Kit preview of Polar Light's new Mach 5.

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Polar Lights Mach 5 Preview

By John Lester - images & text © 2000

Scale: 1/25 - about 7" long when completed
Parts: About 80 injection-molded styrene, 24 of which are chrome-plated, 4 vinyl and 4 clear
Instructions: 1 page, exploded diagram with text.
Decals: Waterslide
Molding Quality: 9 - almost no visible flaws at all
Detail: 8 - soft in places, but acceptable
Accuracy: 8 (or 10 - see review text)
MSRP: $17.99 available from hobby dealers all over
Overall Rating: 9 - it's a very nice little kit!


Boy, does this bring back the memories.

[Body parts]

Image: Interior parts

Image: Ion stands and more details

[Chromed bits]



The cartoon started out as Mach Go Go in Japan around 1965. A few years later it was cleaned up, dubbed and imported to the US as Speed Racer. I remember being five or six years old, and fascinated with the real star of the show, the Mach 5. I don't know now what was my favorite, Speed Racer or Kimba the White Lion, but they were on back-to-back in the afternoon in Detroit, and they were both one of the few things my Mom let me watch at that age. The first model I ever tried to make (as opposed to actually completing!) was a Mach 5 I shaped from Play-Do.

Ah, youth.

Fast forward thirty years to 2000. Polar Lights has just released TWO Mach 5 kits, one a snap and the other (the subject of this review) a more complex glue kit. Of course I ran right out and got it .... and ripped the plastic wrap off in the parking lot, too eager to see what's in the box to wait til I got home.

What You Get

If you judge the value of a model by the sheer quantity of parts inside the box, you won't be disappointed with this one. There are almost ninety parts in two bags. One contains all the bits molded in white plastic, which make up most of the chassis, cabin and engine. The other bag contains two chromed sprues (wheel hubs and detail bits), a somewhat clear sprue (windshield and aqua hood) and four vinyl tires. Molding on all the parts is darn good. Mold seams are tiny, if even apparent, and ejector pin marks are (for the most part) where they will be invisible - the underside of the saw blades are the most obvious exception. Details are soft - but look faithful to the cartoon nature of the "real" car.

A wealth of optional parts are provided. You can pose the car up on the ion stands or with them retracted; saw blades extended or retracted; engine hood up to reveal a basic engine compartment (plenty of room there for detailing); robot compartment open or closed; and the clear hood that allowed the car to go underwater can be used or not, depending on your whim.

Instructions are provide on basically one sheet. There's an exploded diagram with all the parts (named and numbered), and a couple of paragraphs of text telling you what to do in what order. Only the most general painting instructions are provided, so you'll need either the box art or videos of the series as reference .... if you want to be wholly accurate. (I plan to paint the car yellow, not white, because I always imagined it yellow on our black and white TV). Decals are provided for the big "M" on the hood and the door numbers, plus Speed Racer Logos .... for a base, I guess.

There has been some controversy over the accuracy of the kit, especially in regards to the stated scale of 1/25. Polar Lights based their measurements on information provided by Speed Racer Enterprises, so accuracy should be spot on. In the cartoon, the Mach raced against the Cobras and Ferraris of the late sixties (or their cartoon equivalents, anyway) - and these cars had much smaller wheelbases than their American equivalents (Can-AM racers like the Corvette).
Add to that the small size of a teen aged Japanese male (as compared to a teen aged American male, anyway), and the small size of the car is fully justified. Compared to the recent IMAI 1/24 scale kit, the body of both kits aft of the firewall are almost identical in size. The major difference between the two is the size of the "nose".

Assembly & Finish

If this kit is made to the same standards as other recent Polar Lights racing cars, assembly should be simple and straightforward. Fit is reported to be very good on this company's race cars, and from what I see, this kit should be no exception.


I'm definitely looking forward to building this kit. Highly recommended for those who have fond memories of a really campy show!

Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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