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The 1/12 Doyusha Kits - A Look Back


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This will be a look back at the series of 1/12 kits that were released by Doyusha (and I believe some earlier by Otaki, though they were the same kit). There were 14 kits in total, all with opening doors/trunk/hood, working suspension, and posable front wheels. They did all come with plenty of detail, however they were also designed to be motorized if chosen by the builder. This means that the engine is slightly overscaled and blocky in order to house an electric motor. The driveshaft(s) have actual u-joints so that they can turn, and the rear differentials (for the ones that are separate of the transmission) are also oversized and blocky to fit a set of gears. All of these axles are solid-style, regardless of whether the real car is or not in order to utilize solid axle shafts.

I will start with the four Mercedes-Benz kits, two are the SLC coupe and two are the SL convertible. Both styles came in a factory version and an AMG version, and I believe all are mid-70's age.

The most common is probably the factory 450SLC Coupe, which came with two wheel styles: the body-color wheel covers and the available aluminum wheels. They also came with both US and Europe headlight styles. Plus, as an added bonus, they came with a set of golf clubs!

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Next is the factory 450SL convertible. I'm not sure if this kit has both sets of headlights or both sets of wheels, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same as the coupe kit, just with no roof and a shorter wheelbase.

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On the sporty side, there is the AMG version of the SLC coupe. This kit only comes with the European headlights, 17" BBS alloy wheels with larger tires, AMG specific air dam, and rear spoiler. Sorry, no golf clubs here!

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Finally, there's the rarest version, the AMG version of the SL convertible. So rare in fact, that I couldn't find any pictures of the box art on Google! I'm guessing it's just the regular SL with the AMG bits from the SLC kit.

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Edited by Jordan White
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The next set is the Muscle Cars.

The first is meant to represent a 1978 Chevy Corvette Stingray. It comes with the decals for the anniversary edition, the T-top roof panels, and the L48 350 V8. I believe the headlights are also able to pop up.

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The other GM offering is the 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. This one features the 6.6L V8 and shaker hood scoop. It also comes with decals in three colors for the available paint schemes.

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Finally, from Ford, is the 1971 Mustang Mach 1. This kit came with the 429 V8, but not the front or rear spoilers that were popular on the 1:1 car. I don't have the kit handy, so I can't remember if the decal sheet comes with both silver and black stripes, or just the black stripes only. There were two versions released, one with the standard pale green plastic that they loved to use, and one that is molded in yellow (possibly to capitalize on the Gone in 60 Seconds movie?).

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Edited by Jordan White
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The Race Cars

There are three kits in this category, on two subjects. I don't have any, so I can't comment on any specifics.

The first is the 1975 BMW 3.5CSL racecar that was used in the IMSA race series.

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The other two are both based on the Lancia Stratos HF. One is meant to represent the Safari version, while the other features the Pirelli paint scheme.

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The final set is the sporty cars.

Two Italian, one Japanese, and one German.

The Italian offerings are both Countaches, with one being the original LP400, and the other being the late 70's LP500S (should be labeled the LP400S). It appears that the headlights are able to be opened on both kits.

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The Japanese offering is the Honda S800 convertible. I don't have this one, so I can't say much about it.

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The final kit is from Germany, and is labeled as the Porsche 911 Turbo. I have this kit and have been doing some research to determine what year it is. The odd thing is while it is labeled as a Turbo, the engine is naturally aspirated. What I did find though is this kit body is based on the 1974 911 Turbo concept car, rather than the production car (though I have yet to determine which engine it is). The bumpers were in fact used on the 1974 Carrera 3.0RS, but there are no decals included to make one. It comes with the popular Fusch 5-spoke wheels, and the tires seem to be very wide compared to the actual car.

uberturbo001.jpg

And that's all of them! B)

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The Mustang at least came with engine and lights at one time.

I got one for my birthday when I was 10 or 11. ['75 or '76] It was way too advanced for me at the time so it never got completely assembled. I remember that it was molded with mostly black parts with white for the body and maybe blue interior parts [??] and there was some nut and bolt construction in the chassis also.

I have no idea which company packaged that version but I'd love to have another just for nostalgia sake.

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The tires in the 911 "turbo" kit are like balloons! The rims (although extremely well detailed) are too small for the car looking like they are only a 15" diameter at best. The engine is an odd duck for sure.....using parts/designs from multiple years of 911 builds and a little model engineer mind to fill in the blanks. I have the kit but I am building it (a little bit on the side) into a turbo using the twin turbo setup from a Muscle Machines import tuner 350z and a scratchbuilt exhaust setup made from silver solder.

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Wow, I'd love to have that Safari Rally Stratos.

I was given that Stratos for Christmas when I was 13 or thereabouts. It is a Nitto kit not Otaki. It has opening everything (hood, headlights, doors and rear engine cover) and articulated suspension. I believe that there is also a separate lid for the small "trunk" out back, but it doesn't open. One notable difference from the Otaki kits is that it does not appear to have been designed to be motorized. The engine is reasonably well shaped and proportioned (although inaccuracies do exist, especially in the plumbing supplied) and the U-joints in the drivetrain are represented as rubber accordion boots molded in soft plastic. Did I mention soft plastic? There is a whole tree of it, containing the two seats, seatbelts, boots for the halfshafts, mudflaps and I believe also a washer fluid bag. There is metal springs for the working suspension and vinyl tubing for water hoses and so on. It is a good kit overall and although I managed to get it together, I do remember some ill-fitting assemblies. The six-piece air cleaner box (w/metal mesh for filter element) did not go together well nor did the clear amber and red taillight lenses fit well into the bezels but the issues were all fairly minor.

