Tamiya 1/24 Toyota Model AA
|PRICE:||3,060 yen (about $25.00) from www.hlj.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 devastated the Japanese rail system and it is only then that the automobile started to make an impact on people's lives as cars and trucks (mostly American designs) were used to transport people and goods while the rail network was rebuilt.
Both General Motors and Ford built plants in Japan to produce cars supplied as 'knock down' kits from parts made in the US. Japanese industrialist Kiichiro Toyoda founded an automotive department of his Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1933 and began design of what would become the Toyoda A1. This evolved into their own production car series. The automotive branch had a name change to Toyota Automotive Works in 1937 and the rest is history.
The A1 was the first prototype passenger car built by the company that became Toyota. It was redesigned and put into production as Toyota's first production cars, the AA sedan and the AB cabriolet. These were succeeded by the similar AE, AC and BA sedans.
The AA used the 3389 cc Type A 6-cylinder engine producing 62 horsepower (46 kW) with a 3-speed column-shift manual gearbox. The engine was copied from Chevrolet, and the chassis and electrics were copied from Ford.
Solid axles were used at both ends. Pressed metal discs were used for all 4 wheel rims (very modern for the time). Braking was by drums. The mechanicals were the same as used in the production AA, AB and G1 vehicles. The car went into production in 1936 and ended in 1942 when the more austere AC version was produced. A total of over 1,400 cars were made, and considering one could buy a house for the price of one of these cars, its low production is not surprising.
Not very many interwar cars that are not racing cars have been produced in kit form aside from those developed in the US. Since Japan had very little in the way of an automobile manufacturing history during this time, it is not surprising that we have not seen any cars from this part of the world at this time. Tamiya has always produced kits that were a tad different from what we would normally expect, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to see this one hit the market.
We expect the best from Tamiya and in this kit we get it. There is a single piece floor pan onto which the chassis, lower engine piece and suspension bits are attached. All of the wheels have polycaps to make it easy to install them on the axles. The bench seats fore and aft are installed on the floor pan, followed by the instrument panel, steering wheel and foot pedal assembly. Naturally, this is right hand drive. A full civilian driver figure is supplied. Four rubber tires are also included. Once this is completed, the inner door panels are attached and one can then start work on the body itself.
This is also a single piece and like the rest of the interior is painted tan on the inside. Each of the separate window bits is glued from the inside with large attachment areas provided. The front grille section is two pieces with a body color piece covering the chrome inner section. All of the chrome provided is for the exterior and includes bits like the grille, bumper, headlight lenses, door handles, hub caps and so on. One will need to paint the colors onto the brake lights and license plate light. Tamiya includes a small photo etch piece for the hood ornament.
Instructions are well done and provide Tamiya paint references. The box art car is in gloss black and an image on the side of the box shows one in the same tan color as the interior. Decals are provided for all the external chrome trim as well as for license plates and such. The markings are nicely done.
I am not sure just how much interest cars like this will be generated outside Japan, but then Tamiya does not build for the world market when it comes to kits and I'm sure this is a big seller in Japan proper. Those of us who like the road less travelled will find it to be a great kit and then there are the hot rod modelers who will undoubtedly make something really outrageous from it!
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