Cars

FuelMe Subaru WRX STi VARIS [Full Resin Kit]

 

I feel like I’ve been whining about the lack of a 1/24 VA chassis WRX/STi for a while now. Back when I first built the Aoshima GRB it was only because that was the most modern STi kit we got, and I wasn’t truly on board with the hatch body (which was all that was available, sans the sedan transkit that I attempted and failed at). So, I’ve been living all this time with the void of the latest STi sedan in my heart. Then, finally, my prayers were answered. Kind of.

Aoshima, Tamiya, and Fujimi didn’t suddenly wake up and finally release a VA 1/24 plastic kit. Instead, a company called FuelMe China (I’ve never heard of them prior to this) had released a full resin kit of the Varis VA STi as it had appeared at Tokyo Auto Salon last year. It was expensive and I wasn’t fully confident in my ability to build a proper full-resin kit, but dammit this was everything I’ve always wanted.

Okay, full disclosure: this isn’t actually the first 1/24 VA model that hit the market as far as I’m aware. A company called Inter Allied Modeler’s also released a full resin VA STi in early 2017, but at first it was just the stock car and to me looked underwhelming, especially when it often retailed for over $150. Then in mid-2018 Modeler’s retooled their original release and came out with an NBR Challenge version that I very nearly picked up. I’m glad I waited for FuelMe to come out with the Varis variant.

I’ve never bought or worked on a full resin kit before. Instead of relying on a preexisting plastic kit from Aoshima or Tamiya as the base model the way a resin transkit does, this is exactly what it says on the tin – a full kit. No other parts or base kits are required – everything from the chassis, body, interior, windows, decals, PE parts, etc is all included in the box here as a complete custom production. All told it feels like a really impressive feat, since I assume FuelMe doesn’t have the size or resources big companies like Aoshima and Tamiya do.

I was really struck by how professional everything looked when I first got the kit in. Keep in mind, I regularly buy from companies like EightyOne for my resin parts, and they often just throw whole transkits into unmarked cardboard boxes with the parts wrapped in bubble wrap. Yes, FuelMe’s kit still comes in a cardboard box, but the labels are in full color, crisp, and I think could easily pass for a professional kit label. Then inside the cardboard box is another full color box with the smaller parts of the kit all segregated into their own baggies. Making good impressions so far.

FuelMe doesn’t include step-by-step assembly instructions the way plastic models commonly do, but you do get a neat full-color set of pages that assigns numbers to each individual piece/decal and points out where those pieces are on the completed kit. It’s moderately helpful for more obscure parts I had trouble placing (like a random front bumper-to-fender extension set) and includes tips and techniques on how to paint/finish certain pieces or achieve the look of the sample model.

Main body pulled out. The first thing I noticed was how hefty and sturdy the resin feels, along with how impressively smooth everything was. The finish and detail crispness feels very similar to the USCP Subaru GV Sedan transkit, though much less flimsy.

Where the USCP transkit body felt thin and delicate (in its defense, it was a transkit shell that was meant to be the same thickness as the plastic body it replaced, so it had to be thin), everything here just feels more dense since it has the luxury of being able to work within its own structure. I had a lot of trouble with the USCP transkit because the A-pillars were as thin as paper and practically came broken out of the box. Here the A-pillars are significantly thicker and don’t feel as though they’ll break even if I apply pressure to them.

Okay, this is where it really threw me for a loop. Remember, I’m going into this as a builder who’s pretty much only worked with the basic 1/24 plastic model architecture up until now, which normally means an interior attached to a chassis with a body shell that then clips onto the chassis.

FuelMe’s approach flies in the face of everything I thought I knew about car models. The interior is made up of four main pieces: the dash, door cards, and rear seats. They all slot into the main body first like a jigsaw puzzle. This was some mind-blowing stuff. Then, the bottom chassis plate slots in, with the floor of the cabin also being on the reverse side. Notice how all the parts have big rectangles cut out of them, especially in the front of the body under the hood. That’s where a lot of the body’s heft and weight comes from – everything is designed to slot together very precisely with giant connection points so there’s never any confusion about what goes where or how things fit together.

