This automotive model review covers the HighJacker Off-Road Custom Van 1:20 Scale MPC Model Kit #813. This kit has been released before but thanks to the “Kats” at Round2 it’s back on the shelves and for its age the molds have held up well. This is a Skill Level 3 kit for modelers ten years and older. Molded primarily in white styrene, the kit includes over 200 parts, with transparent, clear red, and chrome pieces, and vinyl tires. It also has waterslide decals and instructions. This kit features a highly detailed interior with sink, stove, cabinet, and other kitchen accessories, as well as camping and hunting equipment. It also includes a full bed for the back area. When finished it is an impressive size measuring 9½ inches long, 4 inches wide, and 5 inches high.
This kit is designed to catch the eye of the aging Hippie or anyone that really likes a cool looking model. It represents a 1974 Ford Van, and at the waning days of the Muscle Car Era this was the sweet ride to have. Van’s were reasonably priced in base configurations, and they were often customized by their owners with shag carpeting, custom made beds, and furnishings. Most important was the high volume stereo on the inside, and mural paintings and bubble windows on the outside. But this van takes it up a notch with a lift kit and 4X4 suspension. How cool is that!
Construction and Detailing
As with most kits, construction starts with the engine, which has a respectable 22 piece count with pretty good detail. Start with the block and paint it blue, then add the 2-piece aluminum colored transmission. After those dry, add the other parts as usual. Next assemble the front suspension according to directions. I detailed the axle with red like the box art, and the shocks with yellow paint. When you add the spindles to the axle, just glue the ends to permit rotation. Assemble the firewall and set it aside. Gather the parts for the wheel and tire assemblies. Note that the rear wheel hubs are taller than the fronts. Dry brushing the raised letters on the tires and rubbing the tread on some sandpaper will give them a realistic look. Even though they look great, the tires are a bit undersize for this kit at its larger scale. Add the gas tank to the rear of the frame and put the rear suspension together. I followed the box art again, and painted the axle and springs red for effect. You can snap the driveshaft into place too.
At this point you can flip the frame over and install the driveshaft into the transmission and place the motor, radiator, and transfer case into their positions. Add the front driveshaft to the transfer case and to the front gear housing. At this point you can add the wheels onto their respective spindles, and you should have a running chassis that will stand on its own.
Moving to the interior is even more fun. Paint and assemble the steering column and set it aside. They were usually black or grey. Assemble and paint the captain’s chairs and set aside. Paint the underside of the floor flat black, and the upper surface your choice for the interior shag carpet. Add the motor cover and gas pedal. Then put the seats and steering column in place.
The interior panels are fun. Paint them your choice to match the carpeting and outline the door frames in body color. I also added a little wood panel for effect on the left side. I finished the bed in flat tones and painted the stove in traditional black with a wood cabinet. There are a lot of other options to place in the back area here, and you could certainly augment with other items to make it look like your old van did. Paint them in the appropriate colors and glue them into place.
Prep the exterior body parts including the doors, hinges, vents, window covers and frames, by sanding off the parting lines and light flash. Add the window covers if you wish. There is a moderate parting line at the rear of corners of the body. Cut out the slot for the roof vent, and then wash the parts in warm water and mild dish detergent. Dry the parts thoroughly and spray them with a good etching primer. Paint the interior van roof at this time to match your color scheme there. Once this is dry you can light sand and rinse the body again. After drying, spray paint the primed pieces with your choice of body color, and let it dry completely. Depending on paint and conditions, this can take between a few hours to a few weeks. Don’t continue the build until you’re sure you can handle the body without leaving any impressions in the paint.
The decals for this kit are “Far Out” and pretty durable, but the contours they go onto are subtle so they’ll conform pretty well. I used some decal setting solution, and kept the intended areas well moistened until they were located properly. Then smooth any trapped bubbles out with a soft tissue and go over the decal with some more setting solution. These decals are very forgiving, despite their large size, and they look great! Let those dry overnight. You can really bring out some highlights on the model by covering the exterior trim with some foil accent. This is a good place to do that. I’ve also seen some builders use a silver pen to provide the trim color too.
Continue construction by gluing the window and moon roof glass in place with some white glue. Add the skylight frame and glass. Paint the interior side window vents and glue into place. Add the firewall to the front of the van. Detail the gauges on the dashboard and glue into place on the firewall. Add the interior lights to the roof of the van. Assemble the doors with some clamps and let those set up. Slide the rear door hinges into the door slots and glue those into place with some superglue making sure not to get glue on the door. Do the same thing with the side doors. Glue the other external stuff into place, such as taillight bezels, lenses, and door handles. Assemble the spotlights and front lenses with white glue. Superglue all the spotlights and Cibbie lights into place. There are no locating points, so line them up and place them where you think they should go, and adhere with superglue. Add the front end parts: grill, wipers, headlights, etc.
Slide the interior pan into the van body. The fit is tight but it goes right in. Now glue the chassis to the interior pan with some epoxy or superglue. Paint the exhaust, and superglue it into place by attaching the forward end to the exhaust manifolds, and it will drop into its position in the back.
Add on the winch, CB antennae, and rearview mirrors, and you’ve got yourself the “in” ride of the seventies. If you try real hard you can hear a Doobie Brothers tune and smell the aroma of incense wafting out of the back of the van!
After all these years this kit still goes together well and provides a real showpiece when finished. Its impressive scale makes it the center of attention in any collection. With plenty of space for detailing and customization you can easily personalize this model to your taste. The parts were free of major flash and the few parts without positive locating points are easy to attach with some superglue. While the wheels are a little undersize for the scale, they get the point across that this is one custom van that will not be late for the concert!
My thanks goes out to Round2 for providing these great kits from the past, and to IPMS for the chance to review it.