Scale Cars

Tamiya Toyota GR Supra + FuguGarage Pandem Transkit

At first I was really about resisting the hype – the new GR Supra was the hot new thing in both the actual auto enthusiast world and in the modeler’s circle after Tamiya released their kit not long after the real car. Then Fugu Garage had to come out with their Pandem transkit almost immediately after.

As to be expected, both the plastic kit and the resin transkit sold like hotcakes – everyone was jumping on the 1/24 GR Supra hype train right after we got plenty of real-world inspiration from SEMA. I was going to save my own build for later since I had a list of other cars I wanted to knock out first but. . .

It all came together so quickly and easily. I know other widebody kits are being designed for this car right now too, so I may be jumping ahead a bit too quick on this one. It’s like buying the first model year of a brand new car – there are most likely going to be unfortunate kinks that will need to be worked out before a more refined solution comes along.

Tamiya’s base kit looks very refined though, to be expected. They even include a cute little how-to-build pamphlet meant for beginners complete with English text!

The actual parts count for the kit is kind of underwhelming – but once again, expected. This is a strictly curbside model, meaning no opening hatches, doors, panels, or engine bay. And of course, no engine.

Disappointing though, that with this model’s structure there’s really no practical way for me to add a motor myself either. I could cut the hood apart but then I would be left reworking the entire front body-to-chassis connection, the front bumper connection, building my own radiator support, and building pretty much everything underneath from the firewall to the strut tower frames from scratch. Not looking for that much work just to shove a 2JZ in there.

A neat little feature I’ll point out now because we’re probably not going to revisit these parts ever again – Tamiya actually engineered the Supra’s unique factory wheels as two-piece parts. This lets modelers achieve that factory two-tone look effortlessly. Not that I’ll be using the stock wheels, but impressive plastic engineering nonetheless. I feel like Aoshima would’ve just given the entire wheel to us as one piece and said good luck.

Metal dry-transfer decals are included for all the mirrors and some of the badging. It’s a shame it looks like the front Toyota badge isn’t given here; that small one is for the steering wheel.

Bumpers glued on to form the main body shape.

I’ve used Fugu Garage’s parts before (mostly their wheels), but have never actually built one of their transkits (they produce many). This Pandem kit is supposed to be the V1.5 version I believe, meaning it comes with the big ‘ol swan neck GT wing.

First dry fit is…not that promising. Fugu doesn’t include any instructions on how to build their kit or how it’s intended to mate with the stock body, so I can only assume it’s meant to…mostly follow the stock lines?

Everything from the side skirts forward fit fine – it’s really the trunk and rear fenders that are causing issues. You’d think you’d be able to just line the fenders up and have them line right up flush against the stock body huh?

That’s certainly how it worked with the front fenders, but the poor rear fenders showed some serious gaps, and panel cuts like the door lines weren’t lining up worth a damn unless you moved the entire thing forward, which would misalign the rear where it met the trunk lid.

The rear fenders would sort of line up if I really pressed the resin hard into the plastic, sort of squashing it flat so the surfaces met, but just on its own you can see the gaps for yourself.

I figured I had two options – cut the stock body up first and see if maybe it was the stock body’s plastic getting in the way of the widebody panels fitting flush, or eventually maybe just take a heat gun to the resin and massage it through the power of heat to make it fit. Obviously we’re going to try cutting the stock plastic first.

To promote better wheel fitment later, we’re also “rolling” the fenders by cutting the edges along at an angle, making sure only the very thin outer edge of the fenders are left. This will let me go lower with my tires if I choose something meaty and allow some tuck without looking ridiculously sunken.

The Supra’s distinctive side door vents are separate pieces, but the actual little sliver that’s meant to be a vent is filled in (just as it is on the real car).

Quick job to trim it out.

Fugu also doesn’t cut out the rear over-fender opening for you, so it was up to us to do it ourselves via heat-knife.

After a lot of pushing and massaging (along with plenty of cutting of the stock plastic body), we were finally able to get the rear overfenders to match up relatively well. There’s still a pretty significant gap at the back where it meets the rear bumper – on the real car it looks like the overfender pretty much covers up that entire rear bumper section so it looks almost flush.

