The Toyota AE86 is finally getting immortalized in a highly detailed 1:8-scale model kit. Specifically, it’s a weekly subscription kit by DeAgostini in which parts will be mailed to the subscriber every seven days for over two years. At the end of that patience-testing run, they’ll be treated to a replica of a 1983 Toyota Sprinter Trueno that measures over 20 inches long.
Japan is no stranger to elaborate subscription kits in 1:8 scale. We’ve written a comprehensive history of them before. However, past kits have tended to focus on high end cars like the Toyota 2000GT, Nissan GT-R, or Ferrari 250 GTO. Now it’s the the humble AE86’s turn to get the royal treatment, and it goes to show just how revered this compact hatchback is in Japan.
The subscription follows a familiar format. Each weekly installment comes with a few parts, enough to complete one section of the car, like a headlight. The first couple of installments will be sold at a discounted price, in this case ¥490 ($3.80 USD). After the second installment, the regular price will be ¥1890 ($14.50 USD) each. It will take 110 weeks to complete the model, and by the end of it all you will have spent ¥205,100 ($1,580 USD).
The resulting model will measure 52.6 cm (20.1 inches) long, 22.3 cm (8.8 inches) wide, and 16.7 cm (6.6 inches) tall. Diecast metal is used for the model’s main body panels, chassis, and suspension pieces. Working coil springs mimic the suspension mechanism. Like many of these kits, it will have working lights. In the AE86’s case, that means the retractable headlights not only light up, but are motorized to pop up and down as well. The rear combination lamps illuminate with both standard and brake lights and the side markers light up as well. So do the turn signals, blinking while accompanied by the sound of a ticking relay.
Under the opening hood lies the heart of the AE86, an intricate miniature of the fuel-injected, 16-valve, twin-cam 4A-GE engine. The model also plays sound recordings of the blue-top 1.6-liter four starting, idling, accelerating, and stopping. Interior lights turn on as well, including the digital instrument cluster available on JDM Truenos.
All of the light and sound functions are controlled by a separate remote that looks like instrument cluster of the AE86. Obviously, buttons like the turn signals and hazard activation are not true to their actual position in the cabin. The dash inside the model is accurate, though.
Most 1:8 subscription kits come with the option of receiving some bonus items if the buyer opts into a slightly more expensive rate. Often, that item is an wood and acrylic display case or something of that nature. The AE86’s items, however, are must-haves. For an additional ¥170 ($1.30 USD) per week, you get a batch of popular modification parts. These include a sports muffler, illuminating fog lamps, carbon fiber hood, racing seats, rear spoiler, and RS-Watanabe 8-spoke wheels.
Of course, an acrylic display case is still available if you wish, and it comes with what appears to be a complete garage diorama as well. Additional items include a spec plaque, keychain, free-standing RS-Watanabe wheel, and a rubber coaster.
We’ve been so focused on the model itself that we almost forgot to mention that these kits originally started as additions to a magazine. As such each installment comes with a pamphlet about the real car. When the 110-week subscription is up, the pamphlets will combine to form what DeAgostini is calling an encyclopedia of the AE86. A set of optional binders can be ordered to hold the pages as well.
Only a select few cars have been deemed worthy of the subscription treatment. The Toyota 2000GT, Celica Liftback, Hakosuka Skyline GT-R, and Seibu Keisatsu DR30, to name a few. While the cost may seem prohibitive, there is arguably no better time to begin such a project; the dollar-to-yen exchange rate is the best its been in decades. You will have to find someone in Japan to handle and ship these to you, though, as the subscription is only available there. The first installment debuts on June 28.