by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt has a Soviet tram in the X series coming up for release in 1/35th scale, and they have very kindly sent me an advance release of this item to review for them. Finding information on these trams was harder than I expected but as they started life in Ukraine it seems a perfect offering from MiniArt. This offering does not have its correct box yet and the instructions are on sheets of A4 paper stapled together; so close but not yet ready for general release. The X series tram cars served a long life going into service in the 1930ís and staying there until the 1960ís; it is indicated that these trams were so well built that they were withdrawn only because people preferred modern vehicles.
Starting with the display base and it is the design we have seen before I believe. We get a vacuum formed base with injection moulded furniture. I like the approach taken by MiniArt here and appreciate the details provided for displaying the model, I do wish that the rail lines ran at an angle as I feel angled models look better on display. I have seen a number of suggestions for firming up the base offered. My preference is to pour plaster of Paris into the void and so create a solid base. Two posts are supplied with a choice of arm for the electrified cable, these are functional or ornate and so a pleasing choice. I would consider making a paved section and adding some street furniture that is also available for MiniArt.
The power for the tram is supplied by two electric motors driving chains I believe, these are inside a protective housing; it could of course be a basic gearbox but I was unable to find the needed information. The electrical motors are mirror imaged in the mounting and so I believe it may be a case of each motor driving the tram in opposite directions. The frame that the power is mounted in is made up of separate parts and so has very good surface detail, but does add the need for care to insure that it is assembled square due to there being no obvious structures to ensure this naturally. The result here is a very well detailed area of the model that will never really be seen.
The power train is attached to the body via four leaf springs and so I am unsure as to how comfortable the ride was; with that said leaf springs are still used today and so is an effective form of suspension. The springs will need to be cleaned up carefully due to the seam lines that will be present to various degrees as the moulds age, but with this being a test shot/first run I can see nothing of concern as yet in this respect. The braking system is chain activated throughout and this detail has been faithfully replicated by MiniArt; I was initially concerned about this aspect but the chain link is quite large gauge wise and so done to good effect here. I had considered replacing this with real chain, but having seen this in the flesh now so to speak I no longer feel that is necessary and it will not be seen anyway. I thought the braking would be of an electrical nature but judging by the large tank present on the underside and that the chain activates two pistons I now believe it is hydraulic in nature or possibly compressed air. The underside really is beautifully replicated and it is a real shame I cannot think of a way to show this detail off to a viewer.
The body of the tram has been tackled as mirrored halves in some respects and this is a big plus in my books as I know a number of modellers have cut previous tram offerings in half and used them in different settings. The body work is made up of flat panels for the most part and has very nice detail moulded on both faces. The side panels do have a line of ejector pin marks along the top above the windows, but it does look as if steps have been taken to try and limit these and reduce the work required from the modeller.
The driverís section is repeated at both ends of the tram and is what I would describe as minimalistic in design. You basically get a turn wheel with a chain that is the braking handle and throttle quadrant for increasing the electrical power to the motors and so acts as a throttle. The driver does at least get somewhere to sit and of course he is in theory at least protected from the elements. One aspect here that is very good and is a very important aspect are the clear parts for the windows and lights, MiniArt has protected the clear sprues in their own plastic bag within the bag with the rest of the sprues and this has resulted in perfect presentation in this example. The clear parts are thin and so avoid the issues seen with thicker mouldings where a lens effect occurs.
The fixtures and fittings offered look good with the doors being separate parts with a good effort put into the furniture fitted to them. The seating for the passengers is a made up of wooden planking with no gaps and with a nice curve between seat and backrest. The seats run along the sides of the trams rather than across it and so create a spacious area that will need to be populated to provide the right effect. Lighting within the tram is supplied by four small bulbs running down each side of the cabin and as these are mounted on rails, small LEDís are a possibility for those looking to electrify their model. With the cabin being a very well seen area of the model due to the large amount of glazing MiniArt would appear to me to have done an excellent job of providing the interior detail.
Moving to the roof top and we are provided with destination boards at both ends of the tram and the associated lighting, these are very fine and will be harder to light up if that is desired. The electrical pickup is very fine and has a lot of connections to the sprue; this caused me concern where breakage is always an option, but I was pleased and impressed to find two pickups in the box and so a spare. The pickup is reversible as it should be and will always face away from the direction of travel. This aspect of the model is very simple compared to the other trams MiniArt has released and I like the clean lines that this detail provides.
MiniArt has provided eleven finishing options for this model that cover a number of Russian areas and cities prior to and during World War 2 or Great Patriotic War as the Russians refer to it. I do approve of having such a large number of finishing options, but I would have liked to see some options from after the war period which would have allowed for a very different look to the model, but that may be why MiniArt refer to this as an early type.
This offering from MiniArt is an exceptional presentation of a Russian tram from the period covering World War 2. The detail that MiniArt has crammed into the box is of an incredibly high standard and leaves me wishing I could display that stunning underside. We do need some figures for this offering to bring it to life and I suspect MiniArt is already thinking or working on that future aspect. When it comes to complaints there are none I can lay at MiniArtís door, but I would have liked to see the display base have the model at an angle as a wish. As regards the modeller and building this offering from MiniArt my only caution would be to take care due to the high number of finely moulded parts.