1970 Plymouth GTX 440-6 – Monogram

1970plymouthGTX440_6 (1)The Gentleman’s Muscle Car“, that’s how the GTX got described as it came to exist back in 1967. Just like the Road Runner of the time, it was based on the baseline Plymouth Belvedere, a car with a long lineage of being a big hunk of metal with a lot of style. Coming to think of it, with that descriptor you could likely sum up ninety five percent of cars back then. The GTX itself only existed for a grand total of four years, though. From ’67 through ’71, all as expensive versions of the Road Runner, which itself was marketed as the “budget muscle car“.

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The whole reason for the GTX to exist as a separate version is also the reason for why it only existed for a short four years; the Road Runner did all the GTX did and it did it for a hell of a lot less. In 1969, the GTX got hamstrung by the Road Runner when Plymouth offered a convertible version of it. Hell, by 1970, the year in question of the kit here, the Road Runner and GTX were so similar, most people couldn’t tell them apart. The ’70 GTX had the same stripes, engine options and trim and in the end – less choice. Granted, it defaulted with a 440 Six Barrel engine, with a possible upgrade to a 426 HEMI and the interior was a lot nicer and fancier than the Road Runner innards, but despite that – it just didn’t stand apart enough for it to sell anywhere as well as they had hoped.

1970plymouthGTX440_6 (6)In 1971, the last year of the GTX as a separate model, they finally differentiated the model some more than the years before but in this year, sadly the thing that brought sales down wasn’t the fact that a GTX was a more expensive Road Runner, it was the insurance rates on muscle cars spiking. And with that, the GTX became nothing more than a name plate for two more years, before being shelved for good in favor of just the Road Runner and the base version it was based on(Satellite from ’72 to ’74, Fury in ’75 and Volaré from ’76 through it’s getting Ol Yeller’d in 1980).

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So back in 1982, Monogram put out their first version of this kit. Total new tool, as many of their kits were at the time. And just like literally any other kit of theirs, it was… superb. Granted, it has the typical ups and downs, like very plain engine bay but a stellar engine quality to counter or a basic as sin interior and chassis detail, but body detail that rivals die-casts of this very day. At the time, the GTX kit came out with a stock version only which was really nicely made. It missed some decals that would’ve improved quality of life but y’know, couldn’t complain.

1970plymouthGTX440_6 (23)For instance, you gotta manually do the big stripe over the hood as all you’ll get is the two smaller stripes that run along them. While you do get the 440-6 decals for next to the air intake, no 440 Six Barrel engine decal, GTX decals(even though they’re very well defined so a silver/chrome pen works wonders) and such. What you do get is a very accurate representation of the now highly desirable and rare car. So four years later, they added a bunch of extras and turned it into a “Street Machine”. Also known as, let’s make this car hideous as sin by adding stovepipes that require the hood to be cut open, for fun y’know.

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But my opinion’s aside, the “upgrade” involves a new set of wheels and with that wider, patterned Goodyear GT Radial tires(which I enhanced with some Fireball Modelworks decals, fit like a charm!), raised suspension, a ’71 GTX/’70 ‘Cuda wing and a choice between closed and open ram air hood options. It’s a basic set of extras but it makes a difference if you ask me, even though the wider profile tires don’t actually physically fit in the wheel wells in the front – whoops, right. Still though, the raised rear end and the wing, I totally love. I wanted to make it all stock but decided against it given I got a 1970 Road Runner kit coming(based on this kit, but very much improved by Revell in 2000) up and definitely giving that one the stock spin and allow this one to look more badass.

1970plymouthGTX440_6 (19)And I just wanna point something out here – I didn’t paint the body. That’s the way it looked straight from the box, that shade of metallic blue. It’s a similar finish to the sister model, the 1969 Dodge Super Bee. This kit is from 1986, sat in a smokey storage room for decades and somehow, the paint and the glossy coat of the paint are still better than the stuff I can produce today. It’s really impressive how well it’s done, even today, kit manufacturers don’t quite know how to avoid paint splodges in the injection process but Monogram nailed back in the mid friggin’ eighties.

1970plymouthGTX440_6 (8)I had been looking for this kit for a year and a half and now I found both the Road Runner and GTX, I’m feelin’ quote fortunate and it truly helps that the kit is stellar even after 31 years. As I said earlier, the typical Monogram pluses and minuses come into effect but it’s still one of those kits that always feels pleasant to make and put together. The suspension and exhaust system are one piece, most of the engine block is one piece besides the headers, rocker covers and waterpump, the engine bay has the typical “block” like structure going on where for instance the battery goes down to the axle, but even despite it all, it’s still one of those kits that screams quality through and through.

’70 Plymouth GTX 440-6 specifications:
Kit: #85-2730
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 89
Molded in: Metallic Dark Blue
Scale: 1/24

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1970 Dodge Charger R/T 426 HEMI – Revell

1970dodgechargert426hemi (1)Christ, we’ve all been awaiting this one since it’s nephew kit, a kit I’ve had half-finished since late 2016, appeared on the market. Which in reality was a ’69 Charger with the 1970 front end(the non-R/T and 500 version in 1970 kept the same tail lights as the 1969 Charger), based on Fast & Furious’ Dominic Toretto’s ’70 Charger – which too was a 1970 Charger in some scenes, a 1969 in others, a ’69 500 edition in some movies, a open-grilled ’70 in others – it was a shapeshifter car that was a nightmare to pin down by toy manufacturers for the simple reason that Vin Diesel’s car changed more often than the tone of the series itself. So Revell stuck with the first movie, in which the car generally had the 1970 grille with the headlight doors stuck open and the non-R/T trim the car genuinely had, therefor a ’69 tail end.

