Miniart Models
1/35 German City Building
Kit Number: 35506
Reviewed by  Kip Rudge, IPMS #40597

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MSRP: $45.50
Review Kits Supplied by Dragon Models USA:

The zen of the vacuum-form has some bangin' mojo. Being a teenager in the '70s, the translation of the previous sentence is pretty simple. Wow, constructing a vacuform building is lot different than other kits I've done. Well said weed hopper…

But different is not necessarily a bad thing. Let me say straight off that this is probably the most detailed building in a box I've ever seen. The vacuform pieces are very sharply molded, even wood grain is evident in the cross members. The styrene details are just as nice and provide everything needed to kit out this three-story hunk o' house.

A little planning goes a long, long way towards eliminating some of the peccadilloes in vacuform structures. As is Miniart's wont, the kit instructions don't quite jibe with the really neat tutorial on Miniart's webpage. Unfortunately, I was already well underway before I figured out they had web help. Now that I'm done, I think perhaps the web page instructions may ease construction issues somewhat.

In any event, the first step is to free the building parts from the plastic sheets. Simply score around the parts with the SHARP end of your Xacto blade and snap the plastic sheet off.

It is extremely important to sand the backs of all the parts down by about 1mm. This is about the thickness of the plastic sheet. The reason for sanding is that the 1 mm will have grave effects on alignment later in the build.

Find the largest, roughest grit sandpaper you can. Some of the pieces of this magilla are pretty big. Since the biggest sheet I could locate was only 8.5 x 11 inches, I had to glue the sheet down and essentially rotate the vacuform piece on it to sand it down evenly. The rough sanding also provides better teeth for the glue to grip.

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Rather than go into a blow-by-blow on each construction step, I think the only really different of the build is getting a grip on the vacuform aspect. Patience is a real virtue when it comes to tackling a build such as this. The kits are very well designed and will reward the patient modeler while root-canalling the guy in a hurry. My teeth know these things.

This is a little more complex vacuform structure than some in that it has a front vestibule. What that really means is more angle joints to contend with. It has been my experience that angle joints are bad. I do wish Miniart would attempt to design more kits with butt joints in place of the angle joints. But that's just my inability to cut straight and foresee trouble.

While the Miniart kit instruction would have you build all the walls as subassemblies then join the subassemblies, the website indicates to glue the interior walls together first at the angle joints, and then add the exterior wall pieces. Having just finished this kit, the web approach has merit, even though I didn't use it. If I were to start again, I would follow the web site tips.

But even though my monkey hands had some issues, the kit can be very forgiving. Basically, no matter how hard I tried to screw it up, it still came together reasonably well.

But even Miniarts artisans couldn't keep Rudgeness from happening. When the left and right outer walls were attached, I had some sizeable gaps on the interior corners. So I did what any self-respecting armor modeler would do – I covered them up. I used some Evergreen square tube to simulate interior log supports at each corner. Amazingly it worked and added some rigidity to the entire structure.

Another assembly change I would make, if given a second chance, would be to paint the interior floors and roofs before gluing them into the building shell. They were difficult to get at while painting and the really nice detail just screams for the attention.

I also added a sheet of Evergreen tile design to the bottom floor in order to provide a floor and add strength overall.

As if the building shell and well detailed interior weren't enough, Miniart include several dandy sprues of injection molded building details – gutters, shutters, windows, doors, frames, downspouts and even a street lamp. And last but not least is a small sheet of color printed material representing period posters, street numbers and even handbills. All of these allow a level of detail one doesn't get in any other structure set. I'm not even sure the big boys like Hansa include such a complete finishing provision. It's all there in one box.

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Once assembly was complete, I began painting. Finishing this kit brought out much of the fine detail that just isn't readily apparent during the build-up. I did find out later that most houses of this type in Germany have gray slate roofs, not wooden shingles.

The finished product is pretty impressive standing nearly 11 inches tall. While construction demands a new set of techniques, the resulting product can be a centerpiece in any diorama.

Another handy aspect with the vacuform building is weight. A similar sized building in plaster is guaranteed to weigh several pounds. The vacuform building, while being light in weight, is relatively sturdy to handle.

So while this kit demanded some new techniques and additional patience, it pays off handsomely. Thanks to Dragon Models USA for providing this review copy.

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