For the 1989 Japanese Sports Prototype Championship (JSPC) Nissan introduced their all new R89C Group C racer. The car was powered by a V8, 3496cc DOHC, Turbocharged engine capable of 800HP. The monocoque type chassis was developed with help from Lola and was fabricated using Kevlar and carbon graphite composites.
This is a curbside kit with no engine detail or lift off bodywork. The kit is very similar to Tamiya's Nissan R89C kit #24093. The main differences being that the Tamiya kit is modeled as the car was run at LeMans in 1989 whereas the Hasegawa kit is modeled as ran in the 1989 JSPC. What this means is the Tamiya kit contains a LeMans type smaller rear wing for less drag down the very long Mulsanne straight. The Hasegawa kit ran a large 'sprint' type wing that provided more down force. The car also ran slightly different sponsorship markings, while the livery remained the same. Some of the other major differences are of course that the Tamiya kit contains a lot of engine detail and lift off bodywork. The other major difference in the building of the kit is that the Tamiya kit utilizes large blue decals to represent this area on the car while the Hasegawa kit requires that this area be painted.
I chose to build this kit because I wanted to hone my painting and masking skills, and this kit more than met that challenge. I obtained and started this kit before Tamiya re-issued their four LeMans Group C kits. At the time those kits were difficult and expensive to obtain. While the Hasegawa kit was scarce it was easier and cheaper to find.
The kit instructions are essentially an exploded view diagram of the kit with 14 general steps. The kit starts by constructing the interior tub. The tub detail is kind of sparse and consists of a one piece tub assembly onto which a seat, gear lever, and battery are added. The kit contains no seatbelts or even seatbelt decals. Even though I had decided to build the kit box stock, because I wanted to work on the painting and masking and there was no engine detail, I still could not overlook the lack of seatbelts. So much for box stock. I added a set of belts from a Modelers 1/24th scale seatbelt hardware set. The tub contained a rather crude molded in fire extinguisher that gave me problems. The kit instructions called for the extinguisher to be painted silver with black straps. The location of the extinguisher was so close to the tub walls that I had a difficult time masking it up completely with no bleed through. In hindsight I spent too much time remasking and painting the extinguisher when in the end it can't even be seen.
The next step has one assemble the tub to the chassis pan, add the front radiator and the front suspension arms. The suspension arms are crude and don't accurately represent the front suspension at all.
Construction continues to build the transmission and rear axle, which is the extent of the 'engine' detail, and can only be seen from underneath.
I utilized some gold foil from Bare Metal Foil for the axle boots where the axle meets the transmission.
Construction then progressed to the mounting of the transmission to the pan and assembly and mounting of the side exhausts. I had drilled out the exhaust pipes with my pin vise to more realistically present the 3 dimesional depth of the pipes.
I then prepared the wheels. This represented some difficulty as the wheels needed to have a chrome outer wheel with a grey inner wheel. The wheels were molded as one piece in white plastic. I spent a lot of time masking up the outer wheel with a lot of small thin pieces of Tamiya tape and painting with gray 'exhaust' metalizer. I let that dry thoroughly and remasked the gray area and painted the outer wheel with a very nice Krylon 'chrome' paint I found that I was very impressed with. After removeing the mask there was some clean up and touch up required. The wheels had a lot of nooks and I did get a little seeping, but nothing that couldn't be overcome. Then there was some individual rivet detail that I had to hand paint. It took a while but in the end I was happy with the final product.
I then proceeded to paint up the brake discs by masking and spraying different metalizer paints. The brake assembly was void of any caliper detail, kind of strange. At this point I could assemble the rolling chassis by using the poly caps provided to slip on the wheel/tire assembly. I used a thin sheet of plasticard underneath the main monocoque to set the ride height while the wheel assemblies were glued and let to dry. The instructions then call for the painting and assembly of the dash and steering details. I then progressed to the toughest part of the kit– the painting of the body.
I first prepped the body, filling in the seems with putty created when the front air ducts are assembled. The prepping wasn't easy because the duct seems went pretty deep into the front nose and were hard to get at. Other than that the molds were crisp and sharp with no sink marks to deal with as it was a curbside and the body would never be off to expose the underside. Laying down the primer helped expose seems that appeared filled. Patience was the key here as good preparation will help overcome problems later.
The kit livery is a red, white and blue scheme. The body of the car has a lot of complex curves which would prove to be a challenge to get right - the kit body is molded in two pieces, a front and rear. The kit decals provide the red areas and red stripes. The main body is white with the front and side areas blue. I thought long and hard about how to conquer this paint job. I finally came up with a method that worked so well I now use it exclusively for painting a complex scheme such as this.
What I did was to photocopy the decals on to a transparent overhead sheet, the type used for presentations. I then used the curvatures of the red stripes as a decal template to cut Tamiya masking tape to mask off the white areas for the front. The transparency works well because it allowed me to lay down several strips of tape overlapped to make up the thickness of the curvature and then cut the tape out with a sharp knife, leaving the transparency intact and allowing me to pull the multi-piece overlap mask off in one piece easily.
