2012 Subaru BRZ – Tamiya

2012SubaruBRZ (1)There’s only a handful of cars that were made for the buyers with “fun” being up front. There’s plenty of examples where the car is designed for the buyer’s comfort, like the AMC Pacer innovating the idea that it’s all about interior creature comforts like space, visibility, and such. Then of course you got the Mercedes’, BMWs and Audis that are designed for comfort all the while being nippy. You got things designed specifically to be as Gran Turismo-esque as possible like the Nissan GT-R. Then you got things like old grand touring coupes that were designed for long stretches of road, they were fast, they were bouncy and all around just kind of fun. But that still isn’t the type of fun we’re discussing here, it’s the type of fun that you only get as a twenty-something year old, pulling the handbrake with every turn in your starter car like a old degenerate Buick Regal or a VW Golf Mk3… Stomping the pedal into the floorboards and getting the slightest bit of ass peeling out. The kind of fun that basically meant you were destroying the thing you were driving, but you didn’t care cause you were having a Goddamn blast.

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And that all somewhat started in 1983 as the Toyota Corolla and Sprinter Trueno AE86, one of the last rear wheel drive Corollas before they went nearly exclusively FWD, it somewhat accidentally became a racing and drifting legend. It had literally all the checkboxes filled in on all the important fronts. It had great power to weight, it had excellent engines that even by themselves without any tune-ups were nothing short of epic and it was generally just a light-weight sports coupe that somehow excelled at everything it did. It got turned into a rally car for Group A rally, it dominated the 1986 European Touring Car Championship, beating all the legends like the Mercedes 190E, BMW M6, Merkur XR4Ti, Volvo 240 Turbo and so on, it was and still is a drifting legend in both anime and real life, being seen as the grand-daddy of it all, the wise elder where it all began – and it never got a true direct follow up since it’s discontinuation in 1987.

2012SubaruBRZ (5)Until 2007, when Toyota showed a concept car that had direct heritage to the AE86 with the same similar set-up. Normal, ordinary interior, nothing wild. Light weight yet very powerful for its size engine block. Rear wheel drive with the power balance shifted to the rear. Low weight all around on the car. That recipe. At first though it was a hybrid V6 block and it was sort of destined to be yet another concept that would attract a lot of attention for a year and just be forgotten about the next, until in 2008 when Subaru decided to want to partner up on this on one(after the lead designer had asked them to, which was first rejected by Toyota’s peers cause of Subaru’s reputation with AWD cars, not necessarily RWD) – keep in mind, this is like Chrysler coming in to GM’s offices to offer help on improving the Camaro. Subaru designed a boxer engine, a 4 cylinder boxer engine was designed by Subaru and they improved upon one of their already tight-as-hell chassis and gearbox from a Impreza to build the newly improved FT-86 concept.

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In 2010 the final concept was announced in Tokyo, and boy did it get some hype and the hype train kept rolling through those years with the styling being changed every four months cause while the innards were settled upon, Subaru chassis, gearbox, simple interior with lots of plastics but still enough modern day necessities, flat 4 cylinder boxer engine by Subaru with Toyota’s DS-4 injection system to create an all around quick and nippy little engine. It wasn’t until literal months before the final go ahead that the last and most accurate concept was shown; the Subaru BRZ. Around the world since late 2011, there’s several editions of what largely is the same car but just under a very complicated licensing deal where both Toyota and Subaru would get some slice of the pie; Toyota’s 86 was destined for the Asian market, Subaru’s BRZ(Boxer engine, RWD and Zenith) for Europe and other territories and the Scion FR-S(Front engine, RWD – Sport) for the North American and Canadian markets.

2012SubaruBRZ (6)And to say the least, it was welcomed quite well. It brought back the boyish joy of just spinning out your car whenever you wanted but that could still behave when necessary. It wasn’t super fast, it wasn’t the quickest to 60MPH and it was the most luxurious but the car did get the sticker of approval for “most fun” without a doubt. And Asian kit makers did jump on this boat with some finesse, both Tamiya and Aoshima produced a full detail kit(which is unusual to say the least, engines are usually considered a luxury on their kits) and they might be so similar that I’m not even sure they’re not a same joint-venture, but I figured I’d go with the Tamiya kit just because I generally trust Tamiya to be 100% the best of the bunch.

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The rear bumper’s the kit color, the rest is Skoda’s Race Blue mixed in with some Motip metallic blue.

And it’s a fantastic, fantastic kit like usual by Tamiya on all but one fronts! Holy shit it happened, I found a complaint that was for once on Tamiya’s – if you’re gonna pre-decorate your kits, as you’re known to do, do it at least decently well. It’s not even blue, it’s some off navy blue that’s closer to purple than it is to blue. But as it says above there, it wasn’t anything a little Skoda Race Blue and some store-shelf metallic blue couldn’t fix. Then decided, y’know what this need? One buffed as all hell clear coat – and I think after the fourth coat it was plenty. The rest of the kit that isn’t the weird blue, is either in black, chrome in silver and it’s of a decent enough shade to not need any painting to be done(as I did for the sake of short-cutting on the engine block a little). It comes with a set of window masks, lots of decals and a hell of a set of wheels. Tamiya, along with Aoshima and Fujimi – still kings of wheels and tires, no contest. Really tight fitting and very well detailed Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 tires and unlike damn near any Revell and AMT kit to date; friggin’ fit and go onto the model with the least amount of effort.

2012SubaruBRZ (16)It’s also a nice and complicated kit that as usual goes together with some force but ends up looking excellent. Plus as I mentioned before, for a change – a whole engine! The 4U-GSE engine is replicated with a fair amount of detail, albeit a five piece construction. Literally just the half engine block, a set of manifolds, intakes and the engine strut – that’s about it. The reservoirs and all are all one piece and what isn’t a slab or a single piece is already molded onto the body or the chassis. But fine, who cares – it’s an Asian kit with a engine and that makes me happy by default. And they also didn’t half-ass it given the engine bay looks accurate enough like the real deal(unlike MPC kits of yore where it’s wheel wells and engine block with some reservoirs awkwardly slapped on top).

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The only two issues I had were part due to the fact that I skimped on this kit. I bought it on the cheap from an Australian retailer that said this box was opened before for a promotional pictures or something in that vein and may have been “shuffled about some”. Well, while nearly nothing was damaged in the end, it did get some damage done to it. For instance, the fender indicators are missing entirely, the left headlight was snapped into pieces and given you have to force the headlamp bezel into place with the plastic glass in front, it made getting a three piece headlamp in there in one piece impossible, the loose piece fell through the bumper and is now lost to the confined space of the grille. And the little metal transfers were stuck to all sorts of random places in the plastic, all I recovered was the “B” of “BRZ” and the mirror pieces, plus randomly one Subaru badge. Believe there’s meant to be a Subaru script as well but… yeah that’s gone.

2012SubaruBRZ (13)Given it’s such a beautiful kit and knowing how good Tamiya kits are I decided y’know what, stop being such a cheap asshole and actually get the kits brand new no matter the age. So I did! I got the Opel Astra DTM, the Subaru Ayclone, the Honda S2000 and a couple more coming up down the line some time. Maybe one day I’ll reinvest in a model or a used kit to steal the headlight and the fender indicators from so I can complete this beauty, truly.

’12 Subaru BRZ specifications:
Kit: “The Sports Car” series, No.324
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 99
Molded in: Navy Blue and Black
Scale: 1/24

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1978 Plymouth Volaré Super Coupe – MPC

1978PlymouthVolareSC (1)Oh man, oh man, I love me some Volarés and Aspens, so much so that I’ve actively made a decal sheet for every damn version of the car. Well, for the Aspen at least. Anyhow, the Volaré and Aspen cars are so rare and forgotten that you actually might’ve spotted a fair few of ’em and just never even gave it a thought cause they were so… trivial(even though the Volaré was one of Chrysler’s best selling cars of ’77). It didn’t help that there were four giant problems plaguing the whole replacement for the Dart and Valiant era; one being in peak Malaise era where having cars basically meant a drain on your wallet and your sanity, two being production rush that very much gave people a 1976 version of Windows Vista, something I’ll come back to in a moment, three was Chrysler being mighty ambiguous with where the new Dart/Valiant would head and four was competition being just… better, weirdly enough.

