Sunday, September 11

Dual build review: Will takes on Master Box's "World of Fantasy" kits 1 & 2

The new “Fantasy series” are a part of new a bunch of kits in 1/24th scale Master Box. These look to complement the new Pin-up style series in scale, & help fill the need for quality injection moulded model kits in 1/24th scale on the market. talented figure modeller Will Vale had a look at these two new kits in his dual build review…

Dual build review: Master Box Ltd. World of Fantasy kits 1 & 2

"World of Fantasy. Graggeron & Halseya"
Catalogue number: MB240087
1:24th Scale
2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic

"World of Fantasy. Kit No. 2"
Catalogue number: MB24008
1:24th Scale
2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic

Earlier this year, Master Box released two figure sets in a new “World of Fantasy” series, each containing a warrior woman and a cat-like lizard beast in 1/24 scale. They have an entertainingly cheesy Science-Fantasy aesthetic; in fact, they would look at home on the cover of any number of 1980s Metal albums! 
Fantasy is unusual territory for a military figure manufacturer. In this case, it was presaged by Master Box’s release of a 1/35 scale Zombie Hunter in 2014, and then Mad Max-inspired Desert Battle figure/diorama sets last year. Even so, fantasy is a bit of a leap and I think it’s great to see them offering something so different to the norm.
Each set contains two sprues of injection-moulded plastic – a large one for the beast, and a small one for the rider.

Flash is almost absent and most mould lines are small, although the beast’s legs have a couple of heavy ones which will need a bit more work. There are also no signs of the 3D printer "tooling" marks which plague modern resin kits, suggesting they’ve been traditionally mastered.

The choice of 1/24 scale is smart – it allows rather more detail than 1/35, and with the fantasy subjects it isn’t so important to have the vast range of compatible vehicles that 1/35 would allow.

"World of Fantasy. Graggeron & Halseya"
Catalogue number: MB240087
1:24th Scale
2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic

The instructions/ sprue map are on the back of the box

The two sprues inside are wraped in a plastic bag for protection.

The beast - dubbed “Graggeron” on the cover of the first box – is the same in both kits.
He has vaguely feline proportions – a long low body caught in a stalking pose – with lizard skin, a segmented tail, and horned head. There are actually two head options – one raised with the mouth open, and the other with a closed jaw and rather goofy expression.

The breakdown of parts is pretty simple – two body halves split vertically with separate head, front legs and tail. The heads are built up from layers to get quite deep relief around the eyes, and the legs have separate paws which should allow him to conform slightly to terrain that isn’t flat. That’s about all the posing that’s going to be possible, however – the legs, head and tail fit in particular ways which will be tricky to change without some re-sculpting work.

The last part of Graggeron’s anatomy fits between his legs and indicates that he’s definitely a male beast! His manhood (beast-hood?) is assembled from two halves to give proper shape and definition to the testes.

Once Graggeron is complete there are satchels, stirrups and a bed-roll to add. The bed-roll helps support the end of his tail, which forms a seat for the rider, but it looks like you could opt to leave it off if you wanted to. The other bags are optional.

The rider in the first kit, Halseya, comes on a single small sprue. Her body, limbs and head are all moulded solid with flat butt joints between parts, so she’ll be easy to assemble.

The only additional parts to add are a pair of shoulder pads – having these separate will give proper undercuts below the pads. There’s nice detail of armour pads and fasteners to be seen on her torso, and some great texture on the leggings behind the thigh pads.
Her face is good too, with the larger scale allowing deep relief in the mouth with well-defined upper teeth. Even her nostrils and eyebrows are represented. She’s wearing a helmet-cum-skullcap, not unlike the one worn by Magneto of the X-Men, and in one of her outflung hands, she has a large and menacing handgun in a futuristic style.
Halseya isn’t so much riding on Graggeron as lying draped across his back in a slightly silly “sexy” arrangement. There’s nothing wrong with the pose as such, it’s just odd that it’s so static when Graggeron appears to be in motion – she’d probably fall off almost immediately. However, the setup does capture the fantasy album cover feel.

"World of Fantasy. Kit No. 2"
Catalogue number: MB24008
1:24th Scale
2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic

Sadly kit number two doesn’t name the beast or the rider, so let's call her Emma. As mentioned earlier, the beast sprue is identical to Graggeron’s, but you could use the other head to get some variety. The rider sprue is rather larger than Halseya’s and the build is a bit more complicated.
 Again we have the “Graggeron” beast for this figure to be riding upon. Exactly the same as the other kit we have looked at already.

Emma's basic body breaks down identically to Halseya – four limbs, torso and head – although her breasts and shoulder straps are a separate part to allow the straps to stand slightly proud of her torso. 
She wears plate mail shoulder pads and thigh armour; these are separate parts and the latter are decorated with rather nice Celtic knots. The thigh armour fits to keyed flats on her legs so you won’t be able to leave that off without building up the thighs to compensate.
The remaining parts are a knife, a small mail skirt, separate thumbs for both hands, cheek guards for the helmet and two lengths of flowing hair. These look quite fiddly and some might be better left off until after most painting is complete as they’ll make access difficult for your brush.
She’s armed with a steampunk-styled long rifle (with what appears to be a rifle grenade as the business end) and sits rather thoughtfully on her beast’s back, staring into the middle distance. I really like this pose, it’s rather more stable than Halseya’s, catches the eye as you wonder what she’s looking at, and isn’t too full of action so there should be no issue in fitting her into a variety of settings.

