Friday, October 4

Build Review Pt I: Tamiya's 1/12th scale Honda Monkey 125

I was lucky enough to have a Minibike when I was a young lad, so when we saw Tamiya's new Monkey 125 Minibike in 12th scale at the Shizuoka Model show this year we had to make this kit. In this first of two parts, we will show you what comes inside the kit and paint and construct the main sub-assemblies of the bike before we finish and weather the kit in the next part. Let us take you for a ride in Part I...

Build Review: Honda Monkey 125
Motorcycle Series No.134
From Tamiya
1/12th scale 
Item No: 14134
Price: ¥2,000 JPY/ £15.69 GBP/ $19.34 USD/ A$29 AUD
From Hobbylink Japan
One of the coolest models that we saw at the Shizuoka model show this year was the 1/12th scale Honda Monkey 125 motorbike. The Monkey 125 is the modern take on the Honda Monkey leisure minibikes of yesteryear. The design of this new 2018 bike is not too far away from the original Monkey as evidenced by its trapezoid profile and chunky tires. 

The original on the left, and the new Monkey 125 on the right for comparison...
This new bike has more power through a modern 125cc 4-stroke engine. A comfortable seat ensures smoothness, even on rougher rides, and gleaming chrome finishes for fenders, muffler cover. These new features keep it looking fairly close to the original, but upgraded and newer features make this a bike that can be ridden by those kids who may have had the smaller bike when they were younger, but has now grown up and wants to have that same feeling of freedom on two chunky little wheels again.
At Shizuoka, Tamiya's version of this new 2018 Monkey kit was shown, with a full-length 143mm engine swing arm, front fork, rear fender fixed with screws. The kit features a realistic-looking single-cylinder engine, metal-plated parts, and an authentic tread pattern on the synthetic rubber tires on the 12-inch tire.
Tamiya had the real thing there also - reminder - this is NOT a toy 😝
This new kit features:
- 1/12 scale plastic model assembly kit. Length: 143mm, width: 63mm, height: 101mm.
- Featuring a detailed rendering of the 4-stroke engine, with cooling fins.
- Engine, swing arm, front fork & rear fenders are screw-attached to the bike frame.
- Synthetic rubber depictions of 12-inch tires have a realistic tread pattern.
- Chrome-plated and clear parts are used for the LED headlight.
- Chrome-plated parts for muffler cover, fenders and more, plus metal rear spring.
- Vinyl tubing is included in the kit to recreate throttle, brake, clutch lines and more.
- Vynil is used to recreate the seat, with a decal for the HONDA logo.
- Decals recreate various markings & emblems, demarcation decals are also included. 

...So this new kit seems to feature all of the charm of the original in a new kit from Tamiya that looked like a fun build? 

I was IN...

The Kit:
The kit comes in the very Tamiya-trademark white, a top opening box with nice artwork of the 2018 version bike on the front. 
Artwork showing the bike on the sides and the red font make this an eye-catching box on the shelf of the model shop.

Inside the box, we find Three plastic sprues, one in white, one moulded in silver and one white, but chrome plated sprue. There is also a little screwdriver and a bunch of different sized screws to put the kit together, some springs and some nylon tube for the various pipes of the bike. 

A point of note to all model builders of this kit - the chrome-plated sprue covers all of the parts of the bike that are either plastic plated in chrome or metal that is chrome-plated on the bike. Those who do not like the chrome-plated parts can simply strip this off with white bleach and then use a metal chrome solution for more flexibility.
The chrome finish headlight on the right and exhaust heat guard are, as you might notice, attached at points that enable you to remove them from the chrome-finished plastic without scarring the outside of the part - no removal of paint and respraying here which saves the modeller a lot of work and brings this bike into the realm of those who simply want to use rattle cans on the kit instead of an airbrush...

The mudguard chrome on the rear wheel has the same thinking - attachment points that are not visible once removed - thank you Tamiya, for thinking about the moulding of this part of the kit.