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So eagerly we all awaited a true, proper updated version of the Revell Charger tooling, which debuted in 1997 under the Pro Modeler line, with to put it mildly, friggin’ epic detail. The engines(it came with a 440 Magnum and 426 HEMI) in all three versions of their kits(’68, ’69 and ’69 Daytona) were seriously, right there and still today, the highest quality Mopar engine cast out there. It’s seen use in all of the Charger re-releases as well as the spectacular 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda kit and it’s back yet again in this kit, though sadly only with the 426 HEMI. The whole kit is centered around the sole engine choice, the proper black hood stripes have white HEMI print on ’em and the tooling’s been updated to only fit the HEMI engine for the time being(you’d have to do a tiny bit of tinkering to allow the transmission to fit the slightly updated chassis).

1970dodgechargert426hemi (7)The whole kit is a welcome upgrade on the tooling of twenty years ago, the unnecessary turnable wheels have been taken out in favor of one-piece front suspension, which was probably done to fix the common issue of the structural integrity of the whole front being horrible at best due to the wheels being attached to two little tiny arms and the weight would bend ’em in a second. The rear suspension’s been fixed up to better show the ride height and wheel depth, which was a bit too deep on the ’69 and ’68 Charger kits. The whole front end was updated to fit better, which was also a problem source on the other Charger kits, here it fits together a lot better due to… well, the front valance no longer is forced into the sway bar and now connects directly to the body. The decal sheet’s been updated a ton, giving full dashboard decals and arm rest wood decals instead of having us paint a mediocre copy of wood, the wheels come with optional red line tires(which actually weren’t available on a 1970 Charger at the time, unless you special ordered them at a dealership, go figure) but I substituted them for BF Goodrich Radial T/A’s from Fireball Modelworks.

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The one thing they went backwards on? All four wheels are attached by little metal pins to the axles. Revell has this weird obsession with metal pin wheel set-ups and just like my complaint with Round 2/AMT/MPC who force the same two tire sets on every single kit they re-release: It. Doesn’t. Friggin’. Work. God. Dammit. A good example is the 2010 Camaro SS kit, which I transformed into the 2012 Camaro RS 45th Anniversary edition; the wheels on that kit are also attached by the metal pins and I physically can’t touch the model today or the wheels pop off at high speed like they’re trying to escape Hell. And here’s no different, the fuckers won’t stay on and metal and plastic don’t mix when it comes to staying connected so I’m always forced to fill ’em with epoxy in hopes of giving it enough strength to stay together for a change.

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But y’know what, so be it. While I wish there was no friggin’ metal pins for the wheels but the old functional system of plastic pins, my true wish would’ve been that the kit also packed or instead packed the at the time new engine option for the Charger, one that became highly popular – the 440 Six Pack. They gave us the right air cleaner already, all they’d needed to do was update the 440 Magnum from previous years slightly and wham, done and done. But alas, suppose it would be too much to ask. Maybe in the future, who knows?

1970dodgechargert426hemi (15)The 1970 Charger was the last of the Coke bottle shaped Chargers, before it got slightly fatter and slightly slower. I mean, I love the ’71-’74 Charger and I wish AMT would update the ancient-as-sin ’72-’74 kits from MPC using their ’71 Charger tool so I can complete this series at last, but man I am still utterly happy that Revell finally has given us the perfect, or well, near-perfect ’70 Charger. MPC has had one on the market since 1970 and it… wasn’t amazing. It was the only source of a ’70 grille, which most people just manhandled onto a Revell ’69 Charger kit to somewhat moderate success. But to get back to the point, the ’70 Charger didn’t go out without a colorful bang.

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Like I said, it finally too got the 440 Six Pack engine option on top of the already powerful powerhouses available at the time(340, 383, 426, etc), another first for the Charger series was that it also got access to the high impact colors that were a lot more common on Chrysler vehicles from 1970 onwards, like the crazy lime, orange, yellow, pink and purples. At first I wanted to do it in the bright pink like the one on the box, as not only is it a unique color, it actually… suits it. There’s something amazingly alluring about a totally wild pink Charger, or hell any sporty Dodge product of the time. But I eventually went with the “sublime” hi-impact color, which is basically just a mix of the “yellow-green” RAL color and Duplicolor’s fluorescent lime green spray paint. Used it before on the 1971 Plymouth Duster 340 kit and it actually really looks good so I rolled with it once more!

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It goes together so much better than it ever did before and I’m glad the now twenty year old tooling has gotten a well deserved upgrade and I genuinely hope they keep on using this tool to great effect, maybe a Charger 500 some day? Who knows! All we need now is more engine options, a 1/25th 383ci V8 or 340ci V8 from Revell would be friggin’ amazing.

’70 Dodge Charger R/T 426 HEMI specifications:
Kit: #85-4381
Skill Level: 5
Parts: 117
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee 440 Six Pack – MPC

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (1)The 1970 Coronet is one of those cars that is truly unique all the while remaining close to its roots, specifically with the styling, or at least from the ’65 Coronet on wards. It carried over the square shape, it carried over the grille increasing in size towards the headlamps, it carried the long hood and trunk design, it kept the very basic nature of its previous iterations and yet somehow manages to look the most alien, the most unique and honestly, in my opinion at least, the most beautifully wacky muscle car of all time. What makes it more unique is that unlike very, very many cars – it was only like this for a single year.

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First time I ever saw the car was as a fleet of police cars in 1974’s Gone in Sixty Seconds, though that was the regular four door without the chrome tail bezel, the one I truly fell in love with was the ’70 Super Bee version, the same one I built here. Though in a moment I’ll go into detail about the misery this kit can cause, for now I’m gonna focus some more on the car itself. You see, this was Chrysler’s magnum opus era. 1970 was peak good-ness for Chrysler, especially in design. The 1970 Charger lived, their best year in NASCAR began late this year, Plymouth’s newly updated Barracuda came to life, the 6-pack(2bbl x3) carburetor set-up gained maximum popularity, the list goes on. 1970, not a bad year! Well, it was a bad year for fuel reserves as it was also the year that big block engines truly gave no fucks about even attempting to hit 10MpG/4.2KpL(6-Pack and HEMI engines did frickin’ 7MpG/2.9KpL on average) and of course good ol’ fashioned tetraethyl additives.

