by: Jim Rae [ ]
Introduction The last year or two has seen some interesting developments in the arrival of several new figure and AFV manufacturers from both Russia and the Ukraine. It is perhaps worth mentioning, that although these kits are, in general good (and getting better) the quality remains somewhat variable. They haven't (as yet) arrived at the quality we have come to expect (demand?) from other manufacturers although one thing is a common theme - the 'basis' they provide for improvement at a VERY competitive price..
MiniArt's Figure Set MiniArt 35034 - Soviet Tank Ammo-Loading Crew is a five-figure, 1/35th scale plastic set. The 41 parts come in two small sprues which include several shells. The plastic is much softer than one may be accustomed to from other manufacturer's ranges. The box art shows five five figures and the reverse acts as both construction/painting guide. Two of the figures are bare-headed, the remainder wearing the usual (padded) tanker's helmet. All are sculpted wearing the one-piece 'coverall' which came in a variety of shades - depending on what period one is portraying
In Detail Once again, I'll be commenting on the 'specifics' of the figures (clothing creases, facial detail etc.) The review will finish with an overall and personal view of the set.
Heads: There is a notable improvement in both the sculpting and moulding of the heads. Although still a long-way from the quality one can expect in resin heads sets, these are improving with every new release, MiniArt seem to have also mastered the Soviet Tank helmet by doing one of the best from any plastic manufacturer,
Hands: The hands are not too bad, but will require a fair amount of (careful) cleaning up with the flash which exists on them.
Boots: Very nicely sculpted/moulded. Once again, good definition between heel and instep with the creasing of the boots being nicely done. My only real problem, is that ALL of the figures are wearing the high leather boots. It would have been a nice variation to have given some of them the shorter boot as a 'variation' The variation, which DOES exist, is that some figures have their coveralls inside the boots, others have them outside. This manages to avoid the too-often seen 'uniformity'
Creasing: Nice, smooth creasing on the folds of the coveralls. Too many figures have nasty angular creasing which requires careful 'smoothing-out' these are nicely done.
Subject Area: Now, just HOW many Soviet Tanker sets do we really need with coveralls? It seems at the moment that 90% of every set released at the moment covers the same subject area. A little more variation please on uniforms...
Utility: This for me, seems to be the best thing about this set. With a bit of surgery and a generous application of imagination, this set could be used for many different nationalities. After all, a coverall is a pretty 'universal' item of clothing, This perhaps is one of the best reasons to buy them. However, the 'issue' of the high boots will have to be dealt with using some sculpting ability.
Fit of Parts/Sculpting: I have little doubt that the original, sculpted masters for these figures were brilliant. However, with moulding process (and possibly the plastic used) some of the crispness has been lost. There is also some slight lack of 'alignment' between the halves of the legs, needing some filling and (possibly) re-sculpting. I also found, when I was building the two figures, that the arm socket had to be sanded flat - for some reason it's bowl shaped. As can be seen from the photos, some degree of filling is necessary - in particular the (in enviable space between the two halves of the legs, where the legs join with torso, a gap where the arms join the torso and between the neck of the head and the upper body. Nothing major or even frustrating but a little annoying.. Another, more problematic aspect, comes with joining up the creases on the 'butt' of the figure - they are simply offset.
Conclusions MiniArt would be well advised to seriously consider improving their quality control in the areas I have mentioned. So far, their figures have been good and getting better, this set has not, in my opinion, been a step forward. Also, much as I am an enthusiast of Soviet Armour and Figures, a little more imagination in the subject area would also be welcome, A competent set, but not a great one.