1996 Chevrolet Impala SS Grand Sport – Revell

20180509_201358.jpgLemme start this one off right away by saying, yes you’re right – it isn’t a ’96. But Goddammit I want it to be. Besides its easier to sort in the total list where a ’94 Impala SS already sits, albeit something I now have the opportunity to overwrite and imagine I never built it, cause I… well, I didn’t do a very good job on it. The Revell kit has been re-released many times since the mid nineties(1996 to be exact), its roots originated as a SnapTite, though really it was one of those Basic Builder-ish scenarios where it was more complicated than a SnapTite just didn’t require glue. The whole thing is still very, very much that – just without the clicks and snaps of a SnapTite.

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The Impala SS is one of those cars that kind of always stuck with me, it has such a history to it as well that kind of is staggering. This car, this Impala SS right there, the end-of-the-sporty-line SS model(until the 2006 SS revival), was once the successor to the friggin’ Bel Air. From 1958, the Bel Air had a everything-included-please-but-different version, a “halo” car(basically terminology for ‘top line model that is meant to live on the popularity of what its based on’); the Impala. Something that stayed with the Impala as a whole was that the car itself generally had a direct twin but with subtle improvements and differences on just about every angle of the car. The Bel Air and Impalas had this from the sixties and the Caprice(which was initially a Impala option, called the Impala Caprice) and the Impala from 1977 on out. Though should be said, that’s a hell of a simplification in the grand scheme of things. The history of the Bel Air, Biscayne, Impala and Caprice is… complicated to say the least. Suffice to say, in the mid-seventies, the Impala and the Caprice both got slashed by a third and downsized to meet whatever the hell the eighties were gonna be for General Motors.

1996ImpalaSSGS (5)Is that a super gross simplification of how the Bel Air, Biscayne, Impala and Caprice came to separate into their own line of models through the seventies? Why yes, yes it is. And I am aware that grueling, horrible, maybe even inaccurate look at how they came to be but believe me when I say this… Chevrolet’s 1955 through 1969 model encyclopedia is nothing short of a M.C. Escher-esque maze to figure out accurately. What did happen is that in the mid seventies it became its own separate entity as a model, and even then you’d need a literal chart to play “spot the difference” on a Caprice Classic versus the Impala, it would have subtle but sometimes yet obvious changes to one-another like for instance, one having the indicators under the headlights and the other in the bumper, or a mesh grille opposed to a horizontal bar grille, interior would be bare plastic in one and splattered with wood grain in the other… The gist here is that in the end, the Caprice and the Impala were basically twins, the ones that are nearly identical but you learn to spot the clues to tell ’em apart.

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By the late eighties, the squarebox was about to get ushered into the era of automotive boredom, the Opel Vectra-fication of the business; cars were going to become bubbly, enthusiastically colored and have wheel styling that can only be described as “functional”. Generally, you can describe every era with one word. Seventies? Colorful, massive, growth. Eighties? Square, tempered, underwhelming. The nineties can be described as ‘sleek’, ‘gray’ and ’rounded’. Though this doesn’t mean they were ugly, by no means, just… neutral. Every car just looked like they were designed by someone who said “enough square shit already” and sanded every edge round. And the Caprice was among those who got a rigorous dose of rounding-off; in 1991 the newly updated Caprice was brought to life. And boy did it do… something.

1996ImpalaSSGS (13)You see, much like the Ford Crown Victoria/LTD, the Caprice too was basically “America’s Car”. What I mean with that is, name a picture, name a movie, name a scenic shot of a city and you’re likely to spot a series of Crown Vic or Caprice taxi cabs, police cars, fire department marshall’s, so on. Essentially, they were continuing the legacy of, well, the States’ cop car and cab. And when it got displayed to the populace, they fucking well laughed it off the stage. The new styling got a fairly harsh coat of insults plastered on it, like “beached whale”, “upside down bathtub”, “Orca-body” and “obesity on tires”. The Caprice 9C1 police package did do rather well, as we all know, it became literally the most popular police cruiser out there along with the Ford Crown Vic so, it did succeed, sorta. But on the regular average Joe front, changes needed to be made and they tried to do so at least. They ditched the skirted rear wheel wells(though kept ’em on the station wagons), which helped alleviate the fat look of the thing, introduced some Camaro parts to the interior and ended up also offering a de-tuned LT1 V8 from a Corvette.

