Friday, September 5

Mantis Miniatures is all geared up but just needs to ask for directions first - our figure and WLA accessory review

Mantis Miniatures has sent us some figures of WWII G.I.’s on the road along with the bike’s stowage of weapons and kit bags to go with them. This kit goes very well with the MiniArt WLA bike and we thought we would build these figures  and compare them with the parts on the bike - then show them all together to give you a proper feel of their quality…

Review: Mantis Miniatures designed to fit the MiniArt WLA Motorcycle

U.S. Motorcycle WLA Rider
#35056
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Dmitri Shevzov
price: 12€

U.S. Soldier
#35057
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Krisztian Bodi
price: 12€

U.S. Soldier & Rider

#35058
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Dmitry Shevzov & Krisztian Bodi
Both 35056 & 35057 available as a set
price: 24 €

Accessories for US WWII Motorcycle WLA
MAC02
1/35th scale
Designed to fit the MiniArt WLA bike
price: 12 €
All of these are available from Mantis Miniatures Distributors worldwide.

The complexity of new models hitting the market demands an equally lifelike figures to ride and to interact with the riders of that kit. Miniart’s WWII WLA Harley Davidson Motorcycle is .a complicated but oh-so very rewarding kit to make. The levels of detail far exceed the much older Tamiya kit of the bike made decades ago and Mantis Miniatures has not only some figures but some accessories to bring the environment around the bike into the 21st century.

This is the kit i used - although there are several kits of WLA's in the MiniArt range.
And maybe the box art inspiration?
..and the bike bring built up - it certainly deserves a good figure and heavily laden pack for those strong brackets! More of this bike built up later in the review.
Below is a picture of what the WLA looks like when restored to as-new condition…We did need an updated kit and MiniArt has come to the party. We constructed this kit for the purposes of this review to show you just how the base kit works (or doesn’t) with this set of two soldiers and the accessories that were designed as an upgrade to this kit.

Of note more than anything on this bike are the machine gun holster - the saddlebags and the canvas front shield... hmmmm
The Harley WLA was often called 'The Liberator' as it was seen ridden by soldiers liberating occupied Europe – it was used in many of the theatres of war the US had it’s troops in, as well as any of the Allied nations who also used this bike. The bike and the packs and personal protection holsters were a useful addition to any rider out there all alone on the battlefield as well as a heavy duty carrying rack in the rear that could support an ammunition box or two radios, and saddlebags could be hung from its sides. A scabbard placed up front was sized large enough for the driver to tuck a Thompson submachine gun or a rifle or carbine in. On the other side of the front wheel, another ammo box could be attached.

Here are a few intrepid riders from all around to show you how these bikes looked in the real world.
We thought seeing the figures and accessories were so closely linked we would build them up for you in a review so you can see for yourself what they are made of.

Ok - Let’s go!

The figures/ Accessories:
Firstly we will look at the packaging for both of these figures and then go on to specifics.

These can come as single figures or as a pair in the same box. Both of the figures have only the one head choice and both are cast in grey resin and are attached to casting /pouring blocks.
 The box art of these two kits i will review today.
The resin these are made of is bubble free but not without it’s share of extra flash material to clean up.  This isn’t too much of a big deal and you should be priming and painting these both pretty quickly. The rider especially has a lot of extra resin holding him in place and I suppose saving him from breaking in transit.. They are both packed in Zip-loc bags in the box saving any lost parts.

Let’s look closer at each – then the accessories and then the figures as a pair with the accessories on the bike..

U.S. Motorcycle WLA Rider
#35056
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Dmitri Shevzov (dedicated for MiniArt kit)
price: 12€
This resin figure is sculpted by Dmitri Shevzov and depicts a dispatch rider in cold conditions that suits the Harley WLA motorcycle made by MiniArt. He mirrors the successful German dispatch riders set which was so popular – this one looks almost as cold or mas those Germans did. We certainly could do with some winter-weight troops in the allied stash so he was a good choice.