The build
I opted to build only one Graggeron, to use with Emma. I have something else in mind for Halseya.

I used Revell Contacta Pro liquid cement for most of the assembly, and Tamiya Extra-Thin for smaller parts. Graggeron's two body halves fit together reasonably well with cement and clamps, giving a top seam that needed a little filler, and a bottom seam which had some definite gaps. You could probably leave this as it won't be visible when the model is on a base, but I opted to fill it. Thankfully the legs and tail fit better than the body halves, though I did have to trim the flange on the right front leg a little to help it mate with the corresponding recess.

The head came together slightly loosely at first, and I realised when I came to add the teeth into a very shallow socket that part B1 was moulded badly – not short-shot, but soft in detail. It would've been possible to re-sculpt the detail, but it was easier to pull the head apart and swap in the spare B1 from the second Graggeron sprue. With that in place, the head fits together well and the head-body join didn't present any problems. I didn't add the tongue at this point since it can be slotted in later, and this will make painting the mouth interior much easier.

The last step was to add the fiddly bits – paws and stirrups. I found that to get all four paws on the ground I needed to assemble them with slight gaps in the top surfaces of the ankles, to fill later. The stirrups were keyed to slot into notches on the saddle but the keys were too large and at the wrong angle. I re-shaped the ends with a file, removing a little material at a time until I got an acceptable fit.

Another option would be to fill the holes and leave off the stirrups – they do support the riders' poses to some extent, but you could make it work without them.

Once Graggeron was complete, I filled the larger gaps with Milliput 2-component putty and any small seams with thin cyanoacrylate (CA) glue. The surface texture means that filler is pretty easy to hide and this step didn't take long.

Halseya and Emma
Both women were rather easier to build – the parts are broken down sensibly and fit well with large glueing surfaces. The fit was so good that almost all the seams could be closed using just liquid glue and finger pressure, and clean-up work was minimal. In particular, Emma's shoulder joins which would otherwise be quite visible were concealed by the separate armour parts. I did take the time to fill the neck seams with a little thin CA and sanding, these back to get a smooth join.

Again, the fiddly bits came last – the various add-on armour pieces, and Emma's hair and skirt. Her skirt really needs to be fitted after assembling both her and Graggeron so it can be posed around his tail.

Like Graggeron's saddlebags, I left Emma's thigh and shoulder armour off to make painting easier – the fit is very close so they won't be tricky to add later. I left off the cheek plates and hair for the same reason, though unlike the armour I would class these as optional. The cheek plates are quite big and hide part of the face, but the hair is really nicely done and fits the pose well.

Halseya also has separate shoulder-pads but I thought they interrupted the flow of her shoulders so I won't be fitting them.

End result
The end of the construction process was to prime the completed figures and do some final filling, sanding and clean-up to get them ready for painting. I used Alclad Grey Filler-Primer for most parts, and Alclad Black Primer for the gun and armour pieces since it will make a better base for metallic paints. All clean-up was with CA as a filler, sanded down with 400- and 1000-grit sandpaper and sponges from Tamiya.

Emma needed slightly more work than Halseya – she has more skin on show so the seams really have to be invisible. I also reduced the depth of the grooves on either side of Emma's mouth a little as they looked a bit sharp once primed.

Graggeron, as you can see, is splendidly endowed!

...And he makes a fine mount for Emma, although I think she needs a small putty cushion to take up a gap between the tail and seat. I assume this is down to my build process – perhaps because I left fitting the stirrups until quite late on - although I have seen another built-up model which appears to have the same problem.
It's possible to move her forward in the seat to reduce the gap, but using a cushion will give a really accurate fit as opposed to an acceptable fit, and will let me be more flexible about the final pose. There's even a moulded band around the base of the tail which could well be interpreted as a strap to keep the cushion in place, and I will probably paint it as such.

Halseya's pose has a great flow, and once she's not lying down I think it works well. My plan for her is to pose her leaping out of the way of something, in the manner of an action movie hero avoiding an explosion. To that end, I drilled the rear toe and inserted a pin that I can use to mount her later.
I should confess I was delighted to be offered this review – I’ve recently been re-visiting a whole swathe of much-beloved ‘80s Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies and the models fit right in. Despite a degree of “reviewer tilt” I do think that these are excellent kits - it’s really good to have some new fantasy figures in injection-moulded plastic. They are much cheaper than resin kits of a similar size and I find the plastic easier to work with too.

The components have a good level of detail with interesting surface textures to paint, and unusually for fantasy models, both women are realistically proportioned.  There are a few quirks in the assembly but nothing was hard to solve - I think Master Box have a winner on their hands.

I hope the series continues - personally, I’d love to see a loincloth-clad barbarian next, ideally riding a pterosaur!

Will Vale

Thanks to Masterbox for sending these two kits to Will to build and hopefully we can see them painted up in the near future? Stay tuned…