Love, hate, and back to love
First impressions can often be wrong. Or not. That was the case when I opened the box containing the MA Scale Target Dallara DW12 Indy car kit. At first glance, my reaction was “oy”.
I’ve been recommending MA Scale as a source for 1/43 kits with an American slant. Certainly the vast majority of the MA Scale catalog is a study of Indy, IMSA and Can-Am cars. However, many reviewers have been indifferent when viewing one of their kits. The castings seem somewhat rough. Some detailing items are not in the kit (seat harness, correct tire markings, shark fins, rear wing camera, antennas, exhausts, some decals). You might think that this will not be worth the effort. You might be wrong.
Let me be clear: I was warned. A review of some MA Can-Am Lolas in a 1995 Vintage Motorsport article thought the kits were pretty good but flawed. “With the required skills and tools, you can take a rough kit such as this and turn it into a stunning model”. A recent Facebook comment stated that the Porsche model he built “…was a lot of work, but it was worth it”.
They both were absolutely right.
Here’s the thing: the Dallara built to look pretty darned good, albeit with a couple of flaws.
The MA Scale Target Dallara DW12
Taking the parts out of the kit box was interesting. There’s not a lot of parts to the kit. You would assume that the build is going to be a snap. Nope.
The resin castings needed a lot of clean-up. A LOT (left). I felt like I was carving a sculpture from a block of resin. Just the wheel rims alone needed quite a lot of work to clean up the spokes using a sharp X-Acto. The rims themselves were conical in the side view. This caused the front tires to appear very high in the middle cross-section, as if the car were riding on just the centers of the tires. After filing the rims level, the front tires were not a snug fit on the wheels. Luckily, I had some Renaissance replacement tires left over from another project that were the right size and fit perfectly. After sanding off the treads, I turned my attention to the body and chassis.
There are many feed tags and much flash to remove along with holes in the resin to fill. Cutouts for the rear suspension are not well defined nor for the side of the nosecone where it fits between the lower front wishbones. Pre-fitting the kit parts is essential.
Every part of the kit needed attention to clean-up and fit. Every part.
I love that the kit was inexpensive, but I didn’t love all the clean-up. Every kit needs some clean-up. But not like this. I don’t mind the work; in fact I kind of enjoy it. It’s like whittling wood but different.
The fuel filler area on the left side wasn’t even close. I used a sharp drill bit to create the depression that is needed and added a photoetched fuel nozzle receiver later on.
The front suspension upper A-arms were too beefy, so I made new ones out of .030 styrene. At least that was pretty easy. You’ll not see them in the painted parts photo below, but you will notice them on the finished model.
The rear wing and the wing pods are in need of work to be accurate. The pods are incorrectly shaped, as the top of the side crash structures should be more gradually curved. The wing should be delta-shaped with an upturned middle front. The parts seemed to be pretty delicate, so I chose not to modify them. I created some black decals that were more accurate than those supplied with the kit to create the “cutouts”. Note that the wing should be free and clear of the inside of the pods when mounted.
Having prematurely aged a bit, I was ready to paint. That went well. A simple coat of red paint with a subtle clearcoat. Detail painting was up next. This involves a lot of black paint. Sadly, the belt harness was not included in the kit. A Tameo 5-point belt went in and formed to the seat. Painted black as in the real thing. Picking out the buckles with silver, I realized that no one makes a 1/43 Schroth decal. I faked it with some other yellow decals. You can’t really read these tiny decals anyhow.
I also faked the digital steering wheel as no one makes a digital steering wheel in 1/43. When needing a headrest for the cockpit, I used a spare rectangular headlight and painted it. Black. More black on the insides of the body, gearbox, wing support, suspension, bits of the chassis and front wing. Using my trusty sable 6/0 brush, all of the body inlets were picked out with more black. You basically need red for the body/chassis/wings, black for most of everything else with a soupçon of silver where needed. I’ll leave the steering wheel detail colors out, depending on whether you choose to do that or not.
Lastly, some Bare-Metal foil was used for the side mirror lenses, as a base for the red-tinted rain light on the gearbox and as a lens for the roll hoop-mounted camera. A plastic parts sprue gave its life for the wing-mounted camera.
This was pretty simple; the parts fit together fairly well. Screws are not provided to attach the body to the chassis although attachment holes are provided! I had some correct screws in my spare parts bin. The center screw hole in the chassis is for mounting on a base, so size another screw for that as needed.
Now the real work begins. Decals.
I like to decal models when fully built and never clear-coat the decals. Why? On modern full-size race cars, decals are self-adhesive vinyl meant to be fixed easily. Any paint adds weight and that is always bad. So a high-gloss urethane finish is never added. Waxing the bodywork is the only thing teams might do to protect the finish.
There are about 75 individual decals to be cut out by my count. Blame Chip Ganassi for all the sponsors. For added torture, a few Indycals round Dzuz fasteners were used. They are tiny.
Almost forgot. There are 7 individual decals on each side of the wheels/tires. That’s 56 tire decals alone. Blame Firestone.
The decals are provided by Indycals and most are in the kit (yay!). You’ll also need to order Indycals’ 1/64th scale Target decal sheet and the special one-year-only Indycals tire decals that are not in the kit.
The 1/64th sheet provided the proper size “Target” for the inside of the mirror supports, a bullseye for the top of the roll-hoop camera and for the bullseyes on the side intrusion deflectors.
Indycals decals have an all-over adhesive coat, so each decal group must be cut out separately. Some need to be cut up still further to fit around the shark fins (created from some spare photoetch). Find some good reference photos online. Use sharp X-Acto blades, a magnifier and Solvaset. Good luck.
Think of the MA Scale Target Dallara DW12 kit as the basis for your model. A model that will test your modeling skills to the max, as well as your patience.
Is it worth it? I think so. The model looks good, if somewhat flawed. However, it’s the only available model of the Dario Franchitti Indy 500 winner in 1/43 scale. You can fix some of the flaws. In the end it will build to look good and fit in well with the rest of your Indy model collection.
Would I build this kit again? Well, yes. The next one will go further. I might add some carbon fiber detail and maybe some chrome too.
I’m a masochist at heart.