Huge shout out to www.RC4WD.com For helping facilitate this article.
A few years back I started seeing images and posts online of some of Antipodean RC builder Dphotographer Danny Huynh amazing body shell art and full on build projects. I was simply gob smacked at the intricate detail, the unique approach he put to every aspect, and both the visual as well as mechanical story each one told.
Trying to explain what they convey without actually seeing them is difficult. They have a rare quality in that they are not only visually stunning, meaning you end up scrutinizing each image much longer than most RC posted online, but they are also truly innovate.
Danny utilizes many stock components in very unique ways. he also adds detail features not usually associated with the original vehicles, like faux Rotary Engines more akin to use in a flight scenario, Machine Guns, Revolving cab sections and much more. Each build usually has a driver figure and or gunner/co-pilot/sidekick present, and these are often animated via linkages and servos to make then not only come to life, they actually look like they are steering/firing/riding. The figures often have a slightly dark Sci-Fi twist.
From Terminator androids and Wolverine, to what can only be described as undead Sci-Fi Storm Troopers…(and not the Star Wars kind!), they have a look and presence that seem to elevate each build to an even higher level of cool.
No Two Are The Same…
He’s build 3WD chopper-esc Drift Trikes (yes you read that correctly…3WD, Drift Trike) based on 1/5th Thunder Tiger race bike, rigs based on Axial donors, painted some of the sickest drift car bodyshells I’ve ever seen, and more recently done a series of builds based on RC4WD kits, donor vehicles and parts. And these are something else!
I recently got a chance to interview the man himself. We are friends on Facebook, and comment on each others photographs and projects all the time, but I wanted to know more about him as a person. What inspires the man that himself inspires so many to re-visit the art of truly building. An art that for many has been lost, and to a whole new generation of RC fans, who have grown into the hobby with RTR vehicles, run mostly stock.
I do hope this will be in some way a wake up call and an inspiration to you to go and get yourself a kit, and put some of yourself into its build process. But enough of that, onto the interview…
RCCZ: What led you to this point in your RC builds? We want the Dphotographer Danny Huynh Origin Story…when did they go from Cool to Epic?
DPDH: “I’m a documentary photographer by trade and have always had a passion for cars. Not so much the mechanical side of them, but more passionate about the design aspects of cars. So about 5 years ago, I’ve decided to buy my first RC car!
I always wanted to win one while growing up in the 80’s since my parents couldn’t afford one, but hey… Better late than never!
I’ve never really considered my works as being cool or epic. I just do what I enjoy and am thrilled to see other people appreciate it…”
RCCZ: How would you describe your creations? To me they are functioning works of RC Art…They blow my mind and inspire me in equal measure.
DPDH:“I like to describe them as a form of creative thinking, I like to keep them very similar in style, but also different from each build to set them apart. I’ve never called myself an artist. I just stumbled into the title through the use of Facebook.
I suppose it is a form of art to a certain extent, specifically the painting and photography side of it…”
RCCZ: You seem to see the World in a very different way to most. What’s your favorite film/book? In my head I can see a whole Graphic Novel littered with your builds…what’s inside your head?
DPDH: “Not much goes inside my head to tell you the truth. I don’t read books or graphic novels, I’m more of a music person and must have something on all day, every day while I tinker.
Some of my favorite movies Kill Bill, Blade Runner, movies with alien/s etc., but I don’t see any of those being an influence in my work.
I feel that my biggest inspiration comes from WW2 vehicles. Particularly, the aircrafts during that period which I believe to be the best design in aviation history! “
RCCZ: What was your first ever true RC vehicle? (and did you modify the hell outta it?)
DPDH: “As I mentioned previously, I bought my first RC car about 5 years ago. It was the re-release of the Tamiya Avante and brought back my childhood memories from the 80’s. Back then, it was Tamiya’s design with their Avante and Egress that really got my attention. Even the box art itself was truly a work of art.
Shortly after, I discovered RC drifting and bought a Tamiya VDS drift chassis. That allowed me to be really creative and paint the drift shells in different ways. I think this is where it all really started with teaching myself how to paint drift shells and eventually lead to modifications on the VDS. It was the first of my animated drivers, the Kick Ass action figure!“
RCCZ: If you could build anything, based on any kit, from any manufacturer ever made, no budget restrictions…no scale concerns, what would it be?
DPDH: “I’ll have to go with what I’m building with right now. I have built quite a few different RCs, but nothing compares to RC4WD’s products. Not only do their scale trucks really suit my style of building, but RC4WD provides a great deal of details in all their products. Mainly, their scale chassis’ really brings my designs to life…”
RCCZ: What are the top 3 things you can offer as advice for people inspired to get their own build projects started?
1. Create and don’t imitate
2. It doesn’t have to be realistic, just as long as it works and looks “unreal”.
3. Have fun!
RCCZ: Any insights into your latest projects? Anything we really need to know about you, and the future of PDH?
DPDH:“I try to build a new project every month. it usually takes a month or two for all the detailing and creation to work as one. Currently, I’m working on a RC4WD Gelande 2 with their classic Toyota Land Cruiser Body. It’s a tow truck based on the Zero Warbird with a radial engine. hehe…”
PS: “You might also be seeing another Trike soon, since I’ve been wanting to challenge myself with another 3 wheeler…”
RCCZ: Have you ever thought of producing a book about the entire body of your work? I could see it sitting on coffee tables all over the World…especially mine!
DPDH:“I never considered producing a book, but yes, that would be cool. I pride myself as a photographer as that is after all how this all started… you know, painting drift shells and photographing them. I have to snap a photo everyday otherwise I go mad…hehe!”
