I say this every time and will likely say it every time from here on out, ’til the day I die – Japanese kits make for a pleasant, excellent time. Aoshima’s kits are the perfect balance in the middle between Fujimi and Hasegawa and Tamiya, which for me, still stands right at the top. When I got the kit in my hands, I spotted a little box of text on the side that says and I quote: “This assembly plastic model kit was developed in the mid 1970’s thus the level of replication and detailing are not up to today’s standards“. Isn’t that great? A friggin’ warning to let you know that it is ‘inferior’ to their ordinary quality due to the old molds! If Round 2 was forced to do this, they would melt on the spot out of fear. But I should state this right away, holy shit – if this is their inferior quality… What the hell is their normal quality? A literal shrunk real life car? It’s no less quality than anything I am used to by Aoshima.
The Celica was introduced in 1971 as the Asian version of the Ford Mustang, direct competitor and everything. It was a two-door coupe with a short end and long front, nippy looks and feels of it, birthed out of a four door(the ’64 Falcon for the ’64½ Mustang and ’71 Carina for the ’71 Celica) and… well, I was gonna say “giant engine with stupendous speed” but, the Celica didn’t do that. The Asian market was and always has been all about ripping the absolute most power possible from a small block, and the power of any of the available engines from 1971 through 1977 was… well, it was anywhere between 50HP and 90HP, nothing to brag about. But! It was still, y’know, a little fun car is all it had to be, right? It doesn’t need 375 horsepower and all, but I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if it had a slightly-less of a giant ball of iron engine block, maybe a beefy V6 but, still. It’s just history. I should point out though, as to what bottlenecked the power of the Celica, Japan had extremely tight engine displacement size/overall car size rules(to some extend a relic-rule that originated in post-World War II years to cope with limited supplies and very small roads/places for cars to drive) that basically disallowed cars to have a engine bigger than 2.0L, or it would face penalties or simply not allowed on the road(go figure, this was while the very much bog standard American engine was 5.0L at the least). Coming to think of it, looking at both the Celica and Mustang, no matter how close they are, they are truly opposites, huh.
As the seventies pulled on, the Celica underwent some cosmetic changes but it stayed the same for the most part, until 1973 where it received a very… familiar looking version added to the trim choices. Called the Liftback, it added well, a lifted rear, with some louvers on the sides and effectively, it made it a gorgeous, little Asian cousin/brother to the Ford Mustang. And to be honest, it ‘borrowed’ a lot of design cues from the Mustang, nevermind the basic shape. The vertical stripe tail lights, the short but raised lip on the tail, the little louvers, it kind of goes on – which is fine. Cause ironically, this particular 1977 Celica LB-2000GT was more Mustang than the real, original 1977 Mustang ever would be. The problem with the Mustang, which I described in full on the ’77 Mustang II article, is that it became too much car for the changing landscape, it had to shrink and it had to do it right there and then, no second chances were given – many choices were pondered, but the design teams went with the… Ford Pinto, as a starting platform to build upon.
All the while the Celica, which became ever so slightly sportier during its first years(albeit, once again, with a power capacity of 80 or so horse power), was already a very small car, with hardly any weight to it, so it had that opposed to the still ever so brick-like Mustang II, though what is truly odd is that the 1974 Mustang II had give or take the same amount of power output in horsepower, yet any reviewer basically scolded the shit out of it for being anemic, pathetic and sad, once again that cultural divide showing hardcore given the Celica, over in Asia and Europe, was actually quite adored for the little nippy 2+2 that it was, and had the Mustang II ever been thoroughly turned into a export, I reckon Europe would’ve appreciated it a lot more(as it eventually would prove true with the Ford Escort, basically a Mustang III in spirit). This is one of those cars that perfectly puts the whole ordeal into perspective, as the Mustang II was being dragged through the dirt for being anemic and underwhelming, the Celica LB was being loved for being quicker and sportier looking than ever before, despite the two honestly from the outside could’ve been Goddamn brothers.
