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Polar Lights' Back to the Future™ Time Machine


By Duane King - images & text © 2002

Scale: Not stated - probably 1/25; about 6¾"/17 cm long
Parts: 45 grey, clear and plated styrene plus two steel axels
Instructions: 1 page, text and exploded diagram (other side in French)
Decals: 2 peel-and-stick license plates
Molding Quality: 9
Detail: 8 -pretty good
Accuracy: 8 - several small things, like the Goodyear lettering on the tires, are missing
MSRP: ~$12.00 USD (~$18.75 CAN/ 12.20 EUR) available from hobby shops and discount retailers all over
Overall Rating: In a "thumbs up, thumbs down" system this gets 1.5 thumbs up.

[Box Art]

Are you telling me that you built a Time Machine out of a DeLorean?!

The Polar Lights Back To The Future Time Machine kit has arrived, and before I go any further

[Body]

^ The body is electro-plated with a stainless-steel finish that replicates the look of the real thing fairly well.

[Click to enlarge]

^ The parts come in separate bags. Here's the chassis bottom, time engine and "hook"

Image: The seond bag holds chromed parts, license plate stickers, tires and axels. Hopefully these tires won't eat styrene over time ...

[Click to enlarge]

^ The third bag holds the interior pieces

Image: More innards. Not shown are the clear part in its baggie.

[Click to enlarge]

^ Aside from the plating and slightly different scale, the new PL kit (foreground) is generally similar to the older Aoshima in quality of detailing ....

Image: Though more of the details on the PL are "molded on", vice Aoshima's (bottom) separate pieces.

Image: Instructions

THERE ARE NO FIGURES WITH THIS KIT!

A message from the Marketing Dept. at Polar Lights in response to my inquiry regarding 'missing figures' as noted on the web site, kindly informed me that there are no figures with this kit, and thanks for letting them know that the web site was in error. The web site has been updated and dropped the mention of figures being included in the Time Machine kit.

The Time Machine Kit, #6811, (it is not noted as a DeLorean on the box or instructions, and the stylistic DMC is missing from the front grille) is a Level 1 Snap-Together curbside kit for "ages 8 and up".

What You Get

Most of the parts are molded in gray, with a single chrome tree that holds the wheel hubs and grills around the lights. The windshield glass and door windows are one piece, so you will have a lot of work to do if you want to display the doors open. The body is plated with a dull silver metal. There are also four rubber tires and two metal axles. The kit has little flash and most ejector pin marks are on the underside of the parts. My kit shows evidence of flow problems in areas where the 'snap together' slots are found, which could possibly lead to stress (and fracture) when snapping the parts together. You get an option of making it with the snap-in Mr. Fusion shown at the end of Episode 1 (and the other movies), or a snap-in "Cable Hook" as shown when Marty is in 1955 trying to get back to 1985. There is no option for the hover version (Ep2) or railroad wheels (Ep3).

The PL BTTF Time Machine appears 'close enough for government work' to be 1/25 scale, it is physically smaller than the AMT/Ertl kit # 6122 [ex-Aoshima], which is a 1/24 scale version. Judging dimensional accuracy is not difficult -- during the three model years of production, DeLoreans had basically the same dimensions. This according to Standard Catalog Of American Cars 1976-1986 2nd Edition By James M. Flammang, Krause Publications Inc. This book (page 420) also has the basic information such as Engine Specifications, tire size and type, and a brief history about the brief existence of the DMC. The body is plated as noted above, with an interesting swirl pattern, and my copy has micro scratches, possibly from the 'rough' clear plastic bag that encloses the part. I removed the part from the bag and wrapped it in paper towels to protect it better.

The interior tub is not a single piece, so painting the door panels is possible, and the wind-up alarm clock from 1955 is also a part, with a glue locator pin on the dashboard. This is the only part I could see where the ejector pin mark is a problem, since the back of the clock is visible through the windshield.

The rubber tires look good with no visible mold seams, but there are no Goodyear markings, which were the factory-supplied tires.

One has to paint the headlights and taillights (they are chrome; Aoshima supplied decals in their kits), and the rims appear to be correct. The instructions for painting the taillights are incorrect. My suggestion on this is to visit one of the DeLorean Owner Websites to get the panel pattern correct.

The instruction sheet, one large sheet, has six easy to follow Assembly Steps, and as with the Jeston's Spacemobile there is a Testor's Enamel paint list if one chooses to paint.

Painting Instructions are on the thin side, and in the words excerpted from the Polar Lights web site: "The kit comes with unpainted parts, and 45 pieces. So those of you skilled with a brush you might want to add that extra special touch to personalize your very own Time Machine. ... All other parts are molded in gray. Kids can also have a blast working with their parents on this kit and learn the fine art of detailing." I think that sums it up best.

My Thoughts on Building

The body is a little bright, and could be more matte in color. I am going to tone down the finish with spray matte of some sort. There is room to do some scratch building to make up for small missing pieces, such as the handle that activates the time circuits (the handle that Marty has to avoid while shifting gears).

Questions about painting prevented me from slapping this together for this write-up. The OOP AMT/Ertl kit, which is a re-packaging of the Aoshima kit from the early 1990's [which was re-issed last year and is available in several versions for around 1800/$ 15.00 USD - and includes PVC figures- Ed] has a reasonably good set of instructions, but they are also incomplete. Watching the movie and taking notes as is how I plan to fill in the gaps. The AMT kit also had decals for the dashboard instruments and for the 'This is where you are, This is where you are going, This is the time you left' display, as well as a decal for the taillights and other dials inside the car. I wish there was one for the Mr. Fusion unit [there is on the Aoshima kits - Ed.] These are all missing from the Polar Lights release.

I plan to remove most of the snap-in place tongues and use glue. And with a little scratch building material and putty, it looks one could model it as shown in the beginning of Episode 1 (1985), which does not have the Cable Hook or Mr. Fusion. Of course the Alarm Clock would be only applicable for the 1955 scene.

Conclusions

I am glad to see the kit available. It is a good molding job, looks simple and straight forward to build and IMHO, would be a good adult/kid project car just like PL states. It is also a great candidate for a make it and take it session at a show. I hope to make one for each of the variations seen in the movies [especially the Drive In Movie version-a DeLorean with 50's style white wall is too far out!]. This new kit also means I do not have to build the AMT/Ertl BluePrinter set (also ex-Aoshima).


Many thanks to Polar Lights for providing a review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3000+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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