These days Ebbro dominate the mainstream market for 1:20 racing car kits, but their roots lie in Tamiya
and there are still some gems to be found in the latter's range that are definitely worth checking out. One such kit is Tamiya
's very neat model of the Honda RA272 which dates from 1996.
The RA272 holds the distinction of being the first Japanese car to win an F1 Grand Prix, being driven to victory by Richie Ginther in Mexico in October 1965. Fellow American, Ronnie Bucknum drove the second Honda in the race to an impressive 5th place.
The RA272 was powered by a 1.5 litre transverse-mounted V-12 which produced over 220 horsepower - the only such engine in the history of F1. Sadly for Honda, just as the engine was reaching a suitable level of reliability, the F1 rules were changed and the Mexican Grand Prix was the final race of the normally aspirated 1.5 litre era. The following season saw 3.0-litre normally aspirated, or 1.5-litre supercharged or forced induction engines introduced.
's kit arrives in a compact and attractive conventional box, with the parts and accessories sealed in bags. Not everything is separated, though, as two sprues are packed together and I was especially surprised to find the decal sheet in one of the sprue bags without any protection. Luckily the parts hadn't scratched the decals in transit in my kit, but really
? - come on Tamiya
, you can do better than this.
The kit comprises:
7 x ivory styrene parts
36 x black styrene parts
32 x aluminium styrene parts
5 x clear styrene parts
4 x soft tyres
A pack of screws and poly caps
Decals for Richie Gintherís and Ronnie Bucknumís cars
The moulding is excellent, despite the kit being well over 20 years old. There's no sign of flash or sink marks in my example, and the designers did a good job keeping ejection pin marks out of harm's way for the most part. The body shell and nose cone have light seams that need sanding smooth where a multi-part mould has been used to capture the contours and allow detail all the way around.
A Few Details
Working through pretty much stage-by-stage, construction begins with a very neatly detailed depiction of the RA272's unique engine and its accessories, comprising around 35 parts. One thing that strikes you immediately in shots of the real engine (such as HERE
) is the mass of fuel lines, so it's disappointing that Tamiya
don't include any material from which to make them, or (perhaps more importantly) even a diagram showing their attachments. As it is, you'll need to pore over photos of the original engine to untangle the veritable cat's cradle and form a plan of attack.
Thereís no slide-moulding evident on this kit, so the exhausts arenít hollowed out - but doing so will only take a few twists with a drill-bit.
The front wheels are steerable and kept in place with poly-caps. The disk brakes are neat enough, but there are small pin-marks that should be smoothed out.
The radiator is crisply moulded with a fine mesh effect and can be revealed with a detachable nose cone. Pipework is very basic, so this is an area that super detailers will no doubt focus on.
The under-pan is one piece and includes the lower arms for the front suspension, promising a stable foundation for the rest of the build. The cockpit is very spartan as per the full-sized "office", with a one-piece seat and a simple set of pedals mounted almost out of sight. Sidewalls feature a little moulded detail and there's a separate throttle assembly on the right. The instrument panel is crisply moulded and Tamiya
provide decals for each dial. Finishing things off is a nicely moulded steering wheel with a decal logo for the centre.
The engine sub-assembly plugs into the completed body and the rear suspension is then built around it. The shock absorbers are simple, but effective. Iíve seen an excellent build online where the modeller replaced them with real springs and the result was definitely worth it - but the kit parts wonít look bad if painted carefully.
The wheel hubs are crisply moulded and the tyres are absolute gems with detailed tread and no clean-up required at all. The icing on the cake is that the Goodyear logos are pre-painted absolutely faultlessly, which will save hours of eyestrain trying to paint them by hand!
Clear parts are distortion free. I did notice that the windscreen has a slight twist to it when viewed from above, but that will straighten out when itís attached to the body.
A sure sign that Tamiya
ís designers were proud of their detailed engine is that the parts for the rear cover are moulded on the clear sprue. Itís a bit of a gimmick that I doubt many modellers will use (and even the instructions indicate to paint the panels), but the nice thing for anyone who does
want to keep the panels clear is that they are just that - truly clear, and not the pointless frosted finish you find on modern ďclearĒ kits like Tamiya
ís 1:48 Ki-61 Hien. Ironically, though, they are let down by a couple of ejector pin marks, which is a bit of a shame.
The other point worth noting about the engine cover is that itís attached with a couple of rather prominent and very non-scale screws. This is a definite compromise in terms of accuracy (they really stick out like the proverbial sore thumb), so Iíll see if I can find another solution when I build the kit.
Instructions & Decals
Typically for a kit of this vintage, Tamiya
have printed the instructions as a fold-out sheet, which is somewhat cumbersome to have on the workbench, particularly if you need to skip back and forth through the stages. Needless to say, though, the diagrams themselves are excellent and very easy to follow. As noted above, the one real omission is a diagram for adding detail to the engine, but I didnít notice any other problems.
Colour matches are provided for Tamiya
ís own-brand paints and are keyed to details throughout the logical 20-stage assembly.
The exterior painting guide is small, but adequate, because the overall scheme is very simple and the RA272 dates back to the time before F1 cars were plastered with a myriad of sponsorsí logos - itís literally just a case of the driverís name and number, the Honda logo and a Japanese rising sun emblem.
The decals in my kit are nicely printed in perfect register. The items are glossy with crystal clear carrier film and look like they should lay down nicely over a polished surface.
I really like Tamiya
ís Honda RA272. It looks set to be a straightforward build from the box, while still including plenty of detail. Adding pipes and cables to the already excellent engine will obviously raise the complexity, but will make it a real gem that will be very eye-catching, not least because it looks so unusual with its transverse mounting.
If youíre interested in vintage racers, this kit will be an excellent addition to any 1:20 collection, and it will also make for a good beginnerís kit with its excellent design and moulding quality. It will sit very nicely alongside a line-up of Ebbro F1 cars and a real plus point is that you can pick it up for around half the price of many of them. Recommended.
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