by: Rick Cooper [ ]
From Master Box (MB) comes another nifty set of figures that is more or less a diorama, or at least a vignette, in a box. This particular offering includes three US paratroopers, a small child, a young woman, a nun, a telega, or wain, style farm wagon, and the horses to pull it. Let’s give credit to MasterBox for their continuing efforts to make available more and more figures of civilians in styrene.
The kit comes packaged in the end flap style box favored by MB, although I wish they would convert to the 2 part box which seems much sturdier. In the box you will be treated to three generous sprues of styrene delight with a total of 134 regular parts. As a bonus MB includes two extra figures that they make no mention of until you open the box. Talk about not tooting your own horn, there are other manufacturers that would have that kind of information plastered all over the box art. The front of the box has a very nice illustration by A. Karaschuk while the reverse has the construction and painting guide which is keyed to the Vallejo line of paints. A couple items noticeable in their absence are any decals for the unit and American flag patches for the paratroopers, as well as both the horses reins and slings for the weapons, although the painting and construction guide shows them all in place.
One sprue contains the three US paratroopers as well as the three civilian figures that are depicted in the box art. The paratroopers are well done, with a decent amount of personal equipment. The poses for two of the troopers are arranged to fit with the two civilians, one fellow is holding the small child figure in a pose that is very reminiscent of Pvt. Caparzo from “Saving Private Ryan” moments before he is mortally wounded. Another trooper has an arm around the waist of the young woman in a pose that is meant to portray him leading her to safety. The third paratrooper, I’m guessing an NCO based on the Thompson he is carrying, is shown with a hand up halting the wagon being driven by the nun.
As far as the figures themselves, they are all well done. In particular, the undercuts for both the paratroopers M42 field jacket and the young woman’s skirt are created with separate pieces that do a good job of portraying the look of dynamic clothing. I like the six pocket .30 cal ammo bandoliers that are included for the two troopers. While they are a bit stiff I like the way they are presented, as you can see on the built up figure how well they look, and honestly if I had taken a bit more time to work with them I think I could have made them lay down a bit better.
MB has also done a good job of replicating the canvas reinforcing pads on the knees and elbows of the paratroopers as well. Also, the pockets of the paratroopers are really nice with just enough ‘bulge’ to indicate that the pockets are filled with something. Some of the detail is a bit on the soft side; particularly so with the weapons for each of the figures. As well the weapons have no provision for slings even though they are prominent in the box art and painting guide.
One of the biggest deficiencies in the kit are the paratroopers helmets, the shape is clearly off, almost like a strange amalgam of American and Russian helmets. Most modelers with a decent spares bin will end up replacing these along with some of the other bits of personal kit the paratroopers are carrying.
The second sprue contains the parts to build the wagon, a telega style farm vehicle. The sprue shows it is from kit #3562, but I can’t find that MB ever has released a kit 3562, at least not yet. The telega is very well done, with no knockout marks on either side of any of the pieces. I find that most modelers don’t like the heavy handed wood grain on many kits so MB has rectified the issue by omitting the wood grain completely! Not really a big deal, as it is an easy addition if you desire. The wagon itself appears complete with springs, traces, buckboard, etc.; one prominent piece that is missing is the set of reins, much like the weapons slings they will need to be added with whatever your favorite media is for that sort of thing.
The third sprue contains the horses and the two bonus figures, an older gentleman and a young girl. This is the same sprue that made its first appearance as “Somewhere in Europe”, MB #3538. Both horses have all tack molded in place, with the neck and head attaching at the breastplate which helps to eliminate another of those pesky joins requiring filling. You will also need to add the spreader chains, or at least a spreader bar at the front of the wagon tongue to keep your team of plastic equines in line.
Despite some soft details, poorly rendered helmets, and a few missing bits and bobs with the horse team’s tack and equipment I think this is another versatile set from MB. You can use the figures as part of a vignette or larger diorama in France, 1944, or they can be placed in many other settings, particularly the civilians and wagon which would be appropriate throughout Europe. I for one really appreciate their commitment to producing civilians in 1/35 scale, and this set, with a total of five civilians, goes a long way in that respect. Recommended.