Text and Photos by: James Ravelo
"The unrivaled Nissan Skyline GT-R of the 1970's Japanese touring car races valiantly returned to the race circuit in 1990. Equipped with 2.6l, in-line 6-cylinder twin turbo engines, two R32 Skyline GT-R's brilliantly triumphed in all six races. Particularly impressive was the bright blue Calsonic Skyline, which achieved five of the six victories to take the series championship. In 1993, the Calsonic Skyline was converted into a GT machine and brought out for the All Japan GT Championships, where it took top honors for three years running. From the middle of the 1995 season, the R33 version of the Skyline GT-R was brought out. The R33 was based on the 4WD production car, but was instead equipped with rear wheel drive. For the 1999 All Japan GT Championships, Nissan brought out a new machine, the R34. Compared to its predecessor, the R33, the R34 was constructed more compactly, with a narrow wheelbase. It was developed to take advantage of the reinforced chassis used on the production model brought out in January of that year. Except for the roof, the body was completely remade in carbon fiber and equipped with a large, curved wing on the rear - just one example of its aerodynamic and stylish form. Undergoing constant improvements since 1990, the inline, 6-cylinder DOHC twin turbo engine of the R34 is maximized with a 6-speed sequential transmission engine and rear wheel drive. The latest incarnation of the Skyline GT-R, the R34, promises to add more GT Championship Titles to Nissan's illustrious racing history." - manual text
The kit comes in 13 parts - 5 runners (in white, blue, gray, or clear color), the body, a tire bag with polycaps, two wet-transfer decal sheets, an aluminum sticker sheet, a tire decal sheet, a masking seal sheet, 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. Curiously enough, the picture of a Skyline at the masking seal depicts the Pennzoil Skyline R34.
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, metal transfer sticker, decal application and tire 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 is basically made up of 4 pieces - the front bumper, main body shell, glass areas, and the rear wing assembly. The body's plastic is molded in blue, but it would require painting and the addition of the wet-transfer decals included with the kit to make it realistic. Reproduced excellently is the wide-fendered stance of the racing Skyline, and has very good panel line details. The two headlamp assemblies though is integrated onto the body (both on the main body shell and front bumper) and has only a hole in front on each assembly for the clear lamp lens. Care should be taken when handling the car kit after attaching the side mirrors, as they have very fragile supports - in fact, I've broken them and reattached them countless times already.
One major gripe with building the body is the fact that you have to glue on the front bumper's 4 canard wings without the help of a guide hole (or holes) on the bumper's sides and guide peg (or pegs) on the canard wings. Okay, it has a guide "line" on the sides of the bumper, but these would be covered up by paint (oops. Tamiya sure had a reverse stroke of genius there) and because the "cockpit" decals would have to be applied to the sides of the front bumper before the upper canard wings would be attached, it further complicates the situation, especially for novice modelers (or clumsy ones, like me). In fact, if you make a mistake in attaching the upper canard wing(s) using styrene glue, you're bound to ruin the "cockpit" decal(s) below it.
The wet-transfer decals adhere nicely to the body and provide a good contrast to the all-blue body of the car as it's white, but one negative point in my view is the use of a wet-transfer decal for the bonnet's locking clip, instead of using a plastic part. While the portions of the "Calsonic" markings which is placed over the grills in the bonnet area takes some patience to apply, it's understandable because of the car's design. As for the decals which were placed over panel lines, to add realism, I applied cut the decal along the panel line below, then applied decal softener to make it adhere better to the sides of the panel line, thus giving it a "painted-on" look. There is an included aluminum sticker to put on the exhaust area to the lower rear of the car's left side, but it would cover up the rivet details on the area.
Meanwhile, the glass areas (which require painting and some wet-transfer decals) attach to the car without difficulty. The 6-piece rear wing is easy to assemble, with nicely molded guide holes on the wing's sides and guide pegs on the sides of the wing's top parts. The rear wing's mounting struts attach with no difficulty to the bottom of the rear wing and to the body because of wide guide grooves. The fuel-filler port is a separate part that would later on be attached to the hole at the back of the car, and so would the separate taillamp assembles.
The only modification I did with the kit was to cut out the three rectangular holes near the front windshield area and attach mesh beneath it.
The parts are molded in gray or blue plastic, and they would require detail painting to enhance realism. The suspension components are very nicely detailed and represented, although using accurately painted front and rear aerodynamic underside diffusers would hide most of the details. Easily remedied though if the clear plastic molded diffusersare left unpainted to show details of the suspension. One thing that didn't sit quite well with me was the fact that you have to glue on the bottom part of the front bumper to the body (specifically, the bumper area) and to the chassis, this making you unable to open up the kit again unless you break the bottom part(and hopefully not some parts of the bumper) off and reattach it later on, ad nauseam.
Being a curbside kit, this doesn't have an engine, which is surprising as previous Skyline kits such as the Castrol RB Nissan Skyline R32 had complete engine detail under a removable clear front bonnet but the visible portions of the engine underneath the car is represented accurately (but would be later on covered up by the diffusers). A nicely detailed large radiator (it's almost as wide as the width of the front bonnet) are separate parts but attached later on. The drivetrain and exhaust system is also excellently detailed. The underside of the floorpan itself is very accurate, down to the last recess on the sides. The brake systems are nicely detailed, with "AP Racing" wet-transfer decals to further add realism to the front and rear brake calipers. Meanwhile, the front and rear brake discs depict ventilated ones but only for the sides facing outside.
The front suspension allows for not only turning movement for the wheels courtesy of polycaps inside the brake assemblies, but also steering movement, and the rear also lets the wheels turn courtesy of the same way the front does, through polycaps inside the brake assemblies. Besides the standard wheels, there is also another set of 4 wheel rims with a different design and color, which is the product of parts reusage (after all, the R34 racing Skyline kits such as the Calsonic Skyline, Zexel Skyline, Pennzoil Skyline, to name a few) are all similar. One problem I ran into which was my fault was I accidentally lost one of the "RS" wet-transfer decals for the wheel rims, thus, the rear wheel rims have not "RS" markings.
The side plates on the bottom of the sides of the car attaches to the outside rails on the underside of the chassis, and it has a guide hole in it to help the guide peg on the body to attach correctly.
The cockpit has parts molded in either gray or blue and would require detail painting along the assembly process. A lot detail exists, from the dashboard and console, seat mount, rollcage, fire extinguishers and other accessories inside the cockpit. A simulation wet-transfer decal of carbon-fiber is available for the back of the racing seat.
Now on to the gripes. They aren't actually gripes per se, but more like a wish list for those modelers without the time or talent or a combination of both to do quite substantial scratchbuilds of portions of the cockpit. One gripe that I could mention are the seatbelts. They're only decals. Granted, they were done quite nicely but those seeking to add more realism can make a more accurate representation of the seatbelts, although those who don't have the time and/or skills can settle for the provided seatbelt decals. Another personal gripe was that there was two difficult-to-attach rollcage bars behind the driver's seat - in fact, you'd need a steady hand to correctly attach, something which I don't have.
It's truly an impressive kit, with all the details you could ask for in a kit (as expected from a Tamiya kit) and the aggressive stance that the racing variants of the R34 Skyline is known for. However, if you do decide to buy one, this car kit is best left displayed on the display rack as the fragile side mirrors and sideboards make playing with it dangerous.
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