Our solution to fix the weird step will be to just fill in that whole area completely.

Really didn’t have any issues fitting the front fenders or lip. The front lip is supposed to go on underneath the stock lip, adding some nice low.

With the wheels, we’re going with some classics – a set of 19″ Volk GTC that actually came off my old Top Secret S15 Silvia model (that I’ve long since taken apart for parts).

Just using the original wheels would’ve been boring – this is a widebody after all, so let’s go deep.

I’ve never customized wheels like this before, but how hard could it be to add a little more dish? I got some 19″ resin barrel extenders from USCP.

That’s deep. Maybe a little too deep.

The edges of the original GTC’s were sanded down first, since they had a bit of a beveled edge.

The 19″ extension barrels I got were actually step barrels – it looks like it goes from an 18″ on the inner rim and steps up to a 19″, which is neat for having a stepped look, but kind of screwed me over when I was trying to match up the rim diameters to my wheels.

I ended up cutting the inner stepped portion completely off and went with just the outer barrel rim that would be mated to the original wheels. For the rears, I did the same but kept a little bit of the outer barrel so I could have a deeper rear dish.

I went out of my way to try to preserve the multi-piece detail of these wheels, since the face (in gold) bolts over the barrels in chrome, with bits of chrome showing on the inner edges.

I struggled for a while picking out a color scheme for this car. There have been plenty of classic liveries applied to this car in real-life, in renders, and as a model kit. At first I was really tempted to go with the classic orange Fast and Furious livery (ala TJ Hunt’s current look for his Supra), but then I saw the above art and I was instantly sold: we’re going gold.

As far as I could find, no one had actually done a real-life Top Secret-style A90 yet, which kind of surprised me. But maybe it’s out of respect for Top Secret and Smokey-san – this color scheme is meant to only go on his best cars after all. But it’s okay if it’s just a model car right? Right?

Of course, we’re going to try to go as Top Secret as possible. Thankfully I have a good handful of decals leftover from my previous actual Top Secret models (the S15 and R34, neither of which I actually built as golden flagship cars).

Testing the look so far. I’m in love with how the car is on the ground but…stancing a car like this somehow feels wrong. I was still up in the air about going for a more form or function fitment.

I wanted to lean heavily into carbon fiber for this build, mostly because I think the car is just deserving of that bit of exotic detail. The front and rear lip/diffusers were prime candidates for this treatment.

The front lip is a mildly complex shape, but it wasn’t too stressful knowing that a lot of the surfaces will be hidden once it’s attached to the body. I’ve also finally learned a new handy trick for decal-ing complex surfaces: trace the shapes with masking tape! It seems like such a basic technique that could’ve saved me a lot of grief wrapping hoods and other complicated things in the past.

The rear diffuser was an absolute pain in the ass, but I think the effort paid off. It actually looks clean.

For not having a motor, Tamiya sure went out of their way to make the subframe assemblies as intricate as possible. It all looks very good and fits together well.

Other than the front and rear subframe assemblies there’s not much else to the internals though. The exhaust is a separate piece and not molded into the chassis plate, thankfully.

I had also ordered a specialized photo-etch detail set for this kit, courtesy Scale Lab. I mostly wanted it for the brake rotors, but the other miscellaneous metal interior detail pieces will come in handy, I’m sure.

I’m not sure if the stock brakes are actually Brembo units, but if they weren’t before, they are now.

It was around this point that I started becoming unsatisfied with how my bodywork was turning out. This is something I should’ve caught and fixed early on during the primer coat, but of course me being my usual impatient self I glossed over it thinking I could literally use the clear coat to gloss over it. That obviously didn’t work out.

The part of the widebody that covers part of the door really bothered me – there were obvious glue marks showing and the transition to the stock body was definitely not smooth. This area also happened to be my least favorite part of this Pandem kit, since it introduced another new random body line to the side of the A90 when it had enough there from the complicated door insert as it was.

