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jel_55

The Spirit of Tamiya - Lockdown New Build Kit Challenge

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Like many other people on the forum and as a child of the 70s and 80s, the past year lockdown has brought about a time to reflect and be nostalgic towards better and happier days. 

 

And again like so many, having had a more or less 30+ year gap since the last time I dabbled properly in RC (aside from a short foray with a TL-01 and TA04 Pro around the time of the millennium), the lockdown has provided an opportunity to stay home and turn back the clock with some kit building. 

 

I was lucky enough to be into RC at the height of the golden age of Tamiya. But like many here, as a child at the time with relatively meagre pocket money, my purchasing power (after much saving) only extended to a Falcon bought from the long since gone chain of UK model shop Beatties . A classic bundle, the kit came with the useless trickle charger that took forever to charge Tamiya 1200 packs, the ubiquitous ACOMS servos / transmitter / receiver and of course the obligatory Beatties black and yellow RC bag that offered little protection to the prized possession in side. But it was wonderful thing! The Falcon fared as well as you’d expect with broken bathtubs, cracked uprights and lost dog bones – all of which I tried to repair with superglue, sticky tape and things that I found in my father’s shed just to keep it on the road. But, between my friends and I, we were able to swap around amongst us Hornets, Grasshoppers, Superchamps and Frogs – all in various states of disrepair. But, as much time as we spent running our cars, we spent even more time flicking thought the pages of Tamiya guidebooks and longing and lusting after unobtainable and unaffordable hop-ups, Bruisers, Avantes, Astutes and much more. 

 

So, having fast forward three decades and now having a bit more pocket money to play with so to speak, when the Tamiya nostalgia kick came I decided that I’d try to set myself a challenge. I decided that I wanted to try to buy and build new kits (NIB or Re-re) that I thought best captured the spirit of Tamiya, and to try to fulfil a few unachieved childhood dreams. I initially set a challenge of picking two cars to buy and build that I thought would kill a little bit of downtime in-between work, family and life. But, thanks to the continuing pandemic lockdown and the fact that I’m now sucked in again to RC as I was when a child, I’m now 4 new build cars in and contemplating a 5th. More of that later….. 

 

So, after a 35 year lust from watching the grainy Tamiya promo video of a blue truck spinning around the beach - my first purchase was a Bruiser. As most know who’ve owned and built one, it was a very rewarding exercise. A surprisingly complex process – especially getting the body right - I did wonder what state I would have made of the build as a 10 year old kid. I built it as stock – but on completion decided to venture into the world of brushless and lipos (which is a whole new world to me) and took a punt on a 4300kv motor and 80amp ESC. I should say at this point that I had already decided that anything I build should be fully operational – but - would only ever be shelf queens (a new term I was rapidly learning!). I added a lighting kit from Banggood and spent an age painting and finishing to the best I could and I was pretty pleased with the result. 
 

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It was at this point that I realised again the importance of the box art and livery. There are just some body shells and paint jobs that are timeless icons of RC. I strongly argue that the Bruiser is one of them and this got me thinking. The liveries of some of Tamiya’s cars are so entrenched in the companies ethos and identity that the two things go hand in hand. Adding to my challenge I decided my car selection should also be representative of the idea of iconic livery. So – this in mind, I resolved that my next build would be a Sandscorcher. You may disagree with this, but in my opinion it is indeed truly an icon. The little blue and white VW I believe was pretty instrumental in kicking off Tamiya popularity in the early 80s. 

 

I decided that I wanted to build this classic trying to bring in some subtle modern upgrades and interventions but without ruining the charm and spirit of the original. With my new found knowledge of brushless, I binned the silver can and fitted a Tamiya TBLM-02S 10.5T brushless (….in a Scorcher….. I know….). To make the job neat, I bought the 3d printed brushless motor end cap from ‘Scorched Parts’, along with their inner fenders and servo saver. Like the Bruiser, I fitted a lighting kit and roof rack (inspired by Bob on his Hobby Concepts Youtube channel). I know there are many out there who customise the Scorcher far more than I, but I like the charm and character of the SRB chassis, the leaky shocks and clear plastic inner shell. Similar as the Bruiser, the metal components and design of the Sandscorcher whilst rudimentary, are beautifully engineered.  

