by: Alan McNeilly [ ]
MiniArt have quite an extensive range of 1/35 figures, but have only fairly recently turned their attention to British/Commonwealth Troops and Vehicles. A move that I personally am delighted to see.
The British Armored Car Crew Set is a five figure set, and if I remember correctly came out/was announced before their Dingo Mk Ib and Dingo Mk III Scout cars. The set was designed with these vehicles in mind and in fact appropriate crew come with each kit, so the option to buy the crew as a stand alone set is, I believe, a very user friendly option from MiniArt and makes good financial sense to me.
The set contains 44 parts, moulded in light grey plastic and the box art is signed A Kapawyk (Andrey Karaschuk) 2008 who I assume sculpted the figures, although that is a guess on my part. The figures are contained on 2 sprues that come sealed in a clear plastic bag. The box measures 10” by 6.5” approx which is quite large and seems the standard size use by MiniArt for their figures. Also included in the box is a small paper insert depicting the sprue parts.
Depicted on the front of the box is a nice colour image of the 5 painted figures and on the reverse is a very clear colour building and painting guide. Painting suggestions cover 8 of the more well known paint manufacturers paints, which is a nice touch.
Also noted on the build picture is that figures B and C are for Europe and figures A, D and E are for N Africa, as a general guide for new modellers. The three N African figures are contained on one sprue and the two European figures on another.
The box art depicts two of the N Africa crew with goggles but these are not provided, and the pistol holster for the European driver is of the closed, not open, type as are the holsters for the N African crew.
the European figures
Both figures are dressed in the Lightweight Denim Tank Suit, and as such could equally be used in the Italian or North West European campaigns.
The first figure I looked at depicts a standing vehicle commander, left leg and arm forward and the right arm holding a radio handset. The figure consists of 11 parts, separate legs, upper body, left and right arms, separate right hand, head, beret and ear phones, plus a Mk II pistol holster.
The head shows the face of a rather serious looking man and the beret is a separate item, I couldn’t see any type of cap badge and both items would need some clean up (see comment below). Over the top of the beret is a strap leading to the ear phones which are also separate items and need to be attached to the head.
The detail on the uniform looks very accurate to me, the uniform having nice natural folds, the correct pockets and detail being in the right place. The stance is quite attractive and designed for the Dingo Mk III, although he could equally be used as any armoured tank/armoured car commander. There are the normal seam lines that will need cleaning up and quite a bit of flash on the pistol holster, but once cleaned up this figure should give a very acceptable vehicle commander.
Around the lower waist is a 37 pattern belt on which to hang the open top pistol holster, this is given as the earlier low hanging style with the long thigh strap and leg tie. As the long thigh strap tended to catch on vehicle fittings this type of holster is more commonly seen on early tank crews, although I am sure some soldiered on throughout the war. The belt has no rear brasses, but I have been told these were sometimes removed, again to stop snagging on vehicle fittings and most probably as a Unit/Regimental SOP. With the legs being separate and the belt moulded around the lower waist the front brasses will be split and I can’t really comment on them until I join the two legs together, but detail here might be a bit weak.
The second of the European figures is the driver for the Mk III Dingo. Again dressed in a Light weight Denim Tank suit, this figure consists of 9 parts, separate lower legs, upper body, left and right arms, later style pistol holster and ammo pouch, head and beret. Again the uniform detail looks correct, everything being where it should be. A bit of clean up will be required to get rid of the flash and seams, but you should get a very useable vehicle driver.
The head and beret are separate, the face showing that of a stern looking chap wearing a moustache. Both items will need a bit of clean up and probably the addition of a cap badge. The arms are designed to hold the steering wheel of the Dingo and come with the hand moulded in place.
This time the 37 pattern belt is cast around the upper body so the front brasses are better depicted, not perfect but adequate, and again no rear buckles are present on the belt. To add to the belt you get a closed pistol holster and ammo pouch.
Overall comments on the European Figures:
The uniforms look well detailed and researched, there is quite a bit of flash on the kit parts and some detail may be lost on clean up, but should be fairly easily replaced. The postures look good to me and the uniforms have nice natural folds, so should paint up very well indeed. The figures could be used in any armoured vehicle, fit permitting, and are a welcome addition to the British Commonwealth genre. The heads are quite detailed, but you may wish to swap those out if that is your preference. The lightweight Denim Tank Suits make then much more versatile than the standard Pixie Suit.
the North Africa figures
This time a 3 figure set, again on one sprue and designed for use with the Dingo Mk Ib. That said these are very generic and useable figures and could appear, with a little alteration, anywhere from the N African Campaign and on into Italy. Either as Armoured Vehicle Crew or Infantry, these should prove very useful figures.
