In-Box Review
Watchtower with Figures
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by: Andy Renshaw [ SKYHAWK ]


Master Box has recently released this kit of a German watchtower, complete with the choice of two different sets of figures (summer or winter garb), and various hardware such as a searchlight and field telephone box. An interesting subject, and perfect for a little diorama scene, I awaited receiving the sample in anticipation.

First, the box is printed in full color, with artwork on the front and the instructions printed on the back. This is the only instructions you get, but are adequate. The box however is a bit thin and flimsy, and this size box would have been better done with some thicker cardboard or a lid/bottom style instead of the side flap type. So don’t pile on other kits from your stash on top of this box, it won’t survive.


•2 plastic sprues
•1 pre-cut clear plastic disk

Opening the box you get two sprues of parts, one for the watchtower and one for the set of four figures, plus one small piece of pre-cut clear plastic for the searchlight lens. All of this is wrapped in a sealable plastic bag.


You get two sets of figures, one in summer garb and the other in winter greatcoats. This is an interesting thought by Master Box and allows for this set to be used in a variety of seasons. The clothing itself reflects more of an early to mid war period. Starting with the winter set, both are in greatcoats with upturned collars (something we haven’t seen before in plastic), and look the part of standing guard duty in the cold. The collars and bottom parts of the greatcoats are separate, which allow for some good detail and realistic separation from the body of the figure.

The summer figures are in different, more “comfortable” poses, with one even leaning on the rail looking down observing activity below (a great pose for a diorama). These figures are in the standard German uniform with high boots. Detail has better relief than what I’ve seen on previous Master Box releases, and overall sculpting is quite good. Also, the lower section of the blouse is separate, again adding to the realistic look to the figures.

Overall, there are still the large mold lines to deal with, but the equipment all appears to fit well during a test fit. Along with the standard bread bag, gas mask canister, canteen, and ammo pouches, you also get a flashlight.
Faces and weapons are sculpted quite well and once cleaned up will look great under a coat of paint. On the figures, I would give a rating of 8 out of 10, as they are not up to current molding standards, but the poses and details are very attractive.

The Tower:
Now, on to the disappointment of the kit. The other sprue contains all the parts for the watchtower. A first glance over all of the parts revealed that NONE of the wood parts have any hint of wood grain! If this tower was built from finely finished, painted wood, that would be one thing, but I will take a wild guess and say that most watchtowers (especially those of this design) were probably made from untreated rough cut lumber. Now I’m sure somebody will chime in about “scale distance” and “you really wouldn’t see it anyway at this scale” and “the grain is always overdone by modelers”, etc etc…but to do a whole model of a wood watchtower, weathered and made to appear like unpainted rough cut lumber, the smoothness of plastic would stand out like a sore thumb. To add to this, there are still some good size ejector pin marks on the underside of some of the larger parts, so those would have to be filled. For those that wish, you could use a fine razor saw and scrape in wood grain, or even some rough sand paper, though that may be tedious due to all the surfaces that need to be covered. You could also try some of the techniques others use on aircraft models such as using water based colored pencils, or streaking oil paint across a painted surface to simulate the grain.

Leaving the wood issue, the rest of the equipment looks good enough. I’m puzzled why the searchlight housing was split in half into two different parts, as this will require some filling and sanding when they could have molded that as one round piece. Don’t forget to add some electrical cables and conduit for the search light, and also the cables for the field telephone. Speaking of the searchlight, the clear disk is completely clear, so those wanting a bit of extra detail may want to scribe some vertical lines before inserting the clear disk into the housing.


I was thinking of putting this together as soon as I received it; however it is now on hold while I decide what to do about the wood grain issue. There is a part of me that is thinking after cleaning up all the seams and ejector pin marks, then scribing or painting on wood grain, that time could be better spent using the kit parts to make scratch built items from basswood. Being real wood, a simple stain to age the wood would be all that was needed.

Aside from the tower itself, the figures are nice and both sets are very useful. The small details that Master Box included, such as the upturned collars, really help set the mood the figure is in. I give high marks for the figures, but low marks on the tower portion for them leaving out such an obvious detail like wood grain.
Highs: Nicely detailed figures, great mood setting poses and attention to detail.
Lows: NO wood grain on any of the wood parts of tower.
Verdict: Get it for the figures, but the tower has little to be desired. It's too bad MB didn't put as much effort on the tower as they did with the figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 3546
  Suggested Retail: $27.95
  Related Link: Item at Master Box LTD website
  PUBLISHED: Jun 11, 2009

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About Andy Renshaw (skyhawk)

I started modeling around 8 years old when my dad bought me a Monogram 1/48 A-7. We built that together, and after that he turned me loose. Along with armor and figures, I also enjoy building aircraft and trains (model railroading), and tend to cycle between the genres. Recently married, I have...

Copyright ©2021 text by Andy Renshaw [ SKYHAWK ]. All rights reserved.