...The same goes for the other side of the parts.
The two rubber tyres of the bike feature a good tread with no seam line down the middle of them. I will paint mine back just to seal them and dirty them up maybe just a little on the finished product...
The seat of the 125 is module in the same rubber as the tyres, with a bit of a weird surface white residue on them I noticed, the more you rub or squeeze the seat, the more it frays this white substance (ohh matron!) - anyway I would suggest cleaning these with something unharmful to the rubber and then painting them to preserve the colour and surface presentation.
Really nice representation of the ribbed seat is captured well here, again, it needs that cleanup - (I used Windex) to fix this up.
The kit comes with a variety of screws to secure the larger parts together, and so included is a screwdriver to secure the parts. Also in the box is a thin 2 mm line of black flexible tubing for the brake, electrics and other various lines of the bike. Lastly, there are two springs that are used as the rear exposed springs of the bike.
Here are the screws, many different sizes here, I would pay special attention to the size differences when making the bike.
To make it easier for myself I made sure I found the difference in size before I started building and kept them to the side. Good thing for the builder is that in the instructions the length of each of these screws is notated carefully for the modeller.
The decal sheet on this kit is a helpful inclusion, and we will see the decals in use in this part of the build. Small details and an on or off instrument gauge is included.
The demarkation Kabuki tape of the bike to separate the upper and lower colours of the bike is helpful, why I have to cut it out is rather less helpful. Please, pre-dut these Tamiya - you do everything else for the modeller so why not this?
The clear parts of the bike, the many lights on this kit are crystal clear, and attachment points are on suitable points that will not cause you any grief whilst removing them during the build.
The build - Pt I.
In this part, I will construct and paint many of the smaller assemblies, and in part II I will weather and dirty up the bike a little to give it the look of a working bike.

I was going to make mine slightly different - a BLack and white version I had seen online instead of the "vanilla" red, blue or yellow colours offered in the instructions
I will not be going in the numerical order of the steps for this build. As I want to paint and weather it - this article is concerned with identifying these parts and then getting them ready and painted for the construction before final weathering. You might not want to go this way, but I made this build something a modeller can follow to ensure no overspray, excessive masking or tomfoolery in getting to the end of what is a relatively simple process.

Step 1: Building the frame: The frame of this bike is a simple construction down the middle, with other, simple parts of the bike painted in ani
Simple joints and pin locators make this a breeze to put together. There are however some seams especially around the round pipe framework that needed sanding - how to do this? (and ho to do it easy?)
I picked up one of these thingies - a "UStar" "Parting Line scrapers" which was a brand I was unfamiliar with but thought I would give a try. Originally I got this for aircraft leading edges with the variety of different curves on it, but for round pipes like this with seams, it looked like it would work.
...and that it did very well, this scraper is a handy tool that helped keep the part curved as I removed the seam line - very hand if you have a few bucks to pick one up on either your local or online hobby store,  Ebay or Ali Express etc.
As I noted earlier - the frame of the bike and some of the smaller parts were painted in slightly different colours depending on which bike colour you want to make. I had my mainframe in AK's real colour Gloss black, and masked it off to paint RLM 72 for the front box above the engine.
Step 2: Building the main engine of the bike:
Most of the parts of the bike's engine are on the silver moulded sprue. The engine housing for the main part is a two-part construction right down the centre of the engine.
Not much seam work to contend with here are the engine's simple construction being a product of the mould parts being quite detailed. 
This bad-ol' seam at the bottom of the engine is hidden when the engine is all sealed up. I wanted you to see how it looked before I sealed and sanded mine up.

