Copersucar Fittipaldi FD-04 '76

Iritani 1/20 scale

by Mario Covalski



The difficulties that may arise when working with a kit and the opinion that we may give on it are a unique personal experience that each modeler will discover for himself. Even though reviewers like me may write pages and pages, it will still keep on being this way, and each modeler will end up with his own personal opinion, which may or may not coincide with the critic's. In this sense, both as an editor and circumstantial reviewer, I am only trying to show and allow modelers to decide on their own. There are far too many teachers in the modelers' world.

However, this is a very special case and I would like to share with you my experience and opinion.
I built my first 1/20 in 1978. It was Tamiya's M23 '76. Since then, lots of progress has been made and today, there is a wide variety of kits to choose among if you are fond of this scale. But this one, as many others of this firm, is special. Quite many years ago, Luiz Iritani, an excellent Brazilian modeler, had the idea of mixing resin parts with plastic ones in order to achieve a true multimedia product, though with Tamiya's details.
The special circumstance that Tamiya's dealer in Brazil had injected several kits with this brand, allowed Iritani to buy a good stock of V8 Cosworth and Alfa Romeo engine runnings of the 1/20 models as well as wheels and tyres.

Iritani's kit

It represents the FD-04 Copersucar1976, maybe now forgotten. However, it was a challenge in its times for major car builders. Unfortunately, it fell through due to the suspiciously constant failure of the engines provided by Cosworth, which the English teams did not suffer. Anyway, this is an old story that we will bring back some other the time.


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What is really surprising when we open the box is to find some Tamiya runnings from the six-wheel Tyrrell 1/20. Of course, we also find the complete engine, parts of the suspension, wheels, tyres, etc. Iritani inferred that the FD-04 used an engine similar Tyrrell's so as to take advantage of the Tamiya mold, and work on the rest of the car.

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This kit's second strength, which was really astonishing, was the bodywork, chassis and other parts' quality as to shapes and finishing. The resin made parts show a very high quality; thus, I found no bubbles at all, which are a very uncomfortable characteristic in this kind of kit.
The only model I had seen by Iritani some years ago had been his "opera prima", the Brabham BT45, with similar characteristics. However, the FD-04's presentation overwhelmingly exceeds the 1999 model.


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The assembly is completed by white metal parts, which have been properly cast without waste edges, as it may be seen in the pictures, and a high quality photoetch fret. Other accessories such as coils, very thin steel meshes for the radiator intakes and two vacuformed windscreens (this of providing two, is an excellent idea) are also included.

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Final opinion

I found Iritani's idea excellent, and though not all the brand's kits are provided with Tamiya parts, the vast majority does. We receive a kit that can be detailed as any full 1/20 Tamiya, with a completely detailed engine and suspension.

Iritani's strengths are the following:

The quality of the bodywork/chassis parts and pieces, as well as the high amount of good details ranging from the excellent Tamiya parts to the first class photo etch and the almost perfect white steel pieces. Finally, the price, of around US$ 85, is a bargain if we consider that we are receiving a full kit, with engine, interior parts, detailed suspension, injected parts and photoetch.

The decals are a weak point. Though they have very good graphics, the films are too thick, something that is quite typical of Iritani's; so, they will not break but will demand lots of work to hide them out.


An interesting trick we have at hand when we find these decals, is to smooth them with sandpaper to make the varnish coat thinner; if done very tidily, the results are wonderful: I have seen them for myself.


Though the engine is excellent, I doubt that this car could have been exactly the same as the six-wheel Tyrrell, though some parts have been changed, such as the shock absorbers. Anyway, the differences are not so evident in this scale.


Personally, I do not like the chromed front wheels; I do relieve that a coat of AlcladII HPA would improve the final look.

Since beautiful photoetched buckholds and blue cloth for the safety belts are provided, I do not understand then why the seat has those parts engraved; it is only extra work for the modelers who will have to take them away.


The instructions manual was done according to Tamiya's philosophy, with good drawings, explaining the construction step by step, with images that are self-explanatory. The possibility of building three new versions with a small surrounding front ailerons  is given too.

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Instruction manual

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Small and medium manufacturers deserve our support, as I have said before. They make our dreams come true, listen to our advice and suggestions, and generally do so at a reasonable cost. However, Iritani deserves to be especially mentioned for this kit since this small manufacturer has offered a very high quality product, even better than some of the best Japanese brands, with lots of effort.
Those of you who have read my reviews before know by now that I am not particularly complimentary when nothing needs to be said. However, this line by Iritani, which is completed with other models, is really impressed.
It is possible that after many years, Iritani might build another 1/20 Formula 1 in 2003. It will be a resin kit to arouse more interest and will for sure be another "Iritani model".