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Build a Better BRONCO

Broncolead
Broncobox
The 1966-1977 Ford Bronco has been a popular compact SUV for five decades, and it’s surprising there have only been a couple of resin kits (derived from vintage toys) but never a plastic kit of the first Bronco.

Revell’s new Bronco kit was a must-have for me.

Looking at publicity images, there’s a well-detailed 302 V-8, full chassis detail, excellent interior detail, a removable hardtop, and a movable swing-away spare-tire carrier. A couple of items stood out in the photos asking for further scrutiny when the kit was in my hands: The wheels looked quite small inside the tall sidewalls, and the grille looked too flat. Would the production kit appear any different?

The kit as a whole is good: crisply molded and well detailed.

The box illustration seems to be derived from the box-art model, mimicking a couple of areas under scrutiny as seen on the side panels, starting with the side stripes ahead of the front wheels that drop too low, then kick up at an odd angle, rather than parallel with the ground and aligned with the front fender character line.

The wheels are nicely engraved open steel, complete with lug nuts and locking hubs for the front wheels. There are separate chrome wheel covers to be applied over the steel wheels; the front wheel covers have open centers to clear the locking hubs. There are red ring decals to help detail the centercap area of the wheel covers.

Tires are generic modern offroad-style with tall sidewalls and knobby tread; they look good, but are not factory-stock.

Initial observations were validated upon opening the box: the wheels look as small in person as they did in the promotional photos – especially when inserted into the tall tires. The wheels measure visibly to 13" in scale rather than the 15" or 16" sizes used on the Bronco.

More disappointing is how this relates to the wheel covers, which by design are smaller in diameter than the wheels, because of the visible ring of painted metal on the steel wheels underneath.

It’s the first time this particular wheel cover has been made, but it’s too small to look accurately scaled on the Bronco. This is unfortunate, particularly for replica-stock builders. Had these wheels and wheelcovers been identically produced but properly sized, they’d be considered excellent.

On the finished Bronco, these beautiful-but-small wheels make the model appear like a model of larger vehicle than the compact Bronco.

The rest of the chassis looks quite good and goes together fairly well, though it’s upgraded a bit over replica stock. There is fully-detailed twin
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The decal sheet is comprehensive, with a few options. Decals for emblems, dash, seat inserts, engine components, and stripes. The leading edge of the stripes on the front end of the Bronco are drawn incorrectly; they drop down too low and curl upward, not following the contours of the front fender correctly ahead of the wheels.
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Kit instructions refer to the Bronco being built as a 1971 or 1973 variant. The white unpainted air cleaner is the 1971 variant, with instructions on cutting and repositioning the intake hose for the 1973 variant, as seen on the blue-painted air cleaner.
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The crisp 302 V-8 fits snugly between the frame rails of the chassis. Note the decal for the oil filter and the molded vacuum advance on the distributor.
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The chrome alternator was stripped and painted silver. Here you can see how it is molded with brackets that attach to the front cover, so it doesn’t hang out in space.
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With many body-color pieces, I was careful to paint them at the same time, so the color would be uniform. I painted under the hood, then temporarily installed the windshield frame, hood, and the interior side panels into the body.
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A tooling flaw on the frame rail prevents proper attachment of the skidplate. At the top you see the left side frame rail with two mounting holes; next to it, the skid plate with two corresponding pins. The problem is seen below: the right side frame rail should have a hole for the single skidplate pin, but has an even larger pin that needs to be removed. Also note that the transfer case angle as attached to the transmission might cause the skidplate to not fully seat onto the frame rails; I had to break it off and reposition it with glue.
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I trimmed the offending pin on the frame rail and drilled a hole for the skidplate; this made assembly to the frame precise, as designed.
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The finished chassis prior to final assembly and addition of the wheels and tires. It has a nice level of detail. Fit is generally good, though factory-stock builders might not like the dual exhaust with glasspacks in place of a single exhaust with stock muffler.
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Floor pan construction starts with installation of the seven-piece rear seat. The three-piece roll bar is an optional accessory that fits into holes that are flashed over on the floorpan.
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Interior construction just prior to final assembly. I chose to build my Bronco without the seat-pattern decals; as a result, the seats and door panels could stand to have light weathering or a light wash added to bring out the subtle molded pleat detail on the white material.
I-beam suspension, twin shocks at each corner, a two-piece transfer case protected by a skid plate, and twin fuel tanks.

From the factory, Broncos had a single exhaust; the kit features dual exhausts with glasspacks instead of mufflers.
I found one minor tooling issue installing the skid plate; see photos for details on the easy fix.

