Rosso Corporation


Rosso Corp logo

Rosso was a short lived Japanese company, allegedly founded by some former Fujimi employees.
The company produced car models and kits between 1991 and 1993, the first CAM series kit dates from June 1991.
During its brief existence Rosso made some excellent kits, their attention to detail and use of different types of materials was ground breaking, as was the way the models were designed and engineered.

The company began by making highly detailed 1/43rd scale car models, at first just as assembled models, slightly later also as kits.
Rosso managed to capture the looks of the highly popular Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R so much better than their (die-cast) competitors that this model became an instant success, consequently Rosso ended up making many R32 GT-R variations.

In less than a years time Rosso had produced tooling for most of the models they would ever produce: four 1/43rd scale models (Skyline R32 GT-R, Ferrari 642, Ferrari 643, Honda NSX), four 1/24th scale models (Ferrari 642, Ferrari 643, Enfini/Mazda RX-7, Ferrari 512TR) and the 1/12th scale Honda NSX.
All car models required complicated sliding molds for the bodies and on top of that Rosso used aluminum inserts molded in with the bodies for the refueling valves in the 1/43th scale Skyline Gr.A race cars.
In hindsight it is no surprise that the company went bankrupt, not just because of the sheer amount of expensive tooling that was made in a short time but also because of the non-plastic extra parts.
Rosso WRX Ferrari 643 and Grade-Up Set Experienced tool makers like those who worked for Rosso could reduce tooling costs by avoiding costly mistakes and by limiting trial-and-error, but the manufacture of most of the non-plastic parts had to be outsourced to specialist companies, which added a lot of production costs.
This meant that any kit with non-plastic parts had to sell quickly, in particular the, from a production point-of-view hugely expensive, 1/8th scale Ferrari 643 kit and its separate Grade-up Parts Set. It looks like the 1/8 Grade-up Parts Sets did not sell as well as planned which drained the cash of the company. Even a special 'Limited Edition' of the 1/8th scale Ferrari 643 kit could not make up for the losses.
Looking closely at the listings below it becomes apparent that the money started to run out: the later releases contain almost no non-plastic parts and required very little extra tooling.

On a personal note, I became a fan of Rosso models the moment I saw the first assembled models at my local hobby shop. By that time the first CAM series kits had also become available so I never bought any of the assembled models but bought some of the CAM kits instead. I did not collect all Rosso kits but rather picked the ones that appealed to me most (and of course all versions of the Rosso RX-7 kits I could find). I did get a chance to have a close look at most of the models at my local hobby shop.

I started this page almost 25 years after the demise of the Rosso company.
Nowadays most of the Rosso kits appear to be stashed away because of their perceived collectors value, which is a pity for two reasons: first of all these kits are a joy to build and secondly the kits contain self-adhesive film and decals (and in case of the 1/8 Ferrari even dry transfers) that will perish over time.

Series names

Back in the early 90ies it was fashionable in Japan to adorn goods with (abbreviations made up of) interesting sounding English words, the names of the Rosso series reflect this:

CAMCollaboration Artistic Model
PRA-XProductive Relaxation Abstract-'X'
R-GEARRosso Great Exciting Advanced Reality
WRXWorld-wide Rare eXpert-replica
DORI²(pronounced 'Dorito' with a short first 'o') not an abbreviation but rather a fancy notation of the Japanese word for 'Drift' (ドリフト 'dorifuto', often abbreviated to ドリ 'dori').
The models in this series all contain extra parts usually found on cars used for drifting.
Choicenot an abbreviation but a series of optional car parts.

In addition to the regular kits, two more levels of kits were available:

GPVGrade-up Painting Versionkits contain a factory painted body. In case of a race car markings were also tampo-printed on the body and finished with a clear coat, resulting in a high-quality finish.
GMVGrade-up Maniac Versionkits contain additional detail parts (white metal, photo-etched metal, etc.)

Rosso model listings

The listings below are not yet complete, I hope to add more whenever I find proof (catalog numbers, box art, and pictures or descriptions of the models).

Catalog numbers in the listings link to an image of the top and short edge(s) of the box where available.

