Price of War: European Civilian 1944-1945
This is my first experience with Master Box products, which is primarily known for its figures series for military and aircraft models. I decided to step outside my comfort zone and build a subject I don’t typically build. This is the first bicycle model that I have assembled since building the old MPC Schwinn Ten Speed 40 plus years ago! The “Price of War” set is a multimedia kit which includes a figure with baggage accessories and a multi-media bicycle with a separate sprue and PE fret by North Star. The details are etched from brass and given the subject it would have been nicer to have them in stainless steel – more about this later.
First thing that I did was to research vintage European bicycles on the internet. I intend to use this figure and the bike for a Prague 1968 diorama. I found this bicycle a well detailed match to models across the continent from the 1930s through the 1960s. This single speed bike includes a rack, a generator and light, fenders, a pump and a tool bag; the seat is even on springs. This research also helped me understand the components provided in the kit. I was curious about the lever on the handle bars and how vintage the rear rack is. Well it turns out the rack is an old design, as is the generator. This bike used coaster brakes for the rear tire, but the lever on the handlebars controlled a front brake. The brake on the front wheel was a lever actuated control rod which pushed down on the front fender to rub against the tire tread.
I started with the bicycle since I needed the assembled bike to help pose the figure. I really liked the balance of this kit with PE for parts too delicate to mold; there is even PE details for the end of the pedals! Assembly sequence is critical and the instructions are well laid out. The key is to get the PE spokes in place. The instructions were not clear on the exact arrangement, so I worked for a uniform spread and used gap filling CA to glue them in place. There was a little gaping at the edge. Next I added the bike chain, before adding the braces for the fenders. The only real difficulty in assembly was the handle bar to the top of the post. This turned out to be a fragile assembly and it broke twice on me. I had thought about replacing the post with wire, but there was no room to drill the frame or the handle bar clamp. I added the control rod for the forward brake from styrene rod and glued the brake lever to it.
The figure is nicely sculpted and assembly was straight forward. I wanted my figure to be a bit more contemporary, a worker in the 1960s, so that shaped my approach to the figure. I thought that the mustache was bit heavy, so I sanded it down. I assembled the figure and used liquid CA for the arms for I could match the hands to the handle bars. The figure with the bike is a nice realistic pose.
The bike I decided to paint overall black with chrome details; other typical colors were dark blue, brown and dark green. Here is where stainless PE would have been more appropriate. I ended up painting the entire bike Floquil Old Silver as a base coat. I brush painted the frame, fenders, pedals and pump black. I painted the seat and frame bag dark brown and then drybrushed a lighter color for detail. I then flat coated the bike I drilled out the headlight and used an armor modeling trick, making a light and lens out of two part epoxy resin. I painted the tail light red.
The instructions call for the figure to be in a suit. I opted for a sport coat and slacks, choosing a brown sport coat and gray pants. I painted the scarf and beret lighter shades of brown and added a white shirt. Since my figure is going to be returning from work and not be a refugee, I opted to use only one baggage accessory, part 6, which looks like a European lunch pail. I shortened it and painted it dull silver and hung it from the handle bars.
Note: I finished the bike and model in time to take it to my IPMS chapter meeting. The handle bar broke enroute, before I could take the final review pictures, so the final handlebar position is different than the in-progress shots.
Overall, I find this to be a nice set with a lot of versatility. Assembly was straight forward and the detail great. Plus I have baggage for my spares box. Recommended.