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AMT "TV Tommy" Ivo front-engine dragster

AMT TV Tommy Ivo front-engine dragster
“TV Tommy” Ivo dragster
Round 2 No. AMT-621
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: White, clear, black
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: See dealer
Pros: First reissue of 1970 kit; care in packaging
Cons: Challenging body fit; stiff vinyl makes tire assembly difficult
The development of front-engine “rail” or “slingshot” dragsters progressed rapidly through the 1960s, and the genre peaked around 1970, when “TV” Tommy Ivo debuted a gorgeous racer with one of the most beautifully-sculpted bodies to ever grace a rail dragster. For about two years (before the rear-engine dragster rendered front-engine designs obsolete), this racer was among the best of its kind.   

AMT’s Tommy Ivo kit debuted in 1970, molded in orange, with a decal sheet replicating the entire paint and lettering scheme, and packaged with AMT’s too-small one-piece slicks. The box art was another classic. The kit was generally well-engineered, and relatively easy to assemble. Though a good seller at the time, it was never reissued.

Forty years later, AMT/Round 2 models dusted off the mold and reintroduced the Tommy Ivo dragster, and it preserves virtually all the points, good and otherwise, of the original kit.  The original box art is duplicated in vibrant color, with the only major change being a diagram of all the parts on the kit box bottom.

Inside is a near-exact reissue of the original kit, except for much-wider drag slicks and a much-higher-quality rendition of the original decal sheet.  

The chassis is essentially one piece, enabled by complicated three-piece sliding mold technology. The result is a sturdy casting that yields a dragster model that sits flat on the table when done, albeit with a slightly unrealistic section to the inside of the frame tubing that all-out contest modelers will want to correct. 
426 Hemi
The 426 Hemi engine is nicely replicated and quick to assemble. The cockpit is fully detailed and looks the part when done. The body parts allow assembly prior to painting, though if assembled as shown in the instructions, the upper body is not removable on the completed model.        

This reissue shows some aging of the tool; you’ll need the remove the two casting pins on top of the front torsion bars (at the very front of the chassis). The correct appearance is shown in Section 3 of the instructions. All locator pins should be test-fitted before gluing; some will need to be adjusted.

On my first kit, the lower body halves were warped inward at the front, but the body castings in my second kit were molded correctly. I recommend adding the side braces and front crossmember before painting, then insert the seat into the frame before completing the remainder of the interior assembly per Section 2 of the instructions.
AMT TV Tommy Ivo front-engine dragster
The vinyl for the later AMT-style fat drag slicks is much stiffer than the original AMT castings, so you will have to persuade (force) these parts together.  

The multipart headers were always a drawback of this kit, and here the tool shows substantial age-related damage that should have been cleaned up. I was unable to get the two-part header flange to line up properly, so for each side of the engine, I cut two of the header pipes away from one of the flanges and glued them to the other flange. After applying the decals and letting them dry, I carefully cut apart the upper body where it goes under the headers, so the front and rear cowls can be removed on the completed model.

I spent about 15 mostly-enjoyable hours on the build, and I am overjoyed to see the return of one of my favorite model kits. If you like front-engine dragsters, this kit is a “must.”  


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