RCCZ: Last question…Where do you want to see the RC Industry and this vibrant Scale Scene go in the future? Is it still as exciting and diverse as when you first got hooked? Or do you think it needs more people with your drive and vision to push the boundaries a little, and inspire a new generation into getting involved and building using traditional model making techniques?
DPDH: “That all depends on what one loves about this hobby. I know that this industry is constantly growing and has been awesome with releasing new kits and creations quite regular to keep us happy.
The great thing about this hobby is that there are various aspects as to what we each love about it. For me, it’s creating, painting and photographing it. And yes, it “IS” as exciting as the day I discovered it! For others, it can be the racing side or competitive side to it, or both. Whichever it is, we need to keep practicing what we love about this hobby. Practice makes perfect, or at least pretty darn close!”
A huge shout out to Danny for taking the time to answer my questions. We look forward to seeing more of his builds in the future. Huge thanks’ also to RC4WD for helping facilitate this, and for more on Danny and his builds check out his Facebook page HERE
I do hope that for those not familiar with his work it will inspire you to. Its set a benchmark in terms of being so different and taking us away from always striving to create photorealistic builds. Adding in a little weird and using a little leftfield thinking creates something fresh and exciting, and long may that be so!
So, where should I start this journey; when I got the kit, or a lot further back? I’ve been told in the past to start at the beginning , however I’m going to break that rule and start at the end, as I cannot wait to share the finished product with you.
This is the end result of what has been a long journey for me. It has been an emotional journey and one with a variety of feelings along the way, but well worth the travelling .
Back to the beginning
OK, before I show you too much, let’s go back to the beginning, the very beginning, <cue the ‘Wayne’s World’ time travel special effects>
My journey into RC cars started with Tamiya. Without a shadow of a doubt, Tamiya were THE manufacturer of kits in the 80’s. I remember being in awe as my younger self opened the box, seeing all the components and then learning to build the kits. It’s fair to say that more than half of the fun of a Tamiya was the journey before you drove the car.
We live today in a Ready To Run world, and this has its advantages to get people driving quickly. However, there is something lost for me in RTR cars. In building the car up yourself, you not only got a massive sense of achievement and pride in what you have achieved, but you also built your knowledge. Knowing how a car is put together is a big thing so overlooked by the RTR world of today. If you built the car, you understand the car, and I think that allows you to repair, upgrade and tune as you want with confidence.
For those, like me, who have some silver or white in what hair they have left, this should ring some bells. For those younger, I know there were some re-releases of the classics in early 2000’s. The Tamiya cars at the time, for me, were the Hornet, Grasshopper and the Frog, swiftly followed by other character cars like the Wild Willy Jeep.
I still have a soft spot for the F150 Ford Ranger with its aluminium suspension setup and scale looks, as that was one of the last cars of my childhood and was also the car that re-united me with my father after family divorce – RC has a way of mending many bridges by providing a common ground.
My memories of the Tamiya kits were good overall; I don’t ever recall a badly moulded part on any of my kits sprues. Sure, I remember upgrading the friction shocks to oil filled dampers and changing the plastic bush rings for metal ball races in some of my earlier budget based builds.
The thing with this, is that you have to remember where Tamiya placed those kits. They offered (and still do) a range of kits, from their top of the range pro racing kits with all the upgrades in the box as standard, to an accessible entry level kit to get as many people into RC Cars as possible whilst maintaining a decent quality level as, after all, the experience of a bad model could taint your RC experience and put someone off the hobby.
So you can hopefully understand why this meant a lot to me when I was asked to relive my journey and how would the current models match up to the expectations in my head from remembering my Tamiya roots.
OK, back to the near present <more Wayne’s World time travel wavy screen effects and sounds>
Presented with a boxed Tamiya TT02 sporting the legendary 1992 world rally championship winning Lancia Delta Integrale, let’s just say I was quite excited as the memories started flooding back.
On first glance the kit contained not only the car itself, but a motor and speed controller so, in addition to the kit, I added a 9009 Low Profile servo from RC-Core to use alongside my existing Spektrum radio gear and a can of white PS-1 Tamiya paint.
So, I’m itching to get started and having built a few kits in the past and although I stand a good chance of piecing together the car by sight without having too many parts left over, I think it’s best to use the instruction manual with its exploded diagrams, to aid the process. But just before I get into the build zone and delve in with the clippers and a knife blade to clean all the joints up, let’s have a look at the some of the sprues and what you get.
As you can see, the injection moulded black plastic sprues are very well moulded, so they are accurate and have a great finish. These contain all the parts you need, each one numbered so you can identify it easily using the manual and have a relatively simple build process.
A tip for removing the parts is never ever twist them off the sprues, as often that removes a small amount of the part as it comes off. My preference is to use wire cutters and clip the part off close to the part and then use a craft knife or Stanley type knife to or scrape off any mould marks to ensure the very best fitment and look.
Chrome and body-coloured parts to add lots more detail and realism to the Lancia
The moulded “bath tub” chassis provides a very sturdy base for the Tamiya TT02 to be built on, and should keep everything inside protected from any stones etc. from the off-road escapades that I know it’s going to have.
Wheels and tyres, again have had time lavished on them in the design phase to add more realism with the cross cut block tyres and white rally wheels, ensuring they are both functional for driving and look great if your car is a shelf queen.
Onto the build
Following the instructions, after installing the centre driveshaft, one of the first parts to build is the differential. For those that don’t know what this is or how important it is, it allows the wheel on each side to turn at a different speed, whilst still being driven forwards by the motor.
This is needed to make it easier to turn the car, as the wheel on the outside of the bend has to travel further than the wheel on the inside. On a 4wd car like the Tamiya TT02 Lancia Delta, it will have a differential at the front and at the rear. without them it would be very hard to drive.
The differential is made up of a 4 planet gears and 2 crown gears that fit inside the main housing and allow the wheels to to turn at different speeds as previously explained.
