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Mike

Cargo Tramway X-Series (38030) 1:35

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Cargo Tramway X-Series (38030)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd.

 

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Trams have long been used for mass transport within built-up areas of larger cities, using rails set into the street and making a familiar dinging noise just before they run you over.  They’re making a comeback in some cities recently, but were far more numerous pre-WWII, and some operators took advantage of the lines to carry cargo deep into cities where the standard railways couldn’t reach.  Soviet Russia operated these trams in their cities, carrying the daily necessities around, and probably pressed into service as munitions carriers when war came to town.

 

 

The Kit

This is new boxing is based upon the passenger X-Series tram, with new parts to fill the gutted centre-section where the passengers would otherwise be.  These parts replicate the beaten-up look that would result from the rough handling of heavy items in and out of the cargo area.  The kit arrives in a shrink-wrapped heavy box with typical MiniArt painting, and inside are twenty three sprues in grey styrene, nine in clear, an A4+ sized vacuum-formed cobblestone base with suitably gauged tracks travelling along the longest side.  The package is rounded out by a decal sheet and instruction booklet that has the painting options laid out on the covers.  Detail is excellent as we've come to expect from any new tooling from MiniArt, and the instructions are printed on good quality glossy paper in their usual manner.

 

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Construction begins with the sub-frame bogie, with two sets of motors and axles sandwiched between the brake actuators and wheels, then slipped inside the long frame along with their leaf-spring suspension mounts and cross-braces.  The two axles are then integrated in the frame by adding end-plates and more cross-braces to stiffen up the assembly.  The brake actuators are joined to the rest of the armature by a small cage and long rod that is connected to the driver’s cab later on.

 

The body is made up on a two-part base with a laminated bulkhead with windows at each end and a framework wall with badly beaten and dented low side panels that can be posed up or down as you please.  Two control uprights and a seat are made up and added to each end of the floor that makes them instantly reversible, then the two cab surrounds are fabricated with glass panels and interior panelling added along the way.  The sides are added first, then the front is fixed in place, repeated at both ends and accompanies by a pair of two-panel folding doors on each side of both cabs, totalling eight panels made up into four doors that are handed, so take care when assembling them, their bars and handles.  Crew steps are added to each door at each end (there’s a lot of repetition), then the big soviet star with integrated headlight that includes a replica of a bulb in the centre is plonked front and centre in the nose at each end – unless you’ve opted for the simpler and less ostentatious headlamp of course. 

 

Underneath the floor the linkages are extended with plastic chains to holes on the underside of the cabs, a receiver for the compressed air and small leaf-suspension mounts are fixed to each corner ready to receive the sub-frame that was made up first.  A folded cow-catcher grille is attached under the front/back along with a single buffer, then it’s time to turn it from a cabriolet to a hard-top.  The roof is made of two mirror image sections with panelling moulded into each cab end and on the curved sections where adverts would be placed on the passenger version, with a pair of lighting bars running along the rest of the length next to roof-mounted handrails.  Upstands are glued to each side of the flat section of the roof and have a nicely detailed heat-exchanger unit fitted front and rear (front and front?).  Lights, placards for route numbers and the big pantograph loop is assembled then fitted in the centre of the roof, angled toward the rea… whichever direction it has come from.

 

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If you’re not a diorama fan you can end it there, but it would be a shame to waste the base and accompanying catenary posts that suspend the wire above the track.  The base is vacformed, so will need some method of support underneath to prevent it from sagging under the weight of the model, such as balsawood, which can be glued to the underside of the base with epoxy.  The two posts have a four-part base and single riser part, with a choice of a simple or decorative arm for each one.  They are held taut by wires that you will need to supply yourself, and you will need to do a little research to correctly wire in the rest of the cables to your tram’s pantograph.

 

 

Markings

There are six decal and markings options out of the box, with a wide choice of colours but only a few decals for route numbers and vehicle identification.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Cargo USSR 40-60s
  • Repair USSR 40-60s
  • Repair USSR 40-50s
  • Emergency USSR 40-50s
  • Cargo USSR 40-50s
  • Service USSR 30-50s

 

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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.

 

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Conclusion

A well detailed model of a cargo tram that was used in Soviet Russia for more than just hawking goods around.  There’s plenty of scope for dioramas with the included base a healthy start, and lots of opportunity to practice your weathering techniques to depict a well-worn example.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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