Jump to content

McLaren Honda MP4/6 Ayrton Senna 1/12

Recommended Posts

Hi Guys,

Having finished a Revell BMW 507 last week I had the choice to start working on:

- a diorama I have started (only thing is.. next step is photo etching, bit anxious to start that); or:

- something I've been thinking of for more than a year, a Formula one car by Tamiya, scale 1/12.

After quite a bit of thought I've chosen the latter, which choice was made easier knowing that a beautiful aftermarket-set was just released for a beautiful and almost legendary car.

I'll build the McLaren MP4/6 powered by the 12-cilinder RA121-E. Honda managed to squeeze 720 horsepower out of this 3,5 liter V12 engine. This car type was driven by Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. Typically I'll build Senna's car. In 1991 he scored his third and last F1 championship title. For more info on the MP4/6 see Wikipedia.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

I hope you guys will help me with England-based knowledge on McLaren's F1 team and this car in particular. And I hope that you'll bear with me because it will be a very long build. I'll build this model as detailed as I reasonably can.

These parts have already been ordered:

- Tamiya's kit.

- Top Studio's full aftermarket set, consisting of 8 subsets.

- Marlboro decals.

- 3 reference books.

Future purchases:

- Dry transfers for the tires.

- Some Alclad paints.

- McLaren transparent-orange-red paint.

- Several screws, bolts, washers etc.

- Carbon fibre decals.

- Optionally: replacement wheels.

To give an idea of the level of detail provided by Top Studio's masterful set, here a couple of pictures; the original vehicle and Top Studio's parts. All non-grey parts are Top Studio's.


I'll try detailing a bit further, using added bolts et cetera.

When the orders will have arrived I'll post pictures.

In this topic all and any critique is welcome, do feel free to comment whenever you see something completely or detailedly wrong. I intend to push my limits in this build and I'll certainly need you guys to get the most out of it.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen the Top Studio set on the Hiroboy website and was blown away, the level of detailing looks incredible.

I'm a 1/20 scale boy and have never even thought about making a 1/12 kit, cost and storage being the main reasons but I will be looking on in envy with this thread.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oooo I have been watching ebay like a hawk for the new detail set for this (bit pricey for me atm) so I will be watching to see how much it adds plus it's an old macca so it's always going to be a good build.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keith, John, Crazy Guy Who Won't Stop Detailing Before The Model Car Engine Actually Ignites, Rjfk and Shaun, thanks all for following this build even before it started. Having seen (and following) some of your builds I'm happy to have such a talented bunch standby for the several questions I'll most likely have during the build.

Yesterday the kit arrived. That's very quick, because I ordered it in Japan only 5 days before. I was curious to see the size of the box. See here:


It's more than 60 cm. long. Another comparison, 1/24 BMW 507 in front:


Body plus part of the chassis:


The instructions are elaborate, providing info about the model and building related stuff like types of brushes, applying cf decals, using spray cans, airbrushing and more. The building steps contain extensive comments (just an example, in the first build step I get to practice screwing one of the mini-screws, into a piece of scrue with a pre-drilled hole. It's all about the details... Anyway, part types are named and described, technical details are given, building tips are mentioned here and there... the building instructions are a beautiful piece of evidence of the enthusiasm Tamiya produced this kit with, which enthusiasm they try to pass on to the model bouwer. In my case that mission has been accomplished. The booklet is 32 pages long.


The parts:






Marlboro-decals have already been provided with the kit, but the decal film has been yellowed slightly. Fortunately I ordered replacements.


Yesterday also the first of three reference books arrived. It has 70 pages, containing plenty of pictures of the vehicle. And probably also a lot of info, in Japanese.
Today the new decals arrived. I noticed they made a mistake in the letter sequence of the word "Marlboro". To make things worse, one "Marlboro"-decal consists of two parts. I'm sure I'll find a solution in the end.
Top of the picture: the decal sheets as found in the box. Bottom of picture: the Tabu decals sheets. I think I'll use the Tamiya original tyre dry transfers, as I think that's what they are.
1991 vs. 2016 decals...
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks good so far, was the kit expensive from Japan? these do seem to bring a premium price these days, luckily I have two in my stash.

