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Academy Hyundai Santa Fe

Kit No.: 15135
Scale: 1/24
Mfr.: Academy,
Price: $34.98
Comments: 80 injection-molded parts (black, white, clear, clear red, chrome-plated), decals
Pros: Lots of clever, detailed features; good decals; easy assembly for the most part
Cons: Body-to-chassis fit
All-new kits of current cars have been sparse in recent years unless you count Mustangs and Camaros. The every-day, mom-and-pop family car is rarer, still.

But now comes Academy with an all-new kit of the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. This is a one-version model with some intriguing features.

First, it’s primarily a press-fit kit. It has all the feel of a promotional model or a snap kit, but it offers great details: posable steering; multi-piece interior; multi-piece taillights with separate clear backup light lens; separate door handles; separate roof trim; a see-through grille; gorgeous, intricate wheels; and a small but detailed decal sheet that provides gauges and badges.

Although the kit is a curbside, the nose builds up from 10 pieces, including a separate hood. The interior features separate side panels, making for easy painting and detailing, and the area behind the back seat is covered by a clever, molded tonneau. The one-piece window unit offers engraved interior details like sun visors, interior lights, and grab handles for passengers.

A separate overhead console offers more detail and a secure mounting point for the rear-view mirror.

The chassis provides molded exhaust and driveshaft details and includes the black wheel arches so common on SUVs these days. The front and rear suspensions come as separate parts that snap in place. In fact, eight parts make up the front suspension and allow you to pose the wheels.

Speaking of wheels, they are intricate moldings that require some flat black paint to bring out the detail. I recommend also painting the inside of the wheel rim black to show off the face. The wheels slip into no-name tires with fine tread but no sidewall detail.

All in all, Academy’s Hyundai Santa Fe is a slick little kit — until you try to mount the chassis to the body. The wheel arches are supposed to fit flush with the upper body work; but they don’t. A noticeable gap, particularly at the rear, shows between the body and the wheel arch. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get all the wheel arches to fit flush at the same time. At the rear, the chrome trim piece interferes with that fit, and if I pressed down on the rear arches to push them tighter, the front arches popped out. The reverse was also true.

Thinking I might have installed something improperly, I dug out a second kit and tried fitting those unpainted parts to see if I got a better result, but it was the same. The rear arches still had a gap. To get a better fit, I suggest adding some plastic strips on the rear arch, then test-fit and sand until you eliminate the gap.

Fix that and you’ll have a sharp little model for your shelf.


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