The engine deck is made up in segments, one each for the main grilles, intake box, and the round-down toward the rear bulkhead. The main vents have PE mesh fitted, and the intakes have a set of PE louvers on a frame over a mesh installed later on, after they have been glued onto the hull along with the aforementioned rear bulkhead. The forward section has a number of access hatches moulded-in, and this is last to be fitted just behind the turret opening. With the majority of the hull done, attention shifts to the fenders, which are both loaded with equipment before they are fitted to the hull on long tabs. A choice of early and late fuel tanks, a host of pioneer tools, two types of stowage box, a number of PE detail parts and the exhaust trunk are all fitted along the way. Tracks. Love 'em or loath them, it's usually a necessity for a main battle tank. MiniArt have done some work on simplifying their construction here, and it seems to have paid off, at least partially. The track links are individual, as already mentioned, with separate pins that attach the parts together. Each link has three sprue gates that are easily cut and sanded away, while the tiny pins are cut from their sprues with a teardrop-shaped "handle" part of the sprue left attached. The pins are meant to friction-fit into the holes in the links, but in practice I had a few fall out during my brief experimental build of a couple of links, which I think could be remedied by brushing a tiny amount of liquid glue on the tip of each pin before insertion. If done with a dry(ish) brush, this should soak into the pin and not the pin through which it passes first, and shouldn't lock the links solid. I did another quick experiment, and it seems to work, but I could feel a little resistance when first moving the links, suggesting that a tiny bit of glue seeped in between the links despite my efforts. Once mobilised however, they stayed mobile, so this may still be a decent solution. With them pushed or glued in place, the teardrop handle can be cut off with a sharp blade, leaving the flat end of the track pin visible. The unditching beam, additional fuel drums, their PE bands and even a small number of PE bolt heads are fixed to the rear, and the towing cables are draped over the rear, the cable for which you must supply yourself, using some braided wire or fibre with the supplied styrene eyes. Even though this isn't marketed as an "Interior Kit", some parts of the interior are included, which applies mostly to the turret, which has the main breech parts, periscope and sighting gear within, the top hatch, vision blocks (with PE armour) and optional hatch-mounted search light on the outside. The main searchlight is mounted to the side of the barrel, and can be covered up for daytime operation, as can the hatch-mounted light. The mantlet can be depicted with a protective canvas bag around it, or bare, both of which are added to the model before the slide-moulded barrel is fitted through the aperture. The bag has a PE ring round the barrel, and four lengths of PE that clamp it to the turret on the real thing, with more PE used to depict straps on the rolled tarpaulin stowed on the rear of the turret. The commander's cupola is up-armoured with an appliqué part before his hatch is installed, and the driver's rain-hood is made up flat or erected, depending on whether you plan on using it. If it is stowed, it slings off the tarp on the back of the hood using another PE strap. The completed turret is then placed in the ring, and twisted to lock in the two bayonet lugs that hold it in place. Markings Eight markings options are supplied with the kit, with variations on the green or sand theme, depending on where and when they were deployed. From the box you can build one of the following: Macedonian Army 1999-2001 Northern Alliance Forces, Afghanistan, Autumn 2001 Taliban Units, Afghanistan 2001 Northern Alliance Forces, Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, Dec 2003 Soviet Army 60-70s 55th Marine Infantry Division, Pacific Fleet of the Soviet Navy, Ethiopia 1980 Soviet Army 70-80s Ethiopia's Army "Ogaden War" 1977 Quite a selection, and the decal sheet is printed by MiniArt's usual collaborator, Decograph from the Ukraine. The decals have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a set of excellent lightfast yellow circles for the Ethiopian option. Conclusion Another winner from MiniArt in their ever expanding range of T-54/55 kits. If you feel like tackling the full interior verion, look for the product code 37022 instead. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Cable Spools (35583) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Well this set's a load of bobbins! No, seriously, it really is. You often see cable spools lying beside tracks, in rail or engineering yards, even today, so this set is a handy one to have if you are planning any dioramas, or need to load up a truck or trailer. You could even have some soldiers having a tea party around one if you like! Arriving in a figure-sized box, the set contains six sprues in grey styrene, a large sheet of decals and an instruction sheet. Each sprue contains half the parts for a large and small bobbin/spool, measuring 51mm and 28mm respectively in real-world numbers. Each core is made from four parts that make up the cylinder, and two end caps, with wooden planking and texture on everything that will be seen after construction, plus screws/nails/bolts where appropriate. The decal sheet