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In ’77 when the car truly came to be after a disastrous first year with quality issues making most of the buyers think “well shit”, both the Aspen and the Volaré actually got to be decent little cars. All the basic versions weren’t awful, were reasonably quick for the limited as sin power they possessed and they were… kinda good? I dunno, it was right up there with the rest of the mediocre late seventies but it does kind of show they were trying at the very least. The analogy I made earlier with the Windows Vista experience is that the 1976 Volaré and Aspen were shoved out of the door so quick that they had all sorts of now-very-typical 1970s woes and all those woes were discovered by the fucking buyers, not the quality assurance team; rusted to piles of scrap within a year(which forced or uh, “allowed” for Chrysler to utilize a new method in sealing the body that now has become quite standard), nothing functioned within the car, it was loud, it was wobbly, it was generally a pile of utter crap but y’know, baby steps and all that.

1978PlymouthVolareSC (6)However in 1977 they also introduced the new top-line model; the Aspen R/T or the Volaré Road Runner. Both came with possible largest-of-the-engines 360 cubic inch V8s with TorqueFlite 3 speed automatic, both came with appropriate all-around decal sets that were… something else, to say the least. In ’78 they escalated it with the Super Coupe for both the models. The upgrade kit was… well, an air dam, fender flares, window louvres and a set of stickers. But that being said, it was quite something to behold and it was actually made to be a really, really quick little bastard for the era. With the 360 it could out-drag(0-60MPH), and here comes a list: 1978 Camaro Z/28, 1978 Corvette, 1978 Firebird Trans Am, 1978 Mustang King Cobra II and it actually kind of goes on. So all the while it recaptured some of the dead-as-can-friggin’-be era of muscle cars, it sold… not great. Like, it was rather embarrassing.

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531. That’s the amount of Aspen Super Coupes that exist. And as for Plymouth, it’s not better at a measly 494. That’s two entire models, selling a combined bottom-of-the-barrel grand. To put that in perspective, in 1978 the US population was 222.6 million, that means in 1978 just 0.00046% of the US population had a Super Coupe of either brand, opposed to say the 68,745 1978 Trans Ams(0.03088%). People just wanted more luxurious and more reliable, dependable cars(e.g. Ford Granada). But thats what makes or rather these cars so special, they were the underdog and they were better for it… for two years. Cause after all, after 1980, the entire Volaré and Aspen line was brought out behind the barn while ol’ Chrysler held onto a double barrel. It’s such a weird little achievement to have, the one that didn’t sell whatsoever was actually a fairly quick call-back to the muscle car era that was actually becoming to be decently reliable.

1978PlymouthVolareSC (9)But y’know, the whole Malaise era was full of stories like these. Failures, sad attempts, screw ups and above all; customer exploitation. It didn’t keep the fucktrain from derailing though, not until way into the eighties! Hooray for bailouts, bailouts of bailouts and just good old fashioned bailing out the bailout of the bailout. Anyway! MPC made several Volaré kits in the seventies, all the way from the days where it was still a Satellite masquerading as a Road Runner, then when it was a Fury masquerading as a Road Runner and then lastly when it became a Volaré masquerading as a Road Runner, or as Chrysler’s clever marketing folks made it; a “Fun Runner!”. From 1977 it brought out annual Volaré kits and promos until 1980(skipping the ’79 year as it was largely unchanged from ’78) and not a damn thing exists of the Dodge Aspen but that’s where I supposedly come in with my decal sets… Anyway, it was a right pain in the ass to find a decently priced kit, so I settled for a promo from 1977 and used some parts from my previously built 1980 Volaré kit(like the deck spoiler and the window louvres).

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So first hurdles were simple… The grille isn’t correct for a 1978 Volaré, but screw it, I don’t mind and it’ll be a fair bit of work to make it look anything like a ’78, something that if I’d screw it up, be a royal problem to solve. The second hurdle was the wrong-as-sin tail lights that MPC put on the ’78-’80 Volaré kits, they’re too wide and odd looking to be anything close to the legit thing. So I tried to make due with what I had and just rolled with it, sawing out more and more of the real valance to make room for the gargantuan light bezels. Then I realized, awh shit, the whole interior is one giant piece and I don’t know what type of super glue they used to solder the goddamn seats and steering wheel in but they probably use it to seal rifts in the space time continuum cause no matter the amount of wedging, cutting, pulling and bending, they would not come loose, hell the plastic half a inch above and under the glue points was beginning to break before the bonds.

1978PlymouthVolareSC (11)So I just tried my damnest to give it all a royal red coat for the interior and attempted to detail it as best I could between the steering wheel arms and the seats. I bought some spray paint that allegedly was between dark red and black, which is somewhat close to the real Volaré Super Coupe’s color. Yeah, as you yourself have probably pointed out in aggravation; it’s just a shade of Goddamn maroon. I figured I might get it darker if I used a black primer, which helped but it only made it a dark shade of maroon. And at this point I was seventy bucks deep into this promo, not counting the wrecking of a ’80 Volaré kit for the tail lights, chassis and engine. And then, to finish this calamity off, I realized the decals I spend a lifetime trying to design didn’t fit as snugly over the door handles as I’d hoped. They at least do look quite good, especially with the new quality of ’em(similar to the somewhat thicker Aoshima and Tamiya decals), so there’s that. I am kinda in love with the wheels though, they fit the Super Coupe really well and it was all I had other than the stock steelies they slapped on there by default, put some Fireball Modelworks Grand Am Radial GT tire decals on there to finish it off and poof, decent looking wheels – minus the stance but that’s more a MPC promo problem and less a fitting problem.

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The promo itself is… well, it’s a typical promo. Wholly one color minus the chrome, easy to disassemble(body is screwed to the chassis by 4 screws, once they’re out, it all comes loose), hard as balls to take completely apart(as I said before, the original ’77 bucket is still the one in there). Maybe I’ll recycle it once again for the Dodge Aspen Super Coupe or perhaps the Dodge Aspen R/T, who knows. Either way, it’s not a terrible addition to the collection. Just wish I’d done it justice instead of thinking “well, I’m approaching a hundred bucks, time to just wrap this one up son” – learning experiences and such, eh.

’78 Plymouth Volaré Super Coupe specifications:
Kit: … Little MPC box
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 1, or 5, it’s a pre-built promo
Molded in: “Silver Cloud”, aka Silver
Scale: 1/25

1983 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta – Revell

20180302_103043Have you ever had the thing happen to you when you more or less blindly order something from say, Amazon, or some place and when the delivery guy gets to your door and they hold a box more aptly designed to transport a damn fridge and you quickly come to the realization that you may have made a mistake? Time wasn’t kind to this kit, or perhaps the owner but when the delivery guy came to the door, dude looked at me with despair in his eyes when he tilted it slightly and heard the noise that just sounded like someone packaged a broken vase. Well fortunately I already knew what I ordered had some pieces loose in the box but… that was odd, it sounded like it went from one far side of the three foot box to the other. There’s no way in hell there’s a little six and a half inch model in there. And lo and behold, a twenty five inch box comes out of the bigger one like some Russian nesting doll – Jesus, that is not a 1/25th scale kit, I thought to myself, I got myself a long out of production Camaro Berlinetta kit for 23 dollar and it’s also a friggin’ 1/16th scale one.

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So here I am, overjoyed and worried. I ain’t got shelf space for a 12 inch model but I do have a very rare subject that I absolutely wanted for so unbelievably long. I just never knew it was a 1/16th scale model, hell the box of the kit was in the worst state imaginable with corners torn and stuff that had delicately removed the 1/16th scale call-out from existence and honestly, I just always assumed it was a companion kit to the ’82 and ’83 Camaro Z/28 kits from Revell that were introduced along the new generation of the Camaro way back. The story of this kit goes that it was produced in 1985 as the “Custom ’83 Camaro Berlinetta” kit, weirdly enough of a car that just never really got any footing with the new generation, it got killed off in 1986, just a short year after Revell dedicated one kit to it.

