Since 2003 MiniArt
has been providing the modelling community with model vehicles, scale figures, accessories and a large selection of diorama scene kits. One of their latest creations to hit the shelves is their Middle East Diorama – model no. 36056 as part of the MiniArt
Diorama Series. This is a large scene depicting a small slice of a Middle Eastern town or city. The kit is supplied in a large slip of top cardboard box with color rendition of how the diorama will look once constructed.
The kit contains 255 parts; a mixture of grey injection molded styrene and vacuum formed styrene parts. There are two larger building sections with stucco molded facades and open backs with partial interior layouts. There is one semi-large building corner with has the same stucco molded façade yet this section is in ruin where as both ends and the interior show crumbling brick and stucco. There is a large archway connecting to a smaller building cut out in the back corner of the scene layout. The base consists of a 13 ¾ x 10 inch vacuum formed cobblestone layout with a street section traversing the base and a small unpaved area for grass, dirt or stone.
There are eight sheets of vacuum formed parts for the building construction included in this kit. These parts have a two-piece construction to them. Each wall, step, floor and archway has a corresponding part that needs to be cut from the vacuum formed sheet and glued to each other.
All of the windows and doors supplied with this kit are presented on styrene sprue trees. The doors are made up with a four-piece frame construction and either a single or two-piece door slab with handles. The windows are a three-piece construction with a single frame and two separate window panes. Both the doors and the windows can be glued in an open or closed position. In an effort to most likely streamline the parts included in this set, the sprues contain numerous parts from previously released diorama sets so there will be many parts left over when the construction process is done.
The instructions given with this kit are a black and white exploded view format. There is numbering system to the vacuum formed parts and you will need to check and recheck the parts with the instructional depiction to ensure you have the correct part. It may be best for the builder to go through the instructions and mark numbers or letters next to the parts as well as on the instructions to eliminate any confusion.
As part of the review, I wanted to give the assembly a go of it. Until now, I have not had much of a chance to work with vacuum formed parts so there was a bit of a learning curve “I” needed to get over. I will start by saying that MiniArt
has a fantastic set of Step by Step video tutorials on constructing this or other dioramas, I would suggest to anyone interested in the types of kits that they check these videos out first. They are very helpful.
Removal of the parts from the vacuum formed sheets is actually rather easy whereas all that is needed is a sharp scribing tool such as an awl. Scribe the outer edge of the part and a light bending and the part snaps free from the sheet. Per the video instructions, each of these parts, even the largest parts, will need to be sanded. To ensure that the part is sanded squarely on the edge it is suggested that you use a full sheet of sandpaper so that the entire edge section of the part is sanded equally. Place the two parts together and glue with an appropriate adhesive, I recommend and thin solvent based adhesives that are typically used in model building. I would suggest that the aid of masking tape to hold the larger parts together while the glue has a chance to set up will help. After the glue has set up, the edges can be sanded and connected to their adjacent parts.
When joining the corners, there is a slight overlap on the corner of each section to be joined where one side is at a forty-five degree angle and a square edge that will need to be removed with the scribe method outlined above. After both halves are prepared, the two corners can be married via the thin adhesive. Again, tape will aid with the construction at this point.
As you may have noticed in some of the pictures there was the use of some filler by me. This was to fill in openings that were present most undoubtedly by my inexperience with working with this product. If nothing else, it does show how easy mistakes can be corrected if they arise.
The majority of the parts to this kit are laid out exactly the same whereas there is the two-piece construction; however, the construction of the doors and windows are of the more traditional style of modelling building; removing the parts from sprue trees, cleaning and gluing the parts together as defined by the instructions. There will be some extra sanding required to fit the windows and door adequately in their opening.
I have to admit that I had some doubts with the kit prior to construction…actually just after starting too, but once I got the general idea of working with the vacuum formed parts things went much smoother. I wholeheartedly advocate the usage of the video resources provided by MiniArt
as this will certainly explain the process correctly allowing for a better building experience.
There is one area of the construction that the builder may want to reinforce prior to placement of the building on the base, would be the base itself. The base is vacuum formed and as a result, essentially hollow beneath the base piece. This can seem a bit flimsy when attaching the heavier buildings to it. Some plastic or wooden stock can be used to reinforce this area nicely.
I do honestly like the look of the diorama and this piece, even though rather large, would make for a nice setting for a Middle Eastern depiction from basically any timeframe from the 19th century to the present. I can also say that the use of the individual parts of this diorama could be used to construct smaller dioramas as desired.
At first glance it does seem as if the Middle East Diorama could be put together in an afternoon, but I would suggest taking your time in sanding all the parts thoroughly to ensure the best possible fit and the result will be that much better. I recommend this kit to anyone who has prior constructing knowledge of vacuum formed kits and/or a level of building experience beforehand.
Please do not be scared off by the $89.00 MSRP as after a short search online I found a couple of locations where the cost was brought down to half if not one third the cost.
MinArt Video Tutorials