The Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ took the sports car world by storm back in 2013 during their introduction because they went back to sports car roots – lightweight and rear wheel drive with a particular emphasis on having fun during the drive. While nearly universally praised for its handling prowess, its critics haven’t backed down about pointing out its very glaring lack of power from the factory, even after four model years.
That’s when the community screams back that the car was meant to be a blank slate from factory – something that you were meant to make fast and look cool – asking for the complete package off the assembly line is just being lazy and unimaginative, right? That’s why I couldn’t bear to just build a plain ‘ol stock FR-S or 86. To be sure, the stock car has its charm, but I thought it would be fitting to go with a version of the car that’s been all the rage on the scene – in a sea of these cars, a surefire way to stand out is with a widebody. But not just any widebody – is it Rocket Bunny?
This is one of the few (maybe only) plastic model kits produced by a mainstream company that comes out of the box as a modified widebody kit car. I wasn’t quite ready to try a complete resin widebody kit yet, so this was a safer option, since all I’m working with here is the traditional plastic.
Hey good on you Aoshima! Finally some completed model pictures on the box.
Obviously this is a GReddy and Rocket Bunny collaboration car – the box has a nice parts breakdown of what makes the magic of the build.
This is actually one of two versions of this kit that Aoshima released – this would be the Volk Racing version. The other kit seems visually identical with the same widebody and aero parts, but is designated as the Enkei Version, which I assume means that it sports Enkei wheels instead of Volks Racing Wheels like this kit does. I went with this kit on the sole basis that it looked less cambered – the other kit seemed to be way too slammed for my tastes, though I later learned that both kits offer the option to adjust camber anyway.
The sheer box size was a bit intimidating. Much larger and deeper than a standard kit, and completely dwarfs older kits like the 300zx.
The main body comes with a lot of extra plastic bits to keep it from flexing in the box. Of course, gloss black because GReddy’s actual demo car is gloss black.
Pretty stock-looking interior parts. Not even racing bucket seats!
I appreciate the inclusion of left-hand drive parts here. I may eat, sleep, and dream JDM, but when push comes to shove I’d be damned if I were to drive on the wrong side of the car.
Hood, bumpers, miscellaneous body parts. I’m actually kind of bummed this Rocket Bunny V2 kit doesn’t come with new front and rear bumpers – it’s just overfenders, diffusers, and a wing.
And of course, the overfenders and wing in question.
Chrome runners included mostly for the lights and exhaust components.
This would be my first time attempting a model kit widebody, so I was curious how Aoshima would have us work it. As I was flipping through the manual I found the fender attachment instructions near the end – and was shocked to find that it looks like we’re actually meant to cut the stock fenders, the same way you’d install a widebody on a real car.
The weird part is that the manual talks about using a template to cut the desired bits off the fenders…but no separate template pieces are given so my best guess was that we’re actually supposed to cut those shaded pieces out of the manual and use them to trace on the body of the car. I’ve never encountered a kit that’s actually mandated cutting into the manual before – it takes parts out of the instructions on the reverse side too.
The trouble comes when it seems that the widebody fenders can only be attached after the bumpers are attached, but those can only go on after the main body shell is fitted over the chassis, which in turn can only happen after everything is painted.
All this means that I can’t attach the fenders on the body and paint it all at once – they need to be painted separately and then glued/cemented together after most of the rest of the kit is done. This is problematic chiefly because uneven paint hues will show up extremely easily on the main body, and the color I’m using for this car has a reputation of being slightly darker or lighter depending on how heavy your coats are. I could guarantee everything to be completely even and uniform if I could paint the fenders while they’re attached to the body, but alas it seems Aoshima didn’t quite want to give me that luxury.
Template cut-outs drawn on the stock fenders – you can barely see them because it’s black sharpie on a black plastic body. The bumpers are taped on for now because they need to be slightly trimmed with the rest of the fenders too.
Absolutely terrifying doing this, since it would be over for the main body if I cut too far.
