Aoshima 1/12 1978 Honda Z50J-1
|1000 yen in Japan. US price unknown at this time.
|Scott Van Aken
|Part of their Naked Bike series.
The Honda Z50J refers to a popular motorcycle produced by Honda Motorcycles belonging to its Z Series family of mini bikes. It began production in 1973 for the European and Japanese markets. In its first few years of production, it was the same as its American counterpart, the Honda Z50A. But in 1978, when Honda dropped the Z50A from its American motorcycle lineup, the European Z50J continued to evolve until 1999. Fewer Z50J are being produced each year and are being sold only as limited editions.
The first Aoshima kit I ever built was in the early 1970s in Atsugi. It was one of several waterline kits that were at the local hobby shop in Yamato and sold for the princely sum of 200 yen (at the time, about 60 cents). It was one of their destroyer kits and I have to admit that it was pretty crude, as was my building skills. I soon found out that the ships made by other manufacturers were better. I also built some of their 1/72 Japanes aircraft like the Serian, P-63 and Ki-100. They were pretty horrible as well but all there was and they helped me to learn skills with filler and sand paper as well as parts robbing.
Fast forward to the late 1980s and their 1/72 Ta-152H kits. These were very well done for the time and showed me that Aoshima had definitely improved over the years. Today, though not widely found in the US, Aoshima has a reputation for quality kits as good as Hasegawa or Fujimi. Now Dragon USA is importing the brand and was good enough to send me several examples of what they have to offer.
I like the quirky and so when I saw this in the box, I knew it would be the first of their kits to be previewed. As mentioned, the molding is first rate as is the chrome plating, though the back side of some of the deeper parts shows red plastic. This may be an issue with the front wheels. In fact, I'd dare say that half the parts are chrome plated, so you'll have to decide just how to deal with the seams on these bits. Many will strip them completely and repaint using Alclad II Chrome or use Bare Metal foil.
The kit is quite detailed and comes with plastic tubing for the throttle and front brake lines. You also get two rubber/vinyl tires that fit on one-piece chrome wheels. I mentioned that there is some red plastic showing on the brake disc side of the wheels so you may need to do some touch-up painting to cover this. Generally, it looks like most of the chrome bits can be removed from the sprues with minimal damage to the plating. The handle bars, however, will want to have the mold seams removed and bits of it painted black and other shades.
Aoshima has done its best to mold the various parts in the color needed, so that will help with painting. The instructions are in Japanese with parts identification and step titles in English. There are a few interesting names for things that got mixed in translation, such as 'winkers' for turn signals, but it is all quite understandable. Paints are in Gunze references. Decals are provided for logos. As these are really small trail bikes, there is no instrument, though there is a rear plate.
Aoshima has a rather large catalogue of 1/12 motorcycles and for those just starting in building the genre or those without a lot of room, this would make a great initial bike kit.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours at your favorite shop or ask them to order it for you.
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