Scale Cars

Tamiya Eunos (Mazda) Roadster MX-5 (Miata NA)

My second Miata now – though I guess this isn’t really a Mazda or a Miata – officially it’s a Eunos Roadster. But really, it’s an MX-5. I’ve already built the latest and greatest ND, so now I figure it was good time to revisit the best-selling sportscar’s roots – the original happy little NA.

While Tamiya does make an actual Mazda MX-5, this particular Eunos Roadster model is much more accessible and nearly three times cheaper in most online markets. I can see why – most people probably haven’t even heard of Eunos before, while the Miata is, well, the classic Miata.

I’m pretty sure the only difference between the Mazda and Eunos kits is that this one is JDM-spec, meaning only RHD and no Mazda or Miata badges. This wasn’t a huge deal to me, even though I would’ve preferred LHD.

And as a brief aside for those wondering: Eunos was an old marquee of Mazda that was only ever present in Japan, around the late 80’s/early 90’s. It was supposed to encompass Mazda’s “fun to drive” cars that were still upscale, so in that sense I suppose the closest equivalent we have to that here in the States would be Toyota’s now-dead “hip” brand Scion.

I should mention now that unfortunately this build log will be much shorter and not as detailed as my usual fare, due to an unfortunate accident that occurred during Anime Expo this past year. I was wiping the memory card on the camera to make room for Expo pictures, and during that process I accidentally managed to delete most of this kit’s work in progress shots, so there won’t be much left to see. A lot of this stuff like the box and spare parts were taken retroactively.

So I went into this build with a very specific model in mind: my friend (the same one who always wears our Gundam armors for Anime Expo every year) recently purchased his first car earlier this year, and of course there are few fun-to-drive sportscars as attainable as the first generation Mazda Miata.

The car he bought secondhand was already lightly modified by the previous owner, with bucket seats, coilovers, wheels, and some of the usual stripping like AC delete and the like. To keep true to that look, I went ahead and got a dedicated Drift Parts Set from Aoshima – racing parts meant for 1/24 scale models.

My buddy’s car has five-spoke white wheels from some English brand I can’t remember, and of course being a Miata they’re no larger than 16 inches (they’re probably 15’s). The stock wheels are just as small, but unfortunately the model car aftermarket doesn’t have much support for such a small size. The most prominent size seems to be 19 inch wheels.

So to keep sizing consistent, I went with the most attractive 15’s I could find – the classic Watanabe’s – a very common wheel for Miatas.

After a little reconsidering and a trip to my local hobby shop though, I decided to change my mind and kept the Watanabe’s in the box – instead I went with a set of wheels made in-house by the hobby shop that matched my buddy’s car’s real wheels very closely. They weren’t 15’s by any means (no sizing from the shop, but if I had to guess they’re either 17’s or 18’s), but I had hoped that a thin enough tire profile could mostly mitigate the jarring sizing.

Excuse the vertical photos – these are the few work in progress shots I had on my iPhone that I barely managed to scrape together in lieu of the loss of all my actual build photos.

My friend’s Miata is Mazda’s classic Mariner Blue – I thought that the best match for such a light shade would be Tamiya’s TS-20 French Blue. Upon the first few coats, it appears that I was mistaken – the color is certainly close, but just a tad too desaturated to be accurate to the real car. It needs to be slightly more vibrant and it’ll be perfect.

A light coat of TS-44 Brilliant Blue did just the trick. It looks very close if not exact to actual Mariner Blue, and ironically this shade is also what I commonly use for Gundams that share RX-78-2’s blue.

When I was with my friend purchasing the Miata we were initially perplexed by the little silver studs on the trunk deck right behind the soft top. Only now when I’m test fitting the included hardtop do I realize that they’re actually attachment points for said hardtop. Who says model kits don’t teach you things?

The windshield and side windows are given as one wrap-around clear piece, and the manual points out that you have the option to cut the windows off if you want the rolled down look. I was surprised that Tamiya would encourage cutting clear plastic like this, since it usually spider-webs, cracks, and breaks when you go in with cutters, and exactos aren’t strong enough to get through such thick material.

Trusting the manual though, I went in with scissors knowing full-well what usually happens when I try to cut clear plastic. Sure enough, it spider-webbed and shattered the window, though thankfully the part that I actually wanted to save (the windshield) was mostly fine. A bit of cracking got onto the little panel behind the A-pillar, but I just brushed it off as giving the Miata a bit of aged character. For the other window I decided to be smart and go in with my heat knife – and what do you know, it sliced clean off like a stick of butter. Lesson of the day: trust your gut and don’t do things you know aren’t going to work.

