Saturday 17 May 2014

Review of the Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4/4 magazine and model assembly from De Agostini

Unless you've been in seclusion just lately you'll be well-aware of the round of commemoration and celebration of the life of the inimitable Ayrton Senna which accompanied the 20th anniversary of his sad, premature passing. As part of this De Agostini Publishing has recently released its Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4/4 magazine and model series.

For this each month subscribers receive parts to in time build a 1:8 scale model of Senna's iconic McLaren along with an accompanying monthly magazine about the late great Brazilian.

And for the model it has chosen, appropriately, Senna's most successful car of all, arguably the most successful F1 car of anyone's ever, in the MP4/4 used in the 1988 season.

Its attributes roll off the tongue. The beautiful, sleek, low-line car, with the gem of a Honda engine and an efficient one that could get the swingeing (at the time) 150 litres of fuel to the end, as well as benefiting from the driving genius of no less than Senna and Alain Prost. It won 15 rounds of the 16 rounds that campaign, coming within but two laps of a clean sweep, and in so doing took Senna to the first of his three drivers' world championship titles.

The company has good form in this sort of product for F1 fans, having previously produced a similar series for the McLaren MP4-23 as well as the Red Bull RB7. And in this case it appears that it hasn't relented on anything.

Kyosho together with De Agostini have created the model car with extensive research and input from both McLaren and Honda. From the parts I received as well as judging by the impressions of the finished product the model is impressive in its detail and accuracy, in its chassis, the engine (which can also be displayed as a stand-alone piece), cockpit, brakes and suspension.

The model and has even elicited glowing words from Gordon Murray, the Technical Director who oversaw the creation of the real thing. It also all is officially endorsed by the Ayrton Senna Institute and McLaren. While the 1:8 scale of the McLaren that you build trumps most model kit F1 cars you'll find in the shops too.

The accompanying magazine is a real pleasant surprise also, giving absolutely no impression of being an afterthought as is sometimes so with such things.

Each monthly magazine is to split into several sections: The Senna Story, which looks at Senna's on-track career; Racing the MP4/4, which takes a race-by-race in-depth look at each round of the 1988 season; Senna's World, looking at the people and places who were major parts of Senna’s life; Senna’s Cars, a detailed overview of the F1 cars Senna drove during his career beginning with the MP4/4; as well as the latest step-by-step instructions on how to build the 1:8 scale model.

The research and attention to detail that have gone into these features are evident, and the first issue of the magazine that I looked at even largely avoided the trap of seeming to overly tread on familiar ground; something that with the widespread coverage Senna has got and continues to get some have fallen into.

The magazine contained a particularly interesting article on the life and times of Sochiro Honda - such a key player in Senna's F1 success - as well as one on Senna's family that included a lot of detail and pictures that I had never encountered before (and I count myself as a bit of an anorak, particularly on the subject of Ayrton). The feature on the opening round of the 1988 season in Rio also was strong on detail and insight. The passion and painstaking desire to get it right and show Senna in the best possible light shines through.

There are a few bonuses provided in future with a PVC A3 mat, a Senna DVD and a Magnifier Lamp delivered with issues further down the line.

About the only major drawback however is the price. The series is delivered over 20 months, and each monthly issue containing the magazine and latest model parts is priced at £40 a time. So the full set will set you back a full £800.

While there is a benefit of being able to add to the collection over time (a sort of gift that keeps on giving), as is also often the way with such monthly collectible series it's tempting to speculate that you could buy a Senna book as well as a Tamiya model kit McLaren separately and still be several hundred pounds up.

But still, if you can stretch to it then I would recommend this; it would be suitable for anyone interested in F1 young and old. You can start your subscription now exclusively at the De Agostini Model Space website. More information can be also found on the website as well as on its Facebook page and on Twitter at @model_space.


  1. The only bit I think is wrong is the last bit. The Tamiya whilst amazing in detail is a fraction of the size at 1/24th scale and more over that detail depends on the ability of the modeler. With this series all the finer detailing is done for you

    1. What you say is true up to a point, and in fairness I do say that the 1:8 scale isn't matched by many other self-assembly F1 cars available. But still, the total price difference works out as a big one. I appreciate there are some reasons for this, given the additional packaging a monthly delivery requires, as well as the postage/logistics etc. But still, from a quick Google search I found a 1:12 scale 1990 Senna McLarens available for c.£100, plus a good, new Senna book can be bought for around £30-40. So the cost is over five times higher.

  2. Amalgam do a 1/8 kit, but it's in the £2,000 region

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