Tamiya, thankfully for those that have not built a differential or a car before, break everything down into sections and detail the build step by step. Everything you need is included in the kit, and they even put in the required tubes of grease.
After a few steps (7 if you included building the driveshaft), you end up with the following, a completed differential installed ready for the cover plate.
You can see in the image above that Tamiya have provided plastic bushings rather than ball bearings with the kit. Ball bearings are available as an upgrade, and its one I would recommend if you want to extend the life of the TT02.
I’m not going to recreate the manual in this review, but hopefully show you enough steps and images that you can be part of the build with me
Before long the motor is installed and the pinion gear mesh with the main drive gear is set by the chassis and motor mount. There is no fiddling to do to get it right. You can see the smear of thick grease that is used to stop dust ingress into the motor and gear mesh, simple and effective.
The suspension and drive shafts are built up. To allow the correct movement, Tamiya have moulded ball joints that you assemble – it takes a hard press to get the balls into the moulded cups, but they go in with a click, then you can bolt through into the steering hub. It goes to show again the accuracy of Tamiya’s moulds and process they use to create the plastic parts.
The drive shafts are “Dog Bones”, very simple, very effective, the metal pin that goes through the drive shaft fits into a slot on the axle hub and differential hub. This allows the suspension to move up and down and the steering to turn whilst still transmitting the power from one to the other, and, in turn, driving the wheel.
Well the Tamiya TT02 is starting to look like a chassis now. Steering linkages need to be made up and fitted, but it won’t be long before its able to move under its own steam!
Using two bell-cranks and some linkages to the wheel hubs and to the servo (via a servo saver) the steering is done.
So, What’s A Servo Saver?
Whilst some servos are now metal geared, traditionally, servos have plastic gears inside them that drive the output shaft which you connect to the servo horn and, in turn, the steering.
It was quite easy to damage these servo gears by hitting a curb, for example. The force of that impact was transmitted directly back to the servo, so some clever soul invented a servo saver. It uses a separate inner and outer ring and a spring so, if there is a big impact, some of that impact force is taken up by the spring part and the servo gears are saved…
(Lots of modern servos use or have options for metal gears now, however a servo saver can still be a good idea)
Onto The Shocks
One thing to note at this point is the shock absorbers are friction and not oil damped. Whilst that makes for an easy build, it is the one thing I would certainly upgrade. Once you have driven a car with oil dampers and softer springs you appreciate the smoother, less bouncy drive.
Pin Location & Faux Disk Hexes
In order to stop the axle spinning inside the wheel, Tamiya follow the trusted method of using a pin through the axle which goes into a slot on the back of a plastic hex. As you tighten the wheel onto the axle with the lock nut, it presses the hex (with its built in faux disc) over that pin to ensure nothing can slip when you give it full throttle.
Installing the Electrics
Now the mechanical side is finished, it’s time to sort out the electronics. For some this can be a daunting task, but I can help put aside any fears by saying it’s all plug and play, even colour coded.
The Electronic Speed Controller provided is far superior to the old three speed wiper speed controllers of my youth and very welcomed. No ceramic resistors to scorch your arm on and a much smoother power delivery too.
This ESC is also capable of running both the brushed drive motor that came in the kit, or an upgraded brushless motor, so they have given some future proofing as standard and an easy way to add more power. Tamiya, another thank you from me.
I’ve not cut and soldered any of the wires in this kit. and although it might look complex or a lot of wires, all I have done is plugged them in, bunched them up and used a couple of cable ties so they are tidy and don’t catch
The wiring is not that hard when you look at it logically…
ESC has pre wired switch, battery connector, motor connectors and signal control lead
ESC and servo connect to the radio receiver via their signal control lead
ESC connects to battery with the attached power lead
ESC connects to motor (2 wires for brushed, 3 wires for brushless, all covered in the manual)
With a little planning and some cable ties its simple to bundle the wires up to keep things neat. My personal preference would have been to cut and solder the wires so everything is super neat, but I wanted to build this as I would have built it in my youth.
The Completed Chassis
The underside of the bathtub chassis will protect the components and keep everything nice and safe.
Looking good topside, foam bumper installed to help absorb any impact from when we rally this about.
That is the chassis and electronics build done. I have tested it driving about inside the garage and once i had reversed the steering channel on my transmitter, all was good. Those tyres give massive grip on carpet tiles, so should make light work of propelling the Lancia forward on tarmac or loose surfaces.
Group B Body
Painting a body is an experience, and one I think everyone should do at some point; not only to get something personalised to themselves, but it’s another skillset and well worth the time invested in learning.
Before you start, you need to cut out shell. As it comes in the kit, there is some excess material on the wheel arches and around the sills/bumpers. I would recommend investing in some curved scissors for Lexan. They make the job a lot easier. Take your time, follow the lines on the shell and all will be good.
Tamiya provide you with a set of window masking templates for the Lancia and you have to cut these from the sheet yourself, following the guide lines and then stick them inside the windows.
Please remember at this point you are going to paint the shell from the inside. The reason for this is that you are much less likely to scratch any paint off as you’re throwing it down gravel tracks and off road. The outer shell of Lexan will, thankfully, protect your paintwork.
After following the instructions of cleaning the inside of the shell and fitting the window stickers, you can then beak out the spray can.
Keep the layers thin, there is no rush and if you put on a big heavy layer, it’s much more likely to run.
A good tip, besides ensuring you’re spraying in a ventilated area with adequate protection, is to warm the paint can in some hot water. This allows the paint to flow better and gives you a more even coat and a better finish.
