Cars

Revell ’92 Mazda Miata MX-5

I’ve already built an NA Miata before – but last time I didn’t build it with pop-ups, atrocious camber, or racing stripes. My next few kits will likely be rebuilds – as much as I want to get to new cars, I find myself more and more dissatisfied with my past builds as I think of the potential of doing them over again.

The last time I worked on a Miata, I built the Tamiya version – and while it wasn’t a terrible kit on its own, it left a lot to be desired. Ironically, it fell to Revell (I usually don’t like their kits and have had bad experiences in the past) to pick up the ball and offer a cheap, detailed model of the diminutive JDM roaster.

I actually only found out this kit existed recently – I had no idea it was even an offering when I was working with my previous Tamiya kit. I must’ve walked past it a million times at my local hobby shop without realizing it because the boxart is so strange – it’s distinctly retro American. I’m so used to slammed and sticker’d Miatas hard parking on the tuner scene that seeing a bright yellow one with racing stripes and a dorky helmeted driver taking on an autocross course just didn’t register for me.

I normally don’t like to give Revell credit for…well, anything, but I can’t deny the fact that the advertisement of a full motor, opening hood, soft top, and what looks to be a very detailed interior hypes me up for this build. It’s also correct-hand-drive!

As usual per Revell, color is bad, white is good.

Soft top looks to be molded as one piece with the rear window, meaning that’s going to need masking. Of course, no masking stickers are given here.

The chrome wheels look to be less wheels and more wheel covers. Tires are blank on the sidewall and have some flash.

Now this is very strange…when I opened the box there was one extra runner sitting on top, not wrapped in any plastic. It looks to be an exact duplicate of one of the runners already in the bags, so I don’t understand why I got another – but I’m not really complaining – it happens to have some bumpers on it, so I’ll just take it as some leeway in case I mess up on this kit (as I always inevitably do).

Speaking of bumpers, I suppose I must begrudgingly admit that I really do enjoy Revell’s habit of including optional parts (usually bumpers and wheels) in their kits so you can have some variety with your build. The aftermarket bumper set (or “race set” as Revell seems to liken it) is very subtle and doesn’t look like it’ll change the look of the car much – the rear bumper is in fact almost entirely the same, with just a slightly larger lower section.

Body is clean and crisp, with no obvious mold injection lines or flash.

I was actually really worried Revell’s body and parts would end up noticeably smaller for their Miata, since they market this as technically 1/25 scale instead of the universally accepted 1/24 for most model cars. The Miata is already a go-kart as it is, scaling it any smaller might as well make it a Hot Wheels diecast in line with everything else.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Either Tamiya sized their body down (unlikely) or Revell manufactured the tolerances broad enough that this kit is basically still 1/24 scale. Holding the bodies up to each other, every dimension is the exact same – length, width, height of the windshield, etc. Maybe the difference between 1/24 and 1/25 scales is actually indiscernible.

The Miata’s smile is great and all, but the aftermarket bumper is a RACE BUMPER, and that’s how they get me. It doesn’t take away from the open mouth grin anyway though, and I like the lower lip profile.

What I came for – it’s actually a very detailed motor, complete with independent (not molded into the chassis) transmission and driveshaft.

The exhaust manifold heat shield even has the CAUTION HOT symbol molded in! Normally I’d take this piece out and run exposed headers but it’s such a cool little bit of attention to detail that I’m keeping it just for that.

Valve cover and intake manifold come in chrome, but of course I’m not keeping them so shiny.

You win some and lose some though. As detailed and nice as the motor is, apparently that doesn’t extend to the exhaust. The tip is just a solid cylinder – I guess they couldn’t be bothered to drill a hole in?

Thankfully the Tamiya kit’s exhaust makes up for it, so I’ll just salvage the tip from there.

Frankenexhaust.

Hood fitment on the Revell kit is bang-on – the hinges are even functional! Just no hood prop, but anything will do for that.

I think this is a first – I’ve never seen gauge detail actually molded in to the dash cluster. Of course Revell includes a decal that fills everything in, so why even go through the trouble with the raised detail? The numbers and needles are all there, and yet they couldn’t include a proper exhaust tip? Priorities, Revell.

Remember when I mentioned that peculiar extra runner that came on top of everything else for no apparent reason? I think I found the reason. The runner that came in the baggies for those parts was somehow deformed – check out that one windshield wiper that’s been molded into two pieces, rounded off on the edges where it should’ve joined.