83berlinetta (2)The Berlinetta was always meant to be the “upscale”, sporty, nicer and excuse my vomit inducing terminology; European. Berlinetta itself is an Italian term for ‘little saloon’ or ‘small saloon’ and was often found as a badge name for European cars destined to be grand tour coupes like old Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, Opels, MGs, etc. What did General Motors do with the name? They slapped it to a Camaro as a replacement type for the Type LT luxury model, which is appropriate I suppose. But then they generally did fuck-all with the exterior(other than different wheels, a “unique” grille and some extra chrome) and used up the whole budget on the inside. And in a way, that’s fine, right? Some people want a luxurious sport car that wouldn’t cost them an arm or leg, that’s mostly what drives Alfa Romeo these days so why not back then. It was a very popular option on the second generation models from ’78 on and was re-introduced along the new third generation as a upgrade package with unique gold spoked wheels, gold accented stripes and badges plus the whole shebang on the inside; velour interior, digital dashboard from ’84 onwards, all the electrical gadgets you could cream over in… well, 1983 and a restyled nose, cause while I just said, they did fuck-all on the outside, well they broke that trend in 1983 and gave the Camaro an overbite!

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It’s weird looking but sure, it catches the eye. It’s a different enough Camaro to warrant a turning of the head here and there, besides it was all about the inside. You could live like a Goddamn oil sheikh in there, it had all the cool stuff for a ’83 car like a clock on the arm rest, storage space in every nook and cranny, fancy ass radio and sound system, from ’84 it got that space age digital dash that broke after just four months and all that snazz. Not to mention, every damn inch of the car was carpeted and the velour would soak up all your humble scents and regurgitate them at any moment you weren’t sweating just so it could simulate as if you were. Yeah it was delightfully eighties. But it also carried a reputation, it was the gentleman’s muscle car edition – the Type LT and early Berlinettas had been the more sophisticated relic of the muscle car, with refined interiors, more subdued European looks about with with the wire wheels and the flat rear deck and the chrome inlaid tail light segments, so on. It also still could be equipped with a 305 and 350 ci V8 so it wasn’t just good looking in some respects, it still had some power to it.

83berlinetta (11)Though granted, this was the era that sporty American cars were advertised by their “superior ride” due to weighing as much as a fully equipped Mercedes Benz wagon. Weird times they were, and no that’s not my European superiority bleeding through, I’m a snarky shit but we can all agree these days that while being heavy allowed for a floaty ride, the last thing you need on your “sporty” car is 3500 pounds of weight(just for reference, a ’93 Mercedes 220E Estate weighs 3100lbs) but y’know… at least it was pretty. And the model kit does replicate this quite well, granted it’s easier to get the detail out there at 1/16th scale so it’s not like I’m praising it for being out of the ordinary, but you know, it’s still a pretty damn close replica of the real deal – a car so rare now that most Berlinettas that exist have either been parted into a regular Camaro due to replacement parts being so hard to come by you’d just have to go for other versions or have just… died, as so many cars from the eighties.

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Check out that warp-age on the tailgate/window, it’s absolutely sexy isn’t it.

So from the get-go, given its rarity and… size, I wanted to try and do it justice. I love me some all black Chevrolets so I figured I’d roll with the color choice of black on black, instead of the more common silver. All Berlinettas came with gold accented wheels, gold accented tail lights and gold stripes all around the body so I thought doing it in all black would only bring more attention to that lovely gold. The decals in the kit had gone all rancid(as did the tires, but more on that later) due to sitting in the open air since 1986, I was pretty much forced into re-creating the whole decal sheet myself. That being said though, this is in my opinion, a “custom” kit done right. MPC and to an extend even AMT Ertl, from the late sixties through the entire seventies and early eighties did one thing with every kit; make it look absolutely insane. Not the “wow, it’s epic” insane, its the “we the jury find the defendant” insane. I mean, hooray for choice but generally it’s just a waste of effort on the designer’s part as they’re just too insane, granted it was the period and it made perfect sense given the customers wanted the eyesores but they aged… poorly. Whereas the ’83 Camaro they did here, well it may as well have been a factory standard option.

83berlinetta (13)It looks really subdued all things considered, it’s totally a thing I see people get to using thinking it looks better than the actual Berlinetta stripes, which were just some golden accented stripes that were hard to spot even in normal daylight. But figured I’d roll ol’ stock for funsies and getting the whole thing in black. As I said, I had to re-do the whole sheet but I thought I’d expand on some omissions like the dashboard dials, the armrest clock, the nosecone badge, the giant air cleaner decal and the likes. So all in all, some stuff to get the best detail on the body with. The problem with the 33 year old decals is that they were… milky, to say the least. Hell, they required a literal washing to be any sort of usable whatsoever so the two decals I did use(the Camaro license plates) required like twenty minutes of rubbing and touching up like some demented puppy to get all the paper backing, milky substances and all the other old gunk off. That being said though, for a early eighties kit, well middle-eighties, the decal sheet isn’t all too bad, it comes with all the Camaro and Berlinetta badges, no dials and no front Camaro badge but even then, the mold quality is high enough to simply fill in the badge yourself by hand.

83berlinetta (9)Now earlier I said that time did a number on this kit and not on just the decals, like the tires for instance. They had gone all white, fuzzy and looked very much like a rotten apple, which is just the rubberizing agent seeping out the tires which is the downside of old, old rubber, but apparently I mended it by just spray painting it gently with some satin black after scrubbing the more gunky stuff away. What I couldn’t mend was a problem of a slightly more painful nature; the tendency for shit to warp. The chassis had warped like a Goddamn banana, which made getting it into the body stupidly difficult. There’s now also the downside that the engine sits a quarter inch higher than the rest so I can’t close the hood without removing the air cleaner, but it’s all fine. It’s a 33 year old kit, it’s fine, it can be busted up, broken, fucked up, it’s just age doing its thing. That being said though, this kit is… really, really good, especially with age in mind.

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I built one other large scale kit before, which was Revell’s 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang in 1/12th scale and the only thing I truly recall from it was that similarly like this kit, it built and finished up like any other 1/24th scale or 1/25th scale model just with sharper detail and much easier to do so thanks to the larger pieces but this one does have an edge on the Mustang; it comes with opening doors, opening trunk and moving seats. Sadly though, that extra amount of moving parts truly fucked it all up even more cause the trunk doesn’t close, the doors don’t fit any longer and the hood is literally the only moving part that isn’t botched due to the warped body, chassis or parts. It also stands on three wheels due to the warped chassis however the very soft, bouncy tires do allow for some more uh… “realistic” weight on them so it only looks a little bit off with the tires being pushed down some.

83berlinetta (8)It’s just one of those things that I always wanted, and weirdly enough surprised me in the best of ways. I got my rare edition Camaro kit, I got to try a 1/16th scale kit and all of this without the hassle of having to sell a child into slavery or rob a bank to afford it! What a hell of a kit. That being said though, I do seriously still want to find an affordable ’82 or ’83 Camaro kit by Revell, or the ’82 Firebird brother, just to see what the detail level would’ve been at a 1/25th scale. Shame those kits are as rare or even rarer than this one.

’83 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta specifications:
Kit: #85-7491
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 89
Molded in: Off-blue & Black
Scale: 1/16

2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Collector Edition – Revell

2002FirebirdCE (1)For Pontiac, the early 2000s were a time of change and adaptation. Gently guided by the revamp of their lineup and the broadening of their market by General Motors in 2004, which saw legendary names like the Firebird getting axed in 2002(which had less to do with the revamp and more to do with the beyond terrible sales numbers for it and the Camaro brother), the Bonneville getting axed in 2004, the Grand Am in 2005, the GTO came back badge-engineered from an Australian badass that still lives today(as the HSV Commodore); the Holden Monaro and the last decade also saw the introduction of a few new ones like the Solstice, a fun and quite killer looking little two door, the G6 and G8 saloons and the… Aztek, which got replaced by a more sensible albeit a slightly fatter looking Dodge Caliber.

