REVIEW: Road Kings "Smokey & The Bandit" Model Range by DM •

REVIEW: Road Kings “Smokey & The Bandit” Model Range by DM

Today we´re “eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking” for models that celebrate the second most successful movie after Star Wars in 1977, a quintessentially 1970s road movie, many of us loved as a kid back in the day, even before understanding some of the saltier jokes. “Smokey & The Bandit” had all the ingredients of light-headed fun revolving around motoring.

One of the first items launched naturally was Greenlight`s Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, not only this 1977 appearing in the first (and best) movie, but also the one from the sequels. Now, Greenlight doesn´t do the most refined models and this here is no exception with neither steerable front wheels, an opening hood nor boot, only opening doors, but the licensed product does have the correct BAN ONE Georgia plates, surprisingly carpeting inside and some wonderful golden accent striping and Firebird ornaments and “Trans Am” scripts. So “does this thing go?” … “Oh yeah!”

Ironically for a trucking movie, this and Greenlight´s two Plymouth Fury cop cars, a Mississippi Highway Patrol and an Arkansas State Police, to join the chase plus a Ford Bronco to help cheer the Bandit on could have been all and no one would have taken the franchise any further if Mike Neagu from Romania, when setting up his business MN Trailers to make trailers for 1:18 trucks, hadn´t made the “Smokey & The Bandit” trailer, even though not even any American tractor existed in scale to complete the big rig by then. What we have here is the revised version, with two axles on suspensions with 4x real rubber double tires plus spares underneath, lowering legs for the uncoupled trailer, Hobbs mud flaps, non-transparent rear lights, opening and locking rear doors, a wooden boards floor decal (that he would happily make in real wood if you wanted) and a removable roof to access any cargo. As in the movie “there is beer in Texarkana”, I made some Coors boxes and filled them with bottles for the bootlegging run that the movie revolves around, hence the refrigerating unit upfront of the trailer.

It all just started to make the sense when Road Kings jumped on the bandwagon and made the Peterbilt. They probably knew Mike´s customers would all be buying it, so they kept the Kenworth W900 for later, which is … NOW. The first colour is, without being licensed by the movie makers, clearly aimed to resemble Snowman´s tractor in black with gold ornamental stripes, even though the sleeper on the model is too large to match the movie´s machine. Like with the Pete, the Kenworth is a lot of trucks for a mere 160 Euros. Matching Greenlights Trans Am in quality, you get a nice exterior. The roof lights are now transparent, no longer painted on as on the Pete. While the Peterbilt had a diecast metal front chrome bumper, the Kenworth´s is only plastic. Maybe this is why the Kenworth, despite being slightly longer, is noticeably much lighter than the Pete. A novelty over the Peterbilt is the tire brandings, Dunlops for the steerable front wheels, and 4×2 BF Goodrich rubbers on the two rear axles.

For the Peterbilt, the mirrors came detached for you to install, and with these being pre-installed on the Kenworth you are wondering, what the two chromed tubes forming a right angle are, as no instructions are included in the box and product pics usually don´t show them installed. I reached out to the manufacturer and got the answer: antennas to be installed on the mirror and above the doors. Makes sense for a movie that made CB radio chatter more popular, “Bandit”, “Snowman” and “Smokey” being callsigns and CB-speak.

As on the Peterbilt, the bullnose is not exposing the engine, and this time there is a not-so-nice visible split of the two halves that shape the barrel-shaped fuel tanks, but the doors at least open, although you should not expect too much from the cabin´s interior. At least, it is improved over the Peterbilt whose dashboard is a brown sticker with gauges printed on two-dimensionally and no shift stick at all. By contrast, the Kenworth has three-dimensional coloured gauges and buttons as part of the dashboard mould and a shifter.

I usually don’t mention the packaging, but with Road Kings, I experience the least user-friendly mounting into the Styrofoam shell ever. Not that having screws through the styrofoam and plastic funnel reinforcements into a models metal chassis is an unusual or bad idea, but two have the screwheads 10cm down from the surface in a dark hole is a channel illustrated best by my photo of the screwdriver I had to use to reach and move the screw next to the drivers usually used and often supplied with a model. And that with a huge and heavy model you want to unscrew in no other position than from below with delicate mirrors pre-installed. Phew!

