When it comes to success the T-34 line of tanks has to be considered the most successful in terms of numbers produced, how many countries have operated them and the time span over which they have been in use around the world. The success of this family has resulted in a very large number of companies offering at least one T-34 tank in their line. MiniArt has now taken the step of releasing a line of T-34/85 tanks both with and without interiors and in this case with a crew. The approach MiniArt has taken of having a large number of sprues covering specific attributes has allowed them to use a mix and match approach to the line and so helping to keep tooling costs down and thus the price to the modeller and line offered. In this review we get a look at what is offered in the Egyptian T-34/85 with crew.
MiniArt’s release of the Egyptian T-34/85 with crew is packaged in a very substantial cardboard tray with a card lid. There is a large amount of plastic inside the box packed inside a single plastic bag, once out of the bag the plastic is hard to get back in well and I have had to tackle this one sprue at a time. Also packaged as part of this offering is a large photo etched fret with some nice scale detail parts and decals for five different vehicles. The photo etched fret is protected by a card envelope which seems to be working well for MiniArt on most occasions. The figures are also packed with the tank elements.
An examination of the contents reveals only one major concern to me as a modeller and that is the very fine nature of some of the mouldings that will be difficult to remove without causing damage or breaking them. An examination of the sprues reveals no damage in this offering but the risk is there. Another area of concern is the decal sheet being packaged along with the clear sprue which could easily damage the decal sheet.
Starting with the hull you may be surprised to find the hull sides moulded separately from the floor. This approach by MiniArt has enabled a very nice level of detail to be moulded on the parts, but it does mean care is needed during construction and MiniArt has realised that. MiniArt has over come the potential issue with the firewall between the engine bay and crew compartment which enables a stable set up to be achieved with the sides and that will also help when adding the upper deck. I do suggest that the rear of the hull is ready to be utilised as a second data point and support for the hull sides. The hull machine gun is very nicely detailed inside and out which is a nice touch. The engine deck is made up of quit a few parts due to the many options being offered by MiniArt.
The suspension arms are not workable and so the kit is designed to sit on a level surface where display is concerned. The suspension arms are very nicely tackled and I cannot recall having seen better. The intake areas of the model are provided with photo etched screens that do add to the models look. The lights on this offering have good cage protection supplied which is a common feature of tanks but new on this vehicle on this vehicle inthis style.
Areas that lift the hull are the delicate nature of items such as the grab handles which are I believe the finest in terms of thickness, but this does make them easily damaged both before and after being added to the model. The tools are supplied with clamps moulded on which I do not mind due to the ease of use. The tool chest could be left open or closed with very nicely done clasps using three pieces of photo etch. Grousers for the tracks are supplied as single items and the result of this is a great level of detail. The detail extends to the fuel tanks mounted on the exterior with each element being replicated in its own right. The tow cables are not included in the model as MiniArt has provided the eyes and you supply the cable that meets your preference. I have looked at other offerings of the T-34/85’s from MiniArt and the differences are very minor in a number of cases with this example losing the tanks stowage on the rear armour plate and a different main gun. Additions cover something I have not seen before in the form of jerry cans in mounts on the lower angled plate at the rear. The tools are supplied clean and are secured with photo etch clamp detail.
MiniArt has provided two types of road and drive wheel depending on the model you are intending to finish the model as. All of the wheels have a good level of detail and I like that MiniArt has made it very clear as to which wheels are needed for which finishing option and the station on which they are mounted. This model has been provided with individual track links that have some really nice detail such as casting numbers that add that little extra touch. A note on the tracks which are glued and not workable is that you need to do a good job of the clean in order to get a decent fit.
The turret of the model is an area where you need to drill holes and no drill size is included to help the modeller. Two armour shims are provided for inside the turret that provides some of the interior wiring detail that would otherwise not be present. The raised cupola has been well tackled and I appreciate the inclusion of clear periscope lenses. With this model having aspects of the interior kits included we get some nice turret ring detail and a well detailed breech for the main gun and a good replication of the ranging machine gun. On the inner roof of the turret there is great detail representing the air exchangers including the wiring detail.
Moving to the exterior of the turret proper and there is an exceptional detail in the form of a very subtle caste texture around the turret that really is very nice and I defy anyone to have an issue with it. The grab handles are again very fine and it is indicated that some tanks had extra protection by inserting extra track links to work as add on armour. There is the typical heavy machine gun mounted on the turret roof and the size of the does make it looks a little odd. At the rear of the turret beltloops are supplied as photo etched parts along with separate photo etch belt straps. MiniArt has not tried to provide a canvas for mounting on the rear of the turret but they have suggested it, the result is the modeller is free to do what they wish in this area. Lastly the main gun is a slide moulded part and so a good level of detail is provided with a minimal amount of clean up needed.
Egyptian Armed Forces, Cairo, Summer 1956
Egyptian Armed Forces, Suez Crises, Autumn 1956
Egyptian Armed Forces, Six-Day War, Sinai, Summer 1967
Egyptian Armed Forces, 1967 - 1973
I always prefer the finished models I build to represent a specific vehicle and so I am not a fan of the ‘unidentified unit’ options and that is the only poor aspect of this offering I feel.
The stances are an unusual mix in my opinion, first the normal. We have the only figure wearing peaked cap and who I believe is the commander figure in this collection in a relaxed standing position and could be placed next to or stood on a vehicle. This figure is wearing a hooded pullover. There are either light weight trousers or coveralls and these are tucked in high leg combat boots.
The other three are wearing light weight shirts with breast pockets and light weight trousers tucked into mid calf combat boots. Each of these three figures is wearing Soviet style ribbed cloth tank helmets with built in ear pieces. All three of these figures are in stances that put the figures on or off the vehicle. You get a figure sat on the edge of a hatch with hands gripping the lid. Another is sat again and possibly in an open hatch holding an unseen either a fixed weapon or hatch cover. The third figure covered here is the odd one who is crouched with arms out stretched; which I am informed is a common seated/resting position possibly due to not showing the soles of their foot wear.
The clothing has some very nice crease detail present that the figure painters can make the most of. The detail present on the clothing is well done and while it does not specify any particular armed force it has a wide number of applications. The Soviet style tankers helmet is appropriate for a number of Arabic forces also. I am pleased to see MiniArt supply part of the wiring for the helmets as separate parts down to the plug. The helmets themselves have been provided with a centre portion and separate sides which should make adding them easier.
Looking at the faces there is a pleasing level of detail provided, but I expected to see some facial hair which is more common in Arabic countries. The hand detail is also acceptable which with careful painting will show well. My only disappointment with this offering is the surprisingly heavy seams verging on flash in some places, an aspect that is concerning to see on a new product and hopefully is a one off.
This model has been moved into a high level offering due to the finesse of a large number of parts that are included; it is also a model for the modeller who is not afraid of small parts and photo etch. Looking at the very fine casting texture on the turret and the attention to detail makes this line from MiniArt a leader I believe. When it comes to faults there are none of which I am aware, but I have some concerns and they are all related to packaging that could result in damage and a gripe as regards the finishing information. Arabic military forces and the conflicts going on in the world today and over the last30 years; I understand that these figures have been set in the 60’s and 70’sbut similar clothing is still seen today with the biggest change seen being the introduction of body armour. I like what this release offers depicts with the flash on some areas of the figures being a low point.