Analysis of individual cars
The Toyota 4X4 Pickup Bruiser (58048)
The Toyota 4X4 Pickup Bruiser (aka "Bruiser) was kit number 48 from Tamiya. An intensely scale looking vehicle the Bruiser is an incredibly popular collector’s item.
- 1/10 scale off-road vehicle
- all steel ladder frame chassis
- 4WD with a three speed transmission
- live rigid axle front and rear
- leaf spring suspension with oil dampers all around
- RS-750SH motor (high torque)
- extra wide off-road mudder tires
- abs plastic body
The "Bruiser" is probably the most popular vehicle from Tamiya. Even though it's out of production, parts discontinued and mint ones are "heart-attack" expensive. Bruisers are still highly coveted by collectors around the world. Based on the Hilux chassis, the Bruiser really captured the attention of adult R/C builders everywhere.
The Bruiser was based on a Toyota 4X4 pickup truck design. By making the scale model as similar as possible to the full-size pickup, Tamiya came out with a design that was hugely successful with adult hobbyist around the world.
Everything from the steel ladder frame construction, the leaf spring suspension system to the three speed transmission spoke to true scale realism. As you can imagine, the realistic construction process really added to the weight of the car. Loaded up the car came in at a tick under 13lbs. Most modern buggies weight in at about 4.5lbs.
Tamiya had to rethink everything to get this kit to work. The motor was a 750 model (as opposed to the standard 540) because additional power was needed to power this car with some semblance of speed. Battery demands went up accordingly and a large size 4000mAh battery was required to give it a reasonable run time. An expensive 4 channel radio was required, if you wanted to control the transmission speeds manually.
Driving a Bruiser was a little more complicated than simply squeezing the trigger and go. On top of steering and accelerating, you needed to change the gearing in the transmission to get full speed out of the car. It was actually easier to give up some top end speed and keep it in one gear while playing with it.
The Toyota body that sat on top of this chassis was also a thing of wonder. Trust Tamiya to focus on scale, precision and realism when it came to the abs plastic body! It was accurate right down to the benchseat interior and the tiny individual pieces that made up the headlights. Given a good paintjob and photography skills, you could fool someone into thinking that it was the full-size car!
Yes, it was that good.
Those that have never owned a Bruiser think that the car was indestructable and could go anywhere. True enough, the car was quite versatile in all terrains but the reality was that the suspension system doesn’t compare with an off-road buggy of today. The Bruiser was about realism, not off road prowess and so its handling is only fair. Further, the Bruiser can be damaged quite easily if abused.
The Bruiser had a good long run, but the strength of the Yen and the rising cost of producing an all metal car conspired to push the price of new Bruisers to over $350 back in the late eighties. Add to that the price of a 4 channel radio and special battery packs and you’re looking at spending a good part of $800 to get one going. Eventually slumping sales forced Tamiya to discontinue the car.
Later, Tamiya would attempt to reissue the car as the Mountaineer (kit 58111) but it was also a short lived effort. A modern successor to the Bruiser can be found in the Juggernaut 2. But alas, it's not the same vehicle; plastic and nylon replaces what was once metal. Play durability and cost savings replaced realism and scale details.
The Toyota 4X4 Pickup Bruiser is a "must have" for any collection. It marks a high point in Tamiya’s R/C lineup. A car that still has tremendous appeal today after being discontinued for more than a decade. Good used examples still command prices over $250, mint built ones over $1000 and a new in box can bring up to $2000.
The Bruiser was a pretty robust car, this is mostly due to the extensive use of steel components. Many times, damaged parts can be bent back into shape without the need to replace it.
The good news is that a lot of parts are available for the car. This is because the parts are in great demand and thus prices are very strong (the bad news by the way). The high prices tend to be a great motivator for people to yank those old spare parts or "parts-cars" out of the garage or basement and put them up for sale. Body kits can go for upwards of $450, a complete transmission sell for $100 and up. Restoring a Bruiser is not a cheap task. If you desire