Inside Japan’s Best Hobby Show
A Scale Wonderland

SEMA meets Tokyo Auto Salon – but for plastic models, diecast cars and radio control vehicles. That’s probably the easiest way to describe the Shizuoka Hobby Show, which is where I spent my Saturday being absolutely amazed by what I saw. In my seven-plus years as a Speedhunter, I’ve never experienced anything quite like this.

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Last year I wrote about how Shizuoka Prefecture is known as the hobby capital of Japan. But not only is it home to many of Japan’s best-known model companies, in May of each year, industry members, builders and collectors get together at Shizuoka’s Twin Messe for a celebration of all things hobby related.

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The show has been going on since 1959, and it draws hobbyists from all over Japan and even abroad. I’d long wanted to experience this event for myself and this year I was finally able to make it happen. All I can say is that I wish I had done so sooner…

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I had a hunch there’d be some very cool stuff inside the halls of Twin Messe, but I still wasn’t fully prepared for was in store for me. It would take at least 10 stories to properly cover all the cool stuff I came across, but I’ll do my best here to give you guys a basic summary of what I found.

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Admission to the Shizuoka Hobby Show is free, and that combined with the relatively small size of the Twin Messe means the halls are packed with people. But if you’re willing to navigate the crowds, you’re in for one hell of a show.

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The event is divided into three main parts. There’s an industry area where companies have booths to display their latest products and preview upcoming releases, plus a flea market area for buying and selling secondhand model kits and other collectables.

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Then there’s a huge display area where builders and modeling clubs from all over Japan show off their custom creations. For this I’m going to need at least an entire post to cover, so look out for that coming up soon.

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The show includes model trains, ships, aircraft, military vehicles and more. While I personally enjoy all of that stuff, this is Speedhunters, so I’ll stick with the automotive-related material here. And don’t worry, there was a lot of it.

All The Cool New Toys
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Let’s start with the manufacturer area, which is where all of the top names in Japan’s modeling, diecast and RC industries had booths to show off their latest products and new innovations.

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Tamiya is easily the biggest in the business, and its massive booth at the show spoke to that. From RC cars and model kits, to building supplies and accessories – there was plenty to take in.

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Whether it’s classic cars, historic F1 racers or off-road machines – you can always count on cool stuff from Tamiya. Among the kits they had on display this year were these tasty looking 80 series Toyota Land Cruisers, which can be built with or without off-road accessories.

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In addition to the classics, companies like Tamiya are also working to capture the latest and greatest in scale form, as evidenced by this new Nissan GT-R Nismo LMP1 radio control kit.

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Tomica might be primarily known for children’s toys, but the company also has a number of product ranges aimed at adults as well. Its booth at the Hobby Show included a few new additions to the excellent Limited Vintage line. I’ve got my eye on that Kujira Toyota Crown Wagon!

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When it comes to model kits for hardcore auto enthusiasts, it’s hard to top Aoshima. This company is known for recreating some of Japan’s most beloved street and race cars in scale form, and its line-up at the show did not disappoint.

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Aoshima’s new 70-chassis Corolla kit is seen here in stock form, but I’ve got little doubt this one’s gonna be popular among customizers. Motorfix drift car replicas anyone?

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Companies also use the show to display prototypes of upcoming kits, and here’s one to get excited about: Aoshima’s EF9 Civic Group A race car. Check out those side pipes!

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Aoshima has long been regarded for its kyusha models, and recently has been collaborating with Liberty Walk to release scale replicas of the cars from Kato-san’s collection. Here’s his famous blue Kenmeri for example.

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And the latest to join the line-up: a perfect 1:24 recreation of Kato-san’s ‘Shakotan Police’ patrol car. Too many cool kits – not enough time to build them!

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Are RC cars your thing? Well, the Shizuoka Hobby Show had plenty to see in that department as well. Here’s Yokomo’s booth with a full selection of its popular 1:10 scale drift machines.

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Kyosho is another big name in the business, and to coincide with the upcoming release of the next Initial D anime it had a full Mini-Z track setup, complete with a replica Fujiwara Tofu Shop.

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And if that wasn’t enough, the booth also included an actual AE86 Trueno that replicates Takumi’s right down to the cup of water in the cupholder.

Scale Cars, Huge Passion
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In addition to the bigger names in the industry, many of the smaller, more niche brands were also on hand. Fans of high-end 1:43 scale diecast cars were in heaven with strong showings from companies like Ebbro, Spark, Edolon and Mark Models.

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Do you like vintage Japanese cars and modified ones in particular? Then you’ll probably salivate over the extremely-detailed diecast replicas from Shizuoka’s own Ignition Model Company.

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Ignition doesn’t just make highly accurate replicas of Japan’s legendary machines – its models come fitted with authentic custom wheels, dropped suspension and body modifications true to the real thing.

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The models definitely don’t come cheap, but once you see the level of detail, quality and the overall style these things have, you’ll understand that you get what you pay for. I want them all. Badly.

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And speaking of detail, check out this insanely impressive 1:8 scale Mazda 787B from Spark Models. The price? Well, let’s just say this thing is worth more than most of the real cars I’ve owned thus far…

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For people looking to part with some hard-earned yen, there was the flea market area with dozens of private sellers dealing model kits, diecast cars and other collectables of both the new and vintage variety.

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I had to purposely not put any large bills in my wallet as I knew this area had the potential for severe damage to my finances. If you’re looking for rare, out-of-production model kits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, this is the place to be.

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But don’t count on finding too many bargains. This is serious collector stuff, and the price for some of the rarer and most desirable kits can easily hit a few hundred bucks each. I’d personally be happy if someone could just reproduce the boxes so I can decorate my office and garage with them!