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (5)The designers on their cars had freaking field days, damn near every car for the 1970 model year were gorgeous, even the boring ones. It truly was the era of the muscle car, but it was just as well just the finest era for cars in general, besides the obvious problems. And MPC was on top of this shit back in the day, with dealer promo’s leaving the production line in high demand and focusing their work on that, following it all up with glue kits based on the dealer promo’s some time later.

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This is how this edition of the 1970 Coronet Super Bee began its life. In 1968, the dealer promo for the 1968 Coronet was turned into a proper glue kit. They revamped the parts and the body for the 1969 release and updated it once more for 1970, as per usual of the time. So fast forward to 1989, Ertl had combined MPC and AMT to co-exist under the same roof and they fashioned a version of the ’70 Coronet Super Bee with a “Pro Street” package attached to it, which quickly led to demand of a re-release of the Super Bee without the idiotic large rear tires and gargantuan velocity stack engine and intake manifold, which came in 1992. They improved upon it in various ways, for instance they re-hashed the entire frame to be “better” and brought in stock parts to turn it into a 440 Six Pack along with bucket seats and standard exhaust pipes.

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (12)Now fast forward to 2008, two sub re-releases later(same parts, different day) with MPC bringing the Coronet Super Bee back like it was in 1992, just better. For instance, it now had a much, much improved decal sheet with both the C-shape decals as well as the tail trunk stripes, proper engine badging and finally some decent Super Bee emblems to boot. Skip time to 2017, and yes I hear you going “what about the Dirty Donny editions?” and I raise you a “What about ’em?”. They were based on the Pro Street version and actually had less going for them than the ’08 MPC release, so screw ’em. This version on the other hand has all of the stuff going for it since AMT’s update in the early nineties and the only thing it lacks is the pro street tires, despite the wheels still being there.

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Actually, about tires. Allow me to ramble on about Round 2’s wheels one more time, by quoting… a quote. This kit proudly presents itself on the side of the box to contain pad printed Goodyear Polyglas GT tires. Now the quote I’m gonna, well, quote, originally is from the 1976 Dodge Dart kit, which I then quoted on the ’79 Chevrolet Nova article, and it’s about the loveliness of the pad printed tires from Round 2;

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (4)And again, just like usual, the fucking rim doesn’t match the tire. I love the enthusiasm for pad printed tires, especially from AMT who is the only one who has them printed on the rubber and not just included on a decal sheet but they are not a one-size fits all kind of tire. I’ve been going over this complaint on every single kit AMT has re-released since 2011 – the ’70 Chevelle, the ’80 Volaré, the ’68 El Camino and both ’69 Oldsmobiles I’ve built. They just don’t fit on legacy kits.

So, yeah, they’ve been clowning around with those again. And like I said, I love them but they just don’t match the rim and no effort has been put into actually remotely attempting them to fit. They could go the Revell Monogram route of just adjusting every rim to the tire size they have in stock, or they could do the more difficult Japanese way of literally fashioning a ton of different tires – either way Round 2 has to put in effort and like hell they’re doing that.

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But y’know what, we’ll roll with it. They are what they are, nightmare or not, nicely pad printed tires and I hope one day Revell begins to include tire letter decals again like they did a few times in the nineties. Though at the same time, Fireball Modelworks deserves every single purchase cause of how unbelievably awesome and nice those white letter decals are.

I’ve been wanting this kit for a few years now and there were a couple of reasons not to get it thus far, and the reasons came beaming on through as I was putting it together. When I said “misery” in the second paragraph, I meant it. You see, like I said earlier, this kit is a bash-together of MPC’s old tooling and AMT Ertl’s new tooling. The engine bits are super high quality and very well produced, the interior tub, not so much. The whole thing did get a revamp but it’s all inherited parts in a sense, like for instance the instructions have two interesting bits to ’em;

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (9)It’ll tell you to take a sixteenth of a inch from the bottom of the side windows on the windshield and it’ll tell you to saw off the front of the front side of the frame under the radiator. Why? Cause it’s a mish-mash in the end, the interior tub will collide with the windshield and basically kill any form of getting the whole thing getting together and the front lip has to be sawed off the frame otherwise the bottom bit of the body with the indicators will simply not fit.

Despite that, it still won’t fit. The whole build reeks of MPC shoddiness to me, with the bumpers floating about, the wheel assembly being a fucking, terrible, horror show of a mess. Hell, lemme elaborate. The front wheels especially, they’re attached to steerable prongs you force between the frame and the inner-engine bay wall, however the holes aren’t the same size and it requires force to put them on. You know how this works, as in that it doesn’t. The weight of the wheel will eventually begin tearing the innards of the wheel out so the wheels become stuck at this awful odd angle.

1970dodgecoronetsuperbee (8)But I digress. What isn’t MPC shoddiness is AMT Ertl perfection; the 440 Six Pack engine is… something else. The 340 V8 and the 440 Magnum from the Duster and Charger kits respectively are awesome and come up to about Revell level in terms of detail and how good they look in the end, and this 440 Six Pack is uniquely different in how you build it, but it’s no less amazing. Not to mention, the whole chassis was improved by AMT Ertl so despite the issues, once it comes together, it comes together. And while it comes with a whole second 426 HEMI with the velocity stacks(ala Dodge Dart), it has no option of the other, third option on the real Super Bee – the 383 Magnum.

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And like I said, the decal sheet is the biggest winner here all in all. The choice and quality of it is just immense and it makes me so super happy that for once a Round 2 kit doesn’t have a puny decal sheet. And in the end, what matters is that Round 2 did improve this kit from it’s terrible roots into a semi-modernized kit that goes a lot better together thanks to it, it’s just a shame it isn’t all the way there yet. Hell, it’s actually one of those kits where I got too frustrated with trying to make it look good and was just happy it was done.

