Words and photos courtesy of Hong Yeo
18 years ago, I remember being over-excited after I ordered the UT F1 LM edition from the 1996 ‘Holiday Edition’ Exoticar Catalogue at a retail price of $29.99 + shipping. If you’re like me, you’ll also remember when Exoticar couldn’t get rid of them and had them on sale for just $14.99 a year later.
People remember because as Ebay started, values for older UT models began to skyrocket and the McLaren F1 LM became one of the hottest auctioned item aside from the ‘unicorn’ UT black F355 (and the UT NYPD police car for some reason). At its peak, the UT McLaren F1 LM edition went as high as $1100 (depending on which ‘winged version’ you had) and just like the real car, people were kicking themselves for not buying the F1 LM from Exoticar back in 2007 by the truckload.
The values of the UT F1 LM may be near 2006 figures today, but values aside, there is no denying that the McLaren F1 LM is very much a part of my model car history. Opening up the brand new AUTOart McLaren F1 LM edition today brought back a lot of memories.
Details aside, I always felt the UT version misrepresented the F1 in regards to the overall shape. The actual car has so much more curvature and surface volume change and the UT models (both 1/12 and 1/18 scales) seemed to have the car feel too flat and heavy. When AUTOart released the new road cars, that’s what I loved the most- they seemed to capture the right ‘feel’ and the cars looked lighter and curved.
So AUTOart had a good base to begin with, it was just a matter of putting together the right details.
(Before that, I must point out how stupid the AA signature boxes are. It is impossible to open one without ripping out the ‘tabs’. The black paper is simply too thin and it takes a brain surgeon with a scalpel to carefully lift out the tabs while pushing the lid out. They need to find a better solution.)
Back to the model. I’m not going to lie, it is a very good model but it does have some very weak points. The disappointments really depends on your expectation.
Most of the inaccuracies were in the front bumper. Like many have pointed out, I was worried about the base of the front bumper being too ‘tucked in’ as the base of the real car front bumper ‘flares out’ where it meets the front splitter on the real car. It’s not as bad as I thought, but still disappointing nevertheless. The depth of the front bumper intakes are all wrong as well. However, I was happy to see the mid-section of the front bumper from top view being flatted off like the real car. It doesn’t look right when you see the model, but the real car doesn’t look right either.
Other inaccuracies include carbon portion of the rear spoiler supports tapering off, front wheel offsets being too pushed in, rear reflector/reverse lamps being recessed, tailpipes being too small and too pushed in, front cover ducts being too shallow, and top front windshield corners are too squared off (problem from the old mold).
There are also details that aren’t represented like the front headlamp covers missing its rivets, door pillar missing side panel latches (driver’s side should have them), and tailpipe panel rivets missing.
…I am nitpicking, of course because it is a very, very, very expensive model.
Now that I got those out of the way, there are some incredible details that will blow you away. Rivets are so well done on this model, I don’t know how they did it with such a thick paint job. The floor patterns in the interior are amazing (it looks odd but when you see it up close, it is the F1 logo pattern like the real car), and the engine mesh is spot on. The wheel ‘F1 LM’ logos are actually de-bossed like the real thing, and the door hinges are accurate (and will hold the doors!). The paint is much better, just a little on the thick side. There are interior LM details that are well done (gear shift knob, e-brake lever) as well.
I did have two very big issues with the model. The first one is small- I just wished the front alcantara dash had some sort of a texture instead of a flat grey plastic. The other; however, is a deal breaker for me- Headphones. As I’ve said earlier, the disappointment depends on your expectations and the headphones really killed it for me. If you have the F1 roadcar, you’ll know what the luggages are made out of. Well, the headphones are made out of the same material and level of detail. The quality is so bad that I actually want to rip them out. I had such high hopes on that detail because that tiny detail is what makes the LM edition so much special. When you look at the Amalgam F1 LM in 1:8 scale, that is the detail that makes you smile. It is such a missed opportunity, so unforgivable on such a good model.
This is one of the longest reviews I’ve ever written, but it’s because the LM is very special for me. For those who know me personally will know why. It won’t win any model of the year awards and the price seems to be adjusted in relation to the real car. At the end of the day, it sits on my display cabinet next to my papaya orange Montoya Test F1 car, reminding me of the good old days at work.