REVIEW: 1:64 HobbyJapan vs Motorhelix Civic Type R FL5 •

REVIEW: 1:64 HobbyJapan vs Motorhelix Civic Type R FL5

Words and photos courtesy of Vinod Enka


With the market for 1:64s going through quite the renaissance in recent years, we’ve been pretty spoiled for choice – especially in Asia – with new brands popping up every now and then in an already very saturated space. Add to that the various ‘brand collabs’ that seem to be trending – and you’d really be biting off more than you can chew just trying to keep up with them.

But the more the merrier, they say. And the greater competition should, in theory, produce greater models. Perhaps the not-so-great news for us collectors is the extended homework we need to do these days before parting with our cash – to get the best bang for the buck.

This brings me to today’s subjects: the Motorhelix (MH) and Hobby Japan (HJ) castings of the latest Civic Type R FL5. I believe this duo is the cream of the crop in a sea of 1:64 FL5s on sale today – also made by Mini GT, Para64, ‘XcarToys x Pop Race’ collab and Tomica. Price-wise, MH and HJ are direct rivals, and both are a step above Mini GT and Para64, offering reasonable amounts of detail for the price (around US$30).

Before jumping to the models, here are some real-world shots of the 1:1.  That’ll give us some context when reviewing the models in a bit. So yeah, pretty good-looking thing – muscular, sharp yet understated all at once, kind of a modern-day interpretation of the E39 M5 perhaps? The design language is a monumental departure from what came before (the FK8) and whereas that car’s sheet metal might have been designed during an earthquake, this new one will offend no one. The huge Cessna rear wing aside, you will notice plenty of Audi undertones inside out, and there’s more than a hint of the TT at the rear.

Back to the review: In an attempt to be more objective, I’ve divided this piece into 5 sections, with each section graded over a score of 5, to see how it all adds up later.

SECTION 1: Meet the contenders – first impressions

Showroom appeal can be a deal sealer with real cars, so with diecasts it’s going to be showcase appeal. In this area, I’ll give it to HJ, that glossy black base with the bold Type R logo combined with the signature white FL5 just looks special, exciting even. MH’s solid-looking model (in the ‘sonic grey pearl’ shade) is let down by a very generic base with a metal plate. There is some carbon-like texture to it though.

Note that HJ’s FL5 comes in 2 variants: (1) the ‘standard’ Type R configuration fitted with black side mirrors and a factory spec rear spoiler. This version also comes with a stand-alone engine model, meant to be displayed alongside the car. I think it definitely adds overall appeal to the model. (2) the second HJ variant featured here is a ‘genuine accessories’ edition – flaunting optional red side mirrors and a more shapely carbon fibre rear spoiler. On the real car, this carbon option saves 2 pounds. This variant of the HJ does not come with a stand-alone engine in the box.

The MH you see here is standard factory spec. But it has a trick up its sleeve: the hood opens.

Scores – Showcase Appeal:
HJ: 4/5 (would have scored 0.5 higher with the stand-alone engine)
MH: 3.5/5 (opening hood taken into consideration)

Unscrew both cars from the base, and instantly the MH shines. It is tangibly heavier than the HJ. To put it simply – the MH feels like a collector’s item, the HJ like a toy. The paint application is even on both cars, just about the right thickness. Shutlines on the MH are crisp enough, while HJ’s could be more defined. A bit disappointing when some Hotwheels can do better. The side shoulder lines should have been more defined on both castings. Side mirrors & rear spoilers are well attached on both cars, though MH’s are actually impact-proof – they can be bent and bounce back upright, very much like Mini GT’s side mirrors. Honda H logos front & back on both are decals, while the Type R tampos are sharper, and more readable on the HJ. As for the interiors, MH went the extra mile to give us a much better-crafted cabin.

Scores – Workmanship:
HJ: 3.5/5
MH: 4.5/5

Section 3: Casting Accuracy/ Proportions

The HJ, on its own, could very well be the best 1:64 FL5 Type R on sale today. But next to the tighter, sharper MH – the chinks in HJ’s armour start to show. The way these castings sit on their wheels can be likened to relaxed fit pants (HJ) vs a slim fit (MH). The HJ’s wheel wells just don’t wrap the wheels as well and are as tight as MH. This is also amplified by the fact that HJ’s wheels seem to be a tad smaller & wear slightly thicker rubbers vs MH’s lower profile tyres. The wheel tracks on HJ seem a tad narrow – especially when viewed from 3-quarter angles, you can still see a bit of the top of the wheel wells. Again, this is only noticeable because parked next to it is MH’s perfectly proportioned wheels, they just fit the casting so right, giving off a much more premium vibe than its price suggests. But in any case, both cars are nice and squat.

