Wow. Just wow. I know I’ve said this before, but they just don’t design cars like they used to. There’s an elegance and class that has faded away over the years. I suppose a large part of that is just that cars aren’t as much of a luxury as they used to be. I’m no car buff, but wow does this 1935 Duesenberg Model J look amazing.

If you didn’t figure it out from the prefix to the title, this is a build of a model that Fascinations sent me to review, and man am I glad they sent it to me. It’s gorgeous. Thank you! I feel blessed to have received the opportunity to provide honest reviews of builds like these. I probably would have ended up picking this up on my own some day, but I get to do it sooner than I expected.

I think my favorite element of this model is the wheel design. The curved spokes and white-walls… Just gorgeous. And, of course, there are tons of details on the underside of the model, including an exhaust system that curves over the rear axle. I love the fact that Metal Earth model includes these details that are not even visible most of the time. My least favorite detail on this model are the signal lights… but that’s because I did such a crap job of forming them.

Now, this model is not listed as super-challenging, if you go by the official challenge rating. And, for the large majority of the build, that holds true. But there were a few places that had me inventing kid-friendly curses (I build my models in the living room, so… yeah). That’s not to scare you off, just know that you’ll get a couple of good challenges along the way. And if you are building these models, you probably are looking forward to that. We’re a strange bunch, aren’t we?

One of the things I tend to advise is to read ahead in the instructions. And this build is no different, starting out with the very first set of folds. If you just look at the indicated folds for Part 1, you might get frustrated trying to figure out what the precise amount is for each of the folds at the front end. However, if you read ahead, you will see that Part 1 is attached through several slots in Part 8. This allows you to pull that part early, and compare the two parts to make sure that you fold the right amount. And, in this case, it also helps identify where one of the folds is, cause the diagram (at least to me) was not super clear about that (the front-most fold occurs on the back edge of the front axle).

The next thing I want to call out is how the exhaust pipe is shaped / curled under the back axle. This is done with the thin strips on Parts 13 and 15. They both curve down and then back to level, effectively meeting in the middle underneath the Axle. I mention this because I’m hoping that it might help you estimate how much to curve these parts by looking at the axle and spacing as you get this various assemblies closer to being attached.

Stuck between the forming of those two parts, is the lengthy process of forming up Part 14, the larger base section of the undercarriage. And I kinda disagree with the order of the various folds and curves in this flow, as shown in the instructions. For me, I think the flow would go much more smoothly in this order:

  1. Curve and fold the two sections at the rear of part 14 (wheel wells).
  2. Fold the side flaps (running boards).
  3. Curve the front section of part 14 (wheel wells).
  4. Fold the flap at the front (by the wheel wells).
  5. Shape the domes (backs of the signal lights).
  6. Fold flaps up to secure rear curved section (behind rear wheel wells).
  7. Twist the arms holding the signal lights and license plate into position.
  8. Fold the interior tabs into position.

I recommend this order for one main reason: making shaping the curves as easy as possible. If you fold the flaps before shaping the curves, those flaps may get in the way of whatever cylindrical form you may be shaping the part over. But more than that… you do not want to wait until the very end to shape those cursed signal lights. I did. I don’t know why I did, but I did. And it was a mistake. They end up in a very difficult location for forming, and the results are, at least for me, not pretty. The problem is that you have very reduced accessibility to fine tune the curves there. I almost broke off some of the dome “petals” cause I was trying to get it to look decent and just kept mangling it in the process.

Moving along, I found that the instructions for this model reminded me of the instructions for the Delorean. Namely, it appears that the rendering of the steering column (part 22) ended up with a slant going the wrong way, which lead to the render of it being attached at a funny angle, which might throw you off a little. I’ve attempted, probably rather poorly, to give a more correct rendering, though I’m not going to spend as much time on it as the Delorean instructions, cause I’m running behind on this post.

I found the leaf spring suspension parts (26 and 27) rather challenging to attach and keep their shape correctly, but at the same time, I really like the look of them. My advice is to pre-curve the parts, flatten out the ends, and then don’t worry about fixing the curvature until after you’ve finished attaching both of them.

For the wheels, the build it pretty straight forward, though I chose to add the doming / curving shape to the spokes (part 30) prior to attaching the hub (part 31). You can twist the tabs there, and there’s plenty of room inside the wheel for them. Then, after attaching the spokes to the wheel side, I tried to gently press the spokes back out a little to meet the wheel rim that’s angled in from the wheel side. Again, this bit of shaping is one of my favorite features of this build.

