Italeri 1/6 Moto Guzzi V850 California Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2013||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||Moto Guzzi V850 California||Scale||1/6|
|Kit Number||4513||Primary Media||Styrene, metal|
|Pros||Fully functioning engine, brakes, suspension. Unique subject.||Cons||Connection points for chromed parts will be hard to clean up without ruining the chrome, lots of ejector pin marks and flash cleanup required.|
|Skill Level||Advanced||MSRP (USD)||$475.99|
Moto Guzzi entered the USA market in the late 60's with a 700cc cruiser. This section of the motorcycle market had been dominated by Harley Davidson until then. Moto Guzzi expanded its popularity in the USA thru the California Highway Patrol. CHP ditched the Harleys in early 70's which were plagued with break downs and poor handling adopting the Moto Guzzi Eldorado which offered great power, handling, reliability and easy maintenance. The Moto Guzzi California was a civilian version of the police cruiser with the same road worthy features that attracted the CHP, but without all the police equipment. This bike is still one of Moto Guzzi's most popular models – check out the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 here - if you want to see how this classic bike looks like today.
Italeri's kit of the Moto Guzzi V850 California is not your average 1/6 scale motorcycle kit which normally are just bigger and have a few extra pieces that smaller scales often lack. This is a mammoth of a kit where most of the bike mechanisms actually work!
You can see an overview of the working parts of the kit in either link below:
This kit was originally released by Protar in the 80's. Protar was perhaps the most gutsy motorcycle kit manufacturer ever. Once Protar closed doors in the early 2000's (around the time its owner and founder passed away, Mr. TARquinio PROvini, an avid motorcycle racer and enthusiast) many of its kit molds (mostly motorcycles) were eventually acquired by Revell Germany and then Italeri. What we have here is a re-release of Protar's original Moto Guzzi V850 California kit in 1/6 scale (770 parts) with a much nicer box and instructions, and hopefully cleaner parts and better fit. Protar was not known for a precise or easy part's fit, but more for its uniqueness of kit subjects and a great base kit to work with. This is an "in-box" review of the Italeri kit, but I will be building it in the very near future and I will let you know the quality of the fit and my overall build experience.
At first inspection one cannot avoid noticing that half of the kit's sprues are chromed. You will need to decide up front if you want to re-chrome or not and if yes, how will you do it. Bare-Metal Foil, Alclad, Chroming services are some options. Due to some rather large sprue connectors and some flash, you are most likely going to lose some of the chrome during parts cleanup, so you either touch up using your favorite method or you strip all the chrome and re-chrome it.
Once you get over the "chrome shock" (in a good way though!), you will see that besides the six large sprues of chrome we have five large "normal" plastic sprues (black, grey and metal look), two nice rubber tires, two sprues of clear parts and a clear windshield. Now we get to the really impressive part of the kit which in my opinion is the two hard plastic containers. The first clear box guards most of the engine clear parts and rubber seat. The second clear box contains all of the hardware included like nuts, bolts, levers, connectors, straps, springs, forks, etc, etc. This is a major improvement over the Protar kit as Protar never had this kind of presentation and care for the box contents.
Also included are clear vinyl cabling for some of the wiring, three long pieces of thin coil and the infamous "rubber sprues" for all other rubber and cable needs. These rubber parts are not easy to work with and a lot of care needs to be taken when cleaning the cables. My advice here if you mess up is to replace the rubber cables for plastic/vinyl cable. The remaining rubber parts are excellent as they perfectly depict the many small rubber components in the bike, like grips, shifter ends, foot pegs, etc, so try not to butcher them! If you chose to use the rubber cables I suggest you carefully cut the rubber parts from the rubber sprue as close to the part and clean as possible with a sharp hobby knife – laying the rubber part on top of tile keeping it in place with a double sided tape works great for me – the part stays put and you can make a precise clean cut. Sanding these rubber parts is almost out of the question.
The instructions are very good and high quality, although it could be more detailed at times. This is definitely NOT a beginner's kit, but given the complexity and precision required for the engine build, a little more guidance would be helpful in some areas. If you take your time to dry fit parts and only glue what is necessary when you are sure you have it right, there should be no problem. Since many of the kit parts move, you will see the little "Oil Can" symbol all over the place meaning that you need to make sure the fit is very good for that part and that you lube the right places or the engine won't move the way it was supposed to. If you choose to use the clear motor parts and show off all the internal mechanisms you worked so hard to assemble, you need to open a hole on the belt cover (well depicted in the instructions).
Included in the kit is a nifty little metal "knob" that you insert thru the belt cover hole you drilled - when you turn it, you make the engine "run". Some versions of the original Protar kit included a little electric motor that would "move" the bike engine by pulleys, but Italeri opted for not including the little engine, perhaps to keep the kit cost reasonable and the model true to a replica (the batteries for the electric motor were tucked under the seat and you could see the little motor so it looked a little weird in my opinion – I am glad Italeri left that feature out!).
Once the engine is assembled, you move to the frame, suspension, drive train and wiring the electric system (blinkers, front lights and brake lights). At this point you are down to the wheels, brakes and fenders plus hand and foot controls. After this you are ready to fit the engine into the frame. Exhaust, tank, side covers, seat and saddle bags come next to finalize the build.
The water slide decals included have the Moto Guzzi brand markings for the tank, model denomination for the side panels and miscellaneous component brands plus speedometer display. Also included are a small "dry transfer" sheet with the white pinstripe for the tank which are very intricate. And last, you get the chrome patch on the tank and side bags as a sticker. It is hard to tell how well this will stay on the tank – since the tank only curves in one direction, I would say the potential is good that it will stay put.
There is a large amount of ejector pin marks and seam lines throughout and a lot of flash to be removed from the tighter places, but nothing that cannot be handled with a sharp hobby knife, sand paper/emery boards and some time and patience. I am actually happily surprised with how clean the kit is given the age of the molds. Italeri has done a great job resurrecting this kit.
In summary, this is an amazing kit that was already ahead of its time in the 80s and continues to be so today. This is a very welcome re-release of a stunning kit with some definite improvements. I will only be able to comment on parts fit once I build the kit ( I cleaned up the frame and one rim set already – once the flash is removed everything fit quite nicely ). I am really looking forward to the build and seeing the little engine come to life. The uniqueness of the kit subject is more than worth the additional clean up time, in my opinion. I actually wish that ALL old Protar kits got the "Italeri treatment" and were re-released (in case Italeri is reading this J) as there is nothing this classic/historic in the market today.
If you enjoy building motorcycle kits or simply enjoy a challenge with a more realistic functioning model at the end, I highly recommend this kit. I believe a 13-14 year old could tackle this (given they have previous modeling experience) with perhaps occasional adult guidance.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!