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Revell 1970 Pontiac Firebird

RELATED TOPICS: REVELL | FIREBIRD | PONTIAC
SCAKR0420_FBBox
Kit No.: 85-4489
Scale: 1/24
Mrf.: Revell, revell.com
Price: $24.95
Comments: 83 plastic parts (white, clear, clear red, chrome plated); four vinyl tires
Pros: New improved decal sheet with a lot of elements; tampo-printed tires
Cons: Some accuracy issues; older molds with less detail

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Originally issued in 1991, Revell’s rerelease of the iconic ’70 Pontiac Firebird is a welcome one. While the kit captures the essence of the car, it has a few accuracy issues that may go unnoticed by some and stand out to others depending on one’s familiarity with the real cars. By making a few simple adjustments, you can increase the kit’s accuracy and create a better model.

First, as an owner of a real F-body of this era, the roofline stood out to me: As you can see, the tops of the side window openings are flat — too flat, 1.

The kit has no drip-rail trim (optional on the real cars), which makes the fix a matter of sanding the openings to match a photo of a 1/1 Firebird. I reshaped the window with a 320-grit sanding stick and finished with 600-grit sandpaper. Additionally, I scribed around the fender vents because they are separate units on the real cars. I inserted a metal pin into the sideview mirrors for a stronger attachment and drilled a mounting hole for them in the doors, 2.

The instructions show the nose cemented onto the body after it’s on the chassis and after painting. However, I recommend attaching the nose to the body first. The grille and headlight details can be installed afterward, and there’s enough clearance to install the chassis. The fit isn’t perfect and is better handled before painting. With the front in place, I filled the seams at the flares and spoiler and re-scribed the panel lines where the nose meets the fenders. I also scribed vertical panel lines on the chin spoiler below the parking lights and deepened the horizontal line (darkened for clarity), 3.

Like the nose, the instructions show the lower rear valance cemented in place after connecting the body to the chassis. Attach the rear valance before installing the chassis; it’s easier than waiting until after painting. Also, the rear spoiler sticks out too far. It should be flush with the back of the car, 4. The rear valance should be flat across the bottom. Cement two pieces of styrene into the contours and sand them flush. I re-scribed the side seams from the taillights to the bottom of the body.

Although incorrect, I didn’t adjust the spoiler location; it becomes less noticeable once the rear bumper is installed. Simply moving the spoiler forward creates more problems than it solves. I drilled holes in the bottom of the spoiler and through the deck lid to accept metal pins. The spoiler’s fit isn’t bad, but I prefer to glue painted body parts from the inside, 5

The only exterior colors available for the Firebird Trans Am in 1970 were polar white and Lucerne blue. I went with the more common white. I planned to use Tamiya pure white (TS-20) and primed first to keep the paint from pulling away from the edges. Note the mounting pins in the mirrors and spoiler, which also provide a convenient way to hold them while painting, 6.

The windshield frame engraving is soft and a little oversized, probably to include the multistep trim detail. I scribed the outside line and smoothed away the step. The left rear fender top was slightly higher than the deck lid toward the rear; I sanded it to match and re-scribed the panel lines. 

I prefer the blue interior on these white cars. Black decal seat belts are a nice inclusion, but they are color keyed, so I did not use them.

The decals for the dash and console are also a very welcome addition, but the heavily molded detail complicates application without some adjustments. You can remove the raised details or fill the recesses, as I did. After shaving off the headlight and cigarette lighter knobs, I filled the gauges, A/C vents, and controls with canopy glue. The glue shrinks, so it took a couple of applications. Then I brushed three coats of Pledge Floor Gloss (PFG) over the canopy glue to even out the surfaces and let it dry for 24 hours, 7

The decals fit well when they did not have to align with or conform to the molded detail. I applied the main section first to ensure the gauges could be centered in their respective openings, 8.

I removed the raised details from the console because they’re relatively flush on the real cars. (Yes, I should have done it before painting, but it was an easy fix.) I filled the outer edges of the shifter plate with superglue before sanding it down making sure not to fill the slot in the center. I sanded the base of the shifter to about ¼ of its original thickness so it would sit below the shifter plate, 9.

The kit provides decals for door handles and window cranks. A slight error on the instructions has the wrong number for the left door handle (No. 19 should be No. 18 for both sides), 10.

The engine is what one would expect from a kit of this era: A somewhat simplified Pontiac 400. It comes with a two-piece Holley carb; factory stock would be a Rochester Quadrajet. Either way, it’s hidden under the shaker scoop. Decals are provided for the fan belts, oil filter, and upper radiator hose, 11.

Extra decals for the scoop are included for later years, but it didn’t have any markings in ’70.

Despite the fine additions Revell made to the decal sheet with stripes and a ton of interior, exterior, and under-hood details, the Trans Am lettering is conspicuously missing from the decals and box art. This is probably due to a licensing issue.

Nevertheless, for me, it is an omission that stands out on the finished model. I drew up the lettering and printed up a set of three (two front fenders and the rear spoiler) on clear decal paper. All the decals benefitted from a little Tamiya Mark Fit (mild) decal solvent to help them conform.  

The instructions show the interior cemented to the chassis before mounting the body over both.  However, the drawings show locating bosses absent on the parts. I tacked the interior to the body first, then slid the chassis into that assembly. The grille and headlight assembly fits into the nose positively but looks a bit off around the head and parking lights.

The tires have the proper Firestone lettering tampo-printed on their sides, but the tread is still the Goodyear Eagle GT pattern. In this instance, I like the sidewall detail more than I’m concerned about the tread pattern. Ignore the tire-decal instructions.

The Rallye II wheels come chrome plated; in 1970 the Trans Am did not have chrome trim rings even though many were retrofitted with them by their owners. Since the detail of the raw steel wheel is not molded as such, I went with the chrome accents. I hand-painted Tamiya gunmetal (X-10) for the gray areas and flat aluminum (XF-16) for the argent colored details. The kit provides decals for the PMD center caps, 12. A great touch!

If you’re looking for a bit of a custom look, the kit includes a set of larger wheels and tires with decals.

The shaker scoop and air cleaner did not sit in the center of the opening upon final assembly. I shaved about half of the mounting boss on the bottom of the air cleaner so I could position it after closing the hood. A drop of canopy glue dropped in the hole of the carb kept it in place, 13.

Final thoughts
All in all, Revell’s reissued 1970 Firebird is an enjoyable kit to build, and the minor adjustments I made were very easy. Sure, there are more corrections you could make, but once it is assembled, it looks pretty darn good. I recommend this kit and would gladly build another.

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