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Mechanic AH

Best to worse Tamiya 2WD buggy chassis? What’s your top one? And one to avoid?

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I’m not steeped in experience with Tamiya cars and I’d like to learn more about Tamiya’s different 2WD buggy chassis—basically the best to worse. Purely from a performance perspective. Trying to figure out what kit I should look out for as I’ve acquired a few but want to avoid some mostly for space and budget. I think I can sort my top 3 but not beyond. I also have a Super Astute but not sure if any of the DT-xxs are better since I don’t have any. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Chassis rank:
1. TRF211XM or TRF201 (plus all variants)
2. DN01 (Zahhak)
3. Dyna Storm (and Dyna Blaster)
4….
5….
……

Where do these fall in terms of rank order?

Astute
DT-01
DT-02
DT-02 MS
DT-03
Falcon (Bear Hawk, Blitzers, Stadium Thunder)
FAV (Wild One)
Fox/Novafox
Grasshopper (Hornet, Storm Dragon)
Grasshopper II (Super Hornet, Rising Fighter)
Madcap (Saint Dragon)
ORV (Frog, Subaru Brat)
Striker (Sonic Fighter)
Super Astute

 

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From what I have

Best performer:  (1) DN-01 Zahhak. 

Contemporary fun:  (2) DT-02     (3) DT-03  (they are similar, somehow I prefer DT-02) 

80's Runners:  (4)  Novafox/Fox    (5) FAV/Wild One    (6) ORV  (these 3 are also similar)   (7) Grasshopper/Hornet (It has a special place in my heart, but it is less capable in this lot.) 

 

What I do not have

Vintage: SRB chassis like Sand Scorcher, Super Champ, Rough Rider, etc.  I want a Rough Rider. But I do not know how SRB performs. 

This might be too obscure, but Sand Rover with a 380 motor was probably the worst performing buggy.   

 4zqASwq.jpg

If you ran on grass, it will make vegetable juice for you.  Sand Rover couldn't really rove on sand because gears would eat sand and die.  

gl6VnAR.jpg

A simple lexan cover would have worked but Tamiya never supplied it. 

p60MNFk.jpg

(photos are from Blackholesun)

So, one chassis I avoided was the original Sand Rover chassis. Even back in 1986, I didn't want it.  I have the re-issued Sand Rover with DT02. I like that one. 

 

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Good question!

1. TRF211XMW

2. TRF201 + variants

3. DN01

4. DT02

Not sure after that, next would be DT03 and Super Astute

Anything with a solid rear axle (hopper / hornet) would be at the bottom.

 

 

 

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Unfortunately the Astute and Super Astute will be near the bottom of the list because of their single deck chassis however a Dyna Storm, in the right hands, could be competitive today even IMHO.

 

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2 hours ago, Willy iine said:

@Mechanic AH You're going to maybe lose friends very quickly making a dangerous thread like this..!   :lol:

 

Haha! Not trying to start a fire hehe. Just really curious from a subjective point of view. I only have five 2WD Tamiya buggies with a few more I'm eyeing. Just don't want to get mediocre/underwhelming chassis because I don't have room and don't want to waste time middle of the road ones.

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3 hours ago, Juggular said:

From what I have

Best performer:  (1) DN-01 Zahhak. 

 

As an observer back in the day, that was probably one of the best value/underrated 2wd chassis. Glad I was able to get one and squirrel some TRF201 parts.

I'm still hesitant getting an SRB because I've seen mixed impressions from people who've had them. I need to test drive one myself though.

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13 minutes ago, Mechanic AH said:

I'm still hesitant getting an SRB because I've seen mixed impressions

I hear you.  I've had a few chances to buy one over the years. I was hesitant and I don't regret it.  

I do want it, but I found 3 dozen other things I wanted more.  Dynahead or CC02 are more attractive.  For me it's "if I can find a decent used one cheaply, someday" thing.  Maybe in 10 years, if the mood strikes I might get it.  Even so, I've got this ready, just in case. This is one thing that bugged me about SRB, so why not.

FABfuae.jpg

 

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It's a funny thing, though - what do you mean by "best"? Most stable? Best jumper? Most tune-able? Or... most entertaining?