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And then… in 2008, GM finally ended their drunken stagger in financial misfortune by falling face first into their own puke puddle and realized it was time to either sell their puppies off of tell someone to get shotgun from the shed, either for themselves or the pups in question. Hell, Pontiac wasn’t the only one to go in that decade… Oldsmobile got shuttered in 2004 already even though their kill shot occurred in 2000. But anyhow, in mid-2009, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, GMC and Hummer were led in front of the wall and blindfolded as the GM execs debated and fought on which they could keep, sell or shutter, like some demented game of fuck-marry-kill. GMC got saved, likely cause American pick ups just sell like hotcakes regardless of brand. Saab got sold off, again, only this time to one of my country’s finest; Spyker Automobiles, a sale that legit got laughed off the stage here in the Netherlands and dragged Spyker to its knees in debt, shuttering Saab in 2012. Saturn got… well, I kind of liked Saturn’s brief 20-something year existence but that was a shot hardly heard around the world. Hummer too got shot down in flames in 2010 and Pontiac? Well Pontiac got shuttered all together, all operations ceased, the dealerships would sell their stock and get closed or rebranded and the only thing that remains today is the Pontiac trademark that has been updated every ten years, set to expire in July 2027 – and based on the somewhat melancholy attitude around Pontiac’s death, they’re likely to keep renewing the trademark every decade.

2002FirebirdCE_sunny (3)So, y’know, long story, but the last decade of Pontiac’s life was actually kind of depressing and the Firebird being killed off in 2002 didn’t help. But it got a nice little last hurrah if you will, being granted a “Collector Edition”, originally intended as a 35th anniversary which turned more into a final salute. Less than 2000 were offered, with options like a convertible or a T-top and by default the nice WS6 package which comes with the LS1 5.7L V8 that churned out a solid 325 horsepower, embroidered Collector Edition emblems into the seats and a number badge on the center console showing the build number of the car, two metal CE badges on the doors and a series of black, gray and silver stripes running along the rear quarter and across the hood. In kit form however, the ’98 Firebird wasn’t a Trans Am model but a mere Ram Air with the same engine block, mostly cause, I’m just assuming here, they didn’t get the rights for the Trans Am name as they didn’t manage to get them either for the ’77 Firebird. It also has the single exhaust set-up, so there’s that.

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Anyhow, last year I got the ’98 Firebird built and was quite pleasantly surprised. It’s like its real counterpart based mostly on the Camaro, with a fair amount of Camaro parts still being on the sprues, like the LT1 engine parts and the little stamper to get the fog-lights into the bumper, but it does have the benefit of its build quality which is quite awesome! It’s one of those nineties kits that was designed to be versatile and really, really detailed. It started with the ’93 Camaro Pace Car kit, followed up by the ’93 Firebird very shortly after and those eventually became the ’98 and ’02 Camaro and the ’98 Firebird, as the Firebird never got a final salute by Revell. This kit, is the one I suggested folks should get in the ’98 Firebird post, which is infinitely better! Well, I was wrong it turns out, it’s just somewhat better due to the choice of wheels, given the decals are still prone to being milky and will get ugly borders if the box has been opened before.

2002FirebirdCE_sunny (6)But that’s besides the point, the plastic is also of a somewhat increased quality, the T-top decals were once kind of matted glass-textured and now turned into literal black slabs, which in some cases can be seen as a improvement or considered to be a lot cheaper and worse, up to the builder I suppose, but y’know – it’s still a bit better. The only problem I ran into is that given the previous owner of this delightful little kit had opened it and somehow let it get squashed. The body warped outwards which I stupidly over corrected by squeezing it too far back inwards, causing the bumpers to no longer fit and the hood to no longer shut properly. This exaggerated the panel gaps on the bumpers quite a friggin’ bit… But oh well. That’s just how life goes whilst trying to be a cheapskate.

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Initially, I made a decal sheet for the whole thing that includes some interior things I didn’t get around to using like a pair of floor mats cause I tried to flock the interior flooring however the decals for the engine bay I did use to great effect cause Goddamn I am happy with how crisply they came out, especially the text. The tail light masks which in my opinion should’ve been a part of the kit in the first place given how weird it looks without make a hell of a difference too. Other than that, I genuinely wish the kit came with dual exhausts cause… the bumper has the two holes for it, it’s so strange to see the open exhaust port and just have nothing there. I genuinely don’t know if its because of the type of Firebird or if its just something they did to avoid Trans Am related bits and bobs.

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So, in the end, it’s really just another kit I built to try and test fit some decals onto, bit similar to the AMC Gremlin and Pacer of late and I dunno, it’s quite a success! The stripes look fantastic, the text based decals look sharp as hell and the whole thing kind of came out looking quite alright besides the fact that obviously, it was warped a fair amount. Not to mention I do friggin’ love me some special edition GM material, like the whole Camaro anniversary line up and sooner or later all the Firebird ones! Revell has made a 25th Anniversary edition Firebird and I’m in the process of making a version of the 30th – so at least there’s that.

’98 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Collector Edition specifications:
Kit: #85-2159
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 102
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1977 AMC Pacer X – MPC

1977PacerX (1)The fishbowl! The aquarium! The girthy-midget! The pregnant guppy! The Ass-tastrophy! The terrarium! The monstrosity! The Mirth-Mobile! The Malaise Egg! The nicknames for the AMC Pacer just go on and on and on… The Pacer was introduced in 1974 as a companion to the supremely successful AMC Gremlin but the designing of the thing already started in 1971 with the first-time-for-everything approach of: designing the car from the inside out. I mean, that’s clever but it also has a weird by effect that it made the car’s ass freaking enormous. I mean, Jesus wept, that thing got a wide, wide ass. But that giant bubble glass butt allows for giant storage compartments in the trunk. It also has wide as sin passenger and drivers compartments, leg room so big that Delta Airlines spontaneously detonates at the sheer concept of it and weird but neat little things like the rain gutters being removed for a sleeker design(which did allow for some wet front seats when it rains but… well, that’s kinda our norm now), the passenger door being around four inches longer for easier entry and a built in B-pillar roll-over bar – all quite awesome features.

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And while it had the width of a full size 1970 Chevrolet Impala SS, it had the mileage of a Datsun. And that right there, for a 1974 car that was designed just before the fuel crisis ground the United States to a damn halt, was one excellent choice of theirs. What was also one excellent choice was the styling. It’s… quite something, ain’t it. I mean, it’s on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to utterly cool and absolutely Goddamn hideous. Christ on a bike, the thing had more ugly on it than a Rolling Stones album cover but at the same time, it was just as awesome as a Rolling Stones album.

1977PacerX (14)So… yeah, it’s a Pacer. Made by MPC, first in 1976 and onwards until 1978 where they made yet another Pacer X model but totally forgot that the X version was scrapped by the end of ’77 in favor of a ehem, “Sport” model which by the end of ’78 was also axed. Hell, the whole thing was axed by 1979 for various reasons, not before turning the grille into something heinous but… y’know, swings and roundabouts. The legit MPC release from ’77 featured a 1976 Pacer X with some new parts. Yeah I also don’t know what the hell the new parts are but the legacy pieces are there; the odd off-road tires of the ’76 and the fog lights and some new decals that will never ever get used, so yep. But one thing that was stupidly awesome at the time and in utter contrast to other MPC kits of the same year; the detail on it is friggin’ crisp as hell. I mean, holy friggin’ shit it’s something special – the Pacer X script on the side is so well done that you really wouldn’t need any decals to get the script looking like it’s legit. Same goes for the AMC/Pacer badges on the trunk and hood and everything else. I don’t say this quickly, hell I hardly ever say it it at all but… Good job, MPC!

