by: Darren Baker [ ]
As the Railways took over from the canal boats their importance increased at a high rate when it came to moving things around the country and continent of Europe. This was very much the case in Russia where its huge size required a large railway system to keep everything moving. During the Great Patriotic War both the Russians and Germans made a lot of use of rail system and both made use of what was captured from the other.
MiniArt has built up a steady supply of railway related items and the latest of these is a Soviet railway wagon ‘Teplushka’ which means heat in English. Something that does need to be remembered when tackling railway wagons is that the line gauge of railways in Europe varied and MiniArt has tackled that for the modeller in a clever way. So we have a crew transport wagon from MiniArt with a heater in place; I would say all mod cons but this is Russian in design when comfort was not a priority.
This offering from MiniArt is supplied in a cardboard tray with a card lid and so is reasonably robust, but the postage system will take its toll if no further protection is used. Inside there is a single plastic bag that fills the box very nicely and prevents movement which reduces the risk of damage to the model parts. The photo etch for this offering is protected in a card envelope which I feel is an excellent step by MiniArt that they have been using for some time now. The decal sheet in this offering is quite large and I have opted to protect in the instruction booklet. I would normally complain about the sprues being in the same bag, but these are not so tightly packed as to cause warping or the like. So other than lid which could be more robust I am happy modeller so far.
Looking at the contents I have not seen anything that really concerns me here. The parts are well moulded and free of defections that I could find. There are some flow lines present in the mouldings, but these do not look or feel to have caused imperfections in the finish. Ejector pin marks have to be looked for and what I found are on hidden areas and so no to be worried about. There are some very finely moulded parts that cause me some concern when it comes to removal from the sprue, but nothing beyond that. I am also aware that some people still complain about the plastic quality control as in how it acts when sanding and cutting, but I have not had any issues with MiniArt’s plastic in some time.
The chassis of the wagon was my first starting point and I am pleased with what I have found. The quality of the detail on the mouldings is very pleasing, but this level of detail comes at a cost: the whole frame is made up of individual elements and so it is possible to end up with a frame that is not square. On the plus side there is a sub-assembly that sits in the middle of the chassis that should enable the chassis to be squarely built without too much risk. The result of all this is a great amount of detail that will for the most part be hidden from view. The wheels of the wagon have been tackled very cleverly by MiniArt to enable the wagon to be shown on a Russian or European gauge rail line; MiniArt has lugs on the axles that set the distance between the wheels and clear guidance is provided as to what to remove depending on your choices.
The cabin of the wagon is an all wooden construction and this is perhaps the most appealing aspect to the model. The wooden planking detail has a great level of detail from the subtle wooden texture through to the nailing detail present. MiniArt has put in a huge amount of effort to replicate the detail to the best of their ability at this time in my opinion. The bunk system that enables the troops in the wagon are well thought through in model terms and does show how Soviet commandeers could get the maximum number of troops in to as small a space as possible. In the centre of the floor space is a heater/cooker that enabled the troops to have hot foot and kept them warm; rather important in a Russian Winter. I do like that MiniArt provided a metal plate for the heater/cooker to stand on which is an easy detail to miss. The roof is wooden on the inside and has the needed detail present, the outer face is I believe metal sheet and that has also been well replicated.
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 there is 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.
Four finishing options are provided with this release all covering Soviet wagons, but the wagon would have been used by the Germans if captured and these are as follows:
Sanitary Railway Carriage of Unknown Military Train, 1943 -1944
Railway carriage of Unknown Military Train 1942 – 1945
South Ural Railway, the Train Car with Demobilized Soldiers of the Red Army, 1945
South Western Railway, the Train Car with Demobilized Soldiers of the Red Army, 1945
This offering from MiniArt is a great addition to their range of rail related items. The detail is of a very high standard and when displayed with figures or vehicles in a scene it will add a great talking point and impressive size to the diorama. Some parts are very fine and so will require care during removal to avoid damage. The photo etch is not overly excessive in quantity and so not something to be afraid of. A final really pleasing addition is at the front of the instruction booklet there are a good number of patriotic posters for use with the wagon or in the spares box.