Because, and hear me out, a Hornet is way more fun under the right circumstances than any finely-tuned racing buggy. Something like the TRF buggies, dead-on precise and predictable, isn't much fun on a stretch of empty beach or in the woods. But a Hornet - now you're talking. Weighs next to nothing, tough as nails, all horsepower and no brains. And a lot more fun to bash around with.

What I'm saying is, don't discount the "bad" handling solid axle cars. There's a lot of bang-for-the-buck there, and in my mind, any collection is incomplete without one.

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On a purely performance perspective, newer cars ,with 4 wheel independent oil shocks, are better than old cars with pogo sticks.

Best handling, out of the box, 2wd Tamiya I've owned (and thinking back, I've only owned 10..)  is the Neo Fighter (released 2014) ,  the worst ,maybe the Hornet (released 1984), so kind of unfair as you need to compare with cars of the same era.

Worst all round car I've owned, was the Frog closely followed by the Monster Beetle, and gearboxes made of cheese (although I think the re release are better)....🙄😳

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Mechanic AH said:

I'm still hesitant getting an SRB because I've seen mixed impressions from people who've had them. I need to test drive one myself though.

The SRB is a unique chassis experience, you need to build one even if it's comparatively terrible to race (and it is). Fun to build, fun to run, not at all competitive but worth every penny.

Edited by djmcnz
"run" changed to "race"
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Don't know about the rest but the Grasshopper  / Hornet have to be at the bottom. Even my sand rover rolled less that they do (The OG, not the re-re)

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11 hours ago, Mechanic AH said:

Rank


1. TRF211XM or TRF201 (plus all variants inc. DN01)
2. Dyna Storm (and Dyna Blaster)
3. Super Astute
4. Madcap / Saint Dragon / King Cabs 
5. All the DT chassis 
6. Astute 
7 Fox
8. Falcons
9. Striker
10.ORV
11. Gasshoppers 

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Tamiya actually laid out what they considered beginner, intermediate and advanced in one of their guidebooks BITD. IIRC, they considered the Grasshopper and Brat for beginners, the Hornet, FAV and Wild One as intermediate and the Frog and Fox as advanced. Its not exactly how I would classify them. I'd think on the lines of:

1. Super Astute

2. Astute

3. Madcap

4. Fox

5. Wild One/Falcon/Frog 

6. Hornet/Grasshopper

I only know the old buggies. #5 is a debate unto itself. I don't have a Falcon so I can't comment but I personally find the Wild One better than the Frog despite the Frog seeing more action at the racetrack. There are threads on this very debate from years past. I would assume the Sonic Fighter/Striker would be just below these, but above the Hornet/Grasshopper. The Madcap is the sleeper of the group. With added oil shocks, I might even pick it over an Astute in an actual race. Its less adjustable out of the box, but simpler and more durable despite sharing the same basic design lineage.  Again "better" is subjective to personal preference, intended use, etc.

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I think @markbt73 has hit the nail right between the eyes.  "Best" is a very subjective term.

Objectively, it's one of release date and target market.  Of buggies release in the same period, those targeted at racers will be 'better' than those targeted at the scale model or bashing markets, but compare the popularity of the Super Astute with the Bear Hawk on Tamiyaclub, there are 96 of the former (including 20 re-releases) and 138 of the latter.  Both were released in the same year, both are 2wd rear-motor buggies with fully independent double-wishbone suspension.  One was aimed squarely at the top spot of competition, the other was a parts-bin special aimed at bashing.  And while the Super Astute may have lost out in absolute numbers because some people upgraded their Astutes to Super spec for racing, and because the far-superior Dyna Storm came out a year later, the Bear Hawk for a long time languished in obscurity.  When I first joined TC 15 years ago, virtually nobody was talking about them at all and they could be found on ebay for next to nothing.  Compare 138 Bear Hawks with 317 Hornets in the TamiyaClub database - and that's just those posted under the original release, excluding the re-release, black metallic, Jun Watanabe, and all the Grasshopper releases that shared the same chassis.

Admittedly we should be careful using Tamiyaclub stats as a reference of popularity because some people will enter the same model multiple times, plus a very long production run could bias even an unpopular model.