Step 5: The rear suspension frame: This frame goes together from three main parts, with some brake callipers that are attached to that. These will be all in gloss black on my kit.
The soft-ish plastic leaves a slight seam if you put too much glue on it, but it ges together quite easily and ready to paint.
Step 8: The rear springs. A simple four-part construction for these spring set up for the rear wheels and they will be ready to install on the back of your bike when we do the main construction, but let's get them ready to go now.
To join the two halves of the spring arms together you will need to take the chrome coating from the join on both the parts each side so you can still use model adhesive. I simply scraped them with my Swan Morton knife.
When it comes to putting these together, I painted the springs black first, then masked off the hydraulic ram of the shock absorber and painted them in the same AK real colour Gloss Black also. As you can see by the shock absorber in the top of the picture - leave the assembly OPEN to put the springs into the unit BEFORE you seal it up (take my advice I got it wrong the first time 😉)
Step 13: Lights n stuff - specifically the headlight of the bike...
As I mentioned earlier, the chrome parts can be removed easily without suffering any surface damage - making construction a breeze with no stripping & then re-painting. To ensure no problems with putting the clear parts of the headlight together, after its read body was painted AK acrylic AK719 satin black the headlight and indicators were secured using some wood glue I bought in a model shop in Japan I thought I would try out. Although not as good as my favourite "Cemendine" clear model glue this worked just fine.
 The headlight and rear indicators ready to go, they look great and only the rear body of the headlight needed to be painted...
Step 15: The exhaust of the bike. The exhaust is another simple construction, with the parts only needing glue and a push to put together, then the chrome exhaust over that, simple!
The matte black sprayed over these parts dried quickly, and then I used a 1.5 mm drill bit to give the end more than just a recessed opening, but something more like a pipe. Simple and necessary for most modellers with a conscience - especially when the rest of the build is so simple so far.
A 1.5mm (wide) x 2.5mm (long) screw was used do add the chrome part of the exhaust guard on to the muffler. 
Step 17: The fuel tank. The fuel tank of the bike comes in two halves, a good deal of sanding to make the parts seamless is required. The tank is then masked with the supplied kabuki and then a decal is applied to denote the colour separation and then the Honda logo on the sides of the tank.
I did not have any gloss white with me, so I used this Meng branded AK Interactive white then gloss-coated over it
Using a brand new hobby knife, I carefully cut out the shape that demarcated the lower colour of the fuel tank from the upper colour. Why this isn't cut lready from Tamiya always bewilders me...
The two halves of the masking strip were added - they overlap at the rear of the fuel tank, and getting these exactly right sure does take some time - patience Padawans, and you get it done without much stress.
A picture showing the overlapping tape at the rear. Of course, if your fuel tank is a different colour you will need to apply that once masked up.
The silver demarcation that separates the fuel tank here, it sure did sort out my sloppy masking hehe 😌 ugh....
OK, so now most of the smaller constructions were completed we could start painting them. You can see by the picture below some of the items that were going to be painted aluminium, like the engine, wheels and some of the cast metal parts. The disk pads were painted chrome, while the seat, tyres, exhaust and several other parts I painted matte black.
After I painted the bikes fuel tank white and it was masked, I added the other parts of the main bike frame, front forks, rear forks and other smaller parts in the gloss black
A simple way of making sure you get all of the parts painted all around is simply using a toothpick as a holder for each part.
They were then hung out to dry, you can see the parts of the engine were first painted black before they were painted silver.
Here they are with the AK real colours aluminium giving a nice flat sheen to these parts. Chrome was added to the brake pads after this using AK's Extreme metal colour.
The matte black colour sorted out that weird white colour on the vinyl parts and flattened the others for an injection hard plastic look.
Here are most of the parts put together and painted before the other chrome, screws, pipes, clear parts and decals are added. It gives us a good path for a hassle-free construction going forward and that is why I took this part of separating and painting these smaller mini assemblies first.  
Hope you enjoyed the build so far - after a replacement part comes for my engine (more on that in part II) comes, we can get on with finishing the build. 

Stay tuned for Part II

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Hobbylink Japan for sending me this bike to review and to make - If you like what you see it is actually quite cheap on the HLJ Website at $29 Australian dollars, cheaper than anywhere else I can find.