Screw you, crooked wheels and ill fitting tires.

’70 Dodge Coronet Super Bee 440 Six Pack specifications:
Kit: MPC-869/12
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 149
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1970 Buick Skylark GS Stage 1 – Monogram

1970buickgsstage1_boxBuick always has stood far ahead in being a pioneer in performance, from the thirties on as the first to break 100MPH with a factory stock vehicle(the ’36 Century) and closing the muscle car chapter with a big, gargantuan bang in 1987 with the modified Buick Regal, the GNX. In between? Well, they’re responsible among many other things, for the 455 Buick V8 engine. A engine so powerful and controversial, in November 1984, the Skylark GS Stage 1 was deemed the third fastest muscle car by Muscle Car Review, second was the 1966 427 Corvette and first was the 1966 427 Shelby Cobra. This obviously had a giant shitstorm associated with it; faster than a 426 HEMI powered Plymouth GTX? Oh boy.

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Obviously it’s never really been settled, in some cases the GS beat a HEMI powered car like a ‘Cuda, GTX, Charger, other times it got beaten by them instead. Hell some even just went with the “it comes down to the driver” mentality, but still being mighty upset about the idea that a Buick, with cars most commonly known for being boats on wheels, the mid ground Cadillac, kicked Chrysler’s ass.

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And besides the GSX‘s decals and brightercolors, the GS Stage 1 is a lot more subtle, with only very minimal decals which are some red stripes on the bottom of the sides and a bunch of GS Stage 1 badges on the front and the fenders. The 1970 version of a sleeper, if you will. There was a Stage 2 version, which was supremely rare in its own right, so rare that Buick literally only made three. You could buy the still-rare Stage 2 engine parts to replace your own 455 parts with, but the idea here of course is a factory stock Buick GS 455, which is a boat on wheels, sits gently on an average ride height, comes with a luxury interior and still somehow it held the highest torque output record in a factory street car from 1970 until 2003 when it finally got beaten by a ’03 Viper SRT10.

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These cars fascinate me to no end. I’m European, so I think I got this natural ability to not pick sides and evaluate things from a neutral point of view and God’s honest I love Plymouths equally to anything. But yeah, I could believe a HEMI equipped GTX may be a shred slower than this thing based on the booklets, the test drives, the heated versus sprint races, so forth. But to hell with the controversy, Buick’s legacy and Plymouth’s legacy both went to hell in 1974 when the first giant oil embargo crippled the US vehicle industry and brought in stricter regulations, which officially marked the shotgun-to-the-skull for the muscle car era. So in the end, sadly, neither Chrysler nor GM had the opportunity to use the seventies to duke it out for good and bring in the final victor, as the Skylark Gran Sport model was shelved indefinitely in 1974 and the GTX sadly already saw its last daylight three years prior.

1970GSX_raised (2)But back to the kit at hand here, Monogram first brought the wonderful Buick GSX to light in 1988 and it’s been largely unchanged since then. It’s seen a few re-releases here and there, split off into two distinct releases: the GSX in ’88 and again in 2012 and the “Street Machine” 2-in-1 release that got released in ’89, ’97 and ’07 which included a giant cut out in the hood with the engine sticking out and a set of custom wheels. Plus of course more decals, which is a given.

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Two years back, one of my first models I built was the GSX. This was at the time when I decided, yeah you know what, let’s build a couple more! So it was… shoddy, not that I would ever say I gotten a ton better since but I’ve marked some improvement at the least. In 2015, I came across a German with a 1971 Skylark GS in dark blue metallic who claims he had actually driven the thing on the Nürburgring for whatever friggin’ reason. At my workplace, we tear apart imported American classics(from 1978 onwards, getting big block V8s into Europe was a trend it seems, we seem to be getting mostly 1978-1983 imports) daily cause some twit decided it was funny to take a barely steerable 1974 Firebird down a local race track.

20170702_173430But I digress, the point I was apparently trying to avoid so damn well was that the color just… I loved it. To be fair, no muscle car looks bad in a coat of metallic blue, be it a light shade or a dark shade. But this one had this deep almost black undertone to it, only the metallic flakes seemed to reflect light and only by that you could tell it was in fact blue. So I took that paint job, made it a tad more blue cause otherwise, well, I may as well just make it black given the model stands inside 99% of the time. Then I bought myself a photo etched detail set for the Skylark from Model Car Garage and immediately began digging out the hood vents and grilles to replace with the PE parts.

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It’s a given that none of the Monogram releases of the 1980s are flawless, they’re largely awesome with one or two faults that’ll nag you for days. For starters, the ride height. God, fuck me, the ride height. You see, the entire rear suspension of the model is decided entirely by two coil springs. It’s this awful support system where the suspension arms rest on the two coil springs and it completely screws the ride height to hell. It’s basically a Goddamn lowrider thanks to that. I should’ve seen it coming but I honestly couldn’t think of a way to raise it without bending the two tiny arms to adjust with the rising of the springs, which believe me would’ve snapped at an instant. Even on the box art it sits like a frickin’ lowrider, so it ain’t just me!

1970buickgsstage1 (18)But screw it, fine, it sits like a Californian wants it best; on the floor. The other? Well, the gorgeous(and I do mean, gorgeous) engine is kind of overshadowed by some fitting issues. The two tiny arms of the chassis are meant to take on the entire engine block, but the exhaust manifolds get stuck on the A-arm(or wishbone if you will) suspension and the oil pan gets wedged stuck in the chassis before the little arms can reach the supports.

