Source: Tamiya Singapore – Stargek
Source: RCToyMemories Youtube Channel
Source and more: The Japan News
By Hiraku Kubo / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
Miniature four-wheel drive toy cars powered by electric motors are enjoying a third wave of popularity.
In 2012, Shizuoka-based major toy maker Tamiya Inc., which sells the mini 4WD model cars, resurrected a national race featuring the toy cars that had last been held 13 years earlier.
The popularity of mini 4WD toys has surged since the event, mainly among adults. I also found myself caught up in the excitement and sense of nostalgia, owing to my love of mini 4WD toy cars during my elementary school years.
To again experience the sound of the toys’ whirring motors, I visited a race event and a bar catering to mini 4WD enthusiasts.
On a Sunday in mid-December, children’s cheering voices filled Tamiya Plamodel Factory in Tokyo’s Shinbashi district. The toy model shop is about a five-minute walk from JR Shinbashi Station in Minato Ward, Tokyo.
The children were pumping up their fathers, shouting, “Go for the win, Dad!” and “You can finish the course!” They watched the race closely as their fathers’ mini 4WD toy cars zipped back and forth on a miniature circuit course in the store.
Mini 4WD model cars are about 15 centimeters long and about 10 centimeters wide. Activate the electric motors, and the toy cars sprint ahead at a speed of more than 20 kph. The fastest ones reach a top speed of about 40 kph.
Though many people are under the impression that mini 4WD toy cars are remote-controlled by wireless devices, in truth the cars immediately take off down the track when their motors are activated.
Nineteen parent-child teams participated in the event that day. Corkscrewing circuit courses totaling a maximum of 110 to 130 meters in length were assembled in a space equivalent to about 10 tatami mats.
After releasing their mini 4WD toy cars on the track, the parent-child teams recorded their combined times as part of a competition.
Koji Kikuchi, a 35-year-old company employee from Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, showed off what he called his “cherished ride” — a 4WD toy car he had dug out of storage at his parents’ home. “I actually assembled this machine when I was in elementary school,” he said.
Patting the head of his 6-year-old eldest son, Kosei, a first-grade elementary school student, Kikuchi added with a sheepish grin, “I joined this event hoping to show my son the joys [of 4WD cars], but I’ve gotten more into the races than he has.”
After hearing about a bar near Ikebukuro Station in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, where customers can take their mini 4WD cars for a spin while enjoying drinks, I bought my own car for ¥850 and headed for the bar.
At Dribar Ikebukuro-ten, a bar for mini 4WD fans, racing events are held two or three times a week.
Most of the customers were in their 30s and 40s stopping by on their way home from work. In addition to the counter, the bar has a permanently installed course for mini 4WD cars and a work area outfitted with drills and other tools.
When I showed my mini 4WD car to bar manager Naoto Hotoda, 36, he said, “How about replacing the motor with a high-performance one?”
Taking his advice, I replaced the motor with one sold at the bar for ¥360, then joined a time trial race in which participants were competing to record the fastest time over three circuit runs.
It had been 20 years since I last competed in a mini 4WD car race. When I placed my car on the starting line, my hands began to tremble from what must have been nerves.
When lamps signaled the start of the race, I removed my hand from the car and watched it swiftly surge ahead. However, my car built up too much momentum and went off course before clearing the third curve.
“Oops, that went off course quick,” said Hotoda, who was giving live commentary on the race. The words echoed inside the bar.
Hayato Abe, a 37-year-old hairdresser from Nerima Ward, Tokyo, who said he visits the bar frequently, comforted me. “Competing is important, but what’s more important is enjoying the activity in the same way as school club activities with teammates,” Abe said.
In the 1980s, mini 4WD toy cars were featured in manga and anime, and became highly popular among elementary school students.
Tamiya held a national racing event for elementary and junior high school students in 1988, ushering in the first popularity boom in 1989. In the middle of the 1990s, mini 4WD toy cars became popular again thanks to manga and other pop culture works. We are now in the midst of the third wave.
