3MD Wheels - impressed! (pic heavy)

06-21-2012, 05:39 PM
I've got a Tamiya MP4/4 w. the Top Studio set underway. The plastic wheels seemed a bit of a letdown compared to all that etched and resin goodness, so I've been hunting around for some metal replacements. AZRM do some that look really nice, but I was swayed to try the 3MD wheels by some of their extras. Forgive me, Mac. :) And, since I haven't seen all that much about 3MD on-line, I thought I'd do a pic-heavy review for anyone else considering a set. They've got a new batch of subjects out, including late-80's Ferraris and Bennettons, so I'm sure we'll be be seeing them used a lot more often.

TL;DR: they're good stuff.

3MD's wheels are turned/machined aluminium, which is then powdercoated, so they're ready to use straight from the box. There's a generic fret of etched brass washers, used to help support the hub; a generic fret of screws/washers, used to...??? (wheel weights, I'm guessing, though no mention is made of them in the instructions); plus a small sheet of nicely printed wheel marking decals. Interesting to note, the instruction sheet was printed showing a pair of resin camera pods, but these have been redacted with a marker and are NOT included in the box.

Set arrives in a peggable cardboard box. The product image is glued on, so they can use the same basic boxes for all their wheels. Nothing terribly fancy:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1325.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1325.jpg)

Inside, all the metal bits are separated into their own little ziploc baggies. Nice touch that keeps the powder coating clean:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1326.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1326.jpg)

Size of the front and rear. They seemed so small when I opened the box (though they ARE properly sized) - I've been eyeing the set for months, and looking at larger-than-life photos since last year, so finally getting the actual wheels, they seemed so... puny. :)
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1327.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1327.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1328.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1328.jpg)

The disc press-fit into a rim. There seems to be a very slight gap, but I suspect a light sanding of the front corners of the hub will eliminate any interference. A dab of CA should lock things in place. Also, I'll mention here... some of the photos I've seen make it look like there's a sort of "wavy" texture on the flat, bolt-patterned portion of the disc. There isn't. You can see some *slight* traces of tool marks, but it's really subtle - you'll basically only see if it you look at *just* the right angle, in *just* the right light, under magnification. For some reason, it's more visible in photos than in real life.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1330.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1330.jpg)

Rear of the discs are nice and clean. Handy if you'll be doing a wheels-off display:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1331.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1331.jpg)

The set includes working wheel nuts. The axles are a looser fit to the disc, so they'll definitely have to be epoxied in place. I'm assuming they're sized to fit Tamiya's standard pegs, but haven't bothered checking. Worth noting: the wheel nut is bevelled on the rear, which helps locate and centre it snugly to the discs. The axles themselves are nice. They're bored out, per the real thing, with tapered tips (which is more accurate than the Top Studio items). Best of all, and not readily apparent in most pics, they're actually machined with the proper lock pin slots, visible *just* ahead of the threading. Seriously impressed.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1332.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1332.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1334.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1334.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1347.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1347.jpg)

There's also a set of nicely machined air valves. (one of the main features that drew me to these wheels over Mac's) The rims have a corresponding hole, though it's ever-so-slightly too small. It will need enlarged slightly to fit the valves - I'm thinking it would be a really, really bad idea to force the valve into place, since you don't want it sproinging off into nowhere as you carefully attach it to your wheels!
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1335.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1335.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1337.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1337.jpg)

...and the decals/PE. I'm not quite sure what the PE bolts and washers are for. They seem to be too large to fit into the wheel's bolt holes, and they're not mentioned in the instructions, though they seem to be a standard inclusion for all 3MD's wheel sets. Oh well, they'll certainly be a useful addition to the spare parts bin.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1338.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1338.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1339.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1339.jpg)

Speaking of, here's the instructions:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1340.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1340.jpg)

Now, the big question: how do they work with the Top Studio set? That was my main concern, and I'm pleased to report... perfectly fine. In fact, the wheel nuts have basically the same thread (there's a *tiny* bit of friction putting TS's nuts on 3MD's hub), so the 3MD nuts will mount on the TS axle no problem. Unfortunately, since the Top Studio axles screw into their brakes, you can't substitute the 3MD axles (at least, not without a bunch of work). That's a pity, as I think 3MD's axle is more accurate, but not a shock. It also means you can use the 3MD wheels, with the Top Studio brakes, and have a spare set of axles for another kit. Oh, also... some of the 3MD sets have powder coated wheel nuts (red and blue). This one doesn't. Anyway, on to the pics. Brass parts are Top Studio, Steel(?) are from 3MD:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1341.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1341.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1345.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1345.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1348.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1348.jpg)

And finally, in case anyone's wondering, why bother with these in the first place? They're a lot sharper than the kit parts. They're also cleaner, and save some tedious, annoying clean up of the rear faces. Compare the metal wheels to the kit parts:
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1342.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1342.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1343.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1343.jpg) http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/th_IMG_1344.jpg (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b251/IronChefMoFo/kits/auto/mp44/3md%20wheels/?action=view&current=IMG_1344.jpg)

So... worth it? I think so. They were about $45 from Hobby Easy, and I don't have any problems with that price. I've seen them for nearly double that at other on-line shops (coughHLJcough), and that's getting into crazyland, but for $45, I think you've got enough extra stuff to justify the premium over Mac's wheels. I wouldn't use them on every model, but for a detailed build, or a favourite subject, they are nicely done.

Hemi Killer
06-21-2012, 06:10 PM
The only time I would spend that much on turned wheels would be if it was a polished, or metal finish wheel. For a black wheel I dont think its worth it. You could paint a nice resin or plastic wheel and have nearly the same look, especially the rears where they are so deep anyway.

06-22-2012, 09:21 AM
Thanks ICMF, that is a very usefull information.
I will try one of those set of wheels.

06-23-2012, 02:17 AM
Sold me on those wheels.

06-23-2012, 06:03 PM

I also want to thank you for the detailed review. (I'm waiting on my Top Studio set from Stradasports so I can build a superdetailed MP4/4 as well.) I saw the 3MD wheels but the price scared me away.

I thought it might be good to have some reference photos in this thread of the 1:1 scale to compare.


Personally, I'm going to stick with the kit wheels. I don't like the separation between the rim and the spokes/disc on the 3MDs. Looks like there would still be a step even if they were pressed in perfectly. The kit parts look much more accurate there.

Also, the spokes on the 3MDs may be clean on the back side but the back of the hub is missing the small holes and pins in the photo (sorry I don't know the correct term). Seems like a major omission if you're going to display wheels off.

Is the aluminum soft enough you could just drill all the way through from the front?

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