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And basically there you already had the ingredients for the subject at hand here, the Impala SS. Announced as a concept in 1992, it was in essence; a giant, unchained sleeper. The concept had a friggin’ 8.2L V8(500ci) and had a more aggressive styling touch over the Caprice like nearly de-chromed bare(aside from the window trim and emblems), large deep offset 5 spoke wheels, raised Impala SS script on the rear fender, darkened grille, so forth. It was very much a Caprice 9C1 police car underneath in terms of what was standard equipment, like the reinforced shocks and springs, disc brakes, twin exhausts, higher output electronics, so on – the only thing GM did swap in the end was the 8.2L V8, which was replaced by a LT1 Corvette V8, which did do a decent 260 horsepower but still, y’know, meager. All in all, it was a sporty bathtub that looked menacing as hell. It was a reasonably sporty one-off, bit like the Mercury Marauder which was essentially a sexier Ford Crown Vic.

1996ImpalaSSGS (4)Anywhoooo, the model. Yeah, right! So I did build one of the Revell Impala SS’s last year and came out slightly disappointing, just a bit. Released in 1996(and re-released like four times since), it was made a slightly more difficult glue-required kit with the origins dating back to a SnapTite kit that came out in the same year and holy crap you could tell it was once a SnapTite, the engine block is three parts, the whole interior snaps together pretty much with the clicky-snappy bits still there. The headlights and the tail lights still have painfully obvious pins you force into the slots and in turn make the headlights and tail lights look stupidly toy-like, but y’know, its a thing. Atleast they don’t flop out the bezel every odd second the model gets touched, so there’s that! It also looks quite gargantuan, like it is bigger than a 1/24th scale GMC pick-up in width so I wouldn’t be surprised if the scaling wasn’t 1/25th but 1/24th, but that’s just a small observation. The rest of the kit was actually kind of nice, the body crisp, the detail quite nice and so on. Oddly enough, there’s a pattern with the wheels going on – the 2002 re-release had the Impala SS on the box with these giant American Racing style rims, but didn’t actually have those. Now I got a 2008 re-release which was hilariously stupid with a lowrider version(something that Revell made a thing back then, including a fucking ’81 Citation as a lowrider) which did come with the Impala SS with the proper wheels on the side of the box but only came with those AR wheels in the kit itself!

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Odd shit, really odd shit. But regardless, I preferred it with the plan I had in mind. I love, absolutely love the Corvette Grand Sport from 1996. I don’t know why but the theme always resonated with me and I thought of making a ’96 Camaro Z/28 Grand Sport, but before I even came across one of those kits, I found a Impala SS kit on the cheap. And I always wanted to do the Impala SS kit a bit more proper, which I did botch a fair bit the last time around… The engine didn’t fit, the hood didn’t shut, I idiotically attempted to do the trim which I jacked up to no end, the wheels hardly fit(and I ended up re-using on the ’91 Syclone Marlboro Edition), it was a shambles really. So! Time for round two, I thought. First order was getting the Admiral Blue, which I quickly did. Secondly was to get a better LT1 engine; which I promptly stole from a 1995 Corvette kit. Surprisingly, the engine fit quite well in the end – all I did was snap off a tiny part on the engine brace and the struts on the driveshaft.

1996ImpalaSSGS (14)Which… I dunno, this kit feels like a 1/24th scale one, I can’t help but feeling it is. But ah well, anyway – I created a decal sheet specifically for the Impala to make it look a little more like a Grand Sport, including a Impala SS branded hood stripe and the iconic fender stripes. For the rest it was a set of custom badges, license plates, so forth. I’m not gonna lie, I’m really surprised by how they ended up looking. I really, really am for once proud of my friggin’ work! The SnapTite features that are still part of the kit really do take away from the whole thing though, like the very visible placement hole for the radiator, the overtly obvious twin prongs in the headlights as I mentioned before, so on.

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So based on how this one ended up looking with the Grand Sport fantasy theme, I’m definitely gonna make one based on the Camaro as well. Hell to the yes.

’96 Chevrolet Impala SS Grand Sport specifications:
Kit: #85-2175
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 66
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

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – MPC

1980montecarlo (1)The very brief third generation of the Monte Carlo, or rather the ’78-’79 front end of most Chevrolet models, is one of my favorite cars of all time. Especially when they’re completely de-chromed. I used to play this game called “Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition” and one of the starter cars was a ’78 Monte Carlo and I just fell in love. In reality, it’s a subdued car with hardly anything left related to it’s incarnation in 1970 besides the idea of having a big engine doesn’t mean you can’t have big luxuries in the car. But despite it being a bit of a shadow of its former self, I loved it. The fact that Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day has a ’79 Monte Carlo only upped my adoration factor for the car.

