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Built Review
Village Street
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Originally published on:


Many years ago, when I was a card-carrying Aviation Modeler, some of the After Market manufacturers produced (and probably still do) a series of Vac-form conversions and FULL kits. Unfortunately, many of these sets required an extraordinarily high-level of care. This was particularly true when panel lines had to be matched, and was particularly time-consuming considering the amount of sanding one had to do combined with the removal of the parts from the plastic sheet. To be honest, for anything with a very high level of tolerance, it wasn't an entirely happy solution. A few years ago, when MiniArt Ltd began producing buildings using the Vac-Form technique, a lot of people were unconvinced - preferring materials such as Resin, Dental Stone or Plaster for their construction. Now, with several of these kits under my belt, and with my first Review of them, I get the chance to give them a more 'exhaustive' overview.


36029 - Village Street is a 'diorama-in-a-box'. The set consists of parts for two buildings (available separately) 35527 (House Ruin) and 35533 (Ruined Church). Also present are two substantial bases (designed to be used together) along with several additional Injection moulded sprues containing items such as window frames, shutters, doors, ornamental railings and lamps. The kit comes in a pretty large box with everything carefully packed inside its own plastic bag. The Vac-Form parts are moulded in a dark-grey plastic which is quite thick and substantial. The Injection-Moulded parts are moulded in light-grey and white styrene.

First Look

The set contains two buildings for a section of street. It's listed as being part of a village - in reality it could be in a city or town. The style of the architecture seems to imply France, although buildings of this type were to be seen all over Northern Europe. Moulding is crisp with no damage present in any of the Vac-Formed sections. Good, sharp detail is present in areas such as brickwork and the areas such as the surrounds of windows and doors. In the Injection-Moulded parts there is SOME flash and mould-lines present, but nothing which will create any problems. Instructions are clear and in many cases should be carefully consulted as there are parts which will need a section removed. The two large bases are well-moulded but some additional rubble and debris WILL be needed.


About the Photos… I left the two buildings in their 'natural' state - initially, I thought about undercoating them, but decided not to.

With this kind of model, probably the most daunting task is removing the parts from the plastic sheet. Many people who work in this medium have their own techniques for this, the most time-consuming part of the construction. My own 'technique', being somewhat nervous of using cutters, is to use a Panel-Line Scriber. In my case, it's produced by Squadron Signal although other brands should give equally good results. The Scriber works by taking a sliver of plastic off on each cut. With this, a guide-channel is created which makes subsequent cuts easier by following the previous one. The Scriber is also good for cutting around more complex shapes such as the rough edges of brickwork. Once the parts are removed, I give each one a clean up on medium-grade Wet 'n Dry paper which is taped to a sheet of plywood. A few passes are usually sufficient to take off any excess.

I began with the house ruin. Basic construction consists of six parts (wall sections) and five more for the doorstep. Once again, everyone who has constructed a few of these buildings will have developed their own method of construction; however one technique is pretty much universal - strengthening the joints. Personally, for the longer joints I use lengths of square balsa which can be stuck in place using a slower drying two-part epoxy (overlapping to join onto the other section of the building). Alternatively, the excess plastic can be cut into strips and glued round the edges with liquid or tube cement. If the building were an entirely rectangular structure, any gaps in the initial construction would be relatively easy to avoid. It isn't and they aren't... the trick is to glue in sections, holding the sections together with clamps. When one section is affixed, move up to the next. This may be time-consuming, but the easiest way to do it. At the end of it, you WILL still have some gaps… that isn't a problem, they can be sorted out later.

In the instructions, they suggest removing the overlap at the top of the wall sections. That isn't a terribly easy thing to do. Instead, I left them, and when the structure was dry, I sanded them down a bit and added a fair quantity of Tamiya putty to get rid of any gaps. Fortunately with a building, millimetric tolerances aren't as necessary as on vehicles, so the end result is acceptable, with both halves joined into one with no noticeable gaps or lines. What IS necessary to do, is to concentrate on lining up the details - there's exposed brickwork on both the top and the bottom of the house which, when construction is finished, may need a little bit of attention.

Additional (Injection-Moulded) details are provided in the kit. These, which would be difficult to reproduce in Vac-Form, are for doors, windows and a hanging lamp. The windows are in the form of VERY nicely-done shutters. A number of additional parts are included which give some options. The upper windows will need at least some rudimentary framing added as they are they are simply window-shaped holes. Some remnants, even in a ruin, would be left of the frames.

The final part of THIS building consists of attaching the building to the base, assembling the door steps and adding a low wall to the side of the house. There are sufficient extra parts to add a section of railing to the wall. Again, it'll need some 'damage' done to it.

