Toyota AB Phaeton
The AB was a soft-top variant of the Model AA, and inherited features such as the 3.4-liter inline-6 engine and live axle leaf spring front/rear suspension. It differed from the AA in its folding cloth roof, dedicated windshield design, and front-hinged door layout. To make room for the new folding auxiliary seats, the rear seat bank was moved somewhat further back. Of the 353 produced by 1938, the majority were eventually sent to the military and never made it into the hands of the public as was originally intended.
Up front I’m going to say that I really enjoyed this build. The molding detail is very good and with a couple of small exceptions the fit is spot on. No need to decide on what color, or variant to build as there are color callouts for only the standard tan military staff car. The decal sheet includes the Toyota emblem for the hubcaps, as well as the detail for the radiator ornament and instrument cluster. The tires are molded in styrene so no need to worry about the problems with rubber wheels. Really, your only options are to display the soft top and folding jump seats in either the up or down position. Before starting, jump on your favorite search engine and look for photos of the restored example for some additional detail information.
Construction begins with the chassis and there are no fit issues that I recall. The suspension is pretty slick and given the flexibility of the styrene springs, it actually works kind of like the real item. If posing the front wheels in a turned position is your thing you will have to tackle that on your own, the front axle is molded with the wheels facing front and center.
Before I move on to the interior, I want to mention the kits “Gotchas”. I always seem to miss something that ends up biting me in the posterior later on in a build. With this kit it would two different gotchas to watch out for. The first is the body. Although very well cast, there are fine seam lines that run along the top on either side of the body. It doesn’t obstruct any detail and if you hit it with your sanding stick “before you prime” it is an easy fix. After priming… not so much. The second gotcha belongs to the front and rear bumpers. You might be tempted to think the bumper mounting bracket / hardware will hide the ejector pin marks on the back side of the bumpers. If you do, you would be wrong. I was. Again, I didn’t figure this out until the bumpers had been painted in chrome.
The interior went together well but I wish I had dry fit the jump seats before the kit was fully assembled. They didn’t fit perfectly and a little work with the sanding stick is needed. The last little fit issue I encountered was with the body to chassis. All that was really required was a champ to hold the body tight to the chassis adjacent to the rear wheels. Otherwise you will see a small gap looking into the interior at the rear wheel well. Oh, I should mention, please heed the instructions if placing the driver in the vehicle. He will NOT fit in the vehicle if you wait and try and slip him in after the body is placed on the chassis. You have to put him in place on the front seat and then place the body over him. Please plan ahead.
Fitting the final bits such as the windshield, taillights, front and rear bumpers, lights, door handles etc… fit just as they should. You may notice there are decals included for the body trim but looking at the photos of the restored example I didn’t see a need to use them. Over all, I was very happy with the kit and would have no problems recommending this kit if you are looking for something a little different.
I’d like to thank Tamiya USA for providing the review sample as well as the IPMS USA for allowing me to review this great little kit.