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The third generation kicked off right after the 1977 oil crisis, which more or less forced rationality in GM’s business plan that relying on outside oil sources and having cars do a solid 9MpG(3.8km/L) wasn’t quite… smart. So the ’78 Monte Carlo was shortened by fifteen inches, that’s a whole engine block shorter. It also got lighter by 800lbs(362kg), for reference; an adult brown bear weighs 350kg, they basically yanked a zoo out of the trunk worth of weight. But while the luxury boat of the early seventies died with the third generation, this did allow for something else to happen – the fourth generation of Monte Carlos, once more a contender at the NASCAR track and the badass beauties we know as the Monte Carlo SS. The luxurious sunday driver was still there as the Landau version, it just got shortened by a fair bit, and even then, for the days, it was basically a midget Cadillac with a more sporty look about it.

1980montecarlo (4)MPC made several versions of the Monte Carlo, starting with the 1978 release of the car which already came with something extra; a small trailer with a Harley Davidson(or at least, a copy of a H.D.). And it was… surprisingly subdued for the era. It had the typical MPC “custom” version where it has horrendously designed and in some senses, even stupid decals and over the top additions, however while it had the decals, the actual custom parts were wire wheels, luggage rack and landau roof. Go figure, it was sort of subdued! Then in 1979, the same kit was re-released as the “Wheeler Dealer”, just with a updated decal sheet. And I have to say, for a kit of the old days – it’s not awful! The chrome inserts for the bumpers are a brilliant idea to get the trim to really pop.

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So in 1980 the Monte Carlo received a small face-lift, it got new double headlamps with the indicator underneath and the grille got a larger mesh instead, nothing big but it did require a small adjustment to the tooling of MPC. And boy, did they screw it up fairly badly. The headlamps were simply recast, however they didn’t remove the slant of the ’78/’79 lamps so they look… wrong, they just look wrong. The rest? 100% the same. To be fair, so was the real car but still, it’s a bit of a cheap upgrade. But y’know what, it’s fine, most of the seventies and eighties for MPC were putting out basic kits alongside dealership promo cars.

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However, the kit I got here is a re-release from 2009. A very traditional Round 2 re-release, with nothing fixed and just a new decal sheet. Though, fair enough to them, they at least used some decent tires instead of the janky ill-fitting ones they force into every kit these days. The kit still has the generic, almost meh-quality 350 cubic inch V8 they put in nearly every single late seventies GM car kit for the sake of ease, the interior on the other hand isn’t awful but y’know, it’s like five pieces in total. The quality is nice and with some effort the interior can shine at least, which I suppose is almost required given that one big selling point of the kit is the optional ability of making it a T-top Monte Carlo without any hassle.

1980montecarlo (8)They give you this H-frame to re-stabilize the roof once you cut the panels out which is something I can really appreciate, I didn’t make mine a T-top but I should say that this kit is one of the few T-top Round 2 kits(MPC and AMT) where it isn’t a mess of no structural strength or a thing where you literally replace the roof panels with glass tops and have nothing there to hold them in place.

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The rest? The rest is generic MPC schlock. Like I said, none of it is terrible but it is all just one giant afterthought. The whole chassis is one piece, no suspension, no exhaust pipes(besides the exhaust headers and catalytic converter), no axles, all one piece and just a matter of attaching the wheels. The sad thing is, MPC’s notorious for having used one or two chassis plates during the seventies and eighties and once again, this is that one. Problem is though, the damn thing doesn’t fit the car. The tail end of the chassis is half stuck to the body and doesn’t wanna sit in place. Speaking of which, another bad thing of the generic chassis is that the engine block awkwardly floats on the chassis, you’re just meant to glue it stuck to the frame on two points, but no guiding spots, no prongs, no slots, just two flat surfaces for the engine block and where it’s supposed to go on the chassis.

1980montecarlo (16)Door mirrors are the generic type they slap in there that literally do not fit the body style, nor do they actually manage to fit anywhere on the doors without looking awkward. I figured screw it, it looks half assed as it is, I’m just gonna put ’em on there and roll with it. I wanted to do the blacked out theme I got going on with several late seventies GM cars, like the ’77 Monte Carlo, ’79 El Camino and sooner or later the ’78 Monte Carlo by Trumpeter. So instead of chrome, I did the badges and such in gloss black and the rest in slightly dulled out black(learned a thing or two from the ’80 Ramcharger, which was too matte). It came out alright and I have to admit, while the headlamps are awful, the tail lights are great and the body is even better! It’s just a shame that MPC skirted by on such half-assery back then. But, well, y’know, who else would make ordinary cars? AMT maybe, in some cases Revell, but only MPC truly brought most of the normal cars to the model kit market. So… I suppose I’m still thankful that they exist.

It’s nice to have it added to the whole collection here, but still, like so many MPC kits – it just leaves me wishing that they tried harder and got a better kit out of it.