After Tamiya launched racing events in 2012 in which adults were able to participate, mini 4WD cars became newly popular as “a hobby for adults.” A total of about 33,000 people participated in events in 2015.
Enomoto Circuit is a store specializing in mini 4WD cars in Hachioji, Tokyo. The store has stood apart from the boom-and-bust cycle of popularity and steadily offered rare products and self-designed parts to attach to mini 4WD cars.
Mini 4WD fans thus recognize the store as a “holy site” where “everything related to mini 4WDs is available.”
Shoji Enomoto, 71, the store’s owner, said that many foreign customers have visited and taken photos with him to remember the occasion.
Enomoto, wearing a red cap and jacket that made him look like a race car driver, said, “Seeing mini 4WD cars makes everybody smile. Nationality or age don’t matter at all,” he said.
Enomoto added, “This boom will end sooner or later. But I will keep my store opened as long as I’m alive so that [mini 4WD cars] take root as a culture.”
The occupations and backgrounds of the mini 4WD car fans I met varied widely. However, all of them spoke of their affection for the toys like little boys with stars in their eyes. One enthusiast even went so far as to say collecting and racing mini 4WD cars “is my whole life.”
The pleasure of watching the tiny machines race is hard to resist. I hope everyone tries it at least once.
Funnily we used the Bigwig a month ago for Tamiyablog’s 10 year anniversary (as it was a released as a special anniversary kit to celebrate 10 years Tamiya RC models) and yesterday I couldn’t decide whether to post its promo video (since this year is its 30th anniversary) or the Quick Drive promo video on Flashback Friday, Tamiya never fails to surprise us.
Source is Metro Hobbies and since they use still photos of the original we decided to use for now our recent background image, a scan from the great old Tamiya Guide Books.
Released in July 1986, on the 10th anniversary of Tamiya’s first RC, the Bigwig was a landmark in the development of Tamiya RC racing cars and remains highly prized as a collectors’ car for its unique design. This was the first Tamiya car with a body penned by an outside designer: Japanese full size race car designer and team owner Takuya Yura. This re-release version is based closely upon the original, with some tweaks to bring it up to date. This unique car featured a rack and pinion steering system and distinctive Moon Dish wheels. The body styling was innovative, and as all Tamiya kits were, easy to build and good value for money.
★ This is a 1/10 scale R/C model assembly kit. Length: 390mm, width: 234mm, height: 163mm.
★ Aerodynamic body is lightweight and durable polycarbonate. Engine and exhausts are depicted by chassis parts.
★ Utilizes a sturdy ABS resin bathtub-type chassis.
★ Shaft-driven 4WD drivetrain for excellent stability off-road, with full ball bearings ensuring minimal power loss.
★ 4-wheel double wishbone suspension with CVA oil dampers lets the car tackle bumpy surfaces.
★ Rack and pinion steering (unique to this Tamiya model) gives excellent driving feel. Boots cover the steering tie-rods, and anti-wear grease is included in the kit to seal the mechanism from dirt and gravel.
★ “Aerodish” 1-piece wheels are combined with oval block pattern tires for superior grip.
★ Stickers have been redesigned while keeping to the overall theme of the original.
★ Includes a GT-Tuned motor (25T) with sticker unique to this model.
★ ESCs 22mm and lower in height can be fitted in the kit standard position.
Tamiyas re-release of the Blackfoot from 1986.
Original source in Japanese language: ITmedia
Author Yasuyuki Maeda
Ltd. Tamiya model Planning Department design room joined. Responsible for the approach and publicity to the various media in parallel with the same department of the business. Until March 1987 January to 1994, who is also the personality of the TV program “Tamiya RC Car Grand Prix”. Then, he enrolled in the Square (now Square Enix). Co., Ltd. Jay game founded in 2001, through the Rakuten, Inc., belonging to the company’s research and development department Akihabara Research Center as CHO (Chief hobby officer) of the Corporation UEI in 2012.
