Oh boy, he’s back! Kind of! And oh boy has he got a hell of a thing to return with! Something he doesn’t know a damn thing about but is very keen on learning! So, lately I’ve been either stupidly busy trying to keep this decal business alive and not so much afloat as just keeping her… buoyant, or doing literally anything else. And I’ve been having the itch to not only build something but actually finish something for close to half a year now, I’m basically sitting here doing the Requiem for a Dream monkey claw scratching down to my very bone, aching to get my lazy ass to finish a thing.
And how else, than a motorcycle kit? Well… I’m not exactly a wizard or a man of high intelligence, but I could argue it’s like a very well balanced half car, right? Fair, in some ways, a car is a safe space(if Gary Numan has to believed for it) in which you can go balls to the wall and go apeshit listening to your engine roar and your wheels scream for dear life as rubber gets turned to particles and to some extend you’d be safe after hitting something as the engine block comes plowing through the firewall and mating itself permanently with your legs, unless your car wasn’t made in pre-1990s America, then you’d stand a solid chance at coming out unscathed. And y’know, a bike’s a safe space as long as you don’t hit anything above speeds of give or take 8MPH.
But safety, pish-posh, safety shouldn’t kill your fun, it only shouldn’t kill you. And while I know the square root of jack shit about motorcycles, I know enough to kind of get them. The appeal, the reasons, the whole thought of sitting Major Kong style on top of a well balanced V2 rocket and the only line between you and death being some cow skin cured into a road-rash preventing system. It’s the adrenaline, the sheer mindfuckery of watching the world go into strings of light like you’ve hit the Hyperspace button. It’s the same reason why people fling themselves off bridges with the only thing between being a fleshy lawn dart and safely bouncing along being a elastic rope hopefully attached properly by a underpaid Point Break reject with a van. It’s raw, it’s basic and deadly, the holy trinity that essentially made muscle cars great as well. Yeah they crumpled like a can and had the impact resistance of a wet paper boat, and sitting on a bicycle that has a engine the size of a Nissan Micra, it quickly becomes apparent that sitting in or on deadly things is a good bit of joy.
See, I know enough about motorcycles to be familiar with a handful of names that are considered either legendary or up there. The Kawasaki Ninja is one of ’em, the re-inventor of the recipe, the O.G. “rice rocket” as some would call ’em(hell of a racist angle, but fair), the Suzuki Hayabusa which was this giant almost bees-mated-with-wasps looking thing that proved that you could have comfort, some reasonable ride and disturbingly high speeds all in the same bike, the MV Agusta F4 which was designed by the Pininfarina of motorcycles, Massimo Tamburini, and speaking of that name, the Ducati 916 was also designed by him and lets be fair here, any Ducati with any number is legendary by itself. And there’s a thousand more, there’s more unique sport bikes worth mentioning than there’s cars and there’s no point in arguing that one cause there really, really are.
And I always knew that Tamiya and Aoshima(and a hell of a lot more companies) had been producing really, really good motorcycle kits and I’ll be honest, they’ve always caught my eye but it was always a case of “I’d rather have X” and it slipped back again. Until now that is, I love the type of motorcycle that is somewhere halfways between a naked bike and a hyperbike and the Ninja H2R is as close as one can get for a reasonable amount of money(for the kit, the actual bike runs 52,000$, for 4 grand more you can have a brand new 4-door 2015 BMW M3). It’s one imposing, scary ass looking bike all around. It’s decked from top to bottom in carbon panels, it has actual goddamn wings, no headlights to speak of, no indicators, just a tail light assembly, no mirrors, no driver comforts, just some foam with leather over it to plant your butt on. It’s a track bike, through and through. The Ninja H2 for on the road(legally at least) has a much bigger muffler on the exhaust, the necessary bits to make it road legal, no carbon panels and a slightly de-tuned engine to make it, y’know, capable of driving well.
But on the outside, it’s still the H2R. It still has the mean as hell looking sharp angles, the metallic lime green frame sticking out, the black wheels with minimum silver accents, it’s just menacing as heck in truth. And while the H2R is as of writing the fastest road going bike, proven to hit 400km/h(248mp/h) in 25 seconds, the H2 is not a whole lot slower to be honest. It still pumps out a solid 300km/h(186mp/h) and it only needs less than ten seconds to go past 200km/h(120mp/h), hell less than 2.6 to hit the 100(60mp/h) mark. This is one stupidly quick and spine destroyingly fast bike and I wouldn’t dare touch it with a ten foot pole attached to a twenty foot pole cause I’d be more terrified than I’d care to admit.
Luckily for me, there’s the Ninja H2R kit. And it’s a spectacularly good kit at that. And I’m by no means biased based on the fact that it’s my first and only built up motorcycle kit, no not at all. Yeah take all of what I say with your standard grain of salt, grab a shaker while you’re at it cause it’s about to get worse and/or better. The kit was put out on the market in December 2016 by Tamiya, their woof, like 130th or so bike kit and based on what I can tell from other kits’ contents and holding onto the Yamaha YZF-R1M kit as we speak, it’s nothing short of a excellent line-up with full detail, hyper accurate and over the top gorgeous motorcycles in damn near every shape and form. You see though, and I’m gonna be saying this a lot, it’s my first motorcycle kit and having built like 250 car kits, it’s a whole damn different world even though my intelligent man brain earlier proudly proclaimed motorcycles are like well balanced half cars.
