by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to readily available railway components in 1/35th scale few have done more for the modeller than MiniArt who now have a good selection of railway items in 1/35th scale. MiniArt have released a good amount of signals, tools, bridges and track in two gauges, now they have released two carriages to sit with the other items in the range and I would not be surprised if some new engines are in the works. I have been a fan of the track released by MiniArt as it makes for added interest in dioramas and vignettes, perhaps with a vehicle crossing it. The item I am taking a look at here is MiniArt’s offering of a Soviet Railway Flatbed 16.5 – 18 ton.
This offering from MiniArt is packed inside a cardboard tray with a card lid, the lid having all of the data on the model and an artist’s impression of the subject. Inside of this there is a single plastic bag containing all of the sprues; as most of you are aware I am not a fan of this approach due to the risk of damage or breakage. Included here is a decal sheet and a card wallet with a photo etched fret inside. The instructions are supplied in a booklet.
An examination of the contents that go into making this model revealed very little as regards concerns. I had to look very hard to find anything I could accuse of being an ejector pin mark and then it was in a hidden location. The gates between the sprues and the moulded parts are small and so should not cause any issues during the cleanup of the parts. There are a number of flow lines present on the larger mouldings, but from what I can see and feel these do not seem to have marred the parts finish. The decals are well printed and thin so they should not cause any issues.
This model can be considered in three parts, the flatbed, chassis and track and I will look at them in that breakdown starting with the chassis of the carriage. The chassis is a multipart affair and so it could become twisted, however MiniArt have avoided this problem due to the centre section being a subassembly that provided it is assembled correctly should result in everything else going together as intended. The angled parts of frame once added should make this a very rigid assembly that will make further additions an easier prospect. There are a number of ‘C’ loops that need to be added and these are quite fine mouldings that will need care to avoid damage, most likely breakage of them.
MiniArt have tackled the issue of track gauge cleverly by placing pins on the axles that you cut off depending on the gauge wished by the modeller. It is my understanding that different gauged tracks were common and trains used to be jacked up and wheel spacing altered as needed. The wheels then slide up to the pins you have opted for. If unaltered the European gauge is the setting you have. Two wheel styles have been supplied with this offering consisting of a spoke wheel design listed as early and a dish set listed as late, the spoke wheel is more visually appealing to my eye with type remaining leaving a nice item to be added to a diorama.
The Flatbed has been very well tackled by MiniArt having wood slats clearly and cleanly moulded on both faces. The sides of the flatbed also have a nice planking detail present and also with them being in two halves there is really good bolt detail there for locking them together. The sides and ends of the flatbed can be folded down on hinges, but that is a decision the modeller has to make as they are to be cemented in the chosen position. I am very impressed by the wood, iron bounding and bolt/rivet detail present in this area of the model. The buffers have a nice level of detail despite only having three parts to each one. The joints seams on the buffers will likely need some surface treatment to hide the joint. The coupler is a wonderfully done aspect of the model with good detail throughout. There is one aspect of the coupler that I would rather was not needed and that is a loop that needs to be cut in half as an alternate style of connection. You will need to obtain some chain link to finish this model and I would have preferred if it was included as other than the lengths required it is best guess as to link size.
The track for the model is supplied in the form of four lengths of rail and twenty sleepers. The sleepers are the wooden type and I am pleased to see that the wood grain is different on each of the five sleepers supplied on the sprue; I also believe that the sleepers could be turned around giving you ten different finishes. The fishplates for joining the track are separate parts and so improved from a visual aspect. 13 and halve inches of track are supplied giving you a scaled up track length of just short of 40 ft. I was initially thinking why is there no base included, but if you think it through the modeller is more likely to use this as an element of a diorama and so the track would be used on the diorama base and so I am a happy camper.
Three finishing options are provided with this release covering two Soviet and an unknown option and these are as follows:
Kovel Railway, Russia, Summer 1941
Unknown Operator 1940’s
Stalingrad Railway, Russia, 1942 - 1945
I feel that MiniArt is on a winner here as this may appeal to the railway enthusiast as well as the armour modeller who wants to add a large element to a diorama. MiniArt really has to be commended on the effort put into the detail covering the wooden planking, iron work and bolt detail that will really pop once painted and weathered/washed. I am a little surprised that both this model and the railway covered goods wagon have identical chassis detail, but I can only believe these were produced in the same factories unless someone can tell me differently. Taking everthing into consideration I feel this is another excellent addition to the rolling stock now available from MiniArt.