To give you an idea for how this kit really feels, here are some weight differences. The Fujimi RX-8 I finished recently is standard 1/24 model kit stuff – what most kits will weigh. 3.8 ounces. Just the body of the STi (which includes the main interior pieces and chassis plate) is over twice as heavy at 7.9 ounces. Fully built it’s going to tip the scales at over 8 ounces.

Interior details are crisp. I believe all of it is just the stock VA STi interior, no special racing goodies. A shame we don’t get a LHD option, but that’s absolutely not surprising.

Despite my praise for how crisp and nice the details are on this kit, there is one point that really irks me: it’s not easy to modify. I’ll touch on this plenty throughout the build, but just for starters on the body I became worried when I saw a lot of the grille and vent details that the Varis kit is meant to have is filled in with resin.

I strongly dislike filled-in grilles or vents. If I ever see a molded-in grille I’ll usually cut it out and replace it with actual mesh, since I think it looks a lot more authentic. This becomes a major challenge (and pretty much outright impossible) for this kit because of how thick the resin casting is. Behind the front grille on the bumper is just a giant multi-layered block of resin, meant to be mounting points for the chassis plate. A heat knife is going to take forever to get through that stuff, and besides it could potentially compromise the kit’s structure if I really tried to carve out all that junk just to get access to the front grille opening.

This also doubly sucks because I would’ve also very much liked to throw an EJ motor under the hood, but that’s obviously not happening now.

All the little fender vents that should be open and filled with mesh are filled closed with nearly half an inch of resin.

This isn’t to say the final product will just have blank vent openings that look very obviously filled-in though – FuelMe obviously has a remedy for these details and opts to include photo-etch mesh detail parts for all the little openings, including an intercooler fill-in for the front bumper. I’m pretty sure this is all done for the sake of ease of build-ability, but it really sucks that there’s pretty much no way around it if you want to go with a different approach. Having the intercooler be literally a metal plate that slots on top of the bumper is going to bother me.

When you really lay out the spread, the parts count for this kit is actually very surprisingly slim. It feels like a big kit, probably mostly on account of it being unfamiliar resin to me, but there isn’t much to actually build since there’s no motor and most of the details are already molded into the body or main chassis.

Included are the same Advan TC-4’s that were on the Tokyo Auto Salon Varis demo car, of which this kit is meant to be an exact replica of out of the box.

I actually don’t care much for the wheels – I’m probably not going to use them. I’m not a fan of how far out the spokes come without any sort of lip edge. The tires however, are a different story – the tread is super cool and the molding weirdly crisp. These are ironically more crisp and clean than Aoshima aftermarket tires. The profile is nice too – they look to be sized perfectly for 18″ wheels, though with some stretch they’ll go on 19″.

All the sponsor markings and mini-livery that the Varis demo car had are faithfully reproduced as water slide decals here, including the nice RunDuce x Varis windshield banner. It looks like FuelMe is also relying heavily on decals to fill in the majority of the interior detail, even going so far as to include the red markings that will go on the stock seats. This feels like an uncommon practice, as most plastic model kits will make you paint all that detail in sans the gauge cluster, which will usually come as a decal.

Taillight and headlight lenses both come in very impressively crystal-clear resin.

I was really curious how a full-resin kit was going to handle windows, and it looks like FuelMe chose to make them out of some very thin silky plastic-like material that you just pop out and glue onto the window frames. The rear windows including rear windshield are also pre-tinted for you, which I’m thankful for since I’m not sure how well my usual Tamiya Smoke Clear would react to this stuff.

Starting with some body color. I really struggled with going with World Rally Blue again here or not. On one hand, I really wanted to match the rest of the Subarus I’ve built so far with the classic WRB body/gold wheels combo as I’ve always done, but on another I was really tempted to break the mold and go for something more unique. In the end I decided that I really wanted to have a matching set between the GRB hatch, the BLITZ BRZ, and this car, so we’re doing WRB again.

The resin body really didn’t need much prep before paint – there was no flash or rough edges to speak of, so all it came down to was some primer and lots of Tamiya Mica Blue. I got a few rough spots on the hood during the color coat though – ended up needing some putty to smooth it all out.

Desperation mode: Bondo.

