What’s in the box?
This is a tall kit, and comes in an equally large box. The building consists of only two walls, with no floors included. What it ‘lacks’ in structure is however more than compensated for with windows. A total of 4 windows, plus two ‘balcony’ type doors and two large ‘Café’ style ground floor windows give this building that quintessential French apartment block look. As usual with MiniArt some streetlights are included as are some posters and street signs/house no’s. This is a perfect kit for the beginner and advanced modeller alike. Build it from the box as a burnt out ruin or scratch build the floors, roof and interior as you wish.
Both walls consist of two parts, a front and back, in the familiar vac-form sheets. The front wall has the windows, and the sidewall is blank. The walls are very well detailed, with lintels rather than bricks exposed over the windows and doors by the damage. The bricks are well defined throughout, and the only flaw I could find in my example is a too thin balcony detail, which needs careful handling to avoid damage.
The also familiar sprues of white plastic for the windows and lights show no flash, but are unfortunately only detailed on one side. In this case that’s not a problem, as parts like the balcony railings will only be seen from the front.
Building and painting
The kit is very easy to put together. Cut out the wall parts, sand and glue. The parts are straight and fit like a glove. The most attractive feature of this kit is the many, many options you have. You can build the walls and leave it at that. Add copious amounts of rubble, blacken the outside and we have a burnt out shell. You can add the windows etc downstairs, but burnout the top floor(s)… you can add all the windows, doors, scratch floors, curtains furniture etc….
The wall parts need to be sanded to make the edges fit flush. This is best done on a large sheet of sand paper, taped to your work surface. Take your time and care and you will end up with walls that need very little filler or cleaning up. The windows and doors line up perfectly, but to fit the windows you’ll need to sand the openings quite a bit, as the frames are slightly larger than those openings. Although this means more work, it ensures a nice fit.
I happened to have an old plaster base lying around, and thought ‘I’ll see if it fits’, and what do you know, a perfect fit indeed. In typical fashion I then got completely carried away, and scratch built the floors and partial roof, and added a sizable amount of home made rubble.
The floors are made of scraps of balsa wood, as is the roof. The roof covering is lead, in this case simulated with an empty Tomato sauce tube…
I used wallpaper from a Dolls House shop, some of the designs are small enough to use for 1:35 scale. The carpets are from the same source, and are actually real woven carpets, not just paper prints. The glass is made of thin clear acetate sheet, painstakingly cut to size and glued in place with white glue.
The rubble was both easy and good stress relief. Mix plaster with some brick colour and pour out in a thin slab. When this is dry you put it in a (plastic) bag and hit it with a hammer. You can make rubble in various sizes by removing pieces after the first few hits, and gradually make smaller rubble by smashing what’s left in the bag, removing those pieces that are the required size. You’ll end up with fine particles and dust, which you add as a last covering over the main pieces of rubble.
To apply the pieces to your diorama, mix some white glue and water, add some brick coloured paint (a slightly different shade than the plaster) to colour the glue, and add your rubble. Add the rubble in small heaps, building gradually to fit it around your building. After the rubble has dried, make a similar glue and water mixture (again coloured with a different shade of paint) and add the dust and very small particles to create a sticky goo. This should not be too watery, as it should not run. Using an old brush this mixture is ‘painted’ all over the rubble, to create that very fine texture to finish it off. Last thing to do is a dusting with various shades of pastels. The smoke stains on the walls are similarly created with black pastel powder.
Vac-form kits seem to have a ‘reputation’, which discourages people to try them. Because this kit from MiniArt is very easy to work with, it makes an ideal introduction to Vac-form. The inclusion of plastic windows and doors, plus a host of streetlights, let you create a complete building without the need to scratch or add After-Market accessories. Highly recommended
Thanks to MiniArt for providing the review sample.