MiniArt made its name with a huge selection of figure that has improved greatly over the time that they have been trading. Add to this that they are the first stop for many who are looking for the odd and unusual elements for a diorama and you have a company that has come a long way during its time. MiniArt has really spread its wings in recent years catering to the 1/35th scale vehicle market and are well liked due to their habit of releasing a huge selection of specific vehicle lines in full; one of these is the Gaz truck family who released a series of trucks on a copy of the Ford AA chassis, I don’t know the history behind this action. The latest offering is a Tow Truck on the AA chassis.
This release from MiniArt arrives in the usual cardboard tray with a separate card lid, the lid has a pleasing artists perception of how the contents may look when finished. Inside the instruction booklet is loose with everything else in a single plastic bag that also holds a bag containing the clear sprue and decals and a card envelope containing the photo etched fret. My only gripe about this is the risk of damage to the decals from the clear sprue, something I have found occur on occasion. Looking over the sprues causes me no concerns beyond the care needed to remove some of the finer mouldings without causing damage. I will say that access to the parts is good.
This model is made up using a multi part chassis which has enabled MiniArt to offer a high degree of detail to the modeller on all faces, but the modeller will need to be careful to ensure that the chassis assembly remains square. I have found the easiest method was to use a cutting mat with squares drawn on it and it has not failed me yet. This area of the model is quite parts intensive with items like the ‘U’ clamps that secure some chassis elements being individual parts just like the real thing; I can hear some groaning already, but this approach does mean that exposing areas of the model does not require extra work as the company has supplied it for you to utilise. The result of all this is an extremely pleasing and accurate chassis provided you take your time as your effort will pay dividends in this area.
Also provided by MiniArt is a very nicely done engine and gearbox that only requires some wires be replicated to add that extra touch that catches the eye. following the detail back from the engine and gearbox finds a well detailed drive shaft to the rear axle and also provides what I believe is the brake linkages. The leaf spring suspension may need some extra effort during clean up and this effort is worth the while. The front suspension and steering assembly I believe means the front wheels can be orientated as desired by the modeller and this is not mentioned in the instructions. This model has some very fine photo etch and plastic assemblies that will make this difficult for the modeller without experience; a look at the tow hitch will give some idea of the effort MiniArt has made in replicating this vehicle. looking at the front the radiator has been plumbed into the engine and so I am very happy with the dirty aspects of this model in all respects.
The wheels for the truck have good detail on both faces with the tyres having been replicated using the slice moulding technique. This method does require that clean up is perfect, but results in great tread detail. By tackling the tyres in this way there is exceptional detail on the side walls covering not just the manufacturer but also the tyre size is provided. I know modellers are hard to please most of the time but that must bring a smile to your faces.
The cab of the model also holds a lot of details to please me specifically and the modellers out there as a whole. The engine fire wall has good moulded detail and with some provided parts added gives the engine pay that finishing touch that is so often missing. The controls for the truck are all connected as they should be which is another very big plus in my book. I have had a Hallelujah moment as the seat has the lived in look rather than pristine seats that look as if they have never been sat on. The glazing is well done and in the case of the front windscreen provides the option of having latched forward to let some air in. The braces for the engine cowlings is provided and the ability to show the glorious detail under the hood is catered for if desired; I really like that the cooling louvers are open on the engine cowls.
The trucks cargo bed is an option rather than a must; this is due to one option having the crane mounted directly to the chassis of the truck. I will be honest and say that this is a really tempting issue as all of the engineering detail that is usually hidden can be easily expose and I think will be very eye catching. The wooden truck bed has separate front, back and sides, and while it’s not covered I believe they can be shown folded down. MiniArt has also supplied two nice 200ltr oil drums and a hand pump for cargo. The crane would then bolt through the wooden bed and the chassis of the truck.
The crane is made from angle iron frame and arm with a geared crank set up. Extra photo etch straps are provided to brace the frame and I am pleased to see locaters provided for their attachment. The gears have good tooth detail and if it was not for two of the cogs being moulded as a single piece I think the gearing could be made to work. The only thing I cannot Locate is the locking mechanism that I believe should be present. For a final bit of bling MiniArt has supplied a very fine chain for the chain lift element of the crane and adds a very good looking finishing touch.
MiniArt has provided four finishing options for this very nice model and I like that we are offered three military and a civilian finish. The options provided are:
Sports Autoclub, Moscow, 1937-1941
Unknown Unit, Red Army, 1941-42
Unknown Wehrmacht Unit, Eastern Front, 1942-43
Unknown Wehrmacht Unit, Eastern Front, 1943-44
This offering from MiniArt of a Tow Truck AA Type in 1/35th is possibly one of the finest I have seen from them thus far. The attention to the detail in areas of the model that are usually ok and truly exceptional and with care could look stunning. The only criticism I can throw at the model is to ask that MiniArt stop packing the decals in a bag with the clear sprue. The highs of this offering are many and varied with a minor warning for those not comfortable with photo etch and small parts. For those that are comfortable with photo etch and small parts this could be a stunning result.