When MiniArt first released the T-70M it was well received, as for a first AFV kit MiniArt has produced a model which combines both excellent fit and detail. There is however one issue with the kit, the plastic renditions of the air intake and outlet grills leave much to be desired. Eduard has not wasted much time and has produced two update sets for the T-70M which include the mesh grills, as well as a host of other replacement items. The only difference between the two sets is the shape of the front part of the mudguards, which are either hinged and angular (or Ďbendedí as Eduard calls them) or rounded like the rear. The rounded one (set no. 35 892) is more applicable to the very early T-70, whilst the angular mudguards (set no. 35 909) are a later feature of the T-70M. This will no doubt start many debates amongst the experts about the accuracy of the mudguards, much as the shape of the turret has, but since there where some 8.200 T-70 build, who knows?
Whatís in the bag?
Both sets come in the familiar clear envelope, containing two frets of Photo-etch and two sheets of instructions each each. The frets are as usually sandwiched between two pieces of stiff card, and the instructions follow the familiar format of colour coding and occasional confusion.
A closer look at the contents
On first inspection the usual quality of Eduard photo-etch is immediately evident. From the fine Ďwovení mesh grills to the delicate belt type straps on the turret rear, all parts are etched clean, and with very thin attachments to the frets, removal is easy and clean-up virtually un-necessary.
The most needed items of this set are, despite of the name, the woven mesh grills for the air in take and outlet. The long rectangular one (next to the turret) is a fairly simple affair, consisting of just the mesh and a (very fragile) frame. The large square one on the rear deck is more involved, and has five angled slats underneath the mesh grill. The grill has a separate frame, with eight (also separate) wing nuts which hold the grill in place.
These two items make a huge difference to the finished model, and should be available on their own.
The mudguards which give this set its name are a mixed blessing. If added without any simulated damage, they are virtually identical to the kitís plastic ones, and only close-up comparison will show the plastic to be too thick. The Eduard mudguards come into their own however if you want to depict that typical Ďbatteredí look of AFV mudguards. The thin metal will take damage much more realistic.
The set provides the usual clamps for the tools as well as new brackets for the exhausts. Although the kit tools look good when they are painted and weathered, the Photo-etch parts give them that extra edge. The set includes a useful set of clamps and brackets for a crowbar, an item which is not included in the MiniArt kit. On the other hand MiniArt includes a set of spare track links, but whilst I would have expected a replacement bracket for those, none is to be found.
The stowage boxes in the kit have moulded on hinges and clasps, which are basic to say the least. Eduard provides replacement parts for these, and whilst they improve the plastic (and solid) kit boxes, Iím puzzled why Eduard did not include Photo-etch boxes as well, something they do in many other sets. The separate hinges and clasp do give you the option to add only two of either, which photographic evidence shows to be the most common configuration.
The kitís turret comes with some internal detail, but needs a lot of work if you want to show it of with the Commanders hatch opened without a figure in it. The Photo-etch set replaces the main gunís recoil bar and breech block operating handle, and adds a finely detailed ammo drum top (including handle) and stock to the co-ax mg. Unfortunately the ammo drum is al but invisible on the finished model. Like wise the Commanderís hatch is given some much needed detail, but curiously the large solidly moulded grab handle is not replaced. The inclusion of two straps with tie-down brackets for the turret rear wall is very nice, and will look good with a large camouflage net strapped down.
Does it fit?
In a word, yes. Eduard is well known for the quality of their Photo-etch sets, and this one is no exception. All the parts are a perfect fit and easy enough to work with to put this set firmly in the realm of the Photo-etch Novice. There are a few very small and fiddly brackets, but nothing complicated.
As I stated before, the MiniArt kit is a good and easy to built kit straight from the box, and the only thing that really needs to be addressed are those mesh grills. But there is of course scope for improvement, and this Eduard set offers that in a package which is very suitable for those wanting to try detailing with Photo-etch as well as an enjoyable project for those more experienced. However, at $22.95 the Eduard set is not cheap, and actually more expensive than the MiniArt kit itself. I find it difficult to 'recommend' a set at this price, and I feel that a smaller set, with just the grills and tool clamps at a lower price would be a more sensible option. If the price is not a problem, than this is a very nice set to give your T-70 that extra 'edge'.
My thanks to Eduard
for the review sample.