Master Box in the Ukraine have been consistently producing some very good and interesting figure kits over the last few years, not only the stock-in-trade WW2 lines common to most scale model companies, but also ranges covering WW1, the American West, more modern conflicts, civilians, fantasy and even post-apocalyptic ranges, though the latter two could do with a few more additions to make them really interesting – I note with interest an impending centaur, but how about producing some 1/35 wizards, knights or adventurers, Master Box, plus accessories? The model making fraternity would probably bless you for them. Digressions aside, they have also been bringing out a range of female figures, starting initially with a 1/35 kit of WW2 pin-up girls which were then re-released individually at a much more display friendly 1/24 scale.
This range of ladies has been expanded further still since then with a trio of 1950s pin up girls, a group of sci-fi/fantasy kits, 'Thunder Spirit' and 'Marshal Jessie' (a buxom Red Indian and a rootin', tootin, cowgirl) and much more recently a series christened Dangerous Curves (curvy, shiny women for curvy, shiny cars), plus Bob and Sally (a depressingly generic happy couple). An extra three lasses are in process for the Dangerous Curves series and it will be interesting to see where things go after that. Something a little more grungy would be my preference to add variety to the mix, but that's just me thinking out loud.
For though well sculpted, most of these figures leave me a little cold, since as an out-of-the-box maker and painter I like to have a kit I can get my teeth into and I'm sorry to say but aside from some minor titillation, girls in bikinis or simple dresses don't really have much to offer me. Two, however, namely Thunder Spirit and Marshal Jessie, immediately stood out from the rest, mostly because they were dressed (albeit barely) in a more interesting manner. Of the two I liked the look of Jessie the best, in her skimpy belty, strappy cowgirl get-up (surely all that leather on bare skin would chafe?) so, yep, you've guessed it, she was to be my date for the next couple of weeks.
The kit comes on one sprue in a large box with a striking if not totally accurate depiction of what the finished figure should look like on the front, but it is enough to give you a taste of what you are in for. On the back are some pictures of an assembled unpainted figure, a colour chart and numbered line drawings of the various parts on the sprue. Here I introduce a note of caution as the numbering of some of the parts is wrong and I had to employ a little deduction at times to figure out what went where. The most notable departures from reality were the chaps or leggings which if memory serves me correctly were numbered the wrong way round. It's a bold model maker who ignores the assembly instructions with a kit, but sometimes you just have to when they don't make sense.
Anyhow, minor construction issues aside I have to say that the kit was a pretty straight-forward build and beyond the normal cleaning up gave me no problems...at least until I got to those blasted leggings. After I had finally figured out which part went where (see above!) I had a very devil of a job getting them to fit correctly and indeed stay together long enough for the glue to set. Suffice to say getting the parts to fit involved more bending, checking, refitting, filing, filling and taping into place than they really deserved. As a result of all this attention some of the details became somewhat obscured, such as the lace ties around the leggings and these I had to reconstruct with greenstuff. That, though was the troublesome part in the build; all the rest - arms, hats, guns, straps, tassels, ponytails, etc., - fitted together like a watch.
The built model is quite handsome to look at with its interesting pose and varied accoutrements. I also rather liked the slightly tomboyish look to the figure's face which came out even better when it was painted up. I wonder if the sculptor A. Gagarin was channelling an image of Doris Day as Calamity Jane, but showing a bit more skin when he tackled the project? Whatever the case it works.
Painting her costume was fairly straight-forward and though the colour chart on the back of the box suggested several different browns with which to paint the figure I decided to keep it simple and go with colours that I already owned. Most of the darker leather was initially covered with Humbrol 62 leather which I later painted over with Burnt Sienna artist's paint, though for the fawn coloured bottoms to the leggings I used the Vallejo 860 Medium Fleshtone suggested in the painting instructions, which I already owned. The gun belt was largely done with a base of Daler Rowney Burnt Umber washed several times with Army Painter Strong Tone and Citadel Badad Black wash, with some minor use of Burnt Sienna to highlight. Though I at first painted the pistols with Citadel Mithril Silver, I found they lacked definition, so fell back on my tried and tested combo of Citadel Boltgun Metal gone over with Badad Black. One addition to my paint collection I did go for was the Vallejo 957 Flat Red to use on Jessie's Stetson and cowboy boots. And an excellent colour it is too, one I think will be great for red British tunics from the Napoleonic period. The hat and boots were washed with Citadel Baal Red wash and highlighted with more of the red to even things out. Bingo, barring a few minor matters it was job done.
For a base I utilised a spare 1/16 MiniArt stand, on which I stuck thin cut strips of veneer made from some veneer scraps and spares I recently bought at a marquetry exhibition – get some if you get the chance, they are very useful and often quite cheap. After scoring the surface of the stand I tried sticking these on with PVA, but it was only partially successful, so I did the rest with a cheap contact adhesive. After sanding back the edges of the veneer and taping it over for protection I sprayed the stand black. Jessie was then later easily fitted in place on the stand with some pins super glued into her feet, then into receiving holes in the base.