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Model Scene: The King and I
by Scott Beckmann

Model builders have had access to every conceivable style kit at any given time. Most common of these is the vehicle kit. Specialty vehicle kits are eye catching and accent home display. Bright colorful kits setting on the shelf really become the center of attention. Much like the kits, NASCAR vehicles are painted in bright eye catching colors for the ease of track location and merchandising. No vehicle has been more noticeable or synonymous with a specific color than Richard Petty's #43 STP Stock Car. Fans cheered at the site of its sleek lines and bright colors. Easily spotted on the track because all other cars on the track sported mono-colored paint jobs of white or red (among other colors). 200 times in his career Richard Petty took the checkered flag and made the left hand turn into victory lane. Each and every time he climbed from his car, he stood next to the famous number 43 and thanked STP. His allegiance to his sponsored has been unequalled in the history of motor sports.

Polar Lights has recently released another fine NASCAR Legends kit featuring Richard Petty's famous Dodge Charger. The box-art has a wonder view of Richard on the track showing the unique paint scheme for that particular vehicle. When I opened the box and viewed the kit molded in white my main concern was, "How would I pull of this paint scheme?" Polar Lights added something in the instructions that I had never seen before in all my years of model building. A painting template! The last sheet of the instructions was a diagram on how to mask the vehicle to capture the paint job. The Slixx decals included had the white pin striping to hide the possible paint lines. This is a wonderful addition to the instruction and it really bolstered my confidence! With a copy of the template in hand, I base coated the entire body with a flat white base coat. The instructions called for painting the kit with the red first then masking it off and coating with the blue. I chose another route. With template in hand, I used a pencil to draw on the design. I then masked off the areas that would eventually be blue. I chose this route because when painting, additional coats would be required to cover the red over spray. Checking my workbench, I realized I had no colors that would match the right shades for the car so I went to my local hobby shop. Today's model builders have access to color match paints that were not available until several years ago. What has become quite an urban legend, word has it that the blue paint used by Richard Petty was a mixture of left over paint that was found in his dad's garage. All I know is, it was one of the hardest colors to match. At my Hobby Shop I picked up a can of Petty blue (#52955) and Petty racing red (#52970). These colors were dead on matches to the original colors used by Petty Enterprises. (In the day, I used to use a base coat of flat red with a light dusting of light blue to match the blue. I was never able to match the red.) The only problem I had with the paint was with the red. No matter how much I shook the can, the paint had a "dusty" finish. After several coats I removed the masking tape and washed the excess paint dust off the body. Once dried, I clear coated the red with Gloss Coat. Once the gloss coat dried I re-masked the areas and proceeded to paint the blue portions of the body. Make sure you paint the interior of the body as well. The instructions stated that the interior might have been painted blue as well. All I know is, every Petty car I watched and even the box art clearly shows a blue interior. Once the blue paint dried I removed the mask and double-checked my design with the provided templates. There were a few areas that would require touching up but I would wait until after the decals were applied.

The Slixx decals provided are a true work of art. No detail was left out on these decals. Instrument cluster, Fire Bottle label, little details that any car builder would find useful. The white pinstripe decals are marked left side and right side wit corresponding numbers however; the instructions do not reference the numbers anywhere so you will have to figure out the correct placement. Not a very complicated effort just would have been a little easier for the builder to have a placement reference in the instructions. Once applied, the mask lines on the body disappear under crisp white pinstripes. Makes even a sloppy paint job look smooth. I used decal set on the pinstripes but the water slide decals probably would have been fine without it.

Moving to the engine and chassis, I could not help but notice how well this kit went together. Polar Lights definitely improved their product when they released this kit. A few of the eye catching parts I had never seen in a NASCAR model before was, rubber radiator hose, rubber seat belts, and a rubber window net! The tires are really the only major let down on the kit. Very soft rubber, hard to sand off mold lines and no "Good Year" markings, they were my only disappointment to this otherwise incredible model. The engine went together without a hitch and I painted it a mixture of red and yellow to capture the Dodge competition orange color. The chrome valve covers were washed with flat black and wiped clean to bring out the molded detail. All interior parts were painted the same Petty blue used on the body. I used the chrome rims because the instruction stated that for the Hemi engine included in the kit they were the correct wheels. There are un-plated wheels included in case a builder wanted to construct a "non-speedway" version of this car.

Construction of the interior was fairly straightforward. The instructions do not list a "step by step" method, just and exploded view of the interior and chassis. I used "Zap-a-Gap" superglue to aid in filling any mold gaps. To me the only problems after the kit was completed were a few of the engine compartment braces did not seem to line up correctly. This is not a good kit for a beginner. There were a few times I had to double check part placement. But all in all, a rewarding effort and a well made kit.

Besides the two exterior colors listed above, the only colors I used to complete this kit was flat red, flat black, chrome trim, and steel. (Exterior was a clear gloss coat with a light coating of Future Floor Wax on the chrome trim to cover any paint hazing caused by the superglue) This model was completed in less than 24 hours with the majority of the time spent painting the body and masking. As stated, this is a great kit but not recommended for an inexperienced builder. Polar Lights continues to improve the quality of their kits and they have come a long way with their NASCAR kits from what I have seen. I particularly like the their approach with the "Legends of the Sport".

Until the next time make sure you work in a well ventilated area.