As a pioneer of the “racer mini four-wheel drive”, Tamiya, which sparked a boom in the mid-1980s radio control (RC Car). Whether the boom went made how. And, I do not talk to the vent that there was the presence of third-party products that are there.
Why commodity of Tamiya is the quality is high. In the previous article , we tried preaching on the basis of the experience that was long involved in the field of product development. 1 genre of hit products that were born from there, was a radio-controlled (RC Car).
That although at the time of Tamiya RC car can not be published here unfortunately about what was shipped much specifically, in 1984 and 1985, a total of four times the bonus plus a special bonus to the normal bonus is paid and the like are, reflections and RC car economy of the market, it had been telling in the way of incentives to all employees.
This time, we introduce the background of since the mid-1980s such RC car boom. So First, in terms of knowing the past of the children of interests, we want We allow me to speak that of myself just a little bit.
Contact with the author of the model (Plastic model) is, and the stationery store was in the school route, was a liquor store that aunt is engaged. In the stationery store was taking place than stationery in plastic model and a light plane, when it comes to elementary school students in the excuse to buy the eraser and drawing paper, it opened one after another a box of plastic model of the shelf that can reach it, in until you care was expresses his or her appreciation by looking at the parts.
Hotel aunt, although it was for generations inherit quaint shops are such as sold by weight, has been dealing with for some reason affordable plastic model. Thanks to a little quirky shop was in a familiar if at that time there was no such as a convenience store, there was no shortage of plastic model.
From this time, manufacturers there is a burr (unwanted bulge) in the plating parts were shunned. Because much trouble will be cut until the plated part in when you take the burr. This was also tuning classmate have been on bad terms with is. Then you understand the good or bad of the molded article in elementary school doing this, the impression remains deep-seated was holding at that time.
Of course, children of concern at the time is not the only plastic model. Baseball board, nor ray gun SP, of Tiger Mask figure also, Monopoly and other board games such has just been imported also, rushed at all heard that “someone has bought,” “was in the shop.”
However, when it comes to junior high school “everyone” is set to “sparse”, such a situation has disappeared gradually. Sometimes these memory is strong, was the product envy to be pampered in the elementary school for me.
Target was young adults
As the media in charge of Planning Department Design Department of Tamiya, that the time that has been accustomed publishers around. Reader Survey results and on how to use the lottery to some elementary school students medium is counted, showed me the application result of the sweepstakes page. There was no “plastic model” at a higher level.
Coincidentally, Takara (now Tomy) ‘s “Choro Q” is not a big break, production volume had long ago surpassed 10 million units. Model maker several companies, but Yosebaii, in or out until the products that Ayaka’ to this, was not able to face obediently. Elementary school students of “plastic model want is” is, was also Kuchioshi is that what will be lost by doing this.
But, rather than why a sense of crisis, had committed Kien someday Tamiya it does to the children of the hot topics. From this time, I went also become a work medium by the promotion measures.
Product group of Tamiya, except for some such as “fun work” series, have been said to be matched to the young adult (13 to 19 years old) or more layers than elementary school students, moreover, already from that time to this market It had been also said that mass marketing is no-class. Still, toy makers because each company was the area that had been attacked by wielding a buzzing toward the middle and high school students the IP (intellectual property) of inherent, media about the author also appear side by side in the same table on without being at least overwhelmed by it another attack continued.
Speaking of junior high and high school students read the magazine, there is a great medium of learning magazine (○○ course / ○○ age) until the ’90s, who often cooperate in publicity. But, because once I even media that helped me, to readers knew in the skin around it is not required for most of the hobby and entertainment information, it was cold also editing unit in planning to try there somehow.
