Model villages are usually cosy affairs. Pretty little buildings, often with amusing shop names, and frequently set firmly in the same era as Agatha Christie dramas. The modelling will be slighly cartoonish, but that's what people enjoy.
Not so Mini-Europe.
For a start, the model-making is superb. Crisp building details, including hard to reproduce statuary.
Amazingly, this stuff lives outside all year round. You can tell, because one building is missing, and another has recently been repaired due to the effects of a storm.
Rather than a single scene, Mini-Europe brings together iconic structures from all corners of Europe. We have the Houses of Parliament, Eiffel Tower, Brussels Grand Square, Pont Adolphe and many, many more. You really can get a taste for the entire continent in a couple of hours - the time it takes to wend your way through it all.
Kids will love all this as most countries have buttons to press. Much of the time this fires up the appropriate national anthem, but sometimes it kicks off an animation such as an archery competition, digger, train or even a volcano erruption.
There's a clever scene with a theif carrying the Mona Lisa and a Policeman chasing him - which are operated by pads you run on. The fast you run, the faster your character moves. It's really clever.
However, all this wonderful modelling will not please everyone. You see, Mini-Europe extolls the virtues of the European Union. The guidebook, which is available in several languages, including English, makes a better case for the EU than the entire "Remain" campaign managed a few years ago.
Brexit does warrant a mention - there are pro and anti demos beside parliament, and the paths around the UK buildings have dotted border lines on them.
Worse still, instead of being forced through the gift shop (which isn't very good) you exit through a display about Europe. Nigel Farage would be turning in his grave.
All this is done very well. It's important to remember that most people on the continent have a very different view of the EU to the average Brit. We are mentioned in a "sorry you've left, please come back" way, instead of the agressive way our newspapers refer to Europe. It's quite sweet really.
I really enjoued Mini-Europe, and it makes an excellent addition to a day spent at the Atomium next door. Finding out more about the model making is on my list for a future Garden Rail feature, it really is impressive, and worth investigating.