automobiles are as recognizable or iconic as the
Volkswagen Käfer or Beetle. This was Ferdinand
Porsche's answer to the 1933 Nazi Party directive to
develop a low cost "People's Car" for
's working class. By 1937, the completed design was
slated for production in a factory built in
. The war however halted production almost before it
had begun and the Beetle was morphed into a light
weight military transporter known as the Kübelwagen.
After the war, the
factory, under British control, was given their first
order to produce 20,000 Beetles. Ultimately 20,000,000
of these cars would be produced.
has produced a fine replica of the earliest cabriolet
model of the Beetle in 1/12 scale comprised of over
400 individual parts. To my mind, this is Sun Star's
most ambitious and successful replica to date.
Securely fixed to a Styrofoam clamshell, the model
comes with all the accessories of the original
including hubcaps (magnetically retained), a
comprehensive tool kit that fits within the spare
wheel, and a jack and lug wrench set for removing the
wheels. There is a booklet that tells the history and
the features of the Beetle illustrated with old file
photos and illustrations from the original promotional
features on this model abound so it is wise to read
the operating manual before unpacking the model. The
latches, handles, window cranks all work identical to
the original. The shift lever is moveable, the
trafficators can be extended, the articulated seat
position slides on tracks and the side mirror is
retractable (if your garage space is tight). These
features as well as all the hinging systems seem
robust and positive but it is important to know their
range of motion and the proper way to actuate them.
The most impressive and ambitious feature would have
to be the operating top. The tightly woven black cloth
with stitched in ecru liner is expertly mounted on the
complex metal frame. The compressible rear window is a
dead scale ringer for that flexible plastic used in
that period. The model comes in the top down position.
Make note of the complicated position of all the
articulated joints before posing in the top up
position so you'll have an easy time retracting it and
replacing the cloth tonneau cover.
With just a bit of
practice you'll be able to appreciate just how exact
the frame mechanism really is.
the fit and finish is first rate. The shut lines may
be tighter than on the real vehicle. The "chrome work"
is rich and realistic and the many parts and
components seem devoid of sprue points and mold flash
which shows much care and thought from the design
process to the assembly and finishing. The paint is
smooth and devoid of inclusions or orange peel with
exact color separation. The lights are all competently
modeled. The sealed beam headlamps contain lens,
reflector and bulb. Even the lens on the barely
visible license plate illuminator is embossed. If I
have one suggestion for improvement on the exterior,
it would be to either use a more pliant material for
the tires or perhaps a pneumatic design to give those
tires a more realistic footprint.
drive train and chassis show similar build quality.
The functioning suspension has the proper firmness to
maintain proper ride height and yet have a good
"feel" and travel when tested. The engine
opens and slides rearward to reveal the little
air-cooled OHV 4 cylinder engine which is all plumbed
and wired with separate flexible fan belt and metal
fuel lines to the Solex carburetor. The Spartan
interior has all the aforementioned functioning
features plus carpeted floor and storage area which is
accessed by removing the arm bolsters and pulling the
bench seatback forward. The gauges within chromed
bezels are legible and the textured upholstery and
door have delicate contrasting piping accents.
biggest surprise here is the under $150 price point.
You could hardly ask for more "bang for the
buck" than this. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying
that I have to be very picky on what 1/12 scale models
I choose to buy with display space coming at a
premium. I feel I made a good choice here choosing an
iconic marquee. You cannot imagine what an imposing
presence this little Bug can make in your display.
What's nice also is the effect it has on non-car
buffs. It seems everyone loves a cute (not so) little