by: Stuart Taylor [ ]
IntroductionThe figures in this set are clothed in standard German Gray Green uniform and are posed in a relatively relaxed fashion, hence the name riders, one would presume. Upon opening the box, you are greeted with two sprues of light grey styrene and a paper insert detailing the part numbers. The kit could hardly be accused of filling the box and the instructions are found on the back of the box, though parts are not numbered on the sprue; instead, part numbers are detailed on the paper insert which tells the modeler little more than just that.
Figure posesAs usual, Miniart have included five figures in this set; four are sitting down and one is operating a vehicle. The driverís pose extends its uses outside of the artillery setting and would lend itself nicely to a tank or armored vehicle too, however, I would have preferred that the steering handles has not come cast in the hands. The articulation of the remaining figures would also compliment themselves to a variety of situations and settings, broadening their appeal to many more scenarios. The option of helmets or soft caps further extends their use, meaning that these figures, with a little modification, could be used as regular infantry or crewmen.
molding qualityI found the overall quality and detail of the kit varied from commendable to disappointing. The folds in the fabric of their clothes was highly realistic and finely rendered. Button and pocket detail is crisp and looks a joy to paint and weather. The faces, though a good attempt, are quite expressionless and on this occasion do not meet the same standards met by other manufacturers. Similar statements can be applied to the hands, which are molded separately to the arms to aid in assembly and are subject to unwanted flash, but again, after clean up, are more than acceptable. Detail cast onto the rifles is crisp and well defined, though sink marks found on the butts of the rifles could pose a problem to the perfectionist out there. The additional helmets are well proportioned as are the fabric caps, both are well delivered, even if they might end up in the spares box. On the subject of spares, you will be left wanting with this kit, as contents are kept to a minimum and little bar the figures is supplied.
Additional detailsPainting directions are provided on the back of the box alongside the part numbers. I found the layout busy, and the drawing on the poor side itís pretty un-inspiring, but it serves its purpose. A paint conversion chart is included in the painting instructions, detailing the correct colors for Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, and Mr Color brands, a feature I always welcome with kits and figures.
Alternatives to this set includes some competent attempts from both Dragon and Tamiya. The quality of the molding exceeds the Tamiya kit in my opinion, and the poses are more interesting than the Dragon offering, though the Miniart set contains the least number of figures. The Tamiya box contains seven figures in action poses with the Dragon example containing six standing figures. This lack of quantity together with the limited spares may put some modeler off.
ConclusionConsidering all of the factors highlighted, I consider this a very useful and dynamic set. Although some of the parts are below par in terms of casting, we are competing it against some very advanced offerings from the likes of Dragon and Masterbox, the same quality which was extremely rare only a few years ago. I believe the kit would lend itself more to armor or half-tracks vs. just artillery and I felt that Miniart are limiting its appeal by naming the kit ĎArtillery Crew Ridersí. I can easily see this set complimenting a German diorama or vignette in part or as the whole set. If considering this kit, I would recommend replacement heads, simply to put them closer to the standard achieved on the main body of the figures. Even so, built straight from the box, this set certainly delivers and will be a handy addition to the collection.