Took some time to get the rough spots level and feather out the existing paint edges to the bare resin that I had sanded down to, but a little bit of elbow grease and patience got it done.

A bit peel-y, but solid. We’ll let this cure for a bit then cut and buff it smooth later.

Interior done black.

At first I was really skeptical about using the interior decals for stuff like the center console and center stack. FuelMe gives stuff like the infotainment decal as a single flat piece, while the actual molding that it’s meant to go over obviously has raised 3D detail.

I hate stuff like this, since when model makers give you these kinds of decals they normally don’t account for the raised areas in the decal size, so when you apply it over stuff like the knobs the sides of the decal are too short and the whole thing just looks like a poorly-fitted sticker. However, given how much thought was obviously put into the rest of this kit, I decided to gamble on FuelMe taking this stuff into account when they produced their decals.

 

It took a little heat persuasion with a hair dryer to get everything to really settle down over the bumps and crannies, but…it actually looks really good?! I’m very impressed with both the detail quality. They seemed both thick and flexible at the same time, allowing me to really settle the placement without ever worrying about them ripping.

I really didn’t have to flock the carpets since I’m 90% sure once the interior is assembled and inside the car you’ll never be able to see it anyway (I normally only flock convertibles or open-top cars) but in this case I decided to go for maximum model clout.

FuelMe provides everything you really need to build the interior stock for stock as it appears in the sample photos, but of course me being me, stock is bad – modify all the things. The original STi seats included in the kit were ironically way more crisp than these aftermarket buckets I picked up from an eBay seller online. I ordered two but it looks like one of them got screwed up in the casting process so the seller included two properly molded ones and one slightly jank seat.

I have yet to find a definitive answer on why these buckets have asymmetrical head bracing. At first I thought it would be for door clearance, but that seems moot when the shoulder bolsters are full size on both sides. Then I assumed it was for blind spot visibility or some such, but it seems silly given the other side would pretty much still be fully obstructed. Then someone came up and mentioned that it was a style commonly used in NASCAR because they only make left turns during races, but these braces are on the left side (shouldn’t they be on the right side for NASCAR then?).

Those burning questions don’t have much weight when I was going to modify the seats into regular buckets anyway. The casting is the exact same for both, so there’s no right or left side. I’d have to cut one head brace off anyway, might as well do it for both.

A little harder than it looks, since I had to cut the good side a bit shorter to match the other side with the brace bend. Putty is then used to smooth out the transition area to the shoulder bolsters, and the harness holes are widened so I can fit actual harnesses through them.

Normally I would’ve just thrown buckets in and called it a day for the interior, but I think because I feel so restricted modifying other aspects of this build I wanted to add as much of my personal touch to the interior as I could. This means harnesses for the seats, and to have harnesses you generally need a harness bar (I could’ve run them straight into the back seats but a half cage is cooler).

Drilled holes in the chassis floor to stick the half cage arch through. I’m basing this off of the Autopower Race Roll Bar that’s actually available for the Subaru VA chassis. Of course sticking it in behind the front seats means you pretty much forsake your rear seats, but racecars don’t need four seats anyway.

This is where FuelMe’s assembly design really dicks me. They probably didn’t count on people throwing in a cage, so the way the interior assembles isn’t the most friendly for this process. Normally for a half cage like the Autopower one I’m building here, I would assemble the cage entirely in the interior tub, which would then be clipped up to the body once everything is done.

An example of how it would normally work with any other plastic kit, this being the roll bar setup I built for the Tamiya 300zx. The interior tub is its own complete assembly that’s attached to the chassis, with the body shell going over everything at the very end.

Because the rear seats and door cards have to go into the body before the chassis/interior floor can be inserted from below (trust me, I tried gluing the entire interior together first and inserting it into the body as a single unit, it doesn’t work that way), it means I can’t fully build the rear roll bar support bars into the rear seats before it all goes into the body. It’s only two pieces, but the only way to put them in is to use tweezers and line them up through the open windows after the main roll bar has gone in.

I don’t even remember where I got the inspiration for the lime green cage, but I’m sure it was from some Subaru rally car or another that I was browsing. I really like the pop of this color with the blue body.

