Hitching a Ride: US Paratroopers and Civilians

Published: December 26th, 2014     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Gino Dykstra, IPMS# 11198
Scale: 1/35
Company: Master Box
Price: $39.99
Product / Stock #: 35161

Master Box continues to surprise with interesting vignettes, all in one package.  This set includes their Type 170 German staff car and five figures - two US Paratroopers and a civilian family.  The US officer is consulting with the father in the family to determine where he's going, and the child has squirmed out of his mother's arms to get a closer look at the fascinating soldiers.  I was attracted to his model from the moment I saw it - anything about the lighter side of warfare appeals to me anyway, and Master Box had come up with something really interesting.

The staff car was the first assembly, and I was surprised by the diminutive size.  My experience in the past with German staff cars in general is that they tend to be big.  This one is scarcely larger than a jeep.  The model is highly detailed, with a strangely curvy chassis and full engine and underbody details.  It comes with clear parts and rubber tires, the latter not being what I prefer as they are often difficult to clean up.  There are a number of options available during assembly, and there are unused pieces for the civilian body version of this vehicle.  Master Box is not a company to waste opportunity, and they have so far produced four kits of figures featuring this vehicle in one guise or another. 

However, this vehicle kit proved again and again a real challenge to build, as many parts are miniscule with heavy attachment points.  I broke numerous bits trying to clean them up or simply removing them from the sprues.  The rubber tires did indeed prove to be a problem as they had flash that was difficult to remove cleanly, not only around the rim but also on the faces.  I would not be broken-hearted if someone came out with resin aftermarket replacements for these, as they are definitely the weakest part of the kit.   The rather soft plastic and sometimes vague instructions also contributed to my frustration level, and I must confess that this is not one of my better assembly efforts.  Still, it looks like a staff car and that's what matters.

The figures were another story entirely.  All five figures assembled with little effort and are so well engineered that I used not a drop of putty on any of them.  Even the little boy, who has a sort of "three point" contact with the car (foot and both hands) came together well and fits the car precisely.  Detail is perfect, and the faces quite good.

On painting the vignette, a question came to mind; what is a pro-allied civilian family doing driving around in a German staff car?  I decided to make it clear that the car had been commandeered by the Free French, hence the markings. Otherwise, I worked on it basically from the box art.  The figures painted up a breeze, and certainly look the part, from the elderly civilian man to the plumpish woman with laundry, to the green-behind-the-ears lieutenant to the crusty, battle-hardened sergeant.  They're all on temporary bases for this review but will be finding themselves in a diorama setting as soon as I buy the wood.

As it comes from the box, this set does a wonderful job of telling a simple story.  All the elements mesh exceedingly well, and I'm thrilled to have had a chance to build this kit.  If Master Box can do something about the rubber tires and frustrating instructions, this boxed vignette would have to be considered just about perfect.

My heartfelt thanks to Dragon Models USA, Master Box and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this wonderful set.  As always, my best wishes to the people of the Ukraine during these difficult times.

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