Prices in the listings indicate the retail price of a kit in Yen as printed on the short edge of the box.
These prices show that most Rosso kits were no more expensive than those of other Japanese brands.

G-P series

Rosso G-P series Skyline in box

The G-P series consists of 1/43rd scale assembled model cars, often attractively mounted on a detailed base painted as a piece of road or track with kerb stones, covered by a clear display case and wrapped in a box with cutouts in front and top sides. Each box is printed in colors that match the colors of team of the car inside.
The car bodies were made out of resilient ABS plastic, allowing for fine details and opening parts like doors and hood.
Some cast metal parts, most notably an engine block, a gearbox and a hidden die-cast 'trunk-weight' made sure the cars would not feel flimsy and had a 'weighted-down' sit.

A series named 'Jack' consisting of limited editions was made with catalog numbers in the 0150* range (e.g. 'Jack 2', for the LHD Honda NSX).

There is a persistent rumor that the G-P series included a Ferrari F40, however I do not recall ever seeing one and have yet to find any evidence that Rosso sold any F40 models.

G-P series
01001Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Calsonic 1990 JTC #126500
01002Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo5000street, body painted either silver or dark metallic gray; wheels either stock, 'SSR' or 'Techno Magnesio'
01003Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.N Zexel 1990 #26500
01004Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Calsonic 1991 JTC #16500
01005Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Zexel 1991 #25 Spa 24h winner6500
01006Ferrari 642 1991 US GP #27 Prost6500body shell removable
01007Ferrari 642 1991 US GP #28 Alesi6500body shell removable
01008Ferrari 643 #27 Prostno on box
01009Ferrari 643 #28 Alesino on box
Jack series
01501Honda NSX (RHD, Japanese)3500body painted either dark blue, red, yellow or silver
01502Honda NSX (LHD, export)3500body painted either dark green, red, yellow or silver
01503Honda NSX F1 GP Marshal Car Suzuka3800
G-P series Limited Editions
019??Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.N Falken/Acerola 1992 #116500no on box
1/24 scale
01801Ferrari 643 #27 Prost4800assembled PRA-X 24008 model

CAM series

Rosso CAM series Skyline kit in box

The CAM series consists of 1/43rd scale car kits. The CAM series kits were released from June 1991 onwards, a few months after the first G-P assembled models. The final CAM kit, nr.43030, was released in November 1992.
Since the CAM kits shared most parts with the assembled G-P series models, the early CAM kits got some extra's to make them stand out. The first CAM series Skyline GT-R kits got white metal engine details and photo-etched parts for brake disc faces, windshield wipers and more. The level of detail of these kits is at the level of later GMV kits, yet the early kits were never marked as such.

All CAM series Ferrari F1 car kits include factory painted pre-shaped photo-etched parts for front and rear suspension.

The CAM series Right Hand Drive NSX kit and a number of Skyline GT-R kits came in two versions: standard and GPV kit.
The Ferrari 642 and 643 Formula 1 kits came in even more variations as the kits include either a high-downforce (Monaco GP) or low-downforce (US GP, French GP,...) setup aside from the standard, GPV and GMV versions.
The GMV kits live up to their name as there is a stunning amount of detail packed into these tiny F1 race car kits.