 

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Keeping the theme of “spirit of Tamiya” and “iconic livery”, my next decision was pretty straightforward - The Lunchbox. I won’t lie – a decision partly influenced by my kids who had been showing an interest in my efforts, it seemed a no brainer to get them involved. To me, the lunchbox is the personification of 80’s Tamiya fun. I remember at the time thinking that it was cooler to have the Falcon than the Lunchie, but secretly perhaps realising it wasn’t. I actually bought two kits – one each for my 11 and 8 year old. You’d be unsurprised to know that building two kits at the same time with two young children who have the attention span of a goldfish, is as stressful as you’d imagine. But, despite a few hiccups here and there (a few screws not in straight, omitted bearings etc…..), the classic yellow van turned out great. As did its twin with Scooby Doo livery. I’ve so far managed to keep the box art car as a shelf queen I’m pleased to say, but it might be that I have to build a third one as a runner….

 

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Anyway, inevitably, the elephant in the classic Tamiya car show room had to be addressed. It couldn’t be put off anymore. My justification of the prolongation of lockdown meant that after 32 years of waiting, Santa finally delivered at Christmas an Avante. I don’t actually think there is much to say about it. No introduction or explanation needed. Spirit of Tamiya? Check. Iconic livery? Check. Possibly the car that most perfectly capture what Tamiya is all about? Maybe. In my mind yes, but you may no doubt think differently. But, I just give a knowing wink to the forum and all those of my similar age, or those who have built and / or owned an Avante. Over engineered and over designed like little else Tamiya has ever done before or since, it didn’t disappoint I have to say and will sit as pride and joy for me to look at. 

 

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So, by now, my budget is blown. Tamiya has me hooked like a school boy once again but I’ve had to draw a line before I head into an RC money pit abyss. Indeed as I write at the beginning of 2021, the new list of cars due to be released by Tamiya has me flicking through the pre-order websites. But, this is the question to you (assuming you’ve got this far in my story….), given my brief of “Spirit of Tamiya” and “Iconic Livery”, and given the 4 cars I’ve bought and built so far – what would your final 5ht selection be? What new kit / re-re would you suggest I buy to complete my story? But indeed, if you had to pick 5 cars in response to my challenge – what would you go for? 

 

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I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts and wish you happy building.

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Fantastic first post, and beautiful work on the models you've done already.  Loved reading the stories as well, thanks for posting.  

The two most iconic Tamiya models to me are the Grasshopper and Clod Buster.  Looks like you're way past the Hopper with the level & quality of vehicles you already have, so my suggestion is the Clod.  Preferably an original version, I think it would look much better than either the Super or Black edition amongst your collection.  Be sure to keep posting your work no matter what you choose and good luck!

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love it. A really good selection. Excellent quality builds. Not all my choices but I think youve really hit the essence of original Tamiyas.

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Excellent paintwork on your SS & Bruiser. I think your selection of models here are perfect examples of Tamiya Spirit. 

I have also acquired more than a few Tamiya kits to relieve childhood memories and i'm afraid i have spent too much...And time has come to stop buying and start building. These little things are really special i don't why we love these cars so much... I guess they have character ? 

 

 

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WOW, I'm speechless.  Nuff respect to that Avante.  I had a few of the BITD, somehow I sold one new in box in the year 2000.  What was I thinking?  I dont even know where my built one went.  Hoping to find it in my parents sh*t one day.  Enough about me - Those cars care BLAZING! - They look like better than box art!

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Great looking group of models you've got there! But if I can nit-pick a tiny bit: you have a tire backwards on both the Lunchbox and the Bruiser...

You seem to have covered the bases pretty well, but if you're looking for suggestions...

