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Built Review
135
Middle East Diorama
MiniArt Middle East Dirorama
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by: Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]

Introduction

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.

Review

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.

Construction

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.

Conclusion

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.

Useful links

MinArt Video Tutorials Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: An interesting subject nicely detailed all-inclusive diorama Kit.
Lows: There is a bit of a learning curve to working with vacuum form parts.
Verdict: Over all this a decent kit on an interesting subject. Once the learning curve is overcome this could make for a fun project for most.
Percentage Rating
91%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 36056
  Suggested Retail: $89.00
  PUBLISHED: May 12, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 95.48%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 85.89%

Our Thanks to MRC!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Todd Michalak (TRM5150)
FROM: MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES

I am building what I like, when I like and how I like it; having fun doing it. I have been building and finishing models on and off my whole life but the past ten years things really exploded. Just about anything goes when it comes to hitting the bench, but wrecked armor, rusted hulks, ships or ...

Copyright ©2017 text by Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thank you Todd. Very good review. I've never done any of these diorama bases but was particularily interested in this one. One of your pictures even answered my one questionL: would the newer (larger) MRAPs fit on the "road". The only other thing: you mention reinforcing the base....are there any particular tips for doing this? It looks a bit large for spars. Would filling with plaster work? Like I said, I have no experience with these. Thanks Sean
MAY 15, 2014 - 06:28 AM
I love the concept of these bases, you get a fairly detailed setting that is reasonably priced if you know where to look and can be super detailed to your liking and talent/budget. Having built a few vacuformed aircraft way back when, I can say that the average modeler should be able to build one of these without too much hassle. For the most part, you're dealing with straight lines and simple joins. If you can get over your fear of vacuform, and get familiar with the tutorial mentioned, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how painless it really can be. You will have to be patient and use your little grey cells, which is never a bad thing. Kimmo
MAY 15, 2014 - 07:40 AM
these building are meant more for north Africa than the middle east
MAY 16, 2014 - 01:11 AM
Sean - Thanks for the kind words and for checking out the review. I have to laugh as I was looking to put something on the Dio to give a sense of scale...thought the RG was better than the D9 Armored Bulldozer! !00% on your though of the plaster! One of the best things about setting lends itself to "plaster" so if there is and filling required the incorporation of the stucco look could be done to help eliminate the sanding and to maybe enhance some of the uneven areas. Kimmo - Thank you! Patience is the key for sure! Base and wall reinforcement can aid with construction. I also would think removing the four small sides of the base and this top base section could be mounted directly to a plinth base making for a strong base. I plan on trying this with my European Tram base. Frank - Whereas I do agree with you this could be used within a North African scene without any modifications other than personal taste, a quick Google search of Middle Eastern building habits of the 19th and 20th century renders many fine examples of similar building practices. Personally I like the versatility of this set more and more...I would think I could sneak this into a setting within the South West United States as well! Have to love the options.
MAY 16, 2014 - 06:42 AM
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