The Toyota Prius has made its way from a government incentive driven experiment to a very successful mainstream product offering. As such it really deserves to be noticed for its place in history. The Prius body styling and the kit subject matter in general, however, may only appeal to the Prius enthusiast.
The Fujimi kit represents the 2009 model year of the 3rd generation Prius and is an all new kit. White, clear and chrome trees are all individually bagged. Also included are soft rubber tires, a small decal sheet and window masks. Part count is just over 80 pieces and the build up is fairly simple. The result is a curbside model with no open elements.
The chassis pan and suspension build up easily and are molded with deep relief allowing for the use of washes and various other weathering effects to be applied to the underside. The suspension has poseable front wheels. Each wheel is installed with a vinyl bushing to allow them to roll; however, I was not able to install them and achieve smooth operation on all four wheels. The bushings look like the Tamiya competition but install in the wheel/rim itself rather than being encased in the wheel/brake hub.
The interior is tub style with a dash and seat backs making up the construction. The seat bottoms are molded to the tub. Door panel relief is weak but can not be seen well in the end. The only ejector pin marks that had to be dealt with were on the front seat backs. They were deep enough to take some two part filler, but smoothed out easily. The dash represents the unique look of the Prius well. The kit only supplies a right hand drive, so some may find disappointment with that. There are decals for radio display and the large dash instrumentation area. The instrumentation decal in particular was difficult to locate, as it fits down into a deep recess. If I trimmed the clear carrier from around the edges before releasing it from its backing, I think it would have fallen into place a lot easier.
The body certainly looks the part. It is not entirely a one piece unit. There is a separate roof panel, a grill, head and tail lamps and rear view mirrors. I consider the body styling to be, well, understated and felt it necessary to liven it up. I produced some home grown graphics and turned them into decals to give this econo-box a little WOW. I also accented the head and tail light covers with home made decals applied to the inside. One big disappointment for me was finding out the window masks were only templates (outlines to be cut out) not die cut.
Final assembly required no glue; the interior tub sat on the chassis and the body fits down over everything and snaps into place.
In conclusion, this is a good entry level kit that depicts a subject with perhaps limited appeal. It goes together easily but could benefit from having die cut window masks and a left hand drive option.
Hobby Link Japan is a personal favorite online source for automotive, motorcycle kits, aftermarket accessories and supplies although they cover much more; aircraft, armor, figures, Gundam, Sci-fi, etc. Their online store is easy to navigate, has a great search engine, provides prices in multi denominations and they really do have something for every one from snap-tite to multi-media at least as far as my automotive interests go. Knowing that this kit was provided by HLJ played a big part in my request to be considered for the assignment. At the onset of this project there were no aftermarket sets available however since then a PE detail set by Hobby Design has been listed. (‘Not Yet Available’ due out in Sept 2010)
Thanks to Scott Hards and HobbyLink Japan for the opportunity to build this review item.