Clod Buster: A true Tamiya icon, and has been for more than three decades now. Also fits in well with the other two monsters.

Fast Attack Vehicle: the most scale-looking dune buggy Tamiya ever made, it's a dead ringer for a Chenowth sand rail. And it needn't be a military model if you don't want; plenty of people (including me) have turned it into a civilian buggy. The WIld One is kinda the civilian version, but the wheels and tires are less scale.

Hotshot/Supershot/Boomerang/Bigwig (dealer's choice): the original Tamiya 4WD buggy line is still an impressive build, and definitely belongs in the pantheon.

Or, if I may: what about a Kyosho Optima? Also an absolute legend, and an iconic paint job, although the re-release lets you "cheat" by using decals instead of four colors of paint.

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28 minutes ago, 87lc2 said:

Fantastic first post, and beautiful work on the models you've done already.  Loved reading the stories as well, thanks for posting.  

The two most iconic Tamiya models to me are the Grasshopper and Clod Buster.  Looks like you're way past the Hopper with the level & quality of vehicles you already have, so my suggestion is the Clod.  Preferably an original version, I think it would look much better than either the Super or Black edition amongst your collection.  Be sure to keep posting your work no matter what you choose and good luck!

Thanks very much. Appreciated. I’ll maybe share a bit more detail about my actual builds in another post. 
 

Seems the Clod is a popular suggestion!
 

Thanks again. 

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29 minutes ago, Busdriver said:

love it. A really good selection. Excellent quality builds. Not all my choices but I think youve really hit the essence of original Tamiyas.

Thank you. 
What would your 5 be?

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24 minutes ago, Dazibao said:

Excellent paintwork on your SS & Bruiser. I think your selection of models here are perfect examples of Tamiya Spirit. 

I have also acquired more than a few Tamiya kits to relieve childhood memories and i'm afraid i have spent too much...And time has come to stop buying and start building. These little things are really special i don't why we love these cars so much... I guess they have character ? 

 

 

I very much agree with you. It’s a never ending slippery slope it seems. Whether you’re a 10 year old or 50 year old RC fan, there is always something else to buy! 

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26 minutes ago, Exit13 said:

WOW, I'm speechless.  Nuff respect to that Avante.  I had a few of the BITD, somehow I sold one new in box in the year 2000.  What was I thinking?  I dont even know where my built one went.  Hoping to find it in my parents sh*t one day.  Enough about me - Those cars care BLAZING! - They look like better than box art!

Thanks very much. Hope you find it! Cheers. 

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20 minutes ago, markbt73 said:

Great looking group of models you've got there! But if I can nit-pick a tiny bit: you have a tire backwards on both the Lunchbox and the Bruiser...

You seem to have covered the bases pretty well, but if you're looking for suggestions...

Clod Buster: A true Tamiya icon, and has been for more than three decades now. Also fits in well with the other two monsters.

Fast Attack Vehicle: the most scale-looking dune buggy Tamiya ever made, it's a dead ringer for a Chenowth sand rail. And it needn't be a military model if you don't want; plenty of people (including me) have turned it into a civilian buggy. The WIld One is kinda the civilian version, but the wheels and tires are less scale.

Hotshot/Supershot/Boomerang/Bigwig (dealer's choice): the original Tamiya 4WD buggy line is still an impressive build, and definitely belongs in the pantheon.

Or, if I may: what about a Kyosho Optima? Also an absolute legend, and an iconic paint job, although the re-release lets you "cheat" by using decals instead of four colors of paint.

Not nit picking at all! I’m really grateful for the advice and help. And very well spotted! 
 

All great suggestions. The Clod seems popular and I’m also drawn to the hotshot. I guess the challenge is getting hold of a NIB. What do you think of any of the newly re released Tamiya line up? Top Force Evo? Fire / Thunder Dragon? Would they fit the bill? 

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11 hours ago, jel_55 said:

Thank you. 
What would your 5 be?