Jim, sorry , i guess i should have been a bit clearer....maybe i can edit the text and have James update the review... 8/10 is the following....the poses and overall fit is very good. I really like the poses that MB has been comming out with..much more realistic, and life like for a "in the moment" diorama. Unlike some other "leading" companies we know who insist on mostly doing calender poses with barely enough interaction to use them together, MB figures tend to all work very well and capture the feel of the moment. In this set, the cold weather guys are great...sholders slumped in, hand in pocket, the other lighting a cigarette, colars up...fabulous! However, MB molding is not up to say, I couldnt give them a 9 or 10 because the molding is more like old esci figures...but the poses surpass some sets we have seen from Dragon (in my opinion). thus the 8/10 on the figures.. As for the overall rating, the lack of any effort to make the watchtower parts even look like wood just set me off. Yes, in "scale" we wouldnt see deep qouges in the wood, however there are lots of other ways to replicate wood in plastic (a gander at some plastic model railroad buildings will show). Having to paint on woodgrain, or use sandpaper/ razor saws to go over the 40or 50 surfaces (each post is 4 surfaces, each panel has at least 2, plus the supporting structure with 3 each part) is, in my opinion, nuts to have to do on a $30 watchtower kit. Its just my opinion.....If there had been some effort on MB part to make the wood look like wood, I would have given this whole set a 85 and up (still a lot of mold seams and e-pin marks to clean).
JUN 11, 2009 - 01:45 AM
"shame about the grain on this kit, but to be honest, its not the end of the world" no its not....and it will still make a nice watchtower. Its just a pieve of mine, and probally comes from being in the model railroad community as well. also $30 warrents a bit more effort on the tower....4 figures would be worth ~10-12 dollars, that means the watchtower should show at least as much effort as the figures, and even a little more (16-20 bucks of effort).
JUN 11, 2009 - 01:48 AM
yeah, exactly....and that old dragon set with the two german sentrys with dogs would be perfect walking by. Or maybe the edge of a POW interesting twist could be to use MB german prisoners and have them being marched into the gates of one of thier own camps by russians.
JUN 11, 2009 - 02:00 AM
I think I would approach the wood grain issue here the same way I paint gun stocks. Base coat in a light tan and use oils (burnt sienna?) to add the grain. The color possibilities are endless depending on how old or weathered you want the wood. If you really don't like the idea of plastic, you have a fine template there to make one from bass wood. I really don't see the 'wood grain' as an issue since this is such an esoteric subject to begin with. I think the concept is very cool. Thanks for the review, I must not have been paying attention as this is the first time I've seen this kit! Cheers, Charles
JUN 11, 2009 - 02:36 AM
I think Andy's right to point out the lack of grain and punish MB for it, since as he says, it's an expensive kit (I have seen MB kits start out high and then drop like a stone in price-- look at their motorcycle kit, for example, especially after Lion Roar brought out their far superior ones). The OOB modeler might not have the skills or time to add their own wood grain, so at least a subtle sense of it would be appropriate. Especially given weathering of wood in the elements, you're going to get some variation. Even a few knotholes, for heaven's sake!
JUN 11, 2009 - 04:21 AM
For the most part, any woodgrain I have seen done in plastic at 1/35 scale.....if it was blown up to 1:1 scale, the grain would end up being inches wide. Don't know about the rest of you, but not even Pine has the wide of a grain to the wood. Even painting it on, sometimes the grain ends up being bigger than it should be. But it is probably the best we can do at scale. As far as the wood being rough cut or not. Even at 1/35 scale....are you really going to see it? Maybe rough up the edges and faces with a little sandpaper, but in this scale, you aren't going to see much of it. As far as price goes, I have some here at my shop selling for $27CDN.....considering that the figures would probably be $12-$15CDN alone, another $10-$12 for the tower and accessories I don't think is asking for alot. As far as the MB and Lion Roar Motorcycles go......not sure how you can compare them. Yeah sure, the Lion Roar ones are probably alot more detailed, PE spokes and all, but at $45-$60CDN each, when you can get the MB one with the 3 figures $22.50CDN. Sounds like a steal of a deal to me!
JUN 11, 2009 - 05:21 AM
I can't comment on your shop prices, but the MB unidentified bike (a BMW) is $19 from Luckymodel (just the bike, no figures), while the Lion Roar Zuendapp with sidecar (which I did a build review of) is $24 at Luckymodel. The prices are relative, not a reflection on yours, BTW. Seems to me the MB is overpriced for what you get (all plastic vs. extensive PE). For the PE-phobes in the hobby, the MB is a better bet, since there are no plastic alternatives in the LR set. But in terms of relative "value for money," it's clear to me which is the better buy.
JUN 11, 2009 - 07:32 AM
I am just going by the prices from my suppliers. MB being produced in the Ukraine, I would suspect isn't that much different in price if bought in Hong Kong, Canada, US. The price for the MB BMW bike (just the bike) is about the same as I would sell it here. They have a new one out now though with 3 figures (one taking a leak), for $22-$23. Now Lion Roar, being produced there in Hong Kong, or somewhere else in China, only natural that someone like Hobby Easy or Lucky Model could offer it for much cheaper than what it can be had for here in North America! No different than the prices on any Asia made models. I would suspect that MB kits are pretty cheap in Ukraine and Russia as well.
JUN 11, 2009 - 04:45 PM
Archer fine transfers makes wood grain decals. I haven't tried it on this kit yet (since I haven't yet bought it) but I bet it would look pretty good and its a lot easier than trying to convincingly scribe grain into that many pieces.
JUN 19, 2009 - 10:43 AM

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