’80 Chevrolet Monte Carlo specifications:
Kit: MPC-702
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 72
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe – Revell

1987MonteCarloAerocoperedux (1)Last year I built Revell’s wonderful Aerocoupe version of Monogram’s late eighties ’86 Monte Carlo kit. And uh, boy, I didn’t do it justice. Not at all. Not even one bit. Actually, I would even go as far as to say, that the work I pulled on the kit was… quite shit. So I was thinking, either I delete the article and put this one up with this as a disclaimer, or I would just do it as a redux and leave the other piece up for what it is just with a reference to here and have it link this way, it is technically more a ’86 MC than it is a ’87 so… I should point out, that kit was opened before and the person had attempted to start it but never finished it and it was missing literally half the kit including the 1987 exclusive smoothed out rear bumper so I had to compensate for the whole thing by buying a 1986 Monte Carlo kit to steal bits and bobs from.

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With the age the whole decal sheet had gone to hell too as the decals literally went to about 60 pieces upon touching, so I was forced to use the 1986 decals that were literally from 1986… Milky, ugly and yellowed to sin, but it beat having nothing on there.

1987MonteCarloAerocoperedux (10)So I came in prepared this time! The kit is rare, very rare. It’s also from that era in the nineties that Revell made easily their best kits and improved on older ones in spectacular fashion, giant expanded decal sheets, all parts from separate releases included in one, so forth. The ’80 Chevrolet Citation X-11 is a good example of this, but this Monte Carlo SS is right up there with it. I bought decal bonder from Testors, I used spray nail varnish for my own decals and it works just as well but the Testors can is far more tough and lets go of a lot less pieces.

The Monte Carlo itself is a car that actually managed to last well into the 2000s, believe it or not. I mean, at a quarter of the muscle-luxury mix it once possessed but it lasted. And well, I suppose I should say that the nineties Monte Carlo was pretty much just a elongated Chevrolet Lumina with some extra luxury but for the most part from the mid seventies onwards, it was largely success all around. It had the luxurious Landau versions, the sporty muscle car versions and the ones that sat neatly in between. Also, due to NASCAR, the Monte Carlo also saw the SS badge becoming a beefed up, front-swapped winner line alongside the normal one from 1983 onward.

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And a lot of stuff kept carrying over from NASCAR onto the production vehicles, for both the Monte Carlo and the Pontiac Grand Prix, the half-Hurst/Olds Cutlass and half-Monte Carlo Pontiac that history has forgotten about. One of these things that carried over was the Aerocoupe glass rear window for the 1986 and 1987 model years. It was already a thing on late seventies Chevy Caprices, though more as a sign of luxury and less of a, well, speed influenced bit. And as I mentioned earlier, NASCAR’s rules dictated that a certain number of cars needed to be produced in order to have the aerodynamic changes to be allowed, how many were necessary? 200. Just 200. In ’87, the last year of the Monte Carlo being in production, over 6000 of the 39000 were Aerocoupes that year so they were quite a common sight among the rest of them.

1987MonteCarloAerocoperedux (13)Like I said at the beginning, Revell did just one production run of the Aerocoupe model kit, which feels awfully similar to the real life version also being a supremely brief and desired run. And even as a whole new kit, yet again the decals fell the fuck apart. I mean, Goddammit there’s just no getting around the fact that decal sheets from Revell between 1997 and 2000 were absolute balls. So thank God for that decal bonder I used, cause it finally allowed me to get the decals on at last.

And the kit is still joyously simple, as nearly all the Monogram kits were of the 1980’s. Granted, the engine bay is “slab like” in detail, which is the best descriptor I can give for it. Though this is standard Monogram modus operandi, highly detailed engine, superb body detail, good interior detail and meh engine bay. But it’s thanks to that, this kit goes together so nicely and even with very little effort, it can end up looking fantastic. There’s something to be said about the minds at Monogram and Revell making up very nice kits that go together properly all the while MPC was around at the time schlepping by on mediocrity before being picked up by Ertl in 1985 and combined into AMT Ertl.

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I gotta say, kits like these? These were Revell-Monogram’s golden years. And you know what, they have been consistently great since, and seem to be keeping up on their line of quality. I always thoroughly enjoy building these kits, and it pains me to know that these at the ripe age of eighteen years already(the Aeroback kit was released in late 1998), will likely never see the light of day once more. Normally I bitch and moan about the laziness of just reproducing a kit, but Revell has proven many times they are all but lazy when it comes to reproducing kits, no matter how niche the subject of an aeroback and the last hurrah of the second act of the muscle car might be.

’87 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe specifications:
Kit: #85-2576
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 92
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS FIFTY(50th Anniversary) Edition – AMT Ertl

2016camarossfifty (1)AMT’s totally new tool Camaro from last year was a pretty damn amazing model, all around. It was one of the few, hell perhaps even the only new tool release from Round 2 in a long time that was totally worth it.