Objectively, we should also compare to the competition.  The Super Astute was supposed to be Tamiya's top-flight racing buggy, but it appeared on the market just as tracks were changing from low-grip, low-jump to high-grip, high-jump, and it wasn't good on those tracks.  So while it's a great car on its own and great compared to the rest of the Tamiya line-up at the time, it wasn't quite as good in competition as it should have been.

The SRB is, to me, perhaps the quintessential Tamiya buggy.  It's got the detailed scale body, the metal parts on the chassis, the nod to realism that marked Tamiya as a maker of  scale models suitable for radio control.  But they really are quite terrible to drive on anything but sand.  The locked rear diff, over-stiff suspension and impractical camber angle makes them want to roll over on any surface that has any kind of traction at all.  Even driven very carefully, it can suddenly and without warning tie itself in a knot of complex physics equations which it can only resolve by going upside down.  I know this because I had only intended for my gold-edition Buggy Champ to be a careful, light runner and was only giving it a brief maiden voyage in a large clear space on bumpy tarmac, which resulted in missing spotlights, cracked body, scratches through the professional gold finish right down to the plastic.

As a track racer it's horrible - it is actually a chore to drive.  The ball diff helps but without significant mods that really stop it being an SRB at all (Pukka Parts!) it will only ever be an uncontrollable roll-fest.  I once campaigned an SRB in a two-hour endurance race, it was the longest 2 hours of my life.

But I would rate it as one of the best buggies to own, especially if you can get to a beach.  Once you're on sand, the high COG and pointless suspension don't matter.  The lack of diff doesn't matter.  Sending rooster tails of sand and hanging a wide drift across the beach is like recreating a scene from one of those hi-octane 80s stunt movies, or bringing a childhood daydream to life.

If you want a 2wd buggy to bash around in your back yard or at the local green space then you can't really go wrong with a DT-02 or DT-03, with the bonus that you can also compete in spec classes at a lot of tracks (the DT-02 class is always very close).

The Bear Hawk has long been a favourite of mine, and looks like nothing else with that wingless body.

The Super Astute is great to run on track (with the Dyna Storm front towers to save the arms from modern jumps) but I've never felt the urge to put it on the dirt and bash it like I do the Bear Hawk.

Subjectivity > Objectivity in the Tamiya world :) 

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10 hours ago, Juggular said:

Sand Rover with a 380 motor was probably the worst performing buggy

A close run thing with the Cheetah ;)

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I have 4 of whats on your list (and with limited experience compared to longer term members on here,) as for performance between the ones I have, well they are deliberately set up to suit different moods and conditions. 

1, Stadium Blitzer,

Started on Silver Can and has been my trial and error project now running a 4000kv on 2s (as all my cars are now on 2s). Tough as they come mainly for Beach duties and nothings ever broken on it.

 

2, Wild one,

Running 13.5t brushless. I don't drive as hard and careless as the SB as I don't want to break it, but is a great all rounder with a Buggy Champ wheel set.

 

3, Buggy Champ,

 Torque Tuned. Just love this thing and is a favourite. It came with a diff in it from the previous owner but was never run. Nothing has broken on it either and is probably one of my most used as it also gets run with a Scorcher body too. I left the spot lights off the roof of the runner BC body but has never rolled anyway. SRB's are just a group of their own, admittedly they are getting a bit pricey but they tick the box for me and would by another. If it was a favourite list this would be at the top. 

 

4, Brat.

Fantastic detail hard body for a build, and a Lexan body in the box for running. Trouble is you have to swap the rear body posts over for the 2 body's. So just sits on the shelf really as performance wasn't great and the Blackfoot I have is a much better option for running where I do.

 

Some action of my Favourite  😉...


Edit :- Just realized, I did buy another ‘SRB’ in the form of a Fighting Buggy 😉

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The ranking for the vintage buggies is like this:

1) Fox

2) Grasshopper II (Super Hornet, Rising Fighter)

3) Grasshopper (Hornet, Storm Dragon)

4) Falcon (Bear Hawk, Blitzers, Stadium Thunder)

5) SRB (Superchamp, Fighting buggy, Rough rider)

6) Madcap / Astute

7) ORV (Frog, Subaru Brat)

8) FAV (Wild One)

9) Striker (Sonic Fighter)

I marked highly for models that are well designed and rugged.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Mechanic AH said:

As an observer back in the day, that was probably one of the best value/underrated 2wd chassis. Glad I was able to get one and squirrel some TRF201 parts.

