by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
The “Winning of Hearts and Minds” is a concept during war, insurgency, and other conflicts, in which one side seeks to prevail not by the use of military force, but by making emotional or intellectual appeals to sway the local population to their cause. The use of the term "hearts and minds" was first used during the Malayan Emergency by the British who employed practices to keep the Malayans' trust and reduce a tendency to side with ethnic Chinese communists, in this case, by giving medical and food aid to the Malays and indigenous tribes. During the 1960s, the United States engaged in a "Hearts and Minds" campaign in Vietnam. A similar "Hearts and Minds" campaign was used during the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the most common ways to win hearts and minds is through the children of the local population. Soldiers have been handing out candy to children for as long as warfare has been waged.
Master Box brings us another figure set in their modern series. It is entitled “Here is Snickers, help yourself, please!”, but could be better titled “Winning Hearts and Minds.” It is a seven figure set showing two US Soldiers handing out candy to a group of children and their mother somewhere in the Middle East. The set comes on one sprue with parts for the seven figures and a dog. They are crisply molded in light grey plastic with no flash. The figures are highly detailed with natural folds in their clothes and are wearing a variety of traditional and modern dress typical of the Middle East.
The back of the box shows assembly instructions that are clearly labeled, calling out part numbers for all the figures. There is also a numbered parts diagram and a paint guide showing colors for Vallejo and Lifecolor paints.
The two standing Soldiers are each broken down into the typical parts of two legs/lower torso, an upper torso, individual arms, and a separate head. They are wearing NOMEX fire resistant CVC (Combat Vehicle Crewmen) uniforms and IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) vests which date them from before about 2007 when the ITOV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) body armor replaced them. They both are armed with pistols in holsters. For good definition, their ammo pouches, holsters, goggles, and CVC helmet shells are all molded separately. One is holding a box of candy and handing out the bars, while the other has a Styrofoam insulated cup in his left hand.
The first child figure is a boy who looks to be about 12 years old. He is wearing western dress with a zip up, two piece jogging suit and tennis shoes. He is molded with individual legs, individual arms, torso, and head. His hair and face look very well molded as do the folds on the rest of his clothing.
The second child figure is another boy, a little younger at around 8 years old. He is wearing a traditional khet (long tunic) and a long sleeve shirt, a scarf around his neck, and a knit hat on his head with his hands folded in front of him. His body and arms are molded in one piece with a separate head and tennis shoes. His facial features are very well molded with a visible smile on his face as he sees the candy.
The third child figure is a girl of about 6-7 years of age. She is wearing a skirt with pants underneath, a light jacket over top, a hijab around her head, and tennis shoes. She is molded in one piece with a separate right arm which is outstretched to receive a candy bar. Again, she is molded with very fine detail and very nice folds in her hijab and clothing.
The fourth child figure is a small boy of about 2 years of age who is being held by his mother. He is dressed in a t-shirt and pants with tennis shoes. He is molded in two pieces; body and head. He is also molded with the mother’s left hand on his left leg. His face is also well molded with good details.
The last figure is the mother wearing a burqa with niqab showing only her eyes. Her body is molded in two parts with the main torso and back of the burqa as a single piece and the front of the lower part of the burqa as a separate piece. She also has two separate arms. Her burqa is nicely molded with deep folds and fine details. The outline of her face is clearly visible under the niqab as well.
Lastly, there is also a three-part dog included. He looks sufficiently scruffy to be a semi-kept pet. His pose and expression is one of anticipation as he hopes one of the kids will drop their candy so he can quickly scarf it up. The dog is a nice touch.
A note on the box art: It seems that Master Box has an issue with their box art matching the figures in their sets. This problem continues with this set. The biggest difference is on the two Soldiers. On the box top, they are wearing a type of body armor usually worn by Marines and it is coyote brown, as the USMC uses. As noted though, they are wearing IBA vests. Also, the children are dressed slightly different than what is depicted on the plastic parts. These are not major issues, but are a bit misleading as to what is actually in the box.
Overall, these figures are very nice. Master Box has done a great job of providing another interesting figure set that can be used in a modern Iraq or Afghanistan diorama. The poses are natural and interact well together.