Industrial Building Sections - Module Design

Published: July 5th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: John Ratzenberger - IPMS# 40196
Scale: 1/35
Company: MiniArt
Price: $23.50
Product / Stock #: 35546
Product provided by: HobbyTerra

I don't do dioramas -- it's the lack of the creative and artistic genes. But having seen other reviews of these MiniArt diorama kits, I had to see one for myself.

The very first thing I did is go to the MiniArt website and go through both the Assembly Guide and the Painting Guide. The Assembly Guide is excellent even if you are familiar with vac-form kits as there are some differences from, say, an aircraft vac-form, mostly due to the corners and molding practices. And the Painting Guide pretty much shows even the least artistic of us how to get good effects with paints, primarily oils. You can do the quick tour by just reading the captions and looking at the still pictures, or you can also watch videos accompanying most all steps.

The Kit

Vac-form wall parts

This kit is one of dozens of street scenes, buildings, and accessories released by MiniArt. You can put all sorts of things together to make whatever European scene you might like, whether small or big. This Industrial Building Sections kit adds some modularity to all that as you can further combine kits and pieces to create whatever structure you might like. Unlike some in the series, this is an undamaged building and while it has an interior, it has no details such as floors, stairs, etc. I guess, if you don't let folks look inside, you might be able to double your exterior wall space by putting some card backing on as a pseudo interior.

I'm not sure how big it could be when done, but it is huge!!! There are 132 pieces in this kit. The box art shows the wall sections that come with it -- a big entry door wall, two window walls, a smaller office door wall, a blank wall, a roof gable, some corners, and two end pieces -- but there is more. There is a lamp post, different window styles, shutters, iron gates, and some other things. All the big pieces -- walls, corners -- are vac-form. The windows, doors, frames, gates, and all that are injection molded. The injection parts have flash and pins, but I think you can ignore a lot of the pins as they'll be inside -- depends on your scene.

Windows, doors, decoration

It's good vac-form molding -- not some of the old, home-grown stuff you see under vendor tables, but good sharp molding with consistent thickness, well-defined edges, etc. I'm not sure what the Holy Grail of vac-form is, but you can do much, much worse than this. However, take a minus one for packaging -- as you can see, about half the corners of the posts are quite damaged -- repairable, even hideable, I'm sure, but still disappointing.

Corner damage

The Build

I'm not going to tell you how to build a vac-form kit -- if you don't already know, please see the excellent MiniArt Assembly Guide. I do want to show you my vac-form sanding boards -- they have cut-up sander belts, sanding sheets, and strips in several grades. Board width is specially designed to rest on the arms of an Adirondack chair so I can sit on my deck in the sunlight, favorite beverage nearby, and sand away without filling the house with dust.

Sanding boards

This is a big kit - there are a lot of parts to trim out. The saving grace is that it's all straight lines and sharp edges -- it goes very quickly and is hard to mess up. Again, check out the MiniArt Assembly Guide for certain detail items to address, such as handling corners, cutting off the "mold artifacts", etc.

I got through cutting the vac-form pieces out easily in an afternoon. I used a pointed scriber to score the edges then break the sheet off. While MIniArt instructions talk about 2 coats of liquid glue and whatnot, I found the good ol' Mark 1 finger clamp and Tenax worked just fine and I had the wall pieces put together in no time. Another afternoon of cleaning and sanding and here they are.

Vac-form parts together

At this point, I hit a few problems -- more morale busters than insurmountable, but because I really had no need of a factory building, there went my motivation.

First, there are only enough cornice pieces for one side of the walls -- OK if you aren't going to do an interior, or you could just not use all the wall pieces and use those cornice parts. Anyway, you don't get enough cornice parts to use all the walls if you want any interior showing.

Main entry wall and door

Next is the main entry way. One would assume that a factory has a big door for material to go in and finished product to go out, but that's not what you get. You get two un-framed, un-hinged wooden inserts, one of which has nothing more than a people door; and some sanding is required to make all that fit. You do get some spare hinges so I guess you could hinge these yourself.

Office wall and door

No Dutch doors

The office wall and door are OK but if you wanted a Dutch door, you'd be out of luck without major surgery.

Last are the window walls, of which you get two. However, of all the parts given, only one set of windows will fit and those not well. On the left you can see the "correct" windows -- one in, one alongside -- but note there is over 1/16" vertical overlap that will have to be taken out to get them to fit. If you want those windows to open, you can, but you'll have to make your own cranks, latches, etc. You'll also note the shutters which are too long to be mounted on the wall -- due to the slight ledge at the bottom, so they are wasted parts.

Window walls and parts

On the right side you can see all the other options which just don't fit anywhere. Most disappointing is that the "Dutch doors" can't be used as an upper floor loading door -- you know the kind with a beam and pulley sticking out of the wall above the opening.

At this point, I figured I had gone far enough with this -- as I said, I really don't need a factory that bad, and I stopped the review without finishing the kit.

Summary

I think MiniArt stretched their reuse of parts here. The injection mold doors and windows are common to other buildings and even offered as #35002 House Accessories. This is OK, but the "Industrial Walls" just don't take good advantage of them. If you look at kits #35511 Ruined Garage, #35556 Shed with Fence, and #35558 Goods Shed, you'll see 3 examples that use the doors and windows much as I suggested above to create a proper commercial or industrial building.

I give MiniArt the highest marks for their online tutorials for assembly and painting. Their online catalogue also shows the components of each kit, so you know what you will be getting and can plan accordingly. Although I had an issue with packaging damage, the rest of the vac-form is great and really, really easy to work with.

So, recommended with the reservation that you really ought to be sure these are the parts you need and the understanding you might have to do a lot of work to achieve the desired effect. On the other hand, maybe this specific kit isn't for you, but check out the rest of the product line for something that might be.

My sincere thanks to HobbyTerra for providing this review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.

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