by: Jim Rae [ ]
It may be seen by many as becoming a touch obsessive on my part, but for too long, many figure sets have been the 'standing around doing not very much variety'. Now, all that seems to be behind us and the manufacturers are giving us a good mixture of figures in a variety of situations. Curiously enough at the beginning of 1/35th as the 'standard' scale, Tamiya were the manufacturer who made more effort than anyone else with a variety of In-Action sets. To eyes accustomed to the latest 'Styrene Miracles', they may seem pretty primitive by today's standards, but at least the effort was made! Now, we are getting a great selection of figures to suit all tastes and for all situations. Arguably, two manufacturers have forced this change - Masterbox and the company featured in THIS Review, MiniArt Ltd.
35062 - German Soldiers at Rest is a five-figure, injection-moulded set in 1/35th scale. MiniArt Ltd's set, which is moulded in light-grey styrene on two small sprues, contains just 47 parts. The subject is an area which has been dealt with previously by several of the Resin manufacturers but has rarely (if ever) been done by one of the 'mainstream' manufacturers. The subject of the set is self-explanatory, a group of German troops at rest. The set comes in the usual end-opening box with the usual excellent artwork on the front. The reverse of the box serves as the instructions and painting guide. Color references are given for Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell & Mr. Color.
As usual, Iíll go through the various aspects of the figures - Poses, Uniform Detail etc. Following on from this Iíll give a brief build-report.
Four of the figures are sculpted to portray shirt-sleeved German troops in the process of washing or cooking. The fifth figure is of a seated Officer who is enjoying a quiet moment with some 'improving' book - having requisitioned a chair. With the style of uniform portrayed, it would be easy to position these figures in almost any setting, in virtually any time period. One figure is shaving, another is pouring water from a jug for one of his companions and the fourth is cooking using and improvised stove.
The legs are well-sculpted with all the appropriate creases and, as they are two part construction, the creases follow from one half to the other. All seams, pockets etc. are present and accurate. The boots are very nicely detailed also. Once again, the sculptor has paid attention to the space between the heel and the instep - too often there isn't any definition. In the case, it's delicately done and defined.
Of the five figures, three are in shirtsleeves, one in vest and the Officer in full uniform. The shirts are very nicely done - with the braces (suspenders!) portrayed correctly, the tunic of the Officer is also well-defined. The figure in the vest is also good although there will be a need for some work on the area round the upper arms - it seems too angular to be entirely convincing.
With every new release by MiniArt, the quality of the faces and heads is improving. This set is no exception. The haircuts have got a real 1940s 'look' to them. Facial definition is good although there are a fair amount of mould lines to (carefully) remove.
If any area could do with more attention, it's probably in the area of the hands. They ARE adequate, but, in one or two cases, are a little soft in detail and definition. They also suffer from some excess flash and mould lines which, once again, requires a VERY delicate touch in cleaning-up. The separate hand holding the book on the Officer figure, is however very nicely-done - I particularly liked the fingers being splayed open. The arms are good within three of the figures, separately-moulded forearms which fit well with minimum adjustment. As I mentioned before, the bending figure WILL require some additional attention due to the rather angular space between the upper arms and the vest.
Those 'Little Extras':
The set, understandably, doesn't include the usual equipment but instead, concentrates on those items which would be necessary in this kind of setting. A shaving-mug, mirror, water jug, a saucepan and a towel to hang on the shoulders of one of the figures are all included. A nice bonus is the chair for the seated Officer. Once again, as is customary with MiniArt, the attention to small details is exemplary. This is what takes sets like this to a different level. The designer has put a lot of thought into the situation of the set.
Exactly as it says on the box. Resting soldiers snatching a few minutes to clean themselves up or grab a few minutes of R & R. Yes, the tasks are all the 'mundane' ones of everyday life - precisely for this reason the set works. The 'interaction' between the various figures also works well. Yes, two are specifically designed to complement each other, but the rest will also work in the same setting.
Enormous. There are a remarkable amount of conversion possibilities with this set - particularly with the Uniform mix. A lot of these sets will inevitably become the basis for conversions. Sometimes you can do more with a figure in shirt-sleeves than one in full combat gear!
As usual, for Review sets, I didn't spend (or have) a huge amount of time on building them so there are areas Iíll have to go back to and clean-up later. With that in mind, Iíve only built three of the figures to give a good idea of what to expect.
There are a fair amount of mould-lines on the figures and although some flash is present, it's easily cleaned up. The plastic, which is quite soft, does make for additional care to avoid 'tearing' when removing parts from the sprues. Register was good - no mould 'slippage' at all. Inevitably, there were a few gaps between the leg halves and the upper torso and thighs, but minimal and easily corrected by my usual filler - Mig Productions' Acrylic Paste. One area which requires care is attaching the heads to the torso - some sanding and dry-fitting was necessary to get a good fit with the minimum of gaps. The seat cushion is also put on backwards!
As Iíve highlighted any problems in the set in the previous section, so, I won't repeat them here. Suffice to say, that this is an absolutely excellent set which has an enormous amount of potential. The attention to small details is superlative, the attention to the larger details is excellent. One thing which, to complete this particular scene to its maximum potential will be necessary, are items such as folded tunics, personal gear such as webbing and personal weapons. Most modelers will have many of these items available - if not there are some equipment sets which could be used. It'd also be nice to see this particular idea revisited in areas such as AFV Crews, Late-War Infantry and personnel of other nationalities. A simple idea but with enormous potential for the dioramist.