Miniart is a Ukranian company manufacturing 1/35 injection model kits with their key focus being on diorama buildings and figure sets. Of late they have also begun producing a number of smaller diorama accessories previously only available in resin. They don’t have a high level of recognition in New Zealand, but those who have worked with their kits know them to be amongst the better ones available.
This kit is one they put out a year or so ago and comes in a medium sized lightwieght open-ended box on two smallish light grey sprues. You get five figures together with a small assortment of related accessories. The sprues have no numbering, rather a small printout is provided with location numbers corresponding to the sprues, though assembly is pretty self-explanatory.
The assembly guide is provided as a simple “what goes where” set of drawings on the rear of the box together with a painting which provides colour references for use with Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, and Mr.Colour paints. The importance of the provision of a paint reference chart can easily be overlooked but when you frequent modelling forums you will see the question asked many, many times “what ’X Brand’ paint is the right one to use to paint ‘Y Kit’ part”. So you’ll actually find this really useful.
The moulding is typical MiniArt, clean, crisp, well detailed with well defined facial features, nicely done uniform detailing and hands that actually look like hands. The suspender straps on the washing soldier are particularly well done. There’s the usual small ammount of cleanup of mould seams required but that’s unavoidable on styrene kits and there was also some minor flash on this set but nothing overly heavy, just around some finer parts. At an average of around 50mm they scale out at around 175cm/5’9″ so are of a good hieght ( on a personal note I really would like to see manufacturers providing a little variety in height and build, a nice mix of short and tall, thin and stocky people for a change ).
The five figures represent early war Heer troops, most likely infantry but they would work for artillery or rear echelon as well ( even SS really, German uniforms were pretty standard early on ). Four are enlisted men with the fifth being an officer. All five wear early style trousers, three with suspenders, and all five wear the high marching boots.
One soldier is shaving and a very nice touch is the facial expression which does really capture the look of someone shaving their cheek. He comes with a small mirror with a stand and a small shaving pot with a brush in it. One hand holds a small straight razor though owning several of these myself I felt the handle and blade were both a little too short but not something that is really that noticeable. I did feel that this kit could have gone up a notch or two with the inclusion of a small mirror sticker/decal for the mirror.
A second soldier is pouring water from a vase while a third cups his hands to catch the water. The vase is two piece so is hollow when made and the handle is moulded into the soldier’s hand ( you can make a small ammount of water to look like it’s pouring out using melted hot glue sticks or stretched clear sprue ).The soldier with the vase has a towel over his shoulder which is moulded as a separate piece, the washing soldier doesn’t have the dogtags shown on the box art but then I would have been surprised if he did.
The fourth soldier tends a pot on a fire. I’m not sure why but this figure has no suspenders ( no real biggy ) though he is pictured with them on the assembly instructions and boxart. He also gets a small spoon and in one of the better touches is wearing a wrist watch ( I have a pet peeve at how many figures with rolled up sleeves are not wearing watches ). The pot has no handle so you’ll need to make one from wire. I was surprised at that as I thought there would be one included. You’ll also need your own fire.
The officer is my favourite, the pose is just so well done and so evocative of a German Officer in his liesure time ( he makes me think of Hans Von Lucks book of his early war experiences ), sitting back, having a smoke, and reading a book. You’ll need to add your own cigarette between his fingers but other than that he is very well done and really looks the part. He also comes with a very handy chair than can be used elsewhere if you decide to use him without it.
No other personal equipment is supplied so if these were to be done in a encampment scene you would need to come up with your own weapons, loose belt equipment and helmets etc. Perhaps something Miniart could consider is a stand alone set of “loose equipment” containing piles of belt gear, folded shirts and jackets, boots, shoes and weapons etc. DML used to provide similar bits in vinyl years ago which were much valued and Verlinden also makes sets but it would be nice to see a styrene set.
In Conclusion :
Miniart really needs to be commended for this type of set because so often when it comes to making a diorama of a non-action scene all we get to chose from is figures standing around looking bored. This set gives you a well thought out and well put together little vignette which is both interesting in subject and valuable simply for having made available figures doing something that is actually interesting in itself, which is something we just never get. The old Esci/Italeri set provided similar relaxed poses but the quality was just awful whereas here the quality is very good, the faces in particular are very well done, and these go together without fault. If I had one quibble it would be the omission of the small things that would have made this just a little bit like the pot handle, a mirror sticker, the cigarette etc. These shouldn’t detract though from what is a very good and worthwhile kit, I just think they would have made a very good kit an even better one.
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