The extra runner gives you everything prim and proper – which really makes me wonder, did someone in QC at Revell notice these defective parts after they were bagged and remedied it by throwing an entire extra runner in the box as a fix? First off, I’d be surprised if Revell even had QC, and second, how was it caught after the original runners were bagged? Shouldn’t it be way easier to see this stuff before it gets packaged?

The funny thing is though, it took a while for me to piece this together because of how low Revell ranks in my head as a model producer. The instruction manual mentioned that Part 48 (seen above) was supposed to be an oil cover gap for the valve cover.

It didn’t look remotely like an actual oil cover cap when I first started working with the defective runner – it’s literally a malformed blob. I didn’t even think to check the extra runner at first – I just shrugged it off and thought, “typical Revell.” I feel kind of bad for having such a low opinion of them, especially when they’ve actually objectively improved over the years, but man some perceptions are hard to shake.

Ah, there’s the Revell I know and (don’t) love. Granted, this is probably the worst of the flash throughout the kit and it’s easily cleaned off, so hey, nobody’s perfect.

Big ups for having much more detailed door cards than Tamiya.

Radiator assembly is also surprisingly intricate.

I didn’t like how Revell assembled their steering column though –  the end towards the steering wheel is hollow and big and open, meant to mate directly to the stock steering wheel back end.

Shaved down the rest of the column and replaced it with Tamiya’s unit – it’s much friendlier for aftermarket wheels, of which I intend to have on this kit.

Revell also does something similar for the stock wheels – I mentioned earlier that the rims literally look like wheel covers more than actual wheels, and it looks like it’s somewhat true here. They go about the wheel assembly in a very strange way – there’s a piece  for the back of the wheel which sandwiches the rotor/brakes against the wheel face, with the tire wrapping around all of it. This implies that the brakes/rotors are literally contained inside the wheels. Weird.

Of course I didn’t plan to run the stock wheels, and thankfully that wonky assembly doesn’t really impede that – the rotor/brake parts are simple and can work on their own.

The body has some little raised half-oval marks near the windows that I thought was some weird mold line defect (again, always assuming the worst with Revell) so I went ahead and sanded one side away and smooth before I realized that they were actually placement markers for the side mirrors. D’oh!

I was always disappointed that no 1/24 Miata model (that I know of, at least) came with the iconic pop-ups. Thankfully C1 Models comes to the rescue – they offer just a pop-up set on their website, made of resin of course.

The headlights themselves come molded nice and crisp, while the lenses are still attached to a small tree.

A tip I learned from one of Those Gundam Guys was to spray clear parts with clear gloss to bring back their transparency after they’ve been sanded. Worked like a charm here, even on clear resin.

The regular headlight covers are molded to the body, so those had to be cut out with a heat knife to make room for the resin lights.

Not perfect fitment, but honestly closer than I was expecting. Nothing some sanding and adjusting wouldn’t fix.

The problem though, is that I want to make these pop-ups functional – because is it really a Miata if the headlights don’t go up and headlights don’t go down? That doesn’t seem very possible though, since there’s going to be a motor in the bay and that leaves little to no room to design any sort of hinge system to move the lights. I can’t even do it the way the NSX’s popups worked (with a rod connecting the lights attached to the bottom of the hood in the middle that moved them up and down together) because the hood needs to open on this kit.

So, as far as wheels go for this build, I knew outright that I wanted to go with something unique – something different from the usual five or six spoke TE37-style rims that I have on half my cars already. With the Miata it’s easy to rock something outlandish, especially with the smaller default wheel sizes lending to some unique looks.

My first choice were these 15 inch Hayashi Racing Bombers from USCP – they’re resin and come from Ukraine, so it would take almost 3 weeks to arrive.

While I had those on order though, I happened to stumble on these Star Sharks from Aoshima at a car show (I was surprised they were selling any car models and parts at all, with how niche this hobby is already). The design was close enough for me, even though they’re 14 inch instead of 15. They were also half the price of the Hayashi’s, so I opted to jump on these immediately and cancel the resin wheels.

They’re straight up wider than they are large in diameter. The bubbly stretched stance tires are also hilariously awesome.

Staggered front and rear – the fronts are a decent size but the DEEP dish rears can basically be used as a mini shot glass it’s insane.

I struggled for quite a bit deciding on what kind of tires to use – I had a set of 14 inch Watanabe’s lying around with non-stretched tires that fit these Star Sharks, but I wasn’t sure.

