by: Jim Rae [ ]
Introduction Currently, the (plastic) figure market can be broadly divided into the 'static' and the 'dynamic'. The former, at least in my interpretation, consists of the usual group of four or six figures doing not very much... De-Rigeur in each of these sets, is one figure pointing into the distance - which is sufficient to generate a (dangerous) rush of adrelanin in the purchaser
The 'Dynamic' are more subtle. Within their product lists, are sets which portray a variety of troops in different situations - it can be combat, it can be troops resting or even troops marching. Usually, each individual element of each set has some relationship to the others in the set. The essential difference between the two 'philosophies' is that in the latter, the figures may not be doing a tremendous amount, but they are sufficiently interestingly posed that even a figure darning his socks or washing his hands generates an interest in the modeler.
Nowadays, a figure 'pointing off the page' simply doesn't cut it with most modelers - there has to be something more to capture the attention..
The set 3535 - Russian Tankmen, 1943-1944 is an injection-,moulded, 1/35th scale figure set from the Ukrainian manufacturer Masterbox Ltd.. The set consists of 4 figures and comes on a single, sand-colored sprue, of just 34 parts. No seperate instructions are provided, the photos on the reverse of the box acts as a simple guide to construction. Also here, is the painting guide which give numbered references for Vallejo, Tamiya, Lifecolor, Agama and, for those who still use enamels, Humbrol.
In Detail Briefly, the figures portray a typical Soviet Tankcrew during a period of 'downtime'. One of the figures is using the lull to repair his uniform jacket, another is cleaning his PPsh SMG. A third figure is washing himself with the assistance of another who is pouring water onto his hands from a bucket.
Looking at the parts on the sprue thare are some mould-lines present (but nothing excessive) whereas flash is minimal. Register on the sprue is perfect with no 'offsetting' present whatsoever.
In the next section, i'll look at the various elements of the figures - anatomy, faces etc.
HEADS: The most critized areas of plastic figure kits are usually the heads/faces. Of all the items which are replaced, these are usually the first on the list. The set contains four different heads - only one of which has headgear. The faces are VERY well executed indeed and contain some nice detail. Two of the figures have moustaches, one has his head more or less bald and hair (when present) is pretty convincingly done. One thing I will comment on, it MAY be wishful-thinking on my part, but the figures do seem to have 'Slavic' features. Certainly, the heads from Masterbox are getting better with each release..
HANDS: The hands are adequtely done but not brilliant. They do require some very careful cleaning up to get rid of mould-lines and a tiny amount of flash. Definition is reasonable, but don't have the real 'sharpness' that I personally prefer.
LEGS: Very-well done with nice, delicate creasing and good detail on boots. Legs are moulded in two halves which does require some filling to get rid of any gaps.
UNIFORM DETAILS: three of the four figures are sculpted with the one piece tanker coveralls. The fourth is wearing the usual Soviet-Green uniform and wearing an undershirt. Now, the scupltor(s) could have taken the easy way out and simply done the usual coveralls which are present in a lot of sets. Instead, they chose to design one of the figures with his coveralls pullled down to the waist. This figure really does work - the additional construction necessary really makes an interesting change from the more usual.
POSES: Even though it's designed as a set of figures relaxing, the poses are interesting and (just as importantly) convincing. Particularly notable is the execution of the two standing figures - the pose of these have a lot of potential for other settings.
CONSTRUCTION: is straightforward and the pose of the figures comes VERY close to that shown in the box-art. The only problem encountered was the need for filler between the legs and where the upper torso meets the waist. Heads on Masterbox's Figures are, i'm delighted to say, fitting better than ever before. A slight 'wash' of liquid cement is sifficient to weld the necks to the bodies without any gaps. The set went together in just an hour or two and while requiring constant checking, no pitfalls are present.
Conclusions Again, with sets of this type there are many possibilities to mix & match arms etc. to get a bit more variation in the poses. It isn't a set you'll rush out and buy ten of but it would be worthwhile to buy a couple for future use. All of the elements could be used together but, more than likely you'll use one or two and adapt others. I really like the little 'touches' in this set - the jacket which is being repared is a seperate part and drapes over the legs of the seated figure, the PPsh is folded open for cleaning etc. etc. etc.
There's an amazing amount of though has gone into this set and,will, inevitably, boost MasterBox's already high reputation as one of the most imaginative figure producers we've ever seen.