This proved invaluable because in laying down the mask on the front body section I wasn't completely satisfied all the time and several times I needed to cut another mask up until I was happy the mask layed down correctly with no creases or seep areas.
The rear body didn't require a mask to be cut based on the decals stripes, but instead was a straight triangle type scheme in which I used body locations to lay down straight tape from point to point. Careful attention needed to be paid to the triangle blue areas where the front a rear body pieces fit together, so when final assembly is complete the blue colors lined up.
I then applied my white color mask and carefully mixed up a 'correct' blue from Tamiya's TS-15 Blue and TS-44 Brilliant blue in a 1:1 mixture or so. I sprayed (airbrushed) a couple of coats of blue before removing the mask and letting the paint dry thoroughly. I also airbrushed the rear wing blue which I had already assembled.
I then cut my masks for the 'blue'mask by using the other edge of the red decal stripe than that used for the 'white' mask.
I painted the white color after the darker blue which generally goes against the rule of thumb, which is light colors first. I use a PPG automotive paint for my pure white and I find that it covers so well in nice thin coats that I don't really need to follow the rule of thumb. The automotive PPG white requires a clear so after painting the colors I used a 1500 grit sandpaper to gently smooth out the paint demarcation line before laying down a clear coat.
The clear also covers the paint demarcation line so the finished product is a nice smooth coat that requires no polishing. I use a two part urethane clear which I absolutely love and can not recommend enough. It does not harm decals and is not dependent or affected by humidity. The one caveat is that the automotive paint must be clear coated before any decals are applied. The Tamiya TS does not require a clear before decaling but it gets one anyway. There is some kind of a chemical interaction that takes place between the 'flat' white automotive paint that the clear turns into a remarkable gloss. This reaction WILL affect the decals unless the paint is clear coated first.
I now have my body painted up and a base clear applied. At this point I apply the red decals and stripes, after which I lay down another coat of clear as at this point the main paint scheme has been accomplished. I then applied all the sponsor decals, driver markings, etc. I then sprayed my final clear coat. I find this multiple clear coating method brings out a little depth, the base livery and then sponsor decals. After this, I masked the windows and painted the outer edge a semi-gloss black.
Next I painted the rear brake lights with Tamiya clear red and orange as well as the front turn signals clear orange. I also painted the headlight bases with the same chrome that I used for the wheels and then attached the headlights to the base with Testors 'clear cement and window maker', I also used this glue to attach the now painted brake and signal glass. I then attached the front headlight glass at this point. I now attach the wipers, rear side mirrors, and rear brake intakes painted flat black.
I was now ready to attach the body pieces to the pan and complete the build. It is at this point that I discovered my biggest gripe with this kit. I had test fitted the body many times and it seemed to fit fine, but I think I didn't pay attention to the joint on the upper cowl area where the two pieces meet because I just couldn't get them to line up right. The rear cowl seemed to bow too high. I could either mount the rear side pieces up ight and have it bow on the top or I could fix the bow but not get the rear side to line up right. I finally found the best compromise and applied a few clamp and tape to keep the pieces aligned as best I could. It was a struggle that I was not happy to deal with at this point in the build.
At this point I fabricated some antennae out of heated, stretched sprue and attached the antennae to the body in the locations specified. By this point, eight weeks or so later, (OK so it took me a while) Tamiya had re-issued their four group C LeMans kits. With their reissue came a plethora of aftermarket Photo-Etch detail parts. I couldn't help but use a set of exhaust body flanges to add a touch more detail to the kit. After all it was not longer a box stock build the moment I used some seat belt hardware. I used the photo etch from the Modelers set, basically because it was the cheapest and I had lost the opportunity to utilize a lot of the other items now offered with this set. All of these aftermarket set are really intended for the Tamiya offering as some of the PE items would never be seen on the Hasegawa version such as radiator grills, etc.
Although there are a few shortcomings with the kit, such as the inaccurate front suspension, the lack of brake caliper detail, and the poorly fitting body pieces I feel the kit is still worth building. It is a curbside by all rights! All of the shortcomings except for the poorly fitting body are barely noticed on the final build and would only be noticed by someone very familiar with the car. The poorly fitting body bothered me but upon showing the kit at a show, and to a few friends it was not really noticed. This may be a testament to the four clamps and many pieces of tape I used to hold it true, but it worked out OK in the end. So the kit is not of Tamiya quality, but then what is?
The other item of note is that with the Tamiya release there are a lot of aftermarket decals for the Nissan R89C. Most of which are realized with the sprint type wing, so if you want to use these decals it may be imperative that you use this kit or buy aftermarket PE plates with different wing end plates.
If you want to build several versions of this model with the different liveries you may not want to deal with the engine detail for every version. This kit then represents a curbside version that should be a good shelf companion to a full detail Tamiya build. Unfortunately, the kit is probably more difficult to obtain now than the reissue of the Tamiya version, which is now available just about everywhere. There is hope, however, Hasegawa has just announced the reissue of their Group C Mercedes Benz Sauber and Porsche 962 Advan kits. If these reissues sell well perhaps there is the chance of other reissues from Hasegawa such as this kit, and the Mercedes Benz AEG circuit liveried car.