by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt has now produced quite a few T-54 variants as both standard and interior kits, it should however be pointed out right at the start that at no time has MiniArt tried to pass these models off as being full interior kits to my knowledge, that is certainly the case with this offering from MiniArt of the T-54 B Early Production Interior Kit. As you will likely expect not much of this offering is new, but it does allow another of the T-54 variants to be produced with a good level of detail both inside and out.
As three of the previous T-54 line of tanks from MiniArt both with and without interiors have been reviewed by Andras Donaszi as builds and in-box reviews, I will concentrate just on the plastic and quality of parts.
When you open one of these interior kits from MiniArt you will be confronted by a large quantity of plastic, and at this point I am waiting to see if getting it all back in the box is possible. The sprues are packaged in three cellophane bags; this is not a method I like as it can easily result in damage and distortion to parts. In the case of this offering everything is so tightly packed that damage is unlikely except when removing the sprues from the bags; however the risk of distortion is high with this method. One aspect of the packaging that I really like is that the photo etched frets are inside a stiff card wallet that has protected them very well and prevented all damage.
An examination of the sprues resulted in no issues being found as regards the moulding quality. There are few ejector pin marks present, some of which will need to tackled but for the most part these have been very well placed with consideration. There are areas that cause me concern when it comes to removal from the sprue, these parts are for the most part fuel lines and I strongly suggest you use the moulded parts on the sprue as guides for bending suitably sized wire. I really do think that getting these fine parts of the sprue in one piece will be all but impossible.
With there being so many parts to the model, I do feel this offering is aimed at modellers who have a good grasp of the basic skills and are also able to tackle small parts in large numbers. One area where this is particularly true is the photo etched parts that will be a test of a modellerís ability. To throw another plus at you after knocking the skill requirement; MiniArt has made great use of slide moulding in areas such as the main gun which is a single piece moulding, slide moulding has also been used for the turret mounted DSHK, but not the internally mounted MG. An aspect I would consider is the replacement of the plastic log with a suitable branch as I have rarely seen a painted piece of plastic replicate an element of nature well.
Moving onto the decals included in this offering; I feel these are a little on the short side as while MiniArt has taken care of the exterior decals those for the interior are sadly lacking; I would have at least liked to see decals for the ammunition included as it is the sort of area that will be noted.
The instructions are presented in the black and white line drawings approach, and I have to say they appear well represented to me. The instructions call out detail painting during the build and I like to see this in an instruction booklet. I cannot promise there are no parts incorrectly numbered in the instructions, but there are just way to many for me to check.
When it comes to finishing the model MiniArt has provided us with four options which are:
Soviet Army, 2nd half of the 1950ís
2nd Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division, Soviet Army, 1960ís
Colour Option for the parade of the Guard Unit, Soviet Army, 1950ís and 60ís
Winter Camouflage, intended for winter hostilities in the 1950ís and 60ís
This offering from MiniArt is certainly not a model for the beginner, but if you have a grasp of the basics and can follow instructions this should be in within your ability. Slide moulding has been heavily utilised in this offering and so there are some nice features such as the hollow barrels of the main gun barrel and turret MG. Features such as the individual track links will be praised by some and criticised by others depending on personal opinions, I like them due to the lack of ejector pin marks on them. One area where MiniArt seems to attract criticism is the plastic used; I have seen many complaints about brittle plastic and breakages because of it, but I have not had this issue when using a good set of snips or sharp blade.