First thing I did was to test fit the ride height using the original rims and tires. It was great from Aoshima providing the little Copen 2 different height options: standard and lowered. I chose the latter, and was surprised to find it sits so low! That's one job I didn't have to do!
Then it was time to choose some rims and tires! The ugly originals were 15s, so I opted for a set of 16" TE37 Gravel by Aoshima. The tires supplied with the rims have a high profile, so I decided to use a set of stretch tires made by ZoomOn instead
Here's a comparison of the kit wheels with my new combination of Aoshima & ZoomOn
This is a quick look at how the new wheel set-up looks beneath the tiny Copen!
One problem I faced with the new set-up was that the Copen chassis accepts very narrow wheels, just like the kit ones. The new wheels were too wide so I had to cut out a part of them from the back side to make them narrower, but still slightly wider than the original!
Here's a closer look at the slice I had to cut off from the back side. I also had to sand down the middle part where the poly-cap attaches as it was longer than the original kit's wheels
To finish off, here's final comparison of the kit's vs new wheels. You can also notice how narrow the kit's wheels are, together with the new width after cutting the rear part off
Since the new wheels are wider, I have also sanded the inner arches wall to avoid the tires from touching with them. Rear arches show result after sanding, fronts are original
With all the work related to the new wheels complete, it was then time to start preparing the body. First off were both bumpers, where I cut out all the ugly original molded mesh. This will be replaced with more realistic mesh later on. The indicators on the front bumpers (marked with the red arrows above) were also filled for a smoother finish
I also didn't like the original side-skirts with that shark-fin like shape on the back. So I cut this out and smoothed the back side to make the overall shape of the side-skirts linear
The side mirrors and rear spoiler are a pain to attach once the body is sprayed, so to make this easier, I have added 0.4mm pins to them and also drilled the body accordingly
At this moment, I realized that once you install the bigger side-skirts, these would sit lower than the front bumper! I don't like this as I'm a believer that the front bumper should always sit slightly lower! So a solution was required. Above picture shows this
The solution? I hacked the original (non-used) front bumper and cut off its lower part! Then, I heavily modified it until it fit beneath the tuner front bumper... Solved!!
Then it was time to start preparing the interior parts for primer, where I decided to replace the standard seats and steering with Tamiya NSX seats (left ones) and a Fujimi steering
Finally, every part was attached to the sticks and airbrushed in automotive 2K primer
Next, I decided to continue working on the body where I decided to go for an Advan livery! So first colour to be airbrushed was red. This revealed some defects I had missed with the primer, so these were corrected (as seen above) and then body was re-airbrushed in red
With the red finished, I started masking the body using Tamiya tape to achieve the desired Advan livery. On the hood some minor defects were noted and these were corrected again
The Alclad black was then airbrushed and after an hour I removed all the masking tape, revealing the exact livery I had opted for!
To finish the body, several appropriate decals were attached and then every part was airbrushed in several layers of automotive 2K clear
While the 2K clear was drying off, I continued working on the interior where this was first airbrushed in semi-gloss black. Then, I began masking for the next colours to be applied
To make the instruments cluster more realistic, I usually apply a layer of PVA glue to simulate the perspex in front of the dials. This time, I used a gel which dries with UV light
No interior is complete without seat belts, so I sourced the above items! Photo Etch parts are from Hobby Design while black material is from Tuner Model Manufactory
Once all parts were airbrushed and flocking applied to the floor area, everything was ready to assemble the parts together and call the interior done, as can be seen below
With the interior ready, I continued working on the chassis where this together with most of its components were airbrused in satin black. The license plates were airbrushed yellow since the Copen is a Kei car and in Japan these type of cars have yellow plates
Once every part was airbrushed in its respective colour and detailed, the undercarriage was ready for its final assembly
When I assembled the exhaust, I didn't like the way it looked with the final silencer and small tips. So it was removed again and modified as seen above. The silencer was replaced with a straight pipe made from wire (as detailed in the Wires-Pipes Tutorial) and the tips modified to wider aluminium ones (made from the green electrical connections).
All that remained at this stage was to airbrush the new exhaust in Alclad chrome followed with some light-gold details and assemble everything together to call the chassis done
Then I also finished the wheels, with the rims airbrushed in white followed by 2K clear with blue lug nuts. I have also added 0.4mm custom air valves to be more realistic
With the polishing done, I then masked the body and airbrushed in satin black the window trims, rear license plate frame and the roof (interior side)
Earlier in the build, I had cut away all the fake meshes in the front and rear bumpers. These will be replaced with the mesh seen above, coming from previous Tamiya builds
When attaching the headlights, I noticed they looked too boring. Looking at real Copen headlights, I realized the projector lamp was missing. So I added these by using a piece of clear sprue, sanded round and inserted into the light. Left one is modified, right standard
The locks on both doors were drilled and then I've inserted a 0.4mm rod to make it look more realistic than just adding a spot of silver paint
Last update before the full final assembly! Earlier I had also sanded down the molded side indicators, so now I took a piece of clear styrene piece and made two new indicators. These look much more realistic than painted molded ones!
Finally, all remaining pieces were assembled to the body and the Copen called done!