SOLIDO S1800501 VW Beetle 1303 Weltmeister 1974 (L61A Cliffgrün/Schwarz)
Reviewing the new diecast SOLIDO 1303 SEB models so soon after the resin OttOmobile OT637 Jeans S716 prompts observations about the differences between the two scale modelling formats now vying for collectors attention.
The traditional diecast (metal) models generally offer features such as opening doors and come glazed with injection moulded polystyrene whilst the resin models come with much finer surface detailing, without opening features and thinner glazing materials which often exude a flimsiness but do carry far better detail in, for example, such matters as heated rear window representation.
This does raise a point though in that when the doors on the SOLIDO 1303 are open the effect is so distinctively un-Beetle like with wide hinge gaps that the question has to be asked would not a solid body without opening features be a better proposition? The new 1303’s marks a significant rise in quality when compared with SOLIDO’s well known 1/17th scale split rear window (and contemporary cabrio) Beetle from the 1990’s. Fit of doors and fine detailing is significantly better than those earlier offerings from the company that were, at the time, early contenders in a scale that has since become far more commonly used in the model car world. An overall impression given by these two new models is that quite a lot of research was undertaken by SOLIDO in their preparation which as we shall see has sadly been partially watered down during the process of bringing them into production.
It used to be a common theme with toy manufacturers (and later with more accurate ranges aimed at collectors) that once all the toolings for a vehicle had been set up they would be reused for successive “versions” that were effectively colour changes on a generic base. More recently we have, thanks to major advancements in production techniques, got more used to variations on a theme that include detail changes in addition to simply change of paint colours and use of decals.
There is a slight hint of generalisation, or expediency, with these new 1303’s. We have two versions to hand but have to look also to the yet to be released third version – the formidable and very charismatic Porsche Salzburg rally version to understand the themes of generalisation. The overall proportions of this new issue 1303 model are generally very good – right down to having the correct shape valance panel over the exhaust tail pipes. The base model tooling does however include ventilation slots in the front valance panel portraying the Volkswagen factory option M550 which although is correct of the GSR and Rally is not for the Weltmeister – a detail though that will perhaps only be noticed by particularly keen eyed VW enthusiasts. There is, also, the reasonable balance of commercial expediency used in bringing forward a series of versions based on one body type. In terms of the grill therefore as a detail in the main body casting the decision to include it was on balance the better choice than not including it.
More significant though is the generalisation in the way the models sit. The stance of the suspension conveys that of the Rally version and whilst somehow not particularly detracting in the case of the Weltmeister looks distinctly uncomfortable on the GSR. This is partly exacerbated by another expediency – that of the wheel tyre combination. Some of the full size ’74 Weltmeister Beetles and all the GSR had 5½Jx15 Lemmerz wheels and low profile Pirelli tyres. The SOLIDO models have a good representation of the Lemmerz wheel but give the impression of being shod with standard, rather than low, profile wall tyres. I accept that at 1/18 these dimensional differences in suspension height, tyre wall depth and wheel width may only be fractions of a millimetre but the “feel” that is conveyed (or not) is as significant element in the overall emotional response that is evoked by the model.
On matters of general detail my final point of constructive criticism concerns the interior. As portrayed in the ’74 Weltmeister it is correct with a good representation of the standard Volkswagen high back seats of the era (optional in Europe, mandatory in North America) and standard four spoke VW steering wheel introduced in the 1972 model year. I shall explain later though why it’s inclusion in the GSR is a disappointment. Both models include a substantial amount of careful finishing detailing bespoke to the versions portrayed so whilst what I have described at commercial expediency in using a common main body casting is perhaps understandable given the amount of other particular attention to correct finishing detailing I am surprised that separate (injection moulded plastic) components were not produced for the front seats, steering wheel and road wheel/tyre combinations specific to each model.
So in turning to the SOLIDO Weltmeister in detail:
SOLIDO S1800501 VW Beetle 1303 Weltmeister 1974
It is always interesting to have a production model to hand after seeing previously circulated pre-release photographs because this ’74 Weltmeister is a much more attractive model than early photographs suggested it might be. For SEB enthusiasts it is a very happy decision that SOLIDO took to release the new 1303 model in two SEB versions instead of a straight forward normal series production Beetle as hinted at by the standard hub-capped wheels on the first pre-production prototype shown in 2015. The decision that the Weltmeister, rather than a more popularly recognised SEB, be represented is an interesting one.
I anticipate the market appeal to collectors of the ’74 Weltmeister may be relatively low – it was an SEB that only has any real meaning and emotive appeal to collectors in Germany plus a few collectors who have interest in football theme automobiles. To Volkswagen Beetle enthusiasts outside Germany it would seem to have comparatively low appeal – save for that it is an SEB. Minichamps have already made all the four colour versions (and the rarer Cabrio version) of the ’74 Weltmeister in 1/43. Stocks of which seem in plentiful supply with impressions gained of sluggish sales and in danger in many outlets of becoming shelf warmers. In the even smaller scale of 1/87 a complete set of Weltmeister 74 saloons in all four colours was made by Wiking for the (German) Post Museums Shop (PMS). Wiking also made the cabrio version, albeit based on the 1302, releasing it in their normal shop available catalogue as Art.Nr. 080207 in June 2010 where it remained as a current model until September 2018.
Setting these concerns (and the overall comments already made about expediencies) aside the new SOLIDO Weltmeister is an unquestionably attractive model that fairly accurately represents the car it portrays and one which I found surprisingly exciting.
Most of the ’74 Weltmeister details are faithfully reproduced by SOLIDO on their charming Cliff Green version which carries “WOB” number plates instantly recognisable by most Beetle fans as being those from Volkswagen’s HQ town of Wolfsburg, Germany. The standard 1303 chrome trim and correct “VW 1303” engine badging through to the special WM trim are all very well portrayed.
What this base model has given SOLIDO is the opportunity to very easily produced other variations that would have far wider appeal in the form on the 1974 S763 “Big Beetle” and S764 “City Beetle” introduced at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show as part of a three model line up that included the original S761 Jeans Beetle in Tunis Yellow. The Big Beetle in particular was one of the much better known SEB version of the 1303 sold in most (then Western) European markets including the UK in three colours of which L95M Ontario Blue metallic is probably the best remembered.
In conclusion a very attractive representation of one of the lesser known SEBs with accurate attention to the details and paint colour of the original ’74 Weltmeister. If anything the model feels restrained by it’s die cast origins which do not allow the fineness of detailing that we have come to see on contemporary resin based scale models. Maybe though SOLIDO are looking to the younger and more general collectors markets with this model and as such have given them, and some more “serious” Beetle fans a nice, unusual, variation on the Beetle theme.
- Overall historical accuracy of the reviewed scale model compared to Volkswagen’s original SEB. 100%
- Emotional appeal of the reviewed scale model. 50%
- Rarity or uniqueness of the reviewed scale model as a SEB subject 70%
- Choice of subject version from the particular Special Edition Beetle Series. 100%
- Overall impression of body shape, proportions and stance of the reviewed scale model. 85%
- Detail accuracy of the reviewed scale model compared to manufacturers original vehicle in terms of representation of components, paint colour and finishing. 90%
SOLIDO S1800501 total score: 80%
Appreciation: My grateful thanks to SOLIDO for making it possible to review this Scale Model for the benefit of SEB enthusiasts worldwide at the earliest possible opportunity after its release onto the market.
Stephen Paul Hardy,
Dorset, England. 06th July 2016
Further reading on this website:
The individual profiles for the 1974 Weltmeister
Retro Speak RS004
Scale Models SMR003