Based on previous experience, I started the build with the body. I knew that it will need the most time to get the right finish. I was right: after priming, I sprayed the first coat of red. Something happened with my airbrush: somehow the needle wasn’t opening good and splotched the shell in couple of places. After careful sanding and polishing, dismantling and cleaning, I sprayed one light coat once more, this time without incidents. After 48 hours, I applied the main coat – the wet coat – and when it was dry I started doubting (again!) if the right hue was chosen: it looked a little in the orange spectrum: not at all an ugly color, but yet not the one I was craving for. I took heart to apply the floor polish and – big relief – my color was there! The next (difficult) step was applying the chrome band at the lower side of the windows. It took me some time, but I’ve got a decent looking job.
After the first coat of floor varnish dried, I proceeded to setting decals. This was the (only) big disappointment of the kit. They are cut off the mark, and they’re thick. The fitting over the compound surfaces was imperfect, regardless how much Micro Set and Micro Sol I brushed over. Unfortunately I managed to tear apart the rear double black line. Dismayed, I waited. The top decal set good enough, the front one acceptable but over the rear one I had to paint black acrylic to hide the gap. I put my hope in Future to hide the imperfections. It took no less than four coats (abundant ones) to mask the thick edges! At this stage, I decided to limit as much as possible the application of other decals, and I completely eliminated the planned white trim edges.
Meanwhile, I paid attention to other exterior details: I painted the black masks around the windows, I applied the decal representing the defrost installation (another disappointment), I dealt with tail lights, front lights, fog lights and lateral inserts. The attention Hasegawa paid to these details is admirable and I took much pleasure in fiddling with them. When everything fall into place, the realistic look is striking.
I kept for last, the easy to break exterior details, such as side mirrors, radio antenna and door handles. Finally I installed the windows …and I did it again! I manage to smear with fingerprints about all windows, forcing myself into a tedious cleaning process during which of course I broke the rearview mirror. Fortunately it broke from the glued joint and it was a breeze to reattach it. At this time the undercarriage and the chassis where all completed, waiting for final assembly.
The interior is molded very simply, in the least number of parts as possible. This doesn’t mean the detail is lacking but the molding of the central console and rear seats as a single piece makes the painting of small details a little difficult.
I have chosen a flat black/semi-gloss red scheme; to add a little variation, the door panels and the dash board received a black toned down with red – a very dark chocolate in fact. The decals for the dash indicators are very nice but again a little bigger than the allotted space. Anyhow, under a heavy coat of Future they look attractive and alive. Painting the details on the dashboard can be a little difficult and I had to remake and retouch the “steel” frames couple of times until I’ve got the desired look. The outcome was worthy. The final result is true to scale and true to original – I made sure checking the internet a good few times.
Chassis and Running Gear
Again, Hasegawa proved inspirational when they designed the bottom plate and the suspension / running gear. The detail is awesome and basically is a model in itself. I deviated a little from the recommended color scheme but not much. I even applied a little weathering and a light wash. The result speaks for itself (see photos).
For painting the bottom plate I used only acrylics while in painting the wheels I applied the same method as for the body shell: grey flat MM as primer and pepper red as base coat – all went on flawless. I painted white the inserts from wheel hubs to match the projected ray package combination and I decided to let aside (one more time) the provided decals. However, the things can be simplified by using the other option, chrome plated wheels generously offered by Hasegawa. By other manufacturers I’ve seen frequently soft detail under the weight of the chrome plating but this is not applicable to Mini Cooper Countryman S: whichever the option, both sets of wheels are impeccably finished.
The engineering is very convincing and, although I found it a little simplified (lacking of inside top panel for instance) the building should be flawless for any builder. The finishing could be a little finicky for those who choose to depict the model authentically. For a less pretentious modeler, there should be no problem whatsoever. The official color schemes are basically limitless and should be no restriction for the creative builder. My personal objective was to build an OOB model with a convincing appearance. As one cannot be his own judge, I will let you pronounce the verdict. Thanks for any comments, suggestions or constructive criticism.