Plastic fantastic: F-Toys, Aoshima and Japanese plastic miniatures

A bit like any diecast collector, I spend a lot of time trawling through eBay listings looking for bargains and oddities, restoration opportunities and our personal holy grail cars.

It’s on these eBay trawls I discovered all these cars, and while they’re the scale we are used to on Lamley, they’re perhaps not the material nor the brand names we are familiar with. These cars are all made of plastic. Closer to toys than models, they’re still interesting enough to take a look at for those wanting to add variety to their hobby.

The first cars I want to show you are 2 cars from a set of 8 Skyline R32 GT-R Group A touring cars made by toy company F-Toys.

The set comprises of the following Group A JTCC liveries/teams from the 90s:

  • 1993 season #1 Unisia JECS
  • 1990 season #12 Calsonic Impul
  • 1992 season #2 Taisan STP
  • 1992 season #8 FET Sports
  • 1992 season #22 AXIA Trampio
  • 1993 #55 Kyoseki
  • 1993 #11 Trampio BP/Zippo
  • 1992 late season #87 HKS

The Group A Skyline is the original “Godzilla”, a nickname it earned after sweeping to 3 consecutive Australian Touring Car Championships. The R32 is my pick of the Skyline GT-R line up, and the Group A versions even more so. It’s perhaps fitting I’m writing this feature now, as recently a good friend of mine and I are about to create a Facebook page on motorsport liveries and we have been exhaustively collecting images and information on a myraid of Group A, Super Touring and Group C cars. We both have a shared love for the R32 and our Messenger chat is awash with Skylines in lairy and unique colour schemes, our favourite being the early 1992 JTCC HKS Kenji Racing livery, a colour scheme that is often not even picked up on in any discussion of HKS racing heritage. Despite F-Toys not replicating our beloved Kenji car here, we can both agree they have picked a good line up for this set.

The AXIA livery is about as 90s as Vanilla Ice invading Kuwait in Reebok Pumps. It’s fantastic, one of the all time great race liveries.

The Unisia JECS car is timelessly cool and it’s a livery that’ll be instantly recognisable to anyone who has played Gran Turismo.

Despite the low cost plastic construction these are faithful to the real cars, relatively well put together with full detailed interiors and rubber tyres. A sprue with wing mirrors and aerials is included to add later. Being that these are a more budget offering the overall finish is a touch rough. Some decals are bubbled or mis-aligned, and the glue used to hold the cars together has reacted in some areas causing visible fingerprints and fogging. But this can be looked past.

Keeping with the racing Skyline theme is another F-Toys set, this time of 4 x R34 JGTC cars and 4 x R35 GT-R SuperGT cars. The set includes the eternal heroes of the Gran Turismo games, the Calsonic Impul and Pennzoil R34s.

The set also includes:

  • JGTC #2 ARTA/Autobacs R34
  • JGTC #3 Unisia JECS R34
  • 2013 SuperGT #1 Reito Mora GT-R
  • 2013 SuperGT #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R
  • 2013 SuperGT #7 Motul Autech GT-R

And this 2013 D’station Advan GT-R. I think (one of you may be able to correct me) this is the only representation of the D’station livery in this scale as well, which is a bonus.

F-Toys also provide the 2 gems of my plastic collection, these wonderful replicas of the 1969 Isuzu Bellet GT-R and the 1970 Nissan Skyline KPGC10 GT-R.

Part of a 9 car set that also includes the Toyota 2000GT, they’re pretty good models in their own right, regardless of material. Opening the box reveals a Kyosho style arrangement, with the model nested inside a blister with a card bottom. The cars rest on plastic display stands and they’ve got decent detailing, good decals and sharp lines and like the GTRs, they come with a sprue of tiny parts like wing mirrors and aerials to add even more detail. And the bonnets open, revealing engine bays that are rather nicely presented considering these are cheaper plastic models.

They also come rather randomly with a piece of chewing gum…. I haven’t eaten any of mine yet.

They’re also as near as makes no difference bang on the 1/64 scale, and to prove it I bought out a counterpart Isuzu from one of the kings of 1/64: Tomica. This Bellet GT-R is from the Limited Vintage line and as you can see the proportions of the F-Toys car are pretty much identical to that of the Tomica.

Another common name in the plastic toy world is Aoshima. Known in primarily in the diecast world for their super cool Grachan series, they’re primarily a plastic model kit constructor. These Subaru Sambars are vending machine specials and I managed to acquire the full set thanks to a contact in Japan.

The complete package of one of the Sambars. They come bagged in the plastic capsule with this leaflet. Not sure what the Shiba Inu is all about…

There are 5 colours and 3 variants; 2 with load covers, 2 with Aoshima crates and 1 with an empty load bay. They’ve got a good level of detail and those Aoshima branded crates make for a very cool touch. I’ll also point out these have now been released in a different colourway, and that there’s now a Suzuki Samurai/Jimny set out that’s also worth looking for.

A random one I found was this Toys Cabin Nissan Sunny pickup. Another vending machine toy, it’s part of a set of 4; a standard version and a modified version each in 2 colours. I managed to get hold of this one for a great price a a seller had badly listed it (as a Nissan Skyline…) on eBay, but I have already seen the full sets and individual cars changing hands for daft sums of money. It’s rather delicate, but surprisingly detailed, with a spare wheel and cage moulded into the chassis, and tiny decals on the tailgate.

I’ll stress that these were/are supposed to be pocket money specials for the toy market in Japan but the obsession with “JDM” has led to some sellers raising prices. Never pay large sums more than you would from the source, keep in mind some of these cars drop out of vending machines! Keep searching and trawling, and if you can find them at a price you’re comfortable with then go for it! The cheap and cheerful feel maybe won’t appeal to some of you but these are great curios or fillers for collections. Some of these cars dot my garage shelves and manage to look great and attract curious visitors’ eyes just as much as the diecasts that sit in there, and that’s good enough for me!

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Alex Winson

One thought on “Plastic fantastic: F-Toys, Aoshima and Japanese plastic miniatures

  1. Good golly Lord, look at the detail on the R35 GT500 model! You can’t even tell it’s plastic! It makes me wonder: with how advanced 3D printing is now, how much cheaper can models like that (and all the others ones you’ve shown) be mass-produced with comparable quality?

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