Modeling, text, and photos by Masahiro Doi
Recently we’ve seen many companies releasing quite a few kits of “softskin” military vehicles…trucks and other non-armored vehicles. So instead of seeing only a collection of German tanks from WWII when we check out a company’s display at a model show, now we can see a wide variety of different subjects. The kits that may have lit the fuse of this recent boom in softskin popularity might be the motorcycles with sidecars that hit the market from many companies. Of those kits in 1/35 scale, I’ve chosen the Master Box BMW R75 to build. (I’ll refer to Master Box as MB from now.)
The MB R75 kit includes a set of figures that dramatically tell a story, so you can make a very appealing vignette straight out of the box. But with rival Lion Roar’s release of a super-detailed kit of the sidecar bike featuring photo-etched metal parts, the MB kit lost just a touch of its luster. That’s when MB decided to up the ante with its kit by releasing a new special version including its own PE parts…and that’s the version I built.
The biggest drawback of the original version of the MB kit is the injection-molded plastic spoked wheels. Although the spokes are the same thickness as those in the Zvezda R12 kit, which are considered to be acceptable as they are, the tires of the R75 are a good deal smaller than the R12’s with less space between the hub and the tire, accentuating the non-scale thickness of the spokes more in the R75 wheels. More than that, however, the excess flash appearing between the spokes really created a bad first impression. The PE parts go a long way towards realistically recreating those spoked parts, so I went to work on getting them together.
Separating the rim in four places allows the spokes to be easily bent into the proper round shape. Attaching the rim to the tire after gluing the spokes to the hub is a bit difficult, so patience and perseverance is needed to get that done. This kind of work isn’t suited to a deadline! You’ve got to take your time to do it right. Although efforts will be rewarded with a great looking set of wheels and tires, I can’t help but feel the tires themselves would look better if MB had rendered them as multiple sliced parts that are sandwiched together, as some other manufacturers do.
After removing the flash from the tire parts and carefully test-fitting the PE spokes, I got it all together. I think the sharpness of the final results is acceptable, although it takes a lot of time to make sure the shape of all the spokes is correct. Incidentally, the instructions show the spokes wrong side out, so modelers using the plastic parts need to be careful.
Assembling the chassis
The kit’s frame parts are broken down the same as the real bike’s, so you can get a good feel of how the real thing goes together. The plastic is a bit on the soft side and the molding features some ambiguous shapes in some areas, so take care to get it all lined up straight during assembly. The shift lever and linkage is provided as PE parts, to great scale effect. Fantastic detail! The plug cords to the cylinders are not included in the kit, so I made them out of 0.3mm diameter plastic rod. I used Wave’s “Black Super Glue” to represent the plug boots…looks great!
Cords, pipes, and wiring
Using PE parts for the wheel spokes is a great way to add detail to any bike kit, but another thing you can do to really improve the realism is to add brake cords, plug wires (as mentioned), and other pipes and wires. Unfortunately, easy-to-understand references to help the modeler are rare. On top of that, I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, so I don’t even have any basic knowledge of how they work. So I just had to constantly refer to photos of the bikes, and came up with what you see here. I’ll try to explain along with the pictures here.
The headlight was enclosed in a waterproof casing, which also contained other electronic components. Two cords enter the lower right side of the casing.
One of the cords from the headlight casing runs down to the right side of the front wheel hub. This is probably the dynamo cord. The other cord attaches to the interior of the tank after passing through the neck of the chassis.
The brake cord goes from the right handgrip to the right side of the front wheel hub. I made this with copper wire.
There are two cords attached to the right handgrip. These two wires pass by the back of the headlight casing, through the left side of the chassis neck, and under the tank.
There are also to wires connected to the left handle, with one being wrapped with a wire of smaller diameter. These two wires pass through the right side of the chassis neck and attach to the underside of the tank.
On the real bike, these cords all feature connectors, of course, but in 1/35 scale it’s OK to leave them off.
The finished Master Box BMW R75. The side bags are the plastic parts, with PE used for the hinges and latches. I used 0.3mm plastic rod to make the sidecar fender light cords.ff.
Here are two side-by-side shots with another “new generation” 1/35 motorcycle model, the R75 from Lion Roar (HLJ item LORL3510). Although it’s also an R75, it represents a later model, with an air cleaner mounted on the tank and a different engine layout.
Finally, on to the painting…but!
The R75 was used by the German Army from 1942 on all fronts of the war, so there are many paint schemes to choose from. However, I impulsively jumped into this build without giving any consideration as to what battlefront or what kind of situation I wanted to represent wit the model, so of course I hadn’t thought at all about how to paint it. So, now I will look at reference photos and decide what my image of this bike will be, and take my time getting that image right.
So, that’s it for “DoiBlog” #1. Whether or not the next installment will feature the painting of the R75, nobody knows!