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Tamiya Honda RA273

August 2007
Honda RA273
Tamiya No. 12032
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene, plus aluminum and photo-etched metal parts
Molded Colors: Black, off-white, gray, clear
Scale: 1/12
MSRP: $131
Pros: Great-looking model when completed
Cons: Some sink marks and ejector-pin marks; some detail soft

I was excited to hear that Tamiya was going to re-release this kit. I was even more excited to know that this release would include some photoetched parts, some turned aluminum parts, and some metal transfers, to add a little extra detail and realism.

However, this kit carries over some of the traits of an older model, and presents a few challenges as a result. There are quite a few sink marks, large ejector-pin marks, and some mold lines in visible places. Some of the molded detail is soft - especially the panel lines and rivets molded into the body pieces. Some of the panel lines are nonexistent, and should be rescribed.

The body goes together similar to an airplane fuselage. But if you paint it and then assemble it, there are seam lines that should have been filled. If you assemble the parts first and fill the seam lines, you're left with some tricky masking and painting. I chose the latter option.

The most difficult part of the body assembly is getting the front nose cone to fit correctly. I had to disassemble the front bulkhead and shave some material from the top surface, and remove some of the material inside the nose cone where it sits on the bulkhead.

The engine, although simplified by today's standards, goes together very well, but the exhaust pipes are a challenge to assemble correctly and fit to the engine. I ended up having to spread the cam covers on the top of the engine apart as far as I could, to get the exhaust to fit between them.

The suspension components go together very well. They are fragile, but they do look convincing. The photoetched brake rotors look realistic if they are gone over in a circular motion with fine-grit sandpaper.

The downside to the brakes is the calipers; they are one-sided and only include the back side. When viewed from the front side of the wheel, through the spokes, the caliper is nonexistent.

The rear axles are also tricky. They are multipiece units that glue together in halves, trapping a U-joint in between.

As with the fuselage, the builder is left with a decision: to paint the U-joints silver and assemble the axle halves, leaving the seam line - or assemble the axle halves (trapping the U-joints), smooth the seams along the axle length, spray the entire unit black, and carefully brush- paint the little U-joints with silver.

Again, I chose the latter, more-difficult way, because I didn't want visible glue joints along the axle halves.

The tires and wheels are decent in this kit. However, I felt that the tire tread on the outside edges of the sidewalls was too squared-off. I removed the sharp edge with my sprue cutters, then sanded the edge to create a smoother curve at the edge of the tread.

The wheels are plated with a semidull aluminum finish; according to my research, the wheels should be dark bronze in color.

Overall, this kit shows its age in some areas, has its inaccuracies, and presents its challenges during construction, but I have to say that I really enjoyed building this kit. Now that it's done, I love how it looks, I like showing it to people, and it looks great on my shelf.

If you like these vintage Formula 1 cars, you should give this one a try; it'll look great on your shelf too.

I highly recommend this kit for the experienced builder, but it's definitely not for the beginner.


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