With the holidays upon us, we figured that it was the perfect time to assemble this Mini Buyers Guide to help you select your first Tamiya vehicle. Once you start to research the vehicles that Tamiya has to offer, you will quickly realize that there are hundreds of vehicles including cars, trucks, buggies, tanks and even trikes to choose from. It can be a bit daunting so our crew here at RC Driver put together this little buyers guide to help you narrow down this massive selection.
We have broken the guide down to different groups of vehicles and have given examples of each. Keep in mind that the majority of the vehicles sold by Tamiya come as kits which means they need to be assembled. With that said, there are some ready-to-run (RTR) vehicles offered by Tamiya that they call XB for Expert Built and we have a section devoted to these cars. Let’s get started and help you find your first Tamiya vehicle.
On-road cars is easily the largest category of vehicles that Tamiya sells. In this grouping you will find expertly designed and executed production vehicles along with race cars complete with racing livery stickers. The race cars range from on-road GT track cars including Formula 1 cars, racing semi-trucks, drift cars and even some rally cars.
You will find with some Tamiya vehicles that the same body is sold with different chassis like this LaFerrari. Kit number 58582 comes with the TT-02 chassis while kit number 58580 comes with the higher-end TB-04 chassis. The TB-04 chassis is equipped with more race-level components like sealed gear differentials, oil-filled shocks and an inboard front suspension setup not to mention it also offers more tuning options. The LaFerrari body is an outstanding scale replica of the real car that also includes realistic wheels to match.
Ford Mustang GT4—58664
The Ford Mustang GT4 comes with Tamiya’s TT-02 4WD chassis which is very easy to build and maintain. The highly detailed body is molded out of clear polycarbonate and includes the sticker sheets to replicate the race car along with molded ABS plastic side-view mirrors and rear wing.
F104 Pro II with body—58652
Here is the F104 Pro II which is one of the latest versions of Tamiya’s F1 style race cars. It was developed for racing and has been refined with a lightweight and streamlined direct drive chassis set on a new lower deck and upgrade parts to provide an exceptional performing car for the track. It also includes an original body design that mimics the 2017 F1 race cars.
One of the most unique of the Tamiya vehicles are the Trikes. These three wheeled machines replicate the delivery trikes that are used in Japan. Tamiya’s engineers cleverly designed the RC trike to lean into the corners just as the full-size versions do with the added benefit of support arms that are linked to the steering servo to help right the model if it tips onto its side. We at RC Driver found that these trikes are an absolute blast to drive, especially with another trike. At this point in time, Tamiya offers two trikes: the Dancing Rider Trike shown here and the Dual Rider Trike (#57407)
Under the Tamiya truck category, you will discover a diverse selection of vehicles. Among your choices are giant wheeled monster trucks, six-wheel-drive 6×6 trucks, super-realistic 4WD trail trucks, fun wheelie popping trucks, and awesome semi trucks with several trailers to choose from.
The Super Clod Buster is a well-known monster truck in the RC world. It features a twin motor, dual gearbox 4WD drive train with a durable link-arm, 8 coil-over springs and massive 6.5-inch diameter tires. This big truck can nearly go anywhere! To aid in its turning ability, the Super Clod Buster is fitted with a 4WS system for 4-wheel drive steering. Topping the truck is a classic American style pick-up truck body that is made of ABS plastic for outstanding detail. Included with the body are some nice chrome accent pieces like bumpers, front grill and rollbar with lights.
Here is a deviation from the norm, Tamiya six-wheel-drive 6×6 trucks built on the G6-01 chassis. A motor drives the front, center and rear wheels via gears. The gearbox is sealed and integrated into the frame of the chassis. There are three of these 6×6 vehicles available from Tamiya including the Dynahead 6×6 displayed below, King Yellow 6×6 and the Konghead 6×6. The Dynahead is mounted on a variation of the G6-01 chassis named G6-01TR which is fitted with hub reduction axles to give the truck extra height for clearing obstacles.
Trail trucks are very popular and Tamiya gives you many to select from like the Mercedes-Benz G 500 mated to the all-new CC-02 chassis. Trail trucks feature super scale looking bodies and have a realistic stance that matches full-size 4WD vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz G 500 specifically comes with a polycarbonate body that includes an LED lighting system and separately molded parts like front grill, side mirrors and spare tire cover that add to the overall realism. The ladder frame chassis can handle a wide range of surfaces and its 4WD drive train will power you over and through most obstacles. Along with the CC-02 chassis, Tamiya offers other trail trucks on a couple other types of chassis like the CC-01 and the 4×4-3spd High-Lift chassis.
