Miniart Soviet soldiers at rest - 36028


History


The principal uniform of the Soviet soldier during WWII was a simple tunic called “Gymnostroika”, made of a khaki material with matching trousers called “Sharovari”.  The usual form of headgear was the side cap; “Pilotka”.  Early in the conflict winter wear consisted of rain capes ("Plash-Palatka") or greatcoats (”Kaftan”).
During 1940/41 depending on your references (I suspect 1941) a padded winter uniform, the “Telogreika” was issued, with a fur lined/trimmed cap…the “Ushanka”.  The Telogreika consisted of two layers of material with strips of cotton wool sown vertically in between giving it a distinctive quilted look.
The standard infantry helmet was initially the M36 (with the distinctive comb on the top) later replaced by the M40.  The standard boots were black calf length leather ‘jackboot’ type.
Personal equipment depended on role and type of weapon issued, but was basic nonetheless.  A simple leather or canvas belt, with the appropriate ammunition pouch(s), water bottle, and entrenching tool was common.  Gas mask cases were slung on their own strap cross body, as were map cases etc.


First look


The first thing that struck me was the quality of the box art...enough to inspire me to buy the kit.  The artwork by Andrey Karaschuk is excellent and gives a good indication of what you can do with the kit.  The construction and painting instructions are on the back, with a list of paints needed from 6 suppliers including Vallejo, Tamiya and Humbrol.  The colours are consistent with other manufacturers and my references.
Upon opening the box I found two small sprues in a plastic bag with 55 parts to make five figures with accessories.  The sprues rattled about a bit inside due the box being about 70% larger than it needs to be but nothing was damaged.  The sprues aren’t numbered; a separate drawing is supplied with these, but this is no detriment due to the small number of parts presented.
These figures are also supplied in MiniArt’s Zis2 57mm anti tank gun as resting crew, and are listed as ‘Soviet Gun Crew at Rest’ in their catalogue.
The first thing I noticed though was that the box art (front and construction artwork) shows a selection of personal equipment and weapons; these aren’t supplied.  Naughty MiniArt...if it’s on the box it should be in the box.  I reckon 2x PPSH41, 1x Mosin Nagant rifle, appropriate ammunition pouches, and water bottles should be present, as per the box art!  In my experience soldiers are rarely more than an arms distance from their personal weapon, equipment ( in the British Army we often slept with our weapons in our sleeping bags, with webbing for a pillow, we kept it that close)



The figures


The kit enables the builder to make five figures, four wearing Telogreika, the fifth (depicting an officer) in greatcoat; all wear Ushanka.  The figures are typical multipose consisting of a pair of legs, arms and a torso, with a separate head and cap.  The officer has an extra part which is a greatcoat flap. If wanted there could be some degree of inter-changeability between parts. The faces are particularly impressive; very well detailed with individual expressions/features.
The Telogreika are finely done and will benefit from careful painting to show off the detail, and the officer’s greatcoat is suitably thin but can be improved with a little attention from a sharp blade to make thinner. The figures can stand alone, as a group, but E and C are definitely a pair; obvious from the box-top.  My only comment is that the Ushanka look on the small side and sit quite high on the heads; nothing a bit of sanding and epoxy putty can’t put right easily.
There is a little flash/seam lines present (again nothing a sharp blade can’t cure), and care will be needed when removing parts from the sprues so the stitching on the Telogreika aren’t damaged; this is helped by MiniArt’s careful location points (only the elbows are a problem).
The figures are as follows (in no particular order)
•    Figure A; seated eating from mess tin
•    Figure B (officer); standing with one leg raised eating from mess tin, with map case and pistol holster.
•    Figure D; kneeling stirring a cooking pot over a fire. A neat little addition is a blanket, with loaf of bread which as been sliced up…the bread even as a realistic texture, and a tiny spoon.
•    Figure C; sitting with one leg stretched out, wiping his mouth/showing off medal with one hand and holding his cup out to….
•    Figure E; sat leaning sideways with a cup in one hand and pouring water bottle into figure C’s cup (or maybe its something a little stronger than water?).
Test fitting of figure D shows a good fit of parts; I used only a minute amount of liquid poly for this and wouldn’t expect to use any filler with what I’ve seen.



Painting


There is a degree of flexibility when painting Soviet figures; while the painting guide is accurate the greatcoat can be painted anything from grey through to brown/red brown.  The khaki of the uniforms could vary due to wear and the Ushanka came in many colours including khaki, khaki drab, grey and white…too many variations to mention.


Conclusion


Most other Soviet figure kits are festooned with equipment, but removing the straps etc to show troops at rest is difficult because of the seam lines that are a distinct feature of these uniforms, that’s where this kit comes into its own.  Use to depict troops at rest, gun crew…how about several sets as a load for the ICM Studebaker or vehicle crew?  There are endless possibilities.
Plus points; the figures interact very well, and ‘tell a story’ whether used all together or split up.  The faces are very good, all different, and with careful painting means that you probably won’t need to replace with resin ones (shame about the two TANK head sets I bought then!).  The quilted pattern of the Telogreika is well produced, and the attachment points to the sprues well thought out to avoid damage to these fine details.
Minus points; no weapons supplied which may be a problem unless you have access to other kits or appropriate WWII weapon sets. Minor flash; making for extra care when cleaning in order to avoid damaging the quilted seams on the Telogreika.  Ushanka’s look undersized.
However this is a fine kit which shows MiniArts’ approach to figures; well thought out, different, interacting and well...just ‘animated’.  Now if anyone from MiniArt is reading this; what about that British/Commonwealth Vickers machine gun, or 3’’ mortar and crew?

website Miniart

Marks: 80%


Review by Martyn Smith