The joints between the bars look like giant welds because I actually used Loctite plastic weld when super glue wasn’t cutting it for holding it together.

Seats painted red. Are they actually Recaros? Probably not. Will anyone know the difference? Hopefully not.

Took this chance before the roll bar went in to finally detail the underbody. It’s disappointingly underwhelming, with really no suspension detail and just an exhaust that needs to be painted in. Still, for a kit like this I think the point was the exterior body rather than any non-curbside detail, especially given that there’s no steering (the wheels are meant to attach with metal axles, just like a Revell kit).

The seats needed some small risers towards the rear thanks to their default look being tilted very far back.

I forget how much I dislike doing harnesses. I overestimated the size of the buckle pass-throughs – they’re only like 2mm wide, so I had to trim about a millimeter off my belts. There are five and six-point harness kits available at the same price as these four-points, but I refuse to do anything more complicated than the most basic harness, safety be damned.

The harness kit I bought came with both water slides and a standard sticker sheet of belt brands. Last time I used the water slide decals on the belts the edges of the decals silvered since it’s tough to get them flush with the fabric-like material. This time I’m opting for simple sticky-back markings instead.

Thankfully it all fits. It’s still going to be a pain in the ass to manually insert the rear support bars for the half-cage assembly later, but at least we know they’ll go in with some careful tweezer work. The trick will be to not make a mess trying to glue them in.

Interior wrapped up. The only thing that slightly bothers me is how the green Takata harnesses kind of blend into the lime green roll bar assembly, so there isn’t as much contrast there, but my only other alternatives were black or red belts. The green harnesses look good against the red seats though, so I’m satisfied.

A very daunting part of this build from the get-go was the sheer amount of parts on FuelMe’s sample that were meant to be carbon fiber. I’m not planning on doing as much (no carbon trunk or roof for me thanks), but the bits like the diffuser/rear spats/front lip/fender extensions/etc should all probably be properly carbon.

Something a bit amusing to me is how FuelMe dedicates a page out of its color manual/pamphlet to promoting its own lineup of carbon fiber decals, available in multiple patters and colors, with the promise that it’s exceptionally durable and easy to work with (with how good their water slide decals have been up until now, I’m inclined to believe these boasts). But of course, all carbon decals are sold separately; you don’t get any carbon included with this actual kit. Boo.

This isn’t even all of it, just the key resin pieces. I suppose that’s the reality of aftermarket aero nowadays (carbon all the things) but up until now I’ve still had trouble carbon decal wrapping hoods, let alone these scary complex-looking bits.

I’ve had this bottle of Walthers Solvaset in storage for a long time. I bought it on a whim once but never really bothered trying to use it since the directions said to wait and just let the solution do its thing after you apply it to a decal – and I’m a very impatient builder. My usual go-to approach is to use Mr. Mark Setter on the decal and constantly massage it into place with the help of a heat gun or hair dryer, but this method can get messy and runs a high risk of stretching the decals too much to the point where they break.

Laying a piece of decal over a shape like this and attempting to massage the corners down while fighting creases and bubbles by hand feels like an impossible task though, so I’m reluctantly turning to Solvaset. It actually works pretty well in its claim to “make decals snuggle into down into every crevice,” but it’s surprisingly strong stuff. The bottle wasn’t kidding when it said to apply the stuff sparingly. Let any of the Solvaset pool on top and it’ll really eat through the decal. Still, after I learned to apply it properly and let it sit for an hour I got some fairly good contouring.

Relatively simple parts with more flat faces were wrapped traditionally – by just tracing each face and applying a separate decal to each side until the entire part is covered. The carbon weave doesn’t necessarily flow between each surface, but I think that’s such a minute thing that it doesn’t really matter – real carbon doesn’t always flow either anyway.

I was confused at first when I saw these board-like photo-etch pieces in the runner with the PE wing stands. I didn’t realize they were actually the side skirt splitters until much later. Weird pieces to include as PE parts, but I’ll take it.

Piece of cake to wrap these in carbon.

The canards on the actual Varis STi actually have ends that curve upwards, but it looks like FuelMe decided to simplify their design quite a bit to just flat shapes for the model. I don’t know why these come in some kind of special gold-plated metal instead of the same stuff the rest of the PE parts come in. The little pegs on the ends are also strange – there are no peg holes in the front bumper to mount them to, so am I supposed to cut them off? (I did).