I really disliked how the door add-on didn’t even attempt to flow with any of the A90’s existing lines – but I guess that’s Pandem for you. So, to kill two birds with one stone I decided to do away with that line completely – this covers up my shoddy workmanship and creates a cleaner side profile. Bondo filling putty is the answer.

I didn’t particularly want to attempt paint-matching the new side-swoop piece I’ve created, and as I mentioned earlier I did want to integrate a good amount of carbon on this car, so we’re doing exactly that.

The look reminds me of the original R8’s carbon side blades.

Also going with a carbon roof.

Switched the low-profile stance-boi tires to some meatier rubber. These are the R888-style tires that came with the FuelMeChina Varis STi kit that I’ve been meaning to use for so long, but they’ve just been too meaty for most of my previous builds. It looks like it’ll work well here though, since even with such thick tires the front lip is still barely off the ground.

So Fugu Garage does include a wing with this transkit – apparently this is the Version 1.5 wing, an absolutely gigasmic swan-neck style that bolts to the larger trunk.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use it, really – I actually did really like the clean look of the duckbill-style trunk, and I kind of wanted to break my own trend of constantly putting shopping cart handles on all my cars.

After playing with the wing fitment for a bit and trying some different things I dug around my spare parts bin and happened across a set of chassis mounts that I had been saving for years. The original idea was to use these on a 370Z, but it’s been probably over 5 years since I bought these from EightyOne81, and I’m no closer to planning a 370 build.

I decided to throw them on the back of the Supra just to see how it would look, with the original Varis wing that I didn’t use on the FuelMe China STi, and it actually looks…good?!

I’m upset at myself for not having planned this in advance because now cutting chassis mount holes in a painted body is going to get ugly.

Ended up having to cut into the diffuser a bit too to get the fitment I wanted, but holy moly I’m loving this look.

To actually mount the wing I just cut out four identical plate brackets out of plastic and glued them to the bumper openings. The actual wing stands will then just be sandwiched in.

It’s now at this point that I decided to really take a step back and evaluate where I was at with the body build. The more I worked on it the more unsatisfied I was, with the little mistakes and imperfections adding up.

My putty and decal work on those side blades wasn’t smooth, cracks and air bubbles were showing through the decals and clear coat, parts of my clear coat was graining up and I had no idea why, and of course those new slits I cut out of the rear bumper were ugly as hell.

Would you believe even a brake fluid bath wasn’t enough to strip the paint off this thing? I literally had to rub all the paint off with lacquer thinner because I cured the lacquer way too well. There was probably over 6 coats of thick clear coat over the whole thing, and each coat I flash-fired in my paint oven so it cured extra fast.

I had every intention of actually getting the side blades right this time, no mistakes. It would be smooth and look as a single piece.

I also took this chance to go back and re-scribe most of the panel lines in the body, since they were either filled with paint or Fugu just wasn’t very good with giving you all the lines at a consistent deepness. I will however be the first to admit that I’m very inexperienced with scribing panel lines – I think I ended up making my final lines too deep and too wide – I really should’ve practiced more before this kit.


The carbon and paint work is a lot cleaner this time around. I went ahead and mostly fixed the side skirts too, since they didn’t completely line up with the bottom of the door before. By doing so I shaved off a good amount of the width towards the rear of the skirts, so now the back half of the car looks disproportionately high when it’s on such meaty tires.

My fix for this was actually to pull out the stock side skirts and modify them to fit over the Pandem extensions. They had the perfect winglet flares towards the rear that would fill out the area I needed them to.

The Supra has a lot of vents, and Tamiya includes filled-in plastic pieces for all those vents. My photo-etched set has the same, but fake filled-in vents just aren’t the play here. I opted instead to use mesh for everything, including the gigantic front grille openings (even though there’s no motor behind it).

Since there’s no motor, I wanted to try extra hard on the interior – even though the Supra comes with a perfectly nice modern interior and slick stock seats.

I was hell-bent on adding a roll bar/half cage to this car no matter the cost, but the moment I dry-fitted the interior pieces together I found out this would be a little more complex than my usual drop-in-some-plastic-pipes procedure.

