|Revell-Monogram Legends Series #1 of 4 #15 Dale Earnhardt Wrangler Thunderbird
By Don Atherton
Text from the kit instructions:
" Dale Earnhardt shook up the racing world for two consecutive years, 1979 and 1980. During those two seasons, he accomplished what no other stock car driver had ever done before. Dale won the Champion Spark Plug Rookie of the Year award and the NASCAR Cup Championship in succession. In two years he won six races, which helped him secure the lucrative sponsorship of Wrangler Jeans at the end of the 1980 season. Then, suddenly, the big success story came to an abrupt halt.
For the entire 1981 season, Earnhardt won neither a pole nor a race. Late that year, he announced he would join Bud Moore's Ford Thunderbird team in 1982. Dale began his drive back to the front by winning a pole for the Coca-Cola 500 at Atlanta in March of 1982, his first number one starting position since September 1979 at Dover. In April, He stopped his winless streak at 39 races when he narrowly beat Cale Yarborough to the checkered flag for the Rebel 500 at Arlington. His last previous win came at the National 500 at Charlotte in 1980. In victory lane, Dale Earnhardt thanked his sponsor Wrangler for staying with him, then praised Bud Moore and his crew, who had made the #15 Jeans Machine undoubtedly the strongest stock car on the field. This win marked Earnhardt's return to championship form."
This kit was last offered as part of a combo kit just a few years ago and is now being offered again as a reissue of the original kit back in the 80's (1983 Copywrite on the chassis) and as such will not stand up to the level of detail that the new NASCAR kits have today. However, it's not bad for it's time.
The engraving and detail on this body is less than today's standards. The clips for the front and rear windows a very thick. This body is clean and will not require much cleanup before painting. The engine in this kit has 18 pieces and is not quite as well done as today's kits but more typical for the time. The Chassis pan is detailed quite nicely. The dash glues to the firewall and the pedals also. There is a separate water jug (didn't have the cooling and venting systems back then) , fire extinguisher and differential cooler.
The roll cage is not detailed as well as the new kits are today and suffers from flash and ejector pin marks. There are also chrome plated parts in this kit that thankfully are not plated in the new kits of today. The drivers net does look more in scale than today's kits. There is also a fuel cell cover in-case you open up the trunk or display the model with the body removed. The front and rear suspensions are detailed about the same as the current kits of today.
The wheels will have to be de-chromed before painting. I never understood why they plated the wheels or any other parts in a NASCAR kit anyway.
The tires are the old Goodyear's with the raised lettering that will need to be sanded off.
There does seem to be the same high amount of braces and struts, Etc. that today's kits have. The front shocks are rather bizarre looking units that I don't see on current NASCARS. The nose of the car is a separate piece with a plated grille. Lots of plated parts again.
The clear parts are the front a rear window and not nearly as detail involved as the new kits of today. The rear bumper and spoiler are separate pieces.
One thing about NASCAR kits is all the decals. This kit has two decal sheets (one is a bonus sheet) with all the markings for the day. They are very well done.
The instruction sheet is pretty good. The drawings are a bit crude, but the parts are all identified with their real names and the color to paint them.
Even though this kit is a bit crude by today's standards, one must remember it is an old tooling and must have been the cat's meow when it came out.
It's nice to see all these old kits reissued.