It’s been a while, hasn’t it? But the year of Hasegawa continues, even into 2022. Happy new year, speaking of. So, I made this kit and left the article floating some six months ago. Heck, I built six or seven more Hasegawa kits and all just sit patiently awaiting their turn so to speak. It’s about damn time I’d get back on the wagon and start yammering on and on about plastic again I’d say. Consider this a celebratory way of getting back into it after a year of many decal designs and website revamps. Speaking of which, we got a full fledged integrated webshop now for the decal sets! Hope you enjoy!
Now to the content. What we got here is Hasegawa’s second foray into the BNR32 generation of the Nissan Skyline. The lesser seen version thereof though equally recognizable, the non-NISMO variant as it predates it by a year and a half in terms of model year. That means this kit will have a non-NISMO bumper, all smooth and lacking the twin vents for the intercooler and has smooth rocker panels opposed to the NISMO flared kinds. That’s basically the difference between the two kits, in all honesty. Hasegawa’s already proven straight off the bat that they’re doing this properly and this has been quite well received by the happy fans who had to make do with the rather aged(though with a full engine) Tamiya kit, or the shoddily designed mass-produced Fujimi kits. Having seen how Hasegawa tends to flood the market with every possible version, currently as of writing in January 2022 sitting pretty at three street versions and three more JTC versions. The ’91 R32 GT-R NISMO was released in December 2020, the ’89 R32 GT-R, which is this one was released in April 2021 and the updated headlight model of ’91 non-NISMO variant was released just a week ago in late December 2021. And there’s the aforementioned JTC types like the legendary black and red STP Taisan Skyline, the all green(where the updated headlamps stem from) Kyodo Oil variant, the AXIA Skyline which is the all silver GT-R with the 1990s TV show intro graphics all over and coming soon is the ’91 Spa 24 hours winner ZEXEL Skyline.
So they have used the year well to sprinkle all sorts of releases out there. Now around June 2020, when the kit was announced by Hasegawa, you would’ve assumed it was eye-roll city with everyone having the same thought? Another Goddamn Skyline? You’d think that, yeah, but you’d be wrong! It turns out, it was quite well beloved when the first prototype images were shown. “Finally, a detailed GT-R that won’t be a drag to paint and it might even look the part”, was one post on a forum. Another mentioned that with Hasegawa’s insane eye for exterior detail, this one might be the best one yet. Folks went with the mind set that it looks like a proper updated and a ton more fun to put together kit of this time and not an aging blob of plastic or the still extraordinarily fiddly Tamiya kit. The Tamiya kit though, it holds up and it is balls to the wall cheap. So if its an engine-displaying model you want, you do yourself no harm getting the GT-R NISMO kit of theirs. Though Hasegawa has done what Hasegawa does with the R32 and that is making it a pleasant kit to put together with all the fiddly, tiny details that we can create thanks to today’s technology.
It really is a testament to the tools of today, as we’re now dealing with the fidelity of parts like the Skyline hood emblem that we’d be chrome markering or painting silver a decade or two ago that now has become its own piece. Granted, one can still argue that the emblems are a quarter of a millimeter too thick or that the nature of gluing an object that is quite literally the size of a gnat is about as easily done as solving a Rubik’s cube with your elbows. But it’s the concept, its the idea that matters here. We’re now in sub-millimeter territory and Hasegawa is going all in with it. On the left you’ll see the chrome trees U and S that I was referring to with the insane small fidelity. Check on the far right, that’s another neat thing about Hasegawa. From the get-go, they foreshadow the wild array of models they’ll be tackling within the next decade. Its ofcourse a matter of simplicity, have all of the bits on a runner so that eventually its just a matter of swapping blockers and including different sprues into the box. For instance, the mirrors of the road-going model Skyline, the various JTC and Euro-race are there. The U-tree has the headlights of the ’89-’91 Skylines, while the W-tree has the headlamps for the ’92-’93 years. It’s neat, it shows that devotion and determination to see it through. They’re going to do just about any type of Skyline you can think of and then some, none of this guesswork bullshit that say, maybe one day Revell will do a specific subsect of ’69 Camaro to include two or three parts that would uniquely affect that particular model. Hasegawa, right from the get-go, is showing that yes, they absolutely will.
