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In-Box Review
120
Team Lotus Type 49B 1969
Team Lotus Type 49B 1969
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]


Originally published on:
AutoModeler

Ebbro have built up an enviable reputation for quality with their small, but growing, range of 1:20 F1 racing cars. They're not cheap but, with a birthday looming, I thought it was an ideal opportunity to treat myself to something a bit special and make my first acquaintance with an Ebbro kit.

The company was apparently founded by a former Tamiya designer who was involved with many of the latter's F1 car models - and there is an unmistakable "Tamiya feel" to the Lotus 49B reviewed here. That doesn't extend to the box, though, and that surprised me slightly. Used as I am to Tamiya kits, I expected a similar style from Ebbro. Instead, the Lotus arrives in a very compact and deep box. And it certainly needs to be deep, because the lid was still bulging slightly with all the sprues squeezed inside.

Another surprise was a large correction note about a change in the instructions which is the first thing you see when you open the box. In an ideal world there'd obviously be no need for a note at all, but if you have to do it, this way is a great idea, because you can hardly miss it. Full marks to Ebbro for making it so prominent.

Every sprue is packed separately in its own bag and the overall presentation is very good. The bags are a little bit flimsy and have a tendency to rip as you open them, so you need to be careful if you intend to put the sprues back in them while you work on the kit, but they did their job protecting the parts during transit perfectly.

The kit comprises:
27 x white styrene parts (2 not needed)
73 x black styrene parts (1 not needed)
26 x aluminium styrene parts
62 x chromed styrene parts (9 not needed)
12 x clear yellow parts
4 x soft tyres
2 x small screws
5 x poly caps
Decals for 2 x options

The moulding is essentially flawless in my kit, with no flash or sink marks to be seen. There are some ejection pin marks, but the designers seem to have been able to keep them out of harm's way as far as I can tell on first inspection. The chromed parts are beautiful quality and the sprue attachments are small - but, inevitably, there will be a little retouching needed here and there. The clear parts are unusual in being moulded in transparent yellow.

The tyres really are a revelation for me, being among the best I've ever seen. The treads are beautifully crisp and deep, with no sign of a mould line to clean up. Remarkably, the sidewall markings are pre-painted and the result is spectacularly good - much neater than most off us could hope to paint by hand, and far superior to decals. For me, the tyres are the stand-out aspect of the kit.

A Few Details
Construction begins with the cockpit, which is quite spartan (as you'd expect) but what detail there is looks nice. Decals are provided for the instrument faces and steering wheel, plus the seat harness. This obviously can't hope to compare with an aftermarket harness with separate straps and buckles. While the decal harness is perfectly nicely printed, it somehow doesn't match up to the overall superior quality of the rest of the kit and I was a bit disappointed by it. Certainly, with everything so open to inspection in the cockpit, it is tempting to replace the kit's seat belts.

There's one major decision to make in the construction, because the kit offers both high and low rear wings, and they are mounted completely differently. You need to choose early on, because along with the different rear wings comes an alternative nose panel ahead of the cockpit.

The front suspension and radiator assembly is reasonably complex and, although it isn't indicated in the instructions, the wheels should be steerable if you're careful. One potentially fiddly part of the assembly looks to be attaching the front wings, because the connecting rod joint is deep inside the nose intake.

Stage 8 in the instructions sees attention turn to the rear of the car, and the engine and gearbox are very nicely detailed, comprising over 30 parts. Details are included on how to add the ignition harness (material isn't supplied). The mesh guards for the exhausts are moulded in clear yellow, which may work OK from a distance, but I can't see them looking very effective close up. Perhaps a wash will bring them to life, but it's tempting to replace them with items made from real mesh.

With the gearbox still a separate unit at this point, it's time to build the rear suspension and here, if you go for the high wing, you'll need to do a little minor surgery. I've got to stress it's important to study the instructions carefully, because they could be a bit more clearly laid out on this point. What appears to be a typo in the English text doesn't help, reading "three" instead of what I think should be "there" ("here" would be better still).

After adding the exhaust clusters, the engine can be joined to the body, followed by the gearbox/rear suspension assembly. The ends of the exhausts then pass through supports attached to the rear of the gear box, and they are slide-moulded for a realistic hollow effect.

The last stage sees the superb wheels fitted, along with whichever style of rear wing you've opted for. Finally, there's the unusual yellow-tinted windscreen - actually, a two-layer "venturi" affair, which in real life funnelled air to allow a lower profile (and hence less drag) than a conventional windscreen of the period.