Along with all the scale trucks and purpose-built off-road trucks, there is a group of fun to drive vehicles that fall into Tamiya’s wheelie category. The Wild Willy 2 is an updated version of the original Wild Willy from back in the 80’s. It is equipped with the heavy-duty monocoque WR-02 2WD chassis that has a wheelie bar at the back for easy to perform wheelies. Other wheelie capable trucks besides the Wild Willy are the Farm King, Midnight Pumpkin, Mitsubishi Montero, Toyota Land Cruiser 40 and Lunchbox.
Rounding out the Tamiya truck category are the awesome semi trucks. When you see these semis, you could easily mistake them for the real thing thanks to how accurately they are modeled. Now, don’t think that these big rigs are just about looks. They are full function RC vehicles with working three speed transmissions. You can also add lights and complete sounds systems that can bring them to life. There is basically two types of semi trucks offered by Tamiya: US style and European styles tractors. Additionally, Tamiya makes a bunch of semi trailers that attach to the tractors. There are box trailers, a tanker trailer, a flatbed trailer and a pole trailer. Following are two examples of the semi tractors and some of the trailers.
If off-road action is what you grave, then you should check out the off-road buggies in the Tamiya fleet. There are many choices like full-on, modern race buggies like the Sand-Viper, re-releases of Tamiya’s iconic buggies like The Hornet, Grasshopper, Frog, Hotshot and Sand Scorcher and even some comical buggies that look like caricatures of normal buggies like the Comical Grasshopper.
The Sand-Viper, shown here, is an example of one of the modern buggies. It uses Tamiya’s DT-02 chassis which is a 2WD buggy designed for all-terrain including race tracks. It is based on a low CG bathtub frame supported by four oil-filled shocks, full 4-wheel double wishbone suspension, and a 2WD gear diff gearbox.
Here is the iconic Hornet that was first released back in 1984 and is now back as a re-release and has proven itself to still be a great vehicle. It is super easy to build and maintain thanks to its straightforward ABS bathtub chassis with robust 2WD gearbox design. A powerful 540 brushed motor drives the Hornet, thus making it quick over off-road terrain and its tough construction makes it one durable buggy.
One of the newest chassis entries in Tamiya’ buggy lineup, are the WR-02CB comical buggies like the Comical Grasshopper highlighted below. The WR-02CB chassis is a variant of the of the WR-02 wheelie chassis. It is a super fun and exciting chassis to drive on and off road whether you want smooth driving or setup for wheelie action. Tamiya builds the gearbox with the motor already installed for you to shorten the build time and reduce any hassle. It is equipped with long suspension arms with oil-filled shocks to give the Comical Grasshopper excellent off-road performance and a wheelie bar mounted at the rear supports the buggy for long sustained wheelies.
The tanks are quite a departure from the rest of the vehicles in Tamiya’s RC garage. Each one is an incredible scale model of the full size tank that makes it worthy for display on a shelf, but these babies are RC! The tanks offer a full range of movement: forward and reverse, turns, turret rotation with gun elevation. On top of that, the Tamiya tanks are equipped with a full sound system with LEDs that are matched up with movements from the tank. For example, firing the main gun is accompanied by an LED flash in the barrel of the cannon, realistic recoil of the barrel with vehicle kickback. Each tank has authentic engine and firing sounds that were recorded from the full-size vehicle. Inside is a large speaker to ensure the sounds are clearly audible. Shown here is one of the latest tanks released by Tamiya, the US M551 Sheridan.
READY-TO-RUN (RTR) VEHICLES
Although Tamiya has made a name for itself by offering exceptional kits that are easy to build with parts that go together with no hand fitting required and include superior instruction manuals, Tamiya also offers a selection of RTR vehicles. The RTRs or Expert Built (XB) vehicles are a nice option for someone who wants to jump right in and get running as soon as the battery pack is charged. The cars come out of the box completely assembled and only require a battery pack to get it rolling. Tamiya includes a reliable 2-channel 2.4GHz pistol grip transmitter to control the vehicle. There are many different styles of XB vehicles offered by Tamiya. Here are three examples of the XB models.
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