Because in addition to there was no unity medium, such as keep grabbed these generations, was only hit one after another medium that captures the middle and high school students layer even a little. It was mainly, professional journals personal computer, game, animation, fashion, and music, and comic.
Specialized information outside of the news because magazine is not much important. Since the ongoing planning can not be expected, at least through to even the foot Shigeku editing unit only pictorial exposure, anyway simplistic attempts to strike a number. However, in the magazine or because of professional information outside of the news is likely to be one enclosed, were often subjected to even general news and inferiority no corresponding information model. Unexpectedly this was lucky.
Nari is provided in series in the planning page of the RC car is a major anime magazine, he said, “(the original) wrote!”, As it is the author lasted until the surrender Tamiya. In addition, there is a major game magazine, often Tamiya information becomes the ingredients of comics, writers were also deployed the cartoon made it into story is spelled out in the addictive and 3 consecutive weeks in the RC car.
Of course, if these movements stuck to where young adults is unclear. However, it went gradually editors of various magazine was Endoka’ the RC car is all the way Shizuoka-filled, more is possible to press ahead with the shooting in the headquarters and Tamiya circuit. A result, has increased dramatically, especially exposure of the RC car in the color page. In terms of the advertising fee the media material on the base, had become a monthly basis for a total of 40 million yen of the volume. Magazine is an extremely healthy from now, there is in each of the big factors also that many in each discipline was the era of excitement to the market to compete.
Although little time is before and after, it was being separately also advanced approach to elementary school students and young adults. Just at the time of Shogakukan learning magazine (first grade – sixth grade elementary school elementary school) is welcomed to the jury late Sakyo Komatsu teacher also there that was organized by the “Plastic Model Photo Contest”, and later, edit and edit part of each school year magazine it had been many to Oho to the person in charge.
On one occasion, I visited the deputy editor of the left Hissage the finished product, “sixth grade elementary school” of RC car that we brought for the coverage of other magazines. Monomonoshii Ikazu also not not say whether the contents of the bag is what, when the show was a prelude to that difficult for elementary school students, asked, “Wait a minute, there still time?”, Outside the shopping mall (lily of the valley He was handed a map of up to certain editorial department in the street). “Go immediately here, now that talk from leave. Contact,” it was said. Here and was the editorial department of the “flop comic”.
Encounter with Colo comic
Already it had visited the editorial department of some of the boy magazine and comic, but a visit to the Colo comic editing unit was the first time. This time RC car that was to bring is, but “Wild Willis” which has already been launched. If you Ichitori and description of the product, containing the consultation about the suddenly RC car series comics at a later date. I started the series of “RC Boy” in June 1983 after its about four months.
A little after the time began serialization, containing the request, such as surprising from Colo comic editing unit. Or skip the Wild Willis, I can I want to climb a 90-degree wall? It was stating. And explain the situation to the design room and workshop immediately, but has not been a good face.
There is a contact again in the place where was suffering about two days, and visit in dubious in because me to see because there modeler has made, so homemade winch is running is an assembly kit that was passed in the sample to the finished product that is based not, when multiplied by a hook on the wall, the body has climbed the wall while hoisting it. And, although not fly really, corner like a wing of the buffalo that was mounted on the roof is spread out in a single button, and passed through a wire to the central mechanism that can glide along the it had been subjected to.
Wild Willis to manipulate the hero of radio control Boy, according to the story that appeared in a special machine called “Buffalo No.”, was that you want put a similar realistic finished product in the preface graph. And, “This (to this kind of use), I guess it is not a problem?” He asked with.
This, and reports that the unprecedented remodeling work is never model magazine also be done RC car magazine, growled also Tamiya of all interested parties. They become hot efforts form to our than RC car, tasted the feeling that lost the earnest of the message to the reader more than anything. Whether there has been what kind of reason, was serious soul-searching that I have nothing came to an end in the not put out a hand. Thanks, also became the drugs of design staff and workshop staff is enlivened in collaboration planning of the subsequent publisher. The author is also this thing that became to themselves wear the hand was a chance to modifications of RC cars and mini four-wheel drive.