It had a very, very complicated suspension and axle set-up with well over 40 pieces just dedicated to that and the mold was fantastic.

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And at one point or another, they decided not only to turn it into an annual release, they also did some improvements here and there. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’re gettin’ there. Think of omissions like side light decals, brake caliper decals, so on, the little things, and AMT’s gone on to say that it’s on their “to-do” list for 2018. But I’m getting off track here, back to the bad boy in question.

2016camarossfifty (8)Cue the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS with it’s 50th anniversary edition package, a wholly metallic dark gray beast with the trim level between the LT and 1LE packages, with large original rims, beehive air intakes and raised spoiler. For the sake of creativity, while the stripes and color make it unique among Camaros, for the kit, the FIFTY edition is also the least exciting; a whole black leather interior, few FIFTY badges here and there and that’s about it. At least the regular SS version has colored interior options and whatnot.

But I digress, it’s not all that bad that it’s pretty much one shade to the car. In some ways, the all black interior and the dark gray exterior accents the orange in the stripes a lot more and the car itself looks a hell of a lot more sinister.

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Speaking of which, the whole kit’s actually molded in color. The body, hood, spoiler and mirrors in the respective dark gray metallic(which really longs for a clear coat as man, it is mighty dulled out), the rest of the kit in semi-gloss black and pieces that were previously plated like the exhausts, headlights and rear-view mirror are now in a slightly flat gray that is quite freakin’ ugly all things considered, knowing that the previous version of this kit had ’em in chrome.

Though, the headlights not being chrome does work and makes the front end look less2016camarossfifty (5) goofy and more like the real car. The rest on the other hand, I really would’ve still liked ’em in the chrome finish.

This kit sits in a weird middle ground of AMT’s modus operandi where it’s got the benefit of the snap kit it’s completely painted(though still requires some painting and clearcoating for it to look as good as it does on the box), but it’s still the full glue kit with the nearly 100 parts and has no snap kit alternative. And AMT’s next release in its Camaro line is the 2017 Camaro 1LE, which weirdly enough a snap kit without an accompanying glue kit.

All in all, the kit’s pretty much unchanged besides some fit improvements here and there. Like the front grilles now sit much better, especially with the two on the left and right sides, the whole engine block goes together better now and the stance of the car has been improved a fair bit. If you’re gonna build the 2016 Camaro, this kit is much better than previous release in terms of fit and finish, though you’d be missing the SS wheels and stripes, the build is a heckuvalot more pleasant.

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For a moment though, I feel like I gotta flog the dead horse that has been flogged many times before: Chevrolet has got their editions wrong, sort of. Or at least, off by a few years. camaroanniversaryeditionsfull (4)While technically yeah, in 1967 Chevy came with the first Camaro on the market and 2017 would mark the fiftieth anniversary, but it’s also odd knowing that Camaro has technically only existed for 43 years as a car, from 2002 through 2009 there were only concept cars and no Camaro was sold until the beginning of ’09.

But y’know, it’s still been 50 years since that awesome, awesome rival to the Mustang was delivered to the market and that’s what counts, the name, even if the Camaro car itself was down and out for 7 years.

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It’s a very, very nice kit based on just as nice a kit that came just a year before. And it’s nice to have a complete line up of anniversary edition models with the FIFTY joining the line-up looking freakin’ awesome.

’17 Chevrolet Camaro SS FIFTY(50th Anniversary) Edition specifications:
Kit: AMT1035M/12
Skill Level: N/A
Parts: 107
Molded in: Dark Gray Metallic, Black & Silver
Scale: 1/25

1969 Chevrolet Nova SS Yenko/SC 427 – Revell

69novaboxAs it stands, Revell’s line of “Special Edition” releases are arguably the best that Revell-Monogram has to offer. At least presently, cause they unfortunately killed off the “Pro Modeler” line a long time ago after just a few car kits and a handful of plane kits. But under the Special Edition line, Revell’s put out some absolutely epic models; the ’83 Hurst/Olds Cutlass, the ’70 Ford Mustang, the ’67 Chevelle, the ’72 Olds Cutlass, ’70 Plymouth Cuda, it goes on and on, and among the long list of ultra detailed cars with large decal sheets and epic molding is the 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS.


Back in 2009, Revell released the first of three(Nova COPO in ’11 and the Nova SS in ’12) Nova model kits and started it off with the Yenko Nova, or “Super Nova” as folks called it way back then. I got the 2016 re-release that’s 100% identical besides a new model kit number and a slightly updated box. So the Yenko/SC Supernova had some interesting quirks that made this car truly unique and rare.