Now I’m sure there are a million ways to do this – from dremels to exacto knives and sandpaper, but I figure my trusty heat knife would be perfect for the job. An otherwise messy and tedious task actually became quite easy since the heat knife cut through the plastic like butter.
I lost track of one of the lines on the rear fenders and ended up with a very messy cut. But that’s okay because the overfender still covers all of it.
Dry fitting the rear fenders now by using masking tape to hold it in place.
Fitment overall is great, and everything was generally pretty easy to line up since there are clear body lines that the fenders are supposed to rest up against.
Ironically the wideness is actually very subtle – the right side is dry fitted with front and rear overfenders while the left side is stock. Hopefully it’ll be a bit more pronounced once it’s painted.
The rest of the manual looked simple and clean until I flipped to the interior page. It looks especially cluttered because there are different instructions for RHD vs LHD setups.
This is the first kit I’ve come across that gives you a transmission option – most of the cars I’ve built so far can technically be equipped with either a manual or an automatic, but the model kits usually only give you a clutch set as your only option.
It then becomes somewhat humorous as the manual grays out the automatic transmission parts, basically saying they’re useless extra parts.
I thought I screwed up big time when I was cutting out the tiny door handle pieces. Unlike all the older cars I’ve been building up until now, this 86 actually has the modern pull-out door handle design, which are molded as separate pieces and must be attached to the main body doors. I absentmindedly cut out the first handle and realized that it silently flew off into the abyss of my room carpet; I spent a good hour or so looking for it but eventually gave up, since it was smaller than a quarter of a fingernail.
My genius backup plan was to attempt making an approximate replacement out of a piece of old runner – I basically started to carve the shape out of a piece of spare plastic. My attempt obviously didn’t even come close, but thankfully I was spared the disgrace of using it because as usual, just when I give up on finding the missing piece and start making a replacement, the original turns up.
I’m kind of surprised the GReddy demo car wouldn’t have at least big front brakes equipped, since these look to be stock.
The aftermarket GReddy exhaust with twin outlets. I thought the center joining plate with an embossed GReddy logo was a really neat touch.
Getting the Rocket Bunny GT Wing together. It was actually made up of quite a few pieces, and thankfully they all fit just about perfectly without any play issues as they lined up against the trunk.
The exhaust system is so clearly aftermarket even on a model kit like this – the GReddy system requires attachment via some tiny grooves in the chassis. The pegs for the original muffler are still there, just left unused.
Of course, different lights for different markets around the world. The U.S. gets a rather boring humdrum chrome headlight housing, so even though I’m building my GT86 as the North American exclusive Scion, I’m opting for the JDM and Euro-spec HID housings with the neat little LED daylight strip. I believe this is a fairly common modification for owners here in the states anyways.
It hurts me to paint these fenders separately instead of having it uniform with the body, but what can I do.
Bumpers also done separately, but these should be a little easier to maintain a uniform color hue with.
Miscellaneous pieces like the diffuser, trunk, and lip painted metallic black. I’m sort of using the metallic black as a stand-in for carbon fiber since it ends up looking similar from afar thanks to the metallic flakes in the paint and it tends to look more gray than pure deep black.
Main body with the first few coats of Deep Metallic Blue on. I really like this color, but I think only certain cars can pull it off right. It looks bright blue when under direct light but takes on a purple/indigo hue otherwise.
Dry fitting the widebody with just the bare paint coat – it looks really good, but I’m unfortunately noticing that the fenders will probably need another coat since some of the polish is taking a bit of paint off the edges.
Masking off the roof so it can be painted black.
I was almost disappointed that the Scion version of the interior was so plain and required so little work – then I remembered that I owned a Scion and I know their interiors are pretty similar throughout their offering lineup, so it shouldn’t have been surprising that most of it would be black, representative of cheap hard plastic used throughout most of the cabin.
