In 1943 a film titles Sahara was released, starring Humphrey Bogart. In 1995 a remake if Sahara was released starring Jim Belushi, now in 2021 MiniArt has released a 1/35th scale model kit featuring the tank and crew members from the 1995 film. The storyline of the film, is that a tank crew commanded by Jim Belushi, plus a ragtag assortment of stranglers, take control of the only water source for miles around in an effort to prevent the Nazis getting to slake their thirst.
This offering from MiniArt arrives in a cardboard tray with a card lid dipicting the artwork for the model. Inside there is one plastic bag containing all of the sprues for the model, photo etch, a plastic bag containing the clear parts and decals (my pet hate) and a second bag containing the tracks, which are also packed within the first. An examination of the contents, reveals very nicely moulded parts for the tank with the figures having slightly heavy mould seams in places.
The figures provided in this release, Jim Belushi as a tank commander, with the option of two different heads one with and without a tank helmet, and I will be honest is one of the best figures as he is identifiable from the mouldings. Hand detail is interesting as one of the fingers is bent for reasons that are unclear to me, but the finger detail itself is good. We then have, what I believe to be a member of the foreign Legion, who is also provided with two heads, one bearded and one clean shaven, facial detail on these are both very good, but I cannot indentify the actor as I do not know the film well enough. The rest of the uniform as with all of the other figures is typical British Army wear, in the form of Khaki long sleeved battle dress, usually with sleeves rolled up and knee length shorts. Looking at the clothing and equipment mix provided with these figures, is pleasing with my only critque being that I would have like to see their weapons where required with weapons slings, especially as photo etch is provided for the tank. Something that needs mentioning early on in this review, is that only two finishing options are provided both for the tank named Lulubelle with the finish of wither green or tan.
This particular model of the M3 Lee, is one of the kits without an interior, but due to the number of interior kits that have been released there is a fair amount of interior detail present for those who wish to mimic parts of the interior. Construction of the model will be very difficult if it was not for the fire wall between the engine and crew compartment, and the interior part of the transmission, which provides you with secure p-arts with which to attach the other elements of the hull. Both the Lee and the Grant tended to be made with bolted or rivited armour plate, which means there are a lot of heads showing on the armoured plate. I have ni intention of counting what is provided, however, what is there is well done, and adds a pleasing texture to the finish. Photo etch is utilised in some areas of the lower hull, such as at the rear of the engine bay and of course when you start on the upper hull, the engine deck also has photo etch elements. A particularly nice touch on the engine deck, is that the tools are provided without clamp detail, meaning that they could be shown removed and in use, as the clamp detail is provided in photo etch.
The detail on the hull of the tank is visually very pleasing to me, especially as items such as fuel filler caps, are provided as separate parts and do cover a hole which could be shown as refuelling the vehicle. All hatches and access points could in theory be shown open, but due to the very limited aspect of the interior, a lot of thought would be required on the part of the modeller to hide the nakedness of the inside of the model. Looking at the storage boxes on the main deck, there is a very large ring spanner provided, and on the other what I believe to be a crank handle. In the case of the spanner, where required a securing belt is well replicated, unfortunately being a single piece of photo etch, it cannot be shown undone. Light guards are also provided as photo etch pieces which gives a nice finesse to these particular areas.
The suspension units of the vehicle are partially workable, but care will need to be taken as I believe it would be possible for the suspension and wheels to be shown in an unrealistic orientation. The wheels themselves are the vented type, with good detail at the hub, but I am a little unsure as to why photo etched shims are provided to go onto each side of the idler wheels.The tracks themselves are an aspect of the model that I really like, as you are provided with a very good jig that enables you with relative ease, providing you go light with the adhesive, with a very easily articulated track run. This in conjunction with the articulated suspension allows the vehicle to be displayed on any type of surface you wish.
The turret of the model has a very good level of detail on the exterior, but I cannot help but be a little bit disappointed with the lack of interior. So you have the very small machine gun turret mounted on the main turret, that has a reasonably detailed machine gun and ammunition storage, but the main turret itself is devoid of any useful detail, and so a figure would need to be positioned inside the machine gun turret to hide this void, and you would also need to provided something for the figure to stand on. External weaponry provides a nice, what I believe to be a 30 cal machine gun, with a photo etched sleeve mimicking the barrels vented sleeve. One thing I am confused about is that the machine gun has a drum fed ammunition belt, which I have absolutely no knowledge of and I am wondering if it relates to the film rather than realism.
This release from MiniArt in 1/35th scale, is an interesting one, due to being based on a film which is in itself a remake of a film. The inclusion of characters from that film is also an interesting inclusion, and I find myself wondering if it was maybe an attempt to attract purchases from people who have no interest in models themselves, but do have a thing about movies. Regardless of that I do like what has been provided and while I have pointed out a couple of dislikes, none of these should detract from the model itself.