Anyway, no matter the tires, there was no way I was going to fit these wheels under the fenders without flares. I don’t know if there are NA flare sets available or maybe even universal flares would do the job, but I never bothered to look.

These seemed basic enough that I could just create my own out of pla-plate and be none the worse for wear. Turns out it’s easier said than done.

Bending them to shape and bending them around the fenders turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. A heat gun helped, but it was a fine line between warm enough to bend and so hot the plastic warped on itself.

I wasn’t doing this with any sort of precise measuring either, so lining up all four flares wasn’t fun – there aren’t really any body lines to follow and gauge by.

Testing with the Watanabe tires. I think I glued the flares on too low; they need to ride higher so the wheels can tuck under more, since the ride height is monstrous as it sits.

Probably going with the bubbly stance tires – just something about this look.

Had to remake some of the flares several times since they don’t like to stick on the body with so little surface area to actually hold to. Very frustrating when the glue couldn’t keep anything together – sometimes I feel like the stuff is formulated only to stick to skin, since that’s all it stuck to.

Eventually it got to the point where it looked like the glue was actually resistant to plastic so I just gave up and hot glued the flares on from underneath. The stock fenders were also cut down to make more room, the way it’d be done IRL.

Primed to check for glue spots and the like.

Mostly smooth and round now.

So this was a last minute decision – when I started this project I knew I just wanted to make a really unique-looking Miata, even if that meant literal homemade flares and stanced to the moon and back. For the color, I thought the original British Racing Green was uncommon and interesting enough that it would look good with this style, so I had settled on that. Then as I was building, I came across this Miata on Instagram, and I was instantly sold. Racing stripes are in.

There are probably white stripe decals I could buy online to get this effect, but we’re old fashioned here – everything will be painted on. That means we’re starting with a vibrant gloss white base coat on the body, since it’ll be much easier to spray the dark green on the white than the white on the dark green.

My extremely unscientific method relies on just using the predetermined width of the masking tape I had on hand – the middle stripe is going to be extra thicc while the smaller stripes alongside are just going to be one of its own width apart.

I went to great lengths to try to make sure that we wouldn’t get paint bleed for these stripes, since that would be atrocious.

Tamiya TS-9 British Green. The funny thing is, as I was choosing the color, Tamiya had both Racing Green and British Green. But which was actually British Racing Green?!

Turned out clean. Mostly. There isn’t a lot of bleed, but there is unfortunately some.

The rear bumper was particularly bad, since it was tough for the masking tape to stay down in those sharp crevices.

Motor/trans/driveshaft assembly painted and inserted.

Most of my cars have boring black interiors (black interiors are still the best tho) so I thought tan would go well with the British Green.

And since it’s going to be displayed top down the way any Miata should be, the interior is going to be on full display – which means we’re going full send on this one. Tan flocking! Same brand and stuff I used before on my 300zx.

Normally I’d use black paint when flocking since I’ve only done black carpet till now, but I don’t have tan acrylic paint so I just used matte varnish instead.

I also said screw masking for any of the interior pieces and just sprayed them tan first, then filled in the rest with black acrylic hand paint. A lot easier to stay controlled this way and takes less time, even if the acrylic paint used is weaker than the usual lacquer. That speaker grille will also be cleaned up.

I didn’t want to use the seats from my original Miata at first, since they barely fit in the tub as they were and I was sure I could find something more low profile.

I didn’t. So we’re reusing these seats, though this time I’m making sure to cut out the harness holes since we’ll actually be running harnesses.

Same exact 4 point kit I used on my 300zx, though instead of red these are black.

Of course, like the 300zx, if I’m going to have harnesses, I’m going to need a harness bar/cage. In this case, I didn’t have another conveniently premade roll cage, so it was time to finally make my own.

First order of business is dry fitting most of the tub and working out placement. There’s a big piece that goes on the package shelf that’s meant to represent the soft top folded down (it looks nothing like what the soft top actually looks like folded down – the Tamiya kit did something similar too) that gets in the way of where the cage would be mounted.

It took me embarrassingly long to figure out that Miata model kits don’t like to include actual folded soft tops, since molding that would presumably be painfully complex. It didn’t hit me until only recently that these kits like to include soft top covers instead, which I don’t think I’ve ever even seen on any Miata in real life. I went ahead and trimmed the part of the cover that covers the shelf behind the seats – this is where we’ll be building our roll bars.

