Recent events in Ukraine, such as the annexation of Crimea and the war in the east of the country, have encouraged the civil society and business sector to develop more actively and look for the ways to help the Ukrainian Army in combating Russian aggression.
An example would be the latest development and upgrade of a variety of military equipment and weapons, bringing to a new level light and heavy industry enterprises engaged in the supply and manufacture to satisfy the army needs – from food and clothing to weapons, UAVs and equipment. However, there are also very interesting start-ups that are not directly associated with the defence industry but owing to the development of their own technologies, equipment, and products they promote the Ukrainian Army and even serve as a counter-propaganda tool.
One such example is the “miniTEAM” startup ; this year, it gained popularity thanks to its idea, in particular manufacture of accurate miniature copies of real fighters of the Ukrainian army in real gear.
This is about the perfectly accurate miniature “Ukrainian Volunteer 2014” made of polymer material, available for preorder since May 2018. To achieve such results, the authors of the idea used up-to-date technologies: 3D scanning, 3D printing and in-house development allowing to replicate items in small or medium series within a rather short period of time without using inflexible and extremely valuable technologies of mass production, such as injection-molding machine (IMM) etc.
In fact, the figure is supplied with a historical reference in Ukrainian and English describing the events that have been taking place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014, as well as the list and images of insignias (by the way, they can be used for the decoration of the figure) of various volunteer battalions involved in the events of 2014. It has become a kind of information channel for the manufacturer to bring the Ukrainian point of view on the conflict through its products.
The idea of this start-up sprang as a project to publicize the Ukrainian servicemen and an alternative to the products manufactured by Russian companies and used as a vehicle of propaganda both in Ukraine and Europe. The scandal in Lithuania in 2017 was a remarkable example when they started selling models of “little green men” who annexed Crimea; after this event the Ministry of the Economy of Lithuania tried even to ban the sale of similar products in the country. In Ukraine, back in 2014, Russian manufacturers were selling models of Russian equipment and figures of military personnel promoting the law-enforcement and special services of the Russian Federation; at the same time they were annexing Crimea and supplying real military equipment, weapons and live force to the territory of Ukraine. At best, when citizens and mass media began to pay attention to these facts, the vendors started to stick the Ukrainian insignias on their products. The society, especially the military officers who returned from the combat zone, were greatly aggrieved.
However, at that moment, it was almost impossible to legally ban the sale of such products since the armed conflict did not exist de jure and most of the mentioned products were made in China. The “miniTEAM” start-up became a kind of “hybrid” response to such propaganda and an information channel through which it was possible to increase the interest of foreign countries in Ukrainian issues with the help of various societies of modelers, collectors, military officers, veterans etc. that are highly developed in Europe, USA, Japan, and Australia.
The first model gained popularity not only due to its limited edition (at the time of publication of the article, it was still possible to order the model), but also thanks to the unique features that significantly kindled interest in the model not only among collectors and modelers, but also among military officers and volunteers.
First of all, it is a campaign for collecting photos and other media content directly from the event participants organized by the start-up founders, that helped to provide the idea with historical background.
Secondly, it is quite a powerful information component, including a list of insignias of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, chevrons of the volunteer battalions (a set of 33 chevrons of the battalions formed in 2014), description of the actual events of that period, and a small military gear encyclopedia. Thirdly, the idea of a sculpture was abandoned in favor of an image of a real fighter and combatant in order to avoid the impression of the sculptor’s subjective view.
This approach was noticed by professional artists. @ Eugene Kapuka, the most remarkable and honored modeler of Ukraine, author of dioramas for the Holocaust Museum in Odessa, winner of three Grands Prix, holder of numerous medals won at the CIS exhibitions, member of the World’s TOP-170 diorama artists according to AtomScale magazine, was among the first artists who took interest in the start-up; he offered his professional assistance in designing the first prototype of the figure. As a result we managed to create several dioramas using the ‘Ukrainian Volunteer 2014’ figure – as gifts for service members. Thanks to the experience, the set has been improved both in terms of its configuration and features. And one of the works won the first place in its category at LVIV MODEL SCALE FEST in 2018.
Technical solutions are very interesting, too:
A unique division of the figure’s elements by color – the model is divided into components with different basic colors, which greatly simplifies the process of painting and enables to achieve an incredible level of refinement. It is also features a special system of temporary fasteners to ensure glueless pre-assembling of the model. As far as the manufacturing process is concerned – the model is cast of polymeric two-component polyurethane using complex geometry moulds – it allowed both to wean off the drawbacks of legacy serial production, and exclude the possibility of counterfeiting the model in its original shape. This fact certainly attracted the attention of collectors.
In the near future, miniTEAM is going to launch a crowd-funding campaign at KickStarter and Indigogo to implement a larger project – a series of 10 figures, namely, a mechanized platoon squad of the AFU, where each fighter’s model will play its own role (commander, shooter, machine gunner, sniper etc.). The dynamics and actions of each figure will form a holistic composition, both within the set and in smaller groups and combinations.
As a result, we have an example of how the business finds ideas and ways to support servicemen of their country and promote Ukraine’s position in the world given adverse circumstances and during military aggression.
If you want to support our start-up, order a model, send us your own photo content or submit your proposals, please wright to the project founders on the miniTEAM page on Facebook.