In Japan, You Can Now Buy The Best AE86 Model Ever Made

During my weekly visits to the Japanese bookstores, I saw this huge AE86 model car being advertised in the store window. Scaled at 1/8, it measures more than 50cm in length.

Note the perfect arrangement to lure (model) car enthusiasts into buying: a video showing an AE86 in action, highlighting the customization features, and showing both the complete model and the interior with an impressive attention to details.

The entire model is over 50cm long. Note the reflection of my shoes for a size comparison.

Just imagine the situation of someone who just left his beloved AE86 in his home country and moved to Japan, and dearly misses his enjoyable car, and then seeing this in a shop window. How could this not be the perfect way and timing to attract me as a customer?

Upon closer inspection, I learned that the majority of the model is made out of metal, features a highly detailed engine room and chassis, and requires neither gluing nor painting. In fact, the entire car is assembled using screws only.

The insanely detailed interior features customization (the bucket seats and the momo steering wheel are optional extras).

Doors, bonnet and rear hatch can be opened by hand. The door windows can be raised and lowered using a small window crank. The steering wheel turns the front wheel using a steering rack. The suspension has springs where the actual McPherson struts sit. The rear axle is mounted exactly the same way as the real axle is: four links, a panhard rod, a stabilizer and shocks and, yes, small metal springs. Insane!

Every suspension component has the same movement as the components in the real car.

Other components of the model car are not a bit less impressive. The engine is assembled out of over 100 individual metal parts. It features a realistic water pump, alternator, aircon compressor and distributor. The ignition leads are made out of small rubber hoses and look just like the real thing.

Two small rubber bands looks pretty good as a 1/5 scale alternator and aircon belt.

The attention to detail doesn’t stop here. You have the ignition leads mounting bracket, the distributor cap, the exhaust manifold heat including a heat shield, the timing belt cover with the characteristic “4A-GE” sticker. Even the vacuum tubes, secondary air values and all the other small engine stuff is replicated with astonishing attention to detail.

So how do you get your hands on this model? Unfortunately, if you are residing outside of Japan, it’s next to impossible. The kit is sold only in Japan using a subscription scheme, delivered as 110 individual boxes containing different parts. DeAgostini sends out a box every week, so it will take a bit over two years until you have all parts together.

This must have been box 8 or 9, containing one side of the transmission (just look how they managed to replicate the grooves on the aluminum casting. Insane), the oil pan, and the clutch slave cylinder.

Obviously, the first few boxes contain parts that are less technical to make the kit more attractive to less “car-nerd” people. This is the first box, that was sold at a discount of 490 Yen, about 3 Euros.

The first box starts with the most characteristic part of the AE86: the retractable headlights and the front bumper with the little “Trueno” badge.

The magazine delivered with the box explains more features of the car. As I understood, the car comes with a remote control that allows you to control the front- and taillights of the car, raise and lower the retractable headlights, and play engine sounds via a small speaker.

Having a model car with actual working retractable headlights is pretty impressive.

If you read ahead, you’ll stumble across the “custom parts collection”. If you are willed to spend 110 Yen extra per box, DeAgostini will also provide you with additional customization parts to make your little AE86 ready to battle the sharp corners of Mt. Akita.

While not all parts match my personal taste, I think the fog lights and the rear spoiler are a must-have for an enhanced OEM look.

Overall, do I think this model of car is worth the >2,000 Euro that you will pay over the course of two years? My short answer is “Yes, absolutely”. This is by far the most realistic scale-reproduction of our beloved AE86 to date. There won’t be a second chance to get your hands on such a model, which is why I decided to order three sets (the maximum per customer) for myself and a friend. I may keep the third set and consider respraying it to the red-black color scheme.

It’s a real shame that the kit is not available outside of Japan, and a quick look at eBay shows me that some smart folks try to make a profit out of it by selling the boxes for a ridiculous profit.

If you are interested, I will post regular updates of the build process on my YouTube channel. If you are interested, feel free to watch the first episode of the AE86 model car build.

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