It’s not all rosy for MH though, because come around to the front end and you’ll notice they’ve faltered a little. The headlights and their enclosing grill are a bit too thick, and next to HJ’s suave, slimmer face, you’ll see what I mean. A similar case at the rear, but to a much lesser extent- where the HJ’s rear lights look more on point, sitting flush with the bodywork.

MH’s painted rear quarter window kink is realistic but a bit faint, next to HJ’s better-defined 3D piece.

You will also notice HJ has a slightly ‘slammed’ stance – a combination of the smaller wheels & the protruding side skirts, very cool, but in reality, it is the less exaggerated MH’s skirts (moulded into the body) that are truer to life, though it could be better.

Scores – Accuracy/Proportions:
HJ: 3.5/5
MH: 4/5

SECTION 4: Attention to Detail

I’ll start with the headlights. Count me impressed with HJ’s units – as slim and tiny as they may be, they’re a spot-on replica of the real thing. Even the vertical slats are nicely visible.

Exhausts: again – HJ takes the cake. They’re more realistic looking vs MH’s thicker pieces, plus HJ’s being more chrome-like look convincingly metal.

Rear wing spoiler – this goes to HJ. The carbon unit is more interesting, and note the complex, hollow spoiler mounts in 1:64 scale!

On to the wheels, HJ has an impressively legible ‘H’ logo on the hubcaps, while I can’t quite make out the ones on the MH. But the MH claws back points here – its glossy rims look like ceramic black units, while the brake discs and callipers are just much better defined. And yes, you can actually make out the Brembo wording on the callipers. Nice stuff.

Getting into the interior- this is where MH starts throwing the hardest punches at HJ. The MH’s red seats’ premium-looking matte texture is just leagues ahead of HJ’s cheap shiny ones. Add to that the aluminum trim on the dash, the dials and the centre console – the MH just peeps past the HJ here.

And finally, MH’s party piece – the opening hood. Yes, there’s no F40 engine art in there, but you do get a nicely accurate view of the FL5’s turbo unit. It’s got pleasing depth too, and when displayed with the hood up it exudes a level of sophistication beyond the HJ. On the 1:64 scale, it does look good. But what if I brought the other HJ variant with a stand-alone engine to this fight? Would it have fared better? In Section 1, yes. But here in Section 4, I’m analyzing these models objectively- for what they are, and not their bundled accessories. Some might not be able to tolerate the hood’s panel gap though (when closed), so to each his own.

Scores – Attention to Detail:
MH: 4/5

SECTION 5: Value for Money

So wrapping it up, both models really went toe to toe in most areas. Close fight indeed. So HJ – a very competitive model with an attractive base and you can have it with the engine accessory too.

But the MH with the opening hood would have actually cost more to develop, and the end result is quite fun. Add to that the more solid build + better craftsmanship inside, and I think this one earns its value a bit more than HJ.

Scores: Value for Money:
HJ:3.5/5 (would have scored 0.5 higher with the stand-alone engine)
MH: 4/5

I was tempted to score the MH a 4.5, but remembered that MiniGT’s Kaido House line can make really detailed stuff for less. So, a 4 it is.

In Conclusion:

Total scores:
HJ: 18.5/25
MH: 20/25

HJ’s decision to start including engine models in recent releases is an interesting one. Perhaps they’re feeling the heat from increased competition. So if I did use the HJ with the engine here, that would have meant an extra 0.5 points each in Section 1 and Section 5 – which would have totalled HJ’s scores to 19.5 – which means the MH still wins, and despite its flaws, it genuinely is the better model here.

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4 Responses to "REVIEW: 1:64 HobbyJapan vs Motorhelix Civic Type R FL5"

  1. DS Team says:

    What an in-depth and very conclusive review! There undoubtfully is a difference between the two models. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Kevin Lee says:

    The spoiler that HJ makes, really is one of the hilight for this model ! great review

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