I’m not usually one to buy things I can otherwise build on my own – even if the pre-built stuff is super cheap and uses more expensive materials than the plastic models I usually fancy. There comes a time, however, when you would like to build an iconic model from cinema but the means are either simply too cost-prohibitive or out of your skill level. This is one such case – call me a child for liking a design from The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift – it still won’t change my mind on this being a kickass 350Z.
I’ve been hunting this one down for a while – the 1/24 Fast collection from Jada is still available in retail today, but I’m pretty sure this is the only car that I’ve never seen carried at my local Target or Wal Mart.
I actually only managed to find this Z at a specialty Japanese gift shop in an Asian supermarket – the only one of its kind I’ve spotted in the wild. Granted, I could have literally just bought it on eBay for a little over retail (it released at $15 and now that it’s becoming a little more rare its average online price is around $20) but I still firmly believe in the fun of finding and buying these sorts of things in the wild, so I ended up paying a $10 markup because Japanese gift shops are always too expensive – a grand $30 total.
I’m fairly partial to the Fast franchise – I only recently got around to watching the last 3 movies, and while I respect the series’ new focus on Michael Bay-esque film style and story (read: explosions, action, military!), Tokyo Drift will always have a special place in my heart for being the one I saw first and as an impressionable young boy.
Now, I said this was a car I couldn’t quite build – I’m sure it’s possible, but not at my skill level – and even at the above-retail price that I purchased it at, I’m not sure if it would’ve been the wisest financial move to even attempt anyway.
A Tamiya 1/24 350Z is available – normally that’s what I’d go for if I wanted a 350Z model, but the biggest hurtle would be the Veilside Version 3 body kit that the Drift King’s car so iconically sports in-film. Surprisingly no resin or plastic add-on kit is available to just tack onto the Tamiya model.
I don’t doubt that it’s probably possible to customize a 1/24 Tamiya 350Z and recreate this car, but I simply lack the prowess to design and build my own Veilside Version 3 body kit from scratch.
The car’s exterior body is generally pretty good and film-accurate. I can overlook the flat painted-on door handles. It’s when you open the doors, hood, and hatch that it gets a little ridiculous.
You think the Drift King would be so impractical as to load and haul all that junk in the trunk?! Have you guys even heard of weight reduction, bro?!
It became immediately obvious that this Fast and Furious edition of the car was just an exterior repaint of the same 350Z that Jada has probably pumped out a million times before. All the chrome bells and whistles (subs, amps, TV screens, etc. all in the most ridiculous over-the-top places) were a shout out to the stereotypical tuner look of yesteryear. I will concede that the little rubber game controller on the passenger seat is a cool detail though – not for it being in the passenger seat, but because it’s so tiny and well detailed.
I didn’t have any serious problems with the exterior, barring some small stuff like the Nissan badge being on the front instead of the Veilside badge. But I can’t really change that unless I do a full repaint of the car, and I’m not about to attempt to recreate the black scarab on the right side on my own.
The interior needs a makeover though, hence why I took it apart. These die-cast models are always pleasantly easy to crack open; it’s usually just a few screws on the underside and everything comes apart.
What kills me is the totally stock engine bay. The first engine used by the 350Z is presented here in all its chrome glory – made laughable less by the chrome and more by the intercooler up front, despite being the stock naturally aspirated VQ motor.
Dash is a bit plain, but I’m pretty sure that’s actually a staple of the original car.
Gauge decals are nice, but of course it’s a race car so we need more gauges in the form of chrome bits near the A-pillar.
I didn’t particularly have to do this, especially since after closer inspection it appears the 350Z used in Tokyo Drift didn’t even have tinted windows, but I decided to add a light tint on the rear and quarter panels just for the heck of it.
And since these die casts always come with the windows “rolled down,” I decided to go ahead and cut a piece of clear plastic to use as a passenger side window.
I actually cut it out of the original packaging, and while this stuff is a little too thin to be sturdy, I didn’t want to go out and actually buy a piece of clear acrylic. Ironically at the end of the day I decided to say screw it and threw the window out entirely, since it was simply too thin to attach reliably.
Starting to take things off the tub; seats are all one piece with the harnesses molded in.
I can’t tell if that flash-looking bit at the bottom of the rear view mirror is actually flash or if it’s meant to be there. Either way I decided it looked better without it so I trimmed it off and painted the casing in black.
I decided to take just about everything out of the trunk and leave two standard speakers in. Added a thin pla-plate to fill the void left in the floor, and proceeded to attempt to sand the rear sub and speaker setup down as much as I could. Initially I had hoped to simply sand it all flat and fill in the holes with putty, but after a while of sanding that turned out to be nearly impossible.
So I decided to cheat a bit and just lay a piece of folded pla-plate over the whole thing and hope to god putty takes care of the seams.
It’s gonna take another 3 or 4 passes of putty until it looks somewhat presentable.
It got really frustrating at one point because the putty at the rear that was meant to smooth out the pla-plate to trunk bed connection kept cracking, so I’d always have to keep re-applying until I could sand it just right to where it didn’t crack but still looked smooth. The holes up front in the center console were also filled in with the same stuff and sanded down.