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Still though, other than that, it’s a perfectly fine kit. Hell, underappreciated even. I aughta re-build the GSX again some time to give it the detail it deserves, try and fix the ride height properly by maybe kitbashing a different suspension set. Either way, with the beautifully recreated 455 cubic inch V8 engine, the stellar interior(that sadly doesnt get dial decals, damn!) and beautiful casting work of the body and bumpers, it’s just one of those kits that despite the problems, is always worth building and going through the extra effort for. It’s just that good. (Updated Dec 12: Fixed the ride height with some plastic bits, now it sits goooood)

’70 Buick Skylark GS Stage 1 specifications:
Kit: #85-4030
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 85
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda 340-6 – Revell

1970AAR_Cuda (1)The late sixties and early seventies is where two major motorsports began to grow into their own little spectacular bubble of progress. One that got popped in 1973 but before that, you had for instance NASCAR hitting a new peak with the “Aero Warrior” era; the ’69 Ford Torino Talladega, Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, Dodge Charger Daytona and the final one, the ’70 Plymouth Superbird. The other sport? Trans-Am. It too had it’s golden age around 1968 that lasted to about 1973 and it made for a more competitive scene cause it had a lot more variety in contestant’s cars, plus it had two plain categories: Under 2.0L and Over 2.0L.

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This was cause of the pony car popularity explosion, so you had factory-backed teams sprouting out every where you’d see, you had AMC Javelins, Chevrolet Camaros(even a sole Nova), Ford Mustangs, Pontiac Firebirds, Dodge Challengers and of course, the one featured here; Plymouth ‘Cudas. And all these teams had some proper talent behind the wheel, for instance AMC had Team Penske, Chaparral drove Camaro Z/28s(famous for the Chaparral Cars), Bud Moore Engineering drove Mustang BOSS’s(NASCAR champions) and the talent just goes on. Plymouth hired All American Racers(famous Indy 500 and Formula 1 racers), specifically Dan Gurney and “Swede” Savage(whom died in ’73, which was famous for sitting alive in a pool of burning fuel and survived the ordeal, just to pass away allegedly from hepatitis-B in hospice care after the accident) and they gave ’em ‘Cudas to roll with.

1970AAR_Cuda (6)Though, what makes the car so unique is two parts amazing, one part sadness. Obviously, the rules were similar to NASCARs in which all participating cars needed homologation special versions with over thousand produced so Plymouth made a one year only version of the AAR ‘Cuda, slapped a 383ci V8 Six Pack in there, gave it the special bits like the front air spoilers and the ducktail rear wing and the now iconic strobe stripes and blacked out hood and fender tops, it was as close as you could get to a powerful Trans-Am car without actually sitting in the race. The thing that makes it a bit sad is that the AAR Team quickly quit with Trans-Am racing after coming in dead last overall in the 1970 season together with Dodge, both getting under 20 points and being 20 points behind third place.

But despite that, the car grew a legacy. It looked awesome, it was a ‘Cuda and it had a bit of a humble yet obvious team sponsorship badge on it, like you could still easily see it was a factory stock car but still unique simply cause of the strobe stripes. Hell, even in kit form it is unique.

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This is the only 1970 ‘Cuda that exists in 1/24th scale form. It saw its first release in 1995, based on the Monogram 1971 Cuda and in part spliced together with the Monogram 1970 Challenger T/A kit(a similar car, in style as well as features), it still has some pieces of the Challenger on some sprues and a couple of HEMI ‘Cuda bits here and there but mostly Challenger. Hell, the entire rear fascia is on one of them, go figure. The re-release of the kit from 2007 is miles better than this original as Revell had time to improve, for instance what this kit lacks is a decal sheet with useful extras like side marker lights, ‘Cuda logos and such and the ’07 kit has them all. Downside? The ’07 kit is nigh impossible to find used, let alone new.

1970AAR_Cuda (10)Luckily, I had some spares from the 1970 ‘Cuda kit that I replaced with the awesome decals from Keith Marks, so the sidemarker lights and such weren’t a issue, but they would’ve been nice if they had been included. Speaking of which, there’s some glaring differences between the all new tool and infinitely awesome 2013 new tool – it’s got some shape issues for the most part. For instance, the grille is totally unique to this kit which is awesome but it has a far too exaggerated curvature to it and the same goes for the tail end. But that’s actually kind of it for the downsides! Other than the over-exaggerated features, the kit is freakin’ wonderful. It all goes together like a dream and the engine bay despite it being a Monogram kit by birth with Revell touches is actually less of a slab infested bore-fest and looks a lot more like the real thing.

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The only thing I’d say is that, with it being a Monogram kit, it’s simplistic as sin. The engine block is five pieces all in all, the whole front grille is one piece just missing the lights and chrome bumper. But what the hell, if the simplicity was the reason that it goes together as well as it does, then fine, it’s totally forgiven.

I didn’t do a whole lot to the kit’s color aside from the obvious black front end and whatnot, the car is colored in the Go-Go Green Plymouth color and it has this nice high glossy sheen to it so I left it alone entirely, it was the color I wanted to begin with(even bought a can of spray paint to mimic the color!). The only things I truly did differently to it were the wheels, the BF Goodrich Radial T/As and the Magnum 500 wheels were pretty much the sole change. That and wiring the engine, but that doesn’t really count as a change.

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Good grief this kit is nice, I ended up buying three of ’em. Why? Well it meshes fantastically with a few ideas I got, like a 1971 340 ‘Cuda and making a little home improved 1970 426 HEMI AAR ‘Cuda. It’s wonderful that the ’70 and ’71 kits share so much!

’70 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda 340-6 specifications:
Kit: #85-7601
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 76
Molded in: Go-Go Green
Scale: 1/24

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 – Revell

1970mustangboss302 (1)By the late sixties, the definitive muscle car was the Mustang. It invented the term “pony car”; long hood, big engine, short rear and low price. And by 1968 every single large car manufacturer had a variety of the pony car. GM by then had the Firebird, Camaro and Barracuda, Ford re-invented it by going deeper with the Mustang(fastback and coupe) and let Mercury in on the fun with the Cougar and AMC came with the Javelin. Late entries to the fun were Chrysler with the Challenger and the updated ‘Cuda in 1970.