Wasn’t a fan of the stock exhaust tips. Shame they’re very shallow.

Cut and replaced with some tips from an old FR-S kit. They’re a bit smaller in diameter but I’m hoping it’ll look passable. I could’ve made my own tips with styrene pipe that would’ve been larger, but I got really lazy here and decided to just use parts that were ready to go.

 

Sanded with 3000 and cut with Novus plastic polish. This is still without the decal livery that’ll be going on soon and the gloss clear that’ll go on after that, so the color isn’t quite deep yet.

Before any of that though, both the front and rear bumpers on the Varis kit will require a little color separation. I’ve seen some owners leave the bottom end of the front bumper body color, but I like the breakup of the black on the sample car.

I really struggled on wheel choices for this car. I knew I didn’t want to use the Advan TC-4’s that came with the kit – they just seemed too boring for such an aggressive and kitted out widebody. I didn’t come across much that I thought really matched the car well on the aftermarket either – at least not stuff that I haven’t used before. Work Emotion CR2P‘s would’ve worked really well but I already have the standard Kiwamis on my GRB STi so I wanted to try to avoid repeating wheels as much as possible.

I actually really liked the look of my leftover Work XD-9’s on the VA body, but I was convinced it wouldn’t work because these things are bordering on 20″ they’re so big. Remember I bought them originally to use on my BLITZ BRZ but it turned out I’d have to add a lift kit to that car to fit these.

But then…they fit?! Almost perfectly filling out the wheel wells. Of course this is as tight as the fitment is going to get unless I start attempting to camber them, but as it is I think this is the on the bleeding edge of wheels that would work with this build. The middle section looks high right now because there are still side skirt splitters that need to be attached to get the bodywork a little lower, but even with the front lip attached to the bumper I think the ground clearance will be acceptably not monster-truck.

That fitment is with some of EightyOne’s standard low-profile 18/19 inch resin tires, which I think are a little boring. I would really prefer to use the meatier R888-style tires that came with the FuelMe kit instead, but they’re just too tall. It doesn’t pass the monster truck test with those.

All the rotors/brakes/calipers come as single pieces per corner. I decided to paint the calipers lime green to get a little more mileage out of that color throughout the build.

Applied FuelMe’s supplied photo-etch slotted rotors.

Ironically I didn’t actually have any tires that were both low profile and wide enough to cover the entire wheel, so the wheel barrels had to be trimmed down a bit.

Ironically the original width of the Works was a perfect flush fit with the fenders.

I actually think this wheel design would work really well if it were a nice glossy white against the WRB body, but for the sake of conformity with the rest of my cars they’re going to be the standard gold.

I really wanted this car to be part of a series, but also uniquely stand-out – it was really bothering me that it was just going to end up as another plain WRB Subie, even though that’s exactly what I wanted out of my Subarus. So, I took to looking for some inspiration and stumbled on this – Subaru Motorspots’ new 2019 WRX STi racing livery.

This was it chief. Iconic but modern. Contains all the essential ingredients for the formula.

The nice thing about the Subaru yellow star graphics is that they’re iconic and relatively unchanged from older rally cars, which means it wasn’t too difficult sourcing some aftermarket water slide decal sheets online.

The graphics here aren’t as big as they are on the real race car, but I like it like this – you get a little bit more of the complete look.

FuelMe includes the original Varis GT wing in its kit – I actually like the design, though I wish it was more 3D. Still, for the sake of being different, I decided to forsake it for a more Fast-n-Furious-y double decker wing. It actually came off a Jada diecast Fast and Furious STi too.

Filling in the wing stand holes on the Jada wing.

As much as I wanted to be lazy and just paint the wing a solid color, there really was no way around something with that design being full carbon. So, of course I had to go in and wrap every nook and cranny.

The back of the end plates were obviously the hardest part, but they ended up mostly seamless.

I feel like a civil man would’ve cut holes for the rivet studs. An ape like myself would obviously just send it and hope the decal contours.

