by: Rick Cooper [ ]
In 1935 Fiat developed the Fiat 500, a small two seat car that was designed to be affordable by low income families. Known more commonly as the Topolino, the car, one of the smallest available, was a success. Robust and efficient Fiat continued to produce the vehicle until the mid 1950ís. During the war many of the vehicles were taken over for use by belligerents on both sides of the conflict.
Bronco Models from China has already kitted out one version of the Topolino in the livery of the Deutsche Afrika Korps with the hard topped sedan body. Now, Bronco has expanded on the earlier 1/35 scale release by producing another, purely civilian, version of the vehicle.
The kit comes in the standard slip top box with a nice illustration of a Topolino in front of one of those gorgeous seaside towns in Italy. Sitting in the driverís seat is an attractive Sophia Loren type who is scratching the ear of a Dalmatian dog sitting in the rear of the car. As with most, (all?) Bronco kits, the box top art is also included inside the box on slick type paper.
The first thing that you notice when opening the box is the minimal amount of parts inside. It is mostly empty space, quite a change from the 600, 700, 800, and up parts counts we have seen a lot of in the recent past. This only has 121, by my count, plastic parts plus another 11 PE pieces for the whole thing. You have one large sprue which carries the bulk of the parts as well as an additional 5 to finish it off. The kit is molded in light tan plastic with the exception of the clear parts and the lady and dog which are molded in a medium gray.
This version of the Topolino is a cabriolet, meaning it has a soft top. Bronco has provided parts to build it wither with the top up or stowed. Also, the kit has a nicely done engine that appears fairly complete with all the major assemblies you would expect to see. Fiat designed the engine with the radiator behind the engine rather than the standard arrangement so you may want to open hood to show of the unique set-up which is also possible without cutting or carving.
The suspension and frame looks fairly well done, the main frame is a one piece molding which I like much better than constructing each piece of a ladder frame and keeping it constantly square, here it is already done for you. The rear axle differential and suspension connect to the frame; as seen in a built up of the DAK Topolino from the earlier release there was an issue with the sit of the frame which affected the ride height of the rear wheels. This was corrected by adding a 2mm block under parts A4 and A5 where they join to the underside of the body. It doesn't appear that Bronco has addressed the issue with this release so be aware of it and the potential fix.
Working around the rest of the exterior, the wheels look nice, no embossing that I could see but that may not be incorrect. The hubcap for each of the wheels has a nicely etched FIAT on each. The piece to show the cloth top up looks fabulous, you can see the impression from the internal frame; Bronco has done a really nice job with this part.
The jewel of the kit appears to be the single piece body of the Topolino. The piece is packaged in a separate two part blister package to minimize the possibility of damage. The single piece has no flash, and no ejector pin marks anywhere that would be seen. In fact, this is true of the whole kit, there is simply no flash anywhere and you have to hunt to actually find an ejector pin mark; when you do run across the occasional one it has always been placed in an area that wonít be seen on the finished model. The kit provides separate doors, engine access hatches, front nose piece, running boards, and the aforementioned cabriolet soft top.
The interior looks great, albeit a bit Spartan, but hey, itís an economy car what did you think you were going to get, a surround sound system or GPS? What you do get are a couple of floor pedals, steering wheel, gear shifter, a dashboard, and a couple of nicely upholstered seats. It doesn't look like you get any interior door handles although there are a couple of molded on pieces that may be some sort of door release mechanism, honestly it is a mystery to me. The dash is convincing with a couple of decals for instruments to help dress it up a bit.
Finally, what may be the real jewel of the kit; it just depends on your point of view! I am talking about the figure of the woman here and not the Dalmatian! The parts breakdown is standard, arms, torso, skirt, legs, and head. The sculpting looks very nice, well proportioned with well done folds and draping to the skirt. The head is convincing as an adult woman. The dog is a four part affair; two body halves, tail, and head. The dog seems well proportioned as well and has the look of a short haired firehouse dog.
Decals are for the license plates only and require you to put together the license numbers yourself, arghh!
The instructions are in the normal Bronco type slick paper booklet form of 16 pages. The buildup is fairly conventional, starting with engine and moving on to suspension. Build up the wheels and put that all together for a solid base on which to add the body. Small side note; the wheels are, if you are careful, steerable. Add the floor pan, seats, and driving controls after that move onto the firewall and engine compartment sidewalls. When all that is solid and dry add the body, decide how you want the engine access parts positioned, add the doors, windows, headlights and running boards and you are almost done. Open top or closed? Add the appropriate parts, the spare tire, and license plate frame and reflectors. Now chose a color scheme and get busy. The instructions show painting instructions for three color schemes; claret and black, beige and black, or just plain old black.
In the box it looks like a nifty little kit. I like the minimal parts count which should be popular for modelers who are looking for a civilian car to put into a diorama. With the recent release of so many touring type cars in 1/35 it is nice to get something that is a bit more working class. If you are looking to add a splash of color to your display kit or an urban diorama this kit should easily fill the bill; and a 1/35 scale Sophia Loren doesn't hurt either!