by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundFor many people in today's generation, the Hudson Hornet is synonymous with "Doc Hudson" in Disney's animated film "Cars". So much so that the top suggestion to pop up when I did a web-search into the car was: "Is the Hudson Hornet a real car?"!
It certainly was - and, despite, Hudson struggling increasingly by the 1950s to compete with the "Big Three" (Ford, GM and Chrysler), the Hornet had features and styling that outshone many of its rivals. It was also dominant on the stock car racing scene - clocking up a string of victories in the early years of the '50s.
The 1954 model featured redesigned bodywork and trim in attempt to keep pace with larger manufacturers who could afford to change styling every year, along with a 6-cylinder engine that drew on the car's racing pedigree to match the V8s that its competitors could boast.
Sadly, despite its excellence, the Hornet effectively marked the end of the line for Hudson, and sales dropped year on year. Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954 to form American Motors Corporation, with the Hudson brand continuing for another three years before being dropped in 1957.
The KitMoebius Models's kit is produced in China and the overall packaging is very reminiscent of recent Chinese-manufactured Revell car kits, with a compact and deep top-opening box. Lifting the lid, though, shows an instant difference that I really welcome - the majority of the parts are moulded in warm pale grey (instead of white). I always find this is so much easier to work with.
The runners are split among several bags, and a nice touch is that a piece of tissue paper has been used to keep to chrome parts from rubbing against each other. The Hudson arrives with the body, interior and chassis packed together "ready assembled", which not only saves space, but gives an instantly favourable impression of how everything's going to line up on the finished model.
The kit comprises:
90 x grey styrene parts
29 x chromed parts
10 x clear styrene parts
2 x clear red
4 soft tyres
1 x metal axle
A sheet of decals
The kit dates back to 2015 and the moulding is generally very good. Both the colour of the styrene and some of the ways things are done makes me conclude that the moulding is done by the same Chinese company that produces Kitty Hawk aircraft kits.
There's a touch of flash here and there, but nothing serious. Encouragingly, although, some of the parts are quite thick, I didn't spot any signs of sink marks. There are some prominent knock-out pin marks to deal with (just like many Kitty Hawk kits), but a welcome point is that it looks as though there's been an effort made to clean-up the ones inside the roof, which will speed up preparing the kit for painting. I'd recommend giving the runners a good wash with detergent, because I found some mould release agent in a couple of places.
The level of detail is quite impressive, with some crisp moulding where it counts, so items like the dashboard will repay careful painting. Maker's logos are moulded very sharply on the body - although decals are also provided for some of them. All the chrome trim on the bodywork is moulded integrally.
A Few DetailsFollowing the assembly sequence (see below for details of the instructions), construction begins with a neatly detailed 28-part engine, complete with decals for the air cleaners.
The wheels are very simple, but the soft tyres show good tread detail. The tread surface is very slightly concave and I don't imagine installing the hubs will rectify this, but I don't think it will show on the finished kit. Three of the tyres in my kit have a bit of flash on one side. This sands off easily - but this side also seems to have marginally less contouring on the sidewall, so I'll place it on the inside of each wheel.
The chassis (frame), transmission and suspension are very straightforward. The one-piece chassis in my kit has a slight twist, but this is straightens out as soon as you clip it the floor. The fuel tank is moulded integrally, but it's deep and well-defined. The exhaust pipe will definitely look better with its tip drilled out.
Turning to the interior, I was instantly impressed by the deep and consistent moulding of the padding on the seats. There's no evidence of a multi-part mould being used for these and, without that, the result in many kits is a lack of definition on one or other surface. Not so here - the Hudson's driver and passengers will ride in comfort! The separate back-piece for the front seats has a rather nice representation of the soft stowage pockets.
As mentioned above, the dashboard is crisply moulded, but the rather thick chrome plating on the steering column and wheel makes it tempting to strip these down and refinish them. The same holds true when you get to the exterior details; items like the radio antenna, mirrors and windscreen wipers (the latter are separate - always preferable) will look more delicate with the plating removed.
With most similar kits I've seen, it's standard practice to mate the engine and chassis early in the assembly sequence. Not with the Hudson; Moebius leave installing the engine, radiator, accessories and a nicely detailed firewall until after completing the interior as the last items before adding the body.
The body shell is moulded with the doors and boot (trunk) closed, but with a separate bonnet (hood). This isn't hinged; instead, you've got the option to build it closed, or propped open on scale stays and hinges. (If you're crafty, you can probably wangle a way to get the best of both worlds, because it would be great to display the detailed engine - but, equally, who wouldn't want to show off the sleek lines of the Hudson too.)
The clear parts are very good quality in my kit, and the windows install from the inside of body. There aren't any side windows provided for the doors, so the default option is to have them "wound down". I'd have preferred to have a choice as to whether or not to install them, but this way certainly allows the interior to be seen easier (and you could always make windows from clear stock if you wish).
Rounding things off, there's an optional sun visor included, along with something you certainly don't see every day in car kits - a separate cover for the petrol (gas) filler.
Instructions, Painting & DecalsThe kit's accompanied by a really nicely produced set of instructions. It's a fold-out sheet (not everyone's favourite format), but it's not at all clumsy, so it won't clutter the workbench. Printed in colour on good quality glossy paper, the assembly guide has a unique styling all of its own - combining excellent illustrations with full step-by-step written instructions that name every part. It's English-only, but the clarity of the diagrams should still make construction pretty straightforward for modellers who can't read the notes.
No brands of model paints are recommended - this being left entirely to the builder's choice. There are detailed colour photos of the completed model, and the painting guide gives Hudson factory paint names and codes, plus Ditzler matches. Moebius Models really have saved modellers a lot of leg-work researching the original finishes, with charts outlining the interior and body colours in both plain and two-tone combinations.
There's a small sheet of decals included. These are glossy and neatly printed with minimal carrier film. Close inspection reveals the inks are "dithered" to reproduced the colours (again, reminiscent of Kitty Hawk). It's not ideal, but really only a problem on the licence plates, where the yellow background looks rather murky and odd. I wish these had been designed so modellers could have applied the decals over painted yellow but, admittedly, the licence plates are treated very much as optional extras in the instructions. The maker's logos aren't printed in metallic ink; instead they have a "chrome effect" rather like airbrushed artwork. To my eyes this really doesn't work at all, so I won't use them.
ConclusionThis is my first experience of a new-tool Moebius Models kit - and I'm genuinely impressed by most aspects of it. The Hudson is a strikingly attractive subject for anyone with an interest in vintage American cars, and the model appears to be both well-designed, nicely detailed and pretty straightforward.
I purchased my kit from Supermart USA via Amazon for £35.30 including shipping. This is a fair amount cheaper than some of the prices I've seen in the UK.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AUTO MODELER.