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I should say though, this kit was brand spanking new from 1977 all the way until now but it still carries the non-separate baggie curse of ye olde modeling days. All the parts were crammed into a single bag(but the tires were separate, thank God) and it squished the body outward for, well, for years at the least. So it’s horribly warped and the hood never, ever is gonna sit flush like it should, the front bumper and front lip were so warped it now has this weird uplift to it(can’t bend it any way without snapping it) and the tire rubber had gone rock solid but not before shrinking so the rims wouldn’t fit any longer. Oh and the chassis warped inwards giving the front tires a lovely wobbly looking inwards stance… but I am perfectly content with it. I was so stoked that I made a decal sheet for it in anticipation of it and wanted to make a bog standard, nothing special about it Pacer X in metallic silver with a boring gray interior. I also flocked in a carpet…-ish, which I’ll get back to later and I also wired up the whole damn engine. Every last bit of it that I could.

1977PacerX (12)Like I said, the whole thing got warped something fierce, as you’ve been able to see in the pictures. But lemme just go down the list of parts that ended up warping; the front bumper, the front valance, the front grille(snapped in two), the fenders on the body, the chassis frame, the glass and the interior bucket. So on a kit of roughly fifty pieces with well over half being “custom”, that’s damn near all the parts having a defect one way or the other. But to hell with it, I built it and I like it. It’s such a weird little model just like the car, it’s got a strange blend of high quality parts and low quality parts, the body and such being crisp as all hell but the glass and most of the interior being low quality as hell. I mean, the seats are nice and they got the denim pattern on there nailed down but the rest like the doors and the dash… Not so much. The engine bay is quite detailed for a MPC kit, especially the engine block which gets half hidden under the firewall/dashboard regardless and there’s no place for the hood to connect to other than just lying awkwardly on the glass which is connected to the dashboard. It’s odd to see such a high quality/low quality mix.

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Speaking of engine bays, AMC’s straight six 258ci engine is definitely the highlight, as I mentioned before. MPC has notoriously shitty engine casts, the 305 and 350ci V8s from Chevrolet models are just so damn dull, the 440, 426 and 340 blocks are quite honestly terrible but then there’s some winners here and there like MPC’s late entry Volare Super Six engines aren’t casted too terribly and have the correct air cleaners. Then of course you got their 1980s entries like the Omni, Charger, Daytona and such which pack incredible renditions of their small I4 and I6 blocks. But to get back to the point, it’s such a detailed little engine block in this AMC, it’s… quite staggering.

1977PacerX (7)The decals I made are on the decal sheet page and I made a little addition in the form of the semi-existent 258 engine marking decal. The rest is the stripes, the tail light stripe, the emblems, the Pacer X for the side, so forth, just to make the whole thing a whole lot easier to detail without giving my damn shaky hand a chance at ruining it. I’d say they came out quite well! Not to mention, unlike having accidented my way through the ’84 Oldsmobile Cutlass H/O build, this one actually finished up quite nicely! Just a shame about the warped-ass body.

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Welcome to the collection, you bubble assed beauty, you. This kicked off a whole parade of AMC love on my part, I am already invested in the Gremlin X from ’74 by AMT Ertl which isn’t even close to being half the kit this is but screw it, I’m going for it. And sooner or later, a ’77 Pacer Wagon will join the festival of madness. Oh yeah, y’know what these seventies models could use that MPC just glossed over time and time again? Some Goddamn door mirrors.

’77 AMC Pacer X specifications:
Kit: MPC 1-7701
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 62
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1974 AMC Gremlin X – AMT Ertl

1974GremlinX (1)Oh Jesus H. Christ, what have I gotten myself into. Recently I bought a ’77 Pacer X kit from MPC, at the time of purchasing not quite realizing just how unbelievably freaking lucky I had been getting it in the first place, let alone brand new for next to nothing. So what did I decide to do immediately? I bought the 1974 AMC Gremlin X kit from AMT Ertl. When I built up the Pacer, it kind of struck me that the kit unlike any of MPC’s schlock from the 1970s… it was good. It was really, really good, in fact. So I had laid my expectations somewhat higher than “it’ll be that non-detail-shitfest that AMT and MPC did from 1971 through 1983.” – y’know, as low as bars go, that’s… I mean, it’s a promotion.

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Plot twist, it was horrible. But I’ll get to it in a moment, when I bought the Pacer I right away decided that I wanted the Gremlin too as a companion piece. Both cars were notorious to say the least, the Pacer had so many nicknames that weren’t exactly flattering that there’s a whole page dedicated to it on the internet and the Gremlin… well, it was once described by Jay Leno as the “homeless man’s Corvette” to Jeff Dunham who attempted to refer to it as the “poor man’s Corvette”. Either of ’em, not exactly held in high regard by the public. And while the Pacer has gotten a cult following over the last thirty years, the Gremlin’s more or less fallen behind as the chopped in half Javelin that never quite could. That being said, the Gremlin was the more subdued more down-to-American-earth subcompact that did several things very right, that the Pacer did so very wrong to many. Richard Teague, the designer, whom is also responsible for the Pacer, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Javelin, AMX and more, claimed that fellow designer Bob Nixon designed the Gremlin on a puke bag on a flight. It originally was to be a ’68 Javelin on the front and chopped down and short, called the AMC AMX-GT, which I will admit; looked a hell of a lot more sexy than any of the Gremlins did eventually. It kept the Javelin front, albeit the less sexy ’70-’74 one and the roof was raised quite a bit cause, as it turned out – no human over four foot ten could sit in the damn prototype.

1974GremlinX (4)The things that the Gremlin did right was making standard options small and affordable(yet also kept bigger engines and trim options on the sheet), as the economy shat itself and the oil embargos were dished out. It also looked less alien and odd than some would’ve expected, especially knowing the Pacer was around the corner and the styling was soon made normal by things like the Pinto, Vega, Chevette and so on. It was also, unlike many of its vehicle brethren, quite solidly built. It didn’t rust quite as easily, it didn’t fall to bits after ten thousand miles, the engines were low maintenance and often crossplatform so if it did need maintenance, parts were plenty. The smaller V6s that were on offer were also really fuel efficient, especially during those days.

1974GremlinX (6)If only the AMT Ertl kit was on a similar level… which it isn’t. You see, the 1970s for AMT and MPC were simply put; quotas. Get the new Gremlin on the market, get the new Camaro on the market, get the new dealership promos out the door, get that Dodge Fury promo, who gives a flying ratsass about detail or even getting a reasonable kit out there, just get it out. And in a way, this allowed for market saturation which now is sort of beneficial in the way that there’s 1970s promos literally everywhere you look but this also allowed for AMT Ertl and MPC to lower the bar so damn low that South Park’s James Cameron is still looking for it to this day. But despite! I figured I’d at least try and get a nice little model out of it.

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So I first designed a decal sheet for it, knowing full well AMT Ertl and MPC just cannot do a decent one for the life of ’em. Well, mostly at least – the ’74 Roadrunner and ’70 Coronet Super Bee have really nice sheets but in that case the model itself ended up being awful. It’s just how it goes, huh. Anyhow, I’m into the decal business these days so no half assing it this time around and I may as well get a reasonable model out of it all. Initially I wanted to make a black one with red stripes but then I thought… Purple can be really, really pretty. So I bought a can of the Plum Crazy purple metallic from a new ’16 Dodge Challenger and laid into it and I gotta admit; it doesn’t look bad! It sort of comes close to the real AMC metallic purple which is a tad brighter with a more lighter purple hue underneath but y’know, it’s not bad.

