A little under two years ago MasterBox
released three sets of figures depicting;
• Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943. (Reviewed Here
• U.S. Marine Corps Infantry, Tarawa, November 1943.
• Hand to Hand Combat, Tarawa, November 1943, depicting troops from both sides of this area of conflict. (Reviewed Here
When announced, and then released, there was a lot of interest shown, but I have yet to see any built. I have covered the Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943 (Reviewed Here
) and in this review I will cover U.S. Marine Corps Infantry, Tarawa, November 1943 to be followed by Hand to Hand, Tarawa, November 1943 as I wanted to see if they lived up to the hype at time of release.
Inside the standard end opening box which is typical of MasterBox you will find a single Tan sprue containing all the parts for the figures in a poly bag.
I am going to start this review by taking a closer look at the end opening box. On the front is a pleasing colour print by “A. Karaschuk” depicting the enclosed five figures that make up the set. The sides of the box carry warning notes in English, Ukrainian, Russian, and German along with images of some of Master Box’s other releases.
The back of the box shows the five assembled figures painted and is the only assembly guide there is, as there are red lines depicting the number of the parts for each figure. On the back there is also a picture of the sprue which shows the number layout of the pieces as there are no numbers on the sprue itself. Disappointedly there are no painting instructions of any kind and does not suggest any manufacturers paints. The only guide as such is the images of the five assembled figures.
The five figures break down to a grunt shown advancing with a Thompson MG at waist height, as if firing from the hip. A BAR gunner shown with the weapon leveled ready to fire which is held a little higher than the hip (I suspect firing a BAR rifle from that position would be difficult, but that is just an opinion). The remaining three figures are all rifleman showing one with his M1 Garand rifle held in a shoulder firing position, another is shown carrying a wounded “brother” to safety and again carrying an M1 Garand rifle (one of these two figures can be equipped with an M1 rifle with bayonet fitted as there is only one rifle supplied with the bayonet), lastly you have the wounded Marine carrying an M1 carbine.
Each figure consists of seven basic parts which are;
• Two legs.
• Two arms.
• The torso.
• The head.
• Hollowed out M1 helmet.
The parts are free of flash but they all have mould seams that will need to be removed, which will not always be an easy task. The sprue connection points are not always in the best of places, specifically the attachment points on the arms where it is hard to clean up without damaging the crease detail of the uniform, this is unfortunately fairly common with MasterBox figure sets.
Uniform detail is of a very good standard with particularly good crease detail. The faces are very good for injection moulded plastic figures as they are very expressive, with the facial detail of the wounded Marine being exceptional in my opinion. The hands, or more specifically the fingers, are lacking in definition. The artwork on the front of the box shows what I believe to be the correct pattern camouflage that would have been worn, whereas the painted figures on the rear show for the most part fatigue colours, which I believe to be wrong. The M1 helmets give you the option of camouflage covered and plain, but you only get five in total so you will need to decide who does and who doesn't.
The personal weapons have come in for criticism for being inaccurate and so I have taken the time to measure them with a digital caliper. I started with the M1918 BAR rifle which measured .09mm too long, it is also supplied with a separate bipod which was not normally attached. The M1 Garand rifle came in at .02mm short, the M1 carbine is short by .02mm, and the Thompson MG is spot on when checked against the M1 version of the weapon on the World Guns website (http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html). Detail wise I believe they are of a good standard with the only nuisance being the need to drill out the end of the barrels, and the need to make your own weapon slings. The bayonet shown attached to one of the M1 rifles is a little on the bulky size but acceptable.
Personal equipment for the Bar gunner consists of eight belt mounted ammo pouches when there should be six with three on each side, these held 12 twenty round magazines with one of the other Marines carrying a shoulder sling with three pockets holding 6 twenty round magazines which has not been replicated in the set. The Bar gunner also carried a small leather pouch beneath the rear most magazine pouch on the right hand side which carried tools for the weapon and is supplied. The BAR gunner does have a first aid kit which is shown correctly placed on the assembled figure, and he also has two 1 quart canteens, cup, and carriers (late type Iwo Jima).
The Thompson machine gunner is, I believe, the officer of this group as he is also equipped with an M1911 holster, there are no other identifiers on his person which is correct as the Japanese would pick off officers. He is also equipped with four belt mounted ammunition pouches for the Thompson, and two 1 quart canteens, cup, carriers (late type Iwo Jima).
The two M1 Garand rifleman are both equipped with 10 ammo pouch belt with five pouches on each side, a first aid kit worn hung on the belt at the rear between the ammo pouches, and two 1 quart canteens, cup, carriers (late type Iwo Jima).
The M1 carbine rifleman is equipped with four ammo pouches, a first aid kit, and two 1 quart canteens, cup, carriers (late type Iwo Jima). While on the subject of this specific figure it should be mentioned that his is the only one shown wearing the gators, and while that is a part of a Marines uniform these were rarely worn. If they were it was usually under the trousers rather than over the top, so while this is not beyond the realms of possibility it is unusual.
All in all a reasonable set of Pacific Theatre US Marines with a good selection of poses and weapons. The injured Marine shown being carried away to safety is an eye catching aspect of this set that I am sure will turn up depicting other units and theatres with some scratch work. There are a few errors such as there being too many ammo pouches for the BAR gunner (easily corrected). The complete lack of KA-bars is one omission that really surprised me as the US Marines always seem to have one somewhere about their person. Another item I expected to see the Marines equipped with was grenades, but alas not.
The lack of any kind of detailed painting guide is a poor effort by MasterBox, and a fault that I believe they no longer replicate. I will recommend this product either on its own or as part of the three set series as it does offer some interesting possibilities, particularly with the injured Marine being carried to safety.
• World Guns (http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html)
• US Marine Rifleman 1939 – 1945 Pacific Theatre
, Warrior series from Osprey publishing ISBN: 9781841769721
• US Marine Corps Raider 1942–43
, Warrior series from Osprey publishing ISBN: 9781841769813
• US Marine Corps 1941–45
, Elite Series from Osprey publishing ISBN: 9781855324978