The engine went together well and looks good finished. The only real issues I had were the too-bright chrome finish of the alternator/bracket piece (which itself is quite nice; the alternator is securely located by the brackets and not hanging out in space as most models depict), and an oversize pulley pin designed to insert into the receiver hole in the middle of the alternator.

The other pulleys are precisely located with pins at the harmonic balancer underneath and where the fan locates in the water pump location above it. I removed the alternator pin; the pulley lined up perfectly in front of the alternator without it.

Interior detail is nice, assembling platform-style with well-detailed and engraved side and inner tailgate panels; kudos for the embossed reverse “Ford” lettering included to match the outer tailgate lettering.

The simple instrument panel is well-engraved for detail-painting and uses decals for the speedometer and radio.

Front seats are two pieces each; the rear seat starts as a basic frame that holds separate top and bottom cushions. Rear armrests are two pieces each and attach to the rear seat.

There’s an optional 3-piece roll bar behind the front seats; instructions show where to open up flashed-over holes to locate it. Be sure to do some research to paint-detail the interior; there's a good bit of body-colored metal inside.

Decals are included for the top-line seat and door panel pattern. These look excellent on the sheet, but I did not use them on my model, preferring a simpler look inside.

Everything fit well on the interior, with no surprises during final assembly installing the chassis and interior to the body. Locator pins make for a secure assembly of the chassis to the floorpan, and the floorpan itself is securely located to the inner body.

Shape and proportions of the body generally look good, though the body sides between the wheels are somewhat flat, missing some subtle curvature and tuck-under at the rocker panels.

There are minor sink marks on the surfaces of the hood and roof where underside bracing is molded. I used thicker primer in those areas and block-sanded the surfaces smooth.

Fine details on the body could be obliterated by overzealous sanding (especially the hood hinges), yet mold lines are faint and need little attention prior to painting.

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The kit wheels, detailed and installed into the kit tires. The tires look larger in total diameter than the original tires, and look good with nice tread detail. The open steel wheels have precise engraving. Unfortunately, the wheels scale to 13 inches: two inches shy of what the Bronco came with. It’s obvious, even in scale.
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The calipers tell the story; the kit wheels are .56" diameter, or 14" visual diameter in 1/25 scale. The visible diameter on 1:1 wheels includes the visible bead retainer ring that makes a wheel’s visible diameter about an inch larger than the stated size.
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I waited until the chassis was installed before putting on the wheel and tire assemblies. This allowed me time to thin the inner rear fenders that were conflicting with the outer top edges of the tires.
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The wheel covers have fine detailing, but the bright and thick plating over the relatively faintly engraved radial fin pattern makes it bit difficult to apply a successful wash to accentuate the black finned accents. I used .005" pigment liner for the more prominent fins. The front wheel covers have open centers to clear the 4WD hubs, though after installation, the hubs are a bit too short and sunken inside the wheel covers.
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I’m not sure what the mystery electronic component is on the right side wheel housing, where Broncos often had an optional radiator overflow tank. I had to reposition the air cleaner after this photo so the hood would seat all the way down.
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The engine compartment on the finished model. Without locator pins or tabs, there’s nothing but gravity to hold the hood in place. Conversely, the compartment doesn’t suffer from large and incorrect openings for “fake” hood hinges.
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The instrument panel. Engraved detail is good, and there are decals for the speedometer, radio, and the horn on the steering wheel.
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There’s a hitch retainer on the chassis, separate brackets on the right-rear corner for the spare tire carrier assembly, white (or black) decals for the tailgate lettering, a separate license plate frame/bracket, and separate chrome taillight and reflectors.
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The spare-tire carrier bracket attaches to the body brackets at the right rear corner. The vertical pins that loosely locate the carrier in the brackets rely on gravity to hold them in place if the carrier is desired to operate as a swingaway.
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I often use red and amber Sharpies to detail taillight and turn-signal lenses. It works particularly well on chrome, as it retains the reflective qualities. This red Sharpie has a fine-point tip and a larger tip on the opposite end.
It’s a good idea to paint all body-color components at the same time for color match. The windshield frame can be attached temporarily; it’s glued in later stages as the side glass is installed just ahead of fitting the hardtop.

If glued too early, the resulting windscreen angle may not match the side glass, which is important for lining up all three pieces and the leading edge of the top.

The side glass is molded with the window frames that are visible at all times, even when the windows are down.

Decals are included for the 302 engine and Bronco emblems on the sides, and the Ford lettering on the tailgate and grille. There is a choice of black or white Ford lettering for the tailgate, and black, silver, or red lettering for the grille.

The grille is chrome-plated and nicely detailed, with open grille slats and concave headlight and turn signal reflectors under separate clear lenses.

The center of the grille is flat, with vertical grille bars from all angles, missing the Bronco’s subtle convex contouring where the center bar between the headlights juts slightly outward, creating a convex shape absent on the kit piece. It looks acceptable and many may not notice it, but would have been better had the shape not been ignored.