I think the lettering sequencing and splitting is done to get over the licensing and copyrights for the McLaren group. don't let this put you off it is easy to apply the decals in the correct sequences.

I'm looking forward to the start of this.

Best Regards


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Keith, especially for the prudence with which you approached my remark about the decals, since you never know if I'm serious or not. In this case I was just joking; we Dutch yet have to master the English nuance in humor :).

Top Studio's detail set just arrived and has left me speechless on the amount of stuff they provided. Here is a picture of just the add-on parts for the engine. Roughly estimated, these should be around 600 (six hundred) parts just for the engine. Impressive...

Some details, starting off with the improved cilinder heads compared to the not-at-all-bad Tamiya heads. The resin was cast perfectly and I've yet to encounter an air bubble.



One of these heads will contain 78 pieces, if I counted correctly (without all wiring / tubing installed). A kit within a kit within a kit, so to say.


Here the other subsets of Top Studio's detail sets:
Drive shafts, air funnels, antenna




Small parts don't limit their presence to 1/350-scaled kits:

The brakes:


Front dampers and chassis front bulkhead:

Radiators and ECU:


As well as a template for airbrushing the tires. Top Studio doesn't mention its presence within this set so that's a nice surprise.

I reckon the complete Top Studio set counts more than 2.000 parts.
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Preparations have started.

1. First I subdivided the build in four phases:

- A. Engine + rear suspension + all breaks; Tamiya-instructions #1 up to and including #16 plus #31.
- B. Chassis + front suspension + cockpit; Tamiya-instructions #17 up to and including #30.
- C. Finalization of chassis and attachments + rear wing; Tamiya-instructions #32 up to and including #44.
- D. Body + front wing + wheels; Tamiya-instructions #45 up to and including #50.

I copied all instruction pages so that I can write on the copies, cut them, mess them up to any extent I may deem fit :D I subdivided the instructions into four sections of (parts of) pages) and wrote on them which Top Studio-sets I'll need for each section.


2. I purchased a sorting box and a mini-parts drawer. The 24 (!) photo etch 'sprues' have been sorted on subject and build order. I put those, along with other larger parts, in the sorting box. With a label writer I made some labels.


3. The smaller non-photo etch parts I subdivided and put in the drawer board. Here for example the three drawers for the engine: one for metal wire (copper, iron, steel) and tubes, one drawer for other metal parts and one for the resin parts.

Regarding the latter, there are 14 resin 'sprues' each containing multiple parts. I put them in an orderly row by pushing them in a stretched piece of Blu-Tack. To press the sprues into the Blu-Tack I used the back of a scalpel onto the center of each sprue.


4. I performed a dryfit to test how well the resin cilinder heads would fit on top of Tamiya's block. The heads were carefully removed from their sprue by using a micro saw, every 10 seconds or so dipping the sprue in water. The super fine dust ends up swimming inside the water drops rather than inside my lungs and my daughter's.

Fitting of the heads proofs to be perfect.


5. Of course it's very important to do research if you're going for realism. See the following pictures:


The left picture was taken in 1992, the right in 2012. The arrows indicate some differences, there are more. Causes could be, for example, that multiple cars were built, changes were made during the racing season, after the season the cars may have been altered, et cetera et cetera. Fortunately Top Studio based its kit on the 1991 situation, very nice and fortunate (the 1992 book is rarer than the 2012 and 2016 books).

Time spent: 0,5 hours.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roy, I have got to say that you have really thought about this build.

Your organisation of the A/M bits into separate containers and adding notes to copies of the destructions is great.

Although out of my league (and price range) I will follow this intently.

I have got the Yardley McLaren to build at some stage of my life.


Edited by Spookytooth
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simon thanks for your compliments and motivation.

The Yardley McLaren is a great model as well! Look forward to that particular stage of your life during which I'll definitely follow your progress.

