by: Darren Baker [ ]
The dog is referred to as man’s best friend and they are believed to have been at our sides for in excess of 10,000 years. It is believed that domestication was started in Europe and can now be found in many shapes and forms where ever man is. Dogs were used initially for hunting and the defence of family and property. Move forward in time and dogs were used as weapons of war and still are today, the Russians even tried to use them as mobile anti-tank mines during World War 2. Today dogs serve a number of roles in the militaries of world such as attack, guard and search dogs. To replicate this affinity between man and dog MasterBox has released a set titled ‘No Soldier Left Behind – MWD Down’, the set features a dog and four figures.
This offering from MasterBox is supplied on a single sprue inside a re-sealable plastic bag. This is further packed in one of the typical end opening card cartons that they have used for as long as I can remember. The artwork on the front of the box features a four man team protecting an injured dog while a Chinook comes in to pick them up. The rear of the box provides the instructions for assembling the set and an image of the sprue.
An examination of the sprue presents the set in a positive light. The figure parts are a mix of no and light moulding seams and this should make clean up a relatively easy task for the modeller. I also like that MasterBox has placed the parts for the figures in specific zones of the sprues and so making it easy to locate the parts needed for each figure. Moulding quality is good overall, but the moulding process has left some details softer in certain areas.
The figures are supplied in a typical breakdown that we are all accustomed to. The clothing has good natural looking crease detail in that the uniform is tight where needed and loose where it should be. The body armour is well replicated for the most part, but the moulding process has affected the detail in terms of definition in some locations. Knee pads have been replicated on all of the figures, these are quite good except on one of the kneeling figures where it has to be said does not really matter. The boots are quite well replicated and an effort has been put into detailing the soles of the kneeling figures but I would have liked to see better definition here, with that said I do appreciate that they made the effort in this area. The helmets are quite good as regards shape and form, but the mounting plates on their fronts are weak: the diamond shape is there but would benefit from some work.
The faces of the figures are well formed but have a blank expression. The hands are very well defined, especially so when you consider they are all gloved and the fingers are still well represented. One other aspect that I like in this set is the build of the figures, they appear to my eyes to be different builds, the largest being the figure with the saw which would be usual in squads.
The equipment supplied with the figures is accurate so far as I can tell and I am pleased to see that MasterBox has taken the time to shape the rear face of the parts to make them fit the figures. A particularly pleasing aspect of this set is to see one of the pouches open and the figure retrieving an item from it: a really nice touch in my opinion.
When it comes to firepower we are provided with a mix of weapons by MasterBox. Three of the figures are provided with holstered side arms and the remaining figure is provided with the option of a drawn side arm if desired, but no holster empty or otherwise has been provided for that figure. Also included are an M240 saw with the skeletal stock, I seem to recall the skeletal stock being out of favour in the present, but that does not mean it’s wrong. There are two M4’s included with one fitted with a grenade launcher. Lastly there is an oddity in my opinion in the form of an M24 sniper rifle.
Moving onto the main subject of this set the Alsatian; this is provided in four parts and indicated as injured on the packaging. A look over the moulding does not give me the impression of an animal that is obviously injured, that is not a bad thing as it supplies alternate display options. The box art also shows the dog to have a muzzle, but I cannot detect this aspect on the model. I am very happy with the level of detail provided that careful painting will bring to the fore.
MasterBox do a very good job of providing figure sets that tell a story; that story varies between the conditions in which troops find themselves to the foes waged against them including the weather. This set portrays a human interest story and that gives it a lot of appeal, and of course it covers a conflict that has grown greatly in appeal to modellers. Issues wise I only have two: one is the supply of a sniper rifle in the set that seems out of place, the other is the weak detail on the soles of the footwear where that area can be seen. The positives are many but it is the variation in the build of the figures and the idea/story behind the set.