I chose to omit the white stripes for the body and hood for two reasons:

First, I was looking for a more simple factory paint scheme; second, because the front of the side stripes are drawn incorrectly, they look awkward on the model. A patient modeler will be able to measure and trim the decals carefully so that they will fit the contours of the fender, though it will be tricky lining up the edges of the pinstripes precisely without a gap or potential overlap.

There are separate chrome door handles, a chrome two-piece side mirror, twin chrome fuel caps, separate chrome wipers and rearview mirror, and a separate rear license plate bracket.

The swing-away spare tire carrier looks good, but falls off easily if not glued in place when handling the model.

Small, loose-fitting pins relying on gravity are the only pieces to keep the carrier bracket and wheel from falling off; the wheel’s weight acts as a pendulum when the model is picked up. 

If the pins holding the carrier to the body brackets had separate retaining rings or were molded slightly longer to heat-swage the ends, it would help perfect the feature. Since the tailgate doesn’t open, I can live with the carrier permanently glued into place.

Judicious use of canopy glue or clear watch crystal cement is recommended for clean glass installation. I used a chisel-tip Sharpie to detail the black “gasket” edges of each piece of glass, followed by Bare-Metal foil for the chrome trim after the Sharpie application.

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The covered spare-tire carrier mounted on the carrier frame. The pin and receiver on the carrier frame allow the builder to use a different kitbashed or aftermarket wheel and tire if desired.
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There’s a nice level of detail on the chrome grille. The undercoat for the plating seems a bit thick, but the grille details out nicely. I used flat clear to render the recessed areas silver, and used clear acrylic paint to restore the chrome luster around the grille perimeter and the headlight bezels. Separate lenses and three different optional Ford logo decals complete the look.
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On the left are the front and rear Revell steel wheels mounted in the kit tires. On the top right is a Moebius F-100 front wheel (intended for 2WD; incorrect hub for 4WD), and the bottom right is the Moebius rear wheel installed into the Revell tire. The Revell tires fit the Moebius wheels well; a little more effort to get them seated inside the hollow tire, but the tires stretch perfectly over the Moebius wheels.
FOR BETTER WHEELS

Shortly after buying my Bronco kit and discussing the small wheel/too-tall sidewalls on the tires with a friend, he offered me a set of Moebius Ford F-100 steel wheels and tires to try out, as they’d likely be a good swap. The Revell steel wheels have slightly more-precise detail, but the Moebius wheels scale out to a proper 15" in diameter. I painted the Revell wheels and Moebius wheels the same color, and tried out a few combinations.
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I was given two sets of Moebius rear wheels so I could modify a pair with 4WD hubs. Rather than cut away the hubs from my second Bronco kit, I made my own 4WD hubs; the shapes are simple. I used 3/32" Evergreen styrene tube and a small piece of wire to locate it to the wheels. I started by drilling a hole in the center of the Moebius wheel.
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The wheel/tire shown with the Evergreen tube and brass wire for location.
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The Moebius wheels need some trimming in back so the Revell brake hubs and axle retainers will fit. Trim off the protruding nib on the Revell hub (right; untrimmed hub, left), and remove a bit of the wheel retainer boss on the back. A motor tool makes this a quick modification. Now the wheels will fit precisely onto the Revell axles.
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On the left are the Revell wheels and tires. In the middle are the Moebius wheels inserted into the Revell tires. On the right are the Moebius wheels and street tires. The Moebius wheels look much more accurate in-scale, and the Bronco looks good with the Revell offroad tires or the Moebius street tires. 
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My favorite look is with the Moebius street tires and wheels, and also with the exposed spare wheel and tire.
Like the spare-tire carrier, nothing but gravity holds the hood and the hardtop in place. I had to unglue and reposition the air cleaner to the carburetor to avoid slight contact between the hood and air cleaner that kept the hood from fully being seated.

When the rear wheels were attached, the top outer tire edges came in contact with the inside of the rear fenders in the middle of the fender openings, which required careful trimming to thin the fender enough to keep it separated from the tire. I was happy I chose to attach the wheels out-of-sequence with the instructions. The limitations of the Bronco’s small rear fender openings affect even model builders.

Despite the kit’s flaws, it’s good for any builder who is a fan of the Bronco.

I have tried older AMT Ford Ranger STX and newer Moebius F100 15" steel wheels inside these tires. They fit snugly inside the new Revell tires and are accurate sizewise and lookswise.

Although I’m disappointed with the small stock wheels, overall it’s a great model to start with, and I’m more than happy to finally have this Bronco added to my collection. Subjectwise, it’s a hit out of the ballpark.

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