I got 2.5mm rods for this job, but after building the bars out it looks like 2mm might’ve worked a bit better. Still, it ended up being surprisingly easy to piece a custom roll bar setup together – the rods bend and hold their shape easily without the need for heat.

Holes marked and drilled in the tub to mount the roll bars. I would’ve done door bars too but there’s honestly no room as it is between the seats and the door cards.

Painted satin black.

In retrospect I probably should’ve made the bars ever so slightly higher. Still, seat and harnesses are in.

Now, I had already run a Sabelt belt set before, so I didn’t really want to use the exact same ones again. The Eduard set is nice because it’s a pre-cut harness set that I just have to piece together, but it wouldn’t be hard to just change the belt logos if I had the appropriate decals. Thankfully I found just that from an overseas seller – this is technically a scratch-build belt set where they just give you a giant piece of green fabric-y material where you’re supposed to cut out your own belts, but I’ll save that for future use – for now I’m just interested in getting at that giant sheet of varied belt logos.

Painted over the original Sabelt logos in black and applied some Sparcos instead. I actually thought these specific Sparco belt logos looked weird – it almost looked like a knockoff of their logo, but I guess it’s their new modern thing.

Picked up a steering wheel set from Detail Master just for this build – I wanted something more old-fashioned looking than the usual modern racing wheels.

It’s kind of funny how they approach the wheel tube itself – the spokes are photo-etched but the rest of it is just some circular rubber bands. I guess it works? Three styles are given for three wheels.

Straightforward assembly, though the concave bend looks a bit weird to me.

I went with the plain spoked wheel at first and painted it brown, but decided I didn’t like the look after all, so I opted for one of the more stylized spokes instead.

Dash done. I probably should’ve mocked up some sort of of quick release style hub since it looks kind of weird having the wheel just bolt straight to the stock steering column with no adapter.

Soft top masked and painted tan.

Back to work on the body. Decanted Tamiya spray lacquer was used to touch up some of the bleeds.

The rear bumper seemed beyond saving though. Having to cover up the green bleed with white just wasn’t working out. The finish was progressively degrading with each coat of white I threw on to try to fix it.

Thankfully, I’m not really forced to go through the hell of stripping the entire bumper because as luck would have it, the spare runner we got that replaced some of the original warped parts also held the aftermarket bumper set. Talk about luck.

The original that’s now been too far mutilated is on the bottom; I got the masking right this time and it’s a lot cleaner the way it should be.

Revell really likes to mold a lot of their bay detail in, so there aren’t a lot of separate parts you can paint on their own.

Adding the chrome inside the headlights first before painting the black in.

The uh, front quarter windows don’t really fit. The windshield also barely does. They kind of just cement in behind the window cutouts, and it looks like Revell just gave you the general shapes; they’ll have to be trimmed down to an exact fit, otherwise the cabin tub will collide.

Body-to-chassis fitment is…passable, at best. There really aren’t any pegs or clear mounting points where everything is supposed to meet up and “click” together, the way Japanese model kits so usually do. The last Revell kit I had experience with had the body bolt up to the chassis via actual Phillips head screws – nothing like that here. So, to make sure it all goes together nice and tight, I added glue to the few areas where pieces mated and bondage’d the whole thing together to let it set overnight. The fitment is still very egregious in some areas (the chassis pokes out from under the body a bit), but it’s about the best it’ll get before I start cutting parts of the tub floor out.

Finally starting to mess with the suspension. I was originally going to just keep it all stock and “lower” the car the way I usually do – by cheating and gluing the rotors/brakes on at a lower point to the axles therefore only “lowering” the brakes/wheels without touching the suspension arms – BUT that wasn’t super possible this time.

The wheels this time are super wide, meaning to get them to mount I’ll have to push the barrels deep, which means then that they can’t collide with the suspension arms – they’ll need to have the suspension arms fit inside the wheel barrels.

So, it really came down to just cutting the hub mounts down in height and bending the control arms down to meet it, gluing it and having rubber bands hold it as it sets.

This is how the fitment would look if I just mounted the wheels on without modifying their hubs – and this doesn’t even include having the rotors sandwiched in between! (Granted, would you really be able to tell if I had brakes back there with these wheels?)

Even with the wheel hubs cut down, I could only get so much room with the rotors in. With the suspension cut flat too, I could mount the wheels at whatever height I wanted.

