Featured modelmaker: Ebbro

Japanese model manufacturer Ebbro might not be familiar to many UK fans, but over the last few years it has been forging quite a reputation with a superb range of classic 1:20 Lotus and McLaren kits.

The company started in the 1990s with 1:43 die-cast and resin models of contemporary JGTCC cars, but quickly expanded the range and branched out into kits. In 2012 it teamed up with Classic Team Lotus and launched a 1:20 Jochen Rindt Lotus 72C.

The creative force behind the company is Makoto Kiya (pictured right). A quietly modest man, Mr Kiya was the chief designer at Tamiya from 1968, developing his skills in mould-making and kit design. If you’ve ever built a Tamiya F1 car with a Cosworth DFV V8, he designed it. And the rest of the car, too. Mr Kiya was a vital part of Tamiya’s success, making detailed and easy-to-build kits like no other company had done before.

As result you’ll feel right at home with an Ebbro F1 model, as they follow – and possibly improve upon – the assembly sequence of Tamiya kits. They are moulded from the same plastics and can be built up with the same solvent-based adhesive. They can be painted with aerosols, or airbrushed with more specialised, colour-matched paints. Whatever you use, a primer layer is essential.

The detail of these models is staggering, and the newly designed miniature DFV is a little gem, needing just an ignition harness and fuel pipes to look perfect. There’s a Ford logo on the rocker-covers and the whole intake system is supplied. The suspension elements are in scale and thus quite delicate, but once all parts are together the models are remarkably robust. The front wheels are steerable but driver figures are not included (they can be bought separately). The sponsors’ logos come in the form of waterslide transfers and can be tricky to apply.

Other kits in the Ebbro range include a whole slew of classic Lotus F1 cars, including the Rob Walker Type 72C, 1973 Type 72E, Type 49, 88B and more. Other teams are included too; Ebbro’s Tyrrell 002 and 003 are superbly authentic productions that capture perfectly the early ’70s look of the Jackie Stewart era. They have also released kits of more up-to-date subjects in the form of the 2015 McLaren- Honda MP4-30 and 2016 MP4-31. While the real cars were underachievers, the models are finely detailed and accurate. Ebbro also offers some ‘civilian’ vehicles too, such as the Citroën DS19, Citroën H-van, Renault 4 ‘Quatrelle’ and a rather cute Citroën 2CV pickup, all full of character.

The Ebbro company is relatively young, but has firmly established itself as a notable producer of quality F1 models, from the classic era of the sport to modern times. They are not too hard to build and the subjects are unimpeachable.

Marcus Nicholls is editor of Tamiya Model Magazine