Price that exceeds the level of boys’ Hobby
In Colo comic of Intro, and such Imejishotto and running scene of the new RC car is to be exposed, the echo of the main readers of the elementary school students (middle and upper grades) has been transmitted well. Even the results of the reader survey, the popularity of RC car was in the top class with the NES over a long period of time. Tamiya nationwide But department store exhibition event that was held in the “Tamiya Modeler’s Gallery”, questions or selling how about RC cars has changed. Also for me personally, but appealing effect to the subject that I wanted you to wake up to work was glad up to much, a big problem also occurred.
Many of which, and that propoxycarbonyl (set of transmitter-receiver) was bought only RC car without knowing that it is sold separately, expensive also become about 35,000 yen When you have made a dedicated battery and charger set and propoxycarbonyl was a complaint to be extruded things as boys’ hobby. After-sales service department of the boss, who sounded the alarm let diligently know the reaction of such users and parents. Correspondence proceeded emphasize that propoxycarbonyl and battery and charger is sold separately, but it was very Nayamashika’ solve other problems.
The author initially, if fulfilled a strategy, such as get to continue to have an interest Have familiar with the Tamiya to elementary school students in the Colo Colo comic, an increasing number of RC car freak when they were equal to or higher than junior high school students, the market also believes that would scale It was. So, turn off does Kana that tone is all sold, RC car had been thorough to show how the image top priority of “cool”.
Nevertheless, and elementary school students that wild Willis want, inquiry from the parents became much unexpectedly. To be honest, wild Willis and Mighty Frog is that headlines the magazine of the Coro Coro comics at that time, it would have been even degree of difficulty is increased Do not work in the elementary school upper grades. 35,000 yen out, should not also be the “not let the assembled not = run”.
In Tamiya, “First in quality around the world” we have raised the absolute priority principle quality that, it was unwavering. Therefore, because it was intended to RC car products pricing commensurate with the quality of until it is made, it was a consultation that can not be possibly such as pricing strategy.
Among such, 5000 yen, or not the RC car of low-priced drastic that 10,000 yen is not put out, I leave to the sense of crisis, report Ya against Tamiya Tokuotto teacher and Planning Department at the time of the design room adviser It was only continue to submit repeat the draft.
Off-road RC car of low-priced off 10,000 yen, in the past, the track record and the base was not without. It was released in 1980 “Holiday Buggy”, “dune buggy” is the it. A small number of parts, and the rear suspension using the elasticity of the FRP plate, (Holiday buggy), such as vinyl chloride-made body of beautiful metallic blue with excellent shock absorption does not need to be painted, epoch as beginners for the machine it was a specific motivation work.
However, in which flagship model that symbolizes the time of the commodity group, in what the flavor of each model, whether the specifications, even singing an inexpensive and for beginners in which information is not spreading, such as, that the launch is weak It did not deny.
Under these circumstances, can symbolize the wild Willis and Mighty Frog, it subjects you are going to stretch the hand is also to have been clearly visible. At least, Holiday buggy, it does not become like a dune buggy is I was able explanation, that the volume zone is in there, Colo comic, learning magazine, were visible from the material that has been shown from the other editors.
Tamiya’s first pricing strategy and characterize
Looking back now, it was amazing rapidity of resolve the problem here. To the Mighty Frog was released in December 1983 was the sale in at 14,800 yen, the new products of Grasshopper in to Hobby Show held in the following year was to be sold for $ 7400. Since it was obvious that grade up version of the 540 motor as a user-oriented at the time is desired, in parallel to develop a “Hornet” (9800 yen), was also decided to line up in the autumn of the same year. And say how much speedy’s, other companies that do a one-year interval, was the glue, such as go Yaritoge in five months interval of the less than half.