contains a whole raft of curved lettering, brand logos and various stencilling, depending on what's supposed to be on the reels. The rear of the box shows some typical colour schemes, and also shows where and when these types were in use. On top of all these decals you also get a bonus of two "Kilroy was here!" decals with their big-nosed accompaniment. I decided to make up a pair, which didn't take too long with a sharp knife and a sanding stick. They go together easily, although I think I would scribe the join-lines of the cylinder when the glue is dry, and the little pips that centre the parts are fiddly to register in the depressions due to the texture of the end-caps, but a little care gets you there in the end. I hope you like my spool sample They're the kind of addition to a model that adds some realism to any diorama, and with six spools in the box they should last you quite some time. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. German Tank Crew Normandy 1944 (35275) Special Edition 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models As WWII dragged on, uniforms as well as military equipment evolved, and the German tankers began wearing a more close-fitting utilitarian uniform in tank black, with smaller caps that replaced the rather foppish ones of very early war. This set depicts a set of German tankers in a seemingly buoyant mood, one of whom is entertaining the rest with an accordion. The figure sized box contains three sprues of grey styrene, plus a small sheet of instructions for the accompanying accessories such as first-aid kit, MP40 machine pistol, map and flare pistol cases. Instructions for the accordion aren't given, but it's not exactly rocket science to figure it out! The musical crew member is stood, presumably on the engine deck, while the crew watch, one stood with his hands on hips, another sat, while another leans on the barrel. The commander is stood in his hatch trying not to look too impressed, with both hands resting on the cupola. Sculpting is excellent, and as usual fall of cloth and poses are very realistic. The figures are broken down to torsos, legs, arms and head, with caps separated to glue to the flat tops of their heads. The additional sprue contains all the aforementioned items, plus bayonets, pistol holsters, pistol and flare pistol, ammo pouches (rifle and MP40), a couple of Kar98 rifles and even a pair of binoculars, which have slide-moulded outer lenses. Conclusion These gents represent a perfect accompaniment (excuse the pun) to a late war diorama of a Panzer parked up waiting for the inevitable invasion. The calm before the storm. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. German Grenades & Mines Set (35258) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Wars are full to the brim with things that go bang and if you're lucky, only leave you with ringing ears. During wartime the boffins become increasingly inventive while trying to kill and maim the opposition, with grenades & mines amongst their arsenal. The Germans in WWII were no exception, and developed all manner of ways to destroy their enemies, some of which are depicted in this set. Troops often have a small quantity of grenades on their webbing, but these and other items usually arrive in crates to be doled out to the soldiers as required. It's likely that a half-track or other AFV would have a box of grenades, or even shaped charges amongst their stowage for use by their crew and passengers during skirmishes. Arriving in a standard figure-sized box, there are six sprues of grey styrene, two sprues in translucent green and brown styrene, a tiny sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope, and a small decal sheet. An instruction sheet is also included, as there are a few construction steps to some of the assemblies, but in the box you get the following: 1 x crate of magnetic mines with shaped charge warheads 1 x magnetic mine, (loose) 2 x crates of "potato masher" grenades of different designs 5 x potato masher grenades (loose) 1 x crate of "pineapple" grenades 5 x pineapple grenades (loose) 1 x Bundled grenade Geballte Ladung 5 x teller mines of 2 types 1 x crate of Molotov cocktails 20 x Molotov cocktails (loose) 3 x decals for mine warning placards The magnetic mine crate is made up with two rows of four mines within, and the fuses as separate parts. The clasps are formed from PE parts, The crate of the potato masher grenades are built up from two layers of conjoined grenades in their supports, which fit inside the box, and again use PE for the clasps. The pineapple grenades are in a single layer within a custom crate, with a few holes left for you to add or leave empty as you wish. The bundle-grenade has a separate handle, and a PE strap holding the cylindrical warheads together, while the mines are each made up from two halves, one with a flatter, ribbed profile, the other with a UFO-like raised pressure switch, both types with a PE carry-handle. The Molotov cocktails are individual translucent bottles of green or brown that are fitted into the completed crate and have fire hazard warning labels applied. Various stencil decals are supplied, and the back of the box shows the colours that they were typically painted in. Conclusion This perfect fodder for stowage on an AFV, softskin, or in a diorama. The parts are well-detailed, the crates have a wood texture, and you get decals for the stencils. Nothing else needed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of