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The Silver Bullet!

NASCAR season 2002, media frenzy over young guns, on-track incidents, and popular driver's seemingly endless winless streaks. The season was full of controversy that started in the season opening Daytona 500 and continued until the climax at Homestead. Through all the adversity, one driver sat quietly atop the point standings for practically the entire season. A driver pulled from a certain first Winston Cup Championship due to a neck fracture with a handful of races to go in the season. That driver? Sterling Marlin.

In the past, model companies have released authentic scale reproductions of some of the NASCAR greats. Some older kits represented cars and sponsors of either tobacco or alcoholic beverage companies. In today's "Politically Correct" society, these types of kits are no longer in licensed production. The decal sheets on these types of cars replaced by renditions of the driver or team name in script emulating the sponsor's "typeface". Case in point, the # 8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr shows a sponsor of "Dale JR" on the hood and quarter panels.

Enter the age of the collectable and a savvy marketing ploy by Revell Models. A skill level three kit marketed as "a collectable". This kit features a complete and accurate decal scheme of the #40 Dodge Intrepid, right down to the Coors Light sponsor sheet! No more will collectors wanting to build an accurate version of this car be forced to buy an additional decal sheet from an after-market supplier. This kit is just what an avid NASCAR fan needs to see to believe! Not only does this kit make an awesome exterior appearance, it also has a new upgraded interior that features a scaled version of Sterling Marlin behind the wheel! To make it even more realistic, there are decals for the drivers uniform to make the look more authentic!

The kit itself is molded in all white with no chrome-plated parts. I am glad to see that Revell saw fit to do away with the plated parts for this type of kit. Today's NASCAR vehicles do not have any exterior chrome parts. As a builder, all plated parts would require being completely stripped and repainted and smaller parts (like the hood pins) always seem to get lost in the assembly process.

The windshield/ window is a molded one-piece part with the black frames and braces pre-painted. It takes a steady hand to paint the interior portions of the glass to accent the straps and one mistake ruins the over all appeal of the finished product. By pre-painting the windows, the builder can focus on other aspects of the kit knowing a shaky hand won't ruin the final outcome. Also, during assembly, the windows fit snugly into place without glue! Many a vehicle kit suffered from sloppy window placement, but not anymore.

As usual a light scuff sanding is required on a few mold lines on the body exterior. (All in all, not a lot of sanding required. But pay special attention to the area around the exterior windshield brace so you don't remove the detail of the part.) A welcome addition, the body is one piece. Notable areas such as, the fuel over flow tube on the left rear, the hood pins, and the hood brackets are molded onto the body and hood respectively. Older kits required gluing on bumpers, front air dams, and the spoiler. This required extensive putty, and sanding of the body to hide the glued on parts ultimately removing some detail. This is not the case here, after a good soapy bath this kit was ready for painting.

For the body, I sprayed the interior with an even coat of Model Master #1929 Gloss Gull Gray. This paint has never let me down. It sprays evenly and leaves a very professional finish. Once the interior dried I masked off the wheel wells and window openings from the inside. I shot the exterior with a light even coat of flat black paint. Ordinarily I would have just painted it the color of the car with no undercoat but since this car was silver, I felt I needed to base coat it. Silver is not an easy color to shoot. If the finish runs, the body would have to be sanded and repainted. Silver runs in a pattern of a teardrop and even though it dries "flat", the paint leaves an unsightly and visible "run pattern". I found by using several light coats I could achieve a smooth acceptable finish. It is a more timely effort but the over-all look is worth the wait.

Once the exterior paint had dried, the silver had a dull look to it. As you NASACR fans are aware, the cars have a VERY glossy finish. To remedy this, I shot the exterior with several heavy coats of Model Master #1961 Gloss Clear Coat". This did the trick, now I was ready to apply the decals.

The decal sheet was extensive and the instruction sheet showed proper placement. I used the box art as a reference and the instructions as only a guide. The over all decal process took me several hours to complete. I must say, there were some very huge obstacles during the decal phase. First and foremost, do yourself a favor and add the "mountains" to the entire lower body portions first. The other decals will go over them at one point or another. Also, the decal numbers do NOT indicate the order they are to be placed on the car. That said don't let me scare you. The only two real problems for me were the nose decals and the window frame decals. For the nose, place the decals of the lower (blackened) grill and the head and running lights on before you add the front side sponsor decals. (Again, make sure you have already applied the "mountain decals"). The side decals will over lap the lower grill black and running light decals. This is common on most racecars. The side window frames are also accented by a one-piece black decal. My only beef to the decal sheet was that some decals were placed inside the open window areas of this decal. The additional decals required removal prior to applying the window trim. This took a steady hand and a sharp pair of scissors. Removing the extra decals was only one part of my dilemma. These particular (window frame) decals are very fragile. If you remove them from the paper backing prior to placement, the decal will become a twisted mess. I found that by soaking it off the backing and carefully laying it back on the paper it is a lot easier to apply. Do not rush this one folks; it is not an easy one to apply. It must be done correctly to ensure the correct look. It is an unforgiving decal that (by itself) designates this a level 3 kit for me. The hood and roof decals require lot of massaging to remove the air pockets around the roof flaps and hood braces. Once all decals were applied I touched up some exposed areas around the window decals with satin black and accent painted the hood pins and fuel filler and over-flow neck with "steel". A few more coats of gloss coat sealed the decals to the car and the body was complete.

Interior and engine assembly was a breeze with very little or no flashing on the parts. I shot all the interior and chassis with the same Gloss Gray as the body interior. The engine was painted satin black with steel accents. The only alteration I made to the chassis was placing the engine brace on sideways so the hood would close correctly. Not a lot of detail on the header pipes here and the steering box does not have a connecting shaft to the firewall.

A few nice touches, the window net and interior vent hoses are molded in a flexible black rubber. (The hoses were easy to handle but nearly impossible to thread into the side window vents.) The tires already have the "Good Year Eagle" logos placed onto them and have very little mold lines to sand. The wheels are accented by "Arrow" decals and also #40 team decals. Inner wheel hubs also have the five pointed lug pattern decals to add more realism. The rear axel is a one-piece metal rod, which makes them free wheeling, the front axels are small nails placed into the front suspension components. This is an innovative step that does not detract from the suspension detail and still allows the front wheels to spin freely. Once completed, the body is held to the chassis by three small machine screws.

I am excited to see this kit on the shelves of my local hobby store. I hope that this kit opens the door for a full line of "collectable" kits. Imagine a Rusty Wallace three-pack with accurate decals depicting his progression from Pontiac, to Ford, and now to Dodge. How about a Dale Jr combo with his #8 Monte Carlo packaged with his father's #3 GM Goodwrench Chevy commemorating Junior's first win? Or, even using this kit in a Coors Light commemorative-boxed set featuring Bill Elliot's Thunderbird, Kyle Petty's Pontiac and even Robby Gordon's Chevy to compliment the series? The possibilities are endless.

Thank you Revell for reopening the door to the adult model market and reintroducing the world to accurate decals on model kits!

Until next time, keep the fenders off your tires and the pedal to the metal.