Review: Arrows FA1 1978 (Spark)

Review: Arrows FA1 1978 (Spark)

Spark S3902 - 1978 Arrows FA1 (Riccardo Patrese, 2nd Sweden GP)
Spark S3902 – 1978 Arrows FA1 (Riccardo Patrese, 2nd Sweden GP. 1/43 scale)

THE CAR:

This was the first year of competition for the Arrows F1 team, made up of key personnel from Shadow.

The Arrows FA1 was basically a clone of the Shadow DN9. In fact, part way through the season the FA1, which had proven reasonably competitive straight away, was banned from competition by court order and the cars had to be dismantled.

Arrows FA1 (but not from the Swedish GP)
Arrows FA1 (but not from the Swedish GP)

Arrows had pre-empted this and had already designed and built another iteration – the A1 – which they turned up with at the very next race! The A1 had, among other things, revised sidepods, rear wing and a narrower “twin-nostril” nose.

I reckon Spark will end up doing the A1 as well, because they’ll be able to milk the mould for 1978 and 1979 versions.

Anyway, back to the FA1!

THE MODEL:

This model has excellent glossy gold paint and decal decoration is very good too. The fine black striping on my version is pretty damn good. The driver figure has the correct pinstripe race suit for Riccardo Patrese and even has the air bottle tube to his helmet.

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However, the model has a fundamental design flaw – the front of the chassis is too bulky and too high, so much so that the top rocker arms of the front suspension don’t even line up with the bodywork!

And no, it’s not an assembly problem on my example. Spark’s own photos show the same issue and all the other releases of this car have the same error.

This is simply wrong, wrong, wrong.
Spark, this is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Patrese in the Swedish Grand Prix of 1978. Note the stance of the car and the angle of the front suspension
Patrese in the Swedish Grand Prix of 1978. Note the angle of the front suspension and the size/shape of the wheels.
The bodywork is simply too high
The bodywork is simply too high compared to the front wheels (which are maybe too small) so the suspension and steering arm never meet their recess in the casting.
Rear view shows the key suspension components, inboard brakes, driveshafts etc, but it's rather chunky
Rear view shows the key suspension components, inboard brakes, exhausts, driveshafts etc, but some of it, plus the gearbox, is a little clumsy compared to some of Spark’s previous efforts. Etched wing endplates and mounting are well done.

THE RATING (out of 5):

Overall, it’s not a bad model, let down by the design flaw.

  • Collectability – 3.7 (beer-sponsored cars are always more collectable! Production number unknown)
  • Build Finish – 4.5
  • Accuracy – 3.6 (4.2 if not for the error)
  • Value – 2.7
  • Overall – 3.6
Driver figure has the correct and horrible looking pinstripe race suit that Patrese wore!
Driver figure has the correct and horrible looking pinstripe race suit that Patrese wore!

OTHER VERSIONS:

So far Spark has also produced the team’s race debut version (Patrese’s all-white car from the Brazil GP) plus a Rolf Stommelen race version (white and gold livery).

I own the white Brazil GP version and Spark has correctly modeled a number of subtle bodywork differences (engine cover air scoops, duct on scuttle, front wing endplate shape) however the front rims don’t match any of the photos I’ve seen.

 

Spark S3900 - Arrows FA1, 1978 Brazil GP (Riccardo Patrese)
Spark S3900 – Arrows FA1, 1978 Brazil GP (Riccardo Patrese)
Arrows team launch at snow covered Silverstone
Arrows team launch at snow covered Silverstone. Note the front rims which were also on the car in Brazil (there are also photos from the Brazil weekend where it had black rims and even running without the engine cover)
At certain angles the clear decal film shows up, but the general finish of the model is good
At certain angles the clear decal film shows up, but the general finish of the model is good

 

 

  • Images in this article were either (a) taken by me, or (b) are in the public domain on multiple websites or shared via social media. If I’ve used an image that you have the copyright to, let me know and I’ll give appropriate credit, or remove it.  🙂

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