Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Japanese are coming, Part 2

Looking back, I can see the Japanese focus has been increasing lately: the Honda Civic racer that I built to see if I could actually get something (anything) done in a weekend; three Skylines so far; the current BRE Datsuns. Many of these are currently displayed in the trailer portion of a Mitsubishi Fuso car carrier. I'm not counting the Nissan R90V, Mazda 787B and Honda RA272 that go back a few years, and I probably shouldn't mention the NSX and Dodge Stealth (née Mitsubishi 3000) with blown Ford 427s shoehorned into the engine compartment, the 1982 Prelude with a Chevy Blazer V6 in the back seat, or the chopped and sectioned Suzuki Samurai with a Dodge Stealth twin-turbo V6 also in the back seat. At least the Dodge motor in the Suzuki is actually a Mitsubishi 3000 unit, not a big lump of Yankee iron.

In the unstarted pile, there is a 1996 Toyota Twincam Turbo Group B rally car, a Toyota TS-One Le Mans car, a Fairlady 432R (a 2-litre, twincam version of the 240Z), an RX7, a pair of tiny little Hondas (S600 and S800), two kits of the Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon 4WD Super Exceed which I've set aside for kitbashing, and a Suzuki Carry ST30 light (very light) commercial vehicle.

Twenty-two distinct vehicles in all. And to top it off I ordered a few more items from my favourite Japanese purveyor of styrene kits, Hobby Search (click here), bringing the total to 26.

First is what was sold in North America as the Toyota Corolla from 1983 to 1987. The last rear drive Corolla, this Aoshima kit has a very well detailed twincam, fuel-injected four which duplicates the car seen in a popular Japanese Manga comic. (I found out about the Manga comic after I got the kit). You'll find it on Wikipedia by looking for Toyota AE86.

The Subaru Sambar is the opposite. The Japanese kei car (literally light car) category benefits from reduced taxation but has to fit within fairly strict guidelines as to outside dimensions and engine size. The Sambar is apparently a well-loved little commercial vehicle, a bit like the split-window VW van; in fact you can find pictures of Sambar vans made up to look like shrunken VWs. I picked up this pickup version in part for technical reasons; the 660 cc, water-cooled triple is lying flat under the back, driving all four wheels. A real little oddball. Both this and the AE86 are well-detailed Aoshima kits. I have often wondered, on coming across a particularly oddball Aoshima or Fujimi kit, whether it was curbside or not; the Japanese website listed above provides images of instruction sheets online, so you can tell before you buy just how much detail you are getting.

Continuing my current obsession with Skylines, I ordered two as described at the end of the post here: http://24th-scale.blogspot.ca/2016/02/skyline-update.html

The original Skyline wasn't even a Nissan, it was a Prince, which was in the process of being bought out by Nissan when the first Skyline came out. The Fujimi curbside kit of this, known by the factory designation 54A (moderate state of tune) or 54B (hairier state of tune), shows a fairly ugly little car, typical of Japanese 'design' of the mid-60s. I'll probably replicate the cream and wine two-tone paint job, if I can find the right rattle cans. 

It's amazing that the next iteration looked so good. Not so much the 1973 version which looks like an early Celica or 610 on steroids. The so-called KPGC 110 version has huge C-pillars and a wide snout reminiscent of the 1973 Plymouth Satellite which I always thought was a major letdown after the lovely 'Cuda of the late '60s. A comment on the kit: it contains a beautifully done twin-cam six, but the hood is molded in place, so you can't see it ... what were they thinking? Not only that, the plastic is thick, meaning a clean cut will be challenging. Anyway the next generation, the R34, is once again a good-looking car.

So there you have it: an explosion of Japanese cars. from the sublime to the ridiculous via the ugly and the cute. Yes, yes, I have to start building ...

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