I’ve been in love with the Mach 5 since I was a kid. I would watch an episode of Speed Racer and search the basement for parts to build my own car. You would think, since my dad is a mechanic, we would have more than enough. Noooooo. There was never enough scrap lying around to full fill that dream. Since I was under 5, the world is a better place that I never did succeed and put my home built car on the road.

Needless to say I am still disappointed that I do not own a road worth version of this car. Every now and then I’ll day dream about building a replica. But until I hit the lottery and free up an extra 80 hours a week, I’ll make do building models of it.

IMAI Mach 5

THIS KIT COST ME $5 ON EBAY! It is exciting. Google how much these go for! I scored on this purchase. I still feel bad for the guy that sold it. I have no idea how I was able to snag this treasure. This kit is fantastic. If you are a Mach 5 fan and want to build a high end display piece, go for this one. It has all the bells and whistles. Retractable saw blades, the jacks, homing bird, propellers, removable canopy and a periscope. Plus there is a v-12 under the hood, vinyl wires, photo-etched metal details… everything you would need for a great start on a high detail model.

Where it lacks though, the body fit and finish isn’t quite as tight as most of the other Japanese kits I’ve built. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as sloppy as the U.S. kits I grew up with, but it will need some filling of sink holes and gaps along seams; if you want a show piece or have high standards. For me, it was fine right out of the box. I just wanted something simple, fun and a quick build. I can’t gripe too much, the body fits well enough that there are no visible gaps, but it needs some finessing to get right. While I’d be interested in pursuing a build like that, it would be frustrating. Since I’m a paint then assemble guy, this would need a combination of paint the internals, build, then fill and fit the body perfectly, then mask and paint the body. It adds a lot of complication and I did not want to deal with that. It is what it is. A nice toy. Too bad the decals were as thin as wet tissue paper and wound up tearing. Now I need to recreate the big M and circle %’s for the side. Sigh, that’s a project for another day.

Compared to Polar Lights

When I built the Polar Lights kit with my daughter a few years ago, I thought this thing was the bomb. It fit together well and had great detail and far exceeded most of the domestic model kits I had built in my youth, almost as nice as the Tamiya kits I had done as a teen. But the Imai kit puts it to shame. The Polar Lights kit just doesn’t have the right proportions, plus it misses a few of the details that make the Imai kit look like a genuine Mach 5 replica. It does make the poor Polar Lights kit look like a bootleg from Mexico.