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Meng 1/12 McLaren MP4/4

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If you're following the build thread I started for the Lotus 99T, you'll already have the rundown on Ayrton Senna (who was driving for Lotus from 1985-87) and Honda, who supplied engines to both Williams and Lotus during the 1987 season.

Although Lotus was hampered in 1987 by a engine with one year old technology (adapted to current regulations) and an active suspension with the usual teething problems that exist when introducing new tech to F1, they managed to see Ayrton Senna to 3rd place in the World Drivers Championship and were guaranteed current engines for 1988 after Honda ended their restrictive partnership with Williams at the end of 1987 in favour of McLaren from 1988.

Irrespective of the gains made by Lotus ... Alain Prost managed to convince Ron Dennis (McLaren team manager) to get Ayrton Senna to switch to McLaren in 1988. His replacement at Lotus was to be Nelson Piquet. Ironically, it was in 1987 that Nelson Piquet won his third and final World Drivers Championship driving for Williams / Honda while they took out the Constructors Championship for the second consecutive year also.

1988 was a season like no other before it in F1 ...

Alain Prost - a seasoned veteran of F1 ... won the 1986 World Drivers Championship (and his second consecutive one) by only 2 points when his McLaren (running an underpowered TAG Porsche V6 compared to the awesome Honda unit run by Williams) won the last race of the season in Australia ... Thanks to Nigel Mansell, who while leading the race, screwed the pooch in the most spectacular fashion ... blowing a rear tyre on the main straight. Mansell was advised to pit for tyres during the race, but feared he would drop too many spots to win the title.

Ayrton Senna had proven over 3 seasons with Lotus that he was no average driver ... 

McLaren ... a renowned constructor

and Honda ... producing the most powerful engine in F1 at the time that was also near bulletproof ...

... What we got was ... the perfect storm!

McLaren won 15 out of 16 races that season. Ferrari won one (in Italy) - because the McLarens had retired. 10 of those races were 1-2 finishes and McLaren won the Constructors Championship by a whopping 134 points (199) over second placed Ferrari (65) ... In an oddity Arton Senna won his first world championship by virtue of 1 more first placed race (8) than Prost (7) ... and even though Prost was by far the more consistent of the two with 7 second placed finishes (to Sennas 3) points were decided across the best 11 race placings in a drivers season (out of 16) rather than his cumulative total (which would have seen Prost win by 11 points)

The Car was voted by a selection of F1 experts to be the best F1 car in the sport at one point ...

This sort of voting however, I find to be highly subjective and speculative, as decision parameters may vary in importance from voter to voter and year to year ... For example ... How do you compare Ferrari's dominance with the Schumacher / Barrichello combination?

Nevertheless ... the combination for 1988 ended up being absolutely outstanding.

The kit ...

Unlike the Beemax kit, the box is smaller in both length and width ... but is quite deep!



Also ... unlike the Beemax kit ... The instructions look spectacular ... emphasis on the 'look' bit, because I haven't started on assembly yet ... you'll need to wait about 2-3 weeks before that starts happening ... and I can compare assembly to the Beemax kit (on my next RnR from work).

The thick box contains a LOT of sprues ... all of them, excepting a red brake light and clear windscreen are in that wonderful modellers grey plastic. 

The instructions are divided up into sub assemblies ... and here is where they have a more Zoukei-Mura like feel to them than the Beemax kit ... There is a title page advising you what section of the kit will be built according to that set of instructions and what parts will be used ... AND how to find them on the sprue. They are also in colour.





As you can see from this brief perusal of the first section of instructions, there is a lot more parts to this assembly than the Beemax kit

I just hope Fit and Finish are as good as the instructions.



A part of the sprue layout below


Paint ... I'll probably just go off Tamiya colours of the same paint descriptions as they don't have an exact call out ... OR ... maybe look up the Tamiya instructions for the 1/20 version of this kit.


Another page of the parts in the box ... Decal sheet B, C and D are weird looking ... they basically get stuck onto various panels 🤷‍♂️





Peel and stick cloth seatbelts ... something different! ... the 2 little chrome rectangles are the wing mirror lenses ... The Lotus kit has stencils for airbrush work on the Good Year tyres I think ... I don't like the idea of decals on rubber!


Nice grey plastic  ... Firmer rubber tyres  ... less screws  ... Jury's out on the metal suspension parts though



We'll see what happens when I return home and start building!

Rog :)




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I’ll be keeping an eye this build. Big fan of Senna and his McLaren rides. I’ve contemplated getting this kit, so I’ll be watching how it builds up. 

Does the kit provide a template or the body has engraved lines for the fluorescent red areas of the body? 

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9 hours ago, Ichitoe said:

I’ll be keeping an eye this build. Big fan of Senna and his McLaren rides. I’ve contemplated getting this kit, so I’ll be watching how it builds up. 

Does the kit provide a template or the body has engraved lines for the fluorescent red areas of the body? 

Interesting question/note!! ... I don't recall seeing any physical masking material/guide in the kit - apart from the painting instructions ... I'll have another look when I get back ... there may be a mask set available, but the Marlboro pattern looks simplistic enough that I may be able to get away with tape and paper ... I'll definitely keep this in mind though!

