by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt is one of the Eastern European manufacturers that has done a good job of showing what can be done despite adversity. Despite being based in Ukraine and the issues that entails at the moment, MiniArt has continued to increase their product range of both figures and vehicles. In this review I will be taking a look at the BZ-38 Refueller that MiniArt has released in 1/35th scale.
The contents of this model are packaged in a single bag, this is then packed in a substantial cardboard tray and card lid. The tray will I believe be able to withstand some rough handling, but the lid will not, this is something to consider when ordering online. The parts inside the box being packaged in the same bag mean they should not be damaged by moving against each other, but they will be susceptible to crush damage. In this sample the plastic sprues are as they should be, but the photo etched fret has received some crush damage.
A look over the model contents leaves me with a positive impression. There are some ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed, but these should not cause you too many issues. There is some flash present on the sprues, but none on the actual model parts. It should be noted that there are quite a few parts supplied with this model that are not used.
The chassis of the model has been supplied as a multi-part construction, I do like this approach by manufacturers as it allows for the best possible detail to be moulded, but it does mean the modeller needs to take care to insure that it remains square. The chassis on this model is of a very good standard with MiniArt having gone that little bit further supplying items such as separate brackets; this is the sort of detail that usually relies on the modellers scratch building skills. The design of the chassis of this vehicle does make it look as if it will need great care to keep everything square, so MiniArt cannot be blamed for that aspect.
MiniArt has also done a good job of replicating the engine and gearbox. Giving it a good look over I am very pleased with what MiniArt has provided us with here, the only surprise for me is that no photo etch was harmed during the building of the engine and that is despite some very fine detail. As with most kits with an engine provided the modeller will need to add some wires to the model in order to replicate leads and fuel lines. The radiator is well replicated and with careful painting will finish this area off nicely.
The axles and suspension units have also been well tackled by MiniArt. I was surprised at just how much effort MiniArt has put into the rear suspension unit. There are some seam lines that will need attention, but that is not exactly unusual. The front suspension is well detail, but it is not designed to allow movement of the front wheels. MiniArt has shown assembly of the front wheels in a dead ahead position, but I feel with a little forward planning showing them turned left or right should be fairly easy.
The tyres of this model have been supplied as sliced layers, which allows for great tread detail to be replicated on them. There are some ejector pin marks present on the sides of the slices and these will need to be checked to insure that they are all recessed before assembly. The ejector pin marks can be seen quite clearly in the pictures supplied with this review. The detail on the wheels themselves is well done, having very nice bolt detail present.
The cab of this vehicle is as you would expect very basic in layout; that said the details that are present are very nice. For me I like that MiniArt has given the seats a lived in look rather than a new or featureless appearance. Along with all of the standard controls you expect to see is a very nicely designed windshield, this can be shown in an open or closed position; I feel this is a nice inclusion. On the downside MiniArt has not provided any decals for the dashboard instruments; this means the modeller is either going to have to paint the detail or seek out after-market decals for it. Moving back to a high point there is the bonnet/hood, this has been designed so that it can be shown closed, half open or fully opened. These options provide the modeller with some nice options when it comes to displaying the model and showing off all of that great detail in the engine bay.
The fuel tank has been very well detailed by MiniArt. All of the access doors are supplied as separate parts and so can be displayed in whatever position the modeller wishes. The pumps and piping have been supplied, and while I cannot tell you about the accuracy of these parts, they do add some nice areas of interest. No tools have been supplied with the model and I would have thought there would be a general mix of tools kept on a vehicle of this type; however you can always look to the after-market producers or even the spares box. As the most prominent aspect of the model MiniArt has done a very good job in this area.
If you scared or have been scarred by photo etch, look away now. MiniArt has supplied photo etched snow tracks for this model; these can be shown stored on the mudguards or placed on the wheels in use. Each link is made up of 4 photo etched pieces and I just know this is going to be a royal pain to assemble and keep together while being added to the model; I will be honest and suggest that if in doubt do not use it, but it will add an interesting look to the model if placed on the wheels.
Moving onto the finishing of the model; there are four finishing options covered here, two are for unidentified army units and the other two are for airfield tractors. Ammo by Mig has done a very nice job of providing finishing options that are not just green, offering camouflaged and white wash finishing options in the mix. MiniArt however has supplied painting instructions for Ammo by Mig paints only, and while I have nothing against the paint line, many of us will not have this paint line in our inventory. I cannot help but think this harms the appeal of the product and may even backfire on Ammo due to more than one company taking this direction and being seen as trying to force choice on modellers.
This is the sort of model that until the last few years would only have been available in resin. The detail of the model is very good in my opinion and it has the appeal of being out of the ordinary. Just about every aspect of the model holds appeal and detail is very good in most respects. The only issue I have with the model is that it directs you to a very specific paint line rather than providing you with information to make your own choices. The photo etched snow tracks are a great inclusion, but will likely go unused in many cases.