Words and photos courtesy of Wes Shakirov / StratosWRC
The MP4/6 is one of the most iconic and easily recognizable Formula 1 cars of all time. Winning the 1991 Championship certainly helped with that, and being driven by Ayrton Senna helped some more. Today we’ll be reviewing the #2 car, driven by Gerhard Berger at the Japanese GP, where he promptly won the race after qualifying first. This model is somewhat highly anticipated by F1 fans. There’s not much out there in terms of detail when it comes to this car. The Minichamps version is quite old now, and a replacement was well overdue. Cue TSM, on point with their resin, but opening, MP4/6. And before you ask, yes the Marlboro decals are included.
It comes in the usual, but rather large, TSM box with the Marlboro decals in a ziploc baggie attached to the outside. As soon as you pick up the box, you start to wonder if there’s anything inside. It is very light, but that’s due to the model being resin. I actually prefer this, simply because it’s more accurate. The real car certainly wasn’t made of metal.
Opening the box reveals the model, mounted on a white base, and cocooned inside a protective, clear plastic enclosure. The rear wing is wrapped up in paper and supplied separately. The model is attached to the base with two screws, and can be removed should you wish. In fact, I would recommend that you remove it and suspend the model in the air so that the tires aren’t in contact with the base. Slick tires tend to develop bald patches on models, so it’s best they don’t touch anything.
First impressions are very positive. The model looks innately right and the white base is a fancy touch that elevates the presentation. If you’re like me, and love detail, you’ll instantly go for the body shell to get a look at that engine, but we’ll get there in a moment. The livery is done in decals due to the body being made of resin, and they are well applied. No sloppy work here. The windscreen is very thin and looks great. The interior is mostly dominated by the seat, with the seatbelts done very well, complete with Boss decals, and some sharply done photo-etched buckles. The cockpit is covered in carbon decals, which are also very well applied.
The tires and suspension all look great, with brakes sporting Brembo decals. If you shine a light at the rims, you’ll see that the brake discs are not plain plastic, but textured to look grainy. Nice touch and it looks awesome. Turning the car around, you’re treated to some more photo-etch detail, with the entrails peeking at you through the murky darkness. Oh, and the brake light is rendered very nicely, as well. So far, the only criticisms I can think of are maybe that the air intake opening above the driver’s head is a tad small and that the fitment of the shell where it meets the nose cone could have been a bit better. The front wheels seem to steer a little, and roll freely, although both are difficult to do while the model is still attached to its base.
On to the engine! The body shell is secured in place with four pieces of masking tape. Lifting it off, you’ll notice how light it is. If the exterior hasn’t captivated you by now, you’re in for a treat at this point. If there is a shortage of anything in the diecast (ahem, resin) world, it’s Formula 1 cars with opening engine compartments. Rejoice, people! This is probably the best engine on a semi-modern Formula 1 car, bar the Exoto models, but let’s not forget the price on those nowadays. The giant air intake is covered in a carbon decal. There are cables and braided wire hoses going about their business and looking amazing in the process. Granted, there are still some details missing, but that’s like every other model, apart from CMCs and the aforementioned Exotos. The floor under the engine is covered in aluminium foil. At the front, you can see the springs disappearing under the nose cone. The suspension is very nice and life like, and if you peer underneath the car, you’ll see the two exhaust tips, which are made of either metal or plastic, I can’t really tell. Overall, this model is a good tribute to the car.
This model isn’t without flaws, but considering it’s the first proper model of an iconic car, it’ll sell like hotcakes. TSM is only releasing 500 pieces of the two Senna versions, which I guarantee will disappear quickly, so get your pre-order in while you still can. Is it worth the money? That’s $235, in case you’re wondering, as listed on TSM’s website. Of course, MSRP prices are rarely seen in stores, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find one for less. The only comparison that can be made is to Spark’s F1 cars, which recently saw releases from the 80s era, and those are priced slightly lower than this model, yet have sealed bodies. I’m glad that TSM decided to make this model in opening form. It’s a solid effort and well worth adding to any F1 collection.