Masterbox Goes All Pastoral on us...
This is a new figure set from the Ukrainian manufacturer, Master Box Ltd.
. Once again, rather than produce a set of figures (which would be useful on their own), the company has opted to produce another of its 'Dioramas-in-a-Box'. The new sets is: MB3565 - Operation Milk Man - German Infantry WWII
. The set, which is moulded in the now familiar dark-sand colored styrene contains 69/29 parts on two sprues. The larger sprue contains the parts for the four Infantrymen, the second, for two cows and a goat. The box, in the usual style from the company, the front with the (as always) excellent box-art by A.Karaschuk, the reverse provides some brief construction and painting notes.
I'll separate this review into two (logical) parts. The first looking at the figures, the second the cows and the goat.
The figures from Master Box in the last year or two have shown a remarkable degree of animation. This, with the subject matter, is not obviously the case. That's not to say they're static - they show a group of soldiers engaged in a specific task, in this case milking a cow. Never having milked a cow 'in the field' I can't make a value judgement as to whether the approach is the right one or not, it does LOOK right though. For those unaccustomed to milking, there would be a certain air of a group effort involved. This is precisely what the sculptor has achieved.
Everything looks as it should for a group of figures which could be used for any setting from the Early to Mid War period. All figures are wearing Jackboots and the typical 1937 tunic and trousers. Once again, a good representation of the essential details with all areas such as pockets, creases and seam-lines where they should be.
As I mentioned in the other recent review I've published (British Desert Infantry
), Master Box are now showing a real delicacy of touch with such items as hands. They are now much better detailed and much more convincingly done than previously. The faces, too, are showing a marked improvement with more character getting sculpted into them. They are still (and this is principally due to the limitations of styrene) not getting the razor-sharp, defined detail that many of the AM (Resin) head producers have achieved. For styrene, they are very good.
Another area which has improved is that of personal equipment. The company has obviously worked hard to improve the quality of the personal gear - and it shows. Items such as the 'bread-bags' and respirator cases are nicely defined and to the correct size. All the typical personal gear is there and in abundance.
With a set like this, the personal weapons still have to be present. The set gives you 3 Kar98s and an MP40. The weapons are well done although, as is usual, for more realism slings will have to be added.
Each figure goes together in 7/8 parts (not counting personal gear) with a choice of forage caps or helmets. What the designer is now doing is creating the 'skirt' of the Tunic as a separate part (or parts) which gives a much more realistic look. Each figure is on one section of the sprue which makes life much easier - obviating the need for a separate instruction sheet. As the parts are numbered on the reverse of the box, it makes finding parts pretty simple. As I build a lot of these sets fit is, in general, good and there's no reason to imagine this will be anything different. Mould-lines are present and simple enough to remove, no flash whatsoever and certainly no sink-holes or injection marks - facilitating clean-up and assembly.
The set includes, as a bonus, two cows and a goat. Each cow consists of 10 parts, whereas the goat is only 5 components. Curiously enough, this set is being reviewed only a short time after a similar set from Tamiya and some of the comments apply to both. The cows are, it must be said, static. This doesn't worry me as, in general, the cow is NOT one of Nature's dynamic animals, they do stand around a lot and rarely move (except for reasons known only to themselves). Therefore, as the cows in THIS set are pretty static, I can easily live with that. The thing which the modeler may want to do is add a bit of texture to them (Mr.Surfacer, 'Cow Grade'?) as they are a bit smooth and cows are a bit textured. As to painting, as they seem to be Frisians, I assume that black and white should fit the bill.
The goat, is a pretty good representation of a (ahem) goat and since my knowledge is limited, I won't speculate on the breed. Like the cows, it's nicely done and a bit of texturing and some careful painting should do wonders for it.
There are figure sets which, for their execution or simply the originality, take the breath away. This is not one of them. Rather, it's what most people want - a simple, no-nonsense set where it can be used together or use elements in other settings. That is, for me, the secret of this set. It's incredibly useful because you can use as much or as little as you want. The standing figure drinking will appear in many other dioramas, the animals also have many uses. There's always a need for kneeling or crouching figures as well. They DON'T necessarily have to be shown milking animals...
On the debit side, although the figures are in relaxed poses, it might have been more convincing if some had their tunics unbuttoned and their web-gear loosened. Something for Master Box to think about for FUTURE sets of this type?
This 'Dio-in-a-Box' concept is truly inspired and it's good to see that new approaches are constantly in the company's thoughts. An excellent set.