Even after I had finished carbon wrapping the entire GT wing, something still felt off about this piece – I kept putting it up against the car and it just felt wrong. I still wanted something different.

Enter this random Jada diecast GT-R, based on Paul Walker’s GT-R in Furious 7. I just happened to see it on the shelf as I was out shopping – of course what caught my eye the most was the giant wing, that actually looks very STi-like.

I’m pretty sure the wing on the actual movie car was just slightly larger than the stock GT-R wing, not this gargantuan monstrosity, but leave it to Jada to exaggerate sometimes. In this case it’s working in my favor though, since it may look out of place on the R35, but I was betting that it would fit right at home on my Subaru.

This thing is thicc. I almost want to sand the bottom down a bit just to make the wing deck thinner, since it looks almost comically large as it is. The nice thing is the width and overall shape matches the STi pretty well, as I had expected. Even the blue paint from the GT-R is a pretty close match to the WRB!

Something about the shape of the wing ends looked off to me – they were too long, I think. It’s never going to pass as an actual stock STi wing, but I’d be okay with it just looking like an aftermarket variant that takes after an OEM look.

I ended up cutting and sanding the shape so it looked a little less odd. This included shortening the mounting plate areas.

I like it. A lot more than any GT wing, that’s for sure. It ironically looks a lot more like an Evo X factory wing than it does an OEM STi piece. You’d think a modern STi wing would be easy to come by so I could just tack it on instead of cannibalizing a GT-R, but it’s actually weirdly difficult to find in 1/24 scale. The only ones really available are the blockier ones from older generation STis.

Painted.

FuelMe includes a neat little gem to be glued into the headlights to represent the projector.

Taillights and rear bumper lights/reflectors painted chrome with Motolow Liquid Chrome before some clear red. FuelMe includes red decals for the bumper reflectors, but I thought they would look better as red over chrome.

FuelMe’s sample model has smoked taillights – I like the clear red contrast against the blue body more.

I was really surprised to see that FuelMe actually expects you to paint the little DRL LED C-shaped parts of the headlights in by hand. Other companies going after a similar effect will usually make it a white decal.

With how subtle the detail is on the clear headlight lenses, I decided to just forsake the DRL LED detail entirely. I definitely did not feel comfortable free-handing that with paint.

Finally going in with final interior assembly and chassis attachment. FuelMe includes four screws that go from the chassis plate into the body, and they’re actually well-hidden after the final parts are glued in.

Windows going in. Unlike traditional 1/24 plastic models where I would normally just have to cement the top of a window dome in, these require a lot more finesse. I couldn’t use super glue since the haze would fog the windows after it dries, so I was left with just running very thin beads of cement along the contact edges and hoping the tape would press them in.

The window fitment was generally pretty good, though a bit tight in some areas. Stuff like the rear window is meant to be somewhat convex, so it ended up being a challenge keeping the center area down while not popping the side edges back up.

The side windows were the only ones that were “sandwiches” because you had to glue the actual windows in first, followed by the window frame and B-pillars on top.

I thought this would be as simple as it sounds, but it turns out it was actually pretty difficult to get the window frame pressed down smoothly because the entire thing curves as per the body of the car.

As I kept pressing down on the window frame to get it to settle, something unexpected came up – air bubbles in the windows? I then realized I was dumb and had installed the windows without even removing the “screen protector” layer on them.

I used the chance when I took the side windows back out to just delete the front driver’s side window. I thought the interior could use some more showing off, given how much time I spent on the roll cage and harness setup.

Remember I talked about earlier how FuelMe doesn’t opt for real pass-throughs and mesh for most of the vents on the  Varis widebody – we get metal photo-etch pieces that slot into the openings instead. I still don’t like how I don’t really have a choice but to use these parts, but once they’re painted black it actually doesn’t look that bad. The PE nature ensures the details will always be crisp.

So, about the wheels – just like the spoiler, I wasn’t quite happy with how it was sitting. The Works were nice, but I didn’t think they were flashy or interesting enough for such a wild build. Enter some 326 Power Yabaking Wheels, courtesy Fugu Garage. Flashy? Interesting? Wild?