Another piece I wanna push some attention to is the above shown clear tree. Specifically the taillight assembly and the reverse lights. I’ve said before on the article about the ’87 Bluebird SSS-R is that there’s something uniquely realistic about how Hasegawa handles head and tail light detail. I personally feel that the incredibly complex set-up of a headlamp or taillight assembly can make a model look like a toy or like a small real thing. Often its just a piece of transparent plastic with a flat surface behind it in most kits, sometimes there’s some depth or a separate headlight bucket, but then the taillights still see the same treatment as a flat insert piece. Hasegawa continues their trend of giving the headlights and taillights some stellar fuckin’ detail. For instance, the jarringly unique tail lights of the ’89 GT-R is two separate lenses with a handy ridge for a flat-red decal(or some circular red paint if you wanna make life harder on yourself) that you paint transparent red with the decal underneath, after which you put in the turn signal lens that has to be painted with some smoke black/transparent black. It makes the whole thing infinitely more real looking, it’s just two extra steps that make a world of difference.
God this generation of Skyline was something, huh. Truly. In my opinion, from 1989 onwards, the designers of the Skyline were fully embracing the nineties wants and needs. Gone were the harsh angles of the eighties and gone were the squat looks of the seventies, in were the rounded and aggressive angles of the nineties. Where say, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo had a similar style with the rounded fenders, inwards sloping lines on the front and sweeping body lines from front to back, the Skyline retained that big-block aggression while any of the others became grocery getters and looked akin to an aged rock star whose bandmates had long gone for the family life, desperately clinging to a era that had not only gone by, but died long ago. If you wish to read more about the arduous climb the Skyline had to make through the seventies and early eighties, feel free to read the second ‘chapter’ of the ’87 Skyline GTS-R article but suffice to say it wasn’t a clean one. The Skyline has been around for longer than the Camaro, longer than the Challenger, longer than the BMW 2002 and its taken on so many shapes over the years. Its been a compact, its been a full blown four door sedan, its been a station wagon, the whole nine Goddamn yards. But the shape that we commonly know and love is the GT-R and that one, since 1969 has been going strong.
That being said though, the GT-R name did get shelved for nearly two decades as a whole. It was by no means less the GT-R than it was, but since 1978 it was a GTS or a GTS-R, but no true GT-R as the Kenmeri lovers know and adore. With every iteration, the Skyline brought new tech that became a staple of the industry and the revival of the 1989 Skyline GT-R was no different. The project was spearheaded by Naganori Ito, it genuine lauded in the revival of the Skyline as a world renowned car. See, in 1985 when the R31 Skyline came to be, it was actually quite disliked. Of course there were kind words for it, but in the highly competitive world of Japanese car culture it was a bit of a dud. The styling wasn’t much loved, even though its predecessor’s strongest point was the so called “Iron Mask” front end. The ride wasn’t as great as folks wanted, it did do quite okay on circuits but it fell short of expectations, generally the opinion was a remorseless ‘meh’. Ito, a Nissan engineer and designer for thirty years by 1989, has claimed the feedback on the R31 that was engineered by his tutor Shinichiro Sakurai was the entire motivation beyond bringing back the GT-R nameplate and aiming for the fuckin’ stars when it came to success. First, they re-engineered the RB engine once(now called the RB26DETT) again to now pump out a mind-stomping 316 horsepower. It race spec, which was its original shape, it would produce 500HP but the street exhaust, tuned down ECU and boost restriction made sure you wouldn’t be powering into a storefront by tapping the gas pedal. In street outfitting, it still would hit the 60MPH mark within 4.7 seconds. That’s… quite remarkable.
