Models: August 2018

Marcus Nicholls takes a look at a top-end Japanese model manufacturer

The Japanese collectable model car producer Make Up was established by Mr Hideyuki Uemoto in 1978, from an apartment room in Tokyo. In the mid-1970s Uemoto was an advertising photographer and flew to the UK frequently to work. During one trip he was inspired by what he experienced while visiting the Model Engineer Exhibition, which in those days was held annually at the Wembley Conference Centre in London. After returning home, he felt the need to contribute to the burgeoning model scene, and thus the story of Make Up began.

Car kits in white metal from the United Kingdom, Italy and France were being imported and sold in Japan, but they lacked the kind of precise detail that Uemoto craved. He decided to begin production of high-grade 1:43 model cars in about 2004, and since that time his catalogue has expanded.

He produces a broad range of subjects, from the inevitable supercars (Lamborghini Aventadors in coupé and drophead forms, Gallardos, Huracáns etc) to slightly more esoteric cars such as the Nissan Fairlady Z, Lamborghini Jota and the fabled Singer 911s that have evolved into cult classics. Among these desirable street cars, Make Up has created some stunning competition replicas, perhaps most notably the McLaren-Ford MP4/8 as it appeared at the 1993 Japanese GP. It’s an exquisite model that captures perfectly the outline of a machine that is, in my opinion, one of the most handsome ‘modern-era’ F1 cars.

From the 1989 Le Mans 24 Hours, Make Up offers the Schuppan and Takefuji Porsche 962s; both are extremely attractive subjects and the impulse to collect them all could lead to severe credit card depletion. Being a Japanese company, it offers some interesting variants of domestic classics, such as the Watanabe version of the 1971 Nissan 240ZG in thrillingly retro chocolate brown, a ‘Rocket Bunny’ Honda NSX slammed on ridiculously huge racing rims plus an indecently immodest rear wing and, of course, a Liberty Walk Nissan GT-R Type 2, with wheel-arch extensions and matt black bonnet. The latter are all in the increasingly popular 1:18 scale, a size that allows a model to feature higher levels of detail and more in-scale shut-lines.

If I were to pick a favourite to start my collection, it would have to be one of the 1:43 Singer 911s. Make Up has caught the look of these ultra-expensive, re-imagined Porsches perfectly. But, it’s a dangerously addictive path to follow…