Saturday, December 30

In-Boxed: 1/12th scale Fiat 500F from Italeri Models

It was only a matter of time before the iconic Italian car (1968 model) of the Fiat 500F was made in plastic by the Italian model company Italeri. The company is almost as well known as they have been around themselves since 1962. Now that we have the kit we can show you just what is in the box and compare it to the real thing in our in-depth review of the large scale "Bambina"...

In-Boxed: Fiat 500F (Version 1968)
From: Italeri Models
1/12th scale
Kit no# 4703

New Tooled kit.
Includes photo-etched parts, plastic parts, rubber parts, water slide decals, assembly instructions and painting instructions.
Total price from Italeri is 130 euros from Italeri's Website.
Product Link

OK, up today is the review of Italeri's 100% new mould 1/12th scale kit dedicated to a real Italian made Icon - the Fiat 500 F.  This car is just as famous we think as it's cousin the "Mini" and from the same thinking and timeframe. although not as numerous in the UK & the US, this Fiat was very popular especially in Europe with several restored and unrestored vehicles still on the road and participating in motor shows even now.
The Fiat 500F in brief.
The "Nuova (new) 500" was produced by Fiat from 1957 to 1975.  Its unique and easily  recognizable design is famous all over the World, it is a real icon on four wheels and one of the symbols of “Made in Italy”. 
When the small car was set up by the Italian car manufacturer, Fiat's goal was simple: to introduce on the market at a very affordable price a new compact car able to enlarge the number of potential customers. Furthermore the new car should be easy to drive, even in the city traffic, and provide very low running costs. 
Measuring only 2.97 metres (9 feet 9 inches) long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500F redefined the term “small car” and is considered one of the first city cars.
The “Fiat 500F” was also known as the Berlina or Bambina, was released on the market in July 1965 and it was immediately a success with customers. This marque was the version with the largest number of units produced. Production of the "F" model spanned two periods of the 500's production, the "D" and the "L" models. As such, it is the most frequently misidentified model. Between 1965 and 1969 the "F" carried the same badging as the "D" model, but the two models are distinguishable by the positioning of their door hinges. The "D" model has “suicide doors” hinged at the pillar behind the driver's seat. The "F" model was produced from June 1965, and featured front-hinged doors.
Fiat 500F (1965- 1973) Specifics
Make: Fiat 
Model: 500 F 
Original Colours: Light Blue, White, Red, Green & Cream 
2 Doors, Boot & Bonnet.
Engine: Fiat 500 F 2 cylinder
CC: 499.9 - RWD 
Power. 22Bhp 
Cylinders: 2 – Aircooled 
Speed: 4+RM

Between 1969 and 1972 the F was sold alongside the Lusso model as a cheaper "base model" alternative. While the F and L are mechanically very similar, the key differences are the bumpers (the "L" has an extra chrome nudge bar) and the interior (the "F" interior is nearly identical to the original 1957 design while the "L" sports a much more modern (plastic) look).

The Kit
This new model kit from Italeri is part of their flagship 1/12th car series. This series featured the legendary pair of the Fiat 806 Grand Prix and the appropriately named Fiat Mefistofele 21706 c.c. These kits have seen a lot of attention and we have seen some very nice versions of these at shows and on the internet. Now we have something (a little) more modern, and in my opinion more familliar than the previous releases in this scale to most people.
The features of this kit are many, and already it appears to be a work of some smart engineering to have some of the mechanical  like a steering wheel hat controls the front wheels, front seats that raise to show you a better view of the back, and a rear boot and front bonnet that both open up so the insides can be better shown off. You also get a working spring suspension and a choice of a left or right hand drive version of this vehicle in this one box. 

Here is a short video from Italeri of the feature set of this kit.
The looong large black box (560mm L, 280mm W, 115mm H) looks very "schmick" as an artist friend of mine says, with classy black and silver mixed with white writing and the Fiat in white on the front cover. 

The box opens up to quite a bit inside also. Including not only nine plastic sprues, but plastic chromed parts, four rubber tires, photo-etched parts to replicated badging and the intricate floor mats, a fake leather top, several springs and of course decals for several Fiats from a myriad of countries.

When looking at a kit like this with lots of possibilities it is good to take a peek at the instructions first, so let's have a walk through of what the options are and where before we look at the plastic.

The Instructions.

