First Look Review
Seat Belt Set A
Seat Belt Set A
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

To complement their range of 1:20 racing car kits, Tamiya produce two sets of nicely detailed seat belts. Set A (reviewed here) is designed for cars from roughly the late 1960s through the '70s, while Set B provides a modern-style harness. Of course, the sets are equally applicable for kit from other manufacturers, not least the growing range from Ebbro.

Set A arrives on a card backing and includes a fret of photo-etched buckles, plus two small sheets of printed self-adhesive vinyl-like material. One sheet provides the seat belts themselves, with a choice of red or blue straps, while the other includes manufacturers' logos.

The printing is excellent, with pin-sharp definition on the stitching and text. The material isn't die-cut, so you'll need sharp scissors or a fresh scalpel blade and a straight edge to prepare the straps. The underlying material is white, so I imagine this could show on the edge of each strap once it's cut out, so you may need to hide this with paint or a permanent marker.

The etched parts are beautifully done, without any attachments to their fret to clean up. Instead, they are held in place on a clear red film backing and simply need picking off with the point of a scalpel to be ready to use. This harks back to the very first etched sets that I remember in the 1970s and is much easier than cutting parts off a fret and cleaning up the inevitable burrs with a fine file. The downside is that the parts can come adrift - and you'll see in the accompanying photo that one item became detached as I opened the pack.

A nice touch is that the fret includes tiny cowl fasteners to use as you wish - but, against this, Tamiya only supply one set of buckles, despite offering two complete alternative sets of straps. This does seem a bit stingy and, to be honest, I'd far rather the set provided more buckles instead of the "bonus" fasteners.

Once the straps are cut out, they thread through the buckles like the full-size originals. So, each strap comprises five main pieces, plus the manufacturers' logos. The most complicated item is the quick-release buckle, which is constructed from six parts.

As you'd expect from Tamiya, there's a very nicely illustrated sheet of instructions that show how to assemble the belts clearly with the accompanying text written in Japanese, English, German and French.

Tamiya's seat belts are very nicely produced and will certainly enhance kits of racers from circa 1970 to the present day. You'll need to dig out references for any given subject to determine which style of belts to fit, but the basis is here for whatever you need. Despite their relative complexity, they shouldn't be too complicated even for beginners to assemble in this large scale, so long as you have steady hands and don't rush things.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AUTO MODELER.
Highs: Very nicely detailed and produced, with clear instructions.
Lows: Only one set of buckles is provided, despite the set including two alternative sets of straps.
Verdict: Tamiya's seat belts should look excellent when installed, and the two sets available should cover most options from the introduction of seat belts as standard in racers through to the present day.
  Scale: 1:20
  Mfg. ID: 12637
  Suggested Retail: 4.41 (Model Hobbies)
  PUBLISHED: May 07, 2019

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Rowan, Another outstanding review on a must have item for race car modelers. I really like Tamiya's belts as being generic so that they will fit all of theirs and Ebbro's 1/20 scale formula 1 cars. I have to confess that I've used them for several 1/24 scale closed body cars, and they look right at home on the seats. I was also wondering why Tamiya offered two belts sets, but only one set of buckles. What I came up with is that it's a color choice. Red is by far the number one color used in race cars. Some use blue, and once in a while Black just appears that makes them almost impossible to see on black seats. I've gone for the Red every time. I've found the seat belts to be one of the easiest sets out there to assembly and they do look great once glued in place. I've sworn off of PE belts once I tried these, and the price is great. Joel
MAY 10, 2019 - 04:30 AM

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