Miniart Models
1/35 Sevastopol 1941
Kit Number: 36005
Reviewed by  Kip Rudge, IPMS #40597

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MSRP: $39.00
Review Kits Supplied by Dragon Models USA:

When I'm in diorama mode, I like to think of the armor modeling hobby as BV (Before Verlinden) and PV (Post Verlinden). We aren't too concerned with the BV in this review, but the PV has a direct bearing on what we're jibber-jabbering about.

For decades the world of 1/35th scale buildings was composed almost entirely of the plaster cast edifices (or is it edifi?) championed by Verlinden and a few others. These were perfect in a one-dimensional world. But as fate would have it, most modelers I know work in all three dimensions (not to mention a few I can't mention here). Sure the Verlinden buildings had nice facades (or is that faci?), but there was no interior detail and usually nothing in box save two or three walls of cracked plaster. It was up to the dioramist to make or purchase a base for the building and to try to make the interior either unnoticeable or scratch out one. The world wept.

Several years ago there began a trickle of vacuformed building kits out of Eastern Europe. They were generally hard to find and even harder to build. The plastic was flimsy and the limitations of the vacuum process made fit problematic.

Enter Miniart a couple of years ago. I first saw Miniart buildings at the Atlanta IPMS Nationals in 2005. I immediately warmed up to the idea of being able to assemble buildings with my trusty Tenax instead of white glue and toothpick pegs. To make a long story short, Miniart is using the vacuum form process to produce not only full buildings (with interior detail and extras), but also diorama/display bases with partially destroyed buildings, a street section and details such as street lamps, doors, railings, windows, gutters/downspouts. It makes my heart warm.

This offering is along those lines in that it offers all the structural features building, street section and building details but it also includes peeps! Yep, the scenery is there to show off a nice set of Miniart's Soviet Naval Troops #35043. Make no mistake; neither the figures nor the base is just a toss in. Both are worth the price of admission.

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I began the build by assembling the Naval Troops. They are an impressive piece of work. The fit on each soldier is darned near perfect. The molding is very sharp and cleanup takes only a little scraping with the Xacto blade. The parts breakdown is the traditional two arms-two legs-one torso-one head and weapons.

While the poses are only of them walking down a crumbling street, the animation of each figure is very nice and natural. For modelers with the talent, these will paint up nicely, with sharp facial detail.

The vacuform building came in four parts front/back for the facade and corner section. It really is astounding the level of detail Miniart is able to get into these kits. The detail is sharp and, at times, very subtle. Getting the parts free of the plastic sheet was simple enough. Just score around piece with a sharp blade and snap the piece out.

Next, sand the back side of the piece with a rough sandpaper (Is that a double negative?). Since the biggest piece of sandpaper I've been able to find is 8.5 x 11 inches, you'll need to work in a tight space. The idea is to rip about 1mm (or the thickness of the plastic sheet) off the back of the piece. The little bit you take off is important when aligning components later. The rough plastic left over after the sand will be valuable when joining the front and back together.

Once sanded, I always add some alignment shims around the windows and doors and any straight section on the building. I just use the scrap plastic left over from the vacuform sheets. Once these are dried, they add strength and alignment consistency. I just slide the back over the shims and press the two pieces together the shims keep the pieces from sliding or rotating.

Once the pieces are firmly together, slather (yep that's right slather) the joint with a strong adhesive. I have had good results with Tenax. The plastic reacts well to the hot glue and pretty much melts into a good strong joint.

Now it wouldn't be modeling without some drama. The drama in these vacuform kits occurs when trying to join the angle joints used for the other walls. The Miniart instructions would have you join the wall after each side is sub assembled. The Miniart website (see above) would have you join the interior corners prior to gluing the fronts to the backs. I didn't find this out until too late. As a result my corner did not match up on the exterior surface. A nice angle piece of Evergreen plastic saved my bacon, giving me a clean, plumb corner.

The last thing to do to the building itself is a pip hunt. A pip hunt? Yep, a pip hunt. The pips are small pimples left on the plastic as part of the vac process. They are all over and sometimes hard to see. But just swipe them once or twice with a sanding stick and they disappear.

After letting the building dry overnight, I applied the details. While these styrene accessories are made for Miniart buildings they can be used on virtually any manufacturer's product. The sprues are a little rough. Clean-up is needed. However Miniart provides not only the windows, but the frames as well. The door jams are included, along with the door too. Also gutters and downspouts are on the sprue, not to mention a street lamp, wrought iron for the windows and wooden shutters. Sheesh, a veritable cornucopia! Being styrene, all the accessories can be altered (we call it damaged) very easily.

Once the broken windows, frames, door and gutters were added to the building, I glued it to the base. Pardon me while I wax a little poetic about the base. Cobblestone streets are probably the reason vacuforming was invented. No more layering in street, sidewalk and curbstones. The neatest aspect of this scene is that the street is inclined and the building foundation leveled. The change in elevation really makes a difference. I hope Miniart do more of this.

Once the building was attached to the base, I used Decotex snow to texture the crumbled brick and rubble areas. Decotex can be found in most arts and crafts stores and I simply thin it with white glue and add texture to most everything.

Painting consisted of the usual black base coat, then layering in of the primary colors. The good thing about these buildings is that you can take a little artistic license. The mortar facades of the time could be many colors. I didn't worry about being too bright because I knew the heavy washes to come would mute the colors a lot.

Once everything was painted and gloss coated, I slathered (there's that word again) some heavy washes of dark brown oil paint thinned with Turpenoid. Turpenoid is a wonderful carrier that flows nicely everywhere. With the washes complete, I flat coated and dry brushed.

I have to say that this kit builds up into a nifty little diorama piece. It has loads of potential beyond the figures provided (although the Naval guys are top notch) and could also be used with a small vehicle.

Thanks to Dragon Models USA for providing this review sample.

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