THE KIT BOX
The second one of these types of posts, can you believe it? I may actually produce more than three articles in 2021 after all. The previous one that I wrote, the ’89 Skyline GTS seems to have gone over well. Turns out folks appreciate it if you add more than just your humble opinion and a bucketload of swear words. Speaking of which, the swear jar is reaching a small nation’s GDP at this rate, so fuck it. Let’s roll. The Suzuki Jimny by Hasegawa, oh yes indeed. A little econobox off-roader by Suzuki from the early seventies that strangely enough was a recipe for success for Suzuki. I’ll get to the details in a moment, first let’s roll through what the kit has to offer. First announced in 2016 and released in the summer of 2017, they put out the basic bare bones 1995 Jimny JA11-5 without the fancy decal packages and extra set of wheels. Same year they also released the rather interesting and upcoming in a future article JA11-1 with the turbo decal stripes.
The changes between the ’95 and ’91 Jimny are so small, you may as well use this article as a guideline in general. It boils down to either the grille being slightly different(older ones have the “Suzuki” letter emblem, newer have the Suzuki logo) or the mirrors being attached to the fenders or to do the doors. Aside from graphics packages, that’s it. First of all, let me just say that the casting quality of this kit is second to none. Like, I say this in every Hasegawa article these days but fuck me it is the truth. If you buy one of these kits, run your fingernail over the rear lights and tell me that you felt the individual raised bumps of the pattern. Or the sheer awe inspiring definition of the door hinges. It’s breath taking, 3D CAD and LiDAR are and have been the future for this stuff since the tech was available. But yeah to get back to it, the kit is for the most part largely the same across all it’s releases.
You got the ’95 Jimny JA11-5 which is the original release, then the ’90 JA11-1 with the Jimny 600 decal package, the ’87 Jimny JA71-JCU with the Jimny 550 EPI-TURBO decal package, the ’91 JA11-2 with the “surf” decal package(also comes as a ski version with a roof rack and ski figures, hooray) and a 2021 “update” of the ’87 JA71-JCU with a ‘custom’ grille and the EPI-TURBO graphics package but in one color option less, so meh to that one. Essentially, we’ve gotten a Jimny every year since ’17 and I’m not even mad. It’s a niche market, not a lot of people have any feelings one way or the other for the little off-roader as is very well evidenced that Hasegawa is the only model kit producer who even made a Jimny kit since Fujimi stopped in 1994. They’ve done two kits, one in 1988 of the hard-top JX-series Samurai with the soft-top and the wider arches(also known as just the Samurai to the rest of the world, it’s the only edition us European saw, pretty much) and a 1994 update to the kit with a hard-top variant. That’s it, it’s been rereleased once or twice in 2010 and that’s it. But fortunately, as Fujimi’s kind of half-assed a lot of these kits, Hasegawa’s are unbelievably high quality, accurate and a pleasure to build.
You get two sets of suspensions, one for the so called “tall-rider”, which is just a lift-kit and the stock version. For this build, I opted for the lift-kit cause I just wanted to see where it went and lo-and-behold, it does sit a fair amount higher but still well within the realm of it looking believable. Now what this means is that you pretty much have two of every suspension piece, and this bloats the part count but not to an insignificant degree. These Hasegawa kits always benefitted from the builder reading the manual before beginning, which is something I never do and it is stupid of me as it clearly tells you what the hell you need to take off before painting the body but alas. You can very much build this kit without having to paint all the parts beforehand and feeling clueless as to which suspension bits to use, it very clearly illustrates the two options separately. Which is you know, neat. The decals are another highlight of this kit, they are delightful. The ’91 Jimny had these “surf” stripes as they were called in the manual in the glovebox(my dad ragged one to death, more on that in the next section) and they are accurately replicated. There’s also a bunch of extra decals that just make it all more pleasant, like the rear window trim, the defroster lines, the little caps for on the rear window, various Jimny call-outs for any color paint-job, it goes on. Another superb extra that may be stolen by any kit developer for all I care is using metal transfers as bottoms for lights.
You get a little sheet with chrome stripes for all the lights, the side-markers, the grille and the fenders. I didn’t take a picture of it, as I’m a dipshit but trust me when I say that this is an excellent development, especially for those without Molotow pens. Another excellent angle of the whole two in one nature of this kit as they’ve now clearly chosen to go for the ’87 JA71-JCU and post nineties JA-11 series is that you get the parts of both in nearly ever release. You wouldn’t get the grille, unfortunately but you’d get the wheel sets for both types, you’d get the spare tire cover for both types, you get both steering wheels, both types of mirrors, so forth. They don’t just cut them out for the sake of ‘saving some plastic’, it’s all there and it is glorious. It’s safe to say, from just popping the box, this is a kit well worth purchasing.
