by: Mark R. Smith [ ]
Introduction:This inbox review is a closer look at one of MiniArt’s new offerings from their WWII Military Miniatures line in 1/35 scale injection molded plastic. “Soviet Tank Crew At Work”, kit #35017. This set will give the modeler a chance to recreate a very interesting diorama scene.
For those not yet familiar with MiniArt Ltd., they are a smaller but quickly growing model manufacturing company that is based in the Ukraine. The company has a diverse line of model kits in various scales, types, and subject matter. Personally, I find their kits to be quite interesting and unique in nature, and definitely deserve a closer look by the modeler.
The Box, Kit, and Contents…The package is covered with very colorful and realistic box art, depicting a suggested setting for the five figures on the front. Build diagrams numbered sequentially for ease of assembly, along with the suggested paint color schemes, also in a numbered fashion, appear on the back.
Inside the box is a sealed, heavy plastic bag containing one sprue of plastic model parts molded in a light gray color. The 38 pieces on the sprue build up to make a total of five figures. The set is molded quite cleanly with crisp lines, good detail, and good molding. There are a few mold lines present on some pieces that will need to be addressed though, but nothing major. The sprue in my kit is virtually free of any flash, even on the tiniest pieces.
MiniArt has greatly improved the quality of their molds and molding process. The company’s first kits had problems with excessive flash, poor molding, and dull features. By reworking many of these original molds MiniArt has greatly improved the quality of their kits.
Looking closer…This set depicts a scene of five tank crewmen performing maintenance on their machine. Three men operating the barrel cleaning rod, one man standing by with a greasy rag in his hand, and one man standing inside the tank, looking on.
All five figures are dressed similarly wearing typical Soviet armored crew clothing, but each man is unique in his own pose and expression. Figure #1, the crewman in the tank, is clad in khaki overalls with just the collar of his tunic showing through from underneath. He has a black canvas tanker helmet on his head, a brown leather belt and Tokarev sidearm around his waist. This full figure is molded in a standing position, unlike other figures meant to be posed inside a tank. He stands halfway outside of the hatch with one hand holding the hatch open, while the other arm is draped over top of the hatch door, as he overlooks the operation.
Figure #2, the lead man on the cleaning rod (which is included), is a soldier of Asian decent A very unique touch! If you’re not aware of this, during WWII there were four Asian Republics that were included in the Soviet Army; Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgystan), and Kazakhstan, respectively. He has taken down the top half of his coverall, and has tied the arms around his waist, exposing his Gimnasterka (or tunic) underneath. I think that this figure is a very interesting and accurate touch for this set!
Figures #3 and #4, the other two crewmen on the cleaning rod, are also dressed in khaki overalls. Figure #3 is bareheaded while the other is wearing a canvas tanker helmet, leather belt and sidearm. The same as the first figure wore. All three of these men are molded in various stages of the pulling motion required to operate the barrel cleaning rod, hands on style. The fifth man is standing by with a dirty wipe down rag in his hand (and from the looks of the box art has the dirtiest job of all!), dressed the same as the others, but with no belt, sidearm, or helmet. Interestingly, he is molded with a shaved head haircut (as is the Asian man). All men are wearing standard issue black leather boots, coveralls tucked inside.
The Test Build…I was really looking forward to trying a test build on this kit by now, and the figure that I chose was the second man on the cleaning rod, as he looked to be one of the most likely to have a fit problem if at all. He consists of six pieces total, two leg/lower half sections, one torso section complete, two separate arms, and the head/neck piece. All six pieces separated very easily and cleanly from the sprue. The two leg sections had a slight mold seam on each that needed a touchup, but other than this, no other cleanup was necessary before assembly began. These two pieces mated together fine, with no trimming needed to fit! The torso piece also mated well with the now formed lower body half without a problem. At this stage I would usually begin the painting sequence, but for review purposes, I moved on to the next steps. Before attaching the arm pieces, I drilled out each of the figures hands with a pin vise and 5/64 drill bit to accommodate the barrel cleaning rod assembly. Much easier to do it now than after attachment! The arm pieces went on without a problem. Again, no trimming was necessary for proper alignment.
The head/neck piece looked a little questionable, but after a quick dry fit I decided that it didn’t need an adjustment trimming after all for good looks. I will tell you that some tiny final adjustments are necessary after construction of the pieces for good fit, and I recommend slower setting glue (I use good old Testors basic cement) for easier adjustment. All in all, in a little over ten minutes this figure was complete, sans paint.
Final Conclusions…Personally, I really do like this figure set! Great subject matter, accurate representation, poses and expressions are very unique. Overall quality is quite good for the money, nice details, clean lines, and good molding. Definitely recommended from this modelers’ point of view!
Many thanks to Svetlana Dubchak, Commercial Director of MiniArt Limited, for providing this and all review kits to date.