Dirk's AMT 57 T-bird from the TV Series Vega$

Dirkpitt289

Senior Member
As most of you may have figured out I usually stage my builds around TV series and movies. Add to the fact that Robert Urich is one of my favorite actors it just seemed to make sense to build the Dan Tanna 57 Thunderbird from the classic TV series Vega$ from the late 70's. Which so happened to air on this very day (April 25th) in 1978. For those that are unfamiliar with Vega$ it was like most shows of the day and lacked any depth and continuity. Basically Dan Tanna (Robert rich) worked as a house detective for the Desert Inn casino and his boss is the owner of the hotel, Phillip Roth (Tony Curtis). Tanna lived in a converted garage in the back of the hotel where he ran "Tanna Investigations." The cool part was that Tanna parked his 57 Thunderbird in his living room. A novel concept even today.

I originally started this kit 4 years ago or so. Its been sitting with the body painted for all that time in a old pizza box I used as a spray booth. The paint should be cured by now. HAH! all of the original photos have been lost so this may seem a bit disconnected.

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Robert Urich and Heather Menzies. You may remember Heather from the 70's TV series Logan's Run where she played Jessica 6. The two met on the set of Vega$ where Heather made a guest appearance. Later they were married.

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The Kit

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This kit has a low part count and can best be described as "Clunky." The parts are thick, the details are soft.

The chassis was painted craft acrylic charcoal. Accents to the fuel tank and exhaust was done with metalizers. The engine was also done with craft acrylics. The block is red and the transmission was painted to match the original color the best I could. I call it "Infant poop." haha

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The body was painted and I detailed the engine bay with more charcoal paint. I think using black in this scale is to stark and makes the parts look.... off.

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Dirkpitt289

Senior Member
If you've been following my video series on this kit on Youtube you will know how critical of this kit I've been. So in all fairness I should point out the good stuff as well. One of those is the inner hubs on this kit. As you can see here the inner hub part that faces the inside of the tire has a steel wheel appearance to it. Nice option if you want to go hub cap-less. The only problem is these are chrome parts and from the back side would look odd. You can't really paint over it because the paint won't stick to the chrome well. So I decided to strip the chrome off and paint. Easy peasy

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This kit doesn't come with decals, it comes with stickers. I can't speak about when the kit was new but the stickers would not stick to the tires at all. What I had to do (Never painted tires before) was to break out some contact cement. I placed some on the tires and the back of the stickers. Let it cry till it was just tacky. Then apply it to the tires. I then put the tires under pressure in hopes the stickers would stay in place.

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Next onto the hubcaps. I forgot to grab a picture but on almost every T-bird i've seen the steel rims are the same color as the body and when the hub cap is in place you see the body color. In the kit the hub cap is too big and you can't see this but i wanted this detail. To do this I decided to paint the very edge of the Hub cap. The problem though is as we saw with the inner wheel hubs. Paint does not like to stick to chrome. Well i didn't want to strip the hubcap so I painted it anyway. It took several coats to get full coverage due to the paint flaking off while i handled the parts. When I got full coverage I gave the hubcaps a good coat of gloss to seal the paint to the cap

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Since I'm missing one of the axels I had to break out the Evergreen styrene to see if I had a substitute

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The fit of the new axel was fine but I fund that when I installed the wheels (even with the hubs pressed against the frame) the wheels stuck out too far and interfered with the wheel skirts. To fix this I had to save about 1/16th if an inch off the hubs.

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Here is part 2 of the video series if you are so inclined.

 

Dirkpitt289

Senior Member
On to the interior painted. I am so discouraged with this kit that I want to get it over with so to save time i decided to skip flocking the floor. Skipping flocking on a hard top usually makes sense. Not so much with a convertible

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Detailed the grill

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Spare tire deck

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I don't believe I've ever seen the top up on Dan's car but i didn't want these parts to go to waste so i built the top anyway

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Dan Tanna and Twofeathers.

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Kenny Conklin

Administrator
Staff member
Looking really good and you got me with the real car picture thrown in there :) I was like now that is crazy work.
 

Dirkpitt289

Senior Member
Rear tire deck installed

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Making a mounting point for the radio antenna

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Masking the fender gill trim for paint

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Another issue I ran into was the rear wheel skirts. They didn't fit. If course being lazy I didn't catch this earlier and found myself having to rework the skirts after they had already been painted. The other issue I had was the skirts didn't have anything to be attached to. Using some styrene strips I made mounting points for the skirts to attach to.

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Installing the thick clunky front windshield and chrome trim. This is awful. The windshield i so thick the windshield doesn't fit in the fram, the farm goes around it but you can still see the edges of it. Its absolutely awful.

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Dirkpitt289

Senior Member
There are a couple things missing from the AMT 57 VEGA$ Thunderbird that is driving me nuts and I would like to fix.

No Radio Antenna
No Phone Antenna
Side view mirror
Side vent windows
Phone

I addressed the radio antenna earlier by using a push pin from a shirt I purchased. Its a little out of scale but it is what it is and it doubles as a security device to keep people from touching the model not that, thats going to be an issue. hah!

The phone antenna will be addressed by using a whip antenna from a 1/35 tank model

I tried to address the side mirror but I could not find any spares in any of my kits.

I was able to address the side vent windows. I did this buy cutting up the lid from a Chinese take out container and gluing some styrene to it to act as the trim molding

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The biggest issue in my mind to make this stand out from other 57 Thunderbird's was the phone. While searching for a side view mirror I came across this radio. I don't remember where this came from but I think this is the best I'm going to come up with. And the fact we never got to see what the base unit looked like works in my favor. It becomes my own "Prove me wrong" moment. HAHA The goal here is to remove the mic and molded in wire. I will use some wire I have laying around my bench and fabricate a hand set. We did see the hand set all the time and is wasn't the traditional phone hand set. His was a slim line rectangular unit that was white with black ear and mouth pieces. Its also going to be a bit tricky to place since I have completed the interior already. Up until I found this I was planing on making a bag unit to place on either the seat or floor. Not mounted to the dash.

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Up next will be the completed model
 
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