Rears ended up needing a lot cut out of them, but you end up with a flat surface, so it works.

Wheel faces painted gold by hand with decanted Testors gold.

Getting some final fitment together like the exhaust and it hilariously overshoots the bumper cutout. I don’t think this is a result of me modifying the exhaust tip, since the part I took from the Tamiya Miata’s exhaust was only the straight pipe section, not the turn. Either way, this isn’t a difficult fix.

Disappointed with how Revell handled the taillights. They give you the housing in clear red plastic, but I think I would’ve preferred them in regular clear plastic the way Tamiya did it. Revell expects you to fill in the taillight details with decals, which doesn’t look nearly as good as painted clear plastic. I opted to only use the silver reverse light decal, and left the orange decal off.

This is really the first model I’ve built that’s dedicated to that very distinct “street style” that’s so popular nowadays – which I guess is just skirting around trying to say that this is my first model slammed and cambered to next Sunday.

I think it’s kind of ironic given that it’s apparently very popular to achieve this level of camber (usually even more) with model cars, at least on the international scene that I follow. I’ve been the weird one up until now who’s actively avoided doing this to my cars.

I’m kind of triggered that the wheel gap actually isn’t even on both sides, mostly in the rear. The driver side rear wheel is slightly more gapped than the passenger side – this is a direct result of my YOLO’d selfmade flares.

I didn’t measure the flares for their placement – just eyeballed their placement (never do that for a real body kit install, life pro tip). The difference is indiscernible with just the flares alone, but the variance starts to show when you try to line wheels up evenly on both sides.

The fact that the rear flares ended up being less “round” than the front flares also bothers me greatly. The plastic didn’t bend as much back there, and I think it was also a product of me cutting the stock fenders too wide, so as a result the flares had to stretch further to compensate and fill the gap. Never let me design a widebody on my own.

The camber being more severe up front than in back also wasn’t intentional – it just happened that way. I thought it would bother me a lot at first, but I actually don’t mind it so much now that I’m seeing it.

I’m still sad I couldn’t get the headlights to go up and go down, but I’d take displaying a Miata with its headlights permanently up over being permanently down any day. It’s my cutest build yet.

The “street culture” decals I used on this build are also the greatest things ever. Who doesn’t love haters?! The bit on the rear bumper (you’ll probably have to zoom on that image above) also reads STANCE IS NOT A CRIME, which is fantastic and absolutely true.

The Revell kit also came with two banner options, both water slide decals – one that read “Miata” in the traditional Miata cursive font that was silver on a black backdrop, or this one that had the classic red “Mazda” lettering also on a black backdrop. I opted for this one since I think it’s less weird to have the make than the model on a car, and I wanted a banner one way or another.

Hood open to reveal all 1.6 litres of pure American exceptionalism Japanese fuel efficiency.

The motor actually turned out to be a lot more bland than I had envisioned, partly because all the black wiring detail doesn’t really stand out in a dark green bay. I’m happy to finally have a Miata with a motor though, that’s all that matters.

The tan interior ended up being a nicely unique touch in my lineup of otherwise black interiors too. The seats are also ironically almost too big for the car – they’re rubbing against the door armrests and skewed sideways slightly because of it.

Now, of course to put the top up we’ll have to swap the “folded” top out, which is just a piece on its own.

Soft top up. I love the molding detail that makes it look like actual vinyl as it’s pulled up, though I think some of that effect is lost in it being such a light tan color rather than a nice grainy black.

And just for fun, a look at it with the Tamiya hardtop that I had painted for the previous Miata. It doesn’t actually fit – it’s kind of just loosely sitting on top right now, since I didn’t bother to modify it in any way. The dimensions are ever so slightly off so the bottom of the rear of the top doesn’t sit flush with the body, and the “tabs” that hold it to the rear deck are both off by a few millimeters, but those are all fitment issues that I’m sure I could fix if I committed to them. Too bad there’s no point because my Miata will be top down forever.

I didn’t realize until after assembly that the bottom of the cabin tub was actually the driveshaft ceiling, which is why it’s tan in the middle there instead of black as it should be. Oops.

With my ‘ol ND Miata. Oh how far we’ve fallen come.

I don’t know if I can commit to more builds like this, since I think the style only really works for me on certain cars, but man it’s fun breaking my usual mold every now and again. This NA has now become one of the most prominent eye-catchers in my lineup, despite a body color that I would normally consider to be boring and drab.

 

 

 

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