Once you have enough layers on and good even coverage, you can let it dry (I recommend overnight in a warm place) and then remove the window masks. Almost done (well nearly)
Stickers, Decals, Detail…
I find building quite therapeutic and spraying is too, for me. Stickers … well it’s a love and hate from me. I want them to be perfect and whilst I enjoy putting them on, there is a lot to put on to this shell. This can be a bit daunting and with one thing and another that was going on in my life, I let this delay the build for far too long.
Taking the bull by the horns and using the old trick of some washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle to allow you to slide the stickers into position, I set to it.
I chose a sticker to start with which was one of the rear quarters, and cut out the stickers a few at a time from the multiple sticker sheets
If you spray the outside of the shell (don’t forget to remove the overspray guard film first) with a mist of water with a little washing up liquid mixed in, it will allow you to slide the sticker into place and then squeegee the water out from under the sticker when you have it where you want it.
I found for some of the stickers, as they have to go over quite large areas of complex curves, that a little heat from a hairdryer make it easy to stretch the sticker into any inside curves or allow the sticker to shrink a fraction so you did not end up with any crow feet lines.
As there is so many stickers on this shell, don’t try and do it all in once, work through them in the order that Tamiya have put on the instructions and before long you’ll have a highly detailed model.
There is a small amount of painting to do on the grill shell and mirrors; I used black acrylic paint and brushed it by hand rather than masking and, as for the rest of the stickers, it’s just a case of following the instructions and building they layers up.
Some of the stickers, like the red line on the grill, are very thin and you need to be mindful when cutting them out. Overall, I stopped counting at 120 separate stickers on this shell. But I love the end result, it’s a fantastic scale look, and Tamiya have surpassed themselves here.
Reliving Past Rally Glory…in 1/10th Scale!
Having spent a lot of time driving tuned cars with brushless motor and oil damped suspension, I need to make clear that the Tamiya TT-02 is sold as a starter car with a highly detailed replica body.
Performance of the brushed motor surprised me, it was as good as I remember them to be, quite happily spinning all 4 wheels on loose surfaces with the cross cut tyres biting into the dirt, throwing it rearwards as they propel the Lancia forwards. The speed controller was another improvement, allowing much more control than the old three speed wiper system.
I’ve mentioned a few times about the suspension, and I will say for approximately £20 you can get a full set of oil filled dampers, and it’s the one upgrade i would do. The standard shocks do what they are designed to do however, with the strong springs, it does make the car bounce about after a jump or on very rough terrain. On a smooth or relatively smooth surface, its a hoot to drive, and on gravel the Tamiya TT02 is quite capable of sliding and drifting about, more like the full size Lancia Delta.
It’s a fun car to drive and the overall package is so much more than just the drive; it’s the journey from opening the box, building, painting, stickering, finalising with the driving or displaying; whichever takes your fancy.
Building a Tamiya kit is a journey, no, a rite of passage that everyone should take, at least once…Who knows where it will lead you?
Suzuki’s links with 4×4 vehicles dates right back to the year of my birth, 1968…(yeah I’m really that old!). Back then Suzuki bought a former Japanese automaker, the Hope Motor Company. That company had previously produced a series of small off-road vehicles called the ‘HopeStar ON360’. The first fully Suzuki-branded 4×4 was was introduced in 1970 and named the ’Light Jeep 10’or ‘LJ10’ for short. It was driven by a very modest 359cc air-cooled, 2-cylinder, two-stroke engine, and was originally targeted at the Australian market. More exports globally soon followed as the plucky little 4×4 was so popular.
The models kept evolving over time, with the LJ50, the Jimny8/LJ80. The engine grew to 800cc and an in-line, four cylinder, four-stroke, followed by the Jimny 1000/SJ410 and Jimny 1300/SJ413. An updated version of the SJ413 became known as the ‘Samurai’ and was the first 4×4 Suzuki officially marketed in the USA.
John Wasley one of the RCCZ crew, and the builder of this review Tamiya owns one (check out our RECON G6 report for a picture!). it’s over 20 years old, has appeared on the front cover of a 4X4 magazine after been heavily modified and is still going strong (when its not on it’s side, or breaking a half-shaft…but more from John and his wife Justine later!)
The True Jimny Emerges
In 1998 a new model and was released. It was called the Jimny in all markets globally and used the G13BB EFI engine, replaced by the M13AA EFI engine in 2001 and the M13AA VVT engine in 2005, in conjunction with an interior redesign. This generation of Jimny is one that the RCCZ crew and many of our Scale Nationals competitors know very well, and between us we now own half a dozen in various states of Lift, modification, and Off Road capabilities.
We even have our own completely stock soft top one as the mag’s daily driver, complete with RCCar.Zone and RECON G6 logos! It’s driven 1000s of miles since we got it and never missed a beat.
It intrigues all that see or has a drive in it, and we are about to start our own list of modifications this winter. ‘Godzuki’ (as we call it) will get a little more capable off road by the new year!
You could say this vehicle has a very special place in our hearts…It may be small, but it’s a plucky and very capable Off Roader. It boasts a true ladder chassis, with 2WD for everyday road use and selectable high and low ratio 4WD for off road use, 190mm ground clearance, approach and departure angles of 34 and 46 degrees respectively, which for a car of this size (length 3.7 metres and a wheelbase of 2.2m) is amazing.
And this leads me onto the main purpose of this article…Tamiya recently released a kit of the newer model on a MF-01X chassis, and we just had to source and then let John Wasley build one to mimic theirs!
Out Of The Box & Onto The Build
As with most Tamiya builds, you start with the rear 3 planetary gear diff. Remember to smear all the rotating components with the supplied grease and check that the diffs action feels smooth without any tight spots or (and yes this is a made up word):- ‘graunchyness’. Getting the tension of all three of the self tapping screws that hold the diffs cover on is the key, just nip them up and don’t force them.
