Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

It's not really "finished" yet, but it's close enough to show some pictures. By not doing the final assembly, I'm giving myself the option of using the cowling or not. Anyway, this should give you an idea of what Tamiya's 1:6th scale motorcycle kits are like, rather than endlessly droning on about (auggghhhh!) painting.

The speedometer is realllllly neat, mainly because of the decals. Unfortunately, the decals were pretty funky, probably since they were old. They didn't stick very well, were pretty thick & stiff, and there was a lot of excess "gunk" which came off of the paper. I may redo some of the decals by photographing them & printing them on fresher decal paper.

Tamiya includes plastic tubing (which I haven't connected yet)-- it threads all over the place, from the throttle & brakes, the battery, the spark plugs, fuel lines, etc. There are also a lot of moving parts-- for instance the brake & clutch levers; spring-loaded parts-- the starter, the suspension, the foot brake, kick stands; and hidden detail-- the battery top & the crankcase cover come off with full detail underneath.

This doesn't even begin to describe all the wonderful detail that's in this kit. It's clear that Tamiya decided that the best way to make a miniature replica was to imitate the construction of the actual motorcycle as closely as would be practical. This shows up in little things like the seat which opens from the side, the movable choke lever, and the two sets of stands which are spring-loaded and operate just like the real ones.

Naturally, all this detail makes it pretty fragile. It is after all, a plastic model and it has a lot of thin parts. But it's reasonably sturdy, since I haven't snapped any parts during the assembly. You do figure out where it's safe to hold to pick it up.

The instructions were excellent-- very clear, with only a few parts mislabeled. That's quite a feat in such a complicated kit with so many parts. Not only that, but now I know the names of motorcycle parts, and suprisingly, none of them are named "doohickey"!

I had only a few problems with assembly. "Bolting" the engine in the frame gets kinda dicey since it's a tight fit to begin with. The frame needed to be bent to make the bolt holes line up, so it's in there under a bit of tension. The exhaust pipes were a bigger problem, and needed to be snapped in half to make them fit in place, and one needed to be heat-bent slightly to make it fit without putting too much stress on the cylinder.

Chrome parts are a nagging problem. Because you can't really paint chrome, you have to either live with seams & sprue marks, or a funky & obvious paint touch-up job. Actually, chrome looks kinda funky too, since it's so shiny and sticks out like a sore thumb. Yet I feel hesitant to scuff it up to make it fit in better, because it looks so "special".

If you happen to find one of these kits, go for it! They're far more detailed than any toy version, and you can learn quite a few things from assembling them. I would say that it's "fun", but the pain is still too fresh in my mind. I guess I must be some kind of masochist though, since I just picked up their Harley FLH Classic with sidecar. That would be next year's grueling project...