Foglight housings came in all chrome; masked the bulbs that will stay chrome and the rest will be done black. These are the original JDM-spec fogs, but I believe the U.S. market has since gotten these as a factory option.
Taillights required some black trim painting around the edges.
Finally digging into the gigantic decal sheet for the interior. Of course, there’s so much because to build it according to the box, you’d end up with a full GReddy and Rocket Bunny demo car.
I had that exact same Pioneer head unit in my old Scion. Kind of weird seeing it here as a totally 2D water slide decal.
Dry fitting the trunk.
Speaking of the trunk though, I found it highly interesting that this kit actually bothers to include an accessible one. The trunk bed is given as a plank right behind the rear
storage bins seats, and after dry fitting the trunk lid itself it looks like it doesn’t need to be glued in, so you can still open it after the kit is fully assembled.
Cabin done. The seats are of the stock car; kind of surprised GReddy didn’t bother throwing actual buckets in, but I dig the red accents on the bolsters that the factory car comes with.
The only actual aftermarket modification in here is the racing steering wheel. Most of it probably won’t be seen again after the body shell is placed over it, so these are the best interior shots we’re gonna get.
I never had any intention of building this car exactly as it was shown on the box, so most of the large GReddy and TRUST Racing decal sheet shown earlier will go left unused. Instead, we’re breaking out the ‘ol sponsor decal sheet, which hasn’t been used since the S15 Silvia.
I’ve always liked the roll call sticker style that was a bigger fad back in the day but is still somewhat around now. Of course, I tried to stick to sponsor names that were more relevant to the car, though I’m pretty sure every company produces parts for the GT86 platform at this point.
Altezza taillights are so 2000’s. Painted clear red on the inside.
Clear red plastic is included for the taillight lens that were supposed to be under the clear outer lens, but the whole assembly is going to be red now.
This is the first time I’ve encountered an Aoshima kit with masking stickers, and they seem distinctly thicker than Tamiya’s usual yellow ones.
I do feel like they stick better though, especially around the edges. Somewhat humorous that the masking sticker instructions are just printed on the backside of the stickers themselves.
And of course, this car is definitely all show and no go – quite literally. You think we’d have any money left over for an actual engine after all these aero upgrades?!
Good thing there was a perfectly fine RB26 just lying around the metaphorical plamo junkyard. As bad as the R32 GT-R turned out, it still ended up having a somewhat presentable motor.
Real life logistical problems ensue. Somewhat expected that a straight six RB would have a hard time fitting in the bay that was supposed to house a horizontal boxer four. As a result the RB was pulled out and hacked up until things would fit – this unfortunately also entailed removing the FR-S’s original transmission tunnel end, but that piece wouldn’t be visible at all after everything is said and done anyway.
Cutting parts of the actual frame off to make room up there.
I’m glad I could keep the RB26 in one general hunk with most of it still assembled. The bottom half of the motor that can’t be seen is actually just part of the R32’s engine bay frame, since there’s no under-motor detail. This makes things simple in that the bottom of the engine assembly is just flat, so it can be attached pretty securely by just gluing it to the FR-S’s chassis. In order to get it sitting flat I had to stack some thick pla-plates until it met a level area, but otherwise it just dropped right in.
Ironically the R32 actually used the same body paint as the FR-S, so I’m keeping the valve cover the original midnight blue. The piping and intake manifold were painted gloss red to help it match better to the car over the gold. At the end it actually looks a little too flashy and gaudy as an engine bay, but I console myself with the knowledge that all these parts can theoretically be powder coated in those flashy colors.
I had to omit some peripheral accessories like the windshield wiper fluid bottle and ironically this engine still uses the RB26’s stock airbox, but one component I straight up could not fit up front was the battery.
And because we can’t not have a battery (how would we start the car?), it was relocated to the conveniently accessible trunk compartment. I don’t actually know the first thing about battery trunk relocations, so I don’t know if there’s a proper way it should look or a certain area it should sit in – as a result I just shoved it in the corner and called it a success because it was at least present.
