SOLIDO S1800512 1/18 Volkswagen VW 1303 “Custom Metallic Red”

It is now four years since I reviewed the first of Solido’s 1/18 scale SEBs: the 1303 Weltmeister 1974 in Cliff Green. At that time it would have been difficult to imagine just how many more SEB related 1303 models Solido would subsequently manufacture.

Whilst this the latest “1303 “Custom Metallic” is, strictly, a representational model rather than a more serious replica of any actual SEB manufactured by Volkswagen in Europe I feel it has sufficiently strong SEB connections to warrant being reviewed alongside the others. The reason being that it brings to the market, within the scope of that representation guise, some very authentic SEB related details described in our profile on the Glitter Bug.

The tooling on which Solido base all their 1303 models has been thoroughly discussed in previous SMR reviews so I am going to head straight into specifics about this particular new issue with some points of clarity. Given that it is based on Solido’s investment last year in tooling up for a North American market version Beetle with the appropriately larger front turn signal/side marker lights – and that it carries attractive “California” licence plates – this is definitely not a 1303 despite its engine lid badging! Rather it is in fact a Super Beetle! (or Bug).

Oh! and neither is it a ’74 . It is a ’73 from the last year before upgraded bumpers with telescopic supports were introduced on North American bound Beetles…

The model pays homage to, and celebrates, late sixties/early seventies Stateside custom styling. For a start the paintwork is superb in both colour and in its impression of depth of finish. It catches the light in a very authentic custom paint job way.

Solido’s choice of Fuchs rims is a clever economy of tooling and not that way off target either. Whilst the Cal’ look was the most solid (and now long enduring) custom style for Beetles- invariably with lavish use of EMPI parts and accessories other styling schools of thought were out there also. The Formula Vee with its VW accessory packages is arguably the other most understood and practiced Beetle custom theme. As for the personalised, truly customised, approaches Fuchs rims have always been a familiar “must have”. After all most Beetles aspire to being a 911 deep down in their soul – and especially by the similarly McPherson strut equipped “Supers”.! At the cheap end later Beetles with the four bolt wheels could be shod with five bolt Fuchs using 4/5 bolt adapters. Many though were fitted with the wheels because they had been adapted by the installation of Porsche gearboxes and engines squeezed into the rear end space..

For me this particular model moves up a notch in the ratings thanks to the inclusion of a decal sheet that is an authentic replication of one of the very distinctive 1970s custom theme decor sets offering from 3M as part of their “Glitter Bug” finish . A point clearly made by Solido on their website :

“In 1970, the Beetle was already a classic in the car world. In association with the American brand 3M, the manufacturer released a series of vehicles in glittery shades with kits to customize the car. We did the same with this “Custom” Beetle and its 3M “Zandvoort Streaks” kit.”

It is therefore the addition of this decal sheet that really qualifies the model for inclusion here. As with any long thin waterslide decal the three part stripes set takes some care to apply and no doubt seasoned modellers will look to the various proprietary liquids to make the job easier. I just resorted to time and patience.

Adapting a diecast scale model with any sort of modification over and above those intended by the manufacturer is, for me, something very much off of my radar. However in this instance I felt that, in support of the decal set, the Glitter Bug image needed boosting in some way. So bumper removal and replacing the license plate onto the front valance panel seemed a pretty logical, easily achievable and visually effective minor task well worth the effort. Prior to application of the decals I had also used some automotive colour restoring polish to remove the erroneous engine lid badging. This was done very gently with small amounts of the polish on a soft cloth using gentle pressure. My original intention was to apply a correct “VOLKSWAGEN” script from the SEBeetles/BEETLENESS decal sheet but once I had cleaned the 1303 script off I decided to replace it with the Glitter Bug engine lid decal from the Solido sheet.

I found that just one small further addition to my modifications made quite a significant improvement to the look of the model. Unlike the previous Sports Bug release the North American front turn signal/side marker lights on the “Custom” have not been fully painted in during manufacture at the Solido factory. This is very easily rectified by a couple of coats of TAMIYA Clear Orange LP-53 Lacquer Paint.

Fun, representational but certainly visually eye catching: all you have to decide is whether to have a “Stock Custom” of “Glitter Bug” style Super’ … or of course one of each!

Appreciation: My grateful thanks to SOLIDO for making it possible to review this Scale Model on its release for the benefit of SEB enthusiasts worldwide.

Stephen Paul Hardy,
England. 10th July 2020

Further reading on this website:
The individual profile for the 1970 Glitter Bug

European Production E.3 – Badging Scale Models SMR003 – 007

This page last modified: 2020-07-27