by: Rick Cooper [ ]
According to their website, MiniArt from the Ukraine has been in business since 2001 and produced their first kit in 2003. One of their more popular concepts has been their 1/35 line of diorama building and architectural accessory kits of which they now boast over 60 in their catalog. They have developed new advances in vacu-forming plastic for the large structural parts of buildings, such as the walls and roof, from styrene and combined them with traditional injection molded parts like rails, doors, windows, and frames, to name a few. What is best about their line of buildings is the strength and adaptability of the plastic pieces combined with their light weight making them increasingly popular with diorama and vignette builders worldwide.
This kit is titled the “Goods Shed”, kit #35554, and brings to mind those buildings which you would commonly see in a factory setting, quayside, or at a railroad siding. In other words you can find small buildings, almost of this style design, almost anywhere in the world during the World War II era. The buildings non-specific style should make it a fairly popular addition to their product line.
The kit is packaged in the common two part model box with a very sturdy bottom section that should hold up very well. Inside you are confronted with a poly bag that is jam packed full of plastic and one set of instructions. The instructions are short on text but provide a basic guide in the manner of ‘stick this piece here’ arrows from one part to another. However, not to worry because MiniArt does something rarely seen in today’s modeling world, they provide a complete tutorial on how to assemble, paint, and weather the vacu-formed buildings in their catalog. What is noteworthy is not just that they provide a tutorial, but that the tutorial combines photography with a series of forty videos that explains the entire process in a step-by-step manner. This is a really nice guide that you should check out before you begin assembly of any one of their building kits.
Inside the poly bag you will find six sprues of injection molded details and six sheets of vacu-formed walls, ceilings, sidings, and rooftops. Some of the detail pieces are a bit on the thick side, you won’t find the same fidelity in the molding that you will in a Dragon or AFV Club kit, but there is nothing that you can’t work with.
The first injection sprue is, appropriately enough sprue A, with doors, shutters, window frames, and a few iron garden gate pieces that are not used. Sprue B, which is not actually labeled anywhere, has the large shed doors as well as a host of parts that are not used. These unused parts, items like drain spouts and lamp standards can be added with just a bit of forethought, if not into the spare parts bin they go. Sprue C is the metal stairway that leads up to the landing of the building and provides optional safety hand rails in case OSHA is lurking nearby. The stairway is typical of an industrial setting with diamond plate treads, or steps, and open risers between each step. There is no sprue D included but Sprue E provides the parts for the lamp on one side of the building as well as the power pole on the other side, complete with insulator detail, to bring electricity to the shed. I guess you will need to add some kind of a junction box for complete accuracy but hey, I’m no electrician, so you may know more than I do about that!
Sprue F, of which there are two, provides the steel diamond plate and structural beams for part of the landing (the other half is a vacuformed piece of brickwork). Some of the detail pieces do have those pesky knockout ejection pin marks to deal with but nothing that mars any of the more delicate surfaces.
The vacu-formed pieces are, for the most part, all paired parts so that you have both the exterior and interior wall with detail on both which is a nice step up from the old plaster buildings with detail on one side only. These pieces are not numbered or marked in any way, but they are pretty easy to figure out. Two pieces give you the two side walls and the brick landing, two more provide the large building front, and the other two provide the rafters and the roof. Like all vacu-formed kits these pieces will need to be carefully scribed, cut out, and sanded to fit correctly.
I built one of their other buildings (Lithuanian City Building, #35504) earlier and found that having a small square handy really helped to keep everything even. They do have small ‘dimples’ on these pieces that will need to be sanded out, however they all stand proud of the surface and are an easy job with a sanding stick. One other issue when dealing with vacu-formed pieces is often the lack of any positive mating surfaces, sometimes all you have are the sanded edges. Sometimes adding a scrap of plastic that stands proud to the inside of a piece will help to provide some strength and a better bonding surface. When attaching the injection plastic pieces to the vacu-formed parts sometimes you will need a bit of filler to provide a good clean join.
The detail throughout looks very good notwithstanding the caveat I mentioned earlier about the thickness of some of the parts. The vacu-formed bricks look like bricks, the stonework looks convincing as well. I really like the roof and the rafters, the only thing missing are a few joists to hold the whole thing up. The large shed doors should have a wood grain which is not present so you will probably want to add some.
The best advice I can give other than a careful viewing of the tutorial series is the old carpenter’s adage about measure twice and cut once. I like this kit, I know it doesn’t have the same level of fine detail we have come to expect with slide molds and all but it holds its own. What makes these kits a winner are that they are all lightweight, sturdy, fairly easy to assemble, create no plaster dust mess from sanding, and provide plenty of extra pieces to detail the building how you like; all that has helped to make these a popular and expanding line from MiniArt.
This kit in particular should be well received because of its versatility; it can be used in a variety of settings without any problem at all. I am looking forward to putting this one together sometime in the near future.