Next the gearbox/transmission is assembled and the internal gears fitted. The whole assembly thankfully spins on bearings, but again smear grease on all the mating surfaces to ensure the gears are well lubricated.
The lay shaft and spindle that the gears rotate on also requires lubrication, again a light smear, and not a huge blob of grease will suffice.
The rear damper stays and BA9 ball studs go onto the front of the gearbox.
You are then prompted to add the supplied servo saver/servo horn assembly to your chosen steering servo, taking note the natural point has the servo horn sitting perfectly 90 degrees to the servo body and with the servos spline sitting to the left as you look at it from above. A 3kg to 6kg servo is perfectly adequate for this little 4×4.
Next comes the steering linkages, or rods as Tamiya likes to describe them. They clip onto ball studs again, and next the servo and steering linkages are affixed into a mount. Now here’s where you must ensure that you use the supplied spacers to get the servo’s height set just right. This will ensure that when bolted into the front gearbox casing that also double as part of chassis, in use the linkages have a free range of movement and don’t bind in any way, even at the most extreme of this pretty rudimentary kit suspension.
The front diff is built next, and is a carbon copy of the rear. Again once complete you than add this and the front gearboxes internal gears, lube up the lot and bolt the two halves together.
The front and rear sub assemblies are then joined together using a middle chassis bridge consisting of two halves. This is where things get interesting. You can build this (and the central prop/driveshaft) to accommodate 3 different wheelbase settings. 210mm (Short), 225mm (medium), or 239mm (Long). There is also a low or high ground clearance setting for the suspension.
The Jimny, surprisingly (as its so tiny) runs with a medium wheelbase option of 225mm, and unsurprisingly (as its Off Road) runs the high ground clearance suspension option. The rear arms go on next, with their now trademark Tamiya threaded upper arms/links.
The shocks are built next and being friction units there’s no filling or bleeding required. These take a matter of minutes to construct, and then its time to add the rear god bone drive shafts, hub carriers and axles with drive cups. 10 minutes tops, was all it took to get the rear end assembled and that included fitting the body posts!
The front is just as simple with the only real difference the use of C hubs and steering knuckles, and of course the linkages leading from the steering servo, out the sides of the chassis to each hub assembly with it’s dog bone drive shaft, drive cups and axle. The last thing that goes on to this part of the build are the front friction shocks, body posts and bumper. We almost have a rolling chassis by now…almost!
As the pinion is held inside the rear transmission and gearbox its impossible to visually set the correct mash or depth the pinion needs to be for the best surface contact.
Here Tamiya have come up with a simple yet genius idea. You use a supplied plastic cup form that slots over the pinion, with a slit in the side allowing you to loosen or tighten the grub screw…You simply move the pinion as far out as it will go until its resting against the inside edge of the plastic cup, noting that the cup itself is firmly pressed onto the motors bell housing and tighten up the grub screw! ‘Boom’..a perfectly set gear mesh!
With the motor firmly bolted onto place, the ESC and receiver are next added. The included TBLE-025 Brushless ESC is LiPo compatible (rated for 2S), and can be switched to either 2 wire brushed or 3 wire sensored brushless operation. Its a little fiddly initially, and all programmed via LED’s, but after a coffee and a little practice its soon done.
With the electrics all in, the steering servo linked to the receiver and everything cantered and tested, we next build up the Faux Alloy wheels and Rally Block tyres.
A thin Cyno is best used to bond the two together and pulling back the bead and letting a slight trickle flow between them the best way.Ensure you clean up the beads of each with lighter fluid to remove mould release, and a slightly scuffing the mating surface on the wheels with sandpaper or wet n dry. A careful 30 minutes later and we had four wheels and tyres done, and no fingers stuck to the table, each other, or any of the wheels and tyres (been there, done that!).
Finally, the body. Without boring you with every detail it took a day to paint, cut out and sticker up properly.
10 Points When Painting The Body:-
Wash the inside with hot water and mild detergent then rinse and dry. This removed the Silicon mould release spray from the inside of the shell used in the vac forming process, that could act as a resist to your chosen paint.
Regularly wash your hands as the oils in your fingertips and skin can again act as a resist for the paint.
Remember to add the window masks on the INSIDE before you paint, bub the edges of these with clean fingers to make sure they are sealed to the shell to avoid ‘bleeding in’ of the paint.
Make sure you use a certified Lexan paint and not exterior paint designed for hard bodies. This will ensure that the first coat etches into the plastic and then that all layers after that build up a good deep colour.
build up thin coats and take your time…thick coats peel off, don’t dry properly and run…
Use curved scissors to cut out wheel arches, practice on waste material first as there’s an art to using them properly.
Use a mild detergent and water mix in a spray bottle or vaporiser to put a fine mist on the outside. then apply decals one at a time, using a soft cloth and squeegee to remove excess moisture and air. This allows some re-positioning time and once dry the stickers will look crisp and flat with no tiny air bubbles or pockets.
Take your time and don’t rush…the body is what makes or breaks any builds final overall look.
Once everything’s dry and settled, again go over all stickers with a soft cloth to ensure they are 100% down and sealed to the body. They tend to relax and can lift in first 24 hours.
For extra ‘Ping’ polish the outside with a spray on liquid wax, normally used for 1:1 cars…use a totally new, clean soft cloth to avoid any scratches on pristine plastic.
That’s it…the little Suzuki is now done…It was time to go and give it a run and also take the 1:1 version out for some fun too!
Little N Large
The Jimny’s (Plural) were taken to a local 4×4 spot and put through their paces. The Tamiya, while not being as capable as the 1:1 was tons of fun. Its the ideal 1st build, or as a fun collectable. We have seen them take part in RECON G6 events once modified, and we know that our Austrian contributor Daniel Siegl has won classes and had great success with one.
