By Maz Woolley
Models of motorcycles in 1:43 are rare. This is a shame as displays and dioramas would benefit from some Motorcycles. The problem is that making a 1:43 scale motorcycle probably costs about the same as a 1:24 scale one and the perceived value of the model and hence its sale price has to be lower.
Schuco has produced some as loads on vehicles and trailers over the last few years, most are derived from its Bub range which are diecast. Whilst quite nice to use as background vehicles in displays they are a little heavy and toy like.
The James Bond model collection had a nice Kawasaki and sidecar, but it is a shame they did not model the BSA Lightning from Thunderball as well.
When looking at eBay recently I saw a posting for 1:43/O Scale Motorcycles with eight models available at a modest price shipping from China. The pictures were not terribly good but the models looked worth taking a risk on at the low “buy now” price. They have now arrived in the UK and there are actually seven different bikes one of which has been supplied twice. They are all Harley Davidson machines with quite detailed tank markings printed on and each represents a different model. Sadly my knowledge does not allow me to identify the exact Harley model names so if any reader who can let me know I would be grateful for the information.
Research on the internet shows that a boxed set of four Harley Davidson bikes were made by MTH Model Trains of the US in their O Gauge Rail King brand under license from Harley Davidson in around 2005. But looking at the picture shown below though they are very similar to the models I bought recently none are the same. Firstly the WTH models are said to be diecast and they also have overscale and miscoloured front indicators which are completely missing on the ones I have.
MTH still had two sets of motorcycles in their catalogue in 2016 but these are in diecast metal and though not badged, or sold as Harley Davidsons, they are clearly related to the earlier boxed models right down to the yellow indicators.
The models I received are a mixture of plastic and a soft rubber for handlebars. Wheels are solid and in the case of most of the the spoked ones a technique similar to that used by Oxford Diecast can be seen where a clear disk is used with spokes printed on. There is a considerable amount of printed badging and chromework as well as lot of pipework and pedal mouldings around the engines. Quite a bit of effort has been expended detailing the engines and side panels in different colour finishes. Foot boards and back rests are fitted on models where they are standard, and there are even hand holds fitted on the Tourer as well as the detailed top box. The front wheels are movable, though stiff on some models. There are no stands fitted but small separate bike stands are supplied that allow the bikes to stand safely.
The models have no makers markings on the models or on the plastic bags that they came in. One wonders if this is a new series of licensed Harley models which have left the factory to be sold unofficially before general release, or whether they are models which were made for a cancelled order? If neither then maybe the domestic market may be good enough in China for models like this to sell well.
All I can say is I hope that they also make Japanese and European bikes as well as they would also look good alongside European cars.
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