by: Todd Michalak [ ]
While during the occupation of France in 1944, the German army had amassed a great deal of men, armor and equipment in preparation for the inevitable allied attack to take back Europe from their grasp. Most of the larger armor pieces consisted of 5 member crews to man the tanks; a commander, driver, radio operator, gunner and loader. While majority of time was spent on being at the ready for any impending attacks, there were brief interludes where the men could relax a bit or try and have a laugh or two to forget the turmoilís of war for a bit.
Enter MiniArtís German Tank Crew, Normandy 1944. Just added to the ever-growing lineup of figures sets out there, this set is a depiction of 5 relaxed tankers from the Normandy front of WWII. This set is promising in regards to bringing a relaxed more human approach to the annals of waror in this case, the modeling thereof.
2 Ė Light grey styrene sprue trees containing 40 molded parts
1 Ė Part legend sheet
The box contains two sprues consisting of 40 parts to construct five figures modeled after the German tank crews serving France in WWII. The back of the box shows the location of the parts for each figure as well as an artistís rendition of the coloring and the coloring chart at the bottom with cross referencing for a number or paint manufactures.
At first glance, these figures are somewhat nicely sculpted representation of the tankers they are meant to depict. There is a very relaxed feel to their poses. One figure has a leaning forward pose as if on the barrel of one of the tanks and dawns a smile as if enjoying the music coming from the figure in the set that is playing the accordion. A third figure stands relaxed with hands on his hipswhile the forth is in a sitting pose. The fifth figure, the commander, stands at the ready with his arms position as if he were up through the cupola of his tank.
I can see these figures being used together or even separately in a variety of diorama/vignette scenes. For the most part this is a decent collection of figures. However; looking over the parts I notice some flash and the obligatory mold seam lines as we see in most figures. Normally this would be nothing some careful sanding cannot take care of but the flash on the heads seems a bit abundant. This could just be a quality control issue with the review sample itself as I have seen a few other pictures of the unboxed set and the flash was not as well defined.
The uniforms are nicely detailed and are indicative of what the uniforms would look like for the era and placement. There is the mold seam that we all have come to know so well, but nothing out of the normal scope of repair. The commanders cap has a bit of flash on the brim that needs some careful sanding but all in all the uniforms, hats and boots are cleanly molded.
The accordion is a nice touch to the kit. The detail is not to bad this piece but there is some clean up that will be needed not only on the surface details but on the attachment point between its parts.
There does appear to be a part missing from the set that must have never made it to the mold. The commander is shown on the box art as having a pair of binoculars. These binoculars are nowhere to be found in the kit and no spot to which they would have been on the sprue. The commanderís uniform does however, have the straps for the binoculars. I suppose the straps can be removed easy enough or if you happen to have a pair of binoculars in the spare parts bin, problem solved.
In the attempt to give the reader, you, an idea on how the parts fit and go together I set out to construct the five. The mold seams I noticed in the un-boxing on the pants, arms and torso were easily removed. The bottom of all of the boots on these figures is a bit chunky and should receive a quick sanding to think down. Only the Commanderís torso did not meet up as well as the other when attaching to the legs. Not wanting to lose any detail on the belt I chose to wait and use filler later to fill the microscopic void.
All of the heads but one was acceptable in respects to the seam line running from the side hairline through the ear down to the neck. There was one head that had a good size piece of flash on his left nostril that needed a quick sanding. All of the necks need attention before attaching to the body. If you are one to use and aftermarket head piece then you will not worry about the condition of the necks. I decided to move forward with the kit supplied heads. I like to drill out the collar where the neck attaches. This will aid in the shirt collar looking more real in the endgame of the build. I then attached a section of the sprue tree to where the neck should be. This serves two purposes; one being a great holder for painting the head and the second being to lengthen the neck slightly leaving a section as a post to slide into the upper torso for attachment.
Aside from the accordion there is only one peripheral add-on piece which is the gun and holster. This is a simple part but does have a tiny mold seam running across the bottom of the handle of the gun. There is a little bit of effort to get these to clean up but this is not impossible by all means. It only took me a couple hours to run through the build process leaving minor clean-up prior to or just after the priming.
I feel this is not a bad kit for the detail and for the price. Collectively the minor issues, such as mold seams and flash are not a deal breaker. I am a bit disappointed that the binoculars were not included with the set. This is something that should have been caught by quality control but like I aforementioned, easily rectified with a spare set of specs or a light sanding to remove the molded straps. Expect the flash on the heads as I am unsure to whether or not this was an oversight on quality control. The option of replacement heads are on the market for short money and usually sold in sets of multiple piecesÖdefinitely a viable option. This kit either used individually or as a set, will make a great addition to help enhance any build and with a little manipulation these couple be posed to fit any scene.
This kitís suggested selling price is $19.00 US but can be found for around $15.00 US online.