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In-Box Review
135
MiniArt GAZ-AAA Mod. 1943
GAZ-AAA Mod. 1943 Cargo Truck
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]

introduction

GAZ trucks were actually the Ford Model AA built under license by the Gorky Automobile Plant (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod in Russian or "GAZ" for short). Started in 1932 as a joint venture with Ford, the company turned out over 900,000 trucks during the war, and continues to the present. GAZ produced a variety of two- and three-axle vehicles, and it seems MiniArt has vowed to replicate them all.

While popular lore has it the Germans were the ones mechanized in WW2, the Soviet Army employed a huge amount of vehicles, with nearly 40,000 GAZ-AAAs produced from 1934-43. Besides "vanilla" transport, the GAZ-AAA served as a bed for the Maxim (4M), and the DShk 25mm and 37mm anti-aircraft machine guns. Radio trucks, mobile repair shops, tank trucks for both water & fuels, along with ground starter trucks for airplanes employed the AAA chassis. The BA-6 and BA-10 armored cars were built on the GAZ-AAA body.

MiniArt has been releasing a series of GAZ trucks to supplement the wheel replacement sets its developed for the ancient Zvezda kits. The new wheels avoid seam lines and poor tread details by using a "sandwich" technique that builds up the tires in seven sections or "slices." It's not new technology, but the results are a huge improvement over conventional 2-piece styrene molded tires that even companies who pioneered the technique like DML have reverted to.

MiniArt's latest release is the GAZ-AAA model 1943 variant, the last in the production run.

the kit

In the usual MiniArt cardboard box are:

44 sprues of light gray styrene (though many have just one piece)
12 sprues of gray styrene wheel "slices"
1 sprue of clear plastic for the windows & light lenses
1 fret of PE
A painting guide
A detailed assembly guide

the review

We all have heard forever about how Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union turned out (literally) to be a quagmire: Russian roads were rarely paved, and those that weren't turned into pools of sucking mud during the Spring thaw and the Fall rains. German vehicles and animals were bogged down, and even occasionally disappeared under the muck.

But the Soviets had to fight on the same unforgiving terrain, and often with mechanized vehicles no better-suited for mud than Germany's. This MiniArt kit "embraces the suck" (literally) by including figures for four soldiers using tree limbs to extricate a GAZ-AAA from the slime. It's another "diorama in a box" that MA has become good at, and is delightful.

Now to the kit: the first really great thing about any MiniArt GAZ truck is - THE TIRES! Using the "slice" technology that Dragon and others developed, but have since abandoned, tires are built-up with a series of cross-sectioned "slices" that, when assembled, provide a far better tread pattern than even some cast-resin ones. It avoids the problem of pour plugs, sprue nibs or other imperfections that come with conventional two-piece tires. Equally subtle is the detailing on the wheel rims and hubs.

Beyond the tires, the truck has a complete engine, transmission (with gorgeously-detailed universal differential), suspension and exhaust system, so nothing is missing other than the wiring for the engine compartment. The load bed is nicely-rendered, though the wood grain is overlarge and not to-scale. A little Mr. Surfacer or some sanding should bring it back more to 1/35th. Some photo etch ads the right touch of detailing for hinges and other hardware. The doors have texture on both sides, and provide, again, the right "look" for a truck assembled under the Soviet Union's lax standards of quality (unlike the Germans, the "quality of quantity" valued more to Stalin).

painting

The kit color guide has call-outs for seven paint manufacturers, and includes two painting schemes:

Summer 1944 (green)
Winter 1944 (green with whitewash over-spray)

Hey, no one ever said most Soviet WW2-era vehicles were colorful or distinctive.

the figures

The figures are lively and realistic-looking with heads that remind me of Tank resin heads. The four figures represent three enlisted men and one officer, all pushing or using a "pole" to gain leverage on the recalcitrant truck. While "fighting" figures are popular with many modelers, I personally prefer those who are "doing something else." Most soldier memoirs talk much more about the time NOT fighting, usually because so much more of their days were taken up with tasks far removed from killing: cooking, "fatigue" or work details, washing, sleeping, resting, or in this case, trying to dislodge a vehicle from the pervasive Russian mud.

The molding is crisp, though perhaps not quite as good as Dragon figures yet. MiniArt is evolving, and their releases get better and better.

conclusion

MiniArt continues to break new ground in figures and softskins, both for its excellent truck kits, but also its vibrant, lively figures. Each new release is a pleasure, and this one is no different.

Thanks to MiniArt for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when purchasing.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent molding, good detail, the inclusion of four figures doing something related to the truck. AND THE TIRES!!!
Lows: Pricy, though this time you get four figures. Many tiny plastic parts, so not for beginners.
Verdict: MiniArt continues to delight and amaze with what is essentially a "diorama in a box."
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35133
  PUBLISHED: Sep 06, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Russia
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 85.89%

Our Thanks to MiniArt!
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 Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright 2017 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Nice looking truck, and great review. I have been eyeing one of the GAZ trucks for sometime. From the images, I agree about the wood grain, a little sanding would be needed. Bill thanks for the review.
SEP 06, 2012 - 05:16 PM
Nice review Bill, and after just finishing building this kit I can say its not for the beginner, the amount of small parts that go to make up the kit is unreal, it as if miniart copied the parts list piece by piece. but on the other hand is does build into a real nice kit, one thing i really liked is that the parts on the spures are in number order (have a look) so no having to search the sprues for each piece or check the parts list in the instructions looking for where they have actually hidden it on the sprue. Keith
SEP 06, 2012 - 06:46 PM
The wood grain shown on those figure images on the review page is quite deceiving. The kits actual wood grain finish is a lot less prominent. See the sprues here: http://miniart-models.com/index.htm?/35133.htm Grant.
SEP 07, 2012 - 11:27 AM
@Keith, Thanks, Man. I have amended the review to make those points about not being for a beginner. Uh, no. Vanhall, the wood grain is NOT to scale. The grooves would be the width of your finger, so it is NOT accurate. My photos may not be that great, but I did not single out the wood grain based on photographs. Kit makers put in wood grain because they think we want it. You're better off using a base coat of Tamiya Buff or some similar color, then overcoating with clear flat, then brushing on oils with a stiff brush. The effect is much more realistic and to-scale. Someone show me a photo with grain this prominent from the period and I'll eat my words.
SEP 10, 2012 - 09:20 AM
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