by: Darren Baker [ ]
As the Railways took over from the canal boats their importance increased at a high rate when it came to moving things around the country and continent of Europe. This was very much the case in Russia where its huge size required a large railway system to keep everything moving. During the Great Patriotic War both the Russians and Germans made a lot of use of rail system and both made use of what was captured from the other.
MiniArt has built up a steady supply of railway related items and the latest of these is a Soviet railway wagon ‘Flatbed 16.5 – 18 ton’. Something that does need to be remembered when tackling railway wagons is that the line gauge of railways in Europe varied and MiniArt has tackled that for the modeller in a clever way. So we have a flatbed wagon from MiniArt suitable for the transport of light vehicles, construction material and consumables.
This offering from MiniArt is supplied in a cardboard tray with a card lid and so is reasonably robust, but the postage system will take its toll if no further protection is used. Inside there is a single plastic bag that does not fill the box and will allow movement which could cause damage. The photo etch for this offering is protected in a card envelope which I feel is an excellent step by MiniArt that they have been using for some time now. The decal sheet in this offering is quite large and I have opted to protect in the instruction booklet. I do have concerns about the decal sheet being loose in the bag with the sprues but no damage has occurred on this occasion, with that said it will be given a new home inside the instruction booklet.
Looking at the contents I have not seen anything that really concerns me here. The parts are well moulded and free of defections that I could find. There are some flow lines present in the mouldings, but these do not look or feel to have caused imperfections in the finish. Ejector pin marks have to be looked for and what I found are on hidden areas and so no to be worried about. There are some very finely moulded parts that cause me some concern when it comes to removal from the sprue, but nothing beyond that. I am also aware that some people still complain about the plastic quality control as in how it acts when sanding and cutting, but I have not had any issues with MiniArt’s plastic in some time.
Anyone who has tackled a carriage from MiniArt will be aware of what comes next for those that don’t here goes. MiniArt uses the multi-part approach for constructing the chassis of the flat bed and this does cause the modeller to exercise some forward planning to get everything right; I urge modellers to use a cutting mat with a grid pattern on it as that will take the guess work out of the angle to set each part in. This approach has allowed a very high level of detail to be imparted on the mouldings and at the same time saving the modeller a lot of work adding this detail. The wheels of the flatbed have been tackled very cleverly by MiniArt to enable the wagon to be shown on a Russian or European gauge rail line; MiniArt has lugs on the axles that set the distance between the wheels and clear guidance is provided as to what to remove depending on your choice.
The flat bed is a made from wooden planking and this aspect has been well tackled by MiniArt, the planking is well defined and a very light wood grain texture present that will require careful painting to enable it to remain visible. The bed is supplied in two halves and there are four studs present on each bed and you need to make sure that the studs furthest apart are towards the ends of the flatbed. The shallow sides for the flatbed have been provided with the same high level of detail MiniArt has provided on the base and I am pleased to see that they can be displayed lowered or raised and for that matter a mix of.
The buffers are in two halves with joints seams on the buffers that will likely need some surface treatment to hide the joint. The coupler is a wonderfully done aspect of the model with good detail throughout. There is one aspect of the coupler that I would rather was not needed and that is a loop that needs to be cut in half as an alternate style of connection. You will need to obtain some chain link to finish this model and I would have preferred if it was included as other than the lengths required it is best guess as to link size.
The track for the model is supplied in the form of four lengths of rail and twenty sleepers. The sleepers are the wooden type and I am pleased to see that the wood grain is different on each of the five sleepers supplied on the sprue; I also believe that the sleepers could be turned around giving you ten different finishes. The fishplates for joining the track are separate parts and so improved from a visual aspect. 13 and halve inches of track are supplied giving you a scaled up track length of just short of 40 ft. I was initially thinking why there is no base included, but if you think it through the modeller is more likely to use this as an element of a diorama and so the track would be used on the diorama base and so I am a happy camper.
Eight finishing options are provided with this release all covering Eastern European operators, but the flatbeds would have been used by the Germans if captured.
This offering from MiniArt is a great addition to their range of rail related items. The detail is of a very high standard and when displayed with figures or vehicles in a scene it will add a great talking point and impressive size to the diorama. Some parts are very fine and so will require care during removal to avoid damage. The photo etch is not overly excessive in quantity and so not something to be afraid of. The only gripe I have is the need to split a part in half before using it as I have never been a fan of cutting pieces up to then put them together again, but in all other respects this is another great addition to the rail line up from MiniArt and I am sure that locomotives are not far away judging by the latest catalogue MiniArt released.