by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to modellers who like to display their work in a vignette or diorama I suspect most have MiniArt sets in the stash ready for adding those touches that finish a model display. The reason I say this is that I feel and believe that no injection moulded plastic manufacturer has done more for the modeller than MiniArt. A couple of recent releases from MiniArt sees all that WW2 late Soviet armour being used for a ride to the front with the release of Soviet Infantry Tank Riders set 1 & 2
These offerings from MiniArt are provided in the typical end opening card boxes and I wish that as some others have started to do that MiniArt would switch to the tray with separate lid as used in their larger models; my reasoning for this is that I feel it offers better protection and the modeller can keep work in progress and finished figures safely in the box for when required. Inside each of the cartons you find a single bag containing the sprues for the set.
MiniArt is one of a very few companies that I consider produces the best injection moulded plastic figures and some interesting mixes within those releases. A look at mouldings offered here results in a positive impression as the mouldings are fairly crisp and cleanly moulded. Some areas of sprues do look a little glossy and so will I feel need to be washed before letting the paint near them. There are mould seams present to various degrees from nearly invisible to what I consider a standard or expected level.
These two offering from MiniArt provide eight Soviet infantry in what I consider as pleasing poses. The uniform represents the warmer weather style and late war helmets; the earlier style of helmet is included but I feel totally unsuitable for these figures. The ‘V’ shaped reinforcement panel on the knees of the uniforms can be seen in some cases and I can see that it has been attempted in all case, but this feature will need to be improved on most of figures by the modeller. Seven of the figures are wearing the distinctive boots seen on troops with the remaining one having the low boots and puttees present.
All of the troops are wearing the shirt introduced later in the war which is most easy identified by a collar that does not fold over. The crease detail present on all uniform elements has been well tackled with a natural and realistic look to them. Equipment worn by the troops is a mix of items such as the Veschmeshok (Also called "Sidr" in Russian Army slang) is a backpack similar to the myeshok at first glance, this however has a pocket on the rear and the straps are in a different configuration. Ponchos wrapped around some of the figures and often use as tent panels. All of the figures except one are provided with BN-PM gas mask bags.
The presentation of these figures indicates that they are assault infantry due to all but one being equipped with automatic weapons. One set offers automatic weapons only and the other while having a rifle included there are enough automatic weapons for every figure.
The facial features are good in these sets, but I have a critique and that is that the set clearly indicates some Eurasians in the mix as indeed that are within the huge area that makes up Russia at that time and this has not been replicated in the model. In all other respects the facial features are good for plastic. The hands have good finger detail which will need a little surgery on them or the kit they are being mounted on to replicate the artwork on the boxes.
The weapons offered are:
6 x PPSh41 machine guns
4 x drum magazines for the PPSh41 machine gun
4 x banana magazines for the PPSh41 machine guns
4 x drum magazines in ammo pouch
4 x 3 banana magazines in ammo pouch
2 x PPS43 submachine guns
2 x straight magazines for PPS43
2 x 3 magazines in ammo pouch
2 x Mosin 91/30
1 x Mosin M38
1 x sniper scope
6 x 2 rifle ammunition pouches
2 x Mosin 91/30 bayonets (both bent in my examples)
In set 1 there is also a mix of pistols both in and free of holsters plus open and closed flare pistols.
Equipment wise you are spoilt for choice by MiniArt as there is a good number of choices and plenty of it. You have:
10 x entrenchment tools in canvas webbing attachment
2 x entrenchment tool
12 x canteens which would be aluminium at the stage of the war these figures are suitable for
4 x cups which are always a handy item for the modeller
6 x unidentified pouch
6 x spoons
4 x RGD 43 anti tank grenades
4 x RGD 33 stick grenades
4 x F 1 grenades
2 x RPG 40 anti tank grenades
2 time RG 42 grenades
2 x bread bags
These two figure sets from MiniArt are great offerings that I cannot recommend highly enough for anyone who likes to depict figures on their armour models; some of these figures could be depicted as checking out destroyed armour which will make for an interesting story line in a diorama. The moulding quality meets my expectations but some of the straps will need a little work as will the ‘V’ shaped reinforcement on the knees. The weapons are a nice selection even if I would not use the rifles, but with a small amount of work on the muzzles and some scratch work slings they will look great for plastic. As with all model kits the result is only as good as the modeller working on it, but you need a good starting point which I feel these figures offer.