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Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 23, Issue 2

How to correctly build the Heller 1:24 Bugatti Type 50T kit

By Jürgen Kowalski, Germany

Most of Heller's 1/24 car kits were released during the seventies. They can make really beautiful models but not in the fast and easy way of modern kits.

All Heller kits I know have one common issue that makes assembly needlessly difficult and sometimes really enigmatic: Drawings of Heller's assembly instructions often give only a vague idea of the correct parts location, and Heller parts don't have the usual pins and holes. Therefore it is wise always to simulate the following assembly steps before gluing anything.

Some Heller kits do not have separate glass parts for the side windows. Instead each side has one single clear part comprising door panels,windows and window frames. At first glance this seems to be a good idea because it is no longer necessary to use any glue near the windows. Actually, however, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages as soon as window frames are foiled. Then every first cut has to be perfect because every failed cutting attempt would leave conspicuous grooves on the windows. Moreover removing foiling residue from clear parts requires utmost caution, even more if household foil adhesive was used. And finally, making a half-open window for better visibility of the interior becomes very difficult.

This particular Heller kit of the iconic Bugatti 50 T has two salient and rather incomprehensible shortcomings. If they are not tackled the finished model won't look very realistic:

  • The stance of most finished models is obviously wrong. Their front is so high and their rear is so low as if the trunk had been filled with concrete. For a realistic stance the upper edges of the chassis rails have to be exactly horizontal.
  • The characteristic alloy rims of the original 50 T look like the two on the left:

Heller's rims (on the right, above), however, have only faint resemblance. Note that they haven't even a rim flange.

Nevertheless I never saw a finished model with better rims. Making six more realistic rims is rather painstaking and time-consuming, but IMO the effort pays off even if the result is not absolutely perfect.

Besides I remember some comperatively minor issues:

  • The original 50 T had cable-operated adjustable friction shock absorbers. The kit has simple one-piece parts without any details. Since the open front fenders of the finished model reveal them they should be detailed or replaced.
  • The same is true for the cable-operated front brakes. All details, i. e. levers, deflection rollers and cables, are omitted and should be added.
  • OOB some body details are either omitted (trunk hinges and trunk catches) or moulded (bonnet catches, door handles and door hinges)
  • The two lateral ventilation flaps, poorly simulated by raised panel lines, should be scribed
  • OOB the interior is rather simple. The kit dashboard has large recesses at both ends. Even if probably correct on Heller's 1:1 reference car such a dashboard would be atypical for a 50 T.

With these reservations Heller's 50 T can make a convincing replica that can sustain comparison with most modern models. It requires, however, more time, resilience and skills than modern kits.

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