Sunday, January 12

Construction/ Comparison Review: Resin Wheel Sets with "Elastic Resin" Tires from: HALBERD Models

Halberd Models from Ukraine has recently entered the aftermarket in scale modelling with a plethora of new detailed wheels for several popular kits currently available from hobby shops. These wheels are using a combination of hard and soft resin (not vinyl) to create a new type of wheel and tyre mix that Gary was interested to see in person. See what he thought after he put some together and his comparison with the kit parts in his review...

Construction Comparison Review: Resin Wheel Sets with "Elastic Resin" Tires
From: HALBERD Models
Scale: Assorted (1:48th, 1:32nd, 1:24th scales)
Halberd Models Facebook Page
Halberd Models eBay Store
HALBERD Models is a small Ukrainian based company who have built up an impressive catalogue of detailed resin wheels for aircraft in three major scales of 1:48, 1:32 and 1:24.

The thing that sets HALBERD apart from most other resin wheel manufacturers is that they provide the hubs and tires for the wheels as separate parts, which obviously makes painting much easier.

But HALBERD has gone one step further in choosing to cast the tires in "elastic resin", which as the name implies is a flexible material that feels and acts like rubber. Before you shrug your shoulders and dismiss the use of "rubber" tires as toy-like, keep reading to see what Halberd have done differently, it might just change your mind.

Rubber tires are certainly not a new idea, in fact, several (mainly Chinese) kit manufacturers have (and continue to) include "rubber" tires with their kits. Unfortunately, the rubber used in the kit tires is cheap and has a shiny/slimy finish.

I've also seen it reported that over time the rubber perishes and deteriorates to the point of ruining the wheel altogether. Most serious modellers will avoid using such kit provided rubber tires for these reasons.
The use of a flexible resin material for the tire as done by Halberd is something I have not seen before. When looking at and handling the tires from the Halberd sets they feel completely different to the kit rubber tires I mentioned above.

Being a resin the Halberd material can be cut, sanded and ground (using a Dremel for example) much like the normal harder resins. In my experience, this is not the case with the cheaper rubber kit tire material which does not respond well to sanding or grinding.

As I had recently reviewed the new ICM 1:48 B-26 Invader, I requested a set of the Halberd wheels to suit this aircraft. Halberd also supplied a couple of sets of 1:48th scale Ju 88 wheels for me to have a look at as well. All of the wheel sets are essentially the same with the hub components made from standard rigid resin with the tires (normally main and nose/tail) being cast from the aforementioned flexible resin in a charcoal black colour.
Each set comes packed in a sturdy box which protects the resin contents very well. A small double-sided, full-color instruction sheet is included along with the light green, grey and black flexible resin parts. Each of the parts will require removal and cleanup from the resin pour block, but this is pretty normal when working with resin.
One thing I would strongly recommend before you dive in and start cutting up the parts in this set is to watch the Tutorial Video provided by Halberd on their Facebook Page. The video clearly shows how best to assemble the parts and even though it has nothing specifically to do with the wheel set I like his technique for stretching the plastic tube on a cotton bud to get a handy CA precision glue applicator (you learn something new everyday).
The Halberd instructions are very well done and explain the assembly of each component in a clear and logical way. In the A-26 set, I worked on there was a choice of nosewheel hubs, both of which are provided in rigid resin. The attention detail shows through as Halberd even provides the correct positioning of the tires on the hubs.
I found all the hard resin parts to be very cleanly moulded and blemish-free with no visible bubbles or issues. If I had to guess I would say the master parts could be 3D printed, which explains the high level of detail present. You will need to be comfortable with cutting and sanding resin to make the most of these sets as the pour blocks and supports are quite bulky.
Depending on the style of the wheel set in use you will probably need to perform some cutting of excess from the wheel spokes. I found for the A-26 wheels that this was time-consuming and delicate work, but worth the effort as the end result looks very realistic.
The flexible resin material used for the tires can be easily cut with a pair of side cutters. Further cleanup of the inside is best achieved using a motor tool (eg Dremel) with a grinding bit or you could sand manually by hand. You can also comfortably cut the flexible resin with a sharp blade. I did not try it but the Halberd instructions indicate the tire material can be painted using water-based acrylic paints if so desired. I quite like the finish on the tire material as it comes so would try to avoid having to apply paint. The lettering on the sidewalls does look a bit soft but that's probably not a bad thing in this scale.
After some preparation, you will end up with the hub and tire parts ready for assembly. Next step for me would be to wash all the parts in warm soapy water to remove any resin residue and then apply paint to the hard resin wheel hubs only (leaving the flexible resin tire unpainted).
As you can see, the fit of all the parts is very good. You will, of course, need to use CA or Epoxy glue to join the resin parts together when the time comes. One of the benefits of the flexible tires is that you can squeeze them to achieve a snug and perfectly aligned fit of the tire to the hub. The Halberd instructions provide details on the correct alignment of the tires (use the logos as a reference point) to the hubs.
The Halberd wheels for the A-26 are clearly sized to match the ICM kit parts. Here is a quick side by side comparison to show the vast difference in detail from the plastic parts and the Halberd resin parts. Just not having to deal with restoring that diamond tread on the tire would be enough to sell me.
The nosewheel on the A-26 is also provided in the set and includes options for both the spoked and covered hub. Naturally its a bit less involved than the main wheels but Halberd still provides superbly detailed parts and a flexible resin tire.
FINAL THOUGHTS - HALBERD Models - Resin Wheel Sets with "Elastic Resin" Tires
Halberd seems to have found themselves a bit of a niche in the crowded aftermarket detail set market. Their attention to detail is excellent and really shows in everything from the packaging, assembly instructions and certainly the design and production of the high quality resin parts.

At present Halberd does not appear to have a dedicated website, instead of leveraging Facebook and eBay for their marketing and eCommerce needs.
Halberd Models Facebook Page
Halberd Models eBay Store

At the time of writing a quick count on their eBay store showed roughly 15 sets in 1:48, 20 sets in 1:32 and 5 sets in 1:24 (all for the Airfix Hellcat). Prices range from US$10.50 for the smaller sets up to US$33.00 for the more complex/larger sets.
I really like the concept of what Halberd have done here. The use of a flexible resin for the tires will result in a very realistic effect on larger models like 1:32 or 1:24 that have enough inherent weight to show some flex in the tires (ie the weighted effect).

I'm not sure how evident the weight will be on some of the smaller 1:48 models but I guess we have the same problem with normal resin or plastic wheels anyway. I'm very happy to recommend these sets to fellow modellers and I'll be buying a few more myself for upcoming builds.

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Halberd Models for sending us these wheels to review - If you are interested in them you can get them in two places - either from Halberd Models Facebook Page or 
You can see more of Gary's Work on his Website & his Facebook page.