by: Gabriel [ ]
I was eagerly waiting for a new VW “Beetle” from a mainstream manufacturer, other than the old Tamiya one. And I jumped on the at the timely new release from Revell. As I found out later, there was no new kit, but a mere re-boxing. Well, I said, since I have bought it, let’s get to it.
The kit (#03247) arrives in the typical Revell side opening box and contains 66 parts. It is labeled by manufacturer as being level 4, but I think level 3 would be more appropriate. The molding is impeccable, and the fit is excellent, requiring minimal sanding. The body comes molded as a single part, with the doors and the hood molded shut. It is simplifying the assembly and the painting, but gives the modeler fewer choices.
The detail on the underside is meager, as well as the interior. The wipers are over-scale (as so many other kits). The clear parts are thin and free of distortions but the plastic is on the brittle side and has a tendency to chip when removed from the sprue. In my box, the windshield was already scratched superficially.
The kit offers options regarding the headlights and the wheels. The headlights can be clear or with night masks. Each wheel is molded as single piece in plastic and there is a choice between wheels with hub cups or without them. Those are the weakest parts in the kit regarding the detail and target of much criticism in other reviews I’ve seen on internet. The kit is a curbside with all the underside parts molded into the bottom plate.
The Building and Painting
As my favorite method is ‘paint-as-you-go’, building and painting are crossing each other too often and I need to address them together.
I started the build with the interior. I painted the parts separately, and then fitted them onto the bottom pan. No difficulties here whatsoever. The painting was done with a 0.3 Model Master airbrush and detail brushes, using craft acrylics. The bottom pan was sprayed with panzergrau enamel (own mix). The side panels were finished in enamels. Before everything was fitted together, it received a light coat of semi-gloss to protect the paint work.
I primed the body with AK white primer which gave me a very nice satin surface. The primer was followed by Rust-oleum ‘gloss sand’ (ref# 7771). It was the first time that I used Rust-oleum paints. I was very happy I took the risk. The result was above expectations and the finishing went very smoothly, needing only a ridiculously small amount of sanding. Using masking putty I did the camouflage scheme. I opted for an early Afrika Korps one: sand over panzergrau. Of course, because the lighter color is sand, I went in reverse.
At this point I did make a mistake. My new (then) Neo for Iwata just arrived and I jumped to use it. I knew my own mix panzergrau was just fine (tested prior on bottom pan) and I got to work. Well, the internal airflow in Neo is much bigger than the one in Model Master and I almost ruined everything. The German grey went too thick in a blink of an eye and dried up “bubbly”. I’ve got away with this easier than expected: just with elbow grease (two long sessions of fine sanding with a sponge and steel wool). As a fine bonus, the steel wool made some nice surface effects, accentuating the over sprayed look of the camouflage lines. Following the routine, I sprayed Pledge Protect and applied decals. The decals were excellent and gave me no trouble.
After that, I took a (enforced) break from modeling for 13 months.
Back to the modeling table, I cleaned the VW of accumulated dust and went on to clear coat again, just to make sure. After the clear coat, I applied a very subtle pin wash to accentuate the details. I sealed the model again with Vallejo matte varnish. I knew from previous experiences that the result will be a satin finish, and that was exactly what I was looking for. Finally I applied on the lower half only another layer of matte varnish, this time with the tiniest amount of light brown acrylic mixed in, to create some subtle color variation.
When the matte coat was cured enough to allow man handling, I popped out the car’s windows and removed the Tamiya tape which was sitting there since 13 months! The tape was a little dried out and it broke in the tip of my pinchers couple of times, but that was all. No residue to fight with, nothing at all. I painted the edges of the windows with a black marker to replicate rubber and glued them back. I used Pledge instead of glue because the fit is very tight and they don’t need too much tension to stay on place. Well done by CMK, the windows are fitting from outside and there is no danger of dropping them inside. Finally I added the tail lights and the construction phase was over.
Please allow me to start this way: I don’t particularly like heavy weathered vehicles. Besides, I envisioned my VW like a newly arrived car in North African Theatre, used by staff members for light reconnaissance. Furthermore, no heavy chipping, sorry! No rust either! To add insult to injury, mud neither, because we’re in Africa! The only thing left: the dust. That one I had to swallow.
I made my own pigment, grinding dry artist’s pastels against sandpaper; I applied them with a no.1 brush, and then blended everything with a soft brush. I didn’t use fixer, because on matte and satin surfaces the pigments have very good adherence, especially after blending.
I have mixed feeling about this kit. The assembly is very easy and the fit is flawless. The kit is perfectly suited for the beginner: fast, easy and good looking (except the wheels). The only problem a newbie can experience is the ridiculous molding pin (or is a beacon?) on the roof that has to be removed and sanded smooth. I took no picture for this, but there are enough reviews out there bullying the kit because of the named proboscis. I would recommend attention when removing the clear parts from the sprue, because pinches may occur. The sparse interior can be filled up with all sorts of gear to divert the attention from its plainness.
The more demanding modeler will need to replace the wheels or to cast copy the better Tamiya or Dragon ones (from any Schimmwagen or Kübelwagen). I would also recommend making a small diorama for the diminutive VW because all by herself she doesn’t have the visual impact of a Leopold rail gun. I am planning now a small vignette comprising the bug and two strategically placed figures to obscure the wheels (the lazy modeler solution).
Personally I have enjoyed the build and I feel happy I didn’t ruin it with my lack of caution. On the other hand, I cannot contain a feeling of disappointment regarding the level of detail. I’m just thinking that Revell should have more self-respect in dealing with such iconic German subject. If they like so much to re-box, I think they should have waited for ICM to release a proper model.