The passenger seat that had the neat little game controller on it actually had two holes in it for the controller to peg into, so those had to be filled as well. A lot of the fills didn’t end up coming out perfectly – I mostly focused the trunk bed and only did one putty pass on the holes, so they’re still somewhat visible even after paint.
The rest of the body and chassis just sat around for quite a few weeks gathering dust as I worked on the interior; it wasn’t meant to be a long job, but I took this up just as finals week started to creep up, so everything was pushed aside for a while.
The cracking at the seam where the pla-plate and trunk bed joined drove me nuts – I couldn’t sand it softly enough to get it smooth and avoid it breaking, so I decided to cheat once more and glue another thin piece of pla-plate over the seam itself and sand that until it was smooth and flat enough to merge with the rest of the hatch bed without looking out of place.
Done all over with some black to make it uniform. Some of the holes are still a little visible and if the light hits it correctly you can still see some irregularities on the trunk bed but it was good enough for me at this point – I was hoping a coat of matte would further hide this as well.
The Z’s stock steering wheel is actually supposed to be fairly plain, but I decided to add a little more gray just to break things up and even used a toothpick to draw in a little Z on the horn. It’s not as crisp as I’d like it, but I think it looks better than leaving it plain. A Z decal sheet would have been great for this application, but I wasn’t about to buy an entire sheet just for a steering wheel letter.
And after all that…it barely looks different once it’s all put back together!
I’m actually pretty satisfied with the body work so props to Jada there.
The wheels are fairly accurate to the Veilside rims the car sported in the film, with the exception of being distinctly more deep-dished. All the Jada Fast cars seem to have gotten the Extra-Tuner treatment, meaning deeper dished (and bigger) wheels and some extra low suspension.
I’m actually not a huge fan of how they do that – it makes the car look too cartoony compared to the movie car’s they’re supposed to represent. The 350Z isn’t nearly as bad as some of the other cars in the series that were completely bastardized in my eyes – Brian’s Skyline R34 being the worst offender, I think.
The scarab graphic on the right side is really neat. The black decal on gray paint keeps it subtle – I barely noticed it on the car when I first watched the film.
The one semi-serious issue I have with the exterior of this model is the rear hatch though – it lifts up to open, but doesn’t sit flush with the rear bumper when it’s closed. It’s ever so slightly off in its fitment, creating a gap where it meets the bumper and where it hinges up from the rear window.
I couldn’t even deduce what was causing this problem when I had the car apart – it seemed to fit perfectly fine until I attached the chassis and screwed everything together, and even after taking it apart again and again there didn’t seem to be any play in the hinge mechanism that brings it up. I’m not sure if this is a common issue with this mold or if I just got one with poor fitment.
More things open on this model than most plastic ones.
The rear trunk bed didn’t turn out perfectly – there’s a little crack where the chrome TV screen used to be where I didn’t fill it all the way in with putty, and at certain angles you can see some imperfections where I laid the pla-plate, but with the hatch down none of that is discernible.
Interior as a whole looks a lot more realistic now that the chrome has been done away with.
The nitrous bottle was painted blue and mounted horizontally behind the seats, rather than vertically on the center console. Normally I wouldn’t have kept it at all but if I recall correctly D.K. actually has nitrous in his car.
The film proper has blue Sparco harnesses for the bucket seats, but the ones on this model were both indistinct in their molding and different in buckle style, so I just settled for painting the buckles silver.
A funny thing to note is that because Jada just reused their Veilside 350Z mold for this car, it’s the traditional American left hand drive rather than the movie-accurate right hand drive that D.K.’s actual car was. Threw me off a bit when I got the car because I was sure that the scarab decal was supposed to be on the driver’s side.
Ironically this model of this car probably fits the usual “rice” characteristic the best – all show and no go, thanks to the stock engine (complete with front-mounted intercooler). Feels bad when you’ve spent all your money overnighting that Veilside body kit from Japan and have no money left to upgrade the engine.
Not as showy and chrome’d out as the original that came with the model and quite frankly pretty boring as it is, but I like to think it keeps the car grounded more in reality, as Fast cars so rarely are.
Something that irked me about the model when I actually slotted it into my collection though – it doesn’t quite line up with my 1/24 Aoshima Silvia as well as it should. Despite reportedly being the same scale, the 350Z is just slightly bigger and chubbier in every respect – making it seem closer to 1/23 scale or something just a bit off.
I’m pretty sure the Silvia isn’t that much smaller in real life – in which case I think it’s either Jada’s deliberate “tuning” of their designs to make them more “cartoony” as I mentioned above, or Aoshima’s scale being off. I would think that plastic model kits are a little more dedicated to realism and detail though, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that Jada is screwing up their scale measurements and making their 1/24 cars just a little too big.
This Jada release remains just about the only way you’re going to get a 1/24 Veilside Version 3 350Z, so in that respect I think it’s worth even the double retail price I paid for it. I don’t think any sort of witchcraft I could work with the Tamiya 1/24 plastic model would get me something this close to the film-star car, and as much as it has its “tuner” inspired quirks courtesy what Jada thinks of the tuner scene, they’re mostly correctable.
As much as I don’t collect 1/18 scale cars either (sometimes I wish I did because they just look so damn good), there doesn’t seem to be any sign of any larger model of the Drift King’s ride being made available, so this is your best bet if you’re looking to show up punk-ass cowboys in red Evo’s at the local parking structure.