Instructions & Decals
The instructions are formatted as a slightly clumsy fold-out sheet. That said, the layout is pretty clear (as noted above, just be careful when it comes to mounting the different styles of rear wing), with construction broken down into 16 manageable stages that are illustrated with very well produced diagrams. Notes and colour call-outs are given in both Japanese and English throughout, with matches to Tamiya paints.

The kit includes markings for the cars driven by Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt in two races:

1: The 1969 Daily Mail Race of Champions at Brands Hatch - with the cars fitted with the high rear wing.
2. The 1969 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen - with the cars sporting the low rear wing.

The decals cover two sheets and include the expected items like car numbers and sponsors' logos. The registration is pin-sharp on my sheet. Patches are also provided for the gold trim as an alternative to painting, but I imagine they'll need a fair bit of help with decal solution to convince them to conform to some of the cars contours.

Note: As highlighted in the comments to this review, the kit is a victim of censorship and the "Golf Leaf" text has been excised from the logos on the sides of the car. While I don't want to become embroiled in the debate over any debate over the ethics of tobacco advertising, perhaps a solution would have been to include the text as separate items for modellers to use if they wish to complete the offending logo - much as swastikas are often handled in kits of Nazi-era German aircraft.

Conclusion
Although I'd have liked to see a better seat harness in a kit of this price, Ebbro's Lotus 49B is undoubtedly a beautiful representation of a classic racer. It's reasonably complex (particularly if you add wiring and hoses), but shouldn't be too much of a challenge for modellers with a little experience. The key will be patience and ensuring clean assembly, because all the detail in the cockpit and engine will be open for close-up inspection.

The Ebbro Lotus should be a hugely satisfying build. As noted above, it's my first kit from this manufacturer and I can now see clearly why their models are so highly regarded. I will certainly treat myself to other cars in the range in due course. Highly recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AUTO MODELER
SUMMARY
Highs: Superb moulding. Pre-painted soft tyres with no sign of mould marks.High quality decals.
Lows: Decal seatbelts. The instructions could be a little bit clearer in a couple of places.
Verdict: While it's not a suitable kit for beginners, experienced modellers should relish the attention to detail in Ebbro's Lotus 49B.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:20
  Mfg. ID: 20005
  Suggested Retail: 52.17 - Model Hobbies
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 24, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 92.50%