6. I've been mainly preparing the build. Research, research. Also I photographed each photo in the 1991 book and sorted them into the following maps on my computer:

0. Overview

1. Engine front

2. Engine left

3. Engine right

4. Engine back

5. Transmission and rear suspension

6. Rear

7. Underpanel

8. Monocoque and cockpit

9. Front suspension

10. Front wing and nose

11. Rear wing

12. Body

13. Wheels

Next I'll photograph each picture in the other two books and paste them into the maps. The post-1992 pictures will be filed separately.

7. The cowl is a bit warped. This slit of light shouldn't be there.



8. To swiftly find out where the warped parts are, put the cowl on a straight flat surface and tick on it along the sides. You'll hear the difference.

9. The under panel's warping is quite a bit worse. Of course you can screw together cowl to under panel as to pull them in approximately the right shape, but it is neater to have them in the right shape at all times, also when the cowl is removed. Furthermore I won't use Tamiya's screws because they are oversized and their vertical position doesn't match the real thing. My model's cowl will therefore come to rest upon the bottom panel, so it will have to be pushed and pulled into the right shape.


10. This metal part isn't present on the 1:1-specimen. And there are no screws in the bottom panel. So I'll close those gaps and leave out the screws.


11. Warping near the 'V'-part of the cowl is quite bad and won't cure when the model is screwed together. I don't understand how people can start priming and painting a cowl such as this one first thing after opening the box... it's always a good thing to check for warping and to dryfit extensively.


12. Horizontally, it also needs some aligning at the air inlets.


13. The band is 7,6mm. high along the body. As the cowl underside is flat, I can conclude that the under panel also should be flat. Compare the video at paragraph 9 to see how non-flat it is as found in the box.




14. The parts are heated using a hair dryer and then shaped. It's a long process.


15. After approximately 2 hours the three parts have been corrected.




Time spent: 2,5 hours (build) + 4 hours (study).

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's nice to see these old tamiya big kits being done properly with no stones being left unturned. It's a shame about the warping but with a kit this age not uncommon but you have rectified it well


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice work Roy, getting things level first is a great way to insure that the rest of the build goes smoothly.

The McLaren will look great, I have a copy of an old Tamiya mag in which a guy done an outstanding job.

Looking forward to more installments .


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Shaun, indeed the warping was to be expected not only due to the kit's age but also the size of these (wobbly) parts.


Simon I checked online to see which # Tamiya magazine you meant, unfortunately I don't have it in my stock. Saw some other great 1/12 F1-cars build reports in Tamiya mags though, these large scale Formula 1 cars make a great type of subject.  


16. I spent another hour heating, pushing and pulling the cowl to make it better. Also, sanding the front section (inside) helps. 


I saved all pictures into the maps: approximatly 500 pictures in 14 categories.  


Next step is to compare the pictures to the kit + aftermarket and to find out what's to be added. I start with the engine block. First I check out all pictures in the non-engine block maps, copying those pictures that feature the engine (although the main subject is for example the transmission or radiator) to the engine maps. This having been finalized, the names of the completed maps are capitalized, so that I know which maps contain complete picture info. 


Tamiya moulded engine + transmission as a single part. I've divided references study into 8 sections:


- Engine block left

- Engine block right

- Engine block front

- Engine block back

- Engine left head

- Engine right head

- Transmission left

- Transmission right


So I'll start examining the engine block left side. Unfortunately I only have 5 pictures that contain parts of that. Only 2 pictures show the engine without exhaust manifolds. And just one picture has been published on which the details are, more or less, clear. That picture is to be found in the 1992 book, so if you want to detail extensively it's worthwhile to purchase that book. 


I made notes on a copy of Top Studio's instructions, enlarged 300% by means of a copying machine. Color codes are explained left side. To understand certain connections Top Studio's set has to be studied. The oil cooler and stuff have been scheduled as well. 


17. Steel colored rings to be attached to the block will be made using thin copper wire (simple tutorial to follow in due time). 


18. The bolts near the exhaust openings are not to be sanded off, as they will serve as positioning aids for the flanges. 


