Popping the box on a vintage Hubley metal model is a lot like entering a scale auto Oz. But to the less experienced modeler, the happy feeling can wear off quickly. Truth is, like that Merry Old Land, casual wandering amid the (parts) trees often resulted in panic attacks delivered not by flying monkey, but from the dirty, potentially injurious work required to file, smooth, prep, paint and fit the diecast pieces together.
If the tedium of those early steps didn’t do a guy in, the final assembly certainly could: Builders who made it to the home stretch without too many band-aids on their fingertips still had to forge through a particularly onerous process involving awful stick-on interior panels and ill-fitting paper whitewalls for the tires. Sounds like fun, huh?
Actually, it is – and the results can be spectacular, if you’ve got the patience and some time to burn. Witness this 1:18 1930 Duesenberg SSJ Town car, an original early ’60’s “Pennsylvania” Hubley kit built up in the late 1990s. A couple of detours were taken; the long withered paper stickers and primitive inner door decorations were tossed in favor of painted on sidewalls and styrene panels, and epoxy filled body seams lie beneath six coats of hand rubbed automotive lacquer. Shake-on flocking for the seats and a vanity license plate (supplied by Ned Anello) spruce up the otherwise box-stock build, which used the balance of the antique kit’s pieces, right down to the die-stamped sheet plastic lensing and windshields.
Finding an original Hubley kit has become tough (and expensive), and quality built-ups can fetch several hundred dollars. Feel like trying your hand? No problem. The Hubley name followed the lineup of 1:18 Duesenbergs and 1:22/1:24 Packards, Chevrolets, and Fords when the molds went to Gabriel Industries in 1965, and then on to Joe Ertl (of the Dyersville, Iowa Ertls), who marketed the cars under the “Hubley by Scale Models” moniker until the early ’90s. These later kits (like the pristine one behind our model) and semi-built, but complete “quitter” kits are still obtainable for a reasonable sum. Band-aids not included.