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

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2002 Chevrolet Camaro SS 35th Anniversary Edition – Monogram

2002camaroboxThe second to last generation of Camaro has received a lot of love from both AMT and Revell Monogram, especially by AMT who have been releasing a model of the car since the 4th generation kicked off in 1993 all the way through 1998, even though it was the same kit every year just with different wheels, trim level or sometimes even a convertible.

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Revell Monogram on the other hand picked and chose the ’93 model, releasing it as the ’93 Indy 500 Pace Car kit in the same year and Revell of Germany released the standard Z/28, which was the same kit just with less decals. However, while AMT was awesome enough to ensure the ’97 30th Anniversary saw a release in kit form(article coming soon!), it was Revell that produced two kits of the last 4th gen Camaro with the facelift. Technically three, if you count the Pontiac Firebird release from 1998, which is the same kit, different front end, updated engine, so forth, just like the real relation of the 4th generation Firebird and Camaro. In ’02 they released the 35th Anniversary edition Camaro kit(along with a regular SS/Z28 kit as a separate release), again, the same exact kit as the ’93 one, just with updated tail lights, front fascia and of course the updated LS-1 V8 engine, just like the Firebird.

2002camaro35th (6)The kit I got here is the 2010 re-release, only this time they made it a two in one kit. Even though it mentions on the front it’s 2’in’1 but it’s so subtle that I can believe most folks don’t even realize that the kit has half the decal sheet dedicated to either version and comes with the SS wheels as well as the SS Anniversary wheels!

I gotta give Revell credit though, normally I’d say it’s a bit lazy but expected that companies wear out their molds so that making it was worthwhile before going onto a new tool, but man this kit just goes together so well. It did on the 1993 kit, it did with the 1998 Firebird and it still does on the 2010 kit. It’s such a sturdy build, especially the body and the chassis. The way the glass is slid into place onto specific parts of the body and the way the weight of the chassis feels even, it actually comes into die-cast territory of just feeling tough and not a flimsy plastic model.

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It’s kind of amusing to see all the legacy of the kit still being a part of it, there’s still the little Firebird ram-air inserts, the ’93 Camaro rear brake light, the little prong that you needed to be able to place the lights deep in the front bumper and such.

2002camaro35th (11)The whole kit is really, really good. The mold quality is fantastic and of course the decal sheet has enough to cover either the whole 35th Anniversary edition or the Z28 or SS model(there’s little logos for all three of ’em and I will be the first to admit that the decal sheet’s usefulness lasted three years for me, with most third generation Camaros having the same Z/28 design and AMT doesn’t really do big decal sheets), plus all the logos, sheets and dash knobs for the engine bay and interior. Even four silvered ones for the seats, little extras that count!

Downsides? Well there’s a few, I mentioned in the other articles that the kit’s really prone to warping. Lots of the parts are meant to either connect or slip right into place and they sit perfectly forever, however if you got a older version of the kit and say the front bumper, chassis or rear bumper’s a bit warped? Shit outta luck. It’s gonna look off, sit off or just never attach correctly no matter the effort. Another downside is that the front axle’s real prone to bending under its weight too, causing the wheels to sit at a ugly angle.

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Speaking of the wheels, the car usually has a unnaturally high stance by itself, usually caused by the fact that the kit’s such a perfect little puzzle where all shapes have to match or it’s a total damn mess; the interior tub is molded slightly off, by 0.2mm at most, which causes the prong that holds it to the body to eventually buckle and let loose, causing the chassis plate to go a bit lower than it’s meant to, causing the wheels to sit hilariously high. This whole one-thing-leads-to-the-next issue was a problem on every single release so far and hedge your bets if you don’t wanna do the extra effort to get it to sit correctly. Oh and it has a giant negative impact on the front bumper/fascia, as you might’ve seen as it’s meant to sit perfectly aligned with the chassis to the body or… else the droopy front happens.

2002camaro35th (21)But to mend the giant ride height, I cut the rear coil springs in half, took out the sway bar and bend the axle arms by 40 degrees, only then would the wheels sit somewhat in their wells and not look like a raised 4×4 in a Camaro shell.

And another thing that may be considered a downside, but that’s totally up to how the builder sees it. The later Camaros got their good ol’ T-tops back… And the model was never updated to have ’em. Weirdly enough, the Firebird does have molded in lines for the T-tops but even then still resorted to two decals to “fill” them in. This kit has a giant decal slab you place on the roof to simulate the T-tops and boy does it look… off. I mean, it’s more a dated print quality issue cause you can clearly see the inkjet pattern even from a but of a distance.

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But I digress, it is a 2 in 1 kit after all. Molded in T-tops gets rid of the choice to have ’em or not and variety, I suppose. Regardless, it’s still a stupendously great kit that’s been on my to-do list for some time, and not to mention it fits in line perfectly with AMT’s ’92, ’97 and ’17 Camaro kits. Now all that remains to complete the Anniversary line is the 1997 Camaro Z/28!

’02 Chevrolet Camaro SS 35th Anniversary Edition specifications:
Kit: #85-4273
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 90
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS – AMT Ertl

2016camaro_2I’ve been awaiting this one for months ever since they announced it back in April. A full new tool release from AMT? Hell yeah! A month or two ago a post by Tim Boyd at the Model Cars Magazine forum showed just how deep the detail went with the kit before the release, that for once a kit would give as much detail to the suspension as to engine bay.