Following that, you get to one of the more delicate processes in this build (other than forming the back of a light)… forming the bumpers. These are a bunch of thin strips, being attached to each other, and requiring one set to be curved around the other at the ends. For me, I found that the best option was to pre-curve the very tips of the bumpers, but leave it a little large. Then I slotted them onto the undercarriage, and finished the curve around. I also used a twist-and-then-fold approach to the tabs securing these bumpers in place. From experience I’ve learned that you are in for a world of hurt if you try to fold tabs sticking off the side of narrow strips like that, unless you have a way to grip the strip strongly. I did not have that option, so twist and fold it was.

When forming the hood / body, It’s important to know that it’s actually mostly flat. I thought it was slightly curved across the top, and I suppose it is, but just barely. Most of the curve is right at the edge. Take a look at the bottom of parts 39 and 41 for some guidance on how to curve parts 36 and 38. Oh, and it seems, at least to me, like the curve at the front of the hood is slightly more emphasized than on the other end of the hood (part 36). And one final note: thank you Fascinations for the staggered slots for attaching the hood ornament!

And now, I find myself typing up some advice that I did not follow, at all, in my build. Because I totally missed something when I built this model, and feel the fool for it. In fact, I’ve scrolled back up here, having only discovered my mistake as I was typing about a section near the end of this review. When forming up the body around the cabin (part 38), do not miss the small detail of curving the bottom corners inwards right in front of the rear wheel wells. I read through the instructions several times and never noticed them until just now. If you skip this, you will encounter the struggles I discuss later when talking about joining the body assemblies together.

After this, you get to deal with a thin strap with tiny signal light domed backs attached to it with teeny-tiny connecting strips (part 40). I struggled with these domes again, I was just not at the top of my game on this build. This one had the added bonus of the strip they are attached to not being very big, so there’s not much to grip. And there’s some bend etching in there, so it likes to bend when you don’t want it to. Then attaching it is fun, because it sits over a connection between two parts (which is cool because it hides the joint) and it was a battle for me to get it on straight, as the edges between the two parts kept getting in the way.

Of all the parts in this model that will test your will, the front headlight / other stuff assembly (part 42) may be the most frustrating. In a single part there are two headlight domes (thankfully a little larger than those signal lights) and two cones to form on a single part, along with several folds. The headlight domes are a little easier to form, due to their size, but being attached on one edge, I find it harder to get the corners of the “petals” curved, leaving me with a hexagonal backdrop to the headlights… much like the smaller signal lights. But the real challenge is the tiny little cones. They, too, are attached, which makes forming them particularly challenging due to the “close quarters” and accessibility limitations. Then there’s the fun of twisting them on their little tiny strips to point forward. I have no idea if I’ve got them in the right place, but at least they are close. I hope.

For the back seat (part 45) I would advise not folding the seat up fully, but instead leave it in a slight reclined position. That way, when you go to attach it to part 43, you can complete the folding action while aligning the tabs. Avoid unfolding and refolding as much as possible!

Shortly after this, I ran into another disagreement with the instructions. It appears that they use the same block of renders for forming part 50 for both mirrors attached to the spare wheels. However, they actually should be formed in mirrored (I know, ironic) fashion, relative to each other. Strangely, it is the first instance of forming this that appears “backwards,” but that turned out fortunate – I was able to set the one I formed aside for the next use, and form the correct orientation with another of the part.

Which leads us to the most delicate and unpredictable part of this build: the front fenders. I knew, coming into this, that these were going to be a particular challenge. I’d encountered similar struggles with other car’s front fenders. It’s very easy to misinterpret the curving indicators and angles. It’s a challenge, even if you are prepared for it. My best advice is to take a good look at the 360-view before you start this, and understand that you are unlikely to get these to sit straight (no matter how much you or I want those spare wheels to stand up straight). It took a lot of careful finessing, but after a while, I got it close enough. Don’t struggle too much with forming and finessing the shape until you’ve attached it to the rest of the car, as well as attached the outer trim.

Of course, in between forming the first front fender and attaching it, there is the somewhat randomly placed joining of the upper body assembly to the lower body assembly. Which now calls back to the previous discussion of the curves I completely missed in forming the upper body assembly. Because if you leave those curves out, you will have a real challenge getting the two halves to join together, like I did. I thought that it was that I didn’t form the curve over the wheel well correctly, but instead, as I now know, that the lack of curving in this area was preventing me from getting the back area connected correctly. And that also explains, somewhat, why the back end of my build is kinda crooked / wonky – I forced the body together and twisted the tabs to hold it closed.

Well, in the end, this model took about 6 hours to build. You can watch all six of them, if you really, rally want to. Playlist embedded below: