Monday, March 21

Construction Review: MiniArt’s German Tank Crew (France 1940)

With the new early Panzer III’s coming from Miniart and a host of other early war Axis rarities we need some crew to populate them. MiniArt have answered their own needs with a new crew of early war tankers circa 1940. We put them together so you could see what they are really like to build in our review

MiniArt Models
Kit no# 35191
1/35th scale
This kit contains 38 parts. 
Box contains models of five figures.

I know simply by looking at their back catalogue that Miniart are not silly. They have made lots of crews for different vehicles, both civilian and military to fit the vehicles and diorama scenes they produce. They are pretty good for making something, and then making the humans to populate it. Take the tram set and tracks, the trams and then the civilians that recently came out – or take these, an early war German crew to suit their early war Panzer III and StuG’s to come.
This is not MiniArt’s first panzer crew we have already seen from them, late, mid and 1944 crews, crews at rest, crews conducting maintenance, bailing out of their tanks, there are a plethora of crews to fill your scene. This set look to be an interesting proposition with not only the Early Panzers but captured vehicles and other nations that the Germans used early in the war, they seem a good bet.
The set “German Tank Crew (France 1940)” comes in the usual all white box from Miniart. The figures are as always nicely drawn and they look like having some nice body language for a crew that could be looking on to a scene – maybe across the channel?
The rear of the box shows each of the figures in isolation and the colours in most of the major paint brands as well as the shade itself (nice) and this serves as a pretty good painting guide for these early war uniforms that were more strictly regulated than the latter war standards.
The box that says that this crew are a 1940 French theatre of operations would call for short black Panzerjacke, tall jackboots and the Black Panzer Beret (Schutzmütze) of the early war uniform.
The black Panzer wrap Panzerjacke was originally introduced by the army on November 12TH 1934, for wear by armoured vehicle personnel and was worn through-out the war with minor modifications in 1936 and 1942. Allegedly the chief of the motorized troops, Oberst Heinz Guderian came up with the coloration and design of the form fitting uniform which he based on a popular ski outfit of the time and black was chosen as the colour as it helped conceal the grease and grime commonly encountered by motorized personnel.
The uniform consisted of a specially designed wrap tunic, pants and the distinctive black Panzer beret/crash helmet which was originally the only officially sanctioned piece of headgear to be worn with that uniform. The black Panzer beret Schutzmütze consisted of a separate, removable beret fitted to an underlying, formed, protective crash helmet. On its introduction the insignia for the beret was a white oak-leaf wreath and a national tri-colour cockade excluding the national eagle. Regulations of October 1935 altered the wear of the insignia on the beret to include the national eagle.
These two iconic parts of the early war panzer troops are apparent here in this set and easily identify these soldiers as early war tankers. These figures have those two items on their person and more by the look of the artwork – let’s see if the kit is the same…
The five small sprues are in pretty good condition. However, they are not the sharpest looking figures we have seen but they are a very good base with some careful construction and maybe some filling here and there if you are not a magician.

Contents of the box – the sprues are all joined together and sealed in plastic.
There is a little bit of flash, nothing bad and some seam lines you will need to remove, especially around the face and ears to the neck. This is pretty standard and they all clean up pretty well.
Let’s take a look at the artwork of each of the figures, the sprue parts and then the built up figures next.

Figure A
This panzer crewman is seen leaning on his left side – maybe sitting on the deck of his tank, a crate or anything else he can lean and sit on. He is seen wearing the panzer beret with the regulation cotton shirt and black uniform trousers over his long boots. All early war issued items.
The sprue
This figure went together easy enough, His eyebrows were a bit heavy and I sharpened them off a bit. The detail on his soft shirt is pulled to the side as he leans over and his fingers might need a little thinning up. Time permitting however I made him up pretty well in ten minutes.

Here he is made up 

Figure B
This panzer crewman is standing there in “sugar bowl” style with his hands on his hips. He is wearing exactly the same as the former figure, with black pants over his long leather jackboots, cotton black/grey shirt and on top that panzer beret. His front foot is up resting on something – maybe a higher deck of the tank and maybe just a box – it’s your choice diorama makers. 
The sprue
 No real gaps and a soft flow of his shirt and pants as it is all pulled to the side and front, he looks pretty good to me.This figure went together pretty easily as well. In the photos below he could look like he is an Irish dancer with his leg up and his hands on his hips!

Here he is made up (de- didly didly didly didily)

Figure C
This panzer crewman looks a little like he is dancing like Fred Astaire! (I must haven watching some musicals recently) but seriously he could well be sitting in the top turret of his tank or resting between two high boxes or rails if you like. This soldier looks on while he wears his Black Panzer beret and Panzerjacke with a thick belt around his waist. He has no pistol on his waist like the box art shows but if he was in a turret you could not see that anyway. The details on the jacket with the collars and wrap especially are very nicely done for injection moulded plastic.
The sprue
The figure went together really easily with no gaps really to show. He is a thin soldier and the tight wrap of the jacket I suppose make this even more emphasized. He will fit into the smallest tank turret you could probably find. The shame is that you do not see that even the detail on the pants are also pretty good.

 Here he is made up 

Figure D
This panzer crewman is sitting down looking to the side, hands on his lap and wearing his full uniform with Panzer wrap and long black pants over his boots with the ever present padded beret on top.
The sprue
The thing that strikes me is the chubby cheeks of this soldier, he could even be eating something as his cheeks seem very full, maybe he is just a heavy set man. He is seen sitting on something – your guess on what you would sit him on is as good as mine. No gaps really with this guy, but you will have to work on thinning out his fingers a little.

 Here he is made up 

Figure E
This last of the panzer crewmen is seen sitting down again but looking to his left while he leans on that left palm which is stretched out flat. Again he wears the full uniform, panzer beret, jacke & long pants all in black.  His German eagle on his chest and square belt with round detail is mushy but there as are the death’s head badges on his collar. You can also pick out the Tie under his jacket.
The sprue
I actually think that this is the best figure in the set because the detail is clearest in those things like the badges, the folds of the uniforms and the hat which is nicely wrinkled. Again the fingers need some cleaning up and the eyebrows were thick but I like this figure.

Here he is made up 
The pictures of the kit made and put into my work stand just so you can see them resting on something rather than floating in mid-air. These figures are quite good, although I have seen better figures in injection moulding and the detail is sometimes a little soft. 
HOWEVER, I think that a good modeller could make them into a very nice looking set on one of their early war tanks. Even breaking them up could work if you have one or two light vehicles and mixing and matching. I do think that maybe these figures could also do with a little more variation of their headgear, but then again the black beret is not as prominent as this early war headgear is in moulded plastic.

A solid effort by MiniArt – I hope their newer figures continue to aim up. These will suit most people’s needs.

Thanks to MiniArt for sending these for us to review - keep an eye on the MiniArt Site or just lock in here for more info on MiniArt’s new stuff.
Here they are from the MiniArt site all painted up...
 As well as all put together showing you what they will look like on an early war tank in a few different scenarios...