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Old 01-10-2004, 03:27 AM   #20
Layla's Keeper
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Lorain, Ohio
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Every now again, a car comes along that becomes synonymous with a form of motorsport. Much like the Volkswagen Beetle became the darling of the Baja, and the 1969 Camaro Z28 became the car of the Trans-Am, no car is more closely aligned to the drift scene than Nissan's S13 chassis Silvia K.

Plentiful, thanks to a production run that went from 1988 to 1994, and powerful thanks to a pair of durable turbo four cylinders (the 2000cc SR20DET and the 1800cc CA18DET) the Silvia was an instant favorite. Also helping was a more than capable chassis with a Macpherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear, a comfortable (if a little tight for four) interior, and a handsome coupe body. With all this going for it, plus several other stylish interpretations of the chassis (the fastback Sil-80, and the pop up headlight variations; 180SX and One-Via) it's no wonder that the S13 Silvia has become one of the premiere cars in drifting competitions. In fact, it's almost to the point where you cannot hold a drift meet without at least having one S13 in the field.

From Tamiya, we were given a 1:24th scale rendition of this contemporary classic that has remained in production even as its 180SX kit companion was dropped. The kit creates a curbside replica of a Silvia K (turbo model) as it left the factory. Upon opening the box, you're greeted with one clear tree, two trees of grey pieces for the chassis and interior, a tree of sea green parts for the mirrors, wheels, and package shelf, Tamiya's usual baggie of tires and poly caps, and the separately bagged body; also molded in sea green. First impression is that the parts count is rather restrained, almost simplified. Also, one does wish for a chrome parts tree for headlight buckets and mirror faces.

The body is good, but not spectacular on the Tamiya S13. As compared to the Fujimi kit, the front bumper is far better shaped, plus it has the correct single intake scoop for a K model. The separate rear spoiler is a nice piece though it lacks any mounting points on the rear decklid, so line it up carefully. However, the people who'll be buying this kit to modify it will appreciate that no holes will need to be filled and no cutting will be necessary to mount a new spoiler. Otherwise, the body is nothing spectacular. The only difficulties with working on it are the difficult to paint clear multi-color taillights and grille/headlights piece and a few mold lines.

In the interior, it's obvious that the tooling of the kit is very restrained and intended to be cost effective. The whole interior tub, which mounts to the top of the chassis plate, is shared with the 180SX kit. The only concession to the Silvia's coupe body is a separate package shelf piece with molded in speakers. Not particularly auspicious, but it's doable. There is an incredible lack of engraved detail on the interior side panels, as they have only the barest of contouring. There are no molded in door handles, window controls, or door locks, which are all very visible on the 1:1 car. The rear seat area is well defined, but there is no carpet texturing on the floor or package shelf whatsoever. A nice addition to this tub is the pair of separate consoles, one for LHD and one for RHD which allows you to put the separate handbrake on the correct side for the car you're building. The shifter and boot piece is okay, and the LHD and RHD dashboards are pretty good too, with excellent radio face and climate control detail, but the gauge cluster is decal only so those who prefer to paint such details are not going to be pleased.

The seats that go into this interior are also a disappointment, as they lack upholstery detailing and have no seatbacks. Some sheet styrene will work wonders here, and you guys not worried about the stock look can travel over to your parts box without hesitation.

The chassis is a fair piece, comparable to other curbside Tamiyas in this range of kits. The chassis plate itself features some great engraving, such as the engine lowers, the forward portion of the exhaust system including the catalytic converter, and the fuel tank. The three piece front suspension is passable thanks to good engraving, but the rear suspension is a star, comprised of six superbly engraved pieces. Separate four wheel discs that hold the polycaps, in fine Tamiya tradition, finish off the chassis. They're somewhat plain compared to the fanciful cross drilled rotors and massive Brembo calipers in other Tamiya kits, but this is an everyday factory stock car. Finally, there's the back half of the exhaust system. It's a good in scale piece, but you'll want to drilll out the dual tips for more realism.

All four wheels are stock Nissan disc type wheels. They're well done and scale out well, but are very very boring. Unless you're building a replica of a factory stock Silvia, find some new wheels. It would've been very nice of Tamiya to include 17inch wheels from one of their BTCC or tarmac WRC kits. The tires are very good Dunlops, though. Not very wide and they don't have the wicked directional pattern of a Bridgestone Potenza, but they're solid for a modern street car and should be heavily considered by replica stock builders working on similar year cars.

The decal sheet is all about the badges and markings of the car, plus a selection of license plates. Very standard, unadventurous stuff that does add to a better detailed model.

So, what's the bottom line on this kit? Well, the accuracy of the body and the superb chassis detail place it above Fujimi's kit of an S13K Silvia. However, that's if you're comparing stock to stock. For tuners, this kit is only raw material, and more difficult to work with raw material in some places as well. Tamiya's reliance on male wheels limits your wheel supply based on your scratchbuilding abilities, and the molded in catalytic converter, while well detailed in of itself, means that removing it will lead to a need for more serious scratchbuilding. The interior is shamefully undetailed, save for the dashboard, and the lack of chrome parts for the headlight buckets and the mirror faces is troubling as well. The fact that this kit's only option is right or left hand drive effects its value heavily, too. By and large, the fit and finish of the parts is straight-up Tamiya, but some assemblies, like painting the multi-color taillights, or constructing and painting the three piece clear grille/headlights assembly, will try even seasoned modelers' patiences.

Yes, you can pick them up from HLJ for $13.16 USD, not counting shipping, but in the long run that 13+ dollars can get you a lot more kit for the buck from Revell, AMT, or even Fujimi.

Yes it's a Tamiya, and yes it's accurate. But being Tamiya and being accurate aren't enough to offset the lack of detail and the unfriendly builder experience. This is an average kit, and if had come from Revell or AMT they'd have been crucified for it.

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10
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