|1/35 German Street (Diorama)|
|Kit Number: 36037|
|Reviewed by Ben Guenther, IPMS# 20101|
Several weeks ago a knock on the front door was the postman with a large package for me. At first I wasnít sure what it was but soon realized that it was my review. Now I had signed up for what was stated as a "German Street Diorama" and had envisioned a modest size model, well that needed some adjusting as when I opened the container the kit was a hefty size at 15" x 11" x 4.5".
MiniArt Models has been providing dioramas, building and figures/small vehicles for modelers and in this case the kit provides three damaged building with a partial street in front, all within an area that measures 17.875" in length, 6.750" in width and 11.750" in height. The base and buildings are on 13 vacuum formed sheets with details (windows, frames, doors, lights, etcÖ) provided on eight injected molded sprues for a total part count of 298 pieces. This kit # 36037 is actually the combination of kits #36036 and kit #36038. DragonUSA is the distributor of MiniArt in North America and has as a bonus included a figure set with this kit; in this case it is Dragonís Kampfgruppe Von Luck Normandy 1944 #6243. This review will only be of the MiniArt kit.
I would strongly recommend you go to the MiniArt Models website and on the left side click on the assembly guide. It will be a great source of pictures and videos to show you how to fabricate one of their models. The first thing I did was to take my utility knife or box cutter and score (cut) along the edges of the items I wanted to remove from the sheets, making sure you have some thick cardboard or plywood underneath. (See photo) After all the parts were cut out, I used plastic nippers to trim to the part edges. Save the large pieces from the vacuum formed sheets that are scraps; you will use them soon. The next step is to sand the .060" plastic on the partís backside. I taped down an 8" x 11" sheet of 150 grit sandpaper onto my table saw top as itís nice and flat. If you donít have that then go to a hardware store or a glass store and buy a 12" X 12" pane of ľ" glass with the edges smoothed. You can use that to attach the sandpaper to as the surface will be flat. With a steady pressure, rotate the plastic part on the sandpaper wearing away the plastic thickness, stopping several times to check on your progress. (See Photo) I would say I spent about 4 Ĺ - 5 hours on prep, but once done the parts can be treated like any injected plastic parts.
The buildings are made of front and rear halves. To strengthen the edges and made a stronger joint I took the scrap plastic and cut it into long strips and glued that to one half of the building outer edge. (See Photo) When all the lips were glued on I glued the building halves together. At a later time, the window jambs will hide the joints inside of the windows. Follow the instruction sheet for the remainder. (One note, I did not glue in the windows, doors, down spout or lights till after final assembly and painting had been done, as they would be in the way.) Then I glued the two bases together and filled the bottom with plaster to make a solid, strong base. After letting this dry for several days I glued the one base to a piece of ľ" plywood with vinyl adhesive only to find out later that the plywood was too thin and had started to bow. To correct this I then glued and screwed the base/plywood to a piece of ĺ" pine board that so far has remained flat.
I gave the base and buildings a nice coat of grey primer from a Krylon rattle can, and then used lacquer paints to finish the interior and exterior. Enamel paints were used to pick out different colors in the brick, stone and roof shingles. At this point some of the colors were glossy and some flat, so to unify the finish and seal the paint I sprayed everything with a coat of clear flat lacquer. The choice of colors is entirely up to you; you can use the box top as a guide or go to the MiniArt website and click on the painting guide for tips. While MiniArt recommends oils to weather the model, I prefer to work with acrylics. I use various brands of hobby/craft acrylic paints to make up a dusty tan shade, and I use a stiff bristle brush to completely cover the front surface and work the color into all cracks/low spots. Then, with a slightly damp T-shirt rag, I wipe off the excess, repeating this process on the rear and sides of the building. After everything (including the base) has been coated and Iím happy, I can come back and use washes on specific areas to bring out details.
I used 5 minute epoxy to glue the Konrad (left side) building to itís half of the center building, likewise doing the same on the Casthof Kaiser (right side) building. I used a straight edge and clamps to maintain alignment of these pieces while the epoxy cured. Next I used some more 5 minute epoxy to bond the buildings to the base which is clearly marked for their location. Small amounts of cat litter were used with white glue to create rubble around the buildingís base front and back. This was also extended into the streets just enough to create some visual interest. If I had a particular vehicle or a diorama in mind, more rubble would be needed, but at this time I just wanted the minimum. The doors and windows were cut off the sprues, cleaned up and painted with a white primer (the doors were painted brown), then acrylic paint was used to weather these parts as the buildings were done. Some window frames were bent or cut to represent the effects of blast damage and these were glued to the window frames. I assembled and painted the downspout system installing it on the three story building. The final touch was to assemble, paint and install the lights and their brackets. Thin pieces of clear plastic were cut and glued into the light panels to create the broken glass look. If you want this can also be done to the windows. To hide the wood under the base I went to Home Depot and bought some white vinyl trim, 1 3/16" x 3/8", to frame out the base. White vinyl is easy to work with, looks good and if your miter joints are less than perfect they can be filled with white caulking to hide the errors.
It was work putting this diorama together, you have to handle vacuum formed pieces, assemble all the components and clean up about seven feet of joints to make this diorama. Is it worth it? Well, if you tried to find a resin/plaster diorama this size it would cost you more than double this kitís cost, you would have little to assemble but the painting/finishing time would be the same for both. Also if you had to buy it and have it shipped to you the postage would much greater due to the weight of the resin/plaster. In addition, you can easily make changes to the MiniArt model with all the extra items that are on the sprues. I would say yes. You have to take some time but you gain experience and the satisfaction of a job well done, plus you may be temped to try another MiniArt kit in the future.
I can recommend this model to any armor modeler who would want a large German street scene, the size can easily support a King Tiger or Jadgtiger plus have room left over for more items.
I want to thank IPMS/USA and MiniArt Models for the opportunity to review this model.