There are two sections of Diorama base included. This will make quite a reasonable-sized diorama. Many people will probably build two dioramas out of this - each is sufficient for a medium-sized vehicle or a reasonable number of figures. The base itself isn't exactly flimsy, but some support is recommended - the simplest would be to pour plaster into it and attach it to a wooden base (or picture frame).

Building ISN'T complex - lots of butting right-angles together, but DOES require care and planning. For those unfamiliar with these kits, I STRONGLY suggest using the excellent building guide published by MiniArt on their Homepage:



Some people have, in my opinion, unfairly compared these buildings to the many Resin and Plaster kits on the market. Price-Wise, they are MUCH cheaper. For those of us who rely entirely on Mail-Order, cost is, once again, an important factor. It's a lot cheaper shipping one of THESE than a plaster one. Resin or plaster is probably easier to paint, but preparation and painting a Vac-Form kit can give the same or better effects - once again it's a question of taste and experience.

Although I rate this particular set highly, it isn't without its negative areas. Chief amongst them is the difficulty in matching-up detail areas (brickwork etc.). Preparation and build time is also longer than their plaster or resin counterparts. Although there ARE a lot of extras included in the kit, there are areas which WILL have to be added. Amongst these are areas such as the drainpipes - simple enough to add. One thing which will be a high-priority is the rubble and debris which a ruin generates. It's going to be considerably more than that provided in the model. Many people also, with a great deal of justification, prefer COMPLETE structures - from these it's a LOT easier to build a Ruin than vice versa.

On the positive, the first is in the design. The house is designed so that it will be relatively easy to add the remains of a floor. The remnants of window frames will have to be added to the upper windows - again a simple task. The church will need a bit more added to be entirely convincing. If it's built as a total ruin, minimal, if more detail is desired, part of the roof will have to be added. The designers have given the modeler a LOT of flexibility and it's doubtful that any two models will be exactly the same.

All-in-all, while it MAY appear complex, don't let that impression put you off - these kits are well worth the additional work!

Highly Recommended
Highs: The flexibility this set provides. Detail is good and can be improved. The company are generous in the quantity of 'extra' details provided allowing even more flexibility.
Lows: It's tricky to build and it WILL require filling. Alignment of parts is NOT easy and needs careful planning.
Verdict: A good, low-cost way to get an 'instant' diorama base. Lots of possibilities for adding extra details and even using the bases separately, still room for a medium-sized vehicle.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 36029
  Related Link: Item on manufacturer's website
  PUBLISHED: Jun 23, 2009

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


These buildings and mini dios are useful and I think your review captured well the pros and cons of the vacuform process. I have struggled with my Mini Art kits, and the gap you came up with is pretty typical in my experience. Still, given the alternatives of resin cobblestones from, say, Verlinden ($15-$35), a set or two of sidewalks vs. a complete building a base for that or less, I'd say the extra work isn't such a big deal.
JUN 23, 2009 - 03:05 AM
maybe i'll buy one of these some day. i just can't help feel that by having it all moulded and ready to assemble, some of the enjoyment and originality is lost.
JUN 23, 2009 - 09:17 AM
Actually the Miniart buildings are as challenging as any AFV kit you might display with it. They give you enough in the kit to build a good looking model but there is always room to add detail and extras. They are detailed on both sides, unlike plaster/resin buildings. You spend as much time or more on the base/buildings now as you do building the vehicles and figures that go on it. Think of it as a separate kit (which it is!) C.
JUN 23, 2009 - 04:04 PM
I think these kits can be challenging. Try to get your hands on there catalog. It has a step by step directions to building them.
JUN 23, 2009 - 04:15 PM
Information and videos on assembling the buildings are also available on the Miniart web site. Alan
JUN 23, 2009 - 09:29 PM
I gave the link to MiniArt's construction guides in the Review. It can be seen: http://miniart-models.com/index.htm?/Assembly/page_01.php
JUN 24, 2009 - 03:00 AM
To give you an idea of what you can get up to with these kits, I did an article using the French Town House kit. here What you get in the kit... What it looks like after adding glue, wood, fabric, dust and plaster to the box, and shaking vigorously ...
JUN 24, 2009 - 03:12 AM
Fabulous job, Henk!
JUN 24, 2009 - 03:59 AM
Hi Henk I have to say your building was one of the first things I saw when getting interested in modelling again and finding armorama and when I read up about it in your feature I thought yep, this is the place to be. Excellent diorama using the Miniart as a base. I'd love to have a cracked at one of these kits one day. My only reservation, as probably most peoples has been how well I'd join the two parts together, but that's the challenge I guess. Get that right and you are on the home stretch. Alan
JUN 24, 2009 - 09:07 AM

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