The figure is made up of three simple pieces that are supported by resin to (I guess) keep the legs and arms safe from breaking. The casting points are rather large but they do the job as the resin had no surface bumps - on all of these pieces in the reviews I think I found just one bubble on one of the side pouches on the bike.

He wears the large thick U.S. WWII parka overcoat which you can see has a thin belt which gathers it in on the waist. This creates a really wrinkly jacket that sits baggy all over this figure in some nicely crafted folds. This hooded jacket sits close over his face which I think is really very well sculpted. Not too much of anything he looks just like a common man without caricature as some figure makers do tend to sculpt.
The thick pants go right down to the shin high boots covered by canvas leggings to keep the chill out and his pants out of the bike’s chain (remember that as a kid?) – Anyway his large hood and pants really make him look like he is suffering in some cold and wet conditions.
His gloves on his hands are adorned with the ribs you would see on the dispatch rider’s gloves in real life and they are tucked over the sleeves of his coat. His fingers are articulate enough to have two fingers holding the clutch on the handlebars which he has in his hand.
Now as soon as I saw that he was holding onto the pre-moulded handlebars I became worried for two reasons – you have to get his fit exactly right – spot on – so no room for error in placement of the arms and the hands on the bike. You have to cut the handlebars on the bike for it to match. I crossed my own fingers in anticipation to see if they did fit – well show you what happened a little later…

You can see that turned up coat on the seat where he sits, you can see a pistol in the holster poking out from his right hip and his M1 helmet underneath his hood.

Here he is altogether from many different angles and the pictures he was inspired by
 
OK on to the second soldier in this set – sold separately or together with the WLA rider.

U.S. Soldier
#35057
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Krisztian Bodi
price: 12€
This GI – is sculpted by Krisztian Bodi as fans of his work will recognize. Sporting a cigarette and a broken looking/roman nose he looks nearly as cold as the dispatch rider as his clothes look pretty buttoned up. He carries not just a Tommie gun and extra armour but a pistol for self-defence as well.

This figure comes in five parts of grey resin. Again well cast with no superficial bubbles or seams he is made up of two arms, a Thompson MG a torso and the one head choice. 
His head is very different to the WLA rider in the way that he has much more pronounced features. His nose is hooked and dominates his face so he looks a little like an Italian American GI or maybe someone from Central or southern Europe. Then again he could just have a big nose! The M1 helmet he wears on his head is just the right shape. The chinstrap is in typical fashion around the rear of the helmet.
His Thompson Machine gun is a good representation of the real thing. The ray-gun like look is removed when you take the long resin teat off the barrel. The only thing you need is a paper or metal paper strap that the soldier is holding it with.
On his torso this GI wears a very typical “Ike jacket” over his uniform tunic. This is pretty wrinkly as it is held on the torso with the cloth belt this soldier wears that is packed with spare Thompson ammunition pouches and a first aid pouch on his right hip.
On his rear is a regular GI pack and water bottle – you can see his pants are tucked into his boots and canvas galoshes – parts of me think he could pass for a paratrooper because they tucked their pants into their books always. It was one of the signs that you are a paratrooper so I would make him that. The pouches on his pants are completely packed with gear. He also carries a pistol in his right hip holster.

 A regular Tommy-gunner's webbing, featuring just what this man is carrying  ammo pouches, pistol in holster water flask, also included are his M1 helmet and shin high boots - this is actually a good painting guide for this figure as it's all here.
The arms of this soldier are easy enough to secure to the figure – both of them have wrinkly texture and the cuffs and buttons at the sleeves. The fingers are again well articulated and this young man is risking his life while in combat – he is smoking!
Here he is altogether. Different to the WLA rider but he should be as well. These two could be platoon mates or from different units like they actually are. They fit pretty well.


