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Shar2

MiniArt Models – A Visit

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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.

 

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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.  

 

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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).

 

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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.

 

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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”.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Decals and Etch Storage

 

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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.

 

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Dispatch Area/Warehouse

 

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A Forlorn Pile of Trams

 

SHAR2

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An interesting look at a company we seem to be hearing more about.

 

Thanks also for all the walkaround pics you manged to take at both the Air & Tank museums.

 

JUlien

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Very interesting; thanks for sharing. That's some stash in the latter phots. Is nobody buying trams?

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Fascinating! I've not seen an injection moulding machine before, so thanks for posting. 

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Great article, many thanks for posting and sharing.

 

I remember writing to them back in around 2007 when I git my first kit from them; simply saying how impressed I was by it.

 

I was surprised by the very friendly and courteous reply.

 

Thanks for sharing the pictures; fascinating to see the faces and place our little boxes of goodies come from :).

 

Best regards

TonyT

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very interesting Dave, not a company I knew much about.

 

any chance of a feature on those museums you mentioned too ?  I know some subjects have appeared in the 'Walkaround' forums.. Cheers

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Yes, I think I could do that. Will have to have a think about how to go about them. :thumbsup:

 

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Have to say that having had correspondence with Miniart and in particular Alina over spare parts issues, the customer service is second to none.

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Thanks for a great post! How interesting to see some of the faces and the factory behind one of the industry's up-and-coming brands, and to read some of the history. I'm now looking forward to posts

about Museums . . .

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As some will already know, I have been back to Ukraine. Mainly to visit museums, but also to visit old friends and make new ones in the modelling industry. I paid a visit to MiniArt on teh 21st of August and they were as welcoming as ever and keen to show me what they've done with the place.

 

At last they have begun the expansion we talked about last year. Not actually moving per se, but adding a 2000 square metre building to their existing 650 square metre factory. The size difference was amazing, as physically seeing it makes you realise how big 2000 square metres actually are. The expansion means they will be able to buy another injection moulding machine and increase the number of benches in the packaging department. It also means there is a lot more storage for completed kits etc. Below are some photos from the visit showing the new building. If you compare the store room int eh pictures above you will see what I mean about increased space.

 

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The old packaging room, now with steel moulds in storage.

 

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The New Building

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The new offices and design suite are yet to be finished, but, hopefully wehn I get over there again It will be all up and running.

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As with all businesses, you have to start some where.

 

A very cool insight into a up and coming model company! 

 

Thank you for sharing!

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Thanks for the interestingpost.
 

I returned to model-making a few years ago, after a 35yr gap, and was completely out of touch with 'modern' manufacturers and their kits. MiniArt though, caught my eye. I am very much into making dioramas for my AFVs, so their buildings kits were of great interest to me. There weren't any kit buildings back in my youth so it was great to find someone had stepped in to fill the gap in the market.

 

The first kit I bought was their 'Ruined Village House' which TBH was a very basic vacuformed gable end wall with a bit of side wall detail.

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It wasn't a brilliant kit in respect of design, with, for some unfathomable reason, an asymetrical roof and an overly high doorway (probably 10ft high in scale!)  but I figured I could make latex moulds of the parts and have myself the option of making countless plaster copies which I could then alter and adapt to make different buildings. MiniArt probably wouldn't be happy to hear that, but hey!

 

I am currently making this large, ruined 2 storey 'farmhouse' which started out as the Ruined Village House and which I've added to over a couple of years, using plaster casts taken from the original.

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I also purchased their 'Ardennes Building' - a more intricate and detailed kit  - which I also extended with plaster cast to make an entire building.

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I have to say that MiniArt buildings do have their flaws, but are fantastic value for money and very useful for diorama makers - either OOB, or as the 'seed' for larger extended buildings. I will say that their later buildings kits are much better in respect of design. (Although their doorways are still way too tall!) Some of their sprues contain 'generic' parts and can be found in several different kits. Often only a couple of parts are used, so it's great to have loads of left overs to use in other projects.

 

And then I started seeing MiniArt vehicle kits being reviewed or built on BM!

I am strictly into WWII AFVs, but I have to say I have been extremely impressed by the quality of their recent vehicles, military or otherwise. There are some real beauties in there!

 

Interesting to read your post then, and to discover that actually MiniArt are a fairly new and 'tiny' company, working under difficult conditions - a small fry when compared to the likes of Tamiya. I had assumed that MiniArt had been around a lot longer and were based in a state-of-the-art facility, so hats off to them! If you can pass on my regards and best wishes, I'd be most grateful.

 

Badder.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Badder

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@Badder Will do. I'll just point them to your post.

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Dave

 

Thanks for the great insight into the developments at MiniArt. I've built, and currently have stashed, a few of their kits and always enjoyed them.

 

To add to that, they're releasing a 1/35 Sharotank* this month - this has gone "straight in at Number One..." on my 'Pick of the Pops' list -  NOT 'ARF! (the delightful crashing of cymbals heard in the background is from "At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal") 🙂    Who says nostalgia ain't what it used to be?

 

Kev

 

*Given the name of the tank I think it would be only fitting that you bought a few, eh 😉

 

 

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I have to say I have quite a few and have even built several Miniart kits, and think they are great kits and certainly represent (at least to me) good value for money.  I have also had dealings directly with Miniart, particularly the lovely, helpful and friendly Alina.  The first kit I built was their Cat dozer a few years back when their plastic suffered from over brittleness as @Shar2 described. The firm had now issues in sending out several new sprues in the new plastic of their typically fine parts to replace my original ones from which the parts were breaking into several pieces just being removed from the sprues. I certainly recommend not only their kits, but also their customer service standards. Well done @Miniart!

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