This small A3 booklet mirrors the box in its style on the outside, inside the style is a simple black and white paper style. With twenty eight pages this booklet is simple to follow in it's forty-three steps in total.
The sprue map is a simple enough guide and breaks down what's inside in plastic, chrome, metal and other materials...
 We get straight into the major choices here with the first two steps, you must choose which side you want your steering wheel on (this will also reflect in your decal number plate choice later on) with "European" or "Anglo-Saxon" versions both here to choose from earlier on. Notice in step  we see the smart use of a corkscrew drive to turn the wheels left and right in the "steering box".
Work on the front end underside continues on these next three steps. Again we must take note of either side to place both your steering box and your pedals to control the car. Springs (for the working suspension) and an intricate steering mechanism is all linked up to the front axle in steps five and six.
 Step seven sees the use of the "ol hot screwdriver" which is something I have not had to use for a while to secure, but not fasten the linkages so you can steer your little Fiat.  We then switch to the internal cabin, with center console and rear engine compartment firewall going in to the one part chassis (for the want of a better word).
 Steps eleven to fifteen show the putting together of the 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. This simple air cooled engine is shown from both front and rear sides in the instructions which is great as we put it together. In reference pictures there are heaps of alterations, so it's great here to have succinct instructions for a delicate part of the kit, most of which is hidden facing the firewall.
 Steps 16-18 show the working rear suspension in assembly. The springs making this car sit as realistically as you would like on whatever terrain you place it on in your diorama. Brakes and scuff plates go on to the bottom before the dashboard and those choices of which version you would like to "drive" it from come up again. Clearly marked & illustrated, I like the way these instructions point out important decisions right throughout the booklet.
 The RHD/ LHD dashboard goes in now, in step twenty, while the steps after this till twenty three show the petrol tank, completed with photo etched straps, battery and wires to connect it, the gearstick and handbrake, and lastly some more centre console work made up of simple folded photo etch.
 More Photo-Etch (don't worry this looks pretty simple to even me) is next in step twenty four and twenty five. This is actually ingenious in that these large flat brass acts as the floor mats of the car. These can be left out f you like. But the patterns on the mats look pretty convincing to me. In step twenty six we see the rear seat and the front twin bucket fold-forward seats on their hinges. This kit is really looking like a car by now.
 The other furniture, the doors and their panels are assembled next in steps twenty seven to step thirty, along with the centre pillars and the first of some of the chrome work for the interior windows and the windows themselves from the transparent sprue are placed in-situ here.
 The doors with their working hinges are installed in steps 31 & 32, along with the rear windscreen. The instructions tell you that you can tape the doors closed at this point if you like, but after all the options opened up (literally) by such a nice interior, I would leave it open. The wheels, thier chrome (like) hubcaps and the vinyl tyres are built and secured on to the chassis right now.
 You notice here that you are told to meld the chassis to the shell at this point, and that is a real bonus for the modeller. You can paint all of the panels of this vehicle before gluing them in place if you like, so this is a great thing for those who use a simple rattle can to paint their car kits. You can leave all of the doors and bonnet off until you are finished if you like. This separate assembly and painting of all the parts really makes the kit a lot simpler to make.
 Wow already the front windscreen is going in in step thirty nine. Complete with the chrome finished windscreen wipers, along with the front "hood" or "bonnet" depending what side of the pond you are on. Stps forty and fourty one detail your use of either option of the leather like folded hood or the plastic stretched (closed) roof version.
