Text and Photos by: James Ravelo
Introduced in 1999, Nissan touted the redesigned R34 Skyline as the car to give the driver the "ultimate driving pleasure." With the Skyline's rich racing-developed heritage that started in 1969, Nissan didn't just advertise fluff - it advertised substance. Powered by a powerful 2.6 liter turbocharged engine which is controlled by a 6-speed Getrag transmission delivering power to all four wheels, it can take the driver to very fast speeds. The potential to do so is one thing, getting there safely is another thing. The new appearance of the Skyline isn't just a whim - every aspect of the new car's body and structure is optimized for speed and safety. While the R34 sports a smaller body compared to the R33, it's more rigid, something that'll give the driver peace of mind. Even more impressive is that the aerodynamics has been improved and has an adjustable two-level rear wing, and front and rear diffusers for the V-spec Skyline, all of which improve airflow around the car and help keep it stable at high speeds. The advanced electronically-controlled 4 wheel drive system and Brembo front brake system gives the driver extra peace of mind and better control, be it in motion or in the process of stopping. All told, this Skyline has become the new standard by which Japanese high-performance cars, if not even high-performance cars from other countries, will be judged.
The kit comes in 10 parts - 5 runners (in white, gray-silver, clear color, or chrome plated), a tire bag, a wet-transfer decal sheet, a masking seal sheet, mesh, and the manual. Assembly dictates the use of styrene cement for some parts and of course, painting which is best recommended done as the building process proceeds.
The fold-out manual is done in typical Tamiya style. It's printed in black and white, featuring a picture of the completed kit and a short description of the car (in English, German, French and Japanese) in front, required and/or recommended tools and paints to use on the second page, and also detailed step-by-step building instructions on the second page, and painting, decal application, and an aftermarket service card at the last page. Too bad though the aftermarket service card is only for Japanese use.
The body of the Skyline is molded in 3 pieces - the main body, the front bumper, and the rear bumper. The plastic the body and bumpers are molded in is colored white (which will later require painting in recommended colors according to the manual or doing a custom paint scheme), and attaching the bumpers to the main body will require gluing. The adjustable two-level rear wing though will be attached separately (the wing itself is made of 6 parts) later on in the assembly process, and also for the side mirrors and the two front windshield wipers and the rear windshield wiper.. Clear parts are included for the glass areas, headlight covers, front bumper-mounted turn signals, and the taillight and license plate light covers. Chrome parts are also included for the side mirrors, headlights and taillights. .Masking seals help in painting the black areas for the clear surfaces. Wet transfer decals are included for some details on the car's body, such as for the license plate, "GT-R" logo on the front intake, "GT" markings on the front fender panels, and the "V-spec" logo on the back of the car. The license plates attache separately, with the option to put in the "GT-R" decal or a decal to mimic a Japanse license plate. Simply put, the body captures the Skyline's agressive, wide-fendered stance in perfect detail, a real treat for modelers.
Almost all of the parts of this car's aspect is molded in a gray-silver color. Being a curbside kit, it doesn't have complete engine detail, only those parts of the engine which will be visible underneath the front suspension. A complete radiator and intercooler though is included. Suspension detail abounds at the front and rear - the front suspension allows for steering movement, the detail for the rear suspension's Super HICAS 4-wheel steering system is excellent (the rear wheels in the model can't steer though), and the smallest stabilizer bar detail has been incorporated. The brake system is excellently reproduced, with a "Brembo" decal to add to the front brake calipers. Drivetrain detail is also excellent. The exhaust system has excellent details, even down to the recesses at the catalytic converter, and has a chrome plated exhaust tip which is separately attached. The floorpan itself is excellently detailed, even down to the details on the fuel tank. Even the front and rear diffuser has the smallest details such as rivet spots. Although the front and rear diffuser covers most of the front and rear suspension details, the diffusers are originally molded in clear (albeit somewhat halfway opaque) plastic to show off the suspension detail, but those who want to follow the instructions will have to cover up the suspension details by painting the diffusers in black. Attaching the diffusers will require gluing which means that the body can't be separated later on from the underchassis without risk of breaking suspension details. Polycaps inside the brake assemblies allow for wheel rotation, and the wheels attach to the brake assemblies using a male-female joint (in respective order). The wheel rims are chrome plated but it requires painting to get the correct wheel rim color (a mix between gun metal and chrome silver), and the tire tread detail is excellent, even to the markings on the sides of the tires.
Molded in white plastic which will require detail painting to complete it, the cockpit contains all the important details. The front seats are attached separately onto the floor of the cockpit, and so is the dashboard. The dashboard is molded to mimic a right-hand drive Skyline and contains details such as the instrument panel (supplied as a decal), airconditioning vents, radio detail, pedals (clutch, brake and accelerator pedal), steering wheel and center logo (also with a decal) and even the center dashboard-mounted display panel (also as a decal). Regrettably though, the decal for the center dashboard-mounted display panel is only a "GT-R" decal, whereas the real Skyline's center display panel shows vital information such as oil pressure, turbocharger boost pressure, and other information available by request. The handbrake and the shifter are also separate parts to be attached later on, and so is the rear-view mirror. The mouldings for both the left and right doorsills though are separate and will have to be attached at one point in the assembly process. The whole cockpit "tub" itself is glued later on the floorpan between the front and rear wheel wells. You can either paint the cockpit details accordingly as the manual suggests, or do a custom paint scheme for the cockpit details, like what I did.
Tamiya has done a great job with the R34 Skyline. Some details may have been substituted (like in the center display panel) but other than that, there's absolutely nothing else the builder can find fault in. Simply put, it's an excellent buy with all the excellent details and high quality workmanship we've all come to expect from Tamiya.
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