Honda HSR500 “1989 WGP500 Champion”
After winning the 1988 WGP500 for Yamaha, Eddie Lawson jumped ship and went to ride for Honda. Despite extremely stiff competition at events all over the world, Eddie Lawson's finishes were consistently in the top two, with four first place finishes. With all his wins combined, Eddie won the 1989 Grand Prix Championships for the Rothmans-Kanemoto-Honda team, making him the only rider in history to win two consecutive championships with two different teams..
Hasegawa’s offering of the Honda NSR500 has 192 parts included in the kit, including a clear windshield, two rubber tires, four metal screws, a metal spring, and two colors (black and clear) of rubber tubing. The body panels and wheels are molded in white, while the other sprues are in a medium gray. There are three options for front forks, Inverted Suspension (I used this option), Suspension upright and Carbon brakes. The kit comes in a typical top-opening box, and the sprues are bagged in groups by color. There are 2 printed decal sheets, one for the model, and one for the tires, but I could not find any indications of where these tire decals were to be used.
Instructions are broken over twenty-two steps, and there is a separate sheet with decal guide, sprue maps, and paint chart. Colors are called out in Gunze Sanyo’s Mr. Color line, and Gunze Aqueous Colors are also listed in the charts. I used Tamiya and Vallejo paints for the non-metallic colors, and Alclad for the metal surfaces.
Construction starts with the engine, which contains thirty. Details are nicely done, but there are quite a few mold lines to be removed. There are also quite a few pieces of tubing that are attached here. If you choose to display this model with all of the body panels in place, most of the engine will be covered up.
The rear swing arm goes together next. The large rear wheel is a single piece, but there is a sizeable mold line that needed to be removed. The rear wheel is sandwiched between the ends of the swing arm, along with brake rotors and the drive chain. The chain has to be glued closed, and the location of the seam is about the most visible part of the chain. The swing arm is mounted into the frame, along with the rear shock, and is held in place with a long metal screw. Plastic covers go over the screw head to hide it.
Next up in the build process is the frame, which consists of four major sections, plus an assortment of smaller parts. If you plan on leaving any of the body panels off, there are some significant seams on the frame that will need to be filled. Because it will be painted in metallic silver, any flaws in the seams will be glaring. The engine also installs at the point, and is secure in place by plastic pins. Once the engine is in, the radiator and its plumbing goes in next. There is a lot going on at the front of the frame, and it was tricky to get all of the pipes and wires in their proper places without damaging the paint.
The next step added a lot of the tubing and the hardware it mates to. I suggest that the hardware be glued in first and left to dry overnight. The tubing can be stubborn about sliding over the connection points. I stretched out the tubing hole by inserting the tip of a toothpick into each hole on both ends. This allowed the tubing to slide more easily onto the connection points.
The NSR500 has a four-cylinder engine, with an exhaust pipe for each cylinder. Each pipe consists of two halves, plus a two-part muffler. These pipes are exposed, even with the body panels installed, so the sizeable seams required cleaning and filling. I painted the pipes with Alclad Pale Burnt Metal. The instructions are very specific about the assembly order for the exhaust pipes. It does work best if you follow them.
Next up was the front fork. Here you have to make the suspension choice. Once that is done you need to pick out the instructions you follow. Again the front wheel needed to have mold lines removed. Once the fork is together, sandwiching the front wheel and brake rotors between the forks, it is installed into the frame. It is important to let this part dry overnight; the screw that holds the fork in place with the frame put a lot of tension on the fork. This is also where the handle bars and instrument package go on, along with finishing up the loose ends of the tubing from earlier in the build.
Because of the layers of paint and decals needed on the body panels, I actually built them concurrently with the rest of the build. While waiting for paint to dry on the body, I worked on the rest of the models. Because this model has a very glossy finish, it’s critical to get the seams taken care of properly. There are significant seams to deal with on the rear cowl/seat and the gas tank. The biggest problem I had here was the instructions call for a custom mix paint to match the blue/black decals. I got close, but not exact. If I had to do this over again, I would have used the custom mix paint instead of the decals. There are spare decals for the trim around the custom color, so you don’t even have to trim the decals. I
Installing the panels, for me, was a real challenge. There are lots of fragile bits sticking off the bike at this point, and I ended up damaging several pieces, as well as chipping some of the body paint before I got everything in place. I chalk this up to more of my inexperience with high-gloss paint and motorcycle models than any problem with the model itself. The front panel, which attaches to the instrument cluster, was especially challenging. The end result is a nice looking model. It did not come out as nice as I had hoped, but not due to any real issue with the kit.
Pros: Nicely detailed engine, frame and suspension; rubber tires are very nice, decals are well-registered
Cons: The body panels are tricky to install (especially considering the delicate paint), connection points for the tubing are fragile, and the front decal is tough to settle into place. Also, there are some large seams on the body panels and exhaust, and mold lines on the wheels that need addressing.
Recommended: This is a very nice kit, although the complexity of the body panels makes it a better choice for an experienced motorcycle modeler.
Thanks to Hobbico/Hasegawa for the opportunity to review this nice kit.