Dragon 1/35 US Marines, Iwo Jima 1945

KIT: Dragon 1/35 US Marines, Iwo Jima 1945
KIT #: 6408
REVIEWER: Wyll Jones


Anyone who has read much of anything about WWII knows at least a little about Iwo Jima.  Those who have delved deeper in to the history of the battle for Iwo Jima will know way more than I know.  So with that being said I will not try to give a history leason here because I trust that so many of you folks know so much more than me I will do nothing but show how much I still need to learn.

From the preview:

Dragon has helped to make a name for itself by producing quality figure sets for the 1/35 enthusiast and this set continues that tradition. Included are two large and one small set of standard sprues along with two smaller more highly detailed sprues of weapons along with a photo etch fret.

There are four figures as shown on the box art and as one would expect, the molding on these is very good with minimal mold seam so clean-up will be pretty quick. As you might expect, there are really more bits than you'll probably use, but then again, looking at the parts placement/painting drawings, perhaps they will need all this stuff as the figures are pretty loaded down with gear.

In with this set is a flame thrower and bazooka along with a  number of weapons, probably more than will be used by these figures, so you will have spares. There is also an etched fret that is basically straps for the various weapons used by the figures.

There is no construction guide as one is normally used to with larger models. Instead, there is a full color painting guide that shows where the various bits and pieces are attached to the figure. This guide shows both sides of each figure so there is no doubt as to what goes where. As these figures have camouflaged helmets, there are two pattern guides provided for that as well. Paints pretty much look like Gunze and Model Master with some of the colors needing to be mixed.


I've been spoiled when it comes to model companies knowing that builders like me ain't the brightest bulbs in on the tree, I always have had instructions that save me from my own stupidity.  Heck I need directions for mac and cheese.  Just ask my girls.  Did you know that you add milk and butter to make the whole concoction to work.  This kit doesn't know me so well and oh my goodness I had to put thought into it.  But that's OK, I was up to it.  First things first, get acquainted with the kit and the parts.  There isn't a step by step with this kit so take your time and use your own judgment as to which order things should go together. 
I figured that I could do major body assemblies first without getting into too much trouble.  I was right, for the most part.  After putting on the first two heads I realized that I shouldn't have done that yet.    The only thing that I wish Dragon would have differently, other than the lack of step by step instructions, is how the heads go on.  So two heads were finished while on the bodies and the other two were finished away from the bodies.  When putting the chin straps on having the head unattached is very helpful.  You can tell which two were done in which way because of who has their chin straps just hanging vs. strapped.  I chalk this up to the builder's stupidity and not to kit.   
I kind of wish they had longer necks and deeply recessed neck holes so that there wouldn't be such a seam line at the neck.  Maybe others could do this but I couldn't figure out how to hide it.  I tried to hide it by making the area below the seam appear to be T-shirt.  After doing that I decided that this may not have been such good idea.  Oh well too late to fix it now.
Next came the weapons.  These are beautifully rendered.  I don't know what most of them are but they are pretty.  And Scott was more than right with his preview when he said that there are way more weapons than you will need.  They have more guns than Rambo and more ammo than the 82nd Airborne.  I don't know if Dragon does a weapons only kit out there but judging from this if they don't they should really think about having one.  The only problems I ran into with the weapons was the Flamethrower.  I had a tough time getting the guy's hands to line up eith the flamethrower handles.  I also could not get the gas line from the tank on his back to hook up with flame launcher in his hand.  I finally gave up with that and replaced it with braided wire that was intended for automotive models.  I found out that if you touch the end of braided wire to liquid CA that the braided wire will suck up the glue to where your fingers are holding it and make you cuss, a lot.
Up to this point I felt pretty confident about my guessing abilities with how to assemble these guys.  The photo-etch changed most of that.  As I said before it bit me in the backside with chin straps.  The gun straps all but killed me.  Not knowing a thing about how gun straps should be strung and not thinking about going on-line for research until writing this, I guessed some more.  I think that I must have looked like  monkey doing chemical engineering trying to figure the gun straps out.  If there was only one thing that I really wish Dragon would have done differently would be instructions for the straps.  I think I did good enough to hide my mistakes from most folks but the really sharp eyed persons should be able to tell me how to do better next time.  At least one third of the time I spent on this was with the straps.      
The box says that there are insignia in with the photo-etched parts but I couldn't find any.  So I really don't know if that was the builder's bad or Dragon's bad.  Oh well one less thing for me to screw up I guess.

Simply put I used what I had on hand.  That and I don't have enough Dragon kits under my belt to know their color system.  But mostly I just always go with what I have on hand and looks about right to me.  Olive Drab for their overall uniforms and a tanish color for the belts and straps.  Now before anyone gets to excited and feels the need to point out the obvious no I haven't done a wash yet.  Mostly because I won't do one until I know just how I'll use these guys in a diorama, but from what I'm seeing these should take a wash very well.

Now as far as painting the photo etch goes, a time for learning.  Having never done photo etched gun straps before I wasn't to sure if I should fold then paint or paint then fold.  I went with the latter because it seemed the easy way to go.  Not to mention I think I saw somewhere sometime someone selling prepainted photo etched trees.  Kind of made me feel like a big kid.
As noted before this kit comes with no decals or insignia so that part was not a problem.
Well after I built various heads and bodies and guns I really had to eventually put them all together, so I did.  And guess what, I am really happy with the results.  Now I don't know how it got past until this point but I did finally notice their hands.  Not terrible by any means but sort of lacking detail.  That seems odd to me that the rest of the detail is so good and the hands almost look like an afterthought.  Not a deal breaker by any means but it was a bit disappointing.  
I am impressed by this kit.  Most of the issues I had were my own fault due to lack of brains or experience.  Not as crisp as some of the better resin kits but I'll go ahead and assume that most folks won't mind since you won't spend near as much money on this kit.  Plus with kit you get much much more.  Not only do you get extra weapons and ammo but some of the guns are broken down.  I would be surprised if their ain't builders out there who wouldn't love to buy this kit just for those guns-n-parts.  Now if I could just figure out how the rest of those gun are going to used in my future WWII models.

Just the box art and single page guild.  And of course fact that I'm all knowing.  HA HA Ha Ha ha ha.  I'll shut up now.   

Wyll Jones

November 2007

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