Review Date: Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Probably the most unusual time travel device ever seen in the movies is Doc Brown's Delorean from the Back to the Future trilogy. Designed to take advantage of the natural conductivity of the car's titanium body, the car gathered enough energy to activate its "flux capacitor" by achieving the magical velocity of 88 miles per hour during Brown's (Christopher Lloyd) initial experiments. After the first movie's adventure in the '50s, Doc Brown disappears with the machine only to arrive a few moments later from the future with a modified version of the vehicle powered by a "Mr. Fusion" nuclear generator and now capable of flight. This new vehicle plays a major part in the first sequel, and by the third movie it's modified to run on railroad tracks when Doc Brown and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) are flung into the Wild West of the 1800s.

Basically it's just a Delorean with a lot of junky stuff attached to it, but the Delorean Time Machine has become a cult of its own thanks to the popularity of the movies. Little merchandising was done for the original films but several years after the last sequel was released a Japanese company made several models of the Delorean in each of its incarnations, and AMT/ERTL marketed a model of the vehicle as seen at the end of the first film and in Back to the Future II. The ERTL version had the Mr. Fusion generator and a nifty operating feature that tilted the wheels down to form the levitating thrusters seen at the end of the first film. Lately there's been a revival of interest in this car, with Playing Mantis releasing a Johnny Lightning a while back and a beautiful 1/18 scale die cast version released earlier this year.

Polar Lights, the model-making wing of Playing Mantis, has been the only game in town in terms of movie-and-television-related model kits for the past several years, and they've been busy of late doing subjects like their incredible C57-D spaceship kit from Forbidden Planet, a kit of the Jetsons' spacecar, and reissues of tons of the wonderful old Aurora kits from the '60s and '70s. This year they've concentrated on automobile subjects, with kits in the works of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1, several versions of Batman's Batmobile, and a new Delorean kit.

When I

The Polar Lights Delorean model from BACK TO THE FUTURE

first began checking out Polar's Delorean Time Machine model my first question was, "Hey, where the hell's Mr. Fusion?!?" To my relief, the little device IS in there, but the version shown on the box art doesn't have itand that provides the answer to the question, "What do I need another Delorean Time Machine model kit for?"

Polar's kit cleverly features the version of the Time Machine seen near the climax of the original Back to the Future, rigged by Doc Brown with a hooked antennae that will grab onto power lines being hit by lightning and supply the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to power the machine. The Japanese kits never included the antennae and the die-cast model released this year features the Mr. Fusion version, so there you have it, completists: this is the only way to own the antennaed version, and if you really must have the Mr. Fusion version those parts are included as an option. Polar's kit is in standard automobile scale, 1/25 actual sizewhich is actually a little bit small (Monogram upped the scale of their cars to a meatier 1/24 in the '70s but many kit manufacturers still stick with the standard 1/25). There are 48 parts, with a very nice one-piece body molded in a brushed metal color that eliminates a lot of painting. Apart from the rubber tires and chrome hubcaps and lights, the rest of the kit is molded in a medium gray, leaving a number of smaller details to paint in various reds, blacks and bluesalthough you'd still get a decent look without painting anything.

Polar has wrestled with the fact that most kids today just don't have the patience or skills to assemble complex model kits, and the metal finish and snap-together assembly technique is an attempt to address that. Earlier PR on this model indicated that it would come with pre-painted figures of Doc Brown and Marty but the final kit does not come with figures. The snap assembly works well and all parts are cleanly molded, and this model makes a very nice little displayshould look good sitting next to the Ecto-1!

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Mania Grade: A-
Reviewed Format: Plastic Model Kit
Manufacturer: Polar Lights/Playing Mantis
Retail Price: $19.98