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Old 02-05-2004, 10:38 PM   #26
Layla's Keeper
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Revell 1/25th scale Datsun 240Z and BRE Datsun 240Z

Well, since both of these kits are derived from the same tooling, and have been re-released recently, (stock 240Z is current production, BRE kit reissued as part of the SSP program in 1996) I thought it made the most sense to review them together, thus letting you in on one of Revell's decidedly better ideas.

The history of the Datsun 240Z should be common knowledge to any import or sports car fan, as it is the car that legitimized the Japanese motor industry on the international level. The humble Z, which positioned itself in the market share that was above classic roadsters like the Triumph Spitfire, yet below pricey near-exotics like the Jaguar XK-E. At the time, the only car that was similar to the 240Z was the rapidly aging MGB GT, which indeed was partial inspiration for the Z's concept and styling, even lending it's deeply bucketed headlights and fast-hatchback roofline to the Z.

Upon it's debut, the Z sold fast and well, and garnered a reputation for being reliable, practical (as sports cars go) and quick. To establish a racing heritage for the car, Datsun once again turned to Pete Brock and John Morton of BRE, who took the Z to the first of many championships in SCCA competition.

The Revell street kit represents a high level Z of 1972 vintage, with full bumper over-riders and dressy wheels. The body is the best representation of a USDM Datsun 240Z available, but that's a double edged sword considering the only other Z kit in this scale is Fujimi's, which either comes with the Z432 shortnose bodywork (a factory racing Z which used the S20 engine from the Hakosuka GTR's and fiberglass front fenders) or the 240ZG long nose bodywork (a JDM exclusive). Hence, if you want to build a DATSUN 240Z, this is your kit.

There are some quibbles with the body as it is. For starters, the windshield is a mite bit too curved for accuracy's sake, and the trim is too finely engraved to last a coat of primer, let alone paint. The same goes for the badges, but thanks to thoughful reproduction on the decal sheet, you can get away with sanding them off.

And speaking of sanding, be prepared to do A LOT. This kit has been around the block, as Revell originally released it in 1972, so it's flash and mold line city. The worst of these massive ridges is on the C pillar. It runs down from the trailing edge of the drip rail, nearly BISECTS the tiny 240Z badge, and then follows the curve of the fender back to the tail. There is no way, I repeat, NO WAY to remove this mold line effectively without marring the drip rail or removing the badge. Ouch. Equally distressing are the cutouts for the tail lights. Once upon a time, these were nicely rectangular with fine trim engraved around them. Now they're misshapen due to flash and an absolute nightmare to reform. The stiffening braces in the windshields are a treat, too, as there's no way to remove them without, you guessed it, destroying the windshield trim. Capping off this flexi-file wet dream is the separate front fascia. It's correctly shaped, and even separates at the natural breakline of the car (Yay!) but has a massive indentation on its lower surface where the chassis attachs to the body, creating an unsightly and unrealistic gap (Boo!).

The BRE kit fares a little better, since it's an older release. The mold lines are a little less obnoxious and the kit features a well done "Spook" style chin spoiler that, while a little finicky to line up, really adds to the look of the car. Plus it covers up that massive attachment gap when you're looking at the model from the front. There's also a nice included BRE tail spoiler, which by the way, is also included in the stock kit. Nice touch, but remember to sand away the Datsun 240Z badge on the decklid before attaching it, otherwise it'll never sit properly. Thank whatever deity you can think of that Revell though to mention this in huge letters in the instructions for both kits. Rounding out the BRE body features are a neat little curiousity; the headlight bucket fairings that were made famous on the BRE car. These are a neat throwback to early aerodynamics and fit quite nicely, though one would wish they were clear. Find a friend who can vacuform stuff and use these as a master for cool headlight covers.

Both kits have one major issue, though. If you're new to modeling or don't have much patience, DON'T TRY TO CONSTRUCT THE HOOD HINGE! Someone at Revell must have been a sadist, because this multi-piece triumph of non-engineering will have you tugging at your hair for hours, and it's not particularly sturdy, either. Either make your own hinge or leave the hood unhinged. Trust me, your stomach ulcers will thank you.

As a side note between the two kits, body wise, the stock kit's bumpers have the later federally mandated bumper overriders while the BRE has the classic "blade" style bumpers. If you prefer the cleaner blade bumpers, rob them from a BRE kit. They're, after all, interchangeable.

One last thing, the separate front turn signals are very nice. Very nice indeed.

Moving along to the chassis, we find that both kits are identical. Which is not a bad thing as the Revell chassis doesn't skimp on the detail; though it does skimp on the engraving. This chassis, honestly, looks more like somebody scratchbuilt it out of sheet styrene than an honest-to-god injection molded piece. But, never you fear, there are enough injector pin sinkholes to prove other wise. I counted five on mine. Once more, lots of sanding to do. Although, thankfully, two of them are hidden by the separate gastank/spare tire well piece. Interesting part, I think.

The front suspension is represented by five separate pieces, which fit a little vaguely to the chassis but look good. Revell, thankfully, remembered to include the sway bar and trailing links on the front end, something Fujimi completely forgot. If you're building a JDM Fairlady out of a Fujimi kit, grab this kit and transplant as much of the front suspension as you can. It's that much better. The rear suspension works out nicely, too. Four well engraved pieces with good solid fit. You could smack your brother in the face with this rear suspension.

That's one odd thing about this chassis, all of the neat tricks, good fit, and cool pieces are at the back. Almost as if two different groups of tool-cutters were working on the kit at once.