The mold quality is top of the line, pre-detailed windows which is a very welcome addition and a bunch of pictures of the car itself on the side for reference saving a ton of Google searches. They really planned this one out. The whole kit has this feel as if they’ve got big things planned for this kit in the long run.

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Right from the get-go, the parts feel like a step above anything AMT’s done recently. Especially with some of the extra detailed parts like the tail lights, which have the 2016camaross-13indicator and reverse light lenses already molded in clear, as well as the pre-painted windows(including defroster, that’s a rarity!). Other nice extra detailed parts are the engine, which has all the tubes, wiring(well, not all the wiring) and extra bits that go missing or overlooked in most kits properly molded and added to the frame.

It looks incredibly crowded in the engine bay, which let’s be honest here, is really nice on a modern car where most the engine is hidden below the plastic engine cover. Besides, it’s just molded really nicely and the instructions go out of their way to ensure you get the tubes and wires where they need to be for authenticity’s sake.

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The interior is the same story, albeit hidden behind the windows on this model, another rarity in it’s own right, the model has door windows, go figure! It’s very well molded, all the little details are clearly visible and enhanced by the decals you can get in there, though the only downside is that for some reason the seats sit so far back that you can honestly 2016camaross-12say not even stick-figures could sit in the backseats, but hey, that might be a Camaro problem rather than an AMT problem.

Now, onto the undercarriage/chassis. Go Google a picture of the chassis of the ’16 Camaro, that’s pretty much exactly the way you can make the chassis of the model look too. It’s got give or take 20 parts for just the rear suspension alone, separate fuel tank, 10 or so parts for the front suspension, very intricate ways of getting the wheels turnable all the while actually getting the damn things to stay on(looking at you, Revell, you haven’t made a model where the wheels would stay on since the nineties!), hell the only negative point I can bring up is despite the absolute mountain of chassis detail, for some reason the driveshaft is just a generic shape molded onto the chassis.

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I mean, the whole new tool, interior and chassis detail and how absolutely detailed the new instructions are, AMT really raised the standard way, wayyy the hell up. The only few downsides I can name that might bother some modelers, the mold lines on the body are pretty rough, especially on the rear quarter panel and something that might limit some color combination plans; the stripes are considered quite optional and they only come in black. So no white, silver, etc. Which is a shame, I know some folks would love to make themselves a blue/white or black/white combinations.

In the end, it was a very pleasant build, it all went together the way it should, love the detail that literally every bit of the car got from the makers and man, if this is a glimpse at what AMT is gonna offer from here on out, then other’s gonna be playing catch-up with AMT for once.

’16 Chevrolet Camaro SS specifications:
Kit: AMT978/12
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 101
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS “NICKEY” 427 – Revell

nickeycamaro_0The Nickey Camaro’s finally come around, luckily done by Revell. Another new milestone for Revell is this being the first of the supposed “new skill level” 5. So yay, one of the harder kits right off the bat!

However, this is literally the ’67 Camaro SS Revell kit done in a different jacket, granted since the Nickey is a variation upon the car itself. But it’s been 5 years, you’d think they fix problems that plagued that kit before using it as the template for another, with wheels that don’t for the life of me fit no matter the force you put on them. The rear valance not fitting no matter how much tape you use. But, those are the only issues I came across, for the rest the kit is downright amazing. Well, bar some decal problems but suppose that comes with the difficulty.

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nickey3So far this is the only kit that Revell has put out that features a Camaro with the closed grille and this actually marks the moment that the only dealer specialty model that we’re missing is the ’67 427 Dana Camaro.

On the outside, the kit is pretty daunting to put together. But it’s pretty damn faithful all the way down to the engine being of the correct color(yellow) and the interior being a tier higher than the standard SS model, also part of the Nickey option. Single bar tail lights, Nickey decals and the unique Rocket SS rims are all faithful representations of the ’67 Nickey Camaro. So honestly, this kit does accuracy really, really well.

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My problems with the kits were returning problems from the ’67 SS kit as mentioned before, however they did improve here and there with some things. Such as much sturdier and better fitting engine struts, the interior actually slid right into the body without a hassle or having to forcefully fit stuff, the one thing I didn’t quite like was the mirror and the mirror stand being two separate pieces, putting them together felt like I was attempting to connect them at a molecular level.

The kit features a huge decal sheet, with seat decals, a ton of Nickey decals, three colors for the stripes(red, white and black), locks, SS logos, even down to the little three dials and the radio on the dash. It’s really impressive.

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Speaking of decals, I mentioned before that I had some issue with applying the tiny stripes that follow the curves on the side. They are absolutely tiny and even with decal solvent, some soap and warm water they were a fight to get right. But like I said, suppose with this degree of difficulty, it’s something you gotta overcome.

All in all, this kit is beautiful, even though I couldn’t quite get the wheels in as deep as they should go, it’s still just… gorgeous. If I wasn’t making every Camaro I get my hands on yellow, I’d have made this metallic blue just for the sake of beauty. Props to Revell for this one, despite the issues here and there, it’s all worth it.

(Edit August 11th, 2016: Added some new clearer pictures since this is one of my most popular posts!)

’67 Chevrolet Camaro SS “Nickey” 427 specifications:
Kit: #85-4377
Skill Level: NKS5
Parts: 128
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25