by: Darren Baker [ ]
One of the most interesting figure sets released this year so far, is the latest offering from Master Box LTD titled ‘The 101st Light Company, US Paratroopers and British Tank man, France 1944’. This is a nine figure set, ten if you count the baby. A baby you comment! Yes a baby, read on to get the full picture.
This product is packaged in the typical Master Box LTD end opening carton. The carton has construction and painting of the set on the back and a nice box top artwork on the front, the box top does look to accurately depict the contents. There are then two grey sprues that contain all of the parts for the figures. These are packaged in a re-sealable plastic bag.
Taking a slow look over the sprues for this product I am pleased with what I see. The parts are cleanly moulded, there is no flash to worry about with this product, or at least on this sample. There are seam lines present on the figures and it is more obvious on some than the others, but it is not excessive on any of the offerings that make up this product. The layout of the sprues is logical and should make assembly an easy prospect. The one thing that this set brings to the table and that captures most AFV fans is that it is a new set of tank riders.
The breakdown of the parts that make up the figures are typical of most offerings from just about anyone, and so there are no surprises there to catch out. Some of the sprue gates could have been better placed from a modellers point of view; a good example of this are the helmets, the sprue gate attaches to the furled edge of the helmet and so making removal and clean up a challenge.
The figures consist of seven paratroopers (six seated and one standing), a British tank commander and a female figure with a baby, who has had here head shaven for providing succour to the enemy. The female figure is holding a baby in her left and her right arm extended. The clothing is acceptable for the time period, and so depending on how the figure is finished it could be used as intended by Master Box LTD or with the addition of a different female head it could be used for other purposes.
The tank commander looks quite good to me due to looking alert and attentive. The coveralls look appropriate and are creased in the right places for the stance of the figure. Facial detail is fair, but this could be improved by a resin head due to the helmet and goggles having been moulded as a part of the head. The hands look very good and have very nice finger detail. The side arm has been provided for the tank commander, and is I believe a Webley revolver; however something about it looks wrong sat in its holster. I just cannot put my finger on what it is.
The American paratroopers offer six seated and one standing figure, the seated figures have a great mix of positions that should make for an interesting mix if used a whole. The bulging side pockets of the trousers adds an interesting look to the figures, and the crease detail is really nice, some careful shading should make these figures shine. The jackets looks ok to me and will again benefit from some careful painting and shading work. The boots look ok, but they would have benefitted from some tread detail being present on the boots where the sole is exposed to view. The helmets are a tad disappointing, this is due to netting being shown in the box top image, but the helmets on the sprues do not offer this finishing touch; it would not be a big issue most of the time, but I cannot think of a paratrooper image from this period minus the net. On the positive side the helmets are not solid inside. The cloth badges worn on the arms of the uniform have been represented shape wise, but painting this detail is beyond me and would be better represented via decals.
The heads of the paratroopers are quite good detail wise. The heads are not the flat top offerings often seen on figures and that is another detail I like to see when possible. The heads are moulded separately from the torso and so replacement with a resin head if desired is an easy option, although I do not consider it an urgent need. The hands are again very well detailed and have great finger detail present; at this time I believe they will meet the needs of most modellers.
The weapons provided for paratroopers is a good mix, there are;
2 M1 Garand rifles
1 M1 Garand rifle with bayonet fitted
1 Barrett Automatic Rifle
1 Springfield carbine
1 Thompson MG
1 30cal MG
These weapons all have a good level of detail, but some of the stocks have very slight sink marks present, in most cases it likely will not be seen, but a little filler will fix the issue quickly and without fuss. These weapons are not slide moulded and so you will need to work on the muzzle in order to further improve the look of the finished weapons. Lastly you will need to make some slings for the weapons.
I know when news of this set was released there were complaints about US paratroopers with British tanks in France, but I will happily say that does not bother me at all. Figures that are available to be depicted as tank riders are few and far between, plus of course the set could be broken up and shown as sitting on something at the side of the road; switch in an American tank crew and ride if it bothers you. Sometimes I think we get lazy as modellers and want everything done for us, rather than thinking a little and deciding what we need for what purpose. I really like this offering from Master Box LTD and I am sure most of you are looking forward to giving them a lift.