69novayenko-3And what were they? Well the car was batshit insane dangerous to drive. There were only 37 made by the end of 1969, only 29 of those having the 427ci V8 and Don Yenko himself went on record to say they’re lethal in both the terms of lethally quick(4 sec to hit 60MPH in ’69? Damn!) and lethally dangerous, and turns out it also wasn’t a whole lotta fun to ride passenger in on the bench-seats. So it was sort of doomed by its own strength, it got nailed into the coffin by insurance agents who put a ridiculous premium on it cause of it’s ultra ‘crashability‘. Yenko did mend the situation with the ’70 Yenko Deuce Nova by putting a still superbly quick 350ci V8 from a Corvette in it, taming the beast while also making the insurance and government folks happy.

But in the end, there’s only 7 known ’69 Super Novas left today. And Revell justifiably made a killer choice by putting the Yenko Nova out on the kit market, making it slightly less rare in the eyes of the enthusiast.

So onto the kit! It’s been the same kit since 2009, with the Magnum 500 wheels and ventilated hood, along with the SS grille and trunk emblem. All in all, the kit goes together fantastically, like most of the “Special Edition” releases from Revell, it’s all a intricate puzzle of well fitting pieces. Besides… the wheels.


Those damn things are a bane on nearly every Revell release, especially the Chevrolet models for which they use these little metal axles that for instance; don’t fit, don’t go together with the plastic leaf springs and require a stupid amount of force to fit which as one might’ve guessed: barely glued together leaf springs that are attached by two tiny prongs that somehow need to resist the pressure and pushing of these little bastards in, doesn’t work!

69novayenko-6But besides that, the kit goes together really well. It’s got fantastic detailing all around, the body got an excessive amount of love as per usual in the Special Edition line and the chassis detail is really high too. Interior has apparently got the wrong get-up, I’m told, as apparently the Novas from Yenko had literally one choice for interior and color and it was the single bench seat and in all black, but given how customizable COPO Chevy’s were, I’m willing to believe it could’ve been separate seats too.

I did paint the car in one of the colors it apparently wasn’t available in, though I do dig myself an all-white Yenko car with the black decals. It just looks fantastic in my opinion. There’s enough decals to make a giant sheet with, all the logos, side-markers, interior and engine decals are there, as well as two sets of Yenko/SC body stripes; one in black, one in white. The Cooper Cobra Radial G/T decals, courtesy of Fireball Modelworks, finishing it off nicely.


It’s just such a good kit, through and through and man am I happy with the result. Well, all but the one ruined tail-light. May or may not have dropped it on accident into a little bowl of brush cleaner! Oh well.

’69 Chevrolet Nova SS Yenko/SC 427 specifications:
Kit: #85-4425
Skill Level: 5
Parts: 111
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/25

1978 Chevrolet El Camino SS – Monogram

1979chevroletelcaminoss-1Recently I thought I’d start the next series of models I wanna complete, albeit without the same color palette across the board, and then it immediately hit me how hard that would be but also how fun it would be having drastically different El Caminos from the start to finish. The hard part? Well I don’t particularly like the pre-1967 El Caminos, then again that’s more of a me issue and less a kit issue as they go as far back as 1959 from Revell and AMT.

The hard part is that the 1970 one would require me sawing a Chevelle in half and frankensteining the front to a El Camino body, with a Monte Carlo bumper to make it more authentic. Same goes for the 1971/72, but then with a even rarer kit to find; ’72 Chevelle but at least no Monte Carlo bumper. Then there’s the issue that there’s just no 1973-1976 El Caminos available in kit form, 1977 and 1978 are both Monogram releases and the 1980s saw little to no change in terms of El Camino besides the Choo Choo Customs edition with the Monte Carlo front, which I already own.


So cue the 1978 El Camino from Monogram. I’ve always been a total sucker for the de-chromed late seventies cars, particularly the Monte Carlo and El Camino, which look downright badass in all black. Hell same can be said about nearly all late seventies cars that used a lot of chrome in their fronts and rears, even a family car like the Chevy Caprice Wagon.

Should mention a couple of things before I really get into it though; this is a supposedly 1979chevroletelcaminoss-8“custom” El Camino or “Pro Touring” if you will, as some eagle eyed among us might notice from the giant hood scoop, Cragar 610C G/T wheels and front air dam. The kit’s actually a weird combination of cool and… well I can only describe it as late seventies weirdness. It’s a El Camino Camper, which is cool and all with the enclosed bed, but at the same time it’s a supercharged V6 with giant rear wheels and small tires. I mean, it’s cool! But it’s also so very odd to slap all that power equipment on a underpowered victim of the oil crisis that also doubles as a car you can dump your fishing gear in on a trip.