Trying to find that nice balance between full-on company show car and a somewhat restrained racecar with basic sponsor stickers. I suppose the red pinstriping throws all notion of “restraint” out the window though.
I figured now would be a good time to actually experiment with a custom carbon hood – the only one I’ve done before is the stock one that came with the Fast and Furious Eclipse. I knew there were carbon fiber patterned water slide decals available that you could use on just about anything, and I was always curious as to how they would actually look.
Messed up the first time, but the nice thing about water slides is that you can just take it off before it dries and do it all over again. Thankfully the FR-S’s hood isn’t complex; it has some slight bulges along the edges where the comes up to meet the fender wheel wells, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward.
Got it on relatively smoothly. Keep in mind this was the cheapest carbon decal sheet I found on eBay – I really didn’t know what to expect quality wise. Unfortunately I was quite a bit disappointed that the pattern came out looking more silver than the usual black/gray it’s supposed to be.
Thankfully we could remedy that with some clear smoke spray. A few layers darkened the pattern up nicely for a more realistic look.
This is also the first time a kit has gone out of its way to even include the airbag warning labels that go on the sun visors just behind the windshield. They’ll never be seen after the car is put together, but I thought it was a nice touch nonetheless.
Big wheel wells – I wasn’t super sure if I should have attached the wheels first or put the overfenders on first.
Not the easiest stuff to assemble – mostly because I wasn’t actually totally sure where the fenders were meeting the body. Worst of all, if you accidentally misaligned the fender on the first try with cement on the back it would screw up the original body’s finish and still be visible because of the misplacement. Times like this I super wish pegs or even just grooves were given to guide the fender placement. It definitely didn’t come out as clean as I would’ve liked with how messy the cement ended up getting.
Finally onto the wheels and tires – this is actually the first time I’ve worked with stretched tires. I didn’t even know this was a thing for model cars.
The wheels given are some deep gloss black Volk G25’s – in 18″. This is already a step larger than the stock 17″ wheel size, but the stretched tires make these things look absolutely tiny. Compared above with the 19″ Volk TE37 from my R32 build.
I know this is how it’s supposed to be, but these things just look too small for such an aggressive widebody. I remember also being surprised at how thin the wheel widths are – isn’t the whole point of a widebody so you can run wider wheels?
Turns out they cheat in the usual way – I guess these are the model car equivalent of wheel spacers. The normal wheel offset would not be anywhere near aggressive enough to fill out the widebody, so these special polycaps are included that have basically double the offset of a normal polycap. Given that the side that slots into the wheel is the size of a standard polycap, it can be used throughout any Aoshima wheel.
As such, I decided to fit them into the larger TE37’s just for kicks to see how it would look, and goddamn. Sue me for running 19’s on a car that originally had 17’s, it ruins handling blah blah, but geez these look miles better than the original 18’s with stretched tires.
I struggled greatly with keeping the wheels gold or painting them again to match the car. As amazing as the gold and blue looked, I plan to run that palette on my upcoming Subarus, so for this build I figured I might as well keep it different.
Because time attack red pin stripes are in.
Unfortunately I’m being forced to use both front and rear plates this time, since there wasn’t much of a choice to remove the front plate. I found it really neat that even license plate frame decals were given, and to top it off it was of Scion Santa Monica, a dealership not far from where I am.
I should probably explain now that I had a very specific theme going into this car – the dark blue, red pinstripes, black TE37’s, and carbon hood were all meant to be evocative of my own late Scion tC – before we fried the piston rings and blew the motor to JDM heaven.
My tC never had a giant wang or a widebody (it was in the plans before we blew the welds on the intake) but it did have black TE37 knockoffs with red pinstripes, a Nautical Blue Metallic body, a carbon vented hood, a polyurethane front lip, and a custom black/blue two-tone paint job with red pinstripes on the flanks.
