login   |    register

In-Box Review
Hand to Hand Combat
Hand to Hand Combat, Tarawa, November 1943
  • move

by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


A little under two years ago MasterBox released three sets of figures under the “Bloody Atoll Series” depicting;

• Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943. (Reviewed Here)
• 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.

When announced, and then released, there was a lot of interest shown, but I have yet to see any built. I have covered the Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943 and the U.S. Marine Corps Infantry, Tarawa, November 1943. In this the final review of the three part series I will cover Hand to Hand Combat, Tarawa, November 1943. I wanted to see if they lived up to the hype at the time of release, and I hope you find this review of some help.


Inside the standard end opening box which is typical of MasterBox you will find a single tan sprue containing all the parts for the figures further protected in a poly bag.


Firstly a note on the packaging for this figure set; on the front of the box there is an artist impression of the figures packaged within drawn by A. Gagarin. The back of the box shows the five figures assembled and painted with the needed part numbers identified. There is also a picture of the sprue which is numbered, as there are no numbers on the sprue itself. As has been typical of this series of figures there are no painting instructions other than the painted figures depicted on the rear, this is a poor situation which MasterBox has corrected in their later offerings.

The sprue contains the parts for five figures (three US Marines and two Japanese Marines) sculpted by A. Karaschuk. The US Marines in this set are all rifleman, with two equipped with M1 Garand rifles and one with an M1 Carbine, and are depicted thus;
1. A US Marine with an M1 Carbine up to his shoulder while in an unconventional kneeling position.
2. A US Marine standing upright with his weight on his right foot using his M1 Garand rifle as a club. Out of interest this figure, with very minimal alteration, could be depicted swinging a baseball bat during rest and relaxation at the rear.
3. The last US Marine is also upright and just starting a bayonet thrust with his M1 Garand rifle which is supplied with a bayonet.

The two Japanese Marines are both rifleman armed with 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifles and depicted as;
1. A Japanese Marine charging at the enemy with his 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifle held high starting a bayonet thrust.
2. The second Japanese Marine is shown charging at the enemy with his 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifle at chest height, possibly being fired.
Both of the 6.5mm Meiji type 38 rifles have bayonets attached with separate cocking handle and the empty scabbards are supplied to equip the Japanese Marines.

The figures all consist of the same basic seven parts which are;
• Two legs.
• Two arms.
• The torso.
• The head.
• Hollowed out helmet.

A point worth noting on the US Marine helmets is that they are all shown with the cloth camouflage material cover, the quality of this detail is varied with only one showing the join running front to back over the top of the helmet. The Japanese Marine helmets give you one with foliage camouflage attached and the other a cloth cover. The parts have no flash as such but they all have mould seams that will require careful cleaning to prevent damage to the detail.

The equipment for the two M1 Garand rifleman appears to be correct with;
• Ammunition clips (five on each side).
• Two 1 quart canteens, cup, carriers (late type Iwo Jima).
• A first aid kit worn hung on the belt at the rear between the ammo pouches.
• A pouch that hangs below the ammunition pouches on the right hand side and which I believe is supposed to be a tool kit for the M1 Garand Rifle, none of my reference show this pouch and so it is guess work on my part.

The crease detail on the uniforms varies from very good on the trousers to nearly none existent on the shirts. The boots have reasonable detail with the foot angles being very good and natural. Face detail is fair with one having a haircut that I guarantee will get him shouted at. Hand/finger detail is very good on one of the figures with the other being a little soft/unrefined.

The rifleman with the M1 Carbine has again been depicted with wearing gators which as mentioned in my earlier review is unusual. Crease detail on the trousers is again very good but like the other two rifleman the shirt exhibits hardly any crease detail. Facial detail is fair as is the left hand detail, the detail of the right hand looks to me to have very short fingers, but they have been moulded to allow the finger to be on the trigger of the M1. The equipment supplied with this figure is the same as the other two riflemen with the exception of the ammunition pouches, as this figure only has two pouches which I believe to be short on number. There is a big plus with this figure which is the inclusion of his KA-bar.

The Japanese Marines have good uniform and crease detail throughout with the puttees looking particularly good to my eye, the only detail that may be an issue are the straps across the back as they are very light and a little lacking in definition. Equipment wise each figure has on top of the previous mentioned items;
• 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).
• Horseshoe roll usually made of a tent segment.

One feature I really like about figure sets from MasterBox is that the items to be attached to the uniform have been moulded to fit snugly against the figures body allowing for a natural look to the figures, rather than some manufacturers who render every small detail on an item but when attached it looks unnatural due to it not conforming to the body. Hand and facial detail is acceptable, and should be of a suitable quality for the average modeller. In closing, it should be mentioned that one of the three pairs of flags in the Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943 set is for one of the rifleman in this set.


A good set of mixed figures that, in combination with the other two sets in the series, should give you a dynamic looking diorama, and the addition of mixing up the body parts from the sets as a whole should provide you with a considerable number Marines from both sides. It should be mentioned that the Japanese Marines could be depicted as Japanese infantry as I see no markings to specifically indicate they are Marines.

The negatives of this set are the lack of any grenades being shown (most pictures of WW2 US Marines usually have grenades shown about their person) and the hands are not up to MasterBox’s current standards overall.
Highs: The Japanese infantry are the stars of this set for me taken as a finished figure, with two of the US Marines shown in stances I really like, one of which I can only say is fantastic as it highlights to me the carnage that took place in these battles.
Lows: The lack of grenades and painting instructions along with some weak hand detail does let this set down.
Verdict: With the limited number of Japanese WW2 figures I see no option other than to recommend the product, and the Japanese in this set are very good overall.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: MB3544
  Suggested Retail: £7.00
  PUBLISHED: Mar 17, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Darren Baker (CMOT)

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 ©2020 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks for getting this one up Darren! I'm surprised at how much flash there is around the parts, but it looks like it won't be a problem for the most part. I was wondering what the fit of the figures is like, do you think that there will be any alignment issues with them?
MAR 16, 2011 - 06:25 PM
Jeremy I have used a number of figures from MasterBox and for the most part there products go together very well. I have too many things on my plate at the moment to start on these as well, but I believe and see no reason why these figures should be any different as despite not being one of their newest products they are new enough to have benefited from their experience.
MAR 17, 2011 - 12:49 AM
The small pouch the reviewer "thinks" is a tool kit is actually the first aid dressing pouch. This was standard equipment across all theaters. The larger, "jungle first aid pouch", at the rear of the belt, was peculiar to those fighting in the pacific. Just an FYI.
MAR 17, 2011 - 03:52 AM
Thank you for that Information Robert it did not occur to me they would carry two first aid kits and the only other mentioned pouch it could be was the tool kit for the weapon.
MAR 17, 2011 - 06:30 AM

What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move