by: Jim Rae [ ]
It's perhaps useful, by way of explanation, to consider the following. Masterbox Ltd. are a company who do the occasional 'one-off' set of figures. However, they do tend to work in 'themes'. This just-released set is part of a fairly extensive project which has covered (or WILL, with the release of their Italian Infantry set) the principal combatants in the Western Desert campaigns.
This new set, Infantry of the D.A.K., is the third 'German-specific' set within their series: Battles in Northern Africa. A fourth, 'combination' covered hand-to-hand combat between German & Commonwealth troops. Mooted, and in-progress, is another D.A.K. set featuring a mortar crew.
MB3593 - "Zum Sturm! Vorwärts!" German Infantry, DAK, WWII Era is a set of five, 1/35th scale styrene figures. The set comes in a typical Masterbox presentation - a single sprue within an end-opening box. In total, the set contains 82 parts which are moulded in sand-colored plastic.
As usual, I'll do a brief description of quality of moulding, comments on individual aspects and finish with some thoughts on the utility and quality of the set.
Taking close up-shots of the contents of a plastic sprue can, unfortunately, cause a degree of 'distortion' of the image of individual parts. Quite often, when looking at them, with the eye, they appear much better than they do in a hugely-amplified form on the screen. The slightest mould-line is exaggerated and perspective can go haywire. In other words, the close-ups can frequently give the contrary image you want to present. The color of the styrene is also a factor, while photographing this set, I was also taking images of the company's Typ 170V which, in grey styrene, and being more 2-dimensional is much easier to capture successfully.
The moulding is crisp enough but isn't exempt from some mould-lines. These, due to the denser nature of the styrene, will not create any problems when cleaning-up begins. The part attachment points are, on the whole, as small as is practical. The only concern I have is the attachment points on the helmets - these will need extreme care when removing them from the sprue.
The Subject Matter:
The set consists of five D.A.K. Infantry (four ORs and an Officer), they are all designed to interact together as they are portrayed in the act of advancing.
It's probably tempting, when one designs a set of this type, to have all the figures dressed the same. Fortunately, with this set, it ISN'T the case. All are wearing the (later) M1942 Tropical Tunic (with plaiting on the pockets)but there's a nice mixture of footwear and trousers. Three of the figures are wearing the Service Dress uniform Tropical Breeches (below the knee), the other two, the SD M1940 Tropical Trousers (longer and finishing above the ankle). The two trousered figures are wearing the leather and canvas short boots with (British-style) ankle gaiters, the remainder with the commonly-seen puttee-type leggings. Headgear is limited to helmets (Other Ranks) with the officer wearing an Afrikamutze, the Afrika Corps Tropical Field Cap. Each figure, of the other ranks, has two helmets - one in its 'natural' state, the other with the strap round it for attaching foliage etc. Again, a nice way of avoiding 'uniformity'.
This is really the watchword of Masterbox - animation. This is designed as an 'in-action' set, as such, it delivers. Not perhaps to everyone's taste (someone must buy those pointing figures!) as it's a lot easier to build a Diorama around static figures, but to model troops in combat, it really works.
All the figures are given a full-load of the standard equipment. Entrenching tools, bread bags and, for the riflemen, the correct ammunition pouches. All of the typical gear being present, as much (or as little) can be used as you see fit. Weapons are standard as well - 3 Kar 98Ks, an MP44 and, for the officer, a holstered P38, one in his hand and a nicely-moulded spare.
The faces are good (for styrene), nicely underplayed and should paint up well. Details such as hands are adequate as are areas such as the definition on webbing, creasing and the lacing on the high boots is very good. In reality, the details are much better than in the images - very crisp and delicate.
There are figure sets out there which have you going Wow! and yawning in equal measure. This is NOT either of the two. It's a technically VERY competent set, but not, in the final analysis tremendously exciting. The fact is, it's a damned useful set with enormous potential for combining with other sets. The designers have achieved their brief - a set of figures in action poses. It's another versatile and useful set in a market which isn't exactly overflowing with DAK sets either. It's short on gimmicks. That is VERY positive also. Too often, there are sets which are so limited in their use they become all but useless - this isn't.
There will, inevitably, be a bit of cleaning up of mould-lines. Personally, I've yet to find a set of styrene figures which DON'T need a bit of cleaning up, so nothing unusual or reprehensible there. Equipment is good, generous but, in my opinion, could be a bit crisper than it is.
It's excellent rather than superlative. Workmanlike rather than genius. However, at the end of the day, give me 20 competent sets like this, which can actually be used than one set of the obscure and technically brilliant!