Accessories for US WWII Motorcycle WLA
MAC02
1/35th scale
Designed to fit the MiniArt WLA bike
 (dedicated for the MiniArt kit)
price: 12 €
This is a very helpful set to dress up and improve your WLA Harley made by MiniArt. It contains resin sculpts of:
1.    Two (2) x saddlebags, one with a water flask
2.    A roll up sleeping flap with a haversack, entrenching tool and a “walkie-talkie”
3.    A Tommy-Gun in its holster
4.    A rifle M1 Garand with M1938 Leather Rifle Scabbard carried in the provided bracket on the front forks and an entrenching shovel included – just in case..
The Weapons:-
Several types of weapons were carried by their riders on the WLA’s – here is a large collection of guns and their scabbards used on these bikes.As an example i have a few of these tyoes used in configurations int he picture's below.

Top to bottom:
M1928A1 Thompson SMG with M1940 Scabbard
M1 Garand Rifle with M1938 Scabbard
M1 Carbine with Leather Scabbard
M1A1 Carbine with Folding Stock & Scabbard 
A Tommy-Gun in its holster: Mantis has seen the M1928A1 Thompson SMG and holster are rather basic and look good to be improved with new resin. You can see here the difference in the two parts. (Mantis parts are in the lighter grey)
As well as the real thing on a bike in wartime
M1 rifle in scabbard: A rifle M1 Garand with M1938 Leather Rifle Scabbard carried in the provided bracket on the front forks and an entrenching shovel.

(Mantis parts are in the lighter grey)


It’s great to see it here in this accessories kit.

Saddlebags:- A set of two smooth brown leather saddlebags (Part Number 11786-XM) was supplied with each WLA Motorcycle. These bags mounted to the rear frames on the luggage rack brackets riveted to the bag. Each bag has two tie-back straps on the sides to keep the bags from swinging. The covers are secured with three leather straps with black painted or parkerized steel buckles. There bags were by no means as square as the ones you get in the MiniArt kit and so were ripe to be picked out to be improved with resin additives.

(Mantis parts are in the lighter grey) you can see the buckles and the irregular shape of the worn leaher on the resin parts to great effect.
and the real thing...
Also you can easily fit these resin parts onto the rear frame of the bike  with the notches already in the resin.
The Windshield Apron; for the protection of the whole front of the bike was made of Leatherette in the earlier parts of the war but later (June 1943) was constructed of Canvas.
(Mantis part is in the lighter grey on the left - the Miniart on the right)
The wrinkly material fits very well to the “Perspex” clear windshield. I haven’t put everything on the bike as of yet – the lights and siren as well as the ammo/stowage box on the left front wheel – it looks just that little degree better than anyone else’s kit without this set. 
And here is the bike from all angles with the light grey parts representing the Mantis add-ons - they really do bring the kit up a notch and for 12 €...


U.S. Soldier & Rider
#35058
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Dmitry Shevzov & Krisztian Bodi
Both 35056 & 35057 available as a set
price: 24 €
These are seen together sold as a set in this boxing. When placed together there is some eye contact between the two but nothing is being said. Of course sculpted by Dmitry Shevzov & Krisztian Bodi they are a good pair who are looking directly at each other.
You can see the handlebars are clipped and the WLA rider sits perfectly weighted on the bike. This was such a relief and the reason why I made sure I put him together in this review – I wanted to know for sure whether he fitted or not in a natural way before passing judgement on him. 
The bike with all of the accessories –the two figures – it all looks great to me and it is very satisfying to see these two built up. They would make a great dio base and the extras on the bike really add to the scene. I am not saying the Miniart kit isn't good – because they make the best bikes in this scale – but this set along with the two riders make for the start of something very nice on your modelling table.

Adam Norenberg

New items available from next week from Mantis Miniatures directly and the best worldwide model shops. You can also place an order directly from Mantis by email: mantisminiatures@yahoo.pl
you can see the lead up work by their excellent painter Artur Miniszewski as well – note in the pictures below of the MiniArt cycle he is very skilled. This is what we can achieve if you put your mind to it!