by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
It was a real surprise when I noticed the instructions and sprues in Tamiya's Calsonic Skyline GTR (R34) are dated 1999, because the quality of the moulding makes it hard to believe the kit is 20 years old. I couldn't find a blemish on my kit, and the parts are free of flash. To be honest, the kit is still as crisp as the best mainstream models appearing today.
The Skyline is packaged in a sturdy top-opening box, and makes a good impression from the word go, with each sprue bagged separately and little sealed packets for the accessories. My kit arrived in perfect condition, with the size of the box being just right to prevent the contents rattling around in transit. The model comprises:
52 x blue styrene parts
37 x aluminium styrene parts
11 x white styrene parts
9 x clear styrene parts
4 x soft tyres
Reverse-printed self-adhesive tyre logos
2 x sheets of conventional decals
Die-cut kabuki tape painting masks
1 x metal sticker
The sprue attachments are small and sensibly placed, and the designers look to have done a good job keeping ejector-pin marks out of harm's way. The overall finish of the parts is nice and smooth, while the body shell has been polished to a flawless mirror-like shine. There aren't any moulding lines to worry about on the body, but there is a small pin in the centre of the roof that you'll have to trim off carefully and polish to match the surrounding glossy finish (a padded nail buffer should do the job).
A Few DetailsThe Skyline is designed as a kerb-side kit, but still features a reasonable amount of detail for the engine and front suspension, with over a dozen parts and steerable wheels. Around another dozen parts go into the transmission and rear suspension, and I'm quite impressed by the overall simple but effective assemblies.
The original wheels on the blue sprue are replaced with a new set moulded in white with different style hubs. The detail on the retainers is nice and crisp, and the hubs slip firmly into the soft "rubber" tyres. The material used for the tyres is slightly shiny and, while there are no moulding points to trim off, there is a fine line on the surface of each slick. Hopefully, this will sand away without much trouble - and I think most modellers will want to dull the surface of the tyres anyway.
Tamiya include a sheet of self-adhesive markings for the tyre logos. It seems a neat idea - certainly much easier than trying to paint the logos - but I've never used markings like these, so I can't comment on how easy they are to apply or how permanent they'll prove to be. The completed wheels are held in place with poly-caps.
The interior looks pretty straightforward (it's fairly spartan, as you'd expect in a racer), with a level of detail that should be quite adequate seen through the closed windows. There's a decal for the controls on the centre console and another for the display on the steering wheel.
The Recaro bucket seat is neatly moulded and comes with a set of decal belts. These are very neatly printed and it's nice that they are included - and, of course, you can always replace them with aftermarket belts if you wish. The rear/exterior surface of the seat is covered with another decal to represent the material it's made from. Getting the decal to conform to the complex shape of the seat could take a considerable amount of coaxing and liberal applications of decal softener.
With the basic interior constructed, a cat's cradle of roll bars slot in, followed by side panels and the dashboard, ready to clip into the bodywork.
The glazing is flawless in my kit, with no flow-lines or other problems in the crystal clear parts. The windscreen and front side windows are moulded as one piece, with a separate rear window and rear quarter lights. A really nice touch is that Tamiya include a sheet of die-cut painting masks that will make life massively easier. I've often criticised Tamiya for expecting modellers to cut out the masks in their aircraft kits, so it was a real surprise to find them pre-cut here. (It also inevitably raises the question of why they can't always provide die-cut masks.)
With the windows in place, the floor pan attaches to the body shell with locators at the front, back and sides, so there should be little chance of misalignment. With that done, all that's left to fit are the panel under the front of the car, the wing mirrors and the rear wing. Rounding everything off is a small aluminium sticker for the plate surrounding the side exhausts.
Painting & DecalsAs always with Tamiya kits, the assembly guide is very clearly laid out and illustrated. It's produced as a fold-out sheet, so not as convenient as some of their recent booklets, but that's only a minor gripe. Construction is broken down into 17 very manageable stages, and Tamiya's own-brand paints are indicated throughout.
The painting and decal placement section could benefit from being larger - the diagrams seem a bit cramped compared with the rest of the illustrations - but they do the job.
The decals are beautifully printed in perfect register across two small sheets. As noted above, the decal for the seat could prove challenging, but those for the exterior should work well on a high gloss surface.
ConclusionI'm really impressed by Tamiya's Calsonic Skyline GTR (R34). It's a very well designed and produced kit that can easily hold its own against models 20 years more modern. It's also great value for money. I bought mine for a shade under £18.00, which is a snip for a kit of this quality in this day and age.
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