by: Sean Hadfield [ ]
The king of American motorcycles is the Harley Davidson (or am I biased here in Wisconsin?) with its WW II legacy and distinctive V-Twin sound. If you're looking for a big touring bike, what you want is the Electra Glide FLHTC Ultra Classic with all the chrome!
Aoshima of Japan produces this kit in the common motorcycle scale of 1/12 (one foot to the inch). The options shown on the kit example seem to be the most popular in photos I've seen of prototype Electro Glides.
It took me several days to notice that nowhere does it actually say "Harley Davidson" on the box, instructions, or decals. The box art has a blank gas tank and no mention of manufacturer, and the decals cleverly say "Hardway Dady&Son". Apparently "Electra Glide" and "Ultra Classic" are not copyrighted, because those decals are spelled correctly. It's conceivable that Aoshima may someday get the right to use Harley Davidson's name, because their website makes non-specific reference to some licensing efforts underway.
The parts are cast in three colors (mustard tan, gray, and black), plus clear, plus 3 sprues of chrome parts. The black sprue tree is styrene, and not vinyl as in kits I've seen in the past. The gray sprue tree contains the engine parts and wheels, so some chrome painting is needed by the modeler. Also included are rubber tires, 3 metal screws, and a considerable length of rubber tubing for brake lines and spark plug wiring. The metal screws mount the engine to the frame and serve as the two axles.
The parts are crisp with no flash and no visible ejector pin marks. The parts count is decent-- not an intimidating amount, but enough to keep busy and provide good detail. All parts have positive locator pins and decent attachment surfaces for gluing. There are several unused parts in this kit, notably a longer pair of handlebars and a chrome headlight housing for an un-faired Harley.
The 12-page instruction manual includes 8 pages of step-by-step assembly guide, one page parts map, general model-assembly warnings, a paint color key, and 1 1/2 pages regarding the tattoo (more on that later). The parts map shows the labeling of the sprue trees, A through H, with no E tree. (I noticed cynically that all sprues were also labeled "HD"). The instructions are very clear with helpful details, for example, the direction of tire tread when assembling the wheels.
One discrepancy I found is where the tubing goes. It's a neat detail, but both "tube A" come up from the spark plugs, but the instructions don't seem to mention them again-- do they hide behind the fuel tank? Likewise "tube D" comes down from the throttle grip and isn't mentioned again as to where that goes. Tubes B and C on the front fork are clearer. The length to cut each tube is spelled out, so during construction it may become apparent where it extends.
There are plenty of decals in mostly gold and red, except no Harley Davidson logos as mentioned above. The box cover art shows a plain gas tank, but decorative decals are included for both sides of the tank, with the peculiar "Hardway Dady&Son" name. There is a white script "Hardway Dady&Son" for only one side of the front fender, where the prototype Harley has chrome script on both sides. The gauges are decals-- the main instrument cluster and two side gauges. The bottom of the instrument cluster (radio control?) has the word "JAPAN" clearly printed on it. There is a silver decal for the air cleaner cover (molded in chrome) and a black striped decal for the bottom of the front fender (a rubber boot maybe?).
The gold decals are relatively big for the curved sections they're made to cover-- the top of the front fender and fairing and the sides of the fuel tank. I'm skeptical of how well they'll lay down, but without building the kit, I can't say for certain. Being thin, the red pinstriping should conform adequately to the panel curves.
Included in the kit, and shown prominently on the box cover, is a temporary tattoo of a colorful eagle with a ribbon that says "WINNING STREAK". It's labeled "Heaven's Door" and "Shin", but the instructions and further description are all in Japanese, so I can't read it. ...at least it's probably temporary, right? One of my kids can test that out.
The parts breakdown is good, and being molded in several colors, a beginner wouldn't even have to paint it to get a nice bike for their shelf or desk. The price is a little higher than I normally budget for myself, but for this quality, it is a good value.