Following a small "first look" posted earlier, as promised, here is the full in-box review of the newest Master Box, ah, master-piece, "German Signals Personnel Stalingrad, Summer 1942". Apologies for a bad pun, but I am confident my further ramblings will validate it completely. In terms of a disclaimer, I can assure you that my knowledge of German uniforms is absymal, and therefore I shall endeavour to refrain from commenting on the kit's accuracy.
Inside The Box
Once again, a typical Master Box release, although, as with the last couple of kits, with a small twist in the form of a resealable plastic bag for the sprues. The box art, as expected, is once again splendid, depicting almost exactly what's on the sprues - in other words, three German infantrymen moving into open and two others, one burdened with a large spool of telephone cable, waiting behind some corner until their comrades let them know the coast is clear. But why "almost exactly"? Well, one of the running infantrymen in the kit wears a camo smock, while all of the painted ones are in standard German uniforms. Still, it is a very minor nitpick, and I think most will actually welcome the variation. The back of the box shows examples of painted models and pictures of a diorama they are used in. The pictures also double as building instructions in conjunction with a small leaflet within the box which provides sprue images and part numbers. There is also a small color table, with paint numbers provided for Vallejo, Tamiya, Lifecolor, Humbrol and Agama. With the proliferation of off and online paint conversion charts, it should be usable for any brand of paint.
Inside the box, we find two sprues, holding 101 parts for 5 figures. There are multiple small parts which make up the cable spool assembly as well as, surprise, separate lower shirt pieces, a first for a non-DML model as far as I know. There is some flash to be taken care of as well as prominent mold lines on some parts, but nothing a good knife and a needle file won't fix.
Starting with the heads, these are nicely animated, though not as much as the Skatspieler tankers. All of them are "full" heads which means substituting helmets provided by MB for other headgear or sculpting hair will be considerably easier than in most kits. As for the helmets, they are quite generic apart from the one with improvised canvas covers which has nice wrinkles!
The bodies are well proportioned and sculpted in dynamic poses. All figures are dynamic, even the standing ones, although, thankfully, not in an exaggerated way. The cloth is nicely wrinkled and there are enough folds to say the sculptor is either an avid fan of Burne Hogarth (his "Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery" a must-read for anyone dabbling in creative arts involving clothed figures), or honestly likes sculpting them. Still, just like the poses, the folds are also subtle; same goes for the boots, all of them standard German leather jackboots (swollen ankles guaranteed).
Most figures actually have their sleeves rolled up, which makes a lot of sense, since the kit is most suitable for Russian summer, and, speaking from experience, they are just as extreme sometimes as Russian winters (albeit in exactly opposite direction). Still, there are small problems when it comes to a) mold lines on the trousers - the folds tend to be a bit distorted around the mould line area, which makes cleaning them up throughoutly a priority, and b), stitches, which are severely underpronounced and tend to disappear when the folds become complex. Still, nothing a good knife and some needle files (both triangular as well as oval) wouldn't handle.
Finally, what sets this kit out apart from earlier MB releases are DML style separate lower shirt pieces, one of many ideas from Gen2 kits worthy of emulation. As far as I know, only Master Box has decided to introduce such a feature and, after dry fitting some of them, I am quite sure it won't be the last kit they'll be included in. Shame they haven't found their way to earlier kits, like the "Eastern Front Bash" series or the fabulous seven figure advancing German infantrymen set, let's hope they are here to stay.
The included equipment is nicely done, with just the right mixture of soft folds and hard edges. Some edges look soft, but maybe it's just light playing with my eyes. I'll check that when I undercoat a couple of them. Basically, everything is highly usable, even though it's not up to DML Gen2 standard. Still, it's a minor nitpick - first, it's just as good as any other Gen1 equipment and second, should anyone actually want to replace the various items with DML offerings just remember how many spare gas mask canisters one can get from a SINGLE DML Gen2 German kit? Overall, I can file no complaints and am happy with what MB has provided. Of course, there is room for improvement, but then again, there always is.
On a side note, a word of warning. The cable spool assembly is quite delicate especially when it comes to the gears and chain. Also, the spool hubs tend to accumulate flash which has to be cleaned with small drill bits or very delicate knife work. The cable spool itself (part 88) also needs delicate mold line removal. Ideally, both the hubs and the chain would look great in PE, but I am not going to argue about that.
Once again, Master Box has produced an outstanding kit. It's packed with action, unlike most figure sets on the market. Also, while intended for Russian summer, it can easily be adapted to other settings. It is also a great value for money - a good deal cheaper than, say, a four figure set made by DML or Tristar. All in all, an excellent release for all early war German modelers. Let's hope future MB kits will be just as good!
Highs: Remarkably lifelike and animated poses. Use of Gen2-like separate pieces for the lower shirts a plus.Lows: Somewhat prominent mold lines and distortions around mold line area. Limited flash, although problematic when it comes to delicate cable spool assembly. Trouser stitches need touchups in order to stand out from the folds.Verdict: Once again, a remarkable kit for a remarkable price. Great subject and splendind execution. Generic enough to be used not only in Russian setting.
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