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Tamiya 1/12 scale Rover Mini Cooper

Kit: No. 12031
Scale: 1/12
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922
Price: $98
Comments: Injection molded, 150 parts (14 metal, 4 vinyl), decals.

THE MINI can be described as the ultimate economical commuter car. Designed in the late 1950s in response to the oil shortage brought on by the 1956 Suez crisis, the Mini carried four adults yet was stingy with gasoline. Souped up by John Cooper in 1961, the Mini Cooper remained in production until 1971. Rover reintroduced the popular design in 1991, and this is the subject of the kit.

Tamiya's Mini Cooper is well molded with a realistic four-cylinder engine, interior, and vinyl tires. The instructions are easy to follow, but you may find, as I did, that it would be easier to clean up the mold parting lines and paint the body first, then work on the rest of the model while the paint dries.

Most of the parts needed to be cleaned up, but once accomplished, the fit was perfect. Flatten the inside edges of the side window openings to improve the fit of the "glass." Use care in removing the small parts from the sprues; I broke an outside door handle.

The body is molded in dark green, but I wanted my Mini bright red. After a Floquil primer coat, I dusted on flat white, then a mixture of Testor Model Master enamels.

The sub-frame assemblies are attached to the floor pan with screws. Detailers may want to add wires, hoses, and metal fluid lines to the engine compartment and suspension sub-frames. Paint all interior "metal" surfaces the same color as the body. No carpeting was provided in this kit, so I used tissue to daub flat red on the floor.

Don't forget to apply the decal dash gauges before adding the steering wheel! The interior side panels fit to the inside of the body, not onto the floor pan. The Panasport-style wheels look great and the tires look as though they could hold air.

I added the pinstripe decals and coated the body with Future floor polish. After one week of drying time, I rubbed out the clear coat with Novus #2 plastic polish.

The chrome trim around the rear side windows, rearview mirror, and rear license plate light is Bare-Metal Foil. I installed the windows with Micro Kristal-Kleer, adding black Tamiya acrylic paint to simulate the rubber gasket on the front and rear windows.

This beautiful model scales perfectly according to my Rover Cars Ltd. sales literature. I spent about 30 hours on the model. Beginners will find Tamiya's Mini Cooper a pleasure to put together.

Ross Whitaker


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