The Mean Machine
MPC 1/25, Ref. MPC935/12
What a great idea the MPC folks had in re-releasing the kits from the famed Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Racers. I believe that at least four of those race ‘cars’ were released in 1969 by MPC, later also by Kellogs, and at least two of them, the Mean Machine and the Compact Pussycat, are now available here in Belgium in September 2021.
The Mean Machine is of course the main contender in Wacky Racers series of cartoons, belonging to the infamous Dick Dastardly. Wearing race number 00, it features a great many ingenious but also dangerous contraptions that help Dick cheat when he is competing with the other racers. The Mean Machine is a purple, rocket-powered vehicle with an abundance of concealed weapons and gadgets, and it can even fly!
I can’t be 100% sure that the newly released kit is exactly that of 1969, but the packaging has remained the same (bar a new reference code), and looking suitably vintage for us 21st Century dwellers. The black & white instruction sheet (still wearing the original reference number) is mostly made up of illustrations and pictures. It’s not a complicated build with just 39 parts, one of which being a tool designed to help put together the operating wheels and simplistic axles. This tool can then be turned into a toy, the Wacky-Whirler, as indicated in the instructions.
The parts appear to be the very same than those of 1969, the quality of the moulding is, let’s say, average with few details, and some flash is apparent here and there. I would think that those interested in this kit (and the others in the series) will probably invest a bit of time to bring it up to current ‘standards’. The nose cone, for instance, is blunt while it should be pointed, no doubt a way for MPC to limit the risks of injuries to their customers and limit the number of court cases for their legal department..! The parts are moulded in a bright yellow plastic, but one sprue, that carrying the bodywork, wheel hubs and steering wheel has been metal plated in light purple. Both yellow and light purple metallic plating have little to do with the scheme seen on ‘real’ car. The chrome plating will need to go, for sure, if only to ensure proper cementing of the parts!
The kit includes both Dick Dastardly and his not-so-loyal pet dog, Muttley both rather accurate but each in two halves (left & right), meaning that some time will need being spent on turning them into good representations The kit does not lack of reminders that this is a Hanna-Barbera product, one of them being printed inside one half of each of the two characters…
Sadly, the kit does not come with a transparent , rear hinged ‘bubble’ or ‘canopy’ and this could prove a tricky part to scratchbuild, which probably explains why most Mean Machine ‘reconstitutions’ that are seen online do not have the bubble. But it is clearly seen in some of the cartoons.
Marking-wise, MPC have provided us with stickers (!) and, thankfully, proper decals. Decaling instructions, as well as painting instructions for Dick and his dog are printed on the outside of the bottom half of the box, the bottom of this container also printed with various warnings/disclaimers and a rendering of the parts included in the kit.
The product, a snap-tite type of kit, was obviously designed for the younger modellers in mind, but with care and patience, could be turned into a real show-stopper by one of those young-hearted people turned 50 or more now!
It’s certainly great to see those kits coming back. Let’s hope MPC find this re-release suitably financially-rewarding so that they invest some of that money into further representations of the Wacky Racers contraptions!
Review & pictures by Domi Jadoul, Round 2 & Hanna-Barbera.