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However, by the turn of the decade the pony car was actually beginning to influence the whole world. In Europe, Ford brought the Capri and to Australia they gave the Falcon, while GM was dealing out the Vauxhall Firenza, or more popularly known as the Opel Manta. In Japan, Toyota brought in the Celica to begin to compete on the playing field too.

1970mustangboss302 (18)And kit manufacturers have been really generous with the original muscle car. Every single generation’s had every single edition covered, some better than others. Monogram brought out the 1970 Mustang kit way back in 1981 and has since been improving upon it. It’s been re-released around twelve times since, every time in a different jacket; some were the Boss 302, some were the Boss 429, some were both, hell some even came as the famous Mach 1 and in 2007 Revell released them in the same box under their excellent “Special Edition” line. Which comes down to the mold being a lot more crisp and more detailed, a much much better decal sheet and of course having all the bits to go fully one way or the other.

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Now a long time ago I bought the Mustang Boss 429 kit on the cheap with this kit in mind; the 2 in 1 of this kit is so good that it warrants a whole separate kit for spares. I wanted to build both version that come with this kit, the Mach 1 and the Boss 302. And look back in the future for the Mach 1, but for now back to the Boss 302;

The whole kit changes accordingly, the engine size, the decals and the wheels. One thing worth noting straight off the bat is that the 302 did get a nice extra set of decals in white, which I promptly used. The white stripes were rare on the car, only coming with black paint jobs, though sadly the Mach 1 didn’t get the same treatment and only has the black 351 stripes. The other neat little changes are spare grilles for either version since the Boss didn’t come with the grille lights.

1970mustangboss302 (16)The legendary 5.0L engine that Ford Mustangs are still asciociated with to this day, the 302, is replicated fantastically. Down to the little Ford emblems on the rocker covers, the little breathers on them, so on. The decals help, a lot. But it helps that Revell put effort into making it crisp, just like the Charger engine molds, these will look good for a long, long time to come, though sadly its 1/24th scale likely means the engine won’t see a lot of use cross-kits from here on out. But still, it’s a fantastically molded engine block. The “custom” bits, like the so called “Cross Boss” intake manifold(fantastic Trans-Am goodie made by Autolite back in 1969, rarely if ever seen on a stock 302), is fantastically done for this kit and is a nice legacy piece.

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But some things haven’t changed since 1981, even if the box claims new and improved tooling. While on the outside, the car does have few to no mold lines at all, on the inside it’s a different story. I mean, they’re cleverly hidden this is true but the injection marks are… significant on this model. So much so that you have to trim them before building cause they will get in the way of the structural integrity of the whole model. This is especially bad with the rear bumper where the chassis is forcing it outwards due to the two giant injection lumps.

Though, other than that, it is a perfectly done kit. It’s one of those Monogram legacy kits that stands the test of time thanks to Revell re-tooling it. It’s fantastic, pretty and goes together really well, with some work here and there. I bought a can of metallic blue paint(a color not available in ’70 with the white stripes, only with black stripes) and figured I’d try to get a nice and popping blue like the old ’65 Shelby GT500 fastback, used some Goodyear Eagle GTII white letter tire decals to get the wheels to stick out more and wrapped it up.

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It’s a shame how little Fords I’ve built over the years, since nearly any model you can name has a really good kit attached to it by either Revell or AMT these days. But I’m gonna be changing that in the future, there’s a few Mustangs on the way.

’70 Ford Mustang Boss 302 specifications:
Kit: #85-4203
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 144
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440-6 – Revell

1970cuda440_6 (1)Last year I built the wonderful ’70 Plymouth ‘Cuda by Revell, and it was and still is arguably one of the best they put out. I know, I say this often but just think of it like this – they set a bar and consistently reach it with more and more releases, this one included. And yet again I find myself thinking “Damn, if only I could’ve done it differently”.

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Then I realize, oh hey, eBay exists! And Keith Marks exists! And I got loads of spare parts to make what I wanted to do for a while now actually happen! The ’70 ‘Cuda release actually isn’t even all that old, hailing back from 2013 as a totally new tool with the 426 HEMI engine, which incidentally is also a new tool and not taken from the Charger kits. And the thing allows for two different builds by itself, the good ol’ 426 HEMI powered ‘Cuda with the roaring and rumbling shaker hood and this sleek all-body-color AAR-ish ‘Cuda with giant rims and such with the ram-air hood.

1970cuda440_6 (17)I built the 426 HEMI in apple green and left it for what it was, nothing extra about it. Since then I’ve been pining to make it a soft-top 440-6 cubic inch equipped zinc yellow(or “lemon twist” if you wanna go by brochure names) ‘Cuda that I once saw at a car show in Germany. I also had the awesome opportunity since to work on a 1973 ‘Cuda since then, with the very same 440 Six Barrel engine underneath so it’s only been growing on me to get started on this kit. Sadly, the kit only comes with the HEMI engine for either option, the only part dedicated to something different is two different air cleaners.

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So I wanted to make it a proper six barreled 440, I had a set of 440 R/T engine blocks from 1968 and 1969 Charger kits and some spare bits from the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T kit that came with a Six Pack engine but then it struck me… Shit, that was a small block 340 cubic inch V8 with the Six Pack carbs on top(and at most a 383 Magnum, still nowhere near the 440). I at this point had a choice; buy a 1970 Dodge Coronet kit from MPC/AMT Ertl just to grab the engine or go down the same route that I did with the 1969 Camaro SS 396 and just roll with the in-box engine(HEMI in this case) and just make it look on the outside that its a 440-6. I uh, I did the latter.

