Friday, March 9, 2018


ROCK BAND ZZ TOP MEETS the world of scale models with this 1:24 scale kit release from Revell.

Mat Irvine: To anyone who thinks this Revell kit looks familiar, that’s because it is a reissue of the Monogram ZZ Top Eliminator kit, first released in 1985.

The actual vehicle was commissioned in 1976 as a one-off hot rod custom by Billy Gibbons, founder of the ZZ Top band, and long-time car enthusiast. It took some seven years before the Eliminator was rolling, but since then, it has appeared in various forms on several ZZ Top album covers, and in a number of videos.

The car’s first album appearance was on the jacket of the 1983 release Eliminator. This features artwork by Tom Hunnicutt, which is also used for the box-art (below) on this Revell kit reissue.

The Eliminator is based on a 1933 Ford three-window coupe, and retains mostly a stock body, though the roof was chopped by three inches. Changes to the running gear are faithfully reproduced in the kit. There’s a small-block Chevrolet 350 V8 - a favourite with hot rodders - which has specially engraved ‘ZZ Top’ valve covers and air cleaner. The axles are lowered front and rear, and the ride is via a set of billet wheels equipped with modern tyres, supplied with the kit in black vinyl.

The parts layout (below). Note the decals (below right) include seat patterns.

The bodywork of the kit has an opening hood, with a detailed engine bay. There is also a separate trunk lid, though oddly the trunk itself is not detailed. So your first task on building the kit is probably to just cement the trunk in place. A minor error is that the included driver’s side-mirror is not on the actual car. There is a small locating hole for this on the A-pillar, but it’s an easy matter to fill and sand it smooth.

The side of the box (below) shows some ZZ Top album covers that have featured the car.

The Revell box art (below right) matches the painting used for the Eliminator album cover.

The kit is moulded in red, which I recommend you augment with a sprayed top coat of either Humbrol or Testors bright red. The interior is also red, with a white insert for the seats and interior door panels. This has meant a slight change to decals this time around. The distinctive side-stripes, designed by Kenny Youngblood, are there, as is ZZ Top licence plate, but Revell supplies the white seat patterns as decals, an increasingly common detail with recent car kits.

The finished model (above, below) assembles to make an accurate representation of the original vehicle.

With the hood removed, the neatly moulded engine (below) sits neatly into its bay.

The Eliminator chassis (below) with body removed to show the engine, with my added wiring. Note the ZZ Top logo on the air cleaner and valve covers.

The kit does not provide figures of the ZZ Top band, but Scale Production of Germany has issued a three-figure set, called ‘The Band.’ Despite the name, which was used by the Robbie Robertson group that occasionally backed Bob Dylan, the Scale Production figures are indeed of ZZ Top.

However, the trio are not in the current lineup from Scale Production. So at the moment, you will either have to make or convert your own figure set, or do without.

My Eliminator (below) posed with the Scale Production figures. From left to right, they represent Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Dusty Hill.

I completed the conversion (below) to match the art featured on the album Afterburner. I used the front of a Monogram kit to replace the nose of a Tamiya 1:100 scale Shuttle Orbiter. The stand was an Airfix item. On reflection, I should have added ZZ Top stripes down the sides!

All four boxes (below) for the 1:24 scale version. The oldest is the Monogram kit (top left), the newest is the current Revell (bottom right).

Monogram also made the car (below) in smaller 1:32 scale.

About ZZ Top
ZZ Top was formed by Billy Gibbons in 1969, and has had the current lineup since 1970, so they are coming up for 50 years! That’s a longevity likely beaten only by the Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. Since 1970, ZZ Top has consisted of Billy Gibbons (lead), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums). And if you can’t tell them apart, well, Frank Beard is the easy one - he hasn’t got a beard, but he does have a moustache. It’s more difficult with Billy and Dusty, as their beards almost match. However, Dusty plays a four-string bass, while Billy has the six-string guitar.

And as an aside, there have been two Eliminators. Demand for the car at shows was so great that Billy Gibbons had a clone constructed.

Scale stats
Revell: ZZ Top Eliminator
Scale: 1:24
Parts: 70
Assembled length: 171 mm (6.75 in)
Manufacturer’s ref: 85-4465

SMN note: According to Russell Hall of Gibson guitars the ZZ Top  Eliminator came about like this: “…The process of custom-building the Eliminator coupe ensued after a lengthy correspondence between Gibbons and Chapouris, co-owner of a business called Pete and Jake’s Hot Rod Repair. Together the two enlisted restoration expert Don Thelan to serve as the builder.

“After many mysterious months of waiting, I happened by chance to bump into both Pete and Jake [Jacobs] in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, during the East Coast Hot Rod Nationals,” Gibbons said. “That’s when we decided to construct this little red hot rod.”

Driving the Eliminator sounds a good highway experience: “…We went from L.A. to New York, and had no problems with the car at all. All we had to do was fill up the tank. It took ten days, and we drove in the fast lane. There were definitely times when we were glad there were no radar detectors around.”

So now you know. Thanks Russell.

Thanks to Revell-Monogram for the review kit.