But I digress, it’s nifty in its own right. The supercharger makes the otherwise rather average 305 cubic inch V6 look a bit meager but with the whole thing set up it’s actually quite huge. Though this kit was designed and molded in 1978 according to some folks, it has a ’96 copyright notice on the side of the box so there’s this weird duality going on with is it a classically designed kit like the other early eighties Monogram releases just shoved out in 1996 or is it just a very badly designed kit released in 1996? Cause it leans to the first, it has some serious panel gaps between the front and rear bumpers, like a good centimeter 1979chevroletelcaminoss-11clean open.

The engine bits fit about as well as shoving a round peg in a square hole, it’s super simplistic and lacks a serious amount of detail in the cab as well as under the hood. But as I said, if it’s a ’78 release then more power to it, it has little to no flash and the decals actually held up even though I didn’t use them for obvious reasons. Simplistic and under detailed isn’t a nail-in-the-coffin situation for a old kit, but if its truly designed in 1996 then… yeeeaahh, no.

But aside from the bare-ish detail and the engine fitting pretty poorly, the exterior and chassis frame actually went together really smoothly! I mean, there’s vicious panel gaps and the rear bumper was molded on a bit of a crooked angle so no matter what I tried it always sits a bit odd, but from the outside it looks superb!

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So in the end, it’s not technically a SS(even though it’s packing a helluva lot more horse power than one) and it’s not even technically a regular El Camino, but I still enjoyed making it greatly and its gonna look really good when it’s smaller scale brother, the ’78 Monte Carlo SS is finished, which will have the same paint job and all the trim de-chromed.

’78 Chevrolet El Camino SS specifications:
Kit: #85-2252
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 54
Molded in: Red
Scale: 1/24

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe – Revell

Click here to go to the 1987 Monte Carlo SS article, this one’s about the 1986. Or well, it’s a 1987 one but with the 1986’s decals cause this kit had ’em fall apart on me. But I have done a new article on the kit with the proper decals and ’87 parts instead of the mish-mash I have here.


God how long I’ve been looking for this kit, and I finally found one. Well, I found two. One brand new in the box that got eBay sniped away from me and a second one being a scrapper kit that was missing the front valance and the rear bumper, but had everything else.

Little did I know that the ’87 Monte Carlo actually had a restyled bumper, but… alas, I bought a ’86 Monte Carlo SS kit on the cheap and quickly found out just how valuable that purchase was. The decal sheet, the front and back bumpers as well as some interior pieces ended up going into this Frankenstein build. But still, despite that, I’m happy to have build it. And uh, have just about the entire ’86 Monte Carlo kit left over to sit incomplete for the rest of time.

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The eagle eyed auto enthusiasts may spot the two discrepancies right away. One, what the hell is wrong with the stripes? Two, what the absolute hell is the matter with the stripes?! Now, I tried to make this as close as I could to the ’87 Monte Carlo with the wrong bumpers, until I ran into the issue that I run into more often with older Revell kits, the decals being absolute ass. Though this time, it was much, much worse.

I attempted to put the stripes on and well, they fell apart quicker than I could salvage them.

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To the point that I should say “disintegrated” instead of “fell apart“, a few photos show the SS logos that survived, barely. Hell the SS logo on the right side fell apart during the night after the build in the drying process, so I scraped off the remnants of the stripes and put on the ’86 stripes instead. Which also have a nasty bad thing about them, they got this hideous white line from being printed badly! Well damn.

87montecarlo1-8Ah well, I carried on. At this point there was no turning back, it was riddled with the left overs of destroyed decal so I had to cover them with the other stripes or I’d have left it all black, which I have to admit didn’t even look half bad. But alas, this kit just wouldn’t swing that way, the fact that it was a pre-opened kit and had sat around in a musty attic since 1998 obviously did a number on the parts, body and especially the decal sheet.

I mean, the kit itself is fantastic. Taken straight from Monogram’s late eighties Monte Carlo mold, they changed up the rear, added a new bumper and a pair of tail lights, a giant decal sheet and that glorious Aerocoupe window. They also included some Goodyear Radial GT tire letters, that’s a extra you don’t even get today! I had a bit of an awkward fit cause the interior bucket was warped badly so I had to use the ’86 one which obviously wasn’t87montecarlo1-9 made to hold that aerocoupe window so it all sat a bit weird, but I suppose with the ’87 bucket it would’ve fit like charm.

I went a bit overboard detailing the car and wired up the whole car, A/C and everything cause it just felt like it was worth it. That being said though, you’d think from a business point of view, considering the variation of a ’87 Monte Carlo is nothing more than new tail lights, new rear bumper, bit more back window shelving and a fancier window for a 5MPH increase on the track, it wouldn’t warrant such a fancy approach from Revell, but they did and went the extra mile with the giant decal sheet that offers all the stripes for the color combo’s available; black, red and gold.

