Archive models:

Yamaha YZR500

Tamiya,1/12 scale

Ref. #14001

by Mario Covalski

model by Guy Golsteyn


Although I was really wishing to write this note, I must confess that I had some doubts about its usefulness, before writing it. However, during the last few weeks, and thinking in the new generations of modelers, I thought it would be very interesting for a newcomer, to find an article about old kits… which are not featured in the new magazines anymore, except for some exceptions.
I think that this is the case with this kit, I'm talking about the first Tamiya's 1/12 scale motorcycle kit manufactured in 1981, this model depicted a very famous "subject" at that time, it was the Yamaha YZR500 and its star rider Kenny Roberts. The rider and the motorcycle established what it was a real landmark in the history of the 500cc motorcycle World Championship.


The kit

We are talking about two kits actually, #14001 and #14026, which were manufactured in 1981 and 1983 respectively. The difference was that the kit #14026 had the pilot figure "going" through a curve, leaning on one of his knees. A few years after, Tamiya commercialized the kit # 14033 which consisted in a "racing rider" suited for the Yamaha and the Honda NS 500 (kit #14032), we will make a future note on this motorcycle kit too. Finally, and just as a personal comment, Tamiya offered a reissue of the 14026 kit (please correct me if I'm wrong).

I'm talking here about a kit that was manufactured in 1981. I also built the 14026 in 1985-86, but this model "died", you know what I mean. So, the only one I have now is the 14001; it still is in the original box at a price of 1000 yens, the price for the current ones is 2200 yens


This is the original kit so it is rather poor compared to our current kits, I make this comment not as an anecdote; the parts have a lot of small "flash" and there are serious errors in the moulding design, particularly in parts like the rear shock absorber, which is moulded in a single piece together with the swinging arm, this is something almost unacceptable in our days.

The art design in the box lid shows a lot of details that are non existent in the kit: the solder beads in different parts of the exhaust system, the springs that hold the exhaust tube to the motor head, the rivets in the mufflers (they look like mufflers but it is obvious that they are not)…among others.


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I think that the exhaust system is a sample of that time philosophy; they are absolutely "clean" without any detail, and all the detailing work was left to the modeler. At that time it was very common to build the kits just "out of the box" and, apparently, the modeler was less demanding. This sounds incredible, but I don't even remember having noticed this back in 1985... although I have the same box in front of me.

The decal sheet has all the necessary designs to decorate the kit with almost no painting at all. The decals I have are 22 years old and, although they are a little "yellowish", they are still "healthy" enough to be used, all I'd had to do would be to put them a couple of weeks in the sun light in order to "whiten" them, before putting them in the model.

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This is not a beginners kit; maybe the assembly procedure looks easy, but the "parts cleaning" and preparation work are rather difficult, and the exhaust system installation looks quite complicated.
If you are hooked on superdetailing, and have the necessary information, you could do "miracles" adding photoetched detailing parts, like rivets, washers and nuts, braided hoses, etc.

One of the most interesting parts of this note was comparing this kit with the newest kits from Tamiya, looking at the improvement, not only in the quality of new moulding, but also in the way they planned it.
At a distance of 21 years, and considering that this was the first kit in a series that has given all of us modelers so many satisfactions, I would give this Tamiya kit an "A plus" qualification.


We want to thank our good friend and collaborator Guy Golsteyn, from Belgium, for the pictures he has sent us of his beautiful 14026 built by himself, thank you Guy for these pictures.

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I would like to recommend an excellent article by Phillip Goodier, that appeared in the May 1999 SAM (Scale Auto Modeller) issue. I agree with him in many of his remarks; if you can get this number as a back issue, I heartily recommend it as a very interesting reference.


To all of those interested in reading more about this motorcycle and its history, I recommend these two inexpensive books:

Yamaha by Mick Walker (Osprey automotive)
Motorcycles Classics by Grant Leonard (Magna books)

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