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FROM THE February 2009 ISSUE

Tamiya Lotus Type 78

Lotus Type 78
Tamiya No. 12037
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: Black, gray, clear
Scale: 1/12
MSRP: $147.00
Pros: Amazing level of detail
Cons: Body-panel fit problems; nose assembly did not fit well; thin decals

During the 1960s and 1970s, Lotus was one of the three biggest teams in Formula 1 racing, along with Ferrari and McLaren.

In 1977, Lotus's genius designer, Colin Chapman, used the idea of ground-effects to help his race cars handle better. By shaping the underside of the car like an inverted wing, and sealing the edges, at speed the car was literally "sucked" to the ground.

The idea worked so well on the Lotus 78 that the following year's car, the 79, would win the championship with Mario Andretti driving. Soon thereafter, all F1 cars were using ground effects.
The 1/12 scale Tamiya kit has been issued a few times, but this time they saw fit to upgrade a few things:

A new sheet of photoetched parts, featuring wing endplates, radiator faces, and seat belt hardware is included.

And for the first time with this kit, the decals are printed in the correct color. The decals are missing the John Player and Goodyear logos, making the finished model look incomplete.

A small sheet of self-adhesive foil parts for mirror faces and gauge bezels is also included, along with adhesive seat belt material.
As is the norm with these large-scale Tamiya kits, the detail is amazing:

The front and rear suspensions are fully functional, and are able to hold up the weight of the finished model remarkably well.

The front wheels are steerable, through a rack-and-pinion setup. The builder will need to pay very close attention during assembly, to make sure the wheels and steering wheel are pointed in the same direction.

The Ford Cosworth racing engine includes ignition, fuel, and oil plumbing to go along with excellent engraving.

Several removable body panels give the viewer the chance to see a lot of detail that would otherwise be hidden. That being said, the fit of some of these panels could have been a lot better; lots of test-fitting was required to get satisfactory results.

I had an exceptionally tough time getting the nose assembly to fit on my model. I think the added thickness of the PE parts for the radiator and screening keep the nose from going all the way on.
The PE wing endplates are to replicate the car from races that the original kit did not. However, the decal sheet does not include markings for the plastic parts that are still in the kit.

Speaking of the decals, they are very thin, and I had a hard time getting all of those pinstripes on straight! Markings are included for the 1977 British Grand Prix cars of Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson, and the 1978 British GP qualifying race car of Ronnie Peterson.

This kit is one of the all-time Tamiya classics. The addition of the PE parts definitely add value to the kit, but the omission of the John Player and Goodyear logos are a disappointment to me, even though I understand why they were omitted.

I did have fun building this kit, and I think I did a better job on this one than the one I built 25 years ago.


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