MASTERCASTERS


MasterCaster’s 1/32nd scale Commonwealth pilot


Review by Patrick Sprau


Review Type
First Look
Scale:
1/32
Price:
Contents and Media:
Five resin parts
Advantages:
Good detail and accuracy
Disadvantages:
Incorrectly shaped akubra hat brim and position
Recommendation:
Highly Recommended

 

Introduction - Subjects background

In World War II, Great Britain as a country with a rich colonial history had all kinds of nationalities represented in its armed forces, with Australians constituting a major portion of those ‘Colonials’ serving overseas (i.e. not in their home country or in the immediate defence of it). Of those Australians who served in one of various air forces, many fulfilled their duty both far from their home as well as far from the British mother country, fighting axis forces everywhere between Gibraltar and the Middle East, from New Guinea to China, via Burma and India.

General Description

This new resin figure in 1/32nd scale comes to us from the UK workshops of MasterCasters, an aftermarket company which already has a nice track record of several other pilot figures in this scale on the market. This five-part mini-kit is packaged in a clear, re-sealable plastic bag, together with a small paper sheet that gives pointers towards the peculiarities of RAAF tropical uniforms and also includes two pictures of aircrew. Whilst the inscription on the header of the package of the review sample states this new resin recruit to be a ‘RAAF/Commonwealth pilot in Tropical Gear’, it will actually build into an Australian aircrew member, if the hat is used: it’s an Australian Akubra hat, a clear give-away. For members of other air forces that fought in the desert and in the tropics (British, South Africans, New Zealanders, Canadians etc.), an officer’s cap or even no head gear at all would be appropriate.

Overall, the pilot sports a short-sleeved shirt that goes well with his knee-long shorts, and wears RAF style flying-boots. As head gear, apart from the aforementioned Akubra protecting his head from the sun, he also holds a leather flying-helmet in his left hand, while his right hand is lazily tucked away in the pocket of his shorts.

Casting

Indeed, the brand name says it all: this figure is masterly cast! All five pieces (torso and legs, left arm, right arm, head, Akubra) are cast onto one single resin block and come in an attractive light grey. No bubbles in the resin and a flash-free cast mean minimal clean-up before the building and painting process can begin.

Sculpting quality and anatomy

‘It’s all about anatomy.’ Whilst this phrase may result in painful fist-to-face interaction on a first date, it certainly is a valid way to judge a resin figure (and a figure’s figure, in a way…). Anyway, the little resin fellow from MasterCasters has nothing to fear, as he is a well-proportioned member of the resin figure family. His head suffers from hair loss, it seems, but this is due to his creator providing an even surface for the modeller to attach the hat to, making for a stronger bond. The face has quite some expression to it, and the limbs are delicately sculpted. The only area that did not quite convince me was the right lower leg, which seems to bend backwards a tad too much, considering how the boot is positioned in relation to the rest of the leg. To be fair though, I had a look at an enlarged version of one of the two pictures coming with the instructions (a photo of a pilot of No. 17 Squadron, RAF, in Burma, I believe) and which seems to have served as an inspiration to the sculptor. In this picture, the pilot’s right leg takes a similar (unhealthy?) position, and I assume an explanation can be found in the RAF flying-boots, which were loose-fitting. Maybe the pilot moved his foot in the boot, killing time while the photographer fumbled with the camera? Who knows…

So in the end, the sculptor accurately captured the look of real airmen - anatomically sound and looking relaxed.

Detail work and accuracy

The figure features very convincing detail on its clothes as well as its flying-helmet – all kind of buttons, hooks, folds and creases seem to be present. Heck, that guy even wears a watch (and I swear I could hear it tick! Too much coffee while writing reviews might be the reason for that, though!).

The only area of this figure that could not quite keep up with the overall really good impression is the hat. Indeed, like written above, it does accurately represent an Akubra hat, however, the left side of the brim is buttoned up – and that is army style. Air force chaps did not button their hat brims up, or at least I haven’t seen any pictures to suggest this to have happened at any stage. Interestingly, MasterCasters’ info text that comes with the figure also makes this statement (army brims up, air force brims down). Apart from that, the brim also seems to be a tad too wide in diameter, but a couple of passes with sandpaper will easily rectify this issue.

Four regulation style hats worn by one Group Captain, one Squadron Leader and two Flight Lieutenants. Note the Dark Blue band on the puggaree. Photo courtesy of Peter Malone

 

Verdict

I am very happy with MasterCasters’ recent release, and it will be a welcome addition to any Australian crewed airplane of (sub-)tropical climates. If the slight inaccuracy regarding the brim shape does not bother you, very little workbench time will see this resin fellow ready to climb aboard your latest big-scale creation. If it is bothering you, a little hot water/air and some gentle pressure might bring the brim down enough to make it conform to RAAF regulations. Or more convenient, maybe the guys and girls at MasterCasters might consider a second release with corrected hat shape and an additional officer’s cap, to make this figure more interesting for a broader market.

I sure hope to see more Commonwealth-themed air- and ground crew figures for the bigger scales coming from MasterCasters in the near future.

Addendum: I wish to thank Jay Laverty for providing the review sample, and the Australian Modeller International community for sharing their knowledge on Akubra hats. Special thanks go to Peter Malone for providing the period photograph (plus caption) of RAAF air and ground crew. All figure pictures are copyrighted to MasterCasters, the period photograph is copyrighted to the Peter Malone Collection.

 

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