Review: Human Biker Gang by West Wind
Bikers are cool. From the very dawn of their history they’ve been viewed as outsiders, criminals, and dangerous rebels. This mixture of cool and danger has made them the subjects of countless movies and TV shows, sometimes as heroes, sometimes as villains. They’re just as popular in games of all kinds, but there have been precious few mounted biker minis available. Until now.
I first saw this West Wind set on Old Glory’s website. From the marketing copy everything sounded excellent. Ten metal bikers and their bikes, with a variety of separate heads, arms, and front bike forks to allow massive customization. The price tag was ridiculously low buying from Old Glory with my Old Glory Army discount, so I pulled the trigger since I wanted a biker gang as heavies for my upcoming zompocalypse game.
The trouble began when the box arrived tightly packed with what seemed to be individual biker molecules. I had utterly failed to do the math on just how many parts were involved with this kit. Each of the ten mounted bikers consisted of the rear of the bike, the bike’s front fork, the biker himself, a separate arm, and a separate head. That’s fifty pieces, not counting several spare arms and heads, and it made for a vastly bigger job of assembly then I had bargained for. This set is most definitely NOT for anyone without substantial experience assembling multipart metal minis.
After a longish time spent gluing bikes and their forks together, I discovered due to an error I had been given all the same kind of front fork part, when there should have been three different ones in the box. I was hoping that the lack of certain varieties of forks would account for why I had several bikers I could not seem to get seated properly on their metal steeds. A quick e-mail to Teresa at Old Glory got me a package of replacement parts in short order. Unfortunately, for whatever reason the package only held one of each of the missing forks rather than the three each I should have had. I decided to just make do with what I had.
It soon became apparent that the new forks would not solve my problem with ill-fitting bikers. The problem was that the arm that is meant to be gripping the handlebars was part of the main biker figure, and thus not able to be positioned separately unless I was willing to get out the jeweler’s saw and dismember every mini, which I wasn’t. Without such heroic measures, I had a devil of a time getting the bikers to sit on their rides while coming even close to grasping the throttles. I had assumed that several of the biker bodies had been sculpted with variant forks in mind that maybe were turned in some way so that the grips would match up with the riders. No such luck.
The situation was so bad that I had two bikers who were almost impossible to fit on at all. I finally had to settle for leaning them drunkenly off to one side of the saddle. The fit of every single biker was so poor that I had to use globs of green stuff to get them to stick properly to their bikes. More putty had to be used to smooth out the huge gaps where some of the weapon arms mated with the biker torsos, and I had to use even more to get the bikes to mate with their bases properly. Every single bike was miscast just enough to ensure a big destabilizing ridge along the bottom “foot” that was supposed to mate with the base.
I’ve inverted my usual practice and harped on the set’s faults first, but there is a lot to like here as well. The bikes especially are lovingly detailed, with great attention paid to the intricacies of the engines and wheels. They’re by far the best-looking motorcycles I’ve seen in 25mm, which is why it’s such a shame they’re so let down by issues with their riders
The bikers have an impressive array of customization options. There is a broad spectrum of weapon arms available, from traditional choices like chains or pistols up to serious ordinance like a drum-fed M-16. There’s even a chainsaw for the truly adventurous. The weapons are well-sculpted for the most part, and many are recognizable as real world guns. Weather you want a simple bunch of drunken rowdies or a posse of badasses packing serious heat there are plenty of good choices available.
The choices continue to the heads, which are mostly very well done, with expressive faces and great detail in their beards and hair. There are several spare heads, allowing the builder a decent spectrum of choices that run the gamut of classic biker tropes including Guy Wearing Nazi Helmet, several variations of Guy With ZZ Top Beard, and of course Guy With Giant Mohawk. I was initially a bit unsure about the heads featuring long hair streaming back in the wind, but they look just great when fully assembled and painted. There are a couple of heads with mold lines in unfortunate places, but nothing that requires too much cleanup.
It’s impossible to deny the great value this kit represents. At $35 for ten customizable bikers and their rides, the price per mini ends up being the same or less for these mounted figs than for normal footsloggers. Especially considering the sheer amount of metal in these minis, this box is an amazing deal.
I hate to give a less-than-average grade to a set that has so much going for it, but in the end the myriad part fitting problems are just too big to ignore. I doubt if somebody with less experience that I have with multi-part metal figs could have assembled these figs at all. While I’m sure that all their shortcomings could be addressed by a sufficiently skilled modeler, it’s very poor practice to require extensive skill with conversions to simply assemble a kit.
At the end of the day this set produced a decent-looking gang that I’ll be happy to put on my tabletop, but I had to put an absurd amount of work in to achieve that result thanks to several egregious design blunders by the makers. I’ve really liked just about everything else I’ve seen from West Wind, but I have a hard time recommending this set to any but the most experienced builders willing to take on a major project.
Pros: Very customizable, Good value, Impressive detail on bikes and on some bikers, One of few sets of biker minis available
Cons: Assembly is a big job, Terrible parts fit problems, Poorly designed bike/man interface
Final Verdict: 2/5
Source: Old Glory Miniatures
Popularity: 38% [?]
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