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TOPIC: Blakbird's 58502 Blitzer Beetle Build

Blakbird's 58502 Blitzer Beetle Build 2 weeks 5 days ago #55515

People do a lot of strange things with their Volkswagen Beetles. While to me it might seem strange to buy one in the first place, I'm talking about modifying them in various ways. The most common mod I'm aware of is making a beach buggy out of one. That sort of thing is what drove the 58016 Sand Scorcher. It turns out the simple suspension on a Beetle is pretty well suited to sand use. People have done even stranger things though, things like putting a Beetle body on a monster truck chassis. That's what got us the 58060 Monster Beetle. What I've never seen anyone do is this thing called the Blitzer Beetle. It is rear wheel drive with four wheel independent double wishbone suspension, nothing like a Beetle. It has a massive track width with huge balloon tires, nothing like a Beetle. So what is it supposed to be? My guess is it supposed to be an excuse to put the iconic Beetle body on the aging Falcon platform to boost sales. It worked. (It might also be a stadium truck.)

The 58056 Falcon came out in 1986. It was a 2WD buggy with a bathtub chassis, front wishbone suspension, and rear trailing arms. It sold very well as a beginner's kit, yet the chassis wasn't used for anything else until the 58093 Bear Hawk 5 years later which changed almost everything. Both front and rear suspension were new (trailing arms were gone), and the oil shocks were replaced by the dreaded "friction dampers". That didn't revive the platform, so why not change even more? From 1992-1996 Tamiya released the 58106 Stadium Blitzer, the 58122 Blitzer Beetle, and the 58181 Stadium Thunder. All three used the newest version of what was left of the Falcon chassis with long suspension arms and big wheels. Two of these stadium truck style vehicles used pickup truck style bodies, but the Blitzer Beetle brought back the hard body from the Sand Scorcher so everybody wanted one. In my opinion, the other two options look a bit strange because the track width is too large for the bodies.

All three of the stadium truck Falcons were re-released between 2010 and 2012 in the same order as the originals. I have the 58502 version of the Blitzer Beetle from 2011. From what I can tell, it is virtually unchanged from the original apart from the loss of the rear window. This is probably to make the body common with the Sand Scorcher which cannot use a rear window since that space provides body clip access.

Because of the wide stance and long travel suspension, this is a very stable vehicle. It can handle pavement, gravel, and grass with equal grace. It is quite quick for its size and even jumps pretty well. I really have no complaints. For the price, it performs very well. With those big tires, you don't even notice the lack of 4WD under most conditions.

The size of the Blitzer Beetle box is somewhat driven by the large body shell, but the tires are pretty big as well. Inside are a pile of plastic sprues and a pretty small number of hardware bags. I expect this to be a simple build. As always, note the Fast Eddy ball bearing pack on the lower right. Can't build a model with plastic bushings no matter the performance.
The differential uses the usual metal internal gears, but housed in an oversized plastic spur ring gear. There seems to be plenty of strength here.
The gearbox consists of only one other gear part, a single piece which contains the main spur gear and a driver for the differential ring gear. The whole thing is buttoned up into a two piece housing and then the drive cups are installed.
The motor uses a 13 tooth aluminum pinion gear and installs into one of two sets of fixed mounting holes. The other set of holes are a bit of mystery because the manual does not say what size pinion would fit them. Based on their position, they seem farther away than the holes I used so I'd guess they are for a 15 tooth gear.

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Blakbird's 58502 Blitzer Beetle Build 2 weeks 5 days ago #55516

The rear suspension arms attach directly to the gearbox housing. The lower arms are thick, solid wishbones. The upper arms are solid links with no adjustability. Uprights are thick and strong as well. Dogbones are used for drive axles.
The front suspension is much like the rear, with the obvious difference that there is no gearbox. The C-hubs support the steering knuckles which appear to be Nylon parts with the axle permanently pressed in.
The main chassis tub is the same part used on the Falcon, and in fact has the word "Falcon" molded into it. That's about all this chassis shares with the Falcon since the suspension and shocks are totally different. The gearbox is similar but has been changed to allow attachment of double wishbone suspension instead of trailing arm. The steering servo attaches to the tub and doesn't leave a lot of room for the ESC and receiver since the battery must sit laterally behind. There are no dual bellcranks here; the servo horn attaches directly to the steering rods. There's a strap to hold down the battery firmly. The front and rear suspension modules are then attached to the tub. It's starting to look like a buggy.
The shocks are standard, modern CVA black plastic oil filled dampers. The rear are longer than the front and also use much stiffer springs since the motor is located behind the wheels. The wheels come molded in orange, but I painted them anyway to match the exact orange I'm using for the grille and also because the finish looks better. All four tires have pin spikes, but the front also have ribs and are slightly narrower. The front wheels hold 2 bearings each, the rears are driven by 12mm hexes. This completes the rolling chassis.
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Blakbird's 58502 Blitzer Beetle Build 2 weeks 5 days ago #55517

The body uses several parts: the main shell, the grille, the headlights and tail lights, the license plates, the mirrors, the sunroof, and the windows. The main shell is by far the largest and, when placed on the chassis, gives a good idea of the final appearance. The part was molded in black, but again I chose to paint it for a better look. Sadly, I foolishly waited to glue the sunroof until after I painted which resulted in me getting glue globs and fingerprints on the roof. I tried to sand them out but then decided that they weren't very noticeable once the stickers were applied anyway. There are some very large stickers here so it takes some time to get them straight and bubble free. The result is a very well decorated buggy. Or monster truck. Or stadium truck. Or whatever this is.
I happened to have a leftover driver figure from the Monster Beetle because I had previously upgraded that one to a more detailed 3D printed version. That allowed me to use him here without having to paint a new one. That's a good thing because I hate painting drivers.
The Blitzer Beetle has the same great looking body as the Sand Scorcher and Monster Beetle, but unfortunately I was not able to get the orange paint on the front grille to match to stickers. The stickers are a very bright, almost fluorscent orange at the front. TS-12 Orange is too dark, TS-56 Brilliant Orange is too light, but the cap of TS-31 Bright Orange looked just right. Sadly, the paint that came out didn't really match the cap, so now the front looks a bit odd. I painted the wheels with the same color.

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Blakbird's 58502 Blitzer Beetle Build 2 weeks 5 days ago #55521

A very nice bug. :y:

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