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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!

1w ago


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

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.

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Comments (17)

  • I’m a big Tamiya fan also having one in the 90s (before discovering women).

    I have however bought another RC car which can do up to 42mph (FTX Outlaw), not Tamiya on this occasion but absolutely fantastic. I now want a second and have my eye on the Traxxas TRX4 Defender - YouTube that one and have a look it’s brilliant.

    Lockdown toys, brilliant.

      10 days ago
    • My brother got a TRX4 Defender two weeks ago and I got to play with it at the weekend just gone. It's epic. Buy it!

        10 days ago
    • I’m going to explore and milk the novelty from this one before I buy the second. This does speed and off road. The TRX4 does moderate speed on and off road and serious off roading.

        10 days ago
  • As much as I've always believed in Tamiya's controllable models, my third-world bones can't afford the things, and even then, I may just end up buying one of each kind for terrain because of size constraints. That said, if I ever buy a Tamiya, it may be the last RC machine and kit I'll ever need.

      10 days ago
  • Still have my the bright yellow "Lunchbox" that i bought in the eighties in the loft. These days i tend to only by the motorcycle models :)

      10 days ago
  • I have hundreds of thousands of them in my room.

      9 days ago
  • I've got a 1:10 e30 m3 driftspec and my son a 1:10 Ferrari 458 stradale. Never any broken parts so really good products👌

      9 days ago