That despite the missing reference to the movie this colour option is not a coincidence is made clear by the fact that Road Kings, being a sub-brand of KK´s models (with their Miami Vice Ferrari), offer two figurines as add-ons, priced exactly the same as the Miami Vice heroes. However, Bandit and Snowman both look a little stuck up and stiff, Bandit having his arms straight by his side and his fingers at a strange 90 degrees angle as if he were carrying suitcases, Cledus seated with his hands’ palms down on his thighs. Bandit seems to be modelled on a 70´s movie merchandise action figure, I remember. Honestly, (sitting) Crockett and Tubbs had a cooler, more credible pose

You will admit that this is a very impressive product range for a single movie, not to mention the old red BoS 1970s Cadillac Eldorado Convertible that would fit in to give Big and Little Enos their proper ride. So please forgive the tour de force of not concentrating on one item as usual, but it´s “a long way to go and a short time to get there”. I hope, you´ll forgive the quality of Highway diorama shelf shots (the trailers do not fit into the lighting tent) and will enjoy their atmosphere instead.

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16 Responses to "REVIEW: Road Kings “Smokey & The Bandit” Model Range by DM"

  1. DS Team says:

    Wow, quite impressive, especially if you are a Smokey & The Bandit fan! Love the overall presentation, and the skids of beer are truly priceless! LOL!!

  2. Andrew Evans says:

    Great article and great pcitures. The only complaint I could have on the figures is Sally Field’s Frog character is wat too tall -she is the same height as Burt reynolds in the pic-she should be shorter.

    • Karsten says:

      Thank you, Andrew!

      Sally´s shoes have slight heels, but you are right, it´s still not entirely correct. Figures usually don´t account for individual differences in height. In fact the two ladies in the background are the same height.

      What is more of an issue to me with figurines is that some manufacturers, despite selling them as 1/18, make their figurines way too tall or far too small and petite, so that they become off-scale. Early American Diorama figures are more like 1/20 (credibly crewing my 1/20 boats), while later ones have “grown” to 1/18.

  3. Andy says:

    The Snowmans dog is called Fred, not Geoffrey as you’ve said in the article 😉

    • Karsten says:

      Corrected, thanks! (I translated it back into English from my childhood memories of the German dubbing of the movie; there it was called “Gottfried”).

  4. Charlie says:

    Not to be a rivet counter, but like the Ertl/Authentics General Lee, the color and font is wrong on the license plate. This plate was in use in Georgia when I got my driver’s license, and I still have the vanity plate that was on my Land Rover I drove in High school. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but IIRC, in the Dukes of Hazzard, the plate was also wrong, and perhaps Ertl copied the faux plate. For Smokey, I don’t recall seeing a “BAN-ONE” plate on the car in the film, but the one shown on the 1:18 here is also wrong in color and font.

    • Karsten says:

      Thanks for some local knowledge on the plates. As for the registration, the Trans Am did have the BAN ONE registration in the movie

      • Charlie says:

        First pic is a correct GA License plate from 1976 through the early ’80s. The second is my vanity plate, sun bleached from twenty years hanging outside on my garage. Note that if you had a vanity plate during these years, the bottom of the plate would read “Peach State” rather than having the rectangle for the county sticker. In the case of BAN-ONE, it should read “Peach State” and in the case of the General Lee, it should read “Hazzard”

        • Karsten says:

          Again thanks for the input and reality check. Model makers quite often do not reproduce license place accurately; I have long noticed this for German plates. It can be remedied aftermarket where necessary.
          But Greenlight is not to blame here: Except for the font (particularly the B) not being spot on, the plate is as in the movie (and subsequent merchandising). So it seems the film production team got this (BAN) ONE wrong. You might blame them for not doing the Georgia/Confederacy Flag front plate, though.

        • Motorhead says:

          The license plates used in both The Dukes Of Hazzard and Smokey And The Bandit were fake props made specifically for the movie or tv show. Based on Georgia plates, but not 100% accurate. So that means your memories of what a true Georgia plate would look like don’t really apply to TV shows and Movies.

  5. Stefan Göbel says:

    Hello Karsten, where could I get the Beer Boxes?

    • Karsten says:

      Hello Stefan, these Coors boxes are do-it-yourself. You probably know where to get the bottles and the pallets. I have made an A4 PDF template to print on cardboard (paper is too thin, laser print recommeded), cut out and then fold yourself. There is 2 versions, 1 for boxes, 1 for pallets. Coors images were taken from the internet.

  6. Tony Trout says:

    WOW! I’m so thrilled that Road King’s has done a 1:18 scale build of the SATB rig & that legendary Trans-Am!!! I’m going to now try my best to find one of these and BUY IT!

    Thanks for the review!

    Take Care,
    Tony Trout

  7. Jeff evans says:

    What is the overall length of the truck and trailer

    • Karsten says:

      Length overall with the above MN trailer is ca. 110 cm. Choosing Road King´s own recently launched trailer (not pictured here) with the Bandit Livery would shorten the rig to ca. 90 cm.

  8. Wayne Nugent says:

    A pity the truck in the movie was a Peterbilt.

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