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In-Box Review
135
Japanese Imperial Marines
Bloody Atoll Series Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Introduction

A little under two years ago, MasterBox released three sets of figures depicting:

• Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943.
• U.S. Marine Corps Infantry, Tarawa, November 1943. ( Reviewed Here)
• Hand to Hand Combat, Tarawa, November 1943, depicting troops from both sides of this area of conflict. (Reviewed Here)

When announced and then released, there was a lot of interest shown, but I have yet to see any built. In this review of the first set (which will be followed by the other two sets), I will see if they lived up to the hype at time of release.

Contents

Inside the standard end opening box typical of MasterBox kits, you will find a single tan sprue containing all the parts for the figures, plus a small decal sheet containing six flags for attachment to the rifles of the charging figures.

Review

Firstly a bit about the box on which all the construction and painting information is printed: the front has artwork by A. Karaschuk; the back of the box displays the construction of the figures, which are displayed as painted. However, no colour guide is provided for any paint manufacturer. There is also a sprue layout on the back with part numbers, as no number tags are on the sprue itself.

The figures consist of three infantry and one officer charging at their foe, with one having been hit by enemy fire and falling backwards. The sprue itself, while free of imperfections such as flash or push out marks, is a little soft, and that concerns me a little. A high point here is that some of the mould seams are some of the lightest I have ever seen on plastic injection-moulded figures.

Figure one
The officer in this set consists of 13 parts, including weapon and equipment. The figure itself is broken down into:

• Two legs, which join at the crotch and waist
• A torso
• Three arms (2 left 1 right)
• A flat top head
• Field cap with neck cloth

The equipment supplied consists of:

• An unsheathed “Shin-Gunto” sword (the scabbard is moulded in one of the left hands)
• Water bottle
• Pistol holster (closed)
• Map case
• Binocular case

Figure two
This figure depicts a marine in a bayonet charge stance, and which is nicely animated. The figure consists of 16 parts, including weapons and equipment:

• Two legs which join at the crotch and waist
• A torso
• Two arms
• A full bald head
• Cloth covered hollow type 92 helmet

The equipment supplied with this figure consists of:

• 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifle with separate cocking handle and bayonet attached
• Haversack
• Water bottle
• Two standard ammo pouches for attachment to the belt
• A reserve ammo pouch which sits between the other two, and also contains an oil bottle for the weapon (this accounts for the larger size)
• A bayonet scabbard
• Horseshoe roll usually made of a tent segment

Figure three
This figure depicts a marine running with his rifle held at mid point by the right hand. It consists of 16 parts including weapons and equipment:

• Two legs which join at the crotch and waist
• A torso
• Two arms
• A full bald head
• Cloth covered hollow type 92 helmet

The equipment supplied with this figure is similar to the previous one:

• 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifle with separate cocking handle and bayonet attached
• Haversack
• Water bottle
• Two standard ammo pouches for attachment to the belt
• A reserve ammo pouch and oil bottle
• Bayonet scabbard
• Horseshoe roll

Figure four
This figure depicts a marine falling backwards after being hit by enemy fire. Like the other infantry figures, he consists of 16 parts:

• Two legs
• A torso
• Two arms
• A full bald head
• Hollow type 92 helmet with what I believe is supposed to be the Anchor emblem of the Japanese Marines

The equipment supplied includes the same as the other two enlisted men:

• 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifle with separate cocking handle (but no bayonet)
• Bayonet in scabbard
• Haversack
• Water bottle
• Two standard ammo pouches for attachment to the belt
• Reserve ammo pouch with oil bottle
• Horseshoe roll

Detail and texture on all of these figures is good as regard clothing creases, and some very nice detail has been rendered on the puttees and boots. The weapons and equipment looks to be correctly-detailed; however, the mess tins shown on top of the rice sacks on the box art have been missed. The third arm supplied with the officer looks to me as if the hand has been put on back to front, and the only detail other than the box which separates these from standard Japanese infantry is on one of the helmets, and that is impossible for me to identify.

The average Japanese soldier was 62 Inches tall during World War 2, and these figures are a fair amount taller than that— about 68 Inches, which is very tall for a Japanese of this period. The facial detail is excellent, with very animated expressions for plastic. They do, however, look on the sprue at least to me a little “chubby.”

Conclusion

This set of figures has some very good and only a few low points, but they are a far better option than any other injection-moulded Japanese figures that I know of. They could very easily be used as Japanese infantry rather than marines, depending on how you paint them. Lastly, as with all figures, you will need to make your our straps and slings for the water bottles and rifles.
SUMMARY
Highs: The figures and equipment is cleanly moulded with good crease and uniform detail.
Lows: Questionable height of the figures, and the omission of the mess tins shown in the box art.
Verdict: A well thought-out set of figures which hits most of the marks and is wide of the mark in other areas. I have to recommend them as Japanese troops in injection moulded plastic when compared to other offerings available.
Percentage Rating
80%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: MB3542
  Suggested Retail: £7.50
  PUBLISHED: Jan 14, 2011
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.05%

About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Hi Just a comment on the height issue. One needs to remember that the Japanese Marines were an elite unit with larger personnel than the average Imperial Army conscript. Many a US unit was surprised by the size of their marine opponents who were much larger than wartime propaganda had lead them to expect. I would therefore submit that proportionally the Masterbox figures are probably correctly sized to the historical reality. Deathdork
JAN 15, 2011 - 05:48 PM
Thank you for that information as it is the first time I have ever heard that.
JAN 15, 2011 - 05:51 PM
Japan did not have Marines so to speak. They were special naval landing forces that were part of the IJN and utilized Naval Rank system.
JAN 16, 2011 - 11:20 AM
John I have heard then identified as Imperial Marines on several occasions and so I have no reason to question the title. It is my belief that the word Marines indicates navel forces that fight on the land but are landed from the sea, which while not strictly accurate in the present it was in the past.
JAN 16, 2011 - 11:57 AM
Darren, I agree about naval ground fighting forces landed from the sea. I guess I was trying to say the Japan did not have a separate branch of service as the USMC and the Royal Marines that utilize "Army" style ranks (IE Sargents etc) So yes I agree that the Special Naval Landing Forces performed "marine" duties. But when they are referred to as imperial marines it leads people to belive they were set up like he USMC and/or Royal Marines, when they were members of the IJN with Navy type ranks. IE Petty Officer/Commander) but I guess it is splitting hairs, they were a type of marine force.
JAN 17, 2011 - 03:25 AM
Thank you for the clarification John.
JAN 17, 2011 - 05:19 AM
There is a great little Osprey book on the IJN naval landing forces and that is where I got my original information contained in my prior comment. The book is highly recommended. Deathdork
JAN 22, 2011 - 07:18 PM
No mention in the review of how the decals fit onto the rifles!! Any ideas on this, fellow modellers???
FEB 08, 2016 - 03:56 AM
Place them on tinfoil and attach that way. Leave it until the last job as well.
FEB 08, 2016 - 11:58 AM
   

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