Browsing the shelves of my local hobby shop the other day, nothing much caught me eye until I spotted Tamiya
's VW Beetle tucked away in the midst of more recent kits.
Rudi Richardson (Tarok) reviewed the kit just short of ten years ago, so it seems fair enough to check how well the Beetle has fared with a decade of continuous production.
The real shock for me was when I opened the kit and realised it's an astonishing twenty five
years since it was originally released and - to be totally honest - the parts look just as crisp or crisper than many new kits I've examined! It underlines just how
's moulding technology was back then that a kit produced in the last century can still rival the lastest CAD-designed releases.
As Rudi did such a great job with his review (check it out HERE
), I'll make this very much a brief fresh take on a classic kit as a way of giving it a well-deserved turn back in the limelight for modellers who may have missed it previously.
The kit arrives in a very attractive conventional box, with most of the sprues and accessories bagged separately. Disappointingly, the chromed sprue is packed in with the white one - and, while I couldn't see any scratches, it does seem a bit stingy and a needless risk not to give it its own bag. The kit comprises:
25 x white styrene parts
55 x black styrene parts
24 x chromed styrene parts
10 x clear styrene parts
5 x soft tyres
A pack of poly-caps
2 x metal transfers
As you'll have gathered above, the moulding is still superb, despite the kit's age. There's no sign of flash or sink marks, and the ejection pin marks are light and should be simple to deal with. The body shell is moulded with a multi-part tool to capture the complex shape, so there are the inevitable faint lines to sand and polish away before construction.
designed the kit to feature plenty of interior detail and inlcuded an opening bonnet and engine cover. Of course, this being a Beetle, the bonnet reveals a spare wheel and petrol tank (you actually have to open the bonnet to refuel the real car), while the engine is at the back.
provide a very neat representation of the 50 hp 1300cc engine, with 34 parts for the engine itself and rear suspension assembly, while up front, a 10-part front axle allows for steerable wheels. The wheel hubs are crisply detailed, with separated chromed caps, and the tyres are moulded from a soft rubber-like material. There are Continental logos on the sidewalls and the treads are neatly defined, but there is a feathery mould line to sand away along the centre of each tread. As you can see from the photo at right, the material used is something of a dust magnet, so expect a regular chore cleaning the tyres unless you keep the completed model in a showcase. Poly-caps hold the wheel on the axles, so they'll be easy to remove if you need to.
The interior’s pretty nicely fitted out and made up of 18 parts. The front seats have inserts for their rear faces to prevent a hollow look, and the door panels are crisply detailed. True, the door and window handles are moulded-on integrally, but they should look fine - especially as the windows are moulded closed.
The dashboard is well detailed, but it would have been nice to have a decal for the speedometer (or even a printed dial on the instructions to punch out and seal in place with varnish). As it is, you're going to need a very steady hand to paint it convincingly.
Another slight disappointment, considering that the Beetle was so
popular worldwide, is that the kit is left-hand drive only. The dashboard may be pretty basic, but it would still be a serious challenge to scratchbuild its mirror-image.
One thing that is missing inside is the wonderfully vintage and rustic-looking “wickerwork” shelf under the dash that would look more at home in a Wingnut Wings kit! Admittedly, you don't always see it in shots of the oiginal car, but it would have been great if Tamiya
could have included it - but I guess it would have been hard to mould, and an etched fret would have bumped the price up.
The transparent parts are crystal clear and there are no flow lines or other problems, so any extra work you put into the interior should be visible despite all the indows being moulded firmly closed. A nice touch is the inclusion of separate windscreen wipers. They aren't chromed, which is a slight surprise, but this does mean they look really crisply moulded (the releatively thick chrome finish in kits does tend to soften details).
You'll also have to paint the trim on the bodywork (or use foil), but Tamiya
supply the VW logo and 1300 text as metal transfers which should look neat.
Instructions & PaintingTamiya
's instructions are always among the clearest and easiest to follow, and those for the VW Beetle are no exception. The illustrations are excellent, and construction is broken down into 17 logical stages. Against this, the instructions are printed as a fold-out sheet - which is always a pain to spread across the workbench and cumbersome to skip back and forth through. Still, this is a 25-year old kit and the style rather goes with the territory, so I won't complain too much.
do a pretty good job when it comes to painting, providing a chart showing the combinations of body colours and interior trims along with mixes for their own brand paints. That’s good as far as it goes, but reproductions of the original charts HERE
go one better by including samples of the materials used and the alterative cloth vs. leatherette options. Plus, of course, there’s no substitute for a picture of the real thing when trying to mix a suitable matching colour. Checking out photos online also reveals some different hues where varying materials are used - and two-tone door panels aren’t uncommon, so you've got plenty of scope for some creative freedom.
's kit of the VW Beetle looks set to build into a great little model that should really capture the look of this iconic car. At a penny under £20, I think it represents very good value for money, and the quality of the design and moulding not only belies the age of the kit, but promises a straightforward build that's suitable for modellers with even limited experience.
If you compare my review with Rudi's from ten years ago, you'll see I've actually scored the kit higher. This is a reflection of just how remarkably well it's stood the test of time.
It might have been something of an impulse purchase due to lack of other kits that grabbed me (I think we all know only too well the "I don't want to leave the LHS empty-handed" feeling!) - but I'm really chuffed that I bought Tamiya
's Beetle and I can happily recommend it to others.
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