by: Jim Rae [ ]
IntroductionMasterbox certainly weren't the first to produce a series of 'connected' figures within the same set, but they certainly are the ones who are doing it better than anyone else. Unfortunately, some people will say that it reduces their utility by creating these instant vignettes, however the reality is the contrary. In all the Masterbox sets i've reviewed (and bought) of this type, i've still to find a pair of figures which can't fit into another setting. With this NEW set it's equally true. All the individual figures will be of value in many other situations - not just an 'instant' diorama.
Masterbox's new figure setMB3529 - 'Photo for the Newspaper' (Russian Infantry. Korsun-Shevchenkovskiy, 1944) is a five-figure set moulded in sand-colored styrene. The set consists of some 70 parts. Looking at the parts on the sprue, there are a few mould-lines visible but the overall quality of moulding is good with the minimum of flash present. Once again, the box-art is excellent with the reverse providing basic instructions along with a color chart. The latter is very impressive - it gives color references to five different brands of paint - Vallejo, Tamiya, Lifecolor, Humbrol and Agama.
Briefly, about this reviewI did this as a 'Full-build' although, as I was somewhat pushed for time, I DIDN'T put in as much TLC as I would have done normally. There are gaps in some areas - all of which will be rectified later...
In depthThe first thing which is worth mentioning about this set, is the variation that the sculptor has given us. No less than FOUR different uniform types are present amongst the five figures. These are: the camoufaged smock given to Scouts and Snipers, the quilted jacket and trousers, the reversible parka (White/Green) and the frequently seen sheepskin coat which varied in color from sand-brown to white. Two types of headgear are provided with the standard Soviet helmet and the fur hat with side flaps.
I'll begin with looking at the various areas of moulding within the set:
Heads/Faces: The faces are undoubtedly getting much better they are not doing a 'standard' head there's a lot of variation in expression within the provided faces.
Boots/Legs: Nice definition on the boots with clear definition between heel and instep. The legs themselves are in two halves which require some careful sanding & matching up to get a clean fit. There is a need for a little filler in one or two of the figures to get rid of any gaps.
Torsos: There is some very subtle and detailed areas on the upper torsos/chests. Particularly worthy of mention are the layers of clothing underneath open collars. Also impressive are the cords on the camo smock - some careful painting will be necessary to bring them out.
Hands: In general good, although this is an area where mould-lines DO exist and will require some careful cleaning-up. There ARE one or two where some reworking may be desirable although they are good.
Poses: This is inevitably the area where Masterbox is the undisputed master (no pun intended). This is not, unlike sets such as the Stalingrad releases, where there is a large amount of animation. The figures are in much more relaxed poses. That said, they are excellent poses and although not in the truly 'dynamic' character of others they are more than adequate...
Equipment: Some nicely done reproductions of the standard Soviet equipment and, just as a reference to other manufacturers, once again, the backpacks look as if they actually contain something - not the typical ones which seem to be full of balloons. A simple touch, but effective.
Construction There are no pitfalls in the construction of these figures - they go together exactly as they should. What does exist is the need for care in planning their construction. They need a lot of test-fitting and then require a bit of gap-filler in areas such as where the upper torsos meet the legs. The headgear does fit a lot better on this set than in others although a delicate touch is also required to get the 'sit' one requires.
One thing which has become apparent, is that with the 'Multipose' nature of the Masterbox figures, it's a good idea to buy several sets at the same time (same nationality , naturally enough) which will give you innnumerable possibilities.
Conclusions Once again, it's an excellent set, which although it requires a delicate touch in building, will give a lot of interesting variations in both uniform types and in poses. The possibilities are enormous (again) and with slight changes in detail could cover any period from early to late war. This is also an excellent range of figures to really hone one's building and painting skills on and can be Highly Recommended to both novice an 'Master' alike.