 Lastly we install the front "eyes" and the blinkers and you are ready to decal... Four versions of the European car and one Anglo-Saxon version are included in the instruction decals. I did forget to mention that colours and decals are pointed out at the earliest appropriate time throughout these instructions.
The Decals
With the provision for five different Fiat 500F's in both European left hand drive and a single "Anglo-Saxon" right hand version these decals are well printed with sharp legible decals. the speedo, metal badges, the "Fiat 500 club" decal and other data plates included on this sheet makes the detail of the kit raise that on higher notch. the colours are all correct and the whites do not look opaque. The decals as you see included the badges of the "Fiat 500F", the "Bambina" & "Nuova 500" to better localize your own car. Number plates are given in different size versions for yet more customization.
A zoom-in from this picture (though not in the best resolution) shows the  detail of the smaller registration stickers, the stickers from around the car and data stamps, the warning symbols et all on the decal sheet. These as you can see even in this resolution are easy and clear to read - wonderful stuff. 
Springs n' Things
included in this kit are several consumables that would have been a bugger to source if you had to find them yourself. Springs for the suspension and the hinge on the hood and engine compartment comprise of seven springs, one 3mm  which is 5mm long, two that are 3mm thick and 7mm long, and two other thicker springs of 6.7mm x 15mm "high".  A 3cm long little Brass wire length, 1.5mm clear tube and three thicknesses of flexible plastic "hose" are included ( in 1.5mm, 3mm & 4.5mm widths)
Leather(ette) Sheet
The "rag top" cover on the Fiat 500F can be replicated here open as well as closed. The use of this leatherette patch of material gives you the option of a realistically folded back roof that folds naturally like the real thing. This is also an option to glue it straight to the top of the plastic roof part if you desire this texture, though I think it would make the roof a little thick. A useful addition to show off the insides of the car even more. I know it is hard to see detail here but the texture is of a small nature to replicate a nice scale effect.
The Photo-Etch Brass
 A long sheet of brass photo etch metal is included in this kit. This sheet features  some small details of the car like the metal badges, straps to hold the petrol tank down, and the contre consoles. The larger part is the four photo etch car mats (i know it sounds weird) but these are actually a good idea. The mats for the Fiat 500F were supplied in one version with kind of hard surfaces, and not normal carpet. This layer of etch can be run into the floor (I would do it before the seats go in as early as possible. you can mould these to the floor parts pretty snugly when you do it in this way. Even the key of the vehicle is here for great stuff!
The car mats in the original 500F - more like a vinyl than a a carpet. If you choose for carpet instead of these like there is in some vehicles then that is fine, just omit these sheets. The patterns look very good if you ask me and I would certainly use them, I am thankful for this period correct option.
The Photo-Etch in "German Silver"
This small etch plate in "German Silver" as it is called on the instructions is a simple badge featuring both the "Nuova 500" or "Fiat 500" badges.  another nice addition and option if you dont want to use the supplied decals.
The Nylon Net Fabric
This small sheet of net fabric makes a nice replica for the mesh of the insides of the engine compartment door in step 33. Instructions for properly cutting it out are given at that step and there is more than what you would need for one car in case you make a mistake.
The Cardboard Inserts.
These two parts of dark grey/ black card are about 2mm thick and pre-cut, simply pop them out when you want to use them for inserts in the car interior.
The Nylon Tyres
There are five Nylon tyres (tires) included in this kit. and you know the story - seam lines down the middle, soft detail.. Well there is NONE of that here! these tyres are beautiful. Special for this vehicle, they are a great replica of 125/12 62 S Pirelli Cinturato CN54 FIAT 500 summer tyres. They are thin, just like the originals, the tread and the detail on the tyres can clearly be read - even of you don't like vinyl tyres, these ones look mighty fine...