THE HISTORY BOX
So earlier you watched me use the name “Samurai“. Interesting name for a car, I agree but not quite as much as the name “Jimny“. I reckon you, me and half a billion others would and still will call this little off-roader “Jimmy“. There’s three running theories about that, actually. One, and the least likely of the bunch, is a story belonging to a Scottish businessman who was with the Japanese executives of Suzuki when they name-dropped the new car’s birth-right, misspelling it as Jimny rather than the intended Jimmy. Given this is a story from 1969 and its source is literally “a guy from Scotland”, let’s take that with a grain of salt. The second is Japansese pronunciations; theories are out there that imply the name of the car is Gemini. Yeah, that simple. But then spelled phonetically, it gives you Jimny. Also likely, way more likely than the “my uncle works at Nintendo one” for sure, also because Isuzu developed a model called the Gemini which launched in 1974, but design documents date back to 1970 which is when the Jimny was being built.
The third, which I would say is equally likely is the theory that its based off the 1883 story of Pinocchio, or the 1940 Disney version’s Jiminy Cricket. Either deliberately spelled wrong, or a clever take on copyright law, it does match Jiminy’s character. Small, fast and Pinocchio would be useless without him, so there’s some parallels one can draw. Either way, it’s a demented fuckin’ name for sure as everyone assuredly will call it a Jimmy regardless. There, learned nothing and we’re going to the third paragraph. Introduced in 1970, it actually looked pretty much the same as it does here pictured with the 1991 jacket on. It was essentially a perfect blend of the Jeep Willy’s and a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, falling within the guidelines for it to be a Kei car, Japan’s economy rules for inner-city vehicles.
Then in 1981, it got the look as we know now. Inheriting the most unique styling cues of the first generation Jimny and gained the exact look it would continue to carry well into, hm, today. Yeah this is a model that is still going strong today! It got rounder in the early 2000s and stayed that way until 2018 but then the ‘retro’ boom of reviving old styles also gripped the Jimny which actually looks rather attractive. Now it looks like a cross between a modern Jeep and the early Jimny and you know what, it looks quite okay. And that’s pretty much it for the history of the Jimny, it’s not really that fascinating. They serviced their needs perfectly, they rusted a fair amount and at one point there was a bit of a fight between Suzuki Corp. and a car magazine in the States that claimed it rolled over far too easy and they successfully sued them for libel. Now, having been in two Jimny’s, or well two Samurai’s, the rollover claim isn’t that far fetched. How is this a fact rather than just hearsay? They added ten centimeters to the car’s width to, and I quote, “prevent the ease of rolling over”. Bitch, you just successfully sued a company for libel that they in fact do not rollover easily, yet it’s amended? Strange stuff. But it worked, the little SUV did do a whole lot better on the ol’ off-road front and didn’t roll near as easily, plus it could hop obstacles without tumbling onto its side.
Earlier I wrote that my dad owned one and ragged it, right? Well, he ragged it. Before the turn of the new millennium as a fresh faced nine year old, my dad came home with a jet black Samurai with the squiggly-line stripe that was anywhere between ninth and fifteenth-hand. The previous owner had ripped out the rear bench for more cargo space as he was a construction worker. For some reason, my dad decided to then take the passenger seat out, rip out most of the dash panels and the spare tire. That passenger seat was in my bedroom as my go-to gaming chair until I was a teenager. Now why would one do such a thing? Well my dad had the brilliant idea of wanting to have a little off-road fun and truth be told, these were pretty damn good at doing just that. The particular one my dad bought was a 660 Turbo, so it was pretty quick and of course it has all the off-road goodies one would require. It was lifted, it had big off-road tires, switch for four wheel and two wheel drive, high and low ranges and an albeit rudimentary roll-cage. So this is a fun, one person off-roader. What did my wonderful, loving father do? “C’mon, lets head to the new housing project and jump the sand hills”, he said. They were building a new neighborhood and had foundation soil piled on huge sand dune like hills, some as steep as 50 degrees. The rest was mud, puddles and small hills. Essentially, it was a muddin’ and puddlin’ 4×4 dream site.
This thing didn’t have a passenger seat as it now was my bedroom accessory, nor any means to sit or hold onto so my dad cleverly drilled four holes through the roof above the wheel-well and cut a belt in half. He then bolted the leather belt with some nuts to the roof on the inside as a redneck-style hand-hold. I was fuckin’ nine, mind you and my father just jury-rigged a handhold on a single side of the car that in the back was just 99% exposed metal and exposed screw-tops from the removed rear bench. He did this after we took a test-drive, where I bounced around on the poorly installed lift kit with every bump, ripping off the little window guard bars and eventually went full washing machine on spin-cycle as he went into the small forest near where I grew up. I love the guy, easily the best father a boy could ask for but fuck me sideways he was quite loosey-goosey with child injuries. He strapped me in a go-kart once and let me drive around the local park’s paths for hours, not realizing while he was speaking to a guy that I was panicking cause the brakes had failed and the throttle was stuck open at low-ish speeds so I just kept doing lap after lap after lap.
