Sunday, October 8

Construction Review: MiniArt's 1/35th scale Finnish Tank Crew

We have not seen much in the way of Finnish combatants during WWII in 35th sale injection moulded plastic. Miniart are one manufacturer willing to take on the more unusual choices of figures and vehicles, so it was no surprise to see them taking on the Finnish figures. We build them up in our review so you can see their worth...

Construction Review: Finnish Tank Crew
BOX: 260x162x35 mm
Kit contains 50 parts/ 5 figures.
Available from MiniArt’s Distributors

Up until recently there has been little in the way of Finnish fighting troops and especially tank men from the Second World War in 1/35th scale. Resin has filled the gap in some minimal way, but hey these figures aren't usually cheap and resin has it’s own set of unique issues. Miniart has stepped in to make their own plastic injection moulded figures that look to bridge the gap in our collections. It might even give us something to put with out captured early war Russian and German tanks used by the Fins.
I was not so sure about what the Finnish tank and AFV crews wore during WWII and the Soviet – Finnish conflict. I did a bit of looking about and found that Finnish Tank Crew pretty much had two different uniform choices, a lightweight summer uniform and a heavy woollen winter uniform. Tankers wore these black leather protective suits reminiscent of the Soviet Leather protective equipment and brown leather belts and peaked caps like the Germans did. A real match of equipment looks which makes them a little more interesting.
Finnish tankers wore these leather jackets and pants, as well as high boots alongside other tankers in a lighter weight uniform, sometimes in the same tank, so how you would and might used these tankers I suppose is up to you – here are a few more pictures of the tankers in service.
The Kit: Box & Instructions
The box art on the front cover really says “FINLAND!” to me with the big blue and white flag on the front and the tankers as they might look on the front.
The back of this box serves as both a construction and painting guide, with the parts numbers pointing to the construction and the colours of the soldier's uniforms as a helpful guide in colour illustrations. Because of the different materials, these uniforms were made from they came out in slightly different shades of grey. The summer uniform was a light-medium grey, while winter uniform was darker grey with a blue-green tint.
I would think that not that many people would know the colours of Finish tankers I would assume, so it is good to see some help here, the paints are notated in a number of different types. Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Mr Colour, Life Color as well as a generic colour type make this a comprehensive shortcut to whatever brand of paint you want to use.
This end opening box contains five small, joined together sprues. The sprue numbers are on that sheet and their instruction method is on the back of the box. So you need to refer back to that for how the five figures on the sprues are put together, however, Miniart are not without a clue, they have put these figures parts close to each other on one corner of the sprue each. This makes them an easy construction even without instructions.

The plastic:
The plastic on the sprues is well moulded with not to much flash at all. Seams in the jackets, at the waist, and arm joints where the natural separation where the joins on these figures are which is smart engineering. Each of these figures only took about ten or so minutes to put together from start to finish which is pretty good.
The five tankers are all in distinctively different poses with realistic body language. The figure's details are all pretty nicely shaped, with nothing screaming “No” at me when looking at them on the sprue. However, Let's put them together and then let’s have a look at them all separately...

We will look at them as we see them on the rear box art – A through E.

Figure A – the driver.
This man is seen with his arms up in the air, but really he is driving his AFV or tank. Now I am thinking after he is together - that he is only really suited for a tank with no interior - as his head would probably be poking out of the hatch of his tank if he was standing on the floor of the tank? 
He wears a combination of the full leather outfit with Särmä Finnish M36 leather jacket modelled directly after the M/36 tunic, which was modelled after the German model, and breaches along with a padded - soviet- style tanker's helmet. The brown leather belt and strap give the figure's colours some contrast and his large pistol holster is a separate part that sits on his rear hip.

Figure B – the man in the turret.
This tanker in sits with his hands on the sides of what is probably an AFV or large turret hatch. The eleven parts in medium grey sprues see the man wearing much the same as his comrade in the driving position.
The wrinkles of the black leather are making a pretty good show of things on this figure, the jacket looks like it is stuffed and thickly wrinkled especially at the buttons and pockets also. The thick - very thick pistol on the front hip stands out, I might think that down a little, while the tanker's padded cap sits a little better on this tanker's head.
Figure C – “The smoking man."
This "Nic-o-teen-fiend" is seen slamming down a "durry" as he looks onto the scene. More of a figure to use outside the tank than inside, he is dressed in a mix of black leather jacket and cloth, with leather padded breeches and high "Lapp boots"
These boots look pretty odd to the casual observer, however, they are just very long boots with the "shaft" folded down over them. "Lapp" boots on the left with the distinctive curled toe for engaging the cross country ski bindings and a pair of black issue boots of the Army on the right. The Lapp boots are also of Army issue but modelled after the local boots. Many Lapp boots had a large flap to fold up the leg to prevent deep snow from entering via the top of the soldier’s boots.
You can see here from the rear of the tanker, his pleated jacket's patterns. The pistol and knife holsters as well as the stitching on the rear of his lapp boots. The breeches are a mix of leather and cloth in a touch and padded pant that cavalry/tanker troops favoured. A "touch of the old days" one would think. Although the modeller will have to sharpen this man and his comrades a little with trimming and carving, there is a lot of detail is to be had in this figure. 
Figure D – The officer in the turret
This figure is seen looking very like the German soldier in this summer uniform of cloth material that mirrored the German tanker's overalls pretty closely. He comes in eleven parts of grey plastic that includes his uniform, Finnish peaked cap and his headphone "cans"
This tanker wears an overall that is punctuated at his waist by the brown leather belt. this soldier is a bit of a contrast to the others we have seen already as he is clad pretty simple in what looks to be more of a summer weight uniform, Finish cap is modelled after the German peaked M42 hats. His face, however, looks like he is in pain or something - an odd looking expression on it...

Figure E
This is the last of the figures of the set, and like the other tanker in a lighter outfit, he also looks like he is in summer uniform. Eight parts in light grey plastic make him up, he is seen in a useful pose - sitting on the side of something with his right arm up in the air. Maybe part of the vehicle he is travelling in or on?
Long, baggy overalls are a feature of this soldiers uniform that stands out  - the very baggy looking cloth on the overalls looks like it would be an easy feature to paint. His face - its just a little off - but either a replacement or some sanding here and there might polish him up a little.
This soldier wears a higher peaked cap than his comrade more like the German M43 peaked cap.

Well they are all made up now-  and here are the gang together…
These five figures are handy to have, the need for other nations of the WWII years is apparent to me and I suppose many other modellers. The fact that they fill a gap doe snot blind me to the fact that they are a little rough around the edges, however, and you will have to do a little bit more work to them than I did to make them "fighting fit"

I do like the poses, the body language and the uniforms are something different. The heads need some attention to detail, so you may want to use some ulterior heads to get the best out of these figures for your Finnish tank.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to MiniArt for sending these figures for review – you can get them from one of their distributors worldwide.