Tuesday, March 9, 2010


David Jefferis reports
Every teen girl’s favourite, the Barbie doll, first went on sale on March 9, 1959, and shows no sign of slowing down in the 21st century, through a constant series of reinventions to keep her up to date with the latest fashions.

Of more significance to us model fans is that Barbie opened the door to non-girlie ‘male dolls’ such as Action Man, and through him to today’s host of science fiction miniatures, from Terminator robots to Star Trek aliens. And of course, the she-doll is so popular that real-world marketeers have produced a host of tie-ins over the years. For example, last year’s 50th birthday saw a totally cutified and chrome-laden blush-rose Fiat 500 (top picture).

The Fiat 500 is a terrific designer-look car, and model manufacturers seem to be queueing up to produce miniature versions. One of the newer names is Mondo Motors, a diecast company based on the outskirts of Alba, in north-west Italy. Mondo produces both ready-made and kit-versions of the 500, including the variations shown in the pix above. Mondo produces in all the popular scales - 1:18, 1:24, 1:32, 1:43, 1:64 - so there’s likely to be a 500 to the size you want somewhere. Mondo also produces an older style of 500, the original Cinquecento (bottom pic). This was a car so small that when my friend Kate used to give me a lift down the trendy King’s Road in London, my head pushed up the canvas roof into a dome-shape! Luckily in fine weather, the canvas rolled back, so the only danger then was a suntan and eyeball contact with the micro-skirted Chelsea chicks...

So far as accuracy goes, Mondo vehicles are sold primarily into the toy market, rather than as out-and-out scale models. Even so, they are mostly well up to the standards of better-known makers, such as Bburago. There’s a 1:18 scale Mondo metal-kit on the SMN model bench right now - we’re currently stripping off the paint to bare metal, ready for a Mad Max-style post-nuclear external finish. We’ll be adding suitable detail, such as weapons and sensors, plus appropriate battle damage and radiation-scarring too. With luck the project will turn into a sci-fi delight. We’ll show the MM 500 off when she’s ready.

Visit Mondo Motors here.

The Mondo Motors range, including the Fiat 500, is available to buy here.