by: Jim Rae [ ]
IntroductionFor the smaller companies, the imperative is always to produce commercially viable sets but to balance this by being as innovative as possible. MasterBox, which is a relatively new company from the Ukraine, has, in my opinion, been a little too ambitious in some of its previous releases by attempting to go 'head to head' with the 'Majors' rather than carving its own niche in the market. This (and some of the other recent releases) have shown both a qualitative improvement along with more inventiveness in subject matter. Masterbox have also made good penetration into the market - a good move as many of their products deserve serious consideration.
The Figure Set - basicsMB3517 - German Captives, 1944 is a six-figure, 1/35th set which is moulded in light grey plastic. The set consists of five German Infantrymen along with their Soviet captor. The set comes on a single sprue inside a nicely illustrated flap-opening box. On the reverse are the basic assembly instructions along with a painting guide, which, to my delight, is coded for Vallejo Acrylics.
The Figure Set - In depthAs usual with this kind of review, I will begin by looking at the figures according to their respective areas (heads, legs etc.)
The 'Captives' - all are moulded wearing the 1943 pattern 'British Battledress-type' uniform. All are portrayed wearing the short boots and gaiters. The 'Captor' is a standard Soviet Infantryman who could be from any period of the war although with the 'jodpur-type' trousers - this gives a few more possibilities.
Looking at the sprue and in the process of building two of the figures, there was a bit of flash and mould-lines present. The sprue 'gates' are very thin and remove easily with minimum clean-up. Detail is subtle but present.
Heads In general, good, although, not being a great fan of plastic heads, I will doubtless replace them later with resin ones. Each of the heads have reasonable facial detail although the caps will need some more careful adjusting to get the correct 'sit'.
Creasing and pose on the arms is competently done although I did find the hand detail varying from 'soft' to 'poor'. Careful painting or replacement should be considered.
Very well done indeed. Nice crisp detailing with all the uniform details there although some embellishment could be done (PE Eagles etc.). Creasing is subtle and not harsh or angular. The shirts (rarely seen) are present in two of the figures - more please, we rarely see German shirts on the market!
Again, very nicely done with the seam line, which ran the length of the trousers, present and subtlly executed. The gaiters are, again, well-done with good definition. One of the figures has his trousers over the gaiters - a good, subtle variation.
The 'air' one gets from the pose of the figures is almost of dejection and exhaustion. All of the (German) figures have almost a semi-slumped posture - not easy to acheive in 1/35th scale.
ConstuctionTo do some justice to this review, I assembed two of the figures (see photos at the bottom). The first thing which became apparent was that Masterbox have improved the quality of the plastic over the first releases. The plastic is now of amuch better composition, easy to sand and easy to glue. I assembled the figures rapidly (yes, I can see the gaps in one of them) and found few problems although some putty is going to necessary in some areas.
The nicest area, is undoubtely in the jackets and overcoats which two of the figures have hanging over their shoulders. These are very nicely done although perhaps some subtle 'thinning-down' might be in order? They don't seem to have an entirely convincing scale-thickness to them. That said, they are well-engineered to drape over the figures in a natural and convincing manner - 10/10 to the sculptor/designer for this.
ConclusionsIt's an ambitious set on the part of MasterBox. However, apart from some minor areas, it's a set which is easy to assemble and is (on the basis of the two figures I assembled) is convincing. There are areas which would benefit from improvement/replacement - particularly the heads. I would say it's their best set to date and bodes well for future releases - again a question of establishing their own space in the market.
Inevitably though, its the way they are going to used which will dictate the success of this set. The possibilities are simply enormousS in both Eastern Front and NW Europe dioramas. This is not just a set which is going to sell by the truckload, it's a set which deserves to sell in vast numbers. With the amount of late-war figures out there, figures from this set will be making guest appearances in many dioramas for a long time to come.
Acknowledgements Armorama would like to express its gratitude to Masterbox Ltd. for supplying this set for review.