Wednesday, May 9

MasterBox 35105: 1/35th “Charlie on the Left” Review

MasterBox have released three kits this month – we have already built the kit number 3562 “West European Cart” – and we liked it very much – time to look at this Vietnam –era kit which has three G.I’s and two of the afore-mentioned “Victor Charlies” or Viet Cong -V.C’s. Read on to see the kit in better detail in this review
MasterBox 35105: 1/35th “Charlie on the Left”
Kit No: 35105
Kit type: Injection Moulded (1 sprue in tan)
Figures: Five
Scale: 1/35
Available from: MasterBox Stockists Worldwide

The new kit from the Vietnam era series “Charlie on the Left” mirrors this picture taken in 1968 of these soldiers from the 101st Cavalry who are in a Willy’s jeep firing a .50cal into the jungle at unseen assailants. We can assume these are Victor Charlie’s or “Charlies” as they were called for short by the American G.I.’s, in this kit you not only get the three American Jeep riders but also the "Charlies" in question.
The box art is excellent as always from Mr Karaschuk and it captures the action of the picture pretty well. The art on the back is of the soldiers painted up and the sprue layout and numbers.
The soldiers on both sides are shown here in colour with a detailed breakdown of which part goes where and the few alternative choices you can use with this kit. Colours to paint these soldiers are given as a guide in Vallejo which is in vogue now as the armour modeller’s paint of choice. It is nice to see this back on the rear of the box as it has been omitted recently.
The sprue layout shows you where all of your parts come from. It is pretty helpful to you as there are not any numbers on the tan sprue. By keeping the box at hand you can work out what goes where – not that it is confusing as the figures occupy a section of the sprue each – it is childs-play putting these together really.

Click to enlarge these pictures of the sprue and sprue map

The one sprue in tan which makes up the kit is of the usual MasterBox quality in that it is detailed but with only just a little seam on the mould which needs to come away – nothing that any other injection moulded kit makers don’t suffer from as well. The faces are getting better all the time and Mr Gagarin continues to deliver lots of quality figures every month to a high standard – well done to him on the sculpting.

Now all that is out of the way let’s look at each of these figures and the little bonus we have in store as well.

From the top of the rear box art – The gentleman on the .50Calibre machine gun.

This G.I. is standing with one leg up firing the big gun at the V.C with one leg up on the jeep near the gun mount. He is dressed in Vietnam era jungle fatigues with his sleeves rolled up and regular army boots over long pants.
This G.I. has the choice of no less than FIVE different headgears, A M1 steel helmet, an M1 with camo cloth on it - two Boonie hats and a barracks cap. You can see his water canteen he carries separately moulded and clearly make out the pockets in the soldier’s battle dress and pants. The head is joined to the torso inside the collar which is a sensible place to remove any seam marks at the joint.

More on his .50cal – I know in the inspiration picture it is an M-60 – but the “fifty” is so much more “badass” and I like the addition, the heavy mounting of this weapon is designed to fit the Vietnam era Jeep though you could use it on an earlier Jeep as well. Well moulded with cooling holes deep in the barrel and an ammo box on the side with the chain of bullets going into it. What price for a bunch of shells in 35th scale to scatter on the floor of the Jeep?

The soldier standing in the Jeep firing his M-16 is next.
He is an African American soldier which is satisfying to me as the services were very integrated by this time and there were many troopers from many different backgrounds serving with the US Army. African American soldiers making up a large section of the troops taken in the draft ( some would say more than white soldiers ended up “in country”) but no matter it is good to get variety into your diorama.
The G.I. is again in tropical battledress with long sleeves and long lace up boots which his long pants go into. Usually this was just the case for paratroopers but in south East Asia its bets to not have anything crawling up your trouser leg!

The soldier carries the just new M16 which is well detailed here and also the four large ammo pouches in his battle webbing belt. This trooper also carries a small medical pouch and is seen wearing an M1 steel helmet.

The G.I. Jeep driver is seen here next - This soldier is depicted at the wheel of the Jeep and is seen with some alternatives to his make-up.

For one what he is wearing, there is a choice of a cloth coloured M1 steel helmet and the cloth wide brimmed “Boonie” hat are both there to choose from. The full battle dress looks neat and tidy – why I think so is he carries a pistol as an alternative in a big holster with the “U.S” emblem in the leather – that or a water bottle (or both) make him the officer.

The officer has the alternative of two alternates for his right arm – Either directing fire pointing in the direction of the V.C. or with what looks to be an injury to his shoulder – maybe “Charlie” got him after all?

He looks like he is shouting, either directing fire or in pain from the wound your choice...

The provocateurs in this kit are the two Viet Cong soldiers, with under heavy fire from that .50cal and the soldiers in the Jeep.

The first we will look at is the V.C. soldier kneeling pointing.
This soldier is pointing with an open hand towards the G.I’s in the Jeep and holding a Russian Moisin Nagant rifle of WWII vintage probably. Supplied to the CV with the AK47 these accurate rifles were favourites.

The soldier is seen in “civvies” here a light long sleeve shirt slightly rolled up and a pair of shorts and no shoes. He carries no equipment except his hat and his wide brimmed hat which is very common in Vietnam. 

The soldier’s facial features here are worth talking about. Mr Gagarin has taken on Caucasian, Asian and African American faces here and pulled them off – he has captured the features we all understand make up the faces of most of these people. Nice work on getting this variety into this set of figures.

The V.C. soldier falling back apparently shot - though he looks a little better equipped!

He is carrying an AK-47 semi Auto which made its name in the hands of the V.C. during this conflict. This soldier is wearing the communist soldier large battle webbing pouches across the chest for the long curved ammo pouches.
His body language is seen falling back with his eyes closed in pain as it looks like he has been shot while changing the magazine of his AK. This soldier is wearing a long sleeved light shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

The long(ish) trousers are just regular traditional loose pants and the soldier is wearing light sandals on his feet.The soldier’s face here looks great and like he is in pain, his features and hair are excellent for an injection moulded kit figure.

I like this set for all Vietnam War enthusiasts – I like the mix and the fact that the different racial features give it some mix.

So one G.I. hurt one V.C. shot – its 1/1 and this kit should be a little hit as well!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to MasterBox for the review kit