Fugu Garage makes some really nice stuff. I have a bunch of their wheels already, but most of them are stashed away for future projects. I think this is their first wheel set I’m finally using on a car. The resin mold is excellently crisp, and the faces/barrels are separate making for ease of painting. I went ahead with chrome barrels.

And of course gold faces.

The Yabakings are 18 inch, while the Works are 19-20″. I actually think the Works fill out the wheel wells better and look a little more proportional to the car (the Yabakings look extra small because the dish is so deep, making the faces look puny), but the finish and overall design of the Yabakings just appeal to me more.

I think I mostly solved the wheels looking small issue by just downsizing the tires so they don’t look so thicc. I really wanted to use FuelMe’s original tires with the rad tread pattern, but they were ultimately just too meaty. Ended up with some no-name low-profile tires from Pegasus Hobbies instead.

I don’t think I’ve also worked with wheels that have separate lugnuts yet – this is such a cool feature. Painting them has never been more of a breeze. Fugu Garage even gives you two sets – one long and one short. I actually thought the long ones were too long and the short ones too short, so I settled for gluing them into the wheels halfway out for a medium.

This might’ve been the longest I’ve spent on a kit – nearly four months. I started working full-time halfway through the build so it ended up getting sidelined for a while.

My only real motivation for finishing this build at all was to enter it in the 2019 Socal Open model car show – I miraculously glued on the last details the night before and made it to enter.

I was a little embarrassed about my paint finish when I started looking at some of the other entrants. I don’t cut/polish/buff my paint finishes as much as I should, due to a combo of fear of burning through the paint and just being straight up too lazy to spend the delicate time doing it.

A lot of the other entrants in the Tuners & Drifters category (the segment I entered to compete in) definitely had nicer paint than me (you can see some peel on the roof there).

But I guess all the extra work I put into this build paid off, from the custom roll cage to the livery and wonky GT-R wing. This is my second Subaru to win at a model show (the last being the BLITZ BRZ) – maybe I should stick to Subies as my good luck charms.

Speaking of that BRZ – this is all I ever wanted.

The styles are so similar that you’d almost think the same guy built all three of them. Wait a minute…

I gotta admit – the photo-etched intercooler grille that just inserts into the bumper isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It’s still not as nice as if it were a real mesh grille with a giant intercooler behind it, but I can buy into this look.

My last-minute decision on the wheels took a few days to fully grow on me, but I love the look now. Shoutout to Motolow’s Liquid Chrome marker though – I use that stuff for all my chrome work now, but it came out exceptionally well on these wheel lips.

The judge at the Socal Open show even asked if the lips were aluminum aftermarket parts, and when I told him it was Motolow he asked if it was airbrushed. Of course me being the barbarian I am I told him truthfully it was just the raw marker tip against the resin – not sure if that earned me points or lost me respect.

One thing that does really bother me though – the large Subaru livery on the driver’s side door came off its backing a little whack. It was partially flaking, which means you can see subtle cracks of the blue paint through the main swish right next to the mirror.

It’s subtle and doesn’t really show up in photos (you can see a bit of it above here) but in person it really bugs me. Unfortunately the only way to fix it is to order another whole livery decal sheet and apply it over the current one to make the neon green solid, but I’m not down to shell out just for that.

I’ve worked on this kit for so long that at this point I forget it’s actually a Varis widebody – it just feels like a normal VA chassis STi to me now. The livery ironically helps hide the widebody fender bulges a lot too.

You can purchase the full FuelMe kit from their own website here (they’re a limited run, so as far as I’m aware once they’re sold out it’s donezo). Thankfully I’m a lot less intimidated by full resin kits now that I’ve successfully strapped this STi under my belt – though I’m not sure I’ll have the time to commit to another big project like this anytime soon.

4 Comments

  • inframent

    Hey, let me just say I’ve followed your blog for some time now and your builds are gorgeous! I appreciate how you saw when things don’t work out and it makes it all the more realistic. I’ve recently made a wordpress but love the layout of yours. Do you have contact info I can ask you more about this site?

    • James Pierce

      Hey man thanks for following the site! I’m embarrassed since I don’t build or upload content nearly as often now that I’m working full-time haha. If you have an Instagram, feel free to DM me @suparrobo I’d be happy to answer any questions you have as best I can

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