by: Henk Meerdink [ ]
introductionMiniArt not only continue to release interesting building subjects, they also continue to give these subjects very specific names, but don’t be fooled by that. This ‘French’ farm gate will look great in a Normandy 1944 diorama, but just as good almost anywhere else.
As the illustration shows, the gate and wall are constructed with rough quarried stone, with dressed stone edging and a dressed stone arch over the gate. The large double wooden gate has a separate small entry door, and both are detailed on both sides.
what’s in the box?The kit is packed in a sturdy, top opening cardboard box, which contains 3 sheets of vacuum formed plastic (36 individual parts, which need to be cut out), 2 sprues of injection moulded plastic parts (both are snapped in half, for space saving purposes, so there are in effect 4 separate sprues in the box), instructions, a small piece of clear acetate sheet (to add glass to the light armatures) and a gloss printed sheet with film and propaganda posters.
a closer lookThe Vacuum-form parts
Close inspection of the vacuum-formed parts that represent the stone, shows very crisp detail, with just the right amount of surface detail. This detail will really pop-up with some carefully weathering, and this kit should be a painters delight. The individual parts are well formed, but the buttress parts unfortunately have very thin bottom corners, which need extreme care to avoid damaging the outside. You can run some white (PVA) glue into these corners, or even resin if you have it, to strengthen them if you wish.
The gate, pillars and buttresses are capped with tiles. All the tiles are again well defined, with the occasional small blemish, which will not be all that noticeable after painting ad weathering. The gate tiles have very nice lath and batten detail underneath, with some very subtle surface detail.
The Injection-moulded parts
The first thing that you notice is the colour of the plastic. It’s no longer white, but a light grey. In fact, it’s the same plastic that is used for the MiniArt 1/35 figures. This is a big improvement over the earlier white plastic, which was both brittle and hard, and this grey plastic is much easier to work with. The sprues have been moulded well, with less flash present than in the earlier white plastic sets. The only tricky flash to remove (and quite some whilst we’re at it) is that in between the slats of the shutters. It removes easy enough with a slim hobby knife, it’s a tedious job however. There are also very prominent knock-out pin marks present on many parts, but apart from those inside the guttering, they are easy to remove with knife or sandpaper.
That brings us to the second observation, that all the parts on these sprues are new. New style windows, a new single door, shutters (both solid and slatted), new railings, new street lights, and all new guttering and drainpipe. Especially the guttering and drainpipe are much needed, and although not needed in this model, will find their use elsewhere.
The windows and doors are incidentally the same size as the older ones, which means that they are interchangeable. This allows you to mix and match the various styles of window and doors, which will help to create even more individual buildings. A clever touch.
Instructions and Posters
The instructions are very simple, and very clear. But because the individual parts are not numbered it is important to compare the parts to each other and the instructions, and to dry fit before gluing. The Posters are beautifully printed, on glossy paper, and comprise of 5 movie/theatre posters, 8 commercial advertisement posters (in different sizes), and 9 propaganda posters, in both from the German occupiers as well as from the French Resistance. These are as always superbly scaled down from originals, and are almost worth the price of the model themselves.
conclusionMiniArt have steadily improved the quality of their vacuum-formed kits, and the inclusion of a small piece of clear acetate for glass, and a different type of plastic for the injection moulded parts shows that MiniArt take the feedback they get on their subjects to hart. The all new injection moulded accessories add that extra touch to what are already very individual and distinct subjects. The new one piece door is good, the large wooden gate probably of limited general use, but the shutters and drainpipe are sure winners that are of use in most diorama’s.
The new plastic is a good improvement, but the increase in thin spots on the vacuum-formed corners shows that Quality Control can never be relaxed. The quality of the moulding (stone surface detail) however leaves nothing to be desired.
The posters are absolutely beautifull, and the mix of subjects means that you can use them in any scenario you can think of. The inclusion of the movie posters may seem a bit odd with the subject of a (country) farm, as do the advertisements, but they will come in handy with any other diorama.
This kit is relatively easy for a vacuum-form plastic kit, as the individual assemblies are all straight. It will be a good kit for those with no vacuum-form experience to ‘cut their teeth’, and a nice addition to a large diorama. Ahh, yes, a large diorama. MiniArt ever skimp on plastic, and their buildings (and gates) are realistically proportioned. This does however mean that you will need a larger diorama to accommodate these buildings. This gate will need at least 30cm across the front, unless you add the damaged wall sections also in a straight line, in which case you will need another 10cm.
Notwithstanding the thin corners of the buttresses, the overall quality is great, and I highly recommend this kit.
My thanks to MiniArt for this review sample.