Most people know Tamiya as a manufacturer of radio controlled vehicles and may not realize they do much more than that. Along with their well-known and loved radio control offerings, Tamiya makes exceptional static plastic models, educational products, tools, paints, accessories and last, but not least… Tamiya Mini 4WD. The Tamiya Mini 4WD are tiny race cars, about the size of a human hand and run on a track against other Mini 4WD race cars. Each car features a shaft driven 4WD chassis that is powered by two AA batteries. There is a large range of body and chassis types to choose from. Not to mention numerous tune-up parts to improve performance. This allows you to precisely dial in the car’s settings for either high-speed or technical racing.
We bet you would be surprised if we told you that the Tamiya Mini 4WD segment has been a major part of Tamiya’s business and continues to grow year after year. In fact, the Mini 4WD race cars have grown into a massive international phenomena. Most of us RC hobbyist have heard of the Mini 4WD cars and have written them off because they are not RC. But once you learn more about these tiny cars, you will understand why they have become so popular.
About Mini 4WD
Tamiya Mini 4WD race cars are 1/32-scale and come as a build-it-yourself kit. They are very easy to assemble due to their simple snap-together design and they don’t require any glue. Basically, they are plastic model kits. Once built, you can decorate the bodies with colorful stickers. Then install the AA batteries and you are ready to hit the track.
Eleven different chassis are offered by Tamiya. Each one offers a different degree of on-track capability. Just like with RC cars, you will find there is a trade-off in performance depending on which chassis you choose.
As you gain experience, you can boost performance by adding one of the many Tamiya 4WD Tune-Up Parts that are available. For example, using optional ball bearings helps to minimize friction loss and utilize motor power more efficiently. By selecting the right Tune-Up Parts, you can enhance the performance of your car or enhance its stability in curves and during acceleration. Following is just a small taste of all the Tune-Up Parts that Tamiya offers.
Besides enhancing performance, you can customize your Mini 4WD to make it unique and standout. Get creative while “tuning up” your car. Try cutting material out of your car to make it lighter or painting it with vivid colors. Mini 4WD’s give you the excitement of racing as if you were the car designer, engineer and the racecar driver.
These Tamiya Mini 4WD race cars are appealing to adults and definitely to young children. Mini 4WD snap together kits are reasonably priced and are an excellent learning experience for kids. They are easy to assemble for even the youngest of kids and become objects of pride and accomplishment. By assembling their own cars, modifying and racing them, kids gain a sense of competitiveness and creativity.
Here is a little taste of the Tamiya Mini 4WDs in action.
Racing the Mini 4WD
Tamiya introduced the Mini 4WD’s back in 1982. Since then, seven race series of Mini 4WD’s have launched in the US market: The Super Mini 4WD series, the Fully Cowled Mini 4WD series, the Racing Mini 4WD series, the Aero Mini 4WD series, the Pro Mini 4WD series, the REV Mini 4WD series and the Mechanical Mini 4WD series. This is the true appeal of these pint sized cars…racing them. You can either purchase sections of track to make you own course or find a local hobby shop with a Tamiya Mini 4WD track. Chances are if the hobby shop has the track setup, they are also offering a race series.
This is a standard three-lane oval racing circuit for Tamiya’s Mini 4WD racing car models. It is made from light and sturdy ABS resin plastic. The track is quick and easy to assemble. Using a two-level lane change section, it allows smooth running throughout the course of a 3-lap race. Three laps around the circuit is one racing length, which allows each car running time in each lane. Circuit color is light gray. Lane sizes are based on racing circuit specifications used in Tamiya’s official Mini 4WD races. You are also able to purchase different sections of track so that you can customize it.
You can get into this hobby at an affordable price where cars cost approximately $10 to $20. Once you get a taste of racing the Mini 4WD cars, you will find that the challenge is not just to make them go as fast as possible, but rather analyzing the car’s performance and improving it to handle better. The skills used learning to build, customize and race the Mini 4WD race cars are the same skills that will be used in building and running RC cars This makes the Tamiya Mini 4WD race cars a great first hobby.