|1/35 Farmhouse with Diorama Base|
|Kit Number: 36018|
|Reviewed by Perry Downen, IPMS# 44000|
Manufacturer Website: www.miniart-models.com
Distributor Website: www.dragonmodelsusa.com
I would like to thank Dragon Models USA and MiniArt for submitting this item to IPMS for review and IPMS for allowing me to review it.
MiniArt produces a number of buildings, building accessories, and dioramas. Kit number 36018 is a recent issue in their Diorama Series. It combines two previously issued kits - the Village Diorama Base (kit 36015) and the European Farmhouse (kit 36017). MiniArt cleverly designed these two kits so their bases and walls match thereby facilitating the joining of the smaller kits into a new and larger kit.
The kit comes in a 13-1/2" X 9-1/2" X 2-3/4" cellophane wrapped box. The box top has a high gloss finish with an actual color photograph of the finished kit on the front and several more photographs on the sides of the lid. These pictures come in handy during painting. Upon opening the box, I found six gray sheets of vacuum formed parts, and two large gray sprues of building accessories. Not all of the accessories are used. The kit contains approximately 163 parts of which approximately 33 are vacuum formed parts. The injection-molded parts have light seam lines and the ejector pin marks are slight and/or well hidden. The detail for both the vacuum formed parts and the injection-molded parts is quite good.
As a bonus, Dragon has added the Panzergrenadiers, Panzer Leher Division (DRA6111), a five-figure set. In addition, four sprues of various small arms and personal equipment are available for the figures. These have the appearance of coming from other Dragon kits. In all, there is enough armament and equipment to outfit an entire squad and the extras will be a welcome addition to the spares box. These figures exhibit the typical Dragon good detail and clean moldings.
There are two sets of instructions. One set is for the construction and assembly of the diorama and the other set is for the figures. There are no decals or photo-etched parts.
The instructions for the diorama are on a single tri-folded sheet of paper. The assembly steps are depicted in the exploded view format and are clearly and well marked. The construction sequence contains 30 steps. None of the vacuum formed parts are numbered. This is not a problem since all the parts are simple and their assemblies are intuitively obvious.
Cutting the vacuum formed parts from the sheet with a hobby knife is easy enough. However, significant clean up and filling along the join lines is required.
The few injection-molded parts go together trouble free and fit the vacuum formed parts without a problem. The kit did not include any material for the windowpanes. I added a piece of cellophane from the packaging to the backside of the window frames in order to help hide the lack of depth in the windows.
I deviated from the printed construction sequence just a bit. Rather than attaching the walls to the house front and then attaching this assembly to the base, I attached the house front to the base and then attached the walls to the house and base. I believe I achieved a better interface with all parts. The two major structures, house front/gate and shed/wall, match quite well.
To join the two structures together as one, I cut a piece of pegboard (any thin rigid material will do) 20.25" X 8.15" and glued the base of each to it. This step is not identified in the instructions, but is almost a necessity if this is to be done successfully. The joined edges of the two bases do not line up perfectly due to the uneven character of the ground. I applied some filler, painted as needed, and achieved an acceptable joint.
There are no painting instructions or color callouts. I used the box top picture as a guide in addition to some freelancing. I painted each structure separately before placing them on their bases. A dark wash made the stonework stand out nicely. The box top picture shows two trees and some ground cover, but these are not in the kit. However, I added some ground cover of the type found in the model train section of your local hobby shop.
The figures' instructions are on a single sheet and are in color. The figures are depicted as complete with front and back views provided. There are part number callouts and these correspond to numbers on the sprues.
Gunze paint callouts are provided, but no color legend is given for the callouts. You will have to go to the Internet or another kit to determine the correct colors to which the callouts are referring. I used Agustin Saiz's Deutsche Soldaten as my reference in painting the uniforms and equipment.
The body parts for each figure go together with no problems. The detail molding on these figures is excellent in spite of the fact that some minimal cleanup is necessary for every part.
This kit provides enough armament and personal gear that these solders can be configured for various missions. As such, they can be heavily armed and loaded down with equipment or unarmed and leisurely standing around. I gave every figure a weapon, but only lightly loaded the equipment. The weapons' detail is excellent, but I added slings on the weapons using lead foil.
One area of additional work for my build was to drill out the location for placing the "potato masher" hand grenade in one of the figures. Another slight problem was to remove and reposition the soldier's hand holding the Mauser so as not to interfere with his leg.
There are two observations that I made when I looked at the finished model. The first is the juxtaposition of the two main structures is a little awkward. Viewed from one side I see the front of the house and the back wall of the sheds. When viewed from the other side, I see the back of the house and the front of the sheds. In building a diorama, one must utilize either the house or the sheds for the primary focus. However, by not restricting the scene to wartime, it may be easier to incorporate both.
The second observation is that the small archway limits the vehicles that can be used in a diorama. Only smaller vehicle can be used and they must be posed outside the gate or they would be lost behind the shed wall. Here again, I'm thinking basically of a wartime scene. I see no reason the two structures in this kit cannot be built and used as separate models.
This kit was a little different from what I normally build. Nonetheless, it was easy enough regardless of the poor painting instructions. The excellent building and painting guides I found on the MiniArt web site were a big help. Aside from the clean up and seam filling, I had no problems during construction. This is an easy kit to build and paint and I recommend it to modelers of all skill levels.
Again, I would like to thank Dragon Models USA and MiniArt for providing this kit and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.