Porsche 956 #1, #2 & #3 (Rothmans set) 1982 – HPI

Rothmans set
1982 Porsche 956 
Pilots: D. Bell, J. Ickx (#1), J. Mass, V. Schuppan (#2), H. Haywood, A. Holbert, J. Barth (#3)
Team: Rothmans Porsche System
Race: 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall (Class C) at Le Mans in 1982
HPI - 8037 (set, diecast)

Published 06/04/17

The 24 Heures du Mans of 1982 was quite a feat for Zuffenhausen. The 956, the new prototype racer that was only completed in the end of March that year, came in 1st place, and Le Mans was only it’s second official race. The car did not just come in 1st, but also in 2nd and 3rd. And to add even more glory, Porsche won in all (!!) five of the race classes that year – Group C, IMSA GTX, Group 5, Group 4 and IMSA GTO.

Rothmans set
The car looks great with the engine cowl off.

The 956 was in a class of it’s own, and nothing on the field that year could keep up in terms of speed and fuel consumption, that at the time was hugely important. So while everybody else was having problems the Rothmans Porsches were smooth-sailing to the end. Well, not counting #3, that lost a door on the Mulsanne and had quite a few hiccups, but still managed to come in 3rd.

Rothmans set
The Rothmans set in its fancy box – perfect to display as is.

I was definitely NOT going to get this set, but after I got the Porsche-Rothmans transporter, well, you need cars to transport if you have a transporter, right? Coincidentally a set showed up at my local eBay for a very reasonable price, and here it is. Without a doubt an eye catcher, especially in the nice presentation box. I would be over the moon with this set (honest!) but as you see, NO Rothmans livery.

Rothmans set
Looks a bit bland, doesn’t it?
Rothmans set
Yeah, something is missing…

Not having the full livery means I’ll have to make things right with the proper decals. But I found out that they’re not exactly easy to come by AND, of course, I’ll have to spend more money. And when (if?) I do find said decals, I’ll have a bear of a time to apply them because there will have to be some delicate cutting needed to fit them over the removable engine cover and exhaust port.

Rothmans set
Rare to see a 1:43 with opening body panels. HPI was one of the very few brands that did it.

Being very critical, the models per se are are quite nice, and of course, the engine cover comes off to show the engine beneath. The engine detail is nice, but nothing outstanding. Coming from a CMC/Exoto/BBR 1:18 background I may be biased, but the engine detail is only Maisto-good. I’m sure many here will claim that Maisto-good engine detail is still much better than no engine detail, but from my perspective I would say it’s “just nice”, but nothing outstanding.

Rothmans set
Minichamps vs HPI.
MUCH better with the complete livery.

So putting everything in the scale (passable engine detail + NO Rothmans livery + high price), from a practical stand point I have to say that I prefer the Minichamps version. Yeah, the windscreen wipers on the Minichamps are huge when compared to the HPI and the later has better wheels and aerial. But specially because of the correct livery, the Minichamps is in the lead. However, the problem with that reasoning is that the three cars from Minichamps, as a set or individually, seem to be quite HTF nowadays. And I never even saw a photo of the Minichamps set, so even if in reality the Minichamps’ cars are actually the better buy, my argument could be moot.

I love the misaligned number on the door.

One thing that I REALLY like was car #3. As you can see, the roundel looks misaligned. And that’s how it should look. HPI molded the car as it looked after the race. Car #3 lost the right door running down the Mulsanne and had to be replaced during a pit stop. That is a very neat detail that I don’t know if it’s present on the Minichamps model. Not that Minichamps would be wrong, since their reasoning could be that they represented the car at the beginning of the race. But then there couldn’t be soot around the exhaust port . I’m just conjecturing here, since I never saw the #3 car from Minichamps, but this little detail in my eyes is a big point for HPI.

Rothmans set
Mama and her babies.

I’m sure that I’m passing the impression that I’m not pleased at all with this set. I wrote this review earlier this week when I got the set, and that day was definitively not a good diecast day for me (hopefully I’ll elaborate in a future review). But yesterday, after making these photos and now polishing up the review, I may have changed my mind. It’s a really nice set, and even without the decals the three cars together look VERY good. I am trying to get the decals, and if I can apply them correctly, the cars will look outstanding. Almost to the point that I’m thinking of keeping them in the original display box. So with everything said and done, in the end, I have to say this is a really cool set to have .

UPDATE!

Published 11/09/17

Ever since I got the 956 Rothmans set I was trying to make them right. Basically, I needed the missing Rothmans decals. However, that proved to be easier said than done. The Rothmans liveries varied from year to year, and to really complicate matters, I needed them pre-cut. Basically what I wanted were the original HPI decals, but they are REALLY hard to source. But my great bud Gary found a set in the US and intermediated the buy for me.

Rothmans set
It took me over an hour to do all three.

Doing the deed wasn’t exactly difficult, but to do it right did get me a bit stressed out. Just a bit, not even enough for the use of foul language. To be honest, all the decals were easy to apply. What made it stressful was doing everything three times.

Rothmans set
I still get a bit pained to see that lateral decal.

The small Rothmans on the wing struts were troublesome. In one or two cases the “Porsche” tamp below was a bit too high. Consequently, it was tight to fit the decal below the edge. In one or two I had to kind of bend the decal over the edge above.

Rothmans set
But with the engine cowl off, it looks perfect.

What didn’t come out nice on any of the cars was the cut Rothmans on the side of the car. It’s possible that HPI intentionally made the bottom part bigger. That way, with the engine cowl off, it would be easier to recognize the logo. If not so, it was a mistake. Because if you align the decal with the upper lip, it will cover the exhaust pipe. To fit, I would have to put it too low, over the port. At one point I even thought about cutting the decal to bend it over the lip above. But since the cut is at an angle, it would screw-up the “whole” part of the decal to the side .

I think that #1 came out the best. On #2 and #3 the Rothmans on the side looks even worse.

Final verdict? Well, let’s say that you should display the HPI 956 Rothmans with the engine cowl off. It didn’t come out perfect only because of those side decals. Even so, at least in my eyes I prefer the cars MUCH more now. Finally they’re out of the box and proudly displayed in my cabinet. However, being honest, I would prefer the three cars from Spark or even Minichamps.

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