1970cuda440_6 (19)But despite it having the wrong engine for what I wanted, I figured I was gonna use the extra customizability of the vehicle and not glue the air cleaner stuck to the model cause the ‘Cuda 440 also had the choice of a Shaker or a simple air-cleaner. Instead I was gonna glue the carburetors to their cleaners and be able to swap on the fly if I so desired. The kit definitely allows this and thank God for it cause making my mind up was hard, I love the shaker hoods on the early seventies Chrysler cars and the twin ram-air hood is fancy and all but nothing beats the brutal look of a loose shaker on a engine poking through. Hell, shakers are loved so much that it even saw a comeback on the modern Challenger as a popular aftermarket part. But, since the hood for the Shaker was warped some, for the sake of pictures and looking cleaner, I for now got the ram air hood on there.

cuda_decals.jpgThanks to Keith Marks, I got my hands on the final piece that allows this kit to be a 440-6 instead of a HEMI on the outside at least: the iconic hockey stick stripes. Handily, the decal sheet also covers higher quality side marker lights, logos and so forth but the 440 decal is what completes the picture. And it helps to have some spare air cleaner decals for the future!

I also took the wing from a spare ’71 Cuda kit I had sitting around(though the scale is one step larger and is a bit… too big but it matches) and the wheels from the ’69 Charger Daytona kit. I am a huge fan of Magnum 500’s and boy do I hate the standard Chrysler wheels from the seventies, they are the definition of boring for me but luckily I had spares lying around. I felt the same way when I made the ’71 GTX kit and applied the Magnum 500’s, it made the car look a hell of a lot sportier, same with the ’71 Cuda kit though that one I messed up fiercely paint-wise. Ah well… I also applied the same wheel treatment as I’ve done to nearly any model kit these days and attached some Road Hugger Radial G/T tire decals courtesy of Fireball Modelworks to give ’em some personality.

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One thing, or two things I did mess up was my first attempt at getting a vinyl top using the painters tape/masking tape method, which is simply layering the roof with masking tape, cutting away the extra and painting over it with satin black paint. There’s advanced methods to this but I already screwed up the most basic way so I figured, y’know what, it doesn’t look horrible, I’ll roll with what I got.

Gotta say, the ’70 ‘Cuda kit might be one of my favorites. It’s got loads of customization options, it looks utterly fantastic, has the beautifully gargantuan 426 HEMI engine and well, I might be somewhat biased due to the 1970 and 1971 ‘Cudas being my favorite car, bar none. I adore Camaros and Mustangs, but none came close to the ‘Cuda, especially once it moved away from the Plymouth Valiant platform. Sadly, the car was ‘too good‘ for its own good in real life, being too expensive to compete with the cheaper Camaro, Firebird and Mustang and coming in too late to deal with the already very established brand names.

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And then of course, the 1973 fuel crisis nailed that coffin shut and the ‘Cuda name was put to rest forever along with the E-body Challenger in 1974. Luckily, this kit keeps some of the legacy of one of the most badass and impressive muscle cars in history very much alive.

’70 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440-6 specifications:
Kit: #85-4268
Skill Level: 3
Parts: 149
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Monogram

70transam-11Another golden oldie of the 1/24th scale line up from Monogram, one of the later ones made by ’em in that particular era. And this one might’ve been the hardest for me to find. But Monogram’s been making great kit after great kit since the early eighties, from the best muscle cars to more daily driver type vehicles like the ’79 Chevy El Camino and ’81 Chevy Citation.

This one was cast and sold in 1991, which makes it one of the later Monogram releases and oddly enough, it’s stupidly hard to find. And like most of those kits, they later got a re-release in the early 2000s briefly under the “Motor City Muscle” line and then it just vanished off the map like most model kits.

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And like usual, the normal Monogram staples apply; excellent exterior detail, very nice interior, beautiful engine, above average engine bay detail and slightly limited decal choice that either hold their own over time or turn dingy yellow. But since the most important 70transam-9parts are always beautifully cast and made, one really can’t ever truly complain about the quality.

That being said though, it’s a nice and simple build. I didn’t end up wiring the engine bay up, I wanted to but the lack of spare time and well… I ain’t impatient, but I can be hella impatient, I figured I wanted this beauty set up and standing on the display pronto. And for a change, I even ended up mixing the Pontiac engine blue! Which was a hassle of trying and being absolutely idiotic, just mix some white, metallic green and metallic blue and poof, but no I ended up stirring a heck of a lot more in there.

But I digress, as I said a few times now, the body quality is awesome. You wouldn’t guess it’s a 25 year old model. Even before painting it. It’s got no flash, the details are crisp as hell and the only thing that didn’t go smoothly was the front valance just refusing to stay where it needs to stay. Which of course is an age issue, but y’know, can’t argue with a 25 year old kit being tightly wrapped in plastic being a tiny tiny bit warped.

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The interior is pretty great too, it’s a slight bit simplistic and there’s no decals to enhance it some but from just glancing in it looks alright. The mold quality is high enough that with a very steady hand you can easily paint the details on the dials if you’d be willing to go that far for it.

70transam-8Speaking of decals, exterior wise you get the two official choices available in nicely detailed(with faux shading and all!) white and blue stripes and T/A emblems. No giant Firebird for the hood sadly but who really minds, the little bird on the nose with the 70transam-9stripes ain’t any less good looking and besides it works beautifully with the appropriately colored Ram Air III shaker sitting ontop of that big six liter Pontiac 400 V8.

All of which are detailed amazingly, as per usual. It’s always a bit disappointing to see the rest of the engine bay being a bit bare but it’s just one of those things that Revell Monogram got stronger with over time.

In the end, this kit is just one of those builds that you greatly enjoy and has a hell of a result in the end to go along with it. Like the Superbird, it’s a great rut breaker to get yourself back in the hobby, provided you can find one for less than 40 bucks still in it’s shrink-wrap.

