A New Take On Retro Cool

Building Car Models Like We Used To (In the Old Days)

By Warren Victor August 30, 2017

Who’s your child’s favorite car character from Disney·Pixar’s new summer blockbuster Cars 3 ? World champion racer Lightning McQueen? Young hotshot Jackson Storm? Female race technician Cruz Ramirez? Fans 5+ can assemble and play with any of the three car stars (or all of them!) with new Junior Kits from local company Revell – complete with a unique child-friendly screw and nut connector system, working headlights, action sounds, changeable mouth and eye expressions, and take-apart-and-put-back-together ability for hours of fun as well as STEAM learning.

Full disclosure: Some very nice people sent Chanin, my lovely wife, this model kit to review and enjoy. Since it’s car related and she thought I’d be interested to build it with our daughter Senna, I’ve taken the driver’s seat, so to speak. All opinions are our own.  

I don’t know what it is with kids these days. Most times we’re out at a restaurant or other public gathering I’ll take a look around and sure enough, every kid within throwing distance has their focus locked in on some device with a screen, fingers furiously mashing controls to some collective candy-crushing, bubble witching end that doesn’t make any sense to me. Why are you still smashing the same bubbles, over and over? Does it ever end? (pulls up pants, gets out of rocking chair and assumes old man lecturing pose) In my day, yes, we had video games (albeit very poor ones but we didn’t know any better. Your smartphone has about a billion times more processing power, but whatever, that’s not where I’m going here.

Where was I? Right, back when I was but a wee pup I loved building things, Lego, Mecano, but especially models. I was fascinated by WWII airplanes and cars, and would spend countless hours building, sanding, painting and detailing these wonders of plastic, turning them into weathered replicas you would swear could take to the skies or do a burnout in front of your parent’s house. So, imagine my delight when Chanin handed me a very familiar-shaped rectangular box with the instantly recognizable Revell logo on it, containing a model kit to build Cruz Ramirez, the lone female protagonist from the Cars 3 movie. Memories instantly flooded back and I couldn’t wait to share with Senna the joys of actually putting something together. But wait, in my day we’d use model cement which to the untrained hand would get everywhere and could get you higher than Fentanyl-laced smack (not really). Then we’d slap paint on it (badly, with a brush) and call it art. Years later I got an airbrush, but I’m getting off track here.

Revell, in their infinite wisdom and hopes to appeal to a new generation of builders who don’t like mess (Senna) have created a 1:24 scale car kit that addresses both issues of assembly and color. The kit comes molded in the appropriate colors of the Cars 3 character (Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm are available as well) and assembles using plastic nuts and screws with a provided tool that handily stores in the underside of the car once complete. As a further bonus, the kit comes with an “engine” that lights up the headlights and makes the appropriate revving sounds when the hood is pushed down (upon completion of course). More on that later. Armed with full color instructions that are heavy on visuals (as I remembered my old models used to be much more basic), I hollered for Senna to come join me and explained we would be building something together. Her eyes lit up, but there was a degree of hesitation when I further clarified that she would be doing the actual building and I was there to help if needed. Nonetheless, like the trooper she is, she grasped the concept immediately and got to work.

For little hands and short attention spans, this kit was very well engineered to make it possible for kids to do the actual work and get a sense of accomplishment at the completion of each task. I saw her happiness and confidence grow with each step completed, and of course once the motor is in and revving away, she knew she was close. For a stickerhound such as our daughter, the final act of detailing the car with the provided sponsor and number decals was definitely the icing on the cake. From start to finish was less than an hour, and it was well within the capabilities of the average 5-6 year old. I’m super happy to even see a toy like this exist, let alone have it be an age-appropriate challenge as I feel that this simple pastime is dying out and I’d love to continue to build stuff with Senna as she continues to grow. If this is what ignites interest and passion for building for any kid I’d consider it a success.


The added value here is that once built, the model becomes the toy, with Senna happily shrieking down the hallway, racing to her heart’s content. The kit is rebuildable, so she can simulate a flat tire and can change the wheel using the tool. Or take the whole thing apart and do it again. And again. And again, if building becomes anything like trying to smash bubbles in the pursuit of a never ending goal buried deep in the lizard brain of her iPad.  We loved it and want to make all of them.

Each Cars 3 Junior Kit includes 21 large body parts and 24 screws and nuts. All three kits retail for $24.99 (MSRP) and are available at Target, Meijer, Fred Meyer, Hobby Lobby and Amazon.