1974GremlinX (5)What is bad, though, is how unbelievably half-assed this kit is. Normally I wouldn’t call out the “exaggerated” pictures and drawings on the side of a kit cause they’re always prettier than anything most of us can make. However, this time I can and I am – it’s a fucking lie. For instance, the seats on the side are what they would’ve looked like… This is what they actually look like. (Photo credit: Sportabout @MCM). Seriously, nearly everything on this kit is an afterthought to the degree that it’s irredeemable, the seats are narrow and weird, the rear bench is so low that even garden gnomes are too tall for it, the steering wheel is gargantuan in comparison to the rest, the gear stick is around five times too big(like, really, it’s the size of the steering column). The little ribs on the side where the side marker lights go aren’t scaled properly and are just off looking, neither of the two bumpers go where they should go, the hood is a solid quarter inch too small, the wheels are attached to metal rods that are a solid two inches too long so I spent the better part of half an hour drilling part by part into the rims to get a somewhat better stance going. The whole chassis is a disappointment that was obviously still a relic from the 1974 AMC Gremlin Drag Racer kit cause it sits a fair inch out of the body.

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So I knew going in the seats were just stupid toothpicks, so I stole a pair of seats from a ’70 Torino GT kit which look somewhat more appropriate and I spend a fair amount of time sanding down the leaf springs and such to get the ride height better suited. Like, it upsets me for real knowing this kit RRP’s for around twenty dollars. I mean, it’s fine to say and assume model kit enthusiasts should just take their shit and adjust, which is what we do and are known for; but this is just stupid. This is a unchanged release with a very minor upgrade(hooray, there’s MT branded drag slicks, thanks AMT Ertl, thank you.) that was awful in 1975 and it’s no different in 2018. Like I said, it’s just so damn painful to know that the 1977 MPC AMC Pacer X kit is just worlds, worlds apart. And that one they didn’t re-release, go figure. I’m willing to overlook the sheer braindead decision that they still don’t do clear headlight lenses after forty years, but the interior of this kit is just so, so cheap. Apologies if I come across upset, I’m genuinely disappointed in Round 2’s modus operandi these days of just repackaging kits from the seventies damn near untouched.

I paid less for a genuine, brand new 1977 AMC Pacer X kit that is infinitely better than a 2017 re-imagination of a 1974 kit.

’74 AMC Gremlin X specifications:
Kit: AMT1077/12
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 77
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT – AMT

1968MercuryCougarXR7 (1)The mid to late sixties were a period of aggressive advances and what one could call a sort of coming of age. The fifties had the United States booming left, right and center with opulence, slapping chrome on every inch of the house, fancy leather and bright colors everywhere, music getting wilder and wilder, cinema getting better and better, the golden age of TV kicked off and the cars, while they don’t really appeal to me, but late fifties is Americana to its Miss Belvedere burying heart. And as the sixties came around, the United States began living less like the wild party apartment and honed in on all of its specific parts and began improving on ’em something fierce, in most cases for better, in some for worse.

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One thing that was for the better was the introduction of the ’64-½ Mustang, the literal introduction of the pony car. A car so damn desirable that it kickstarted nearly ten years of the toughest brawling for number one among car manufacturers, it had every big company doing their own take on the pony car to get a slice of the pie. The semi-official checklist is: affordable entry, long front and short rear, focused on being sporty all around, mainly equipped with small block V8s and aggressively aimed at younger buyers. Before you know it, Chrysler chucked the Barracuda at the world two weeks before the Mustang hit the market but it got adapted over the years into its magnum opus; the ’70-’74 ‘Cuda(and the Challenger on the same platform), AMC brought the Javelin in ’67, GM pushed the Camaro and Firebird on the market in ’67 too and it even spread globally; Ford Europe making the now equally legendary Ford Capri, Toyota bringing the Celica and Nissan the Fairlady 240Z, whats the one omission here? Well, Ford, just like GM and Chrysler had more than one name under their umbrella and had Mercury design their own more luxurious version based on the new ’67 Mustang platform.

1968MercuryCougarXR7 (5)And what came out of it is in my opinion, arguably one of the prettiest muscle cars ever designed. Ford had it be designed as such that it would eye more European to the American customers, with more ‘alien’ design cues to things like the giant “electric razor” grille and the sharp fender angles. How it looks more European is way the balls beyond me as a European but I suppose its nicer to say its “European” instead of “less bulbous than what we’re used to“. It was twinned to the Mustang from its inception to about 1973 when Mercury was turning their entire lineup into luxury cars, which was, y’know, fair point, the Cougar was a luxurious pony car that could be optioned to be a roaring beast with bare bones everything else but deep down it was… well, luxurious. But never mind its ill fated thirty year voyage beyond muscle car kingdom, the 1967 and 1968 were prime years for the cars and while Semon Knudsen took over the design of the Mustang, he had them turned into heavier, slower, clunkier and generally just fat versions of what they once were(I should add here though that I do really like the ’69-’73 Mustangs, but yeah they are just… unnecessarily huge), the Cougar kept being what it was until the fuel crisis in 1973.

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And AMT back in the day was responsible for fashioning kits out of the newly arrived Cougar until 1970, in which MPC took over but before that happened, AMT pushed out these kits which were three in one kits with a plethora of options(which thankfully included stock, yeah believe it or not, sometimes you didn’t get a stock version) and quite crisp detailing. And boy I had been looking for a 1967 or 1968 Cougar since I started building kits again and after that disappointment known as the ’69 Cougar, and I just never found one for less than 120 bucks. Until I found one while randomly browsing eBay looking for the newly released ’85 Olds from Revell… It was on offer for thirty bucks, nearly brand new with all bits still in plastic from a French seller. Of all places, I found one of the most elusive kits just 230 miles away from me. Now I found out the kit was purchased in 1972 or so by someone as a gift, it got transported to Europe with a family moving at one point or another and sat around for a long, long time. So bidding wars erupted, paid 80 euros for it in the end but… worth it. So damn worth it. Immediately hit up Keith Marks for the ’68 Cougar sheet he has on offer and bought some metallic blue after seeing this particular picture of a Cougar(a design I’ll be mimicking on the upcoming ’92 Cougar) – what color blue is it that I procured for this build? Well, you’re quite wrong – it’s a Goddamn Skoda color of all things. It’s their “Race Blue Metallic” color and boy oh boy does it pop.

1968MercuryCougarXR7 (9)So right away upon seeing the kit in my hands, two thoughts entered my mind. One; holy shit detail is crisp, what the hell kind of magic did they use in 1968 and why can’t AMT Ertl even reach similar heights in friggin’ 2018. Two; Jesus, Mary and Joseph Stalin the detail is so crisp, is this kit really from 1968 or was the seller just full of shit!? The body is so unbelievably good and the fit of the body parts is also stellar, it’s only in the engine bay where the detail takes a fairly colossal hit. The engine is either a 302ci V8 or a 390ci V8 I can’t tell, it’s rather hard to tell, the radiator is just a single piece, no shroud or anything, the fan blades are huge, as are the other parts besides the battery, which is a tiny little cube. Oh and no reservoirs, nothing. It’s really, really bare bones in there. So I opted to take another Mustang engine but quickly ran into the problem that I didn’t really wanted to sacrifice any kits I was still going to complete… Until I found the old spare of a 1970 Ford Torino GT I once purchased for the chassis, engine and interior to slap into the ’71 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler I got coming up sooner or later. I thought, y’know what, this is a worthwhile thing, the basic engine/transmission seemed to fit the engine bay exactly and even fit the mounts perfectly(just had to drill a hole in the oil pan, that’s it). The only problem was, the ’68 Cougar did not have the type of engine the ’70 Torino GT had… A 429 Cobra Jet. Oooohhh weeell, it sits in there, it looks much better than the original and it might even just look good.

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The interior has quite nice detail to it as well, even a weird addition I’ve never seen before: seat belts on the stock seats. Molded in there, in decent quality. I mean, it’s a bit odd but… nice at the same time. The chassis on the other hand is quite mediocre, but it’s just something all of the model kit designers from the sixties through the eighties did, the thought of “no-one looks at the bottom” reigned supreme for long. The ridiculous age of the kit, fifty years old in a few months, has had some downsides on a few parts… One was the rubber wheels, which had gone rock hard and shrunk to the point that none of the wheels still fit them, so I tried to solve that particular problem via AMT Ertl’s one-size-fits-fuck-all tires and they actually fit for the first time, ever. Though the tires aren’t the right size for the model and it sits… weird, but it sorta works. At least it’s got the friggin’ wheels on, that was a fight in its own right.

