MiniArt has released a number of tractors used prior to, during and after World War II. They have provided them in a number of settings from Military to their primary focus civilian use. This latest offering is being used as a troop transport, I believe in a Western European setting, or possibly on the Eastern front during the Summer.
This release from MiniArt is provided in a cardboard tray with a separate card lid featuring the artwork. Upon opening the box, you will find a loose instruction booklet and a single sealed plastic bag containing all of the parts of the model. An examination of the parts reveals only one potential issue, and that is restricted to flow lines on some elements but these do not look or feel to have caused issues in the finish. The clear parts provided in this release are restricted to light lenses and a small photo etch fret contained in a card sleeve.
Tractors by their very nature are not really designed for comfort, but are designed to spend hours and hours going up and down the same field performing various tasks under load. Due to this, the look of most tractors has an industrial machine appearance to it, and that has been captured very well in this release from MiniArt. The body of the tractor consists of four main pieces to which you add smaller pieces to for detail, and this covers the cast nature of the real parts very well. There is no engine detail present to be exposed as the cowlings are not designed to be opened, and so beyond the drive sections that make up the chassis nothing else is seen.
The drive portion of the tractor has a nice diamond patterned floor with a seat that is supported by a spring and arm. Being an exposed area of the model that stands out, it is good to see that MiniArt have put some effort into the seat and the controls the operator had been provided with. The front axle of the tractor is assembled with the wheels in the forward position only. It would however, take very little effort to show the wheels in a turned orientation. The wheels of the tractor are the type we are used to seeing today and MiniArt has captured the detail well, the side walls of the rear wheels being separate pieces from the main tread area. The wheels are surprisingly fine as regards detail, and so care will be required when removing and cleaning the parts. Looking over the assembly of this model, I was very pleased to see that photo etch has not been excessively used, and where it has been used it adds to the finish of the model.
The trailer provided in this release has a multi part chassis rail system, and as such I would suggest that the wooden bed of the trailer is prepared and ready to go in order that you can locate the chassis and ensure its orientation is correct. This particular trailer is unusual as it is provided with leaf spring suspension, and that adds a visual interest to the underside of the vehicle. The wheels for the trailer are metal rims with solid rubber tyres, with the detail well represented. The front axle sits on a swivel plate, and so being articulated will add some visual interest if you were to show the vehicle in the process of turning. The sides of the trailer are all in the upright position, but the tailgate can be shown folded down or up. A nice touch here is a seat on the front of the trailer, and I do wonder whether someone will show it being pulled by horses as some point. The detail overall is very pleasing.
This release comes with eleven figures, covering German troops during WWII. The pockets on the uniforms have the fancy flaps on the pockets, and so an indicative of an early war situation rather than after supply issues started to become a problem. All of the figures are provided in a seated position, and I am particularly pleased to see they are all different in presentation, with the variation being very slight to severe. Being seated crease detail is an important part of these figures, and from what I can see it looks very good.
Detail on the uniform appears to be correct for the early period previously stated, and the eppilettes are well presented for you to add paint or decals. No rank insignia has been embossed on the arms, and the German eagle that I believe to be present on every German uniform is only partially replicated on the driver and officer. However, even here to detail is flat and a decal or the new photo etch options will be needed to greatly improve this detail, and again you will obviously have to replicate that detail on the other nine figures.
Looking at the hand detail, we get quite a variance in quality - from needing a lot of help to very good. Facial details are by and large fair to good, with one having his mouth open speaking, being of special note as tooth detail is present. Unfortunately, ear quality is not greatly represented in a lot of cases. Equipment wise we are presented with fourteen helmets with good form to them, twenty entrenchment tools, two of which are no longer their the carrying case. Ten water canteens, ten bread bags, ten sheathed bayonets, ten gas mask containers, ten mess tin sets, two mess tin sets that are in use and a hollowed out and a canteen with the cup removed, which is also hollow.
Weapons wise we have eight Kar 98’s with fair detail, four MP 40’s with separate stocks - that can be articulated in any desired position, four Luger holsters - two open, two closed and with the spare ammunition magazine holder well defined. Four pistols are provided, two which I believe is a flare pistols, and the others which I think are supposed to be Lugers - being an owner of one of these weapons the detail is not as good as I would have hoped. Ammunition pouches are provided for both the rifles and MP 40’s, and there is also what I believe to be an ammunition case for an MG34 or 42, which is not included in this release. Four unsheathed bayonets, map cases and binoculars - binoculars being slide moulded which is a nice touch.
Of all the tractor/trailer combinations released so far, this is the one I looked forward to most. The tractor and trailer themselves are as previously seen in other releases - very good. I cannot recall having seen the figures in previous releases, with the exception of the tractor driver and officer which are the same as in a previous release. I am a little disappointed that the figures have very little in the way of insignia, but with effort on the part of the modeller, I believe a pleasing result will be achievable in all cases.