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Revell Germany 1/24 scale Volkswagen T1 "Samba Bus"

It might be hard to find a more quintessentially ‘60s vehicle than the VW microbus. Revell Germany’s kit captures it well.

Revisiting a vintage subject with new tooling, Revell Germany presents a Volkswagen T1 23-window “Samba Bus” (the name given to the deluxe-trim 23-window van with the large, folding canvas sunroof). It’s much more comprehensive than either the 1950s vintage Revell 1/25 scale 21-window van or the more recent curbside Hasegawa 23-window van.

There are difficulties: The simplified engine is hard to see; separate body panels feature molded door and side-panel detail on their back sides, complicating masking and painting a two-tone exterior and three-tone interior. Many panels have ejector-pin marks, some impossible to remove without damaging molded details. Also, not everything that should be chrome is provided on the chrome-plated sprue, namely the American bumper spears, exterior mirrors, and interior protector bars.

The chassis has the proper reinforced belly-pan design for the open-top Samba, and rear axle covers, but no semblance of the gear-driven rear-wheel hubs. The front wheels are posable.

Separate body panels attach to the chassis, and the completed body fits well; the roof, added near the end, provides a lot of support and alignment. The multipiece body allows opening doors, hatch, and engine cover, all with integral, in-scale hinges. Unfortunately, these fragile hinges don’t allow many test fits before breaking. You could drill out the hinges to accept brass pins that would be much sturdier.

Each pane of glass is separate and takes time to clean up; detailing the rubber gaskets around each window can be tedious, too, but easier with a chisel-tip Sharpie. The glass fits from outside.

The wheels will look too big if you simply paint the whitewalls as the kit provides them. Location of the whitewalls is vague; there is an engraved line inboard of the wheel edge, and I believe that’s where the visual wheel lip goes. Paint the outer edge of the wheel satin black to match the tire (unless you want wide whitewalls). If you apply a narrow white line between the raised rib on the tire and the (painted black) wheel lip, you’ll end up with a period-authentic narrow whitewall, but with a bit too much black between the wheel edge and the engraved line. I used Pegasus’ narrow “peel ’n’ stick” vinyl whitewalls; they left a narrow black band on the wheel edge without interfering with the tire/wheel edge.

Silver decals are provided for a lot of the chrome trim. I used foil to detail the beltline trim just above the color-separation line. There are tiny, separate silver decals for the rear vents, but I used a silver Sharpie. You could cover this area in foil before painting, then polish off the paint to expose the foil vent detail.

On the front seat, I painted the base color and sanded the edges back to the molded styrene color to replicate the seat’s off-white piping. There are interior decals for the instrument panel and steering wheel, and several different license plate decals. A separate chrome VW emblem fits a recess on the front, and exterior side mirrors fit into small retainers on the doors. You can choose European or American bumpers.

Slight interference with the floorboard at the front causes that part to pivot slightly outboard at the top, keeping the doors from fitting until attaching the roof aligns everything. Sand the front of the footwell so the front end and doors will fit tightly.

Overall, I highly recommend Revell Germany’s VW. Though complicated, the body fits precisely, and the masking and painting difficulties fade with final assembly. The result is an attractive model of a memorable ride.
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