To call its intended goal a success would be an understatement. The more ordinary road-going Skylines were quite a hit, as they were regardless of the fan’s wants and needs. The four doors and wagons sold well, but what Ito had gunned for while engineering the car was to dominate motorsports. One of the many set goals for the GT-R was to not only beat but outperform the Porsche on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife whose 944 had a lap record posted earlier in 1988. So what did Nissan do? Well they beat it, and they beat it handily through Nissan test driver Hiroyoshi Katoh’s driving, posting a lap time of 8 minutes and 20 seconds, a full 25 seconds quicker than the Porsche 944’s 8’45”. Furthermore, they wanted to perform well again on the touring car scene. Did they? Holy shit did they. From 1989, through 1993, at the JTCC a Nissan Skyline GT-R started twenty nine times. It won twenty nine times. That’s fucking outrageous, that’s a 100% win-rate. It also went on to dethrone the famed Ford Sierra Cosworth at the Bathhurst 1000 and ending a decade long win-streak on Ford’s part. It was so dominant, it was nicknamed the Godzilla from Japan and played a key role in the demise of both the JTCC and Group A touring car division. How’s that for a damn legacy? Fun little fact, the “V-Spec” nomenclature came to be in February 1993 when the wheel size limit was finally raised to 17 inches, which allowed for bigger and more powerful Brembo brake calipers to be installed underneath chunky BBS rims. What does V-spec even stand for? Victory. Yep, they were ambitious and had the ego to support it, and you know what… it was deserved.
It honestly is just such a ridiculously famed car, from its roots through its success and via its successor. The R33 Skyline would be equally dominant in Group N racing, specifically taking fifty victories out of fifty starts, more than half of which were the R33. The R34, which in my humble opinion is the magnum opus of Skylines that grabbed both the angular aggressiveness of the eighties Skyline and the modern, timeless rounded edges of the R31 and R32 that literally could’ve been put on the market anywhere between 1997 and 2022 and I’d still find it difficult to pin down just from what era that damn car hailed from.
Arguably, this is Hasegawa at its finest. Clearly, someone at Hasagawa has a passion for the icons of the seventies, eighties and nineties and it shows. It was long assumed they would do the iconic R32, especially since they began producing the R31 Skylines some two years earlier in 2018. The first R31 Skyline they put out the door was the Calsonic R31 GTS-R JTCC winner in May ’18, followed by the ‘ultimate’ R31 in June ’18, the road-going GTS-R. That laid the foundation for the R32, which was announced in August 2020, and promptly released four months later in December. Odds are great they’ll be tackling either the widely under-appreciated last of the Kenmeri’s, the previously last GT-R in 1973 known as the KPGC110 GT-R. They’ve made a great deal of Nissans so far and I’m definitely complicit in the desire to have them all as I currently sit upon a throne built out of the ’87 Skyline GTS-X, the ’86 Skyline GTS-R Group A Test Car, ’92 Skyline GT-R, ’89 Bluebird SSS-R, ’89 Bluebird SSS-R ATTESA Limited and soon two more will join, namely the ’87 Bluebird SSS-R ATTESA and the ’90 Pulsar GTI-R kits. Heck, thats just the Nissans. I got some fifteen more awaiting their turn, like the Isuzu 117, the Toyota MR-2, the Mazda RX-7, so forth.
Now, how does this compare to the other staple Hasegawa HC-Series releases? Well it fits right in like a glove. It builds great, little hassle, great deal of super detail and above all it just goes together nicely. Granted, there’s some niggles, there’s always niggles and I’ll get to those shortly. First the good, and there’s a lot of it. Comparatively to say the Tamiya R31 kit with the RB engine, or the Aoshima offerings, this one reigns supreme. At the end of the day, they’ll all make excellent models and they’ll all look the part. The only true and quite the stark differences is in how they go together. Tamiya’s was never bad, not by a mile. Its greatest difficulty was detailing it properly. It went together smoothly and it bore the most realistic efforts with the least difficulty, while the Aoshima kit doesn’t lag that far behind but suffers quite badly from soft details and glancing oversights. The interior is a lot less detailed and a lot more flatly put together and Tamiya’s is mostly a one piece ordeal that you tank the chassis into and done.
That right there is what makes the Tamiya version the worst and the best all at once, its one piece body. The headlight buckets, bumpers and nearly the entire body sans hood and spoiler is just one piece of plastic. Miles easier for the builder, true and it has the added benefit of allowing an engine bay in it without much hassle cause I’m sure having separate headlight buckets and whatnot could futz with the ease of installing say the radiator or the various underhood bits. What makes it the worst/best? Well, that and another prime example of kind of meh-ness for me is that the interior is the exact same one piece. It’s hard as balls to detail the door cards and the seats cause besides the dash and front bucket seats, its again all one chunk. And this is where the Hasegawa kit truly stands out. As they’ve clearly evidenced before, they are stellar at making max detail happen on the inside. Besides the fact that the clear plastic often hides three quarters of it, they go above and beyond on the interior fidelity and this is no exception. As you could see on the parts layout up above, the interior has gotten an unreasonable amount of detail to it.
