by: Jim Rae [ ]
The majority of the recent releases from Masterbox Ltd., have in my opinion, being completely ground-breaking. Not particularly in the subject areas covered - the 'standards' are getting well-covered, but rather in the completely innovative way the company's sculptors are handling the animation. For too long we have become accustomed to the usual 'standing/pointing' style of figures from various manufacturers. Masterbox have developed a completely radical approach by creating a series of sets which are all 'modular' and can be mixed in with other figures in the series. They began this, with their three Barbarossa sets which showed a new approach to both animation and created a genuine 'Multipose' aspect to 1/35th scale figures.
Opening the box
"Bail Out!" Russian Tank Crew, Kursk, July 1943 is a four-figure, 1/35th scale (injection-moulded) figure set which comes on a single sprue. The set is moulded in a sand-colored styrene. An intial look at the sprue shows a few mould-lines but nothing of any consequence. What is very eye-catching though, is the box-art. This really is becoming the most impressive from ANY manufacturer (see image a the top of this Review). The reverse of the box functions as an assembly and painting guide for the figures.
As usual, with these reviews, i'll go through the various aspects of the figures (heads, crease detail etc.) commenting where necessary and finish the review with a summary and opinions.
The Subject: The intention with this set was to produce an AFV Crew escaping from their vehicle. However, this also suggests a crew who have left their tank to find themselves amongst the enemy - forcing themselves to defend themselves... Two of the figures are 'stand-alones' this is the commander who is leaving the turret with pistol drawn and the crew-member who having left the vehicle is defending himself with his SMG. the other two figures are designed to be used together. These are a wounded figure who is being dragged out of the vehicle by a companion. The original design seems to suggest using the front hatch of a T34-76 although many other vehicles would be equally applicable. In my own photos, I set-up the figures with a KV1 turret and it works just as well...
Uniform Creasing: Nice, subtle creasing which does not suffer from the horrible 'angular' creasing too often seen. The tanker's coveralls in this set are not the clothing which most suggest themselves to this kind of creasing (being pretty baggy) baggy, but what there is, is well-done.
Arms/Hands: The arms are well proportioned and seem anatomically correct. Hands are well-enough done but there is a touch of 'blurring' in the moulding of some, whereas, others are excellent.
Heads: There is some nice, subtle detailing on the faces - these really are excellently-done heads. They are not yet at the level of resin (replacement) heads, but they are amongst the best available.
Feet: All the figures are wearing the short, tanker boots with the coverall 'bloused-in' to them. These are well done with the adjustment straps moulded on and good definition between heel and in-sole.
: Correctly done with all pockets where they should be. Some nice touches which include areas which have been torn and ripped. The round-collared shirt worn underneath the coverall is also present and well-done.
Helmets: Three of the figures are wearing the typical Soviet tanker helmets. These are three-part assemblies and do look pretty convincing with the longer flap on the right,
Animation: In a word excellent. The figure firing the SMG is excellent, with legs spread apart to absorb the recoil. The figure with pistol is also very good with the half-crouch being convincingly done. Both the wounded figure and his helping companion, are excellent figures , which with a little modification could have other seperate utility.
Construction: As can be seen from the photos, I used a bit of filler to address the gaps betweeen the legs and the torso. Some was also needed between the leg-half joins. Although it seemed like a lot, in fact I used very little (applied with a cocktail stick and the reverse of a knife blade). The reason it seems to cover so much, is simply because, as usual, I thinned it down considerably to avoid a lot of sanding later on.
Construction gave no real problems (apart from the gap-filling). The heads (which have caused slight-problems with other of the company's figures) are, providing the bottom is sanded flat, an easy fit with no gaps round the neck. They are very simple to assemble althiough a lot of test fitting and some sanding/filing is required to get a good fit. Care should also be taken with assembly of the helmets.
There were, as I mentioned earler, some mould-lines which need to be removed although nothing that some medium wet 'n dry or a sharp scalpel blade can't take care of.
Masterbox have really excelled themselves with this new set. It makes a great change from the usual 'Tank-crew Resting' kind of subject by portraying a moment of high-tension during what could be any battle. Apart from a few (minor) fit problems and some care needed in construction, this really is an easy set to assemble. The potential with this set also remains enormous - limited only by the modeler's imagination. An extremely original set which has been superbly executed.
VERY Highly Recommended