Jeff Sexton

Friday, December 18, 2015

Pocher Alpha Romeo Spider

I was between 10 to 15 years old, I don't know for sure. But at some point I remember getting ahold an ad for 3 or 4 antique auto models that were huge, insanely detailed and very expensive. I remember they were a lot of money, it seemed like something I could save up potentially, but it would be a big deal. I remember asking my father about it, he considered the ad, and then didn't think it was a good idea. These kits were not in stores so I couldn't see one, it was mail order, nothing was known, it was the '70s and it was a lot of money. At the time I figured he was probably right and forgot about it.

Except I didn't forget about it. For many years after that, for some reason, I kept remembering that ad. I can't tell you where I saw it, no idea, and I remembered no details at all about what they were called nor even the cars. Over the past 20 years or so, in the age of the internet, I have every few years tried to google up what I thought I was remembering. But with basically nothing to go on, I never found them. I was beginning to think I'd imagined it, or it wasn't really as notable as it was in my memory. Maybe these were just normal models, or nothing at all.

In mid-2015, that memory drifted to the surface again, and I did some googling, and this time, I hit an image - and found them!  It was strange, after some reading I found that they were not only real but my instincts were right. These are considered to be some of the most extreme model kits ever created. This had become a foggy childhood memory that I was no longer sure even happened, but there it was, and they really are unique.  The level of detail being well into the ridiculous zone.

What I now know as "classic" Pocher kits were made for only for a few years in the mid-70s, in Italy. There apparently was a fire at the factory, that destroyed everything and ended the classic line, although accounts of the company's history differ. Pocher still exists, but has changed hands, and has made newer, large scale, automotive kits. But these old ones remain legendary for their detail; the "classic Pochers". They exist only as antiques now and they turn out to have quite a niche following.

These are not like any other scale model. They are described as not so much car kits, but more like a box of raw materials from which you can build a real car. Working crankshafts and pistons, working gear box, brakes, steering, suspension, lights... And a *huge* scale.  Patterned closely after individual real cars, a typical Pocher kit has 2,000 parts, or more, in various metals, rubber, plastics and leather, all assembled mostly with scale nuts, bolts and screws. The metal spoked wheels alone have over 100 parts, each.

They also are legendarily bad kits.

The instructions border on useless.  The molds were terrible, the type of plastic is primitive, the metal they used is awful and breaks easily, nothing fits were it is supposed to go without modification. Terrible quality control... According one expert on these, about 1 in 6 unopened kit is expected to have a serious problem - missing or malformed parts.

Be that as it may, now having seen that this vague memory of mine was in fact a reality, I had to get one.

So here we have the Pocher 1/8th scale Alpha Spider, kit K-73. It is one the more common, and so less expensive, Pocher classic kits that remain not too hard to find. It also is recommended as a good choice to begin your "Pochering" (rhymes with torturing), as it is slightly less complex. So this is the next project.

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