by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Women of WW II Era
Scale: No. 1: 1/32 (see text)
Large Scale model railroading includes No. 1 Scale, defined by NMRA as 1/32 (popular as 54mm of figure modelers). "Transition Era" is a very popular era of model railroading because one can mix old steam era with Superpower and early diesels, heavyweight coaches with streamliners, etc. Master Box Ltd. keeps creating new interesting sets that appeal to a wide range of modeling subjects, military and civilian. It has been stated many times that this is the golden age of modeling and I certainly agree, with Master Box refining modeling subjects with sets like this one, Women of WW II Era. This set includes figures of four young adult women plus a little girl sculpted in transition era clothing and hairstyles, in a variety of poses, with normal body types. While MB scaled it as 1/35 for military modelers, they absolutely fit in with No. 1 (1/32) Large Scale railroads.
Women of WW II Era set Master Box boxes the kit in a one-piece end-opening box with good artwork on the front and photos of assembled and painted models on the back. Those photos serve as the instruction sheet with each part identified by number, with an image of the sprue with the parts numbered. The sprue has no identifying numbers molded onto it. This set of five figures is molded in 45 pieces on a single sprue of good ole ‘panzer dark yellow’ ocher styrene. The sprue is held within a plastic bag with a self-adhesive flap.
My first impression was the number of parts and the good detail. My second impression was the obvious seam lines on most parts. Upon opening the package my third impression was the unpleasant camphoraceous odor of the styrene. Although the styrene is not rubbery like the plastic that older soft plastic figure sets were cast with, it is slick to the touch.
Small attachments hold the pieces to the sprue. The parts have no flash, visible sink holes or ejector marks. Many are marred with seam lines of varying severity. Most pieces are molded with remarkable fine detail, either recessed or relief as appropriate. Some detail like shoes and hems are very shallow lines that are difficult to see. Unfortunately, some of this detail is bisected by seam lines, and cleaning it is a challenge without harming the detail. I will go out on a limb (pardon the pun) and say that seam lines on the back of the legs can convincingly be considered seams on the nylons.
The four adult figures are each built up with at least seven parts: an arm, separate head, separate legs, multi-part skirt, and torso. Three of the women have separate hair locks falling around their necks. Two have separate hats. All but one have purses molded into a hand or forearm. The little girl is engineered with a separate head, arm, and leg.
The figures are in natural poses and don’t look stiff. Three are relaxed and one has a spunky pose. Master Box went for natural normal "girl next door" body of the era instead “cheesecake” fantasy girls. Most of the body parts are proportional, except for the spunky girl whose thumb looks inspired by the heroine of the film Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. In my research for era fashion colors I found a fashion magazine from the early 1940s illustrating the magazine's ideal of the female form; these ladies match well to that idea.
The fashions are sculpted in the style of that time: daily outfits were then as formal as business suits are today. One woman wears a dress while the other three are in skirts and blouses. Only one lacks a hat. All have sensible pocketbook purses.
When assembled the figures are up to 1 14/16-inches tall; compensating for heels, hats and hairdos, that makes them about 5-foot tall in 1/32, slightly shorter than the average 5-foot 2-inch 1940s woman.
Detail Detailing consists of: fine folds of the clothes, frilly hems and collars, embroidery, ribbons, buttons and jewelry; facial features, fingers and hands, and hair. Facial expressions are good.
Painting and directionsAssembly instructions are merely images of the assembled models on the back of the box with parts identified by number. The numbers also identify the parts as shown on the sprue.
Painting guidance? You’re on your own. Fortunately there are plenty of vintage clothing resources online. I was surprised that most early 1940s outfits seem to be solids instead of patterns.
AssemblySo how do these gals look built – er, I mean assembled? My first move was to remove as much of the seam lines as I could; I didn’t get them all and now just pretend they are seams on the garments. Planning my next move I nipped a few pieces from the sprues for painting. I drilled holes in them and held them on toothpicks. Next I combated the slick ocher plastic with a layer of tan Krylon Fusion spray paint. It bonded to the plastic and didn’t obscure any detail.
Next, it was time for paint. I mixed up different flesh tones to simulate bare skin and nylons and then painted the legs. I suggest that you paint the shoes before joining the legs as the feet are very close together because the shoe to foot demarcation detail is faint.
I almost exclusively assembled these figures with Bob Smith Industries Cyanoacrylates (CAs), mainly MAXI-CURE™. I glued the legs together and test fit them into their skirts. Only one of the leg assembly hips will fit into its assembled skirt, the rest you have to build the skirt around. Fortunately, Master Box engineered these lower bodies and the back skirts to fit snugly. Apply a drop of CA, position the leg assemblies, glue the edges of the skirt halves and join the other part of the skirt, and the lower half is ready for the upper half. While two of those subassemblies went together without trouble, two took some effort. The matron's legs would not fit into her skirt. You can’t perform liposuction with styrene so I called Doctor Xacto for plastic surgery; I had to carve away a significant amount of plastic before the skirt halves would close. Even then I had to clamp the skirt together and fill in the gaps. The other tricky one was for the lady applying lipstick, who's skirt is in three pieces. If only model aircraft trailing edges were as thin as the edges of those skirt parts! It took a great deal of effort to position and join the three skirt parts together.
Joining the heads and arms onto the torsos was fairly easy. The main concern was what to paint before attaching the parts. All of the upper bodies went together well. Slight depressions help the necks set into the blouses without noticeable gaps. The arms mated to the shoulders tightly. What little gaps there were was filled by CA. What might appear to be misaligned shoulders are actually raised upper sleeves – the fashion of the day. The only two parts that had an iffy fit are two of the hair tresses.
Finally, I joined the upper bodies to the lower bodies. Two waists lined up smoothly while two have jackets that are slightly wider than the top of the skirt they overlay. Four of the figures are balanced well enough to stand upright without a base.
PaintingWhen the model set arrived and I saw the box art, I gulped hard. How does one paint patterns on dresses? Camouflage patterns can be fudged but women’s prints? Master Box gives no guidance except for the box art and the models on the back. Fortunately I knew that many outfits of the era were solids and that's how I painted the matron, her daughter, and the spunky one. Still, I could not leave well enough alone. I tried to paint a pattern on the woman in the dress; I was going to give up and paint it solid until a teenage girl judged it as adorable! I wanted another figure to have a pattern and so created one with a decal on the difficult three-piece skirt.
The slick plastic took the solvent-based Krylon base coat without trouble. I applied acrylics over it: FolkArt, LifeColor, Pactra, Polly Scale, and Vallejo. Looking at my photos I see that I need to wear my Optivisor when painting the small parts.
ConclusionMaster Box has created another interesting set that fills a void for 1/32 modelers, whether you model military or civilian subjects. The clothes represent a great deal of fashions seen around the world during the Second World War era.
I appreciate this set and am impressed with the models. They have substantial detail. Molding quality is high except for the seam lines. Most of the body parts are proportional except for a thumb. Fit is good for the most part although I advise you use a gap filling cement. The skirts can be tricky to align. Painting and assembly of these models require a bit of strategy so that you don’t paint things that will need gluing, and don’t glue things together that will be hard to paint later. Quality molded detail makes painting easier. I spent about seven hours planning, painting, assembling, and repainting this set.
This set of transition era women should be popular with No. 1 scale model railroaders and dioramaists and I happily recommend it.
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