Review by Alan McNeilly
Master Box have just released another set of interesting figures in the form of a 4 figure set of British World War II Infantry. The theme of the set being ‘Scotland the Brave’ more or less speaks for itself, showing a Piper rallying troops for and advance against their enemy. The Figures were sculpted by A Gagrian.
The set, No MB3547, comes in the standard type MB Box with a colour picture on the front and the build instructions shown on the rear. Also on the rear is a suggested outline of markings for various units along with Tartan styles worn by those units. I would suggest you check you references carefully for the correct style to use. The set consists of 1 frame containing the figure parts and equipment which come wrapped in a plastic envelope with a further paper insert outlining the kit parts. The figures are cast in a light buff plastic.
First impressions: My first impression of this set if that it is quite nicely sculpted and molded. The proportions of the bodies seem very good too There are nice folds in the uniforms and the webbing straps and uniform details fairly good for 1/35 plastic injection figures. Each figure comes complete with basic Battle Order equipment and the equipment also looks good. The only thing I initially didn’t like were the respirators that seem too large when compared against other 1/35 kit I have. Oddly missing form the spure are any water bottles, and the short stabbing bayonets to go with the No 4 rifles, a slight omission on Master Boxes’ part, so you will have to source those from your spares box or another set.
So lets have a look at the individual figures
The Piper is made up of 15 pieces. Head, upper body, legs, arms, 3 piece kilt plus sporran, Pistol Holster, Respirator and bagpipe parts. The figure depicts a walking piper. You will need some good reference for this one depending upon which unit you choose to represent.
There will be the normal seem lines to be removed but these are fairly thin looking. The pistol holster lacks a stud and as mentioned the respirator container seems too big to me so would need replaced. The upper torso wears a Battle Dress Jacket with the pleated pockets. Over the BD the figure wears a set of 37 pattern webbing with a cross strap for the respirator case running right to left across the chest. The webbing is fairly well done, the buckles and brasses being in the correct place although the front brasses aren’t great. The BD is open at the neck revealing a shirt collar below. The kilt is made up of 3 parts with the sporran being a separate part. The kilt has pleats on the two side/rear parts and is smooth on the front and shows the straps to attach the sporran to. The sporran has quite good detail. The lower legs are naked to the ball of the leg. The lower legs wear short hose and anklets with a pair of ammo boots. Again the detail is quite good with the small unit flashes that were often worn with the hose present. The anklets and boots are also of a fairly good standard. One thing missing perhaps is a Dirk, the small knife often carried in the Right Leg Hose. (see link below).
The face of the soldier is quite reasonable showing that of a very Scottish looking chap in the act of blowing the pipes. The face will need a little clean up. On the head is a Pipers Beret with the unit insignia clearly shown on the left hand side
The arms are separate items and designed to be holding/playing the pipes. The pipes themselves are made up of 3 parts one of which comes attached to the left arm. The basic pipe parts should be OK to use, but again do check your research well.
The back pack is of a reasonable standard and should be OK to use but as mentioned the respirator case is much too big.
My knowledge of Scottish Regiments is limited, there is great potential with this figure, but you would need to do you research well before commencing painting.
Infantryman 1 - Kneeling/Rising
This figure is made up of 14 parts. The Head, Helmet, Upper Body, separate legs, left and right ammo pouches, small digging tool, respirator, No 4 rifle and spade. The figure is depicted as just starting to rise up from a kneeling position./ Dressed in Battle Dress Serge Pattern 73/40, the figure depicts a soldier starting to rise from a kneeling position. The upper torso show the battle dress open at the neck, there is an indication of a shirt collar below the BD but the ORs flannel shirt with integral collar was issued from late 1944 so you may whish to alter this to show a scarf if you want you troops in an earlier setting.
The legs, 2 separate items have BD trousers which show the appropriate pockets and this soldier is also wearing anklets and ammo boots.
Equipment: This comes in the form of full battle order, the 39 pattern webbing belt and shoulder straps being molded to the upper torso. The front brasses aren’t very good on this figure, but as he is designed to be leaning forward from the waist won’t be seen anyway when built. The rear buckles are good for 1/35 plastic injection. He comes with left and right ammo pouches; these are a bit on the small side, so you may wish to replace these. He has a separate back pack. Molded in a different style to that provided for the piper and again this should be quite useable. He also comes with the small digging tool and holder, again quite useable, and a spade and No 4 rifle. Both the spade and rifle are quite good representation of the kit.
The head and helmet are also separate items. The head is a full head, showing the face of a yelling soldier. The chin strap for the helmet comes molded to the face and I think this head should paint up fairly well. The helmet which looks like a Mk II, can be positioned to suit because of the full head provided I think the pose is fairly natural looking.
Infantryman 2 – Crouching/Rising
This figure is made up of 15 parts in the same combination as the 1st infantryman, the additional part being a pick./ This figure is dress and equipped as above and the same comments apply. The soldier again has a different style back pack and the option of adding either a shovel or pick to his equipment. He also has a full head to allow the helmet to be positioned to suit.
The figure depicts a soldier rising form a kneeling crouching position with his right had holding a No 4 rifle to aid his rise. The figure is depicted looking back over his left shoulder. I’m not too sure about this pose, it is a very ‘frozen’ moment in time pose, but I’ll reserve judgment until the figure gets built.
Infantryman 3 – Lying/Rising
This figure is made up of 14 parts in the same combination as the other two figures. Details on uniform and equipment are the same as above.
Of the 3 infantrymen this chap has the most natural pose I think. In a prone position rising slightly on his left elbow and right arm, the figure is depicted looking back to his right. Again he comes with his own individual style back pack and the same option on the helmet and head.
Overall Thought s On The 3 Infantrymen
Despite some reservations about the size of the respirators and ammo pouches, these are three fairly good basic infantrymen who should build up well. The body proportions are very good being slightly smaller than previous offerings. Each soldier has an individually styled back pack. The poses are pretty good, natural enough given the setting. You may wish to replace the heads/helmets depending on you need and I personally would replace the respirators. Odd they have no water bottles nor bayonets!!
The uniform and webbing details are very good, nice folds in the uniforms. The No 4 rifles are pretty good, maybe a little too chunky but adequate for their purpose.
A vey good set of troops form Master Box, the Piper will be welcome by many and should add a nice bit of colour to any scene. The infantrymen should be perfectly useable in any number of situations and would appear on first look to be of good body proportions. The heads are very good for 1/35 plastic.
I would have liked to have seen some variation in helmet style included in the set and also some water bottles and bayonets.
Perfect, no, but with a little work you should have a very good set of troops to use as you choose. The set is also very reasonable priced.
Personally I’m delighted to see this set coming out and look forward to future British/Commonwealth offerings from Master Box who have clearly started to make a large impact on the 1/35 figure scale market.
The Dirk - (Some history)
Highs: Very useable, with a unique Piper
Lows: Respirator and Ammo Pouch size, no water bottles or bayonets
Verdict: Well Recommended