by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt has been excelling in their releases of late with large numbers of new items coming out on a monthly basis. One of the latest offerings is an example of a LGOC B-Type London Omnibus, these vehicles can be considered as the first internal combustion engine mass road transport and would have been the first example of its kind that many got to travel on before becoming common place sights. It was these buses that were repainted and slightly altered before being used to transfer men to the front lines during World War 1.
This offering from MiniArt is packaged in the usual manner of a cardboard tray with a card lid that displays the product in a very appealing manner. Due to a card lid being utilised damage can be easily inflicted and so consider this if being stored rather than started. An examination of the contents results in finding some very clean and finely moulded parts in many cases. The larger mouldings have flow marks present on the, but this has not caused any physical issue that I can see or feel. I do wish that all of the contents were not in a single bag due to the issues that can cause with warping and damage especially as there are some very fine parts provided; in this offering everything appears fine.
The engine of this offering from MiniArt is a great place to start as it is truly stunning. The mix of plastic and photo etched parts enables the modeller to produce an element of the model that will have huge visual appeal which due to the difficulty of seeing I would consider having the model displayed tilted on a mirror plus I would get the cowlings opened up. There is the issue that the sometimes small photo etched parts and very fine plastic parts could be damaged during removal and clean up, but if you take your time it is these aspects that will attract the eye. One thing I need to congratulate MiniArt on is that they have included details on how the modeller can add things such as spark plug leads and also plans for bending some very small actuators that I feel will be especially approved of by the modeller who wants to go that little bit further. To give you some idea of the work put into this area by MiniArt, there are sixteen pieces for the radiator alone.
The chassis of the model is multi-part affair and so will require a high level of care during assembly in order to insure it remains square. I feel the easiest way to tackle this aspect and to provide visual guides is to assemble it on a cutting mat with the squares on. One of the great things about this approach is that it has enabled MiniArt to provide an excellent level of detail and accuracy in every element. The rear drive axle is a great series of parts that really shows great detail, perhaps it is the great detail in the huge fly wheel and its cover that really shows the effort put into this model. A look at the leaf springs that supply the suspension all round the vehicle is very good with the minimal of cleanup need up to remove mould seams. The wheels are solid rubber and anyone old enough to have had a bike with this type of tyre will tell you how uncomfortable the ride is, MiniArt has produced excellent representations of the wheels and tyres. I do have a complaint which is more me than what is offered and that is the inability to depict the front wheels turned, a real bugbear of mine with wheeled vehicles.
The cab of the vehicle is as you would expect basic in what it offers the pour sod doing the driving, but as a modeller I really am very happy as MiniArt has provided a well worn seating position and so the vehicle gains that instant lived in look. The engine cowlings have been provided suitably fine in my opinion and consideration has been given to enable the modeller to have the top of that fantastic engine bay on display. All of the required controls are present from the foot pedals through to the brass horn and so only a suitable figure needs to be found; I suspect MiniArt has one already in the works.
With the oily areas and driversí office dealt with its time to look at the passenger segment. The detail present as with the rest of model is exceptional and MiniArt deserve a lot of praise for their efforts. The ground floor of the model will need to be fully finished before closing it up as even open movement will be restricted due to the very good level of detail provided in the area, little details such as the ability to have the upper window vents open or closed make a lot of difference to the visual appeal of the area and to that of the model generally. Details such as the roof mounted grab rails and the seat dividers continue to lavish this area of the model with a very high level of detail. The glazed portions of the model will allow a great view of the lower interior of the model and they have been moulded to a good thickness which prevents distortion of the view.
The upper deck of the bus is just as well detailed as the lower and is obviously more clearly seen. The floor of the upper deck has the roof of the lower deck on its underside and the hand rails there could be easily damaged so take care with this element of the model. The seats on both decks and hand rails have a great look to them that takes you back to a time when comfort was not the main priority when it came to transport with the seats consisting of planking with a padded top; I suspect this would have been leather rather than cloth in order to provide longevity. An aspect I greatly approve is the used look that has been given to the seat cushioning due to the way it makes something look used.
The curved staircase is the last element of this model and can only be added after everything else is in place as regards the upper and lower deck. So this model does offer the modeller a chance to produce a model in sizeable chunks that makes painting and weathering a little easier than it may have been otherwise. The segments are the chassis and engine, driverís area, Lower deck, upper deck and finally the staircase. MiniArt has only provided one finishing option as regards colour and destination, but they have provided a lot of options when it comes to advertising of the period.
This is one of the most impressive models I have seen from MiniArt due to the package as a whole and attention to detail, and while the interest in this kit may be limited due its type and period I really recommend that every modeller gives this kit a look over as I think the finish will appeal to all. Downsides are very limited and really restricted to ability and want lists; for me the down side is that the front wheels cannot be shown turned (a pet hate). It will also test those who are ham fisted and or are not keen on photo etch, but provided none of these bothers you then this is a truly stunning model that I give A . I do find myself wondering if the different bus type on the box artwork is a potential second release!