The kit packs everything to build the bike from start to finish, every piece is accounted for, which is necessary given the scale is 1/12th. But it also comes with all the extras, like every hose you could spot on the bike is there, all the brake lines, the decals and hell yes to these: metal transfers. And as you can tell, I royally ballsed those up by at some point picking up the bike to attach some decals on the lower end and myseriously losing the K in Kawasaki on one end and the ‘ja H2R’ on the other side, leaving me with this Igor and Frankenstein like Awasaki Nin. Oh well, one learns by ruining his first and not ruining his second.
It’s a hideously complex build, which is exactly what I longed for. Not a frustrating type of build, mind you, no no, quite the opposite. It’s complex in the sense that every single step has to be done right and accurately or you’ll know 17 steps down the line you’ve royally fucked up and thanks to Tamiya’s excellent quality stuff, that never happens. Every step is carefully planned out and every piece is crafted perfectly and it all fits together absolutely as it should. None of that Round 2 or even in some cases Revell like attitude of “just force everything in and pray nothing breaks”, just surgical precision. None of the “this whole assembly hangs by two small I-beams, lets hope gravity won’t dick up your progress today” that you’d see in so many older car kits, all excellent, tight, screw based strength build quality. And it’s really, truly a case of you feel like you built this one yourself from the engine up.
Granted, that’s easy to say with a 1/12th scale bike. But I’ve built the 1/12th scale Shelby Mustang GT500 by Revell a few years ago and I have to admit, that was a really great kit and made a superb result but nowhere along the line did I feel like I was actually making something out of nothing, hell at best I felt like I was slotting objects A, B and C into object D. The much larger size should allow for a much more complex and detailed build and Tamiya seems to have nailed it down with these motorcycle kits and it’s with this that I lament the 1/16th scale kits from MPC(especially the Firebirds) and think to myself “Great, they made a bigger version of their 1/25th scale kits and forgot to add the damn detail“. It’s also nice to buck my own trend as of late for a bit, which is to include my own decals or make it a supremely niche version that only existed for like 3 months and just make a old fashioned, stock as the box it came in shelf model.
That being said, I have learned a few things. And boy did it impact this model a bit. One being, spray paint the pre-existing painted bits. Yeah the metallic dark green looks great but, uh-oh, it turns out that was a Tamiya choice on account of not wanting to plan out and print a bunch of carbon decals. It made me wonder right away, “why not make the plastic metallic dark silver or something?” and y’know, why didn’t they? I guess in the right light it looks just like carbon or something, I dunno. Though I have to say, it does look uh… more unique, in the forest green color. But hey, I did actually go through the trouble of buying some actual Tamiya brand paints for everything else, hooray! So everything but the actual color of the damn bike is accurate, it’s something.
The neat thing of this kit is that on the outside, when you get the box in your hands, it looks… almost simple. You get three large plastic sprues, give or take 130 pieces, a baggie with hoses, screws and a wee little cute screw driver, decals, metal transfers and the clear plastic and chrome sprues, so it kind of looks like any other car kit I’ve peered into. But the genuine joy and amazement of starting with the four cylinder engine and only just wrapping up this hyper detailed hunk of plastic-imitating metal by Step 13 of 32 before even having to think about attaching the wheels to what by this point is a engine block with a frame around it… you’ve got hours into the thing by this point and you’ve only really just begun. It feels like a proper project out of the box and not one you arbitrarily give yourself for the sake of “authentic detail” the manufacturers of the kit couldn’t be bothered to give with the total package.
That being said though, it did come with a few moments of pure “uhhh”. Sometimes the instructions show… a thing. There’s no other way of saying it, I can say that you’ll spend minutes at a time trying to work out what in the hell you’re looking at, from which angle, from what microscopic piece a hose needs to go and where it needs to end up, how to coil ’em through the frame, etc. Though even while that’s a uh, complaint in some sense, it’s not impossible to figure out, eventually like a 15000 piece puzzle you hit that magical moment where you can see through the Matrix and figure it all out in a single whiff.
Other than that, the foibles of the kit are largely due to me. I spent a stupid amount of time trying to get that look of titanium that has been hotter than the fires of hell(titanium discolors, or well, colors up in epic ways depending on heat), or as it’s professionally known “heat anodized” metal and I kind of nailed it with a mix of three transparent Humbrol tints(blue, red and indicator orange respectively) and then afterwards I slowly but surely ruined it on account of having grabbed the exhausts and held onto them for stability while working on the whole thing in general. Which eventually caused it to flake off bit by bit. Oh well… That and I ripped off the entire front brake system on both discs twice and ruined those, so they look, well, kind of odd now.
But the underlying point here is, and it’s a pretty important one – do yourself a favor, if you’re anything like me and your purest interests lie with vehicles, old and new, and have considered branching out; before you take on big rig truck kits, try a motorcycle kit. It’s… for what it’s all worth, truly and massively reinvigorated my love for this hobby, made me figure out what the fuss was about Tamiya paints and fallen in love with them fiercely and it’s just… it’s great. It’s a great, great kit and I’m writing this particular paragraphs having built the Yamaha YZF-R1M kit and I can once again affirm: they’re all like this, and they’re all great. Do yourself the favor though, get the right tools for the job, get the right paints and if you have the dosh to spare, get that front fork detail up set by Tamiya themselves and the carbon fiber decal set from Studio20, they really enhance the results massively.
’15 Kawasaki Ninja H2R specifications:
Kit: “Motorcycle Series” #131
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Metallic D. Green, Gray, Black & White