Another place where the Hasegawa kit shines is underneath. For some reason, and I always forget to fucking photograph this, Hasegawa makes up for a lack of a engine bay by cranking up the detail to the chassis to again just an unreasonable degree. There’s some overlooked details like the cables running along the side of the frames and whatnot but its easily forgiven. The stance and ride height are perfect, they match the real deal by default perfectly and the only real issue I can say I had with the underbody is that the steering mechanism to pose the wheels is a little crappy. The steering arm has no resistance so it just bends when you try to pose it and the tires rub against the body underneath so they just… gradually reset. But oh well. Arguably, this kit really only has three points where I’d argue it could do with improvement or some looking out for. One is the headlamp assembly. Basically, you push the chrome bezels in through the rear before installing the front bumper. Good so far, okay. Now, the bumper touches the chrome bezels so they meet perfectly, right no problem. Set and dry, and then you place the glass for the main lights and the indicators. Here’s where it becomes kind of… fucky. See, they just kind of… sit on the headlight bezels and the bumper. No support, no locators, no small pins, no positive guidance, just place them on there and smoosh them in place with glue. Eventually it sets kind of okay, but this kind of screwed up the headlights for me as I sought to place them, they slid all over the place due to the wet glue and ran the black edges down.
Two is in fact, again, the front bumper assembly. It may just be the plastic on my particular kit, but I built it brand new fresh from the release in April 2021(yes holy shit, this article is already almost a year old and I only just now finished it) and that bumper has some hideous flex to it. Every time it was sat onto the locator stubs on the body, it would force itself free as if it was being bent against its will. Which in turn caused it to rip free from whatever adhesive it was stuck with from both the front and the fenders. So do keep an eye out for that, might be as unlucky as me. Third, which is just a clean-up niggle, is the injection points of certain parts being in delightfully silly places that are obvious to spot and take quite a bit of effort to remove. Say, the GT-R wing. It’s on the sides of the base. For the headlights its on the bottom of the headlights which are just impossible to really, really hide when they’re just sitting flat against the bezel. But, as has become par for the course for these Hasegawa articles, its all just small niggles that a more adept modeler than I can overcome with just more attention and care. They are as good as model kits can be, perfectly produced, excellently designed and as detailed as they can be without any engine underneath the hood and I’ll say it one more time; it doesn’t need one. It would be great, it really would be but you know, it’s keeping these kits cheap and produced quickly. Round 2 hasn’t made a new tool car kit since 2017 and we’re simply not including modern enhancements on forty year old kits anymore. Revell has been making new models quite reasonably quick(which I definitely have bought, like the new tool Porsche 911’s) but they’re not moving at the neck-breaking speeds that Hasegawa is. There are eight new tools since 2020, and we’re looking at another one coming in the next few months. That’s insanity.
Suffice to say though, this is by no means my perfect model. I fucked up so many things, I made the tail lights far too dark and I screwed up the trim on several places and of course the headlights look a little off. Oh, and I lost the Nissan logo for the trunk. But second chances a comin’! I got the BNR32 Skyline with the updated headlights in the pipeline so… I’ll take my lessons and see them through on the new one. Also, the year of Hasegawa continues! It’s been… two years and three months, but just like COVID-19 – in our hearts, we never left 2020. Speaking of updates, I’ll make a brief mention of it here but sooner or later there will be a post dedicated to it but our decal shop is actually functionally online now! It took a ungodly amount of effort on part of me and my girlfriend, the lady responsible for chatting with you when you make a purchase and a vast array of other tasks but we’re finally rolling. The whole ordeal should be less of a hassle, now ordering a set is just a matter of a few clicks. Enjoy!
’89 Nissan Skyline(BNR32) GT-R specifications:
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Metallic Silver & Black