We have put a few of the 35th scale MiniArt Harley Davidson WLA’s together in reviews here at TMN, but it’s always great to see another modeller take on this kit. This boxing has the addition of a US Military Policeman with out for your roadside diorama needs. See what Paul thought of the experience in his build review…
Build review: U.S. Military Policeman w/ Motorcycle
Kit No: 35168
Manufacturer: Mini Art
Type: Multimedia Kit
Available from Mini Art distributors worldwide
MiniArt has released a series of motorcycles and I'd say it's pretty obvious that the reason the name of the motorcycle can't be named is due to licencing issues. However, a simple Google search will tell you that the bike in question is the Harley Davidson WLA.
Based on the civilian WL model, the WLA is a militarised version and would see widespread use during WWII and later, even revived for use in the Korean War. The Americans employed their bikes in a different manner to the Germans so the WLA was used more behind the lines rather than on the front lines, but that still gave the bike the nickname Liberator.
This release of the WLA comes with the wind shield modification, but no leg guards, and has an MP sitting on the bike in a relaxed but ready for action pose with his hands on the handlebars.
The box is the usual tray style and gives you the impression that the bike is much larger than it actually is until you find only one sprue and notice how big, or shall I say how small the pieces are.
The instruction sheet is a threefold A4 pamphlet and comes printed on glossy paper. Instructions are fairly clear and easy to follow but with things like the photo etching always double check you have it right before you commit to superglue as these parts are so thin.
The box top artwork is the only marking option provided and is used to illustrate the decal placement on the MP figure. The bike is provided in colour in a four view profile, although it is predominantly olive drab.
Only one marking scheme is provided for in this box so the decal sheet is small. The markings themselves appear to be printed in register, although the detail is soft and not as crisp as the top decal printers.
The main feature of this bike is the windshield, and this part is very nicely moulded with a stretched fabric effect and should come up very nicely with some dry brushing.
The tyres are very cleverly engineered and come in a three-layered sandwich, moulded along the tyre tread pattern which means that there is no seam to get rid of when you put the layers together.
The drive chain is done in plastic, which surprised me at 1/35 scale. The piece itself is nicely moulded although detail on the chain is a bit soft but hard to fault given how small the part actually is. PE would probably be a better alternative, and that is what I thought would have been provided.
The bike frames are fine and delicate and look in scale. The engine heads were generally left unpainted, and the pieces come with some nice ribbed detail which should come up nicely with a wash.
A small fret of photo etch comes with the bike and includes the spokes for the wheels which will really add a lot of refinement to the bike when finished.The frames of the mudguards, the rear number plate and other brackets and thin parts are here on this sheet.
A small clear fret is for the top portion of the windshield and lens', and the parts are clear and free of distortion.
The second fret in the box is the MP figure that sits on top of the bike. There is a bit more flash noticeable on this fret as opposed to the bike itself although it is more on the sprues rather than the pieces themselves.
The face is nicely moulded and will come up nicely with some washes and dry brushing. The part next to the face is the gloves tucked under the epaulettes which being separate will make painting an easier task.
The sleeves come with some nice folded fabric detail with the slight bend in the arms and looks quite realistic although there will be the usual mould seam to get rid of. Dry brushing will definitely be your friend here.
Moving onto the construction, the instructions would have you bend some PE straps and put together the tyres first however I bypassed those steps and started work on the engine and bike frames in the following steps. While the parts are small, the fit of the parts is excellent and the components of the engine fit perfectly within the tiny plastic frame.
The rear wheel is sandwiched in between the two halves of the frame in step 12 so this is where I chose to assemble the wheels. Two caps are provided to help you shape the PE wheel spokes, so all you need to do is put the PE circle into the correct cap, and then press it together with the other cap and the convex shape is formed. Easy! Although it can be a tight fit and you may need to delicately pry the etch out of the cap.
You are then confronted with the delicate task of putting the two set of spokes together. I did it by treading one set onto a paintbrush, then carefully apply superglue along the rims, and then carefully sliding the other half down and aligning it carefully before gently pressing the rims together with a pair of tweezers.
Again, I chose not to follow the instructions which would have you put the three sections of the tyres together and then put the spokes inside, I thought it would be easier to slide the spokes in the centre section of the tyre and then attach the outside sections. The mould along the tread patterns means that there is not the usual seam to clean up.
I thought the chain would be a tight fit but it fits perfectly within the bike frames although it is hard to see once you put it all together.
Finishing off the rear of the bike involves the leather bags and these will really add a nice bit of colour to the otherwise green bike. I left these off so I could paint them separately to the rest of the bike.
Construction of the front wheel is exactly the same as the rear, although one of the sets of spokes is different so make sure you use the right one. The front is also where you need to use the jig provided to bend some of the PE straps into place. I found some of the bends with the jig to be a bit on the soft side so I bent them a bit more along the bend lines, but once again, no problems.
One of the main features of this bike is the windshield, although I would suggest leaving this off until after painting since this part is fabric so a slightly different shade to the rest of the bike. I also chose not to attach the clear windscreen until after the paint stage.
Attaching the front section to the rear proved to be a bit of a challenge since I wasn't able to get the pivot to fit onto the locating pin on the front section so I had a significant challenge trying to get the glue to stick the two parts together. While I haven't covered its construction yet, I used the figure as a jig with the hands holding onto the handlebars to help align the front wheel to the body.
I'm sure you've noticed the large super glue stains on the front of the bike, which is a mixture of trying to get the parts to stick, but mostly because I had a case of butterfingers and had to do it again because I dropped the tiny little thing. Surprisingly enough, the only bit of etch I wasn't able to recover was the lever on the right side of the bike, but this was easily replaced with a shaving off the etched fret.
With the bike finished, the figure is all that is left. While there are no actual assembly instructions are provided, it does not take a genius to figure out how the pieces go together. There is a pistol holster provided on the sprue, but there is no guide as to where this goes, and the box top artwork doesn't give an indication either. The fit of the parts is excellent, and the gaps along the arm joins are pretty much the only gaps that will need a small amount of filler.
As you can see, the fit of the driver is almost perfect on the bike and there you have the finished product.
This is a tiny little kit, but literally a gem of a kit as well. Beautifully moulded, well-engineered, and excellent fit. What more could you ask for? Highly recommended - although definitely not a kit for beginners.
Thanks to MiniArt for supplying this kit to build and review.