by: Darren Baker [ ]
Some time ago MiniArt released two versions of their European tramcar and later released two sets of figures covering crew and passengers. Recently MiniArt re-released the tramcar plus both sets of figures and the base that came with the original releases; so in effect MiniArt has released an all in one diorama where the modeller just adds paint and glue. So let’s take a look at the quality of this product since its original release back in 2013.
This offering is supplied in a deep version of the usual packaging favoured by MiniArt; a cardboard tray and separate card lid. Inside there is a single plastic bag containing the sprues for the model along with a smaller bag containing the clear parts; the parts are not tight inside the bag and so there is no risk of warping, but it does allow some movement which could cause damage; In my sample there is no obvious damage during the initial inspection and no parts have come free from the sprues. So with moulds that have some age to them now how are things holding up on the moulding front? An examination of the parts reveals that the moulds are holding up well with no large quantities of flash visible and good crisply moulded parts on the sprues, there are quite a few ejector pin marks present from the moulding process but that is expected to some extent. Looking closely at the ejector pin marks and we have a mix of very fine ones and a few that I would class as of medium depth, I have not noted any that will be particularly difficult to get at. Looking at the base which is vac formed will find a lot of raised dimples on the base from the moulding process; I have seen these sanded off but I prefer to remove them with a hobby chisel used upside down so that it doesnt dig in.
This model if you have never seen it before is beautiful and in my opinion one of the best offering MiniArt ever released when it comes to the potential for a stunning finished offering. The interior of the tram is exceptionally well replicated from the wooden benches to the detail on the floor, from the lighting to the windows and control stations. I cannot remember seeing one of these electrified but I feel it would with forward planning be possible to light this up with LEDs and feed the wires through the base to a power pack hidden inside a wooden base.
The underside of the tram has a lot of detail present that will never be seen once finished, which is a shame. The motors, chassis frame and wheels are very well done but the detail is hidden by the boards that go around the outside of the frame will I feel hide any wires you may need to hide should you add lighting to this model. It is my understanding that the underside was mostly hidden or more accurately boxed in, in-order to prevent injuries from contact with pedestrians and also to move things out of the way should something be on the rails.
On the exterior of the tram MiniArt has included some really nice details that could so easily have been missed or omitted from the kit. I am talking here about detail around the exterior doors, this filigree would be brass I suspect and is a really nice touch that will be noticed by those who look for the finer details. Moving up to the roof and the electrical pickup; this has been well replicated with my only negative thought being that I believed the electrical pickup was reversible and that does not appear to be the case here, can anyone enlighten me on this concern? The spring that keeps the pickup in contact with the electrical wire would have been nice if an actual spring had been included, with that said I am sure I could replicate that aspect if I wished. The final really nice touch on the roof in my opinion is the destination board that can be rotated for different destinations.
The base for this has been made using the vac formed method and as said this has resulted in a number of dimples that will need to be removed and I re-mention that I would suggest a modelling chisel with the blade reversed so that is does not cut into the surface. Included with the base are two ornate electrical poles for the tram and MiniArt has taken the time to explain how to add the wire, but for reasons I cannot explain they have not cover the power line from pole to pole. Included for the base to enable it to be built as the modeller desires there are drain covers, seats, poles and fencing which will add nice touches to the finish. In the back of the instruction booklet there are a a good mix of advertising banners both for the tram, billboard posters for a building and newspapers and magazines to add that quality finish.
The two figure sets offers the modeller the choice of two tramcar staff and eight passengers, I am sure that there is a mix of five female and male figures in the set will go down well in these days of sexual equality I believe. We also get five seated and five standing figures which being an uneven number tends to create a more pleasing finished result. An examination of the moulding on the figures reveals that the details are quite crisp with a small amount of flash present; most of the flash is on the waste plastic rather than the figure parts.
The male driver and female conductor have nice natural poses that will provide the setting. The uniforms look good to me but are limited as regards crease detail; I understand that this is due to the poses but will make getting a natural look to the painting difficult I feel. There are three standing passenger figures one of whom is depicted getting on the tram. The standing figures could be shown waiting to get on the tram or get off. The passenger figures are a nice mix of age groups but I would have liked to see a child in the mix.
The seated figures will be the easiest to give a life like finish to due to the really nice crease detail that is present and the undercut detail. I like the way some of the figures could be shown interacting. Two of the elderly figures could be sat having a chat. The male shown getting on the tram could be with the static looking female figure of the same age group and of course MiniArt has released other civilian figures that could bolster the numbers available. The clothing depicted on the civilian figures take you up into the 1960’s if so wished and so this product does not need to be in a war setting.
This offering from MiniArt is stunning and will offer the ability to make a great diorama straight from the box. I like that the tram and the figures offers the modeller a broad period of time that they can depict; best guess I would say it covers the 1920’s through to the 1960’s. The parts covering all aspects of this model are holding up well and for the most part free of any issues other than some very minor flash on the figures. If it comes to complaints the only one I can really make is the dimples on the vac formed base, but these should not deter you in any way from investing in this model. This great offering can be had for as little as £48.00 that is stunning value for money in my books.