Become an armchair expert on: Tamiya
Tamiya is arguably the king of the radio controlled car. Here's everything you need to know about it!
In the grip of the global pandemic you've likely browsed the internet for an interesting and interactive home car build – and you've probably crossed path with Tamiya's remote-control models. Here's everything you need to know about the iconic modelling brand.
Keep on sawin'… then don't
In 1946 Yoshio Tamiya founded a sawmill and lumber firm. A pretty standard affair, that would, a couple of years later, start making model planes and boats. A little while later, the lumber part of the business was closed so it could focus on making models. It was 1955 when a motorised model tank proved a huge hit for the company, swiftly followed by wooden ships. Tamiya went from wood shop to hugely popular model maker in less than a decade.
Taking on the world
In 1959 the company started making plastic models. They became huge business – though early on Tamiya specialised in military vehicles – and were praised for their accuracy and quality. The company started exporting its products to other markets, gaining popularity in the process. In 1968 it even went to the Nuremburg Toy Fair – a huge deal for the fledgling company.
The move to radio control
1974 saw the firm’s first radio controlled vehicle, a Sherman Tank, but it wasn’t until 1976 that Tamiya launched its first radio control car: an amazingly faithful recreation of the Porsche 934 race car.
Here’s the rub though, in order to figure out how the car worked, and how to understand it better, the company bought a real Porsche 911, and dismantled it to get its details right (details, of course, being Tamiya’s strong point). However, once taken apart no one at the company knew how to put the Porsche back together, so a Porsche Japan was dispatched to get it back in working order. While there was a static model of the car, the R/C car was a huge hit and kickstarted something huge for Tamiya.
The importance of the Tamiya magazines
1967 saw the launch of Tamiya News, a bimonthly magazine that promoted new product, future launches, and other relevant company news. Thing is, it wasn’t all about the company – it looked at model clubs, shops, and even model makers of note. Tamiya Junior, a sister publication, was launched to focus on smaller models, and in 1985 Tamiya Model Magazine launched in the UK to keep Brits up to date with goings on.
Record-breaking radio-control cars
Tamiya’s R/C cars have some records to their name. An F104 v2 piloted by Australian David Stevens covered 23.79 miles in April 2013, the furthest a radio-controlled car has travelled on a single battery. In 2011 students of the Anna-Schmidt-Schule in Germany broke the record for the furthest distance an R/C car covered in 24 hours – the team of students used a Desert Gator and covered 167.58 miles. Which is… a long way.
Even Ayrton Senna found time for some Tamiya love
Tamiya's F1 connections
Tamiya’s first F1 model, a 1960s Honda F1 RA273, started the firm off making small versions of very, very fast cars. In fact, the models were so good and ties with teams so strong, there was a point where Tamiya was the only firm given access to designs in order to make perfect models. F1 ties were so close that Tamiya even sponsored Team Lotus for a few years in the 90s.