By Tim Utton - images & text © 2011
For years, if you wanted a model of the Spinner from the 1982 SF film Blade Runner, your choice was limited to tiny resin kits, or a really expensive and huge resin kit. An affordable styrene kit seemed like impossibility. However, Fujimi was able to secure the rights to produce one, and this new 1/24 release is the result. As Blade Runner fan, I jumped at the chance to build my own flying police car from that classic film.
What You Get
Most of the parts are molded in white styrene; this is a welcome change from the dark blue plastic seen in publicity photos Fujimi released earlier in the year.
^ Main hull
^ Interior detail
^ Bulkhead and door panels
^ Clear bits
Image: Two sprues for wheels, seats, etc
Image: Another look
Image: Wheel covers
Image: Etched parts
Image: Flip side
All parts are individually packaged in cellophane bags. When examining the parts trees, I initially thought a duplicate tree had been included by mistake; however, closer examination revealed that the duplicate parts are needed for all the wheels, seats, etc.
Clear parts abound for windows and lights, including all the headlamps the illuminated strips on the front wheel covers. However, the diagonal strips that glow yellow and red in the film (the ones located just above the rear wheels) are molded in solid white plastic - decals are provided for these. Red, blue, and clear police lights are also provided. If you want amber domes like in the film, you'll have to paint the transparent ones with clear yellow paint. I was also pleased that three tiny photo-etched "Spinner" logos were included in the kit.
A single sheet of 24 waterslide decals is included. Aside from the aforementioned yellow stripes and monitor displays, all the other markings seen on the movie vehicle are included. Most impressively, all the various typefaces appear screen-accurate as well. The decals seem a tad bit thick, but then again I've been spoiled with aftermarket decals, so I'm not going to complain too much in that respect.
At 1/24 scale, it looks like it will build out to about 8 ¾" long; what's more, it's a common auto model scale, so it can be displayed with other car models to good effect.
The exterior parts appear to be accurately sculpted, at least based on the screen captures I've examined. The Spinner has an odd shape, and Fujimi seems to have captured it well. Molding quality is good - no obvious sinkholes or marks on my kit. The exterior details look accurate as well, though the rack for the police lights is a bit over-simplified. Recessed panel lines also seem too wide for scale. Figures are not included in the kit.
Unfortunately, things seem to fall apart with the cockpit. The design of the spinner features large windows on the roof and floor. Unfortunately, the design of the model's cockpit effectively obscures both features. In the film, the rear cockpit bulkhead is positioned a few feet behind the seats, allowing the passengers to look through the upper windows. However, the bulkhead in the kit runs straight from the floor to the ceiling, meaning that the upper windows are not visible from the cockpit. The floor windows are also obscured - this time by the cockpit tub, which is molded onto the top half of the fuselage. The molded-on dashboard also runs straight down to the floor of the tub too. However, both of these shortcomings can be easily rectified with careful application of a sharp hobby knife and razor saw. Oddly enough, clear parts are provided for the two oval windows on the sides of the Spinner; yet the portions on the fuselage have moulded details obscuring them. I'll be excising these bits too when I build the kit.
Cockpit detail is also surprisingly sparse. A few generic panels are molded on to the interior door panels, and the rear bulkhead is similarly appointed. Dashboards are perfectly smooth; however, two decals are included for computer monitor displays that resemble the ones seen in the film. What molded details there are in the cockpit at least resemble those seen in the film. I wish Fujimi had taken more time detailing this part of the kit; thanks to the massive windscreen, the Spinner cockpit just screams out for detail. I plan to scratchbuild the missing details - at least there is a wealth of reference photos on the internet to work from.
Editor's Note: The Fujimi kit appears to be based on the FX miniature used in the movie, not the 1:1 "hero" prop. This would account for many of the detail discrepancies - the 1:1 version having considerable more interior detail, among other things. Paragrahix makes an easy-to-use set of photoetch that enables the builder to more closely model the full-size Spinner. It's available here or direct from Paragrafix.)
One interesting feature of the kit is the option to build it in ground or flight mode. I plan to build in flight mode, and it's a good thing too. The only details on the wheels are the hubcaps; no rubber or vinyl tires are included with the kit. The wheels have the tires moulded on, but there's no detail…just smooth plastic. This is a shocking oversight for what is essentially a car kit…even the most inexpensive Revell or AMT car includes tires! I suppose a creative builder interested in building the Spinner in ground mode could raid a spares box, but considering the price point of this kit, it shouldn't be necessary.
The doors on the kit don't open; then again, considering the relatively small size, that's probably a good thing. Given that the doors are supposed to open upwards, the engineering necessary to achieve this might have come at the expense of even more detail.
The big question most modellers interested in this kit will have is "can it be lighted"? I don't have a lot of experience lighting kits myself, but I'd cautiously say that lighting is definitely an option. Certainly there's enough interior room to light the headlamps and marker strip on the front wheel covers, as well as the interior. This where I must applaud Fujimi's decision to mold the kit in white instead of dark blue - it will make it easier for ambient light to shine through in some areas. The police lights are small but hollow, and should accommodate a small LED. Unfortunately, while police light on top of the dorsal stabilizer will have room for wiring, there's nowhere to hide the wires for the rack of lights that are mounted above the roof windows.
My overall feelings on this kit are mixed. While I'm happy to finally have a Spinner kit in my hands that I didn't have to pay $500 for, it's still not a cheap kit. At $50, I expected better attention to detail from Fujimi.
The Spinner will make an interesting addition to any collection of SF vehicles, but I really can't give it a glowing recommendation. If you're a Blade Runner fan, this is a must-have; if not, you might be better off saving your money, especially if you're put off by some of the kit's shortcomings. Still, I am looking forward to getting started on it.
Many thanks to Tim's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!