1968MercuryCougarXR7 (16)The other problem is that back in those times, they shoved the whole kit in one plastic bag. This nowadays isn’t done anymore for one simple reason; it wrecked the damn kit. Parts interconnected, the tires can rot and melt to a piece and be conjoined forever. And last but not least, the thing that happened to this kit; the clear piece got scratched to high heaven in the baggie. But whatever, time and decay go hand in hand. At the end of it all, the kit went together so unbelievably well, even with the whole replacement engine in mind. Keith Marks’ decals topped off an incredible package and was worth every penny, not to mention it really brings the detail out, especially on the grille.

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Worth the 100 euro or so investment? Hell yes. Worth investing if you ever stumble upon one for not a whole lot of money? Oh hell yes. Wishing along with me for a re-release or a new tool of the ’67-’68 and ’70 Cougars? Hell. Yes.

’68 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT specifications:
Kit: AMT5328-200
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 109
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE – AMT Ertl

2017CamaroSS1LE (1)AMT’s the proud license owner of the latest Camaro molds and tools, as of 2016 they’ve been responsible for getting the newest Camaro models to the market in all shapes and forms, some are full kits, few others are pre-painted snap-tite kits, but in general they’ve all been quite remarkably nice kits with supremely detailed suspension and interior parts. That’s pretty much the gist of it. Last year it was the 2016 SS and a early release of the 2017 SS “FIFTY” along with two snap-tite versions of the ’16 SS, this year it was a 2017 Pace Car version of the FIFTY, a snap-tite version of the SS 1LE and to close the year off; a full kit version of said SS 1LE.

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And they’ve been “listening” to the builders across the world and they actually learned, albeit at a step-by-step speed. Though by the time this kit came around, I’d say they had fixed most of the problems but at the cost of introducing some significantly worse ones. For instance, some quality of life improvers were made like including side marker light decals and making the tail light lens dark gray instead of chrome which made it a ton easier to detail the lights and get the stark contrast of black-to-chrome/white looking right, they included some decals for the interior and so forth.

2017CamaroSS1LE (4)That’s great and all and honestly, it’s a good feeling that manufacturers listen to their customers to some extend, however, boy oh boy this is one cheap-as-shit kit. You see, the wheels are quality additions, they’re accurate, they’re solid, the tires are good rubber but oh man did they take cheap shortcuts on just about everything else. Again, it’s got the same pre-detailed glass and pre-colored tail lights, which is also amazing and I’m happy that they’re a thing but… I cannot stress the point enough that they literally cut corners on everything else. Though to go back to the tail lights, while it’s supremely nice that they’re pre-detailed, they also look somewhat… odd. It’s possible because you can see into the red through the clear, making it look “soft” on the inside, I would argue it would’ve been a thousand times better if the reverse/indicator lights were separate(think Tamiya’s Nissan Skyline R34, with separate lenses for the inner and outer lights).

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But to go back to the point I keep talking past; this is a cheaply manufactured kit. There’s no beating around the bush on that one, there’s no making up for it, it’s just one fricking awful showing on AMT’s part. The plastic comes pre-colored in the injection process, which is fine I suppose, this is the status quo for most of Asian manufacturers and it’s beginning to bleed into US and European kit makers as well, totally okay. What isn’t okay is the sheer crap quality of the plastic. It’s this cheap, flaky, thin-as-fucking-sin plastic that is somewhat flexible but just… It’s so thin, that even with a coat of primer, light shines through the other side. The yellow its colored in is also this weird, dirty yellow instead of the intense yellow featured on the real deal, it’s just… cheap. What doesn’t help matters is, given that most folks will just primer the hell out of it and do the coloring themselves so that’s not a giant problem, but as I said, what doesn’t help matters is the giant, hideous, crisp mold lines that run over the roof, over the rear quarter, over the fender, over the bumpers, it’s just immense how rough the body is.

2017CamaroSS1LE (11)So I kind of went in with a semi-defeated attitude, having come to terms with the trade-offs with the quality, to just build it and have one last kit finished before the turn of the year into 2018. I mean, despite the rough body, cheap-ass quality plastic and shortcomings in total, it’s still mostly the epic new tool from AMT from 2016. Like I said, the suspension build on this kit is nothing short of legendary, it’s well over forty parts for the rear suspension alone(and weirdly enough, just 8 or so for the front) and while most modern cars sadly hide their engines under some synthetic engine cover, AMT Ertl’s tried to maximize the detail under the hood despite it all. The 6.2L LT1 V8(shared with a Corvette these days!) is detailed supremely well and the whole engine bay just… looks good. I mean, for the sake of modeling, nothing beats the raw engine bay of a late sixties/early seventies engine block but, y’know, given how well engines are hidden under plastic these days, they did pretty good on that part.

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The hood on the SS 1LE is completely blacked out, bit like the old Dodges and Plymouths, which they provide a decal for but hoooo-boy, it just doesn’t A) fit, B) look right and C) sit correctly without rippling like crazy. I mean, they tried. But you’re just better off spraying the thing semi-gloss black. For the rest, they got rid of the chrome parts all together when they made the swap to gray headlight lenses so you get these dull medium gray exhaust pipes which were… disappointing looking to say the least. But luckily there’s things like chrome spray paint that make it look pretty damn close to the real deal, so thank goodness for that.

2017CamaroSS1LE (15)For a last 2017 build, it was semi disappointing. I mean, it’s still a perfectly fine kit but given the standards they achieved in 2016 with this kit, it’s odd to see them take the cheap-as-chips plastic route with the weird half-metallic half translucent yellow paint and sprues with so much flash on them that you spend a third of the time chipping bits of plastic of the parts so they frickin’ fit. I mean, Monogram nailed the process in 1983 for Christs sake, it shouldn’t be so hard to get a decent quality plastic for your kits. But ah well, it’s just all that, still a fine kit all in all.

’17 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE specifications:
Kit: AMT1074
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 112
Molded in: Yellow, Black & Gray
Scale: 1/25

Blog Update #005 – Year in Review II

It’s been my second year here on this website, something that kinda still is just my on the side hobby combined with some showing off and writing about it, it’s still fantastic to find out that there’s actually quite some folks out there that are interested in this!

Being able to spread the love for the detail this year was a good highlight, with the “Modeling Supplies” page getting a ton of views and the storefronts of the folks I adore for making the model world a little more unique with every item sold, they’ve been getting a fair few extra clicks! The variety of models I’ve been capable of doing this year was nothing short of tremendous, from getting all the Anniversary Camaros, to a handful of Malaise era victims, to some Japanese domestic market vehicles like the Hilux and the Silvia S13, and of course a ton of good ol’ American powerhouses.

Another thing is that since a month or so I’d been making and selling my own decal sheets, something that I’d wanted for over a year and finally managed to dive into and whaddya know; it friggin’ well worked out! Goddamn do I love this hobby and I hope that my love and desire for this hobby helps you out, whether it is creatively or through the assets of what I created, either way keep on building!

Jesus… It just hit me as I’m editing the image table that I built 59 just this year alone. Well, holy hell. Anyhow! Here’s hoping the third year will be just as eventful, fun and good for us all. God knows I’ve got well over thirty kits sitting around ready to be built and five of which are being worked on as we speak.

