by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt as a company has come a long way by listening to their potential customer base and taking steps to address what they hear when possible. MiniArt has acquired a very good name when it comes to 1/35th scale figures and offers one of the best selections available to the modeller today in that scale. Today MiniArt has a growing number of armoured vehicles in their range; these are a mix of standard and interior kits. At the current time MiniArt has provided a huge selection of T-54 tanks and is now working on the T-55 range of armoured vehicles, the Czechoslovak Production T-55 is the model I will be looking at here.
This offering from MiniArt is provided in a cardboard tray and separate card lid with the model artwork on it, this packaging is able to protect the model during storage but not during postage. The injection moulded plastic parts are packed in a single plastic bag with a huge number sprues! A clear sprue, photo etched fret and a decal sheet make up the rest not forgetting the substantial instruction booklet. When you open the box you will be confronted by the amount of contents not seen previously since a certain other company wore the crown and packed out their boxes. It is definitely a case of once out of the bags getting it back in the box is an issue.
The changes to this offering that identify it as a Czechoslovak Production T-55 are limited to some Czechoslovak storage boxes on the hull and turret, a light guard specific to Czechoslovak vehicles and by far the most notable the engine deck. This offering not being one of the interior kits sits well with me as very little of the interior can be seen when closed up unless some clever method of displaying it such as cut outs are used. This is more of a first look at the model being heavy on photographs and some highlights of the model. I like that the suspension is workable as it allows the model to be displayed correctly on any surface regardless of if it is level or undulating. The tracks are not workable, but being provided as individual track links does mean that they can be secured in the shape of your choice. The road wheels of the model have an especially good and detailed finish to them.
The framework guards that protect the lights will likely test your manual dexterity due to being made of various parts and the lights themselves will be improved y the addition of cables that are not covered in the model. The inclusion of photo etched engine grills is nice despite photo etched elements being a common inclusion in models these days and of course the armoured plates can be opened or closed to display the engine grills. There is a good amount of photo etch in this release and so those that do not feel comfortable with the use of photo etch should consider this aspect. A large number of the handles on the engine deck are supplied in photo etch, but I feel I would use these as guides and replace them with wire as being round will look better than flat in my opinion. The tubing that moves the fuel from the mudguards are very well represented and add a touch that is normally only seen in very high quality model builds; the level of detail on these elements is very impressive from a visual stance but will test your abilities.
I like that MiniArt has made good use of slide moulding as it saves a lot of work that can easily go wrong when doing things such as drilling out the muzzle of a machinegun. The main gun barrel is a single piece affair with good detail and so I see no reason to replace this with a metal offering. The cast portion of the turret has been very well done due to a very subtle cast texture having been imparted, for those who prefer a more pronounced effect you can stipple the area with an item such as Mr Surfacer and if done prior to assembly the risk of getting it where it is not wanted is reduced.
A large number of grab handles on the turret need to be added by the modeller and I know this aspect will please the super detailer while still leaving a few to be removed and replaced by them. The tow cables are not included in the kit, but MiniArt has provided the length of the cable needed for the model and loops can be attached to a cable of your choice; I personally like the cables produced by RMG Factory as they hold a shape well and have a very realistic look to them. A rather nice touch by MiniArt is that the eyes of the tow cable are secured with a pin through a photo etched bracket.
MiniArt has provided seven finishing options with this model and I am very pleased to see how diverse the options included are. Another nice aspect of this release from MiniArt is that they have supplied drawings that show both sides of the tank plus the front and rear of the tank. The finishing options have been included in the images as that enables you to make your choices.
With this release MiniArt are offering another exceptional model built straight from the box with the addition of some tow cables. For the super detailer there are a few handles that need removing and replacing as I know that many of you like to take that extra step. For the less experienced modeller this kit will test you and give you the possibility of a truly stunning model at the end. The fact that MiniArt has provided so many options for finishing the model also rates very highly with me as it allows for some interesting finishes beyond green. I appreciate that MiniArt has identified the aspects that make this specifically a Czechoslovak Production T-55 as I would otherwise be at a loss.