Aoshima’s got just about all the Celica’s, well at least the older generations. They’ve got the normal Celica 1600GT, this LB 2000GT, a shitload of tuner and weirdly stanced versions of those two, the second gen from the early eighties, Beemax did a few rally versions of the ’84 and ’85 TA64’s and also one from 1990, and it kinda goes on. Tamiya has the more recent Celicas, on the other hand but Aoshima’s the company with the majority of the earlier generations covered. And this one in particular is the most recent re-release of the LB 2000GT kit, with from what I can tell some incredible additions like photo etched parts and optional deep dish wheels.
Like I’ve only got two issues with the kit as a whole, one being that the stock wheels are molded in black and you gotta do the chrome ring yourself. Luckily, Molotow pens to the rescue, which honestly, holy shit, can you tell the difference between chromed parts and parts painted/drawn on by a Molotow chrome pen? I honestly can’t tell anymore these days. The other downside is that the detail is quite faded, or so called “soft-detail”, slightly raised in the plastic rather than sharp detailed edges. The kit does remedy this by giving you a lovely set of photo etched parts, just about any emblem on the body is given to you in P.E. parts, which y’know, for a on average 20$ kit… I’m into this! The last kit I came across with included P.E. parts and still retailed same price and any other was the Revell Torino kit.
Y’know, this kit is one of those kits that make me even more confused about the state of the model kit business as a whole. You read, particularly among the English speaking community, that there’s a stupendous amount of salt. The dominant mentalities of “I’ve got 600 kits, therefore I couldn’t care less if any company goes down” and “I pay premiums for what comes down to re-hashed shit from 1978” – and it’s kind of sad. I honestly don’t know if companies like Revell-Monogram(and their parent company Hobbico) and MPC/AMT Ertl under Round 2 kind of barely scrape by or go utterly bankrupt due to our picky-as-shit buying or that the market is just that different stateside, or if its just that the whole idea of “keeping American, American” just raises the price to a point where it’s just not possible. I’m not a saint, I scolded MPC for giving me kits they’ve re-released 9 times before unchanged, I’ve scolded Round 2 for cherry-picking their new releases whether its a re-release or not, I’ve also never been a stickler for price given as a European I automatically get charged 20 to 25 bucks on top of the buy price just to have it come my way. Obviously, there’s many people who know it either better or actually know it for a fact how it all works, it just fascinates me to watch companies fall apart and rise to new heights simultaneously in such a similar field.
It’s just interesting to me, to see how the Asian market just… booms. Aoshima, Fujimi, Hasegawa and even to a extend Tamiya just keep on churning out new stuff, whether its re-releases with updated parts or entirely new tools, around the clock. And even then, when there’s a older, it’s still a good kit. Not every kit is top of the line, not even two thirds, to name a few like the Fujimi ’81 Camaro, their Lancer VIII series, most of their 1980s kits that were clearly motorized like old fashioned Arii kits of yore. But if I were to put the MPC ’76 Mustang II besides this kit, or even a more recent better attempt like AMT’s ’71 Charger and ’71 Duster kits… This one is a more pleasant build, more in-depth even without a engine than just about anything else offered. But then again, it’s just lamenting, if not pure whining on my part, maybe fueled entirely by the pure wish of a perfect mash-up of some mid-seventies American muscle car offering, with the quality of a Tamiya or Aoshima kit.
Yeah you knew it was gonna degenerate into this. Seriously, the bottom line is that the non-fuckery-weird-low-dropped-semi-drifter factory stock Aoshima kits are absolutely superb. There, my one paragraph summary. Also apologies for the supremely slow rate of articles as of late, I’m going into more depth about that soon-ish – it’s as you may have guessed if you’re a frequent flyer overhere, it’s the damn decals.
’77 Toyota Celica LB 2000GT specifications:
Kit: The Model Car series, #37
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: White, Black