Aires has long been known for extremely nice resin detail parts. For several years now, under their own name brand and in the Quickboost line, Aires has produced replacements for kit parts that have an outstanding level of detail, exquisite molding, and excellent ease of use. Wheeliant is the most recent line added to the Aires brand, and it easily meets the standard set by the company’s previous products.
One of the recent releases is the Wheeliant F-14B/D wheel set. The set includes main and nose gear wheels, with separate weighted tires, and a length of wire to use as brake line for the finished model. The separate wheels and tires make painting a breeze…there is no need to fiddle around with masking tape or purchase an aftermarket masking set to paint these parts. The tires have raised molded lettering on both sides. The wheels have separate front and back sections, and the painted tires are sandwiched between the painted halves. The fit is precise, and the wheels snap in place quite securely, even without glue.
For this review, I procured some F-14 wheels from other kits to compare. While some of the wheels may be from different variants than the B or D, they are suitable for comparison in the level of detail and ease of use. These include the Academy, the older Revell, and the newer Revell kits (I wasn’t able to get a nose wheel from the newer Revell kit). While all of the wheels have a decent level of detail, only the newer Revell kit has a weighted tire, and none can truly match the detail in the Wheeliant set. The other kit wheels are split into front and back halves, which would require sanding the glue seam on the tire, and that would remove any tread detail that might be there. Also, the older Revell wheels have some nasty ejector pin marks on the face of the tires…I gave these only one pass of putty-and-sand, but they would need more work to make them suitable for most builds, and the extra work would be an absolute necessity for contest consideration.
For all the review comparison pieces, I painted the wheels gloss white. Then, for the kit parts, I masked the wheels and painted the tires flat black (this was not necessary on the Wheeliant wheels). I used a Gunship Gray acrylic sludge wash on the wheels to deepen the shadows, and then gave all of them a clear flat coat to even the sheen. Though I didn’t take the next step, the raised lettering on the tires would really pop with a bit of drybrushing using a slightly lightened shade of the chosen base color.
The package and instructions indicate that these parts are designed for the Hasegawa kit, but I would expect, with slight modifications, that they would work for almost any F-14B or F-14D kit. Considering the level of molded detail and the ease of use, I would give the Wheeliant F-14B/D weighted wheels my highest recommendation.
I’d like to express my appreciation to Wheeliant and Aires for supplying this product review sample, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to do the review.