’70 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am specifications:
Kit: #85-2794
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 70
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

1970 Plymouth Superbird – Monogram

1970plymouthsuperbird-16So summer’s gone and fall’s come, so long good opportunities to snap photo’s of a better quality than indoors mush. Sorry, ’til spring comes around again or when it’s a extraordinarily good day outside I’ll recapture this one and the one’s coming soon(the Pontiac GTO, so forth) in far better light but ’til then, this has to do I’m afraid!

Anyway, the Superbird. Plymouth’s, or rather Chrysler Corp’s answer to the 1969 Ford Talladega which was dominating the ’69 and ’70 NASCAR seasons something fierce. Along with the Talladega and it’s cousin the Mercury Cougar Spoiler II, it just ripped the competition to shreds. Then came Chrysler with the first attempt at beating it with the Dodge Charger 500, which did better but wasn’t quite there yet. And along came the two “winged warriors”, the ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona and the ’70 Plymouth Superbird. Both of which have been a staple of Revell-Monogram’s model line for a long, long time now.

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Hell, to give you a idea of how long; this particular kit was cast in 1987 and sold in 1995. The age shows, although that doesn’t mean it’s a bad kit, it just means that the decals are about as rancid as they’re gonna get. But what the hell, it’s something you gotta deal with when working with things that old.

The exterior looks fantastic, especially the color which the entire kit is molded in minus the chrome bits. Yep, the 1980’s trend was molded in color and this one was still part of it. The kit came with a few little extras like a bunch of sturdy post cards with a light yellow Superbird on it, which is a nice little extra, I mean why not?

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But to get back to the color, its molded in a semi-gloss light blue so a glossy clearcoat’s a definite purchase for this kit. But beyond that? Ya’ can’t argue with the result, it saves a lot of time and again it’s a case of mixing that particular color of blue is a nightmare to start with so it’s even appreciated. Although if you’re looking for a molded in white version, look for the ever so rare Revell release which has a orange Superbird on the front under the Streetburner line(#85-4921).

That one does have the extended decal sheet that also has the Superbird logos for on the front and the wing, mine are just Roadrunner logos from the left over decals I had from the ’74 Roadrunner kit. But yeah, minor details!

While the exterior detail is very, very good, the interior is a little bit less. That being said though, it’s still fairly detailed with good molding but it’s nearly all one big piece with just the dash, console, steering wheel and seats to put in there. It was a trend of Monogram back then to release really high quality models that were little hassle to put together, so the interior detail and in some cases even the engine detail got overlooked a little bit in favor of making it a little more approachable.

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The engine bay in particular’s a bit hollow. It has a very appropriately giant 440ci Six Barrel beast of an engine, the block itself has some good detail to it but the air cleaner and the carbs are just two chrome slabs that you glue to each-other so no point in leaving it removable, the battery is also a chunk that goes all the way down the wheel well.70superbirdnew_1-12

For that reason I figured I’d not wire it up, it looks reasonable enough without it. But that’s exactly the point I wanted to get to, actually. This kit is a glorious rut-breaker! It’s molded in the color it has to be so it’s just a matter of gloss coating it and painting the vinyl roof, the interior’s nice and easily put together and the build itself is fuss-less. It all goes together like a charm, hell even the wheels stay on for a change!

I mean, if it weren’t for the decal sheets of the 1980s and 1990s going dingy yellow over the years, this might easily be the best coming-back-to-the-hobby kit ever. And even so, it’s still a wonderful kit to work on with a gorgeous result once it’s all done.

Besides, it just looks good next to it’s older brother. Even if it’s a bit bigger, it being 1/24th and all.

(Edit Nov 29th ’16: braved the freezing cold and photographed some new shots on a literal sheet of ice on top of the glass table, hell yeah!) 

’70 Plymouth Superbird specifications:
Kit: #85-2758
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 67
Molded in: Ice blue
Scale: 1/24

1970 Ford Torino GT – Revell

70torino1Revell’s made a bunch of Torino’s before and have made a couple since, the ’69 Torino Talladega, the ’70 Torino Cobra, the ’76 Starsky & Hutch Torino and then there’s this one.

Based on the older yet more correct version by Pro Modeler and Monogram, which featured their fixed take on a slightly older Monogram Torino kit which had a couple of errors on the body. But in typical Pro Modeler fashion it caught some really nice extras like extremely high standard molding and some photo-etched parts.

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This one’s the more recently published version of the kit by Revell, still including the photo-etched parts and the two in one build of the kit. The PE parts are the grille GT logo, 70torino_new (2)
the side trim line, Torino logo for the rear fender, the GT emblems above the side intakes and the honeycomb pattern over the tail light. These all could’ve just been extra decals,
but the fact that they’re PE just shows the extra effort they’ve made into making this one a step above the rest.

The 2-in-1 part of the build involves the factory stock version with the two-toned stripes that run on the sides(that I didn’t include cause the 1970 Torino didn’t generally come in black) for every factory stock color combo and a drag version with red/orange/yellow stripes and sponsor logos and such.

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There’s not a whole lot of optional stuff for the drag version but the bits that are there are very nicely detailed such as Ford Motorsport branded rocker covers, rollcage, raised rear suspension, separate set of rims and M/T sponsored drag slicks.

Interior quality is superb as well, with some decals for the wood paneling and all the dash panels. It could just be a left-over of Pro Modeler’s standards but man, this is really just a step above anything I’ve seen so far from Revell. Even the ’68 Dodge Dart wasn’t as detailed as this and I still hold that one as one of the best out there.

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The engine is a damn beauty to behold, the 429 Cobra Jet’s giant air filter’s there but you can also slap on the more compact drag alternative. It’s a nice and crowded engine bay that’s got all the bits and pieces that should be there, nothing’s left out.

All in all, this is one of the finest Revell kits I’ve had my hands on. Everything fit as it should, there’s a ton of bits and pieces to work with, it’s hyper detailed and it has nice PE parts as a extra which I happily take.

’70 Ford Torino GT specifications:
Kit: RMX-4099
Skill Level: 3
Parts: 139
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25