Tamiya’s mold for the interior behind the seats doesn’t actually give you the full trunk space – instead the piece is raised over the speakers, which I assume means its meant to resemble the parcel shelf cover. There’s no real trunk underneath that either. My solution to get the trunk floor (I need it there to mount my roll cage) is to cut the parcel shelf cover out of the trunk frame and move it down, turning it into the trunk floor.

Since I was going with a cage, I figured I might as well go the full nine yards and do racing buckets with harnesses, even though it seems like such a waste when the GR Supra comes with some really nice stock seats.

I ordered this Bride Zeta Plus seat kit off eBay, to my surprise it even came with the iconic Bride insert decals and carbon fiber decals for the seat backs.

Even fitting aftermarket seats is no cake-walk in this thing. Tamiya’s interior tub has some very raised seat rails molded in – mounting the Brides on top of those would make them way too high, so I was left to cut the entire section out.

Even with this car being so new, I knew that someone had to have developed a cage for it already. One Google search later and sure enough, Studio RSR had a half cage/roll bar available.

It took quite a bit of analyzing to figure out exactly RSR had their cage built, since all the photos of it were inside the car. I pretty much tried to follow the design to a T when assembling mine from styrene pipes.

I actually went out of my way to measure my pipes and cuts on this cage (normally I just eyeball the lengths and yeet it, and then wonder why my cages are lopsided at the end).

Looking clean. The floating trunk frame above the floor is kind of strange now, but once the body is over it the rear window is so small that you won’t really be able to tell there’s nothing there. Hopefully the cage will still be visible though.

Interior accents done flat metallic red, minor details filled in with photo etch parts and silver brush paint.

Carpet and trunk flocked.

Cage painted red since I think it’ll pop from the inside. And RSR’s sample cage did look good in red.

This is actually my first time doing the Bride cushion inserts. I’ve seen decal packs for this available before online, but never pounced on them. Since they came included with this seat set it was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The carbon fiber pattern on for the seat backs really isn’t the best – I can see they tried to cut the shape out with relief cuts to make it application-friendly, but even then it didn’t line up perfectly. The weave is too light and too big for 1/24 too, but I went with it anyway since you probably won’t see it after the car’s put together.

I hate harnesses, but here we go anyway.

The harness bar of the cage is really really close to the seat (like right behind it) so there’s really no slack with the harnesses themselves. I feel like there’s some safety regulation that says you shouldn’t have the bar that close to the seat with harnesses tied to it, but whatever. We’re not NHTSA certified.

Because racecar (with no engine).

Finally finished. This was a really long build, and towards the end I really felt burned out trying to get everything right. I didn’t document it completely, but along the way just about everything went wrong – I must’ve carbon decal’d that roof over 5 times.

From a few feet away it looks…mostly fine. But the devil’s really in the details on this one, with my shoddy body and paintwork.

The bondo filling on the back of the rear fenders started coming up, I don’t even know why. The fitment of the trunk and fenders around the top of the taillight in general is a bad time (I was hoping the giant chassis-mounted wing would distract from this).

I ended up building my own exhaust tips out of styrene pipe, since the stock ones were a bit too small for my taste. Nothing else on the undercarriage is modified for the most part.

The side view mirrors were the very last thing I put on the kit – my original plan was for them to be decal’d carbon to match the roof and side garnish, but at that point I was so worn out that I really didn’t want to attempt to carbon wrap such a complex shape. I would’ve had them all black, but it looked weird when most of the black around it was actually in carbon, so I opted for the “launch edition” look and did them red.

I was a little worried because it felt like the red mirror caps would look out of place and not match anything else on the car, but I ended up liking the splash of it against the gold. You can still see a good amount of the same bright red roll cage through the windows too, so it at least kind of goes with that.

I’m kind of sad since I really wanted this to be a perfect build, especially since I threw so many aftermarket parts and materials at it. But maybe that was part of the downfall, as the build gets more complex there are more ways for things to go wrong.


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