8 hours ago, Jeff said:

Hurry home , Rog. This is just too cool.  I will be sitting in the front row for this one. I love your review so far. 

lol ... I'm actually disappointed that I didn't get another full day with the Beemax kit before fly out day.

On the one hand FIFO is a good job type ... free food, my own air-conditioned room with ensuite, wifi etc ... you work 12 hour days and do laundry a couple of days during the 14 day stay ... and then when you get your 7 days off ... they are all in a row. Unfortunately, there's just a lot been going on at present outside of work. It should calm down a bit over the next couple of months, but it means a slow start to the builds.

Rog :)

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  • 1 month later...

I was disappointed that I didn't get any spare recreational time on my last R&R break to tackle either this kit or the Beemax Lotus ...

Today I made some time available to make a start on this one! ... Hopefully over the next couple of days I'll have more of both.


And so ... with the Western Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Suns beating seven shades out of each other in the Football on streaming while I enjoy coffee and some model work ... here is 'Stage 1' of the build ...


As stated previously ... the instruction manual feels a lot more 'precise' than the Beemax kit and this assembly looks like it will have a Zoukei-Mura feel to it - lots of detail to have fun on assembly, that will remain hidden afterwards. I won't be painting much until the sub assemblies are all ready to go! Following the layout to this first stage I grab all the relevant sprues ...


Following the instructions (which appear far clearer than the Beemax effort) ... I'm amazed at how easy it is to snip the parts off the sprues, clean them up and fit them together. In most cases there is no gap between parts that have a very positive, tight fit - and so I am relying on Tamiya's Extra Thin capillary action to glue the parts. In other cases where test fitted parts yield a small gap after clean up, I'm using my standard Revell cement as a filler ... just as you would for a normal gasket seal!


And just like that - two halves of a V6 engine!


Moving along ... Putting both halves of the engine together, plus a couple of add-ons ...


The next lot of add-on's includes a full clutch assembly ... The instructions invite you to paint all the parts before assembly ... Fat chance! The whole deal will be hidden inside a bell housing when attached to the transmission in 'Step 2' ... Fun and easy to assemble though! ... and very well detailed.


Next I snip all the parts required for the next add-on's from the sprues and lay them out to clean and glue ...


A small amount of assembly work ... and we're done!


So ... First impressions of this build ... This Meng kit is the first I've ever started on from this company ... and if it continues onward in a similar fashion to how it has impressed me so far - it will NOT be the last ... The detail and positive fit of cleaned up components feels very much like Tamiya, Zoukei-Mura or HKM's new A-20G, while the instructions read (and feel) a lot like a ZM assembly also.

The difference between this and the Beemax kit are like night and day ... While this thing gives the impression of professional precision, the Beemax feels like an old Matchbox kit in comparisson - and so it also leaves me with a lack of confidence in how the poor fit/finish issues might compound the further into the build it goes.

Hopefully more to come before fly out!

Rog :)

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Returning from taking my mum out for the evening, I had a look at 'Stage 2' of the build instructions - dealing with the transmission and rear suspension area.


Although (in theory) there was supposed to be a couple of screws used in the engine block assembly (I didn't bother with them!), this will be the first stage in the build that metal components will be utilised.

As you can see in my first post here, all the metal components were in a bag together ... so I opened the bag and began separating the parts - and hit the first snag of the build! ... 3 seemed like an odd number ...


This photo of course, is enlarged - but it's very difficult to make out the differences between them without the magnification  ... A quick Google search gave me an email for Meng to request spare parts and it was just a matter of finding out what pat number needed replacing ... 




... and the winner is - MT-6! ... I sent off the email and within 30 mins or so I got an automated response indicating that they will look into the issue in the next few days ... we'll see how we go!

Meanwhile ... I figured I'd get started on 'Stage 2' ....


At this point I realised that When D31 and D32 are glued in place it will be awfully difficult to paint the coil-overs (D21 & D22) ... It would have taken a while to get another build section sorted out and it was getting late anyway so I packed up. and left it at this ...


Perhaps my next R&R will yield more time?

Rog :)

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17 hours ago, DocRob said:

Interesting to hear Rog, thank you for starting this and comparing it to the Beemax kit.

Cheers Rob


14 hours ago, BlrwestSiR said:

Nice start Rog and like Rob said, a great comparison between this and the Beemax kit. 


A pleasure, guys. The level of detail and the refinement on this Meng kit is truely on another level ... I hope they do more ... like the 1986/87 Williams FW-11 of Nigel Mansell / Nelson Piquet - I don't think the externals of the Honda V6 were any different than those on the McLaren - or the Lotus 99T. The problem is, though - instead of putting all the engine components on their own separate sprues, you can see they've smattered them about the place ... so this engine is pretty much tied to this kit!

There are a good number of F1 machines from this era that I'd love to see Meng do though ... The Benetton Ford V8 combo with the 4 colours ... Nigel Mansell / Alain Prost Ferrari ... Micheal Schumacher's first World Championship Benetton etc ... the possibilities are endless.

Rog :)

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4 Days …

Thats how long it took to arrange a replacement part … to be shipped, with tracking, on Friday.

Most of that delay time was taken by me not responding to questions asked straight away.

If only everyones customer service was this sharp!

Rog :)

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