Wednesday, October 3

MiniArt Kit no: 35107 - 1/35th German staff car type 170V Cabriolet B Review

MiniArt has sent us the new kit of their new (Mercedes) Type 170V Cabrio Saloon in 1/3th scale so we thought we would review it for you and you can maybe measure it up against the competition of soft-skin Mercedes 170’s on the market....
 Kit no: 35107
Grey styrene (12 small sprues) Clear (1) and a Photo Etch sheet.
Available from: MiniArt’sDistributors.

The recent realization of model companies of the diminished returns from so many types of the same type of armoured vehicles being produced brings model companies into diversifying and making kits with new subjects - this is a winner of a situation for modellers as now they can chose from a plethora of new softskins released onto the market – German kits being the most popular in this genre a good German staff car is high on the priority list.

On our desk then arrives a large white/green and red box with an attractive German camouflaged Mercedes 170V cabriolet.  This is called simply a “German staff car type 170V Cabriolet B” No doubt the vehicle’s make is omitted to avoid licence rights as others like Dragon have done with their (Opel) Blitz trucks I say good on MiniArt – as long as the savings are passed on I don't see why Mercedes should get a piece of my model kit!
The kit comes on twelve small sprues of medium grey plastic along with one small sheet of Photo etched brass for the smaller and thinner parts like the radiator mesh and lastly one small sheet of decals – but more on all of that later – let’s look at the box contents first, stating with some instruction grabs...
and the sprues on offer in overview..

Coming on a glossy two page cover in full printed colour the colours of the vehicles are shown here in profiles and front and rear views of each car. This is good because some of the markings of these vehicles are placed on the front mudguard and sometimes the rear. It is good to have both views here to make sure of it.

 The colours of the vehicles are shown in the profiles and the exact colour matches are shown in several brands of model paint - Vallejo, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Mr. Color so I think most modellers will have their match here without having to go to a conversion chart. Nice work to show all angles on these - it saves some bother trying to find the individual car in history.

The instructions themselves come on black and white paper on four double sided pages inside the coloured cover pages – these can be separated conveniently from the colour shots and sprue layout so you can study them at the same time as each other. 

The diagrams are quite easy to follow, uncluttered and simply show the pictures of the kit and the sprue letters and numbers. The instructions start at the complicated engine and undersides then on to the chassis, fuel tanks, seats and the sandwich type wheels and then on to the body shell. These directions are simple and insightful I am liking this kit already – let’s talk about the plastic.

The grey plastic is relatively flash free although there are some seam lines on parts like the chassis and the soft fabric (made from plastic of course) hood which take a simple bit of knife work to remove. The smaller parts are without detritus and are finely replicated. There are several small parts especially in the engine and chassis of the vehicle which are tiny (some might say fiddly) but it depends on whether you like good detail in your kit – I tend to think the parts give better detail than their direct competitor in the market.

Areas like the coiled springs of the vehicle are really very impressive; where the leaved springs have seams running down their flat edges that need to be removed the rest of the chassis, although not going to be seen by many people, are really well replicated here down to the finest detail that leaves older soft-skin kits like the industry standard kits from Tamiya in their dust.

The wheels are the sandwich together type – I used to hate these with a passion but now understand how to glue them together really easily.

 All you have to do is clamp them together without glue and then add copious amounts of very thin liquid glue like the Tamiya stuff that uses capillary action to let the glue flow right through the tyres and let them glue together really easily – these are much better than the rubber tyres once you use this technique. The details of the writing on these tyres is clearly visible and they sit inside little notches which lock them in place so you are never out of alignment.

The shell of the vehicle itself comes in a little cardboard box which is a great idea to keep this thinly moulded outside frame in one piece. The bodywork is well moulded and a flawless finish should come from the smooth plastic but there are two very small sink marks in the upper rear of the flanks of the wheel arches, these are only recognisable if you look for them like I did – I first noticed these on the MasterBox kit of the same vehicle and they are here as well. Here they are so tiny you will not see them without searching for them so pretty much ignore them without a worry and no one else will see them either.
 The doors can be posed open or closed as can the bonnet of the car. This is excellent for the access of the people you will adorn the kit with in your diorama. Impressive and a step beyond the competition again is the pockets inside the doors of the vehicle and the door furniture.
The dash board is a great representation of the real thing and several small parts detail up with switches and knobs. Whilst no decals are representing the dials on the dashboard there is some raised pips there to paint. The steering wheel is beautiful and you can see the silver spokes that make the circle attach to the hub. The other controls are here as well in tiny detail, the gear shift and the three tiny pedals are there and easy to put on if you follow the instructions that helpfully highlight when to put them on.


 The engine bay opens up both sides and you can position the hood at any conceivable angle the original might have been put in. There is one shape petrol tank which is the earlier shaped version mainly used on civilian cars but nothing is absolute with cars of this day and many military vehicles did used the smaller fuel tank. Very delicate engine toggles keep the hood down and the front and rear bumper are nicely shaped – although with a little seam to remove.

 The hood can be posed open or closed which it is great to be able to choose – the hard structure of the cabriolet roof looks pretty rigid whilst the folded back version looks REALLY good. There is some cleaning up to do but the result would be really worthwhile. I propose you go topless!

 On this version which can be displayed as a civilian version with a luggage rack on the rear boot with a three pointed (Mercedes) emblem clearly standing out. This is a great bit of added detail which set this car apart from other 170V kits out there. The suitcases have photo etched straps to go around them – but here we are talking about that already – let’s look more at the Photo Etched sheet.
The single small sheet comes covered in plastic so you can remove your parts without losing them to the carpet monster. Parts for the metal on the steering wheel, the frames of the hood, some parts for the undercarriage and the dash board are there as well as the straps we mentioned earlier – most impressive is the radiator grille.
This grill is will look great painted and again leaves the competition in it’s wake as this is the only kit that has it as standard in the box. Well painted this grille will greatly improve an area everyone will look at.
Regular headlights and the German vehicle NOTEK headlights are provided as well as rear blinkers and the smaller parts like rearview mirrors and licence plates look impressive

There is a sheet of transparencies which sit in the frames of the windscreen and the rear hood. The side windows sit on lugs inside the doors and the only thing I would change here is the ability to pose the windows wound down easily. The clear parts are thin and without any inconsistencies.
Decals provided are printed by a company called Begemot and look pretty clearly printed and strong in colour. The whites are bright here and the decals look good to me. 
There are five version of the vehicle included in the instructions and the decals –
1 Unknown unit – Eastern front
2 a Beautiful civilian vehicle from the 40’s in Germany as a civilian car
3 An unknown Wehrmacht car from France in 1940
4 A Luftwaffe Car from France (Paris) 1942
5 A Luftwaffe three tone camoed version from the eastern front in 1944
The colour schemes are here – from many of the different services  these will be popular with diorama guys from all walks of life.

That is all I need to show you about this kit – it is clearly more detailed than the competition and also a little more complicated to make. This can be a drawback to some who want a simple build. If you want a simple build you can stay with some of the older Tamiya softskins – that in my opinion everyone has seen and made these kits and unfortunately they really haven’t shifted with the times.

This kit – although fiddly at times will be well worth the fiddle as the detail is second to none and I think this is the best 170V kit in the market right now.

Thanks to MiniArt for this kit to review