First of all I had this set already for a while and the review was already finished the pictures were also already taken some time but due to some disfunctioning USB ports on my computer I was not able to get them from my cam. My apologies for this.
The box art shows three German tankers playing a game that is called Skat on the boxart... litterally translated does "Skatspieler" say the "Skat Players". But what is Skat?
Skat is (along with Doppelkopf) the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia. It is also played in American regions with large German populations, such as Wisconsin and Texas.
It is a three- or four-player game of tricks using a 32-card deck.
The deck of 32 cards consists of the cards 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king and ace in all suits, without jokers. Some players in Eastern and Southern Germany and Austria prefer German decks with the suits of bells, hearts, leaves and acorns. Until recently in Saxony and Thuringia for example the German decks has been used nearly exclusively. At tournaments, a compromise deck is used nowadays that has the standard suits but with green spades and yellow diamonds. The choice of deck does not otherwise affect the game's rules.
Skat was developed around 1810 in Altenburg in what is now the Federal State of Thuringia, Germany and was based on the three-player game of Tarock (also known as Tarot) and the four-player game of Sheepshead. The main innovation was the Bidding process described below.
The first official rules were published in 1886, also in Altenburg. Nevertheless, the rules continued to differ by region. Since 1998 both the ISPA and the DSkV use the same rules.
Skat has always been very popular in Germany it is thus not an odd thing that it was also popular amongst the German troops during WW2
For more information about the rules see the explanation of Skat on Wikipedia (also the source of above Skat explanation.
SKAT Card Game
Well as usual Masterbox
offers their figures in a box approximately 25 cm wide, 17,5 cm high and 3,5 deep with opening sides. And as we came known from Masterbox the Boxart is again a wonderfull presentation of what is in the box. Three tankers playing Skat and one tanker looking over the shoulder of one of the tankers who is planning his next move. The back of the box shows the Sprue where the parts are in. A wartime picture of tankers playing Skat, A picture of the set built and painted and placed in a diorama. And the building instructions by diagrams of the figures and numbers to which part belongs where. On the back you will also find painting instructions with which paint numbers you have to use provided for several paintbrands like Vallejo, Tamiya and Humbrol
Inside the box you will find 1 sprue in a beige (light brown) colored plastic with 43 parts of which all parts are used. The parts are for the 4 figures and the Jerrycans on which they sit and of which the makeshift cardtable is made of.
In the next section, I will do a write up of each section of the figures (legs, arms, heads and such)
In this section each part of the figures will be described. I will not go into deep with the obvious thing as mold lines since every plastic figure manufacturer has that problem and most of us now know how to deal with that with a sharp hobby knife.
Legs and Boots:
Two of the sitting figures are wearing the soldiers type boot without laces while the other sitting figure and the standing figure both wear the boot with laces often seen worn by tankers in WW2. Both have very good detail and have nice folds sculpted into it also in correct places where you expect them to be due to the angle of the feet. The trousers are the very standard trouser worn by both tankers and mechanics (I will come back about the mechanic thing a bit later. All the trousers have nice folds all clean and crisp and will be a joy to paint since the detail is very good.
The three cardplaying tankers all are a bit more casual then the standing figure.. They are wearing the standard fieldblouse worn again by both Tankers and mechanics. The also all have rolled up sleeves. A nice bonus is the guy with out the fieldcap who is carrying a little dog in his blouse and the little fella is sticking out of the blouse with his head and frontlegs. The sculptor also made the bulge in the blouse where the rest of the dog should be. the standing tanker is in full kit and is wearing the full tankers uniform complete with badge and eagle on the breast.
Arms and hands:
As mentioned above the three tankers all are sitting with their sleeves rolled up exposing their arms. The rolled up sleeve part is very well done and nicely molded. The hands are in good proportion to the rest of the body and the poses look very natural. The hands holding cards are also very nicely sculpted and the cards are in good proportion too.. For the real fanatics this will be a joy to paint.
Again the sculptor for Masterbox managed to make a different head for each figure. The faces are very well animated for the three cardplayers, Two of them wearing a fieldcap. one is not wearing anything on his head and he is sculpted with a hairstyle which is pretty right for that time. The head of the standing figure is a bit flat and lifeless. Of course not everybody on this planet can be handsome but one who buitls this set might decide to swap it with an AM head. The insignia on all the head gear is very nice and should make for easy painting.
Possibly the most dissapointing parts of this set are the Jerrycans. The jerrycans consist of three parts each and 6 of them are provided in this set. Three for the tankers to sit on and three for the make shift table. One of the Jerrycan sides has a stack of cards sculpted on top of it. However.. The Jerrycans do not have a single marking or stamps on it. The opening and fillercap are molded on each of the jerrycanhalves and this means that when you glue them together you get a big seam on the filler cap. They do miss the seam which needs to be between the jerrycan halves and I'm not even talking about the rim that needs to be in that same area. Replacements might be good for these parts in an otherwise really impressive set.
The figures went together okay… No real problems were encountered. Some filling is required but only on places where you expect that to happen. So where you glue the legs together, where you glue the torso on the legs, the arms. Etc. etc.
No additional problems. On two of the figures one of the sleeves is molded to the figures torso and you have to glue the arm at it at the joint. Pretty easy actually. No further problems to mention.
This set is a very usefull one. and again a very versatile one. It can be placed in virtually any German WW2 diorama and next to virtually any German WW2 tank. The scene is well animated and tells a really nice story. The versatile part is in the fact that with minor additions the three sitting guys can be transformed into mechanics who are having a break.. this mostly involves changing heads to those wearing nothing on their heads and with minor modifications they can also be used as mechanics from other nations playing other card games.