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Norman Street

MiniArt 1/35 Norman Street Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Images by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2012 Manufacturer MiniArt
Subject Norman Street Scale 1/35
Kit Number 36045 Primary Media 132 parts (110 in grey styrene, 22 vacuformed plastic)
Pros Provides generic northern European buildings and brick street base for a diorama or display; provision of French wall posters a nice touch Cons Base will require stiffening; some skill with vacuform assembly essential
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $72.00

First Look

Norman Street
Norman Street
Norman Street

Several years ago Chris Mrosko described a base he was working on as a "wedgie". Since then this term has come to define a diorama or display base which takes a section of the real world (e.g. buildings, bridges, terrain, vehicles, etc.) and cuts them at sharp angles to present a specific area of focus. MiniArt has taken this to heart and is now producing some excellent generic bases for dioramas and vignettes.

This particular kit consists of a section of nominal French street – architecturally it could be anywhere in northern France, Belgium or Holland – and provides two three-story buildings and a section of brick street for use as a base. The base is large enough to hold a vehicle up to and including the size of a Panther but will look better with something like a Panzer IV or Sherman on it.

Each of the buildings (as a "wedgie") comes with sections of flooring behind the windows on each floor, and the floors have both top and bottom sections. The buildings are essentially undamaged so the floors and the ceilings below them are intact. The same goes for the roofs, and as a result there are no exposed beams or shattered tiles on their outsides. They do present the "lived-in" look with cracked or missing sections of plaster on their outer sides exposing the brickwork underneath.

A large selection of windows, "Dutch doors", two styles of front doors, shutters and other accessories are provided for detailing the structures, and a sidewalk is molded into the base in front of the houses.

No painting or finishing instructions are included other than some general hints on where the large posters (included on the back of the directions) should be placed, offering a choice between a store and a café. A single German "einbahnstrasse" (one way street) sign is included for the post-June 1940 era. Also, no glazing is provided so the modeler will need to find either fine glass (microscope slide plates) or clear styrene to represent this feature.

There are some general hints on assembling this type of kit. First off, as the main parts are vacuformed, they are studded with small pips that come from ensuring sufficient vacuum pressure was used to get all of the details to show. All of these must be removed using a chisel-bladed hobby knife, and some may leave small holes behind which need filling. Also, because they are vacuformed, all of the edges are not at a 90 degree angle and may require some forethought prior to assembly. This may mean removing them and replacing them with heavy styrene strip or reinforcing them with strip on their insides so when sanded down they still provide sufficient strength for retaining assembly.

I suggest cutting a section of 1/4" plywood and using either contact cement or epoxy to attach it to the underside of the base for stability and sufficient counterweight to prevent the assembled model from flipping over. Alternatively, the entire base can be cemented to a section of wood, metal or plastic and then finished.

Some modelers report the vacuformed plastic does not work well with common styrene cement so you may need to use something stronger such as Weld-On or Ambroid multipurpose liquid cement (the kind which will join plexiglass, ABS or styrene to each other).

Overall this is an excellent idea and while seemingly expensive is probably cheaper, lighter and easier to finish than comparable plaster (hydrocal) or resin offerings, and in the case of resin is less likely to suffer from warpage.

Note: for those who wish to do French buildings, Emmanuel Nouailier has been providing an excellent series to "Military Modelling" this year on how he finishes HO scale buildings to get that "gritty" effect; while he concentrates on small scale, the techniques he covers are very useful for this type of building as well.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

Sprue Layout:

  • A 29 Shutters, doors, gates, windows
  • B 27x2 Windows, trim
  • C 27 Street light, gutters, downspouts
  • ‒ 2 Base, side walls
  • ‒ 8 Rear wall, floors, shutters
  • ‒ 8 Front wall, side walls, roof sections
  • ‒ 4 Front wall, side wall, roof sections, shutters