So we did all sorts of fun stuff on that building site. Ran up the steepest incline, well over 50 degrees and we sped up and hit the small jumps as fast as we could with the thing. It was all fun and games until it rolled over, causing me to slam into the roof and then into the floor, bruising me like I was beat like a MMA fighter. I laughed it off, I was having a blast even though my dad was so damn concerned. We quickly hoofed it home, car strangely intact largely thanks to the rollbar installed by one of the previous owners, just a shattered windshield fortunately. Later on we discovered the police had opened an investigation for vandalism cause, y’know fun. Two weeks later, the thing died. It went out with a glorious, one last hurrah. My dad took out the shattered windshield and just drove with the wind blasting his face, and as we drove to the forest again, the engine developed a nasty knocking sound which was apparently caused by the turbo giving some serious wear on the cylinders from the high pressure. Apparently a known issue for the early JA-series Jimny’s was that the engine block could handle the turbo, but under high revs the pressure could wear down the block really, really badly. Normally one wouldn’t do high revs all the time, but as you know often when you go in high-range, you redline the engine quite often.
I know what you’re thinking, turbos and wear on engines is a myth and you know, you’re right! However, this was a pretty bad example of just adding tech to existing things that just wasn’t made for it. But yeah, the thing blew two of the three cylinders after a few hours of knocking and jettisoned a bunch of liquids out of the hood intake like a nasty dark sneeze. And there we stood, five miles away from home in the blazing sun with a car that disintegrated on the spot. But seriously, of all the awesome cars that my dad owned that I had the pleasure of riding along in that had amazing flaws like the ’87 Mercedes 190E 2.5-16v whose brakes just entirely failed on a highway that transitioned into a city avenue while going 180km/h(112mp/h) or a ’89 BMW 750iL V12 whose electronics failed on the highway and activated the steering lock, forcing him to just gently come to a standstill while scraping a guardrail, the Jimny was the most fun. Or well yeah, the Samurai was the most fun. Best two weeks I had back then and it was about as expensive as twenty video rentals. But enough stories of a dying ’91 Samurai, onto the kit!
THE BOXY BOX
Now, again like last time I can just ramble on about how magnificent this kit is but there’s largely no point. In the first chunk of this article, I go into pretty great detail on how well-made this kit is so like the ’87 Skyline kit I’ll primarily focus on the shortcomings of this kit. Before I do so, I’ll talk y’all through what paints were used as apparently this is a frequently asked one. The box art car is in a bit of a teal mix between green and blue, apparently called ‘Triton Blue Metallic’. So I just went with Tamiya’s TS-54 “Light Blue Metallic” which is I’d say pretty damn close. The plastic bits are Tamiya’s XF-85 “Rubber Black” which looks far, far better than any matte or semi-gloss black and the wheels are Vallejo Metal Color “Steel”, which again, looks pretty damn good.
As for fitment, there’s honestly not a single issue. Everything just goes together so unbelievably smooth, even the things you’d reckon wouldn’t. The suspension is finnicky, but it has to be on account of the choice between stock ride height and lifted, there’s enough structural integrity as long as you use the stronger glues for the twenty-or-so piece suspension to sit stable enough to allow some manhandling for when the wheels need to come on. Actually, I take that back, there is one issue. The spare-tire, which is wonderfully modelled so you don’t have to use the spare tire cover, does not go on like you’d expect, or at least it seems to not wish to sit as intended. There’s three nubs on the rear door that mount the wheel, easy-peasy. The issue is that either the holes aren’t lined up well, or are too small, but the small holes on the spare wheel just don’t wanna sit right on the nubs and I kind of just glued it stuck and left it be. It looks right and isn’t crooked so, something went right with the brute forcing.
The biggest letdown of this kit is the interior. Specifically, the interior tub. It has all the other pieces, both gear sticks, highly detailed dash, the seats are beautifully molded and the kid-sized rear bench is perfectly replicated. What isn’t? There is no detail on the doors. I’m not even fucking kidding or exaggerating. It’s entirely flat, entirely devoid of any detail. No door handle, no window cranks, no raised surfaces, nothing. Now I know the door cards in the real thing are spartan to put it mildly, but holy shit there’s nothing. And that is a glaring difference to every single other part of the kit. Everything is so high detail that seeing a entirely undetailed door panel is just fucking jarring.
Other than that, that’s it. Yeah, I know, kind of underwhelming but it really is just that good of a kit and you got so many choices from Hasegawa that you can make whatever edition you would want. I’m absolutely going to make the other Jimny kit that I purchased, get the different wheels on there and having it at default height and it’ll be glorious. This one, I’m actually really proud of. Even with the crooked Jimny metal transfer on the driver’s side. Ah well.
’91 Suzuki Jimny(JA1102) specifications:
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: White & Gray