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In the end, despite it being a bit of a frankenstein build, it looks nice next to the other Monte Carlo. Especially since I’ve learned a hell of a lot since I started building kits, and didn’t mess up the front as badly as I did back then.


’86 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe specifications:
Kit: #85-2576
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 92
Molded in: White
Scale: 1/24

1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 – Revell

69camaross396-1Ages ago I bought the Camaro SS kit from Revell Germany, which to be fair was a very, very good kit. Albeit literally this kit minus the 2-in-1 and plus a ton more decals. But I got to admit, while it’s a great kit, that Z28/RS 2-in-1 thing is fabulous. Having the closed up hidden headlights as well as the visible headlights grille in the same box makes for some great variety, if not for spare parts in the future.


This kit has two other things the Revell Germany kit didn’t have, one’s the gargantuan 21 inch wheels featured on the box art. The other is that it comes with little to no decals whatsoever. No dash decals, just the sponsor stickers and the black and white stripes that run over the car. That’s it, which is odd coming from a 2011 release. It’s molded 69camaross396-8wonderfully, just a very disappointing sheet of decals knowing full well that all the other ’69 Camaro kits of Revell have the whole array. Especially the ’69 Camaro convertible kit which is literally this kit, minus the roof.

But I digress, I bought a photo etched parts set from Model Car Garage, which proved to be useful to get the extra detail across especially since it contained dial decals(or rather a plastic sheet with the black details of the dials that you cut out and put on a colored background) to bring out the dashboard a fair bit more. Along with a few Magnum 500 wheels stolen from a old ’68 Dodge Charger model I had lying around that could lose it’s extra parts, largely cause I know a guy that owns this ’69 Camaro convertible around where I live that set some Mag 500’s on there from a Challenger he owned previously and damn in my opinion it looks very, very suitable on a Camaro so I figured, I’d do it too!


This is the first Camaro I’ve build yet that didn’t fit the yellow/black-stripe theme I’ve got going on for a couple of years now, which to be fair, I should’ve long ago. Camaro’s look 69camaross396-14great in every shade as well as yellow. Though it’s also the first Camaro I made a right mess of with the rear end. Granted it’s half my fault, half molding.

I ran into the issue that the rear bumper was molded wrong, it had a sizable chunk of plastic on the inner-side and it had warped the bumper to hell. Which I didn’t notice until I had glued it to the tail with and pressed it down with tape, the warp was strong enough to rip the tape in half en with that half the paint on the rear.

But oh well! Just a scuff on a otherwise great model, honestly. The only two issues I got with just about every Camaro kit that Revell has made are that the stance is… odd. Like it’s really, really low by default. And there’s no fixing it cause the suspension is kind of one giant piece on the front, so just putting some plastic on top of the coils with epoxy isn’t a solution here. The other issue is that the wheels just don’t stay on. Period.


I have epoxied every wheel to the axles on just about every Revell Camaro model for a couple years now and that’s just about the only way they are willing to stay on. And for once I figured the car would look cleaner without white letter decals on the tires, I had a set of Goodyear Polyglas F70-15 decals ready but I gotta admit, it looks sleeker without it.


The detail of the exterior is pretty damn good, the mold lines are really hard to find and even without the photo etched parts, with a silver/chrome acrylic pen and a steady hand you can easily get the raised details properly chromed. The good news is if you build a Z/28 version, you get proper 3D badges for it, so that’s nice!

Interior and engine detail is as always really, really good. Interior could’ve benefited from some wood panel decals(akin to most modern Revell releases) but for the rest it looks really, really good. For once I went all the way and attempted to get some seatbelt detail in there, first bad attempt for anything, right!


69camaross396-22The Z/28 engine, which is the only one in the kit given it’s called “Camaro Z/28” on the box, if you’d like the SS 396 Turbo-jet you’d have to get the SS/RS kit instead, is really good lookin’. It’s a slightly dated mold by today’s standards but man, it holds up to the highest standards. I would’ve end up putting a 396ci engine in there but well, I love building models but I don’t really see the appeal in buying a whole separate kit just to steal the engine from it.

Revell’s put out many, many 1969 Camaro kits out there. From the RS and SS, to the Z/28 and it’s convertible cousin and of course the ZL-1. There’s also the specialty releases like the two Yenko Camaro’s, of which I reviewed the older one a long time ago. And honestly they’re all great! Really wish they’d give engine block’s a separate release or cram more engine options into a single box but yeah, they’d give up a chunk of revenue. Ah well, can hope!

’69 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 specifications:
Kit: #85-4128
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 118
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.


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.


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.


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