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But you need not come with a full wallet to enjoy the best that the Shizuoka Hobby Show has to offer. In fact, I haven’t even got to what I consider the greatest part of the show yet.

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I’m talking about the jaw-dropping display of scale art from modelers across Japan, and that’s exactly what we’ll be looking at in my next story from this incredible event.

Prepare to blown away.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike
mike@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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60 comments

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1

So does model hunters exist? I wanna see the rest of the show!

2

Now that I've seen this there has got to be someone in SH that knows how I can make my model cars look like thid

3

ooooh man so many wants!! that ksev, the truck with the mark II ! UH!! froffin'
this is the only way to get my dream garage

4

About the only thing I don't like about modern Japanese model kits is that they don't come with engines. All of them are like that now - Tamiya, Aoshima, Fujimi, the whole lot. Considering what they cost, an engine isn't asking too much. 

$60 for a 1/24 Aventador and no separate powertrain? Really?

The old Tamiya stuff from the 90s, at least, had complete powertrains. The 90s, it seems, were a golden age even for MODEL cars.

Now they're all curbside stuff. If you want a model kit with a plant in it, you've gotta get a Revell or a Monogram. I'd really rather have an Aoshima.

That 1/32 Trumpeter Flanker is HUGE! At least, as far as I know, only Trumpeter makes that plane in 1/32.

By the way, whatever happened to that 1/8 R35 you bought a few pieces at a time each month?

5
EricSeanDelaney

I'll be looking forward to your other nine stories.

6

Please post more model and RC stuff!

7

This is awesome! I love the details on those kits.

I'm just wondering, besides scaled models, are there any Mini 4WD cars on display?

8

Wait, hang on a sec.. Is there a new Initial D anime coming out?? Loved the article by the way!

9

Noah_Lines Initial D: Legend 2.

10

jay8393 Noah_Lines holy shit...

11

I would not be able to go in there...ugh..too much WANT.

12

Can't wait for the custom creation feature.  That one where the aliens are preaching to some yankees really takes the cake!

13
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Prepare to be blown away!? Dude, already have been. Can't wait for the next story!

14

How to go broke 101

15

New Nissan GT-R Nismo LMP1 radio control kit? Whoa. These kits are some business. Clean, detailed, worthy of being an heirloom.


Too bad there's only so few cars present in that event that's worth hooning (pull out from box, play around in room, fire-and-forget,  no worries even if the paint has chapped, can fit in one's pocket so you can play during lunch break or when bored doing your thesis)and still as beautiful as mounted-on kits and models.


I'm talking 1:64 and smaller. Old and new.

16

Too good. How do I get English language access to 1/32 scale models to build slots cars then? The Gp.5 style Celica for example looks hot.

17

That millennium falcon DOE.

18
Putsteelsonit

Amazing story. More please? That drab green canvas top truck in the extra pics looks almost real... incredible!

19

Wow! great Stuff. We need one of those in Spain, if there's no hobby shows

20

I just broke my computer screen: whilst scrolling this article I repeatedly threw my wallet at the screen.

21

Great, great, great!

22

I will spend all my money here

23

my eyes popped out upon seeing this post.  looking forward to the next one! :)

heaven...

24

UWerqxTeam_MJ how i wish tamiya would make 1/24 versions of the current LMP1 lineup...

25
MyLifeAsLouis

My inner child is exploding with joy!

26

I have to say that I feel I've outgrown models/toys/die casts but I can still appreciate this stuff.  The line of classic F1 cars (the second bonus image) is my favorite shot.  Love that generation of racers.

27
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Have a closer look at that pic :-)

28

This was amazing! Makes me want to pick up this hobby again and relive my younger years.

29
EythanAldrich

I really love scale model automobiles :)

30
Gianluca FairladyZ

Is there really a new Initial D stage upcoming?????

31

Now I want to buy more models. To add to the shelf in my closet full of models I have yet to build.

Hrm :/

32

Here's my contribution...

34

Gianluca FairladyZ They are making a trilogy of films which follow the stages that have already come out. They have already released the first film.

35

^ Yep, what he said.

36

How can you not?

37

Thanks, and yeah its hard not to feel the urge after seeing this stuff.

38

I think you'll quite like it. ;)

39

Yep that's the biggest problem haha.

40

Should have given a warning!

41

Lots more on the way :)

42

I also noticed Ebbrro has a 1:43 version of the new Nismo car as well. Def not a toy though. The regular Tomica line always has cool stuff that's very play-friendly.

43

I think it will be worth the wait!

44

It's a comin'!

45

Thanks, and yeah it's actually scheduled for release in Japan this weekend.

46

Nothing custom that I saw in the mini 4WD department.

47
NigelWheatley

Great post Mike. Got a few of those old Nichimo kits.

48
Aaron ayala1320

I think the speedhunters crew should do a submission post on model cars from us

49

I still got my unbuilt Aoshima/Beemax Celica GT4 ST165 kit...:)

50

My next and the only type of "Project Car" I can afford :)

51

My older buildings :)

52

Jawdropping...

53

my On going project...

54

FairozAzami One of my Mother-in-law's neighbours has an ST165. So jealous!

55

Mike Garrett come to the plamo side...we have...tons of styrene cement and paint.  lol! :)

56

But my models . Nissan 350z in the process. Greetings from Russia )

57

I'm blown away by the scale of this event. Looking forward to read your next post about the customized models.

58
AaronTruthSeekerCountee

nugundam93 I need to catch these shows in Japan.. I live in the USA.. too bad they do not ahve these shows.. usually it s model trains and muscles cars.. I do like the shows they have here.. When are theses shows happening in Japan again?

59
AaronTruthSeekerCountee

I am not into the 1/43s but seeing some of the AMAZING detail they have.. it is hard to resist not buying one.

60

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