CAM series
43001Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Calsonic 1990 JTC #123800
43002Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Axia Trampio 1991 JTC #223800
43003Honda NSX1500(RHD, Japanese)
43004Nissan Skyline GT-R Castrol 1990 #23 (Macao GP Winner)2500
43005GPVNissan Skyline GT-R Gr.N Acerola 1992 #114800
43006Honda NSX 'Left Steering Version'1500
43007Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo2400street version
43008Ferrari 642 1991 US GP2900decals for Prost and Alesi
43009Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Zexel 1991 #25 Spa 24h Winner2500
43010Honda NSX F1 GP Marshal Car Suzuka1800
43011GPVNissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Calsonic 1991 #14800
43012GPVNissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Zexel 1991 #25 Spa 24h Winner4800
43013GPVFerrari 642 1991 US GP #274800
43014GMVFerrari 642 1991 US GP4800decals for Prost and Alesi
43015Nismo Skyline GT-R2500street, 1992 version, new 'Nismo LM' wheels
43016GPVHonda NSX2500RHD, body painted either red, yellow or silver, indicated by sticker on box edges
43017Ferrari 6432900decals for Prost and Alesi
43018GMVFerrari 6434800with driver figure, decals for Prost and Alesi
43019Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Calsonic 1992 #122500
43020GPVFerrari 643 #274800tire logos also printed on
43021Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Unisia JECS 1992 #12500
43022Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Kyoseki GP-1 1992 #552500
43023Nissan Skyline GT-R Axia Trampio 1992 #222500
43024Enfini RX-7 Type R1500
43025Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A FET Sports 1992 #82500
43026Ferrari F641/2 F1 (1990 French GP) 100th Victory2900decals for Prost and Mansell
43027 *
43028Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Kenji HKS 1992 #872500
43029 *
43030Nissan Skyline GT-R Gr.A Taisan STP 1992 #22500
CAM series Limited Editions
43901Acura NSX1500
43902Ferrari 643 1991 Japanese GP2900decals for Prost and Alesi printed by Cartograf

PRA-X series

Rosso PRA-X series Ferrari 643 Japan GP kit box

The PRA-X series consists of 1/24th scale car model kits, the first kit in this series dates from December 1991.
From the second release onwards the PRA-X series was sub-divided into 'Racer', 'Dream' and 'Japan' series.
Contrary to the highly detailed 1/43rd scale CAM kits, the PRA-X series includes mostly kerbside models, the only kits that come with engine details are the Ferrari 642 and 643 F1 cars.
Despite being kerbside models, each of the PRA-X car kits offers a wealth of detail, no 'blank spots' nor simplifications, there are sharply defined details everywhere you look.
All F1 car kits contain some metal parts (screws, pins and metal coil springs), the GMV kits contain white metal and photo-etched metal upgrade parts.
The GMV upgrade sets for the Ferrari 642 and 643 kits were also sold separately, but I have yet to find details (catalog numbers, prices).

PRA-X series
24001Ferrari 642 1991 Monaco GP1500decals for Prost and Alesi
PRA-X Racer series
24002GMVFerrari 642 1991 Monaco GP480024001 with extra parts: seatbelt webbing, heat shielding foil, photo-etched seat belt buckles and radiator faces, white metal radiator pipes and ECU box
24003Ferrari 6431500decals for Prost and Alesi printed by Cartograf
24004GPVFerrari 642 1991 US GP #274800tire logos also printed on
24005GMVFerrari 643480024003 with extra parts
24008GPVFerrari 6434800
PRA-X Japan series
24006Enfini RX-7 Type R1200
24007Enfini RX-7 Type X1200
24010GPVEnfini RX-7 Type R2000body painted either red or black, satin black window frames
24012Mazda RX-7 R11200
PRA-X Dream series
24009Ferrari 512TR1200
24011GPVFerrari 512TR2000body painted red with satin black window frames
24013GMVFerrari 512TR2500includes metal exhaust tips and photo-etched metal parts for emblems, windshield wipers and brake disc faces
PRA-X series Limited Editions
24901Ferrari 643 1991 Japan GP1500decals for Prost and Alesi printed by Cartograf.

Choice series

Rosso Choice series BBS wheels kit box

Just like Fujimi and Aoshima, Rosso also released some of the wheels of their 1/24 car kits separately in sets of 4.
Rosso packaged their wheels in neat little clear plastic boxes with a paper insert covering all but one of the wheels.
On the rear of the box the sizes of wheels and tires are listed (e.g. Front 18inch 8.5J; 235/40 ZR18).
An added bonus with these sets is that the wheels have been carefully removed from their sprues at the factory, so these come ready for use.
The wheels have 'female' connectors (a bushing on the inside of the wheel should be fitted to an axle).
Each set includes a blackened metal axle and a set of poly caps.