 

92pontiacfirebirdformula-2 68elcaminoss396-5 90cougarxr7-6 76camaronew-1
92camaronew-2 1997camaroz2830thanniversary (4) 2002camaro35th (7) 2012camaro45th (21)
2016camarossfifty (8) 1987camaroirocz (15) 1981camaro (1) 84oldsmobilelsx442-10
2003nissangtrr34 (10) 69oldscutlass442w30 (13) ralliartlancerx-11 1979camaroz28black (11)
1973cougarxr7 (8) gmcsierra1977 (4) 1968dodgechargerRT440_daytime_cloudy (19) 92tbirdsc (3)
gmcvandura (10) 1970cuda440_6 (23) 1970mustangboss302 (20) 1980dodgeramcharger (14)
1987buickregalgrandnational (16) 69dodgesuperbee-10 1980chevycitationx11 (11) 1980plymouthvolareroadrunner (2)
1981dodgeomni024 (9) 1970AAR_Cuda (18) 1993chevrolets10 (13) 1976spiritof76_dodgedart (4)
1970GSX_raised (4) 1980firebirdtransam (4) 1991silviaS13 (5) 1971superbee (23)
1979novacustom (18) 69novayenko-5 1987MonteCarloAerocoperedux (22) 1971plymouthduster340 (14)
2005cadillacescalade (7) 69chargerdaytonahemi-4 2012chevycruzeturbo (17) 1977montecarlolandau (5)
1987ElCaminoSS (8) 1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (18) 1990mercedesbenz190E_2-3_16v (15) 1990chevyberettaGTZ (18)
1994toyotahiluxdcab_4wd (16) 2009fordf350SD4x4 (27) 1970dodgechargert426hemi (11) 1980montecarlo (13)
1983chevycitationx11 (25) 1970plymouthGTX440_6 (10) 1974ChargerRallye (18) 2007dodgechargersrt8SuperBee (20)
1991GMCSycloneMarlboro (19) 1993JeepGrandCherokee (19) 1984oldshurstolds (15) 2017CamaroSS1LE (8)

Merry Christmas and a happy new year y’all!

1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Hurst/Olds – Revell

83olds_2The Hurst nameplate is one of those you immediately associate with muscle cars, without a doubt. A lesser known fact is that George Hurst’s company invented the jaws of life system in 1961 and gave away the patent for free, but a better known fact is that if your muscle car in the mid to late sixties or early seventies had a steering column shifter or just a plain and rough floor shifter, you were doing it wrong. The Hurst shifter was nothing short of legendary throughout that decade, you needed one to stay with the pack and you know what, that’s fine. And it quickly became a realization within the Pontiac division of GM that slapping the Hurst brand on your car might actually help improve sales!

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By the turn of the 1970s, Hurst Engineering had their name and their iconic logos or gold-white paint and/or stripe set up on well over a dozen types of cars, the ’69 AMC SC/Rambler, ’72 Pontiac SSJ Grand Prix, ’70 Hurst Jeepster and of course the ’68 through the early eighties; Hurst/Olds. AMT Ertl made a kit of the ’69 Hurst/Olds back in the nineties, based on a even older W-30 Cutlass 442 kit and I’ll say, they weren’t half bad. Not superb, but pretty damn good in their own right. Revell still has a 1972 Hurst/Olds pace car kit on the market today, which is nothing short of amazing, I personally made it into a 442 but I wish I had made it the pace car, still. Jo-Han is the only model kit maker to have bridged the gap between 1973 and 1983 by issuing a simple snap kit of the ’75 Cutlass Supreme and a few promo models of that one and a ’73 Cutlass, but nothing truly spectacular. In somewhat sadder news, or well, it was news once, there were plans to revive some Jo-Han kits including the ’75 Cutlass back in 2011 but legal hurdles quickly killed those plans off.

1984oldshurstolds (4)So we’re left with 1969, 1972 and 1983 for the time being. And Revell is a month away from unleashing the ’85 Oldsmobile 442 with a second option in there to turn it into a FE3-X “Darth Vader” show car, they haven’t yet blessed us with a 1984 Cutlass kit. Which is… understandable, it’s just a swapped paint job and decal scheme of the ’83 version and some minor differences in the grille, rear axle and tail lights and I doubt its worth the effort of boxing one for that. I built the ’83 version last year and a ’84 LSX-442 version earlier this year, with a LSX-454 engine designed by Clearly Scale in there to boot and I have to admit, it’s easily one of my favorite model kits. Not necessarily cause it builds like the best, cause believe me, it’s still a 7 outta 10 at best, especially with how the wheels are attached and how you’re meant to manhandle the chassis into the body but.. Still, I love 1980s cars and the last dying wail of one farted into the annals of history in 1984 as the very last proper stripe-ridden specialty version on the market. And no, not counting the ’87-’88 Monte Carlo SS, dammit. Well, I should, but nah.

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You see, the thing of muscle cars is always the sheer un-subtleness of it, and yeah that isn’t a word but bear with me here. Take for instance the 1969 AMC Rebel Machine, also known simply as “The Machine”. It literally had AMC’s colors all over the cars and seriously made some striped vehicles like namely a ’69 Mustang look subtle besides it. Muscle cars are cheap, powerful, uncomfortable powerhouses that do the supercar appeal of “look at me” but got the anger and growl of a rabid dog and the 1984 Hurst/Olds is literally one of the last to have that with the two toned paint job, the bright red stripes, the aggressive stance and red-lined wheels. Underneath, it’s literally the same car, as I said earlier. It has the same LG8 307ci V8(5.0L) under the hood, which given the 1980s standards for power output versus size, actually had a very reasonable amount of horsepower going through it(around the 180HP, to compare it to a similarly equipped car; the ’84 Z/28 with a 305ci V8 block achieved 150) and the interior luxury was… well, Oldsmobile-ey. It had kept a lot of interior options of the Cutlass Supreme that got crossed over that were translated into kit form veeeery nicely and besides the fact that my dumbass once again used a gloss paint for the color; the detail is crisp as sin.

1984oldshurstolds (10)I mean, for the most part I’m gonna be regurgitating information that you could read over in either the ’83 Hurst/Olds article of the ’84 LSX-442(minus engine details, given it’s got a Clearly Scale engine swap in there), but for the sake of it I’ll just go over it one more time. The interior detail as I just mentioned is really, really good. I mean, it could use some slightly more raised details but 99% of it is there and perfectly fine to work with, vents, dials, all of it. The engine bay is really, really pretty but it does have some downsides; the A/C unit is molded into fender and so is the battery and… it can look really, really strange when you look down besides the engine and see that the A/C unit goes all the way to the frame, kind of the same blocky “bleed” from old Monogram kits, it’s just not exactly pretty.

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The body has some significant mold lines along the rear windows and fitting the nose cone can be a right pain in the ass at times given plastic’s nature to very sometimes expand and/or warp, and even with a kit from a year old, the fenders can bend inwards in the package so sometimes the front end just won’t fit without some severe bending and warping with warm water, but y’know what, it’s something we deal with as modelers, ain’t it. The thing that makes this build stand out, or unique rather, is the decal sheet which I crafted up for it. I’d been pining to get all the Hurst/Olds and 442’s done from ’83 through ’87 and y’know, the ’84 Hurst/Olds is part of it. So when I began with the little decal sheet crafting adventure, number two on my list was the ’84 stripes. Which, I am gonna shamelessly plug right here, yeah, right here, it’s a link to eBay. I have some regrets which I am gonna change on the sheet, number one; the color is off. It’s too far away from bright red, it isn’t helped by the fact that it’s not entirely opaque(printing error by Rothko & Frost) and number two; the top fender/door stripe is too thick. Gotta change that up to perfect it, but as it is, it’s perfectly acceptable.

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I mean, if I’m gonna plug shit, whether it’s mine or someone elses, it’s only fair I’m honest. I did a better job on the air cleaner decals and the Syclone decals, undoubtedly and it’s not helped that the red stripes aren’t printed properly so… y’know, swings and roundabouts. I put some Fireball Modelworks Goodyear Eagle GTII tire decals on the wheels to wrap the whole thing up looking spiffy and that was about it, the rest it’s all the same Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds kit underneath. In the end, it’s part of a series and I’m totally happy its among ’em, it’s all a learning experience, right! Now just to await Revell’s unleashing of the FE3-X/442 Cutlass kit!

’84 Oldsmobile Cutlass Hurst/Olds specifications:
Kit: #85-4317
Skill Level: 4
Parts: 93
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25