I'm still hesitant getting an SRB because I've seen mixed impressions from people who've had them. I need to test drive one myself though.

I got a zahhak on fire sale from Tamiya USA and I built it and maybe ran it once. I didn't love it, but then again it had no nostalgic factor for me.  I did it box art and it sits on the shelf.  I'm getting more into running cars now so are you saying this would be a great platform for modding and getting a really good road/dirt runner out of?

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13 hours ago, Mechanic AH said:

I'm still hesitant getting an SRB because I've seen mixed impressions from people who've had them. I need to test drive one myself though.

I've had / have a lot of SRB's and although they might not be the best performer out of the box ,but if you held one and had good look round it , it is a work of art in itself .The SS body detail is a thing of beauty . Get one !!

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11 hours ago, markbt73 said:

It's a funny thing, though - what do you mean by "best"? Most stable? Best jumper? Most tune-able? Or... most entertaining?

 

6 hours ago, Mad Ax said:

I think @markbt73 has hit the nail right between the eyes.  "Best" is a very subjective term.

Thanks for the responses. I did state in my question that I was asking based on performance and I'd just assume with my list having TRF at the top it would be based on overall performance alone. I don't dislike terrible performing ones as you can have fun with it, for example a Grasshopper with a torque tuned motor running on pavement to me is a lot of fun. Maybe to make it clear, from a performance/track, and overall capability how would you rank the chassis? Maybe even competitive during their time.

I'm sure there are a lot of fun and entertaining chassis out there that aren't designed for overall performance but those are more obvious. As a side note, I just built a Storm Dragon and pre-ordered a Wild One (Blockhead) based on subjectivity and for fun.

2 hours ago, A-Baum said:

I got a zahhak on fire sale from Tamiya USA and I built it and maybe ran it once. I didn't love it, but then again it had no nostalgic factor for me.  I did it box art and it sits on the shelf.  I'm getting more into running cars now so are you saying this would be a great platform for modding and getting a really good road/dirt runner out of?

From my perspective, the DN01 shares parts with the TRF201 so it has a lot of potential especially with fine tuning and some upgrades for casual track runs. I don't know how competitive it would be with other racing today but it would definitely be capable on a track vs other Tamiya chassis. As for fun, like others have expressed, sometimes it doesn't mean a super capable car can be a lot of fun. I feel a lot of the race spec RCs are precise, tunable, quick, durable, but not a lot of drive character. 

5 hours ago, Re-Bugged said:

1, Stadium Blitzer,

Started on Silver Can and has been my trial and error project now running a 4000kv on 2s (as all my cars are now on 2s). Tough as they come mainly for Beach duties and nothings ever broken on it.

That's quite dead on. I was impressed with the Blitzer and from what I can tell from watching speed runs it's a tough one. 

6 hours ago, Saito2 said:

Tamiya actually laid out what they considered beginner, intermediate and advanced in one of their guidebooks BITD. IIRC, they considered the Grasshopper and Brat for beginners, the Hornet, FAV and Wild One as intermediate and the Frog and Fox as advanced.

That's interesting. I did notice something like that on the 2020 Tamiya catalog based on the copy. For example:

- "The Perfect Choice to Get Started in the the World of R/C buggies!" = TT02B

- "Cut straight to the action—hassle-free build, great drive!" = Racing Fighter, Neo Fighter, Aqroshot (DT-03s)

- "Racing Buggies" = and they list Dark Impact/DF-03, Sand Viper/DT-02, and Zahhak/DN-01

 

7 minutes ago, KEV THE REV said:

they might not be the best performer out of the box , if you held one and had good loook round it , it is a work of art in itself .The SS body detail is a thing of beauty . Get one !!

Anyway, I was here to look for performance oriented kits but seeing @Re-Bugged's video, and mentions by @Juggular@djmcnz, @Mad Ax, and that entry by @KEV THE REV about "work of art," I'm starting to rethink of getting one! 

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2 hours ago, Dakratfink said:

Worst 2wd Buggy Hornet

Best 2wd Buggy , Hornet 

 

Safe is best!  :lol:

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