One can say I’m on a bit of a pick-up streak as of late, starting with the I-wish-I-was-a-pickup ’87 El Camino SS, then Aoshima’s wonderful raised ’94 Toyota Hilux, got a ’91 Syclone kit underway ready to turn into the Marlboro version and now MENG’s first endeavor into model car kits, the 2009 Ford F-350. And it ain’t just any F-350, it’s the elongated Super Duty 4×4 with the crewcab… so it’s a nice and gentle 10 inches long. That, for the record, is easily one of the largest 1/24th scale car/pickup truck kits you can get. Hell later on in the article, I put it side-by-side with the ’05 Escalade kit from Revell which is also a 1/24th scale car. For real, it’s friggin’ gargantuan and I honestly came to the dilemma of “what the hell am I gonna do with this thing, it’s too big for any damn shelf!“, so now it’s awkwardly perched on a stack of books due to its ridiculous size.
Right from the start I knew this was gonna be a fun one, mostly due to the hype that was built up by fellow model kit enthusiasts who hold this as a semi holy grail. Why? Well, by nature we’re a bunch of nit-picky pricks who scream for detail over functionality/build quality and fair, that’s what we strive for but while this kit has some errors here and there, it’s held up so high above all others for three reasons: 1), it’s a very unusual subject, especially for a company that literally never made model car kits before(in 2014, this was released, in ’15 they produced their second, the Hummer H1 and coming up in late ’17 – the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon) and it’s that exact seemingly random subject matter choice that related to so many of us who love building just… cars, regular old fashioned “you see this truck parked by Denny’s all the time” kind of car. Car, truck, you know what I mean. Ain’t nothing wrong with something slightly dreary or oh help me God, “regular” for a subject.
2), it’s a super well thought out kit. Like, raise the bar some more why dontcha, MENG. Really, even Tamiya has hit a ceiling quality-wise and it’s still under what MENG has pulled out of their sleeves. The tooling is superb, it’s crisp, the planning is brilliant so that everything connects beautifully and best of all? Structurally sound. Once it fits, it sits. And lastly, 3), it’s riddled with detail. The engine bay is honestly the closest thing I’ve seen compared to the real stuff on any kit, the interior is crisp and done in such a manner that from a-far you couldn’t tell the difference, not until you see that none of the knobs have icons, the lines, the door handles, the little simulated light bulbs in the headlights, it’s all there and it’s all done perfectly.
But about the truck itself, weirdly enough this is a truck we see quite commonly here in the Netherlands. Together with the ’11-’13 and ’15 Dodge Ram 1500, the ’08-’11 Ford F-150 and F-250 are quite common here, mostly driven by contractors as one would expect but for once other than the muscle cars I’ve worked on at the work place, I actually have seen this type of truck! Though boy, we only have the more recent F-series around here all the while the series has been around since 1948, for Christ’s sake. And even then, they’re kinda responsible(along with Chevrolet/GMC) for the shape that we know our pick-ups for today: square, boxy and long.
The F-series truck is pretty much as American as it could possibly be, it’s been the best selling vehicle(yes, of all cars) since 1981 without any changes and the best selling pick-up truck since 1977, it’s always looked similar to the one that came before and for some reason, they just… kind of decided to last. Well, until the late eighties at least where they kind of ceased to last but, you know, at least if you had a ’78 F-series and it broke down somewhere, odds were you were gonna be lifted home by a F-series towtruck and the truck would be repaired in a jiffy, cause let’s be fair, parts for literally any generation of Ford F-series truck were about as common as grains of sand. Not to mention, while the trucks were hilariously unsafe(well, “unsafe” isn’t the right term, like most cars of the era, they were prone to being utterly fucked in case of a crash). They’re American culture through and through, and I can’t discredit its GM competitor brother, the Chevy C/K, for it too is just as much a icon.