By news source has been secured, such as by plans by more than once a teaser planning to release date, publicity of the menu over the next year was also Kume in outline. At a later date, that this speed is the decisive factor of the strategy Gets in Your body and Zushiri.
The presence of NES
Although not the details of the products, two new work as a gateway to success machine of RC cars, extremely reduces the chassis and suspension of the number of parts, the power unit, suspension related parts, other than the body (or styrene resin or polycarbonate resin) by all common, it held down the manufacturing cost of the mold. At the time, very innovative and that was able to RC car debut in the 20,000 yen level, including a dedicated battery and charger set and propoxycarbonyl, it has become a major element of the subsequent movement.
Price of 7400 yen of Grasshopper, was also half the price of the unit price of the “Road Runner” and “Xevious” TV game machine that is popular has been boiling in the topic of “Family Computer” in the same year. Compared to up to it, it can reach (buy) the impression can be given strongly. And, this time NES game software owned by the user of there becoming average 3 to this 4, they were already situation have spent 3 to 4 million yen to the NES. It began to say in a loud voice that only RC car is not a special expensive hobby.
NES that was able image deployment of RC cars until shortly before entering the heyday, the genre of car hobby is can casual undercurrent to the fact of off-the-shelf in the boy magazine, the deployment of the “racer mini four-wheel drive” after easily It will lead to.
I think the timing of an appearance in the Colo comic magazine of this RC car and the NES, it was a miracle even now. If you have delayed the launch of Grasshopper and the Hornet is six months, RC car would have been completely spoil the NES biased.
Simple body structure of the Grasshopper and the Hornet has been rigorously evaluated from professional journals officials and professional groups, to focus as the product was easy to understand and clear, ran stabbing in witty press officials at the time of interview It was also good of the uke.
In such as reader-friendly events of Colo comic at the time, “Colo Manga Festival”, after that showed a demonstration run, such as the speed of the Hornet stand out, asked to manipulate the normal of Grasshopper in the experience maneuvering meeting, but difficult to users It gave the impression that there is no. As a result, the experience maneuvering the Board was able to train the participants to the extent not end within a predetermined period of time.
When this happens, from a parent who had a look at the children who were with Kiki asked to be “sold at where?”, From the clerk of the venue of the department store is asked “Why not do the product sales?”, Suddenly, a toy of the department store also it happened things like have them delivered from the wholesaler to the sales floor.
This two spreads way to elementary and junior high school students mutually attracted to each other was also found in the skin. The effect of presenting a close choice, if deer On the other hand either become a direct comparison of the upper models, such as the Mighty Frog, you should have narrowed the purchase motivation.
The popularity of Grasshopper and the Hornet, went also kneaded in comic RC Boy story. It hero original machine “Super Dragon” to manipulate it also became an opportunity to appear in later.
Tamiya, as Spare Body set to match the chassis of the Grasshopper and the Hornet, will be the product of the Super Dragon. Not addressed in the general retail stores initially, it was a flop comic monopoly mail order. But received I thought more of the echo, and eventually also distributed to the general market. Movement Tamiya is to commercialize what IP characters, special effects puppet play of Jerry Anderson was produced in 1968, “JOE 90” series (※ “JOE 90” is, “Thunderbird”, “Captain Scarlet” and worked on the British video works producer, Jerry Anderson, that since “Max car” of special effects puppet show) that worked in 1968, a model of the character that appeared in Japanese comics magazine was the first thing.
In this way then, go one after another commercialized appeared to RC Boy “Fire Dragon,” “Thunder Dragon”, “Saint Dragon”. This fact leads to the birth of the “racer mini four-wheel drive” is, was not so distant story. (to be continued)
Just a few days after our 10 years anniversary our much later created facebook page reached 10.000 subscribers. As a small thank you we exclusively present you the fantastic photos of the 2016 visit to the Tamiya Museum in Shizuoka of Meir Overferst, a long time subscriber of our website which we would especially like to thank.