Monday, November 16, 2009


Palm-of-the-hand sized 1:43 is the most popular scale worldwide for diecast vehicles, and quite right too - for both display and storage, it’s ideal. Not too big, not too small, and with enough real estate for a good manufacturer to pack in the detail that’ll please most of us.

In the kit world it’s a different matter though, with the bigger 1:24/25/32 scales being far more popular than 1:43. There are some exceptions, including a selection offered by the French Heller company, but while these are OK enough, they're not the absolute state of the art for detail and presentation.

The prize for 1:43 detail really belongs to Monogram’s short-lived ‘Ultimates’ kits, produced in 1990-91. There were just two kits in the ‘range’, a Chevrolet Corvette and an AC Cobra. Nearly two decades on, an Ultimates kit still looks good, presented in a biggish box containing a fine combination of plastic, rubber, and photo-etched metal components, plus decal sheet. The shiny bits are neatly chromed, and the one-piece body free of flash or distortion, just as it should be. The box-top shows the kit’s quality off well - the photo is about twice life-size, yet looks very good indeed.

It’s a pity production lasted for such a short time, and that the range never expanded past these two desirable sports cars. Still, if you’d like to try one or both, Monogram Ultimates appear on eBay from time to time, and are not expensive. It could be worthwhile getting two of each - one to build, one to lay down for the future. We came up with these items here.

Here are some Heller kits to various scales, including a Lotus F1 racer to 1:43 scale here.

The pictures above show:
1 Boxes for both Ultimates kits.
2 Parts for the AC Cobra.
3 Assembled Ultimates Chevy Corvette.
4 A pair of Monogram Corvettes, to 1:43 and 1:8 scale.

Assembled Corvettes supplied by Mat Irvine.