The Plastic.
Ok time to look at the plastic of the kit, and we have some good and bad, what do you want first - the good or bad news?
OK the bad news first - the Chrome-finish Sprue E
This sprue houses all of the plastic with chrome moulded over it parts. The bumpers, window frames, hubcaps, windscreen wipers, side trim, mirrors and lots of the other great small details of which there are a lot of chrome on this little car.
Now chrome covered sprues - love them if you are in a rush - or hate them if you want a flawless, and more scale realistic finish. It is all about your personal approach. Myself - I don't like them and I will tell you why.

On any classic car - and I Know because I have a 54 year old car with lots of chrome on it myself, the chrome has to be be perfect or it just brings down the look of the rest of the car. rust or specks of crud or mud or smudges really affect the look and brilliance of chrome.  If you look on the picture below - the shape of the bumpers are fine - but look closely at the spotted, dusty finish. It looks like the plastic was not clean before it was coated.

 Perfect chrome like the bumper below on the front and back enhances the look, even on a dull coloured car.

The windscreen wipers are in chrome covered plastic also. YOu will notice on all of these parts the second problem. The connection points from the part to the sprue are not hidden, meaning when you cut them off, the chrome has a plastic coloured hole in it - two or more in the cases of some of these parts. Could they not have been moulded to protect the surface chrome? This is a schoolboy error in my book.
The hubcaps, with some more small pitting in them, also the attachment points in a place where they can are visible. Sigh...I would suggest stripping these (otherwise quite good sprues) with Window cleaner or vinegar for a non toxic solution or with oven cleaner for a smellier but faster solution.Then just paint them with a chrome or Alclad to solve the issue. 
The real hubcaps below - a good replica on the kit I think
The internal window and windscreen frames can be installed after the whole car is painted as the top"shell" of the car can be added nearly last in the process which is great.
 The Clear Sprue
The transparent sprues of theis kit are very nice and clear, the front and rear windscreens, the side windows, front lights and side and rear indicators and brake lights are offered in clear. Some tamiya ( there are other brands around also) red and yellow clear is good for shading these in the right shade.
 The transparency of these windows is "clear" to see here (hur-hur)
The Car "Shell" (Sprue B)
The large (for its size) shell of this baby Fiat is a simple installation on top of the rolling body of the car all the way towards the very end of the process at step thirty five. I have included some of the original car at similar angles for you to compare shape.
Sprue A
This white plastic sprues has most of the rolling body platform of the Fiat 500F with a highly detailed (on both sides) chassis, the seats, both bench and two front bucket seats, the door panel inserts and the hinges/ seat mounts included. 
The front door inserts are cut in the same way that matched the real thing (below) these inserts can be painted and added late into the build if you like.
The two front seat in this kit are a great replica of the real thing, the seams, piping and the change in colour across the top are just right. They are moulded in one piece each.
The rear seat with piping around the edges is correct in its shape also
The bottom of the car's floor plan is not really seen after the seats, consoles and the floor mats go in there. 
The undersides of the care are again, going to be unseen in the finished model, but having a look at some comparison pictures of the real thing being restored are pretty favourable.
Sprue C
This sprue features the engine compartment firewall, the front "hood"wall as well as the two side doors, hood and rear engine compartment as well as the internal centre pillars and the steel inserts on the door panels.
 The plastic door panel (on the left) is a pretty good replica for the real thing on the right (below).
The bonnet is here (as well as the dashboard in the upper part of this picture) is seen so you can see the curvature of it in the picture..
The inside of the bonnet is seen here - a few ejector marks that will not take too much to remove if you want to show your bonnet up (and why wouldn't you?)
The rear engine compartment door (boot/trunk?) door is louvered just like the original, it is again, a pretty nice match to the original's door, you can see right through the door here so that's very nice also.
The insides of this same rear door, from this angle it looks thicker than the real thing (on the right below) and there will be several parts to be added to the kit to replicate the real thing. Again there are some ejector pin marks that will need removal if you want to show off that engine (think of all that horsepower)...
The front and rear firewalls are supplied on this sprue also...
Sprue F 
Sprue F contains a lot of the very plastic parts of the real thi on this sprue. What I mean is that this black sprue has the hoses, console, plastic tray, steering wheels and several other parts you might get from your local parts shop. The fuel tank, the front and rear suspension is also on this sprue.
The fuel tank is typical to the 500F. The photo-etch straps run around this for that extra layer and detail. nice fuel cap here also
The nicely formed steering wheel, along with the air filter (G74) is on this part of the sprue with again writing that is legible in this scale. The decals on that sheet are also there to be placed around the engine to add that extra realism.
 The gearstick and the sump tray are here along with a score of other car parts, all very nicely detailed on the sprue.
The plastic air flexible pipes are here also in theat expandable looking black plastic.
The plastic hood is the version of the kit that shows the top closed. The instructions call for you to cover it with the leatherette cloth that is included in the kit we looked at earlier. You can however, have this on without the fabric, it will look thinner and I think just as good.
Sprue G 
Sprue G contains the parts for this powerhouse two (2!!) cylinder engine - wow... the sprue is moulded in that old fashioned silver colour (not chrome but silver). It kind of reminds me of kits I used to have as a kid.  The 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine is pretty simple to make and only covers a few steps in the instructions, but there are not many parts in there...
The gearbox of the engine is pretty close to the real thing. You will find a few different gearboxes on these, but it looks pretty similar to the ones i have seen in reference shots.
Fan belt, gear box casing and two (not chrome) wipers are here. You won't need to strip these but you can easily paint them with a good chrome colour.
The little exhaust here on the fiat is a good match shapewise to the real chamber. The pitted look of this plastic matches the texture of the metal and the rugged surfaces. Notice the bolts and nuts on it ? Noiyce...
Hollowed out ends to the exhausts are just enough to replicate a decent looking tail pipe.
OK so that is it. I think we have had a pretty decent walk around this kit and comparison to the real thing. I know I have learnt a hell of a lot from the research on this kit. That is one always welcome plus.

The not so good - the chrome sprue, Italeri please no... 

The good - the rest of the kit I really liked. The attention to the engineering of the (some might consider toy-like) parts of the kit that move and open, that turn and show off this little car just add to the charm of what is already a charming looking car kit in the first place. The ease of making this where the shell can be added to the floor plan/ chassis at the last minute is a bonus to the construction process.

I think it's a more important vehicle to car enthusiasts than the other 1/12th scale models in the series before it, and it will give plenty of options to people wanting to make their own version of the car. I am thinking a rally Fiat 500F dirty and dusty....
What a great little kit - a great addition to the series and something the model designers should be proud of. Keep making new and better kits Italeri and the customers will come.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Italeri for sending this kit for use to show you in this review - You can see more about this kit at the Italeri Website...

Here is the kit made up on the Italeri Website...