At under £120 for the kit its never going to be a full-on comp rig in stock form, but it is, as are all Tamiya models…lots of fun. The Torque Tuned Motor offers the right balance of wheel speed, and as it’s name implies, ‘Torque…
In use a 5000 mAh LipPo pack lasts around 20 minutes of run time, longer I would bet if you fitted say a 35t or higher motor. The rally block tyres generate good grip on most surfaces but benefit from being scrubbed up first on concrete to break that outer surface. The motor while not ever going to win a drag race does however offer a turn of speed when required and low down low RPM finesse for more technical driving conditions.
A Suzuki Mad Family Footnote…
John and Justine Wasley are not only part of our RC and 1:1 4×4 global family, John is also an occasional contributor to my past and current magazines, and also a key member of the team that twice a year stages the UK Scale Nationals (and from this year onwards….the UK RECON G6).
They not only own a very cool Samurai that’s adorned the cover of an international 4×4 magazine, both compete in 4×4 events regularly and are also own the red Soft top Jimny in the background of some of our review shots, and the one the little Tamiya is actually sitting on in one…
I recently asked Justine why Suzuki 4×4’s have such a special place in their lives and hearts. Here’s the transcript:-
“Our love for Suzuki’s started with my very first car, even after passing my driving test over 26 years ago, I have still haven’t owned a ‘car’. My first ‘car’ was a 4×4 Suzuki LJ80 that we found about a year after passing my test. I loved my little Suzuki so much that after I started to compete in off road events I realised that I was damaging ‘Frank’ too much, so he was retired to my mother in laws car port (Sadly, for the next 20+ years).
I replaced Frank with ‘Jemima’, another Suzuki LJ80, and then ‘Purdy’ the Suzuki SJ410. Family and job changes meant that the Suzuki’s were replaced as daily drivers with ‘other cough’ 4×4’s, 7-seaters which were much more practical. We have always had a Suzuki in the family though as John built and modified a Suzuki samurai 413 (now with a 1.6 Sidekick engine fitted, a 416) and we have both competed in it for a number of years. After rescuing ‘Frank’ a couple of years ago from the car port and trying to persuade our oldest daughter that it would be the coolest car ever for her first vehicle (and failing miserably), we sadly listed Frank on good old EBay, and much to my regret we sold him…
But on a happier note we now had the funds to get me my own Suzuki. We found a red Suzuki Jimny with a blown engine, but has luck would have it I am married to a mechanic so we went ahead and decided to buy it. John replaced the engine and with his knowledge and experience with Suzuki off roaders he knew which modifications he wanted to do to my little truck. (I wanted to change the colour from red to purple, but that was simply one mod too far!).
The modifications that John carried out are a 3 inch suspension lift, with heavy duty castor correction suspension arms, a snorkel, so I can go in deep water, heavy duty sill bars and front and rear bumpers. The best modification though is a rock lobster transfer box that lowers the 4×4 gears by 80% making it much more controllable (and fun) off-road. The tyres are Insa-turbo special tracks and are about 3 inches taller than standard to give it the ‘Mini Monster Truck’ look.
One of the modifications that I love the most is the exhaust which is a straight through power flow back box that was originally on a Triumph Herald making my little truck very noisy. The next thing I need John to put in is a Lock right rear diff locker which he has sitting on his workbench in the garage. Oddly, he is very reluctant to put it in because I think he thinks that it will make my truck better than his, and I’ll beat him off road (which would probably happen!). I’d also like a winch on the front bumper, not that I would ever use it but it would look good!
These little Suzuki 4x4s are very underrated and looked down on by a lot of the larger green oval badge owners. We recently joined the Buxton Land Rover club at one of their trials. A number of Suzuki’s took part and we showed them that a Suzuki Jimny is a force to be reckoned with. For me personally I love the fact that the Jimny is small enough to use as an everyday vehicle (John even helped source RCCCZ’s daily driver ‘Godzuki’).
They are also an excellent off roader, surprising a lot of people with what they can do. They punch way above their weight and size, and that’s very cool…”
Cheap to buy & easy to build for any age group of RC fan
A no brainer collectible for any Suzuki Jimny fan/owner
Fun with a capital ‘T’ (& ‘A’ & ‘M’ & ‘I’ & ‘Y’ & ‘A’)
Simple to work on and repair if needed
Tons of future ‘Scope’ to hop up!
It’s TAMIYA what’s not to like?
Needs oil dampers, friction ones a bit to ‘Springy’
Last time out, as a total newb to the RC hobby I was graced with a ready to run offering that required very little setup before I could get out in to the wide open spaces and play. I loved it and was well and truly hooked as I whole heartedly knew I would be. Knowing this, and also knowing I’m always looking for new things to try and new toys to play with, Pete felt I was ready for the next step toward RC enlightenment.
On a rare sunny afternoon, I met up with Phil Makeitbuildit Lawrence at his man cave / workplace / RC haven and with a smile on his face he handed me a big box. “Your next assignment” he said. I looked on the box and on it was a cool looking orange buggy. It was the new Tamiya Racing Fighter. “Cool”, I thought, I had seen an advert for this in the last edition of the RCCar.zone magazine and remembered thinking how great it looked. I was looking forward to giving this a test drive! At this point, I didn’t realise it was in bits, and opened the box to look at it, expecting to see a fully assembled buggy with a painted body shell just waiting for me to drool over. However, as I opened the box I saw a clear body shell still in the moulding, gears, more screws than B&Q, lots of plastic parts on sprues and more besides.
It was then that the full reality of the task dawned on me and if I’m honest, as well as being excited at the prospect of being able to have a go at this, I was also a little apprehensive. This was a far cry from the Lego kits I’m used to doing with my kids.