Cautionary note; as you're building up the suspension, constantly check the ride height as the nose on these Z kits tends to sit way high up. In fact, I've never seen a box stock example of this kit where the nose wasn't somewhere up in gasser country. Lowering is just a matter of filing down the mounting points and opening up the strut mounts in the inner front fenders, but it's still a nuisance.

The stock kit and the BRE kit do not share an exhaust system, though. The BRE kit has a wild dual pipe "Stinger" style exhause (which is correct for the BRE car) while the stock kit has a single pipe exhaust with a two-piece chrome resonator. Either one needs its tip drilled out for added realism, and do something to knock the chrome off the stock resonator.

The interiors, which build up platform style on the chassis plate, are highly similar and well-detailed as well. The stock kit has nice two piece seats, a very finely engraved dashboard (break out some Three Dog Night and dig on the 8 track! ) , a separate hand brake, separate pedals that attach to the firewall, nicely done shifter and boot, and decently engraved side panels. The side panels look bare, but the 1:1 240Z's side panels are equally bare according to my references. The real divergence in the kits is options. The stock kit gives you the options of speaker decals for the door panels, orange on black, or white on black gauge decals (which are nice to have considering the tiny size of the gauges and the difficulty of painting them) and a rollbar with fire extinguisher. Funny, though, that same rollbar and fire extinguisher are in the BRE kit. The BRE kit, though, also offers a great Mono Lita style racing steering wheel (drill out the spokes for good measure, though) and classy high back LeCarra style racing seat (with molded in harness, bleah). Either or, the interior (which is highly visible thanks to the large windows of the Z) is a nicely represented area.

The engine bay houses a great L24 straight six. And I do mean great. The engraving is topnotch and this is one grouping of parts that flash hasn't overtaken. There's a separate fuel pump (chrome), and well done engine front piece with molded in distributor (chrome). Oddly enough, the fan, fan belts, and air conditioner pump/belts are also chrome. Grab some bleach and get to stripping if you really mind all this. The big differences between the engine in the BRE kit and the engine in the stock kit are in the exhaust and intake; the stock kit has a five piece assembly representing the stock twin SU carbs, balance tube, intake manifold, and air cleaner housing - all of which is chrome - for intake. The BRE kit has triple 44mm Solex/Mikuni/Weber sidedraft carbs with separate throttle linkage. The stock kit has the stock exhaust manifold(chrome again, sheesh) while the BRE kit has a GREAT BRE bundle of snakes header that isn't chrome. One has to ask, though, why the BRE engine bits weren't included in the stock kit, considering the stock kit has the deck spoiler and roll bar from the BRE kit.

Surrounding the engine in the bay is a treasure trove of accessory parts. The stock kit has a separate coil, brake booster, oil filter, battery (up on the firewall) radiator and core support, and upper radiator hose. All this is nice, until you get into the BRE kit. The BRE kit moves the battery down to the passenger side subframe rail and gives you an oil tank and oil cooler, then supplies you with scale rubber hose and diagrams to plumb the whole oiling system. Too cool.

The wheels and tires all this rides on are kit specific. The BRE kit has a classy set of American Racing Libres (ten times better in mold quality than the Libres in the 510 kit, and differently shaped) while the stock kit has stock full dress wheels. The sore spot in either kit, though, is the tires. The BRE kit has two-piece Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Special tires that fit the rims nicely, but are too shiny and oversquare to be realistic. The stock kit has some no name skinnies, probably related to Revell's old Michelin TRX tires, that don't seat the wheels properly and are a bit triangular in shape. If you can spare Dunlops from a stock Tamiya S13 kit for the stocker, or the tires from some Fujimi 14" wheel set for the BRE, it'd improve the look of the car a ton.

Decals in both kits are extensive. Naturally, the BRE comes with all the markings to replicate John Morton's C Production winning #46 car (though these tend to react poorly to setting solutions). The BRE kit does, however, ask you the builder to paint the complext two-tone red & white paint scheme. Be careful with your masking. The stocker has large "tuner" motifs that announce "DATSUN 240Z" in tremendous white or black stripes, plus has all the emblems and marker lights represented. It's sharply registered and lays down well, if a little thick. And it's hard to deny the coolness of the Illinois "ZEEE 1" license plate.

When it comes right down to it, the Revell 240Z's are a mixed bag. They're well detailed and fairly good representations of their subject matter, but they're troublesome to build and showing their age. Still, these kits hold their heads up high when compared to other import car kits, outshining their Fujimi counterparts and many newer tooled kits of similar subject matter. The stock kit's modern decal sheet and excellent SU carb intake are great selling points to replica stock builders, but in the end it's the BRE kit that's the real star with all of its vintage speed goodies and it's comparable lack of flash. The only real reasons to get the stock Z over the older, out of production BRE kit are the decal sheet and availability.

And, if you can afford it, buy both. Either or, if you're up to the challenge and willing to put in the effort to deal with the aging flaws, the Revell Z's are good kits.

Revell Datsun 240Z
Accuracy: 2/3
Fit&Finish: 1/2
Detail: 1.0/1.5
Options: 1/1.5
Value: 1/2
Final Verdict: 6.0/10.0
(value based against MSRP of $12 USD)

Revell SSP series BRE Datsun 240Z
Accuracy: 2.25/3
Fit&Finish: 1.25/2
Detail: 1.5/1.5
Options: 1.25/1.5
Value: 1.5/2
Final Verdict: 8.25/10.0
(value based against average price taken from several classic kit vendors. Expect to pay between $15 and $22 USD for an unopened BRE Datsun)
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