by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Master Box Ltd. is a relatively new and expanding company. They specialize in figure sets, small "always-wanted" vehicles like carts and wagons, and small armored vehicles, all in 1/35. Their figures run the range from dynamic in-action poses, to "just getting by" stances.
A new dawn
Today Master Box Ltd. is taking off with their first 1/32 set, Famous Pilots of WW II.
This kit features six figures of some of the best-known pilots of WWII:
1) Saburo Sakai, Japan's highest scoring surviving ace.
2) Werner Mölders of Germany, first pilot to shoot down 100 aircraft.
3) Richard Ira Bong, America's "Ace of Aces"
4) James Edgar "Johnny" Johnson, the official "Ace of Aces" of the UK.
5) Lily Litviak, amazing woman ace of the USSR.
6) French ace Albert Marcel, who
a. fought the Luftwaffe in the Blitzkrieg with the Armée de l'Air, then
b. fought the British in Armée de l'Air de Vichy, thence
c. to England to again fight the Germans with the RAF, and finally
d. to Russia with the Normandie Fighter Group.
Packed in an end opening box is a single sprue holding 49 pieces molded in ochre styrene, and a pamphlet of the pilot biographies. Both of these items are sealed in their own resealable poly bag.
The first thing I noticed was the detail. From uniforms to facial features, the detail is impressive. Some of this detail is enhanced by Master Box molding certain parts separately:
* The life vests for Richard Bong and Werner Mölders are separate pieces.
* Saburo Sakai is represented with two faces--before and after he lost an eye over Guadalcanal--a multi-piece flight helmet, and gloves.
* A sheepskin lapel on Johnnie Johnson's flight jacket.
The parts are crisply molded. There is no flash, no ejector marks, nor sinkholes. However, most parts have noticeable seam lines to clean up.
Some of the figure poses are very familiar from wartime photographs of the pilots. The sculptor did a good job with most of the faces. Sakai's menacing scowl, Mölders' pensive confidence, Johnson's relaxed grin--all are recognizable. The figure for Bong catches his boyish smile, but otherwise it is not a good likeness.
The stance of the figures appear natural for the most part.
It should be noted that the details and poses of the models do not entirely match the box art. Johnson is depicted in a life vest over a turtleneck, but the model is modeled with a jacket over a blouse, shirt and tie. Nor is Johnson's Labrador included.
The brochure contains surprisingly detailed biographies of each of the subjects. At the time it was printed, Albert Marcel was living in the United States. The French hero passed away there on August 23, 2010.
Painting and instructions
Master Box has steered clear of any potential contention about colors and markings of the pilots' kit. They offer no guidance at all, aside from the color photographs of company-made models, and the box artwork. Master Box displays color profiles of the six pilots on their website, and while these are displayed here (kindly provided by Master Box), there are no color images in the biographical brochure. Master Box also does not reference any paint brands.
The assemble instructions are just photos of the assembled model photos, with part numbers identified, on the back of the box.
Despite the inevitable seam lines, I am quite impressed with this set. Master Box Ltd. has launched their 1/32 series with a sharp set. Smart engineering of the models allows superior detail than if all items were molded on. The poses and stances are good. I recognize the facial features of most of the pilots--no mean feat for the sculptor. At least general painting guidance should be offered, not every modeler has years of experience reading volumes of uniform descriptions.
This is an exciting set. A good value! Master Box is setting high standards for all other figure models I look forward to posing these models next to my aircraft models, and look forward to the next set! Recommend!
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.