Choice series
23001OZ 'Futura' 18in wheels w. P-Zero tires1000Also in Dori² RX-7 kits *
23002Speedline 18in wheels w. P-Zero tires1000Also in PRA-X 512TR kits
23003BBS 'F1' 18in wheels w. P-Zero tires1000Also in Dori² 512TR kit

DORI² series

Rosso DORI2 series Ferrari 512TR kit box

This 'Drift' series was a nice way to get some extra revenue from existing patterns, some attractive optional parts were added to make the kits more appealing.

Each of the 1/24 scale kits comes with new wheels, chrome-plated metal exhaust tip(s), aerodynamic door mirror covers and a set of sponsor decals.
On top of that the RX-7 kits come with RE Amemiya-style recessed headlights and the 512TR kit comes with a Koenig-style raised rear wing.
The box art of each of the kits shows the car drifting sideways across the picture.

DORI² series
1/43 kits
44001Nismo Skyline GT-R2500
1/24 kits
25001Enfini RX-7 Type R130018in OZ 'Futura' wheels
25002Enfini RX-7 Type X130018in OZ 'Futura' wheels
25003Ferrari 512TR1300black 18in BBS 'F1' wheels

R-GEAR series

Rosso R-GEAR series NSX Marshal Car Suzuka GP kit box

With the R-GEAR series Rosso set out to make the best detailed 1/12th scale kits ever and indeed even after all these years the kits still can be considered as such.
The first kit in this series dates from November 1991, the GP Marshal Car dates from December 1991.

The models are a mix of ABS parts and polystyrene parts with some functional metal parts (steering shaft, hinges, bonnet prop, nuts and bolts and even actual wheel nuts with a small socket wrench).
Plastic parts are either molded in appropriate colors or plated.

The catalog numbers of the R-GEAR kits are a bit complicated.
With the street version of the NSX, three versions were released under the same catalog number (12001):

A small sticker on the box edge next to the catalog number indicates what version is in the box. Each region got its own version of the kit, for example only LHD kits were (officially) shipped to mainland Europe.
The box of number 12003 reads 'R-GEAR Vol.2' instead of 'Vol.3' and number 12002 was never released. An explanation for this can be found on the instruction sheet of number 12901, the LHD Acura NSX (USA) release, which reads 'item 12002'. So number 12002 must have been reserved for the Acura release, however the Acura ended up being released as a limited edition with its catalog number changed to 12901.
There might also have been different versions made of the NSX Marshal Car (12003) kit as I seem to recall seeing a 'Spa GP' version in a shop in Belgium rather than the familiar 'Suzuka GP' version, but I have yet to find definitive proof of this.

R-GEAR series
12001Honda NSX12000
12002not released
12003Honda NSX F1 GP Marshal Car13000
R-GEAR series Limited Editions
12901Acura NSX8800

WRX series

Rosso WRX series 643 1992 kit box

The WRX series 1/8th scale kits are among the most ambitious model kits ever produced.
The first release dates from July 1992.
Models this size can not be made out of polystyrene and even ABS presents limits. Whilst the monocoque was made out of ABS, the body shell was made out of injection molded aluminum to provide rigidity without adding too much thickness. Suspension parts and wheels are die-cast metal, engine, monocoque and most detail parts are either ABS or polystyrene, seat is vinyl, tires are soft rubber with foam inserts.
Body, suspension parts and wheels are factory painted, the body was painted in high quality urethane laquer. All plastic parts are either molded in appropriate colors or plated. Assembly is mostly by screws, a screwdriver and a small socket wrench are provided.
Despite of all the different materials used, fit of parts is very good.

The separate Grade-up Parts Set adds a vinyl driver figure with decals for the helmets of both Prost and Alesi, rubber and vinyl hoses for engine and brakes, die-cast garage wheels, white metal hose connectors and front brake cylinders, large sheets of photo-etched metal for heat shields, cowl fasteners, ECU box, a Ferrari emblem and templates for painting the tire logos.

WRX series
80001Ferrari 64339800
80001sFerrari 64339800" '92 Special Thanks Limited" edition
80101Ferrari 643 Grade-up Parts Set10000can be used with either 80001 or 80001s

Loose ends

Some missing info and uncertainties on this page:

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