Tamiya I know is a huge name in the RC world. They have been around since I was young and always seem to be releasing new great looking kits. The opportunity to build one of these was a great one, and I knew I’d be in good hands with such a trusted manufacturer. After all, if they have been around this long they must be doing something right. The kit came with an ESC and an upgraded torque tuned motor. I did however have to add the steering servo, transmitter and receiver myself. Also, there was no battery included in the box, so this also had to go on my newly formed shopping list. I contemplated turning to ebay for the parts, thinking I could grab a bargain or two, but I wanted to make sure I not only got the right parts, but good parts too. I didn’t want to spoil the review with sub-par parts that weren’t up to the job. Luckily I had a handy alternative. I have the aforementioned friend who has a healthy interest in all things RC, and an RC hobby store just up the road from where I live. Yay.
I arranged to meet with Mr MakeitBuildit and we made our way to the store. After a brief chat with the owner I purchased a mid-range servo, controller and receiver. While these did not break the bank, they were of sufficient quality to ensure I was not going to do the Racing Fighter an injustice.
Before we left, I remembered the clear plastic body shell. Paint!! I need paint too. I toyed with the idea of copying the box, the orange body with the black tail section. It’s a very striking colour scheme and looks great. However, I imagine a lot of the appeal of building these comes from the freedom to choose whatever colours you want from the Tamiya paint range. So, after a few minutes’ deliberation I decided to exercise this freedom and go with my own colours and design. After throwing some ideas around (sometimes you can have too much choice) I decided to go with a slightly retro look. I settled on a light blue shell with a white “Cobra” stripe down the middle. How I was going to make this a reality at this point I was unsure, but nonetheless I bought some Tamiya blue and white spray paint along with the rest of my goodies. With my new parts and paints literally “in the bag” I was all set to start the build.
Onto The Assembly
When I opened the box to start the build I had forgotten just how many parts there were. Bags of parts, many, many sprues, stickers and a smattering of electrical parts and wires. This was not going to be a quick job. I couldn’t help but think “Where do I start?” as I laid out the parts in front of me.
One thing I learnt from the small setup I did on the ready to run truck was to make sure I read the instructions before doing anything. As you would expect from an established kit manufacturing giant like Tamiya, the instructions were very detailed. Each bag of parts was labelled A to D. The instructions clearly show which bag of parts you need for each part of the build. This helps no end. The parts on the sprues, I was very pleased to see, were also clearly marked. Identifying the correct parts is much simpler when they have a letter and number to identify them by.
For seasoned builders, none of this will be a big surprise but as a newcomer, I cannot tell you how helpful it was. A simple touch that makes all the difference, and this one actually allowed me to get started with minimal fuss. The diagrams were so detailed that I actually looked to match up the parts in the pictures, with those in the pack, and then double checked I had the correct numbered piece. Unfortunately, because of other commitments, there was no way I was going to get this done in one sitting, however, so once I completed the Bag A section I put the body build to one side. It was already starting to look a little bit like a car and I was pleased I’d made a decent start with nothing snapping or bursting into flames.
Later that week, Phil called. He had another Tamiya car to build and wondered if I wanted to go round and finish my build at same time. Sounded like a good idea to me. When I got there I decided to start on the body shell first. I knew this was going to need to dry after painting so thought it was best to get it out of the way early. However, I had not appreciated just how much work goes into getting the body shells prepared and painted. The shell needed to be cut out, and once again I felt a bit nervous. This is the bit that everyone sees, the bit that people comment on firsthand to add to the pressure, it was going to be photographed to go into an online magazine! One wrong cut and it’s all over. So, slowly, with a very small pair of scissors I took to the plastic. There were a few awkward corners, but thankfully nothing I could not cope with in the end. After a few minutes I had two sections cut out, and with a sigh of relief I started to prep them for painting.
After washing out the undersides, and then covering up the windows on the inside of the shell with the stickers that are provided I moved onto covering up the Viper stripe I was looking to create. I decided to run a thin covering of masking tape down the middle of the main body shell, but went with a thicker line on the tail. This would hopefully create a nice effect once finished and add a bit more interest to it. Once happy they were straight and in position I took out my tin of blue spray paint. Phil had already advised me that long smooth passes with the spray was the order of the day, so with that in mind I went to it. The blue took three coats to get a complete covering, but thankfully they did not take too long to dry in between. Once I was happy this layer was complete, I moved onto the white stripe. I took off the tape that I had used and was gutted to find that some blue paint had still crept underneath and leaked onto what should have been the white section.
Lucky however, as the paint was now dry I was able to scrape most of this off with a scalpel, taking care not to scratch the shell itself. This tidied the lines up some way. It was not perfect, but it was good enough. With that, out came the white paint. Again, three coats were needed to make sure the white had covered the whole shell evenly. Once this was dry I was able to remove the stickers in the windows and look upon the completed shell. I was really pleased with how my first paining attempt had finished. The blue was just the right shade I was after, and it had the stripe I wanted down the middle. In the end I was pleased that I had not simply opted for a single colour. I wanted to challenge myself to an extent, without giving myself an impossible task. As such, I had a shell that I thought pretty good. Yay me!! Phil then handed me another tin of spray paint. “Smoke for the Windows” he said. “Brilliant” I replied. A quick spray later and I had some smoky, half blacked out windows too.
Leaving the shell to settle I went back to the main body build. One of the most satisfying things I found from doing the build was finding out how things worked. Putting the “diffs” together and sealing them in their casing is something I have never done before. It was fascinating to see the simplicity of them, while understanding what a crucial role they play, not only in RC cars, but in their big brothers that we drive every day. There were many other areas of the build I enjoyed too. Setting up the gears that worked with the motor, and then onto the drive shaft. Putting together the quality oil filled front and rear shock absorbers. All the time, gaining an understanding into what makes this car tick. Although at the time I don’t think I fully appreciated it, I was gaining an in-depth knowledge into how the Racing Fighter works, which bit does what, where it is meant to go and what it is meant to do. Of course, this knowledge will in time transfer itself to other builds and models too, which can only be a good thing.