Definitely the Sandscorcher, original 3 speed Toyota Hilux, Mini Cooper, Ford Ranger, Subaru Brat.  All hard bodies except the Mini which is till one of the best Lexington bodies around. 

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For a 5th, a Hotshot, Bigwig, Super Astute, Top Force Evo, King Cab (if it's ever rereleased) or, to break brand loyalty, RC10, Ultima, Turbo Scorpion, or Optima. Every one an icon.

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22 hours ago, Big Jon said:

For a 5th, a Hotshot, Bigwig, Super Astute, Top Force Evo, King Cab (if it's ever rereleased) or, to break brand loyalty, RC10, Ultima, Turbo Scorpion, or Optima. Every one an icon.

Thanks for the suggestions. More to think about! Think I’ll have to stay on brand though. The Top Force Evo is mighty tempting I have to say. Not quite sure the wife would agree based on my spend to date!

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All great builds, and obviously done with passion.

I noticed you had a 3-speed, a monster truck, a 2wd off-roader, and a 4wd off-roader. If I had to pick a fifth, it would definitely need to be on-road!

In light of that, I'm surprised why no-one has suggested the Porsche 934, which I believe is one of the most iconic Tamiyas of all, having been the very first of its RC line.

If you'd prefer to stick to off-road, then the original Hotshot would have my vote.

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Lovely stories here!

At some point, it feels like you’re gonna need to scratch your original itch and get a Falcon though, right? Can I suggest you get two, on pristine box art, and with the second one you branch out with hop ups and your own paint scheme?
 

I was in a similar boat a few years ago and started with an Avante in box art, but the chance to do ‘more’ hooked me in. got some spare bodies and hop up to nail some other looks.


My Avante remains on the shelf but I have other bashers for family fun (comical buggies). But some of them have sneaky hop up and silly looks. So they are not ‘Classic Tamiya’ In their look, but they do represent the spirit of Tamiya by being super fun to chuck around park or a bmx track with my kids. Don’t miss out on that!

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You seem to have a blue theme going on, so how about a Fox? Which for me naturally leads to a hotshot... Which leads to a supershot... And I always liked the boomerang too... Not sure on the fifth, maybe a monster beetle?

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2 hours ago, DeadMeat666 said:

All great builds, and obviously done with passion.

I noticed you had a 3-speed, a monster truck, a 2wd off-roader, and a 4wd off-roader. If I had to pick a fifth, it would definitely need to be on-road!

In light of that, I'm surprised why no-one has suggested the Porsche 934, which I believe is one of the most iconic Tamiyas of all, having been the very first of its RC line.

If you'd prefer to stick to off-road, then the original Hotshot would have my vote.

Thanks for the reply. It does indeed seem blindingly obvious now that you rightly point it out.  The on-road hole in my line up is crying out to be filled with a Porsche with the classic livery to boot. I guess my chances of finding a new in box of that to build are pretty slim and possibly involve selling a kidney to pay for it! Thanks for the suggestions again. 

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53 minutes ago, Bwaaatch said:

Lovely stories here!

At some point, it feels like you’re gonna need to scratch your original itch and get a Falcon though, right? Can I suggest you get two, on pristine box art, and with the second one you branch out with hop ups and your own paint scheme?
 

I was in a similar boat a few years ago and started with an Avante in box art, but the chance to do ‘more’ hooked me in. got some spare bodies and hop up to nail some other looks.


My Avante remains on the shelf but I have other bashers for family fun (comical buggies). But some of them have sneaky hop up and silly looks. So they are not ‘Classic Tamiya’ In their look, but they do represent the spirit of Tamiya by being super fun to chuck around park or a bmx track with my kids. Don’t miss out on that!

I feel you’re very right. The more I read people’s replies and the more I flick through the websites, shops and YouTube videos, I can see that my idea of drawing a line under 5 cars is just not going to happen...... I guess that 99% of people in this forum can relate to that! 

I do also share your view - the spirit of tamiya is as much about running (and breaking and repairing!) as it is building and collecting. Here’s to buying two of everything! 
 

many thanks.  

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