Needless to say, this was a fast build. No motor, simple car, simple parts.

Truthfully, I didn’t really care for the hardtop since having it equipped would be unfaithful to the real car I was basing this build off of, but like all spare parts and accessories that come with my Gunpla, I put in the effort to paint it anyway.

It’s so old and cheap that Tamiya didn’t even bother giving you clear lenses for the bumper reflectors. I honestly expected their inclusion, and was baffled when at the end of the build I found that the reflectors were meant to be simply painted in. They were all painted in silver initially, then coated with clear orange or red.

My friend’s Miata’s taillights are rather weirdly tinted, in a way that leaves the circles in the lenses prominent and everything else a very dark red. This was achieved with the usual clear red, followed by a thin coat of gloss black.

And because we’re a stickler for details, I even broke out the ‘ol clay to scratch build a single “baby tooth” since for whatever reason my buddy’s Miata only has one. It’s not something that’s easily made out of plastic because of how smoothly it bends, so I figured the easiest way would be to just roll some Sculpty and bend it into a loop.

Apparently these were used as tie-downs for these cars when they were imported from overseas; I don’t own a Miata but it looks like the accepted rite of passage for MX-5 owners is to remove these baby teeth. (And here I am, adding one to the model)

I think I got pretty close? Colors on the real car are a bit darker because of the lighting and sunset, versus the model being under focused incandescent light. My friend’s car also has a tiny black polyurethane lip at the very bottom of his front bumper that I was unfortunately unable to reproduce.

Sadly because it’s not a Mazda and a Eunos, no Miata or Mazda badges are given in the kit, so I simply opted to leave the rear end blank rather than put any Eunos badges on.

It’s very obvious that these wheels are way too large for the car, but sacrifices had to be made to keep the design mostly faithful.


To keep it even more faithful to the actual car, I actually decided to keep the body paint as “single stage.” Yes, that means no clear coat whatsoever – just two or three layers of Brilliant Blue. As a result the finish isn’t as glossy as most of my other cars, and there’s quite a bit of orange peel here and there – but before cries of cheap and lazy start rolling in, it should be noted that real Miatas of this era really were single stage and my own friend’s car was repainted with quite some orange peel – so it’s authentic. 

The real car has light blue Corbeau buckets, a machined aluminum shift knob, and a Momo steering wheel. I actually totally forgot to drill out the harness holes in the seats until after it was all painted, so I just filled them in with paint instead.

The tan dashboard is unique. Unfortunately it’s not totally accurate in that it’s JDM right hand drive, but I’m willing to overlook it. A lovely thing about convertibles is that all the work put into the interior isn’t wasted since it’s always on full display.

The included hardtop was painted gloss black as an afterthought, but it’s of course still functional on the final built kit. The withdrawn soft top piece just plops out when you turn the car over, allowing the hardtop to slot right in.

I actually like the look a lot more than I thought I would. I personally am more partial to coupes rather than roadsters, but the Miata’s one of those cars that deserve to stay drop tops at their core.

A rather cool feature while building the undercarriage parts were how similar certain pieces were to the latest ND Miata. What looks to be a chassis brace is present on both this NA and ND and seem to be unique to the MX-5, since I’ve yet to see it on any other car.

You do get a peek at the bottom of the motor molded into the chassis here; a radiator is also nicely molded in. Nearly everything, though short of an actual engine under the hood.

The newer ND model is a bit more complex under the chassis, but still doesn’t feature a full engine or a soft top. It’s also four or five times the price of the NA, depending on where you look.

Despite that though, I find myself appreciating the ND much more after seeing it juxtaposed next to its original incarnation. The fender bulges and sweeping body lines just do it for me. I’ll be the first to admit I have very little appreciation for older car designs, as cool as pop-up headlights are (no, they don’t function and pop up on this model).

The build isn’t remarkable and it’s missing a few key features (pop up lights and opened soft top) but we need to remember how old this kit is and how cheap it can be had for nowadays. The actual North American Mazda skew is a bit harder to find as I mentioned earlier, but if you can live with the true JDM MX-5, this isn’t a bad representation of our happy little 90’s roadster.

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