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

This might help, www.hiroboy.com, it does state 48B on the product page, but the item clearly states 49B on the product. Andy
MAR 27, 2019 - 09:44 AM
Great review Rowan. This kit looks like an absolute killer. The wheels alone makes you want to buy it.
MAR 27, 2019 - 07:43 PM
Cheers Jesper I quite agree with regards to the tyres - which is why I felt the seat belts were a bit of a disappointment by comparison. Just to note: I've updated the text to highlight the censored Gold Leaf logos that Keith has pointed out. All the best Rowan
MAR 28, 2019 - 09:01 AM
Rowan, An excellent review of one of my favorite race car series: the Lotus 49. As you noted, Ebbro's head primary owner was a lead engineer at Tamiya. Tamiya is now listed in the title of the company, and in many of the Ebbro ads I've seen: Ebbro/Tamiya. I guess it was one way that the Tamiya family was able to keep F1 models as a prime focus for them. Tamiya main focus these days seems to be RC cars. The Lotus 49 series: A, B (high & Low wings), & C were all very early kits, and while designed and engineered to the cutting edge of their time, they fall slightly behind what one finds in their latest kits. The Brabham BT18 F2 is simply amazing. The cockpit assembly is a little weird, and will require the builder mask the completed cockpit at the time of painting the body panels. Not hard, but not how one usually paints a shell or shell panels these days. Speaking of the cockpit, yes it's spartan by today's standards for sure, but that's how they were back in the 1960's specifically 1968 when the B series ran in F1. There was absolutely nothing on the wheel, a few Smith Gauges, and a shift level. That's it. The Ford Cosworth 3 liter V8 is simply amazing, and highly accurate. As you mentioned, the tires have the logos raised and pre-painted, which is a highlight on all their kits to date. As for the two issues you pointed out; the seatbelts as just decals, and the decals are both very easily addressed. The correct decals including proper color, and an accurate template for painting the nose is available from IndyCals. The other issue of seatbelts is even easier to fix. The cars didn't have any!! F1 drivers led by Graham Hill were still totally against being trapped in a crashed or burning car, and preferred the notion of being thrown out of it. A concept that proved to be completely wrong once they got Fire issue under control. As I said, the 49B series ran in the 1968 F1 series, while F1 didn't formally mandate seatbelts till the mid 1970s. Confusing the issue is that most of the photos you see are cars retro fitted and restored for Classic car races, and have the current safety features needed to race. Here's a few pictures of the actual car. Chapman, Hill, & Clark with the 49A in 1967. No seatbelts. Hill in the 49B high wing 1968. No seatbelts Rindt in the 49C before he was killed, but after his letter to Chapman about how crappy the Lotuses are constructed. Again, no seatbelts Please finish up your MGB and then start the Lotus next. Joel
MAR 30, 2019 - 01:29 AM
Hi Joel Many thanks for your kind words about the review. From what I've read, I think I do need add a seat harness for Graham Hill's car. There's a nice shot online of him in the cockpit with blue shoulder straps captioned as taken at Silverstone in July 1969 http://www.historicracing.com/driver_detail.cfm?driverID=1370 - and, apparently, in the US Grand Prix in October (the kit option I'll probably go for) he didn't refasten his harness when he got out of the car to push-start it after a spin, before driving back to the pits. Some writers suggest that not having the harness on may have saved his life (although he was still very badly injured), because on the way a damaged tyre blew out and sent his car cartwheeling and he was thrown clear rather than potentially being trapped in it. All the best Rowan
MAR 30, 2019 - 08:54 AM
Hi Joel The MGB is fast turning into a guinea-pig for paint-polishing! I'm happy that the quite major filling and re-shaping I've done is withstanding scrutiny under a gloss finish that will highlight any imperfection - and I'm getting some results I'm pretty happy with... which translates as: I'm not satisfied yet So I want to go back a step or two on it and try a different tack. I've got a fresh Luftwaffe book-build underway, but I also want something completely different to turn to... and that was going to be my "Buddy Holly" Impala. But - just for you - I'll find room on the workbench for the Lotus too. It'll mean progress will be split between two builds, but they do tally in nicely date-wise... It's all the nines - 1959 for the anniversary of Buddy's passing, and 1969 for Graham Hill's narrow escape. So - that's my official Auto Modeler target for this year - the Impala and Lotus 49B finished. And, maybe, a Fender Strat on the back seat of the Impala. All the best Rowan
MAR 30, 2019 - 10:03 AM
Rowan, I was at the USGP in 1967 but missed the 1968 season. The cars changed almost every race, and it takes a very dedicated person to keep track of the changes, which I'm certainly not. As I said, the FIA didn't mandate seatbelts till mid 1970s, but the individual cars/drivers could have them installed if they actually wanted them. The kit I believe is the 1968 car which didn't have seatbelts. I Googled Hill's 1969 Lotus 49B and it's a different car then the kit. Here's a picture of it. Checkout the rear wing. There is also several pictures I found for the 1969 season where the Lotus 49 had other wing configurations. If you still are going to add seatbelts & harness, I'm pretty sure that Tamiya's #A Seatbelts for 1/20 cars are about right. Joel Joel
MAR 30, 2019 - 10:05 AM
Hi Joel Yep - the low wing is the kit option I want to go for. I know the stalky high wing kills it for "early days of wings" quirkiness, but I'm channelling my 10-year old self here. My Dad used to race motor-bikes before WW2, and I watched side-car racing, hill-climbing and F1 with him in the '60s, and I remember his reaction when the low wing Lotus took to the track... "That is the future!". And he was correct in a way. I don't know what he'd have made of today's F1 (Dad died in 1973) - but I rather suspect he'd have said the reliance on technology was at the expense of pure racing. All the best Rowan
MAR 30, 2019 - 11:28 AM
Rowan, The higher the tech, the less racing on the track sure seems like it's a given. F1 is all about qualifying, and pit stops. That's where the racing actually takes place. their working on a completely new package for 2021 to put the racing back in the race. I watched the F1 Qualifying for tomorrow's F1 race, and Ferrari actually took the front row, and Mercedes is row 2. I'm really looking forward to seeing just how good of a race it is. Australia was a bust with Mercedes taking the front row, and won flag to flag. Joel
MAR 30, 2019 - 11:53 AM
   

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