by: Frank Glackin [ ]
IntroductionThe name MiniArt needs no further introduction in today’s modeling circles, as they are well known among figure, armor and diorama builders. Although their figure and armor lines have been stealing the most recent headlines, the building and accessory range is already well established.
These kits are relatively inexpensive, and using thermoformed styrene, all buildings are detailed on both faces. Every set also includes a standard injected set of details such as windows, doors, railings, streetlights, etc. plus a neatly produced set of posters to add to the authenticity of the scene depicted. They have now taken this line a step further, and offer a complete diorama setting, which includes a cobblestone/paved roads and occasionally even figures.
What’s in the boxThe subject of this review is their recent “Russian Street w/ advertising column” set. Two sheets of thermoformed styrene provide the pieces for the road, the ruined building and the advertising column. To further detail the building, an injection-molded sprue of windows and doors is included. An A4 size sheet has a useful painting suggestion and also includes many posters to decorate the advertising column.
The quality of the pieces was excellent with well-defined details. Having built the “Ukrainian City Building” several years ago, the improvements in quality are immediately apparent. Gone are the problems with over-thermoforming to a point where the plastic was almost transparent, and corners fell in with the slightest touch. There is a little flash on the injected molded parts, but this is very easy to clean up.
The most impressive piece is the cobblestone road section. The cobblestones appear very natural and there is good relief in the crevices to allow washes, which will make painting a breeze. The size also impresses. There is room enough for any WW2 tank or small vehicle and figures. The advertising column is a very useful addition, as it provides a space-filler and/or background, depending on what subject will be placed when complete. And because MiniArt didn’t make the base of the column as part of the cobblestone section, it is optional whether it is used or not …. giving the modeler even more possibilities. On the MiniArt homepage they are now showing accessory sets with tiled or slate roofing sheets. I can only hope that they offer these sheets of cobblestones as single sets in the future. I really can’t see myself cutting thousands of single cork bricks or scribing plaster for hours, if this was available.
AssemblyAssembling the kit was pretty straightforward. I followed the steps as shown on their homepage (http://www.miniart-models.com/) in the “assembly guide” section. I used the back of my hobby knife instead of the recommended awl, and sanded both sides of the ruin on a large sheet of sandpaper. I cemented both sides of the ruin with Humbrol Poly, which softens the plastic, and when pushing both halves together, it allows the soft plastic to squeeze into any small gaps and it only left two very small pinholes. Mr. Surfacer 500 was enough to fill these. I let these dry overnight, and using several different files, the seam disappeared completely. The window joints are hidden completely when adding the window frames, and enough of these are included to detail all window details left in the ruin.
The placement slot for the ruin-assembly is a bit on the tight side, but with a little sanding it wedges in quite firmly. I filled up behind the ruin; to both add to the rubble content, and also to provide extra strength. As this base is planned for a Sd.Kfz. 265 Kleiner Panzerbefehlwagen 1, I decided to cut down the size a bit, to avoid empty spaces. This was cut easily with scissors. Using a photo frame as a base, I built up the sides with 2mm balsa sheets, and filled up the void with polystyrene packing. This determined the new dimensions of the cobblestone base.
Painting was done completely with Humbrol enamels and some MIG oils for washes. The base was sprayed black first and then the main colors blocked in using the airbrush. Individual bricks and cobblestones were hand-painted in browns and grays. Washes and filters tied it all together. Some pastels were used to add a natural dusty effect when complete.
ConclusionFor anybody wanting a simple, yet effective base, these new diorama sets are perfect. Assembly is quick compared to scratch building everything, and only basic modeling skills are required to get a decent result. For anybody who has built a MiniArt kit previously, this will be almost second nature, and anybody who hasn’t dared yet … this would be a perfect starting point, before proceeding to one of the more elaborate kits. Nice detail, nice price and a pretty complete base all in the one box, can only be given the thumbs up, from me.
I´d like to thank Erik Ahlström for allowing me to include an image his un-cut base, so that one can see the full size. MiniArt's T70 is a good reference for how large the cobblestone section actually is!