Spent time: 3,5 hours (build) + 6,5 hours (study)

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like a good start. It will be an awesome model when built. The decals are printed that way to get around copyright laws of the Marlboro logo. You just apply them onto the model the correct way up and you'll have the proper appearance. The split decal is for the rear wing. It's cut because one part goes on the top wing element and one on the middle. It's to save you having to cut it yourself.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Keith: thanks!


@Simon: if it's not too much trouble (scanner nearby, matter of minutes) then yes, please... any reference and view on things is welcome! I like Tamiya magazine's articles so I'd gladly accept the offer... again, if it isn't troublesome. 


@Steve: haha thanks for the detailed explanation, it all starts to make sense now :D 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@CrazyCrank I agree that Top Studio has designated the engine to be a masterpiece and I sure look forward to assembling it. Although the building order has changed somewhat (see the end of this post) the engine (fortunately) still has to be built first. 


@sharknose156 Thank you. This is the original 1991 edition. It actually had Marlboro decals in it, I heard that Tamiya included them originally. Strange thing is, I don't see the Tamiya brand named on that particular decal sheet. Still.. same background color and same aging. I'm not sure, maybe somebody knows. 


@silver911 I'll accept that incredible compliment after finishing the build and people are satisfied with the results... as of yet I still have to glue the first part to the second..



19. After dryfitting the air guide, as seen on the next picture, a 1mm. clearance occurs between cowl and bottom. The body will therefore have to be sanded well from the inside.



20. The five drawings for the engine block + heads are ready (rear drawing appears unnecessary). 






21. Remaining are two drawings for the transmission house. Easier said than done, a lot has to be dry fitted to get a realistic view. Mind the white panel stuck between the several parts of the rear suspension.  



22. Checking if the tire doesn't touch the chassis and if the cowl touches the white panel.





Tire: just okay. Panel: bottom panel will have to be bent a bit more, at the rear. No torsion this time, so it won't cost too much time to fix. 


The dryfit got me a few important insights concerning build order:


- The white panel (to be painted McLaren fluorescent red orange) can be installed ultimately during installing the rear suspension. Because that part needs to be polished I'll first have to paint the body, apply decals etc., before I can finish the rear suspension.

- Before I'll be able to paint the body, I first need to make sure it fits the air tunnel 100%. 

- In order to know whether the air tunnel fits the body 100%, the tunnel first needs to be decalled (carbon fibre) and the inner body first needs to be painted 'black'. 

- To be able to fit the air tunnel, first the engine has to be build.

- The engine is moulded in one part with the transmission, so first the transmission has to be finalized. Also for purposes of the white panel dry fit. 

- To be able to dry fit engine and transmission, first the inner bottom panel has to be finalized. With the current dry fit in place that's a good place to start. 


All of this because of the two white panels in the back (and because of the body not being screwed to the bottom panel, any clearance is therefore undesirable. So the build order will be:


1. Making last two drawings (transmission box).

2. Bend into shape the bottom panel rear, dry fit white panels and body.

3. Based on the drawings: prepare parts engine and transmission box to be painted plack. 

4. Paint black engine and transmission box.

5. Detailling, scratching and amending parts engine and transmission box, up to and including Tamiya instructions picture 8.

6. Finalize bottom panel, fill all holes, drill new holes.

7. Detail air tunnel and monocoque, apply carbon fibre decals. 

8. Sand inner cowl, dry fit.

9. In case of successful dry fit: correct 4 body parts. 

10. Prime and paint inner cowl.

11. Prime, paint, decal 4 body parts.

12. Continue from Tamiya-instructions drawing #9.


Spent time: 4,5 hours (build) + 9,5 hours (study)

Edited by Roy vd M.
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow that last post almost seems like your a little down about the build, I gather it's actually the opposite as you seem like a person who loves the prep stage as much as the finishing. With all the bits listed that need to be done (as you have said in need to be in a certain order) it may seem far off but just think of how good it's all going to look once done. Just the engine alone will be amazing. 



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...