Tameo's McLaren Mercedes MP 4/14

by  Mario Covalski



To do a model review, as I understand, it's not only to describe the parts quantity the model has, its quality or to anticipate the possible troubles the reader could find. A review should be something more, to transmit the sensation that one receives from the kit that is seeing, and even a bit of emotion.

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Having this idea in mind, I will analyze the Tameo TMK 281 kit, which represents the McLaren Mercedes MP 4/14, Mika Hakkinen won with, the 1999 version Japan Grand Prix.


This is the first 1/43 scale kit that comes to my hands, therefore many impressions and opinions  will be the beginner has, but, if you are in my same condition you'll have a vision of what will find, if deciding to get this kit.


The differences between this scale and their big brothers (1/24, 1/20, 1/12) can be appreciated from the beginning, when you buy this kind of kits. People devoted to the 1/43 scale are very special, the retailers have the knowledge and devotion of real modelers, when selling or giving advices.


The kit
The first thing that took my attention was the small box, my impression was, is everything here?, yes Sir., but perhaps this is the only negative point of this kit. The big size decal sheets are provided bended in order to be placed in the small box. This could produce a negative effect on the decal's varnish, cracking it, when you straighten them.
I advise you not to do it.

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The body, which is divided in two big white metal parts, is provided in a flexible plastic tubing " mesh ", to complete the body others small parts provided in a closed bag will be added. 


The upper part quality, which represents almost the whole body, is outstanding. All details are engraved with lines of less than 0,1 mm, and the texture, when we touch it, is very soft. There are only two mold flashes in the air manifolds, but very easy to be removed with a small file. The lower body part is of same quality but as always the manufacturer's name is on it, a habit that  is necessary to banish, it's only more work for the modeler. Both parts have to be fixed with a conical cap screw which can be covered easily with putty. The white metal parts glue together very well with CA, and can be used as putty with success for very small unions gaps.


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Thinking about painting, I would use automotive primer, but I'd apply it with airbrush, also flat Humbrol paint mixed with bright varnish (ratio 4:1) is suitable as base paint. The painting job should have to be done with airbrush, because of the small size of the pieces, in very thin layers with appropriate diluters or retarders to avoid orange peel. You could use paint for real cars or Tamiya's enamel, using different techniques, achieving the same results. 

The motor induction box intake is closed, but if you have experience with Dremel use, it could be hollowed with a small rose-head tool cutter (1mm or smaller).


The instruction manual

It's very nice and really could be "for collecting". Composed of two A4 pages, one of them is a drop-down one, where you can find all building steps, plus 13 excellent color pictures, this colorful references are enough to go ahead with this project in this scale, very good indeed!, Tameo. 


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Analyzing the building steps (they are 12),  we can see they are clear, with beautiful diagrams and two pictures of the real car, to clarify some conflicting points. It is necessary to drill several holes, I advise to make them with a small pin vise to avoid breaking the drills or the kit. 

The manual also shows on each step, the color which it is necessary to paint the different pieces with, I would say not to fall on the temptation of making this job with a point brush (by hand) , and go on painting with airbrush everything possible, I recommend a double action one, to achieve more control and not to paste the pieces. 


The other parts 

This is definitively a multimedia kit, although it doesn't have resin parts, it offers us photo etched and small turned brass parts, as the locking nuts of wheels, and solid rubber tires, etc. 

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I advise not to open the bags until the moment the pieces are needed, and to make it very carefully  inside a clean box, because there are very small parts, unfortunately Tameo doesn't provide a parts listing for a quickly verification. 

All the pieces of the whole suspension, are provided by Tameo painted in semi gloss black, and they won't need anything more to be used.


Bending the PE pieces, is an important topic to have in mind in this kit, since it has many and very small ones which will have to be folded . There are special tools on sale to bend parts to 90, without breaking or deforming the pieces, but I believe that they would not be useful because of the small parts this kit has. 

My advice is to use a good depilation tweezers, with flat and straight tip. The important thing is not to bend them more than once, if it is a very complicated piece I photocopy and enlarge onto paper then cut out the parts in paper and try the sequence of folds with the paper templates (Note from PCR) The photoetch engraving is usually enough to bend the parts accurately. 

If unfortunately some piece breaks, you can solve this problem with a small tin or silver welding, or gluing with CA.


The wheels and brakes, which have detached calipers, are amazing. The wheels are brass turned and have a support border inside to place the PE piece, which represents the central area. The assembly should be painted in silver, but I think that for not much money it can be silver-plated, and then polished. Ask a jeweler who can surely make this work.


The wheels, of course are held in their places, with  brass turned nuts and holders, really very nice, but, if you want to paint the holders with aluminum paint (as Tameo's booklet shows) it will be necessary to use a magnifier.


The building, I think is not a difficult matter, it only requires care and patience, all the details have been taken into account, from the complete steering wheel to the seat belt.


The decals 

Tameo is very popular for providing two decal sheets with each kit, one of them as back up. In this model, some of these decals are complex to be placed, having a spare one allows us to have a smoothly decaling. Tameo also provides a surprise inside the box. In a sealed black plastic bag are all the tobacco decals. All 1/43rd scale kits sold in Europe have full cigarette decals.




I'm surprised, I wish, some 1/12 scale kits' manufacturer would give me a model kit, just with the stop light of this Tameo, made of metal covered with plastic, with drew circles like the real one, in a size of 2x2 mm!!!. 

If I had to qualify this kit and its presentation, I would have to give it the maximum number, the detected problems don't affect to the model itself, but it would be interesting if it were shipped in a bigger size box. 

The price of this model, 28 Pounds, (about 40 dollars)  is reasonable and it is close to an economic injection kit value. 

If you have good sight, and feel that big scales take much of your home space or make you spend much time, or don't find enough model kits on sale ... perhaps it's time to give a chance to 1/43 scale and to discover a group of friends willing to help you and share their experience.