Of course instead of a two-tone body on the FR-S I decided to keep it mostly blue (with the exception of the trunk and roof, which were also black on my tC) and moved the body pinstipes from my original car to the lip, diffuser, and wing on this car.
I chose the FR-S as the spiritual embodiment of my old car as a kit because it’s about as close as I can get to that car in model kit form. A model kit of the tC doesn’t exist, and the only Scion that ever got a kit would be the FR-S. While an Acura RSX would be more similar to the tC platform-wise (FWD, I4, hatch body), I still always considered the FR-S (RWD, H4, traditional coupe) as a sort of big brother car since the tC was responsible for holding down the Scion brand as its premiere sports coupe until the FR-S arrived to steal the limelight in 2013.
I actually even had some body touch-up paint left over from my tC and used it as touch up paint for some bits of the engine bay in the FR-S. The color matches perfectly.
So obviously, the body kit on this car didn’t turn out as well as I hoped – the off-color shade of the fenders is particularly jarring in some photos, but I’m actually happy to report that it’s not nearly that bad in person.
I’m not entirely sure if the off-tone of the fenders is the result of them not quite flowing with the car’s original body lines and thus bending light weirdly to reflect a darker shade sometimes, or if the paint discrepancy just happens to show up more prominently on camera under focused light.
I promise in person it looks pretty coherent. Painting and color aside, the widebody fitment is also merely okay – the front fenders have some slight gaps near the top edge and the rear fenders have some cement overspill near the taillights that never got totally cleaned up.
I’m still super satisfied with the wheels – the 19″ sizing fills out those wheel wells perfectly. Unfortunately it’s so tight that there’s literally zero steering movement up front now, but that’s okay – show cars don’t need to turn.
Aside from the widebody fitment issues, there’s also a very slight issue with the hood – it doesn’t quite line up perfectly, but it’s really close enough not to be too conspicuous. The catch is that I have to work pretty hard to wedge the thing between the fenders; I’m always worried I’ll damage the paint in this process.
Clear red tails look so much better than the Altezza style, I think.
There’s not much of the interior here to see – the rear and side window tints turned out so dark that you can only really see the front of the seats through the windshield. This is in keeping with my real-world tC though – the tint all around was pretty dark.
One of the few kits that actually have an opening and functional trunk – I could probably fit a wheel or two in there. It doesn’t actually hinge open though – the arms on the trunk lid are fixed, and you “open” it by removing it entirely and putting it back on vertically.
You can barely see the battery shoehorned into the little alcove there.
Undercarriage – with aftermarket GReddy exhaust system on full display.
While I was swapping the RB26 into the FR-S’ bay I actually decided to look it up and see if it’s been done before. Obviously it isn’t a common nor easy swap but some lunatics in New Jersey actually did it – and they threw in an AWD system from an R33 to boot.
Obviously mine doesn’t look even remotely as impressive – it has the stock airbox for crying out loud, and a very distinct lack of a gigantic turbo hanging off the block.
I was worried when I was putting this in that the motor would ride too high and prevent the hood from closing, but thankfully that didn’t prove to be an issue – it still looks to be mounted lower than the actual motor swap mentioned above though.
Now it just needs the doors to open Lambo-style. The hood actually doesn’t require a hood prop to keep it open because the fit is so tight the rear ends of the fenders kind of just squeeze the hood ends to keep it up.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that my first attempt at a widebody didn’t turn out as well as I would’ve liked. It was a good learning experience, but as far as I can tell, aftermarket body kits will be easier to work with because you can put the widebody together before assembly, unlike what Aoshima had us do here.
There are a million iconic FR-S and 86 builds out there that I would’ve loved to replicate in kit form, but I think I’m going to stick with this spiritual successor model to my old car for now. I originally wanted to do all sorts of things like the Speedhunters Tuner Challenge FR-S and even a certain Rocket Bunny V3 version of the kit, but I don’t want my collection to actually resemble a modern car meet. I will confess I’ll probably still build a BRZ in the near future though – it’s clearly a Subaru – totally different car.