There was however one part of the build I did not enjoy as much as the rest. Getting the tyres onto the wheels. This is especially true for the rear tyres. I understand why they are tight. I don’t want a tyre ripping itself away from the wheel because it was too loose, but wow are they a pain to get on. It was a struggle of epic proportions, with grunting many of the Wimbledon tennis players would have been proud of before I finally had them all on.
With the wheels finally completed, and attached, the main build was complete. I had of course followed the instructions to place all of the electronics in the correct place and connect them up to each other. So with that the car was in essence ready to run. However, the build had taken me around 4 hours to complete and it was midnight at Phil’s. I thought it best to leave him to his cocoa and being honest I was pretty tired myself. The test run would have to be another day.
Before I could take the Racing Fighter out there was one more job I had to do to finish things off. The livery stickers that come included in the set. These would finish the shell off to give it the polished look. For this job I enlisted the help of my partner Wendy. She cut out the stickers and I stuck them on. The partnership worked wonders and we were done in a little over 20 minutes. And looking down at my completed shell I was chuffed with how it looked. It’s amazing how much some quality stickers can lift a paint job. While I was pleased with the body shell before, once finished I was not only pleased, but also proud. Proud of the whole thing. The sense of accomplishment at building this was something I was not expecting. I couldn’t stop looking it, thinking “Wow…I did that”. I’m sure even the most veteran of builders out there can remember their first build and how they felt when it was done. It’s a great feeling.
The Driving Experience
The first time out with my new car was just into the back garden with my son. I didn’t really know what to expect. I half expected it to explode in comedy Simpsons style, hurtling into the flower beds. Anyone who knows me would probably expect the same. But no. With my 2S battery inside, it raced around the garden and, looked great as it did so. It jumped off the decking and onto the grass with ease, taking the landing in its stride before racing off once more. I upped the ante a little and pulled out the skateboard ramp. Again, the Racing Fighter handled it, and both me and my boy loved seeing it fly though the air. It felt really well balanced. Every jump and turn was easily controlled by the oil filled dampeners and we were loving racing it around the garden. Then after 15mins something happened. The car stopped. The motor was revving, but the wheels were not turning. Now, if this had happened with the ready to run truck I used, I would have panicked. I had no idea how that was put together and would not have known where to start in finding any internal faults that were not obvious.
However, that was not the case with the Racing Fighter. I had screwed every screw and greased every gear. I knew how this car worked. Looking at it, I could see everything was connected to where they should be and the drive shafts where exactly where they were meant to be too. Which left one option. The gears in the motor housing. I figured something must have come loose in there, and therefore no power is getting to the drive shaft. With the confidence that only comes from knowing exactly what to expect, I removed the cover to expose the gears inside. Sure enough, the gear that attaches directly to the motor was not aligned to the other gears. As it turned out, I had not sufficiently tightened up the grub screw that fixes it in place. A simple fix. After correcting my mistake, and putting the cover back on a quick test showed that this was indeed the problem. The motor was turning the wheels once more! This fix was only possible due to the fact I did the build. Already I was seeing the benefits this approach can bring.
I have since taken the Racing Fighter out a couple of times. The car is a lot of fun. It is fast, nimble and very responsive. As it is rear drive, skids and donuts are very easy to achieve and very satisfying. It handled every terrain I could find to throw it at with ease, from grass fields, to stony car parks and pretty much everything in-between. It looks great too. The sleek body shell offset by the big rear wheels and thinner front ones gives it a great classic buggy look. It sits close to the floor and seems to hug the ground as it races off. I quickly felt very comfortable with it, and was confidently throwing it into corners, skids and jumps. Of course, not everything you try goes to plan and I was pleasantly surprised by how resilient it is. It has already taken its fair share of tumbles, flips and bumps, but the Racing Fighter has taken these on the chin with little fuss. There is hardly a scratch on the shell or the plastic bumpers keeping it looking its best. I have even had some people comment on the paint work, bringing with it that pang of pride again. Something you don’t get with a body shell pre-painted.
When I was first given the Tamiya box and told to build my next car, I didn’t really get why people would do this. Looking at all the parts in the box my first thought was “isn’t it easier to buy one ready-made?” And of course, yes, it is. But that, I now know, is not the full story. Building your car from scratch, piece by piece, is very fulfilling. I learnt so much about how RC cars work during the build that I now feel much more confident when taking off the lids. If something were to go wrong in the future I have no doubt I would not only know what the issue is, but also how to fix it. Something that cannot be said for a pre-built machine. I literally know this car inside and out.
Something I have already mentioned is the freedom to paint your shell as you want it. It’s is great to have the choice and even better to see your design, your paint job racing around for others to see.
The Racing Fighter itself is great! As I’ve already mentioned it’s fast, easy to get the hang of and very well behaved. Because of how stable it is, it is easy to get it up to full speed (at least in a 2S battery) and still feel in total control. It is very nimble and is aided by a very small turning circle. For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong. The Tamiya write up says this kit is aimed at less experienced builders, offering hassle free assembly and the opportunity to get to grips with RC car composition and construction. Tamiya have hit the mark on all of these points and they deliver a tough car that is a lot of fun and is sure to be a favourite of anybody who builds it. It’s certainly a firm favourite of mine!
Easy to build and understand
Great ‘Training’ for future builds
2WD is a true drivers car
Off Road Basher or stock club racer
Painting and cutting out shell difficult for a newb