Though recently, and I don’t say this begrudgingly or anything, the pick-ups of GM and Ford have gotten… chunky. They weren’t ever the slim, nippy little trucks, oh no. Thats why we have the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado, the so called “compact trucks”, or under a tonne in weight, and to an extend the Dodge Ram but even at their respective sizes, the compact pick-up of the olden days is long gone. The Ranger is still mostly car with a bed attached but look at the smallest F-series, the F-150 and Jesus Christ that thing is frickin’ giant. They’re very imposing, like miniature Mack trucks with a giant, high slanted grille-hood, high seating compartment and just a ton of metal in between you and the world. But I’m just rambling on about unrelated stuff here, the article is about a train of a pick-up truck that also somehow can double as a nimble off-roader if the situation requires it so.
Though, this kit is made to exact factory spec. It has OEM Continental Contitrac tires for ordinary highway use that, funnily enough, were all recalled in 2011 cause the tires would just fall apart after certain amounts of driving. Though in this kit, they’re awesomely produced and they are gorgeous quality. Nice, soft bouncy rubber, don’t get that too often. On top of that, it comes with two sets of wheels, the factory default ones and a set of 7-spoke rims that you could order on ’em at a Ford dealership, a very nice and optional choice that I adore. It also comes with a series of bed accessories(and a for now unreleased brush-guard and rollover-bar set from MENG, which is set to be released in November 2017) like a bed extender that reminds me way too much of an animal pen, it all goes to show that even for a very ordinary pick up truck kit, you can throw in extras that make sense.
The real show, the true unique thing to the kit, is the absolutely massive 6.4L V8, the Power Stroke diesel engine, that has been replicated to a scary degree of accuracy. It’s huge, for starters, but the thing I appreciate most is that it’s like a 100% clone to the real deal, with perfect positions for the ignition wires and all, so I figured screw it, I’mma wire this sucker up and make it look… well, even more accurate. The only downside to the engine is the instructions(which are in a nice little colored-print booklet instead of a leaflet, thanks MENG!), which are vague as sin at best. There’s a intricate puzzle happening under the hood and boy it’s a shambles to figure it all out. For instance, the radiator coolant is meant to sit on the front radiator under the hood latch bar, I didn’t know this until long after I put it together.
But you know what, screw it. While raggedy-ass, it looks pretty damn good still. Though I should point out a few more flaws, for one the connecting of the body to the frame is impossible due to the nature of the interior bucket and the windows, there was some trimming required to make it all meet and I didn’t know of this until long after I glued the damn things in place. The second thing is, the front bumper droops down and is already too low as it is. There’s also some missing bits that kind of stand out due to the immense detail, like there’s no steering box or the front suspension is missing the track bar, or that the decals incorrectly show “6.8L Triton V10” on the fender emblems instead of “6.4L Powerstroke V8“, that sort of stuff. I don’t particularly care though, as this kit is such a masterpiece despite that the flaws are just at worst some annoyances.
The kit’s pre-painted in dark, kind of a slate gray and that’s the color I decided to go with for two reasons, one is that dark colors are notoriously hard to primer away and two, I kind of dig the plainclothes look the truck still has with the semi-dull color, y’know, despite the 4×4 decal and the stupendous length. For the most part, the kit’s default color isn’t badly cast, some splotches here and there in the paint which were mostly on the inside of the fenders and the underside of the bed so they’re not obvious whatsoever luckily, but I reckon that can differ from kit to kit. The decal sheet, I should mention, is tiny but legendarily high quality. There’s no visible backing once they’re set plus they’re tough as hell and don’t rip apart easily.
The whole kit screams superb quality, from the cast all the way to the box and the instruction booklet. Not to mention, it’s fun to have this ten inch tank sitting half-crooked on a stack of books due to lack of display space. Having finally built this kit, which by the way, quality increase means price increase as the RRP was over forty bucks even back when it came out, I can’t wait to see how the upcoming Jeep Wrangler kit of theirs will look like and come together. There’s a first time for anything, for me trying a new brand and for MENG trying out a new world of products after having only made tanks, figurines, planes and… dinosaurs, and holy hell, man it all worked perfectly.
’09 Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 specifications:
Kit: “Car Series”, CS-001
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Dark Gray, Gray, Black and Chrome