The first figure of this set is an Officer type who is dressed in trousers, woolly pulley, KD shirt and ammo boots. This figure consists of 13 parts, separate legs, arms and upper body, head and cap, pistol holster, small ammo pouch, binoculars, binocular case, side haversack and water bottle.
There was a wide and varied selection of uniforms worn in the desert campaign, a mix of both DB and KD styles and some home grown kit as well. The order of dress was mainly determined by the climatic conditions and what was available for issue locally, so the mix of styles was wide and varied.
This figure depicts a standing officer looking through a pair of binoculars. On the upper body he wears a lightweight V neck woolly pullover with the collar of a KD shirt in evidence. Over the pullover he wears skeleton webbing in the form of 37 pattern belt and braces. The brasses and buckles are evident on the belt, and to add to the webbing you get a closed pistol holster, small ammo pouch, binocular case, side haversack and water bottle. The pistol lanyard is also moulded down the front of the jumper, but for some reason not around the neck! The trousers are plain with no pockets making them most probably KD or privately tailored trousers, which were not uncommon. To round off the uniform he wears officer ammo boots.
The head and officers cap come as separate items, the face shows an expression of concentration and the officer cap has reasonable and acceptable detail.
The equipment on this sprue is free from flash and more cleanly moulded and only missing is the small case that held the officers' compass. The binoculars and case, side haversack and pistol holster are all quite adequate.
Working down the sprue, the second figure depicts a sitting crewman, dressed this time in more regulation KD shorts and shirt. The figure is designed to be sitting on the top of the MkIb Dingo looking into the distance, left had raised to shield his eyes from the sun and the right arm to the rear in a supporting posture. This figure consists of 9 parts, separate legs and upper body, head, beret, arms, closed pistol holster and small ammo pouch.
The upper body wears a shirt, open at the neck, with the small frontal pleat and 3 buttons. The shirt shows two nicely depicted pleated pockets and epaulettes. The style and finish of the pockets varied quite a bit, depending on manufacturer. Around the waist is a 37 pattern belt, the front brasses being fair and no buckles on the rear being shown.
The legs are clad in KD shorts and these also seem well represented, as do the hose, putties and ammo boots. The head and beret are separate items, the head having quite a gruff looking face. The arms have suitable rolled up sleeves. Equipment in the form of the closed pistol holster and small ammo pouch are quite acceptable.
The Vehicle Commander:
Dressed and equipped as per the second figure, with the exception of anklets rather than putties, this figure depicts a standing vehicle commander with his left leg slightly bent, left arm forward to rest, one assumes, on the rim of the Dingo top and his right arm resting on his hip whilst he looks back over his right shoulder. The face shows that of a young man and the beret is also separate.
Overall comments on the N Africa Figures:
These are 3 nicely depicted figures. The uniforms are quite detailed and showing nice folds and creases so should paint up very well. Like the European figures, there are seam lines and some flash to clean up, but that is pretty normal in all 1/35 plastic injection figures. Good usage could be made of this set for either tank or armoured car crew, or as infantry with minimal changes.
A very good set of figures from MiniArt. Very well detailed with good generic poses. I particularly like the order of dress for the Desert Officer, and whilst there is a bit more flash than I would have liked to see these should clean up well and provide excellent troops for your vehicles and dioramas. On the berets, the mould seam runs round the edge of the beret and you might lose the badge detail in the clean up, but this should prove to be a simple fix.
Given the cost, approximately £7.19, these represent excellent value for money and provide the modeller with a choice of armoured vehicle crews for both NWE and the MTO theatre of operations. Modellers may choose to switch out the heads for resin, but the standard of sculpting is very good, nice natural poses and good uniform detail so even with that added cost these are well worth the money.
Obviously designed for their Dingo range, these none the less have much greater deployment choices, only limited by imagination. I was delighted to see MiniArt move into the British/Commonwealth area and with planned and issued editions such as the British Tank Crew, like this set, the first plastic injection tank crew in years, British Engineers Tanks Riders and their Commonwealth Jeep crew there are certainly good things to look forward to.
Having watched their figure sets develop with interest, it is worth noting their well thought out range of poses and usability of their sets. This set is no different, having great flexibility of use. I look forward to further development for this genre, one that has for too long been greatly ignored by most manufacturers.