This is what I can recall from building the Nitto kit. I have since bought me a Doyusha repop that is stored out of reach at the moment, but I remember when looking it over after the purchase I was struck by it feeling "cheaper" than the Nitto kit. The Nitto had real rubber tires, whereas the Doyusha had vinyl ones. Doyusha also used a stiffer plastic for the soft parts, and a harder, more brittle plastic for the kit itself. It seemed the goody bags still had all the treats in them though.

It must have been a great kit for its time, and should still be worthwhile. I'd say it is right up there, pretty much on par with, but possibly a hair below the Tamiya 1/12 Porsches.

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I really want that BMW "batmobile". EBay prices, when they do show up, are prohibitive. The Countach kits are pretty easy to find, as Testors reboxed the LP500 in the 80s. The Stratos is another one I'd love to get my hands on. It might be interesting to bash the Porsche with the Tamiya 934 kit to resolve the engine and chassis inaccuracies, because the prototype Turbo body style is really sharp.

Edited by jaymcminn
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I own both the 1971 T/A and 1971 Mustang. Body proportions are odd, mostly because of their roof. Too low.

But overally they look great. Imagine how impressive is a 1/12 71 Stang !!!

They're definitely 1970's japanese kits : details are rough, engine shapes are wrong, seats are squary, and Dunlop tires rules. But with passion and a few kitbashing you can build great models.

For instance, I'll build the Mustang as the Diamonds are Forever Mach 1.

Now, the question is : will they ever reissue all of them ? I want these Mercedes sooooo badly !

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Page two of the Doyusha kit instructions describe the Mustang engine as a 7030 cc 429 engine. If any of the version of the kit had white decals they are incorrect. Only black or silver stripes were available from Ford. Mistaking silver for white from photos is a common mistake and even Fred Cadys decals for 1/24 Mustangs (Boss and Mach1) were the incorrect white which he later switched to the correct argent silver.

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  • 2 weeks later...

They're definitely 1970's japanese kits : details are rough, engine shapes are wrong, seats are squary, and Dunlop tires rules. But with passion and a few kitbashing you can build great models.

^This. Great subjects, 1/12, but the attention to getting the details correct simply isn't there. I've passed up the Firebird a few times for that very reason.

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I built the Firebird as a kid. The body unfortunately got squashed during a move and I eventually took it all apart and turfed the shell and chassis, but kept everything else in spare boxes.

Luckily enough, as I have been contacted by someone who needs the parts! So we are trading my parts for some kits of his.

I do wish I could have sourced another body myself, as I have fond memories as it was a present from my folks. But if it can help someone else out to finish their build, I am glad to be of help.

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I have the Trans Am in the Otaki version. I think, most, if not all of the kits were first issued as Otakis. Doyushas are reissues.

My T/A has lights and an electrical motor hidden in the kit engine. I think the Doyushas lack the motor feature.

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OTAKI got in the 1/12th scale kit, back in the 70s, inspired & to compete with rival Tamiya, most of the 1/12th plastic "Static Display" kits were also available in RC (Radio Control) form, got the Trans AM, Porsche 911, & Lambo LP500S in both display & RC versions, many had different box art under the OTAKI years, still remember the Porsche 911 i got was silver with white stripes & my Trans AM kit was the early: white & blue (1970/72) T/A Paint scheme not the later red 1973 "screaming chicken" version.

The 1/12 static display series was surely on a good start, until OTAKI closed shop in the second half of the 80s, all the 1/12th series ended up with DOYUSHA, since the last decade the availabilty of these kits have been rare. if DOYUSHA still have all these molds, they surely decided to lower the production, trying to find on of these kits in a hobby shop in north america is a real challenge...better chances in a Tokyo hobby shop :unsure:

Indeed the Lancia Startos was a NITTO kagaku 1/12th kit, (IMO better then Otaki) I also got it as gift back in the early 80s, the ALITALIA "Safari" version was the original version, the other Pirelli version was under the Doyusha years.

Doyusha did also rework the 450SL OTAKI mold later in the 80s: 450SLconvertible & the 450SLC AMG versions.

Remember seeing the S800 coupe 1/12 kit box way back ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Correct or not I regret not buying the Doyusha T/A kit because it was "too expensive." That was within the last 5 or so years ago at a LHS in the vintage kit section. If it was still there at the price they had it at I would grab it up in an instant...just because. Big Pontiac fan you know.

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Here's the one I got that I used as reference

Scan0001.jpg

I think there is some confusion early in this thread which this image seems to clarify.

I built both the 1:12 Corvette and the Lambo LP400S in the 80s. They were both the Otaki releases. Neither showed any allowance for motorizing. I think the above image explains that. If you notice the text on the top, it states "1:12 . . . . . MODEL KIT FOR DISPLAY" and in the bottom right corner there are coupe of 1:20 scale kits which are described as motorized. This seems to confirm that the larger 1:12 scale models were always designed to be static models.

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Disagree. The engine is larger in order to facilitate an electric motor, and the rear differential or axle is larger in order to be able to house gears. Why else would the Corvette have a solid axle, if not to allow for metal axle shafts to pass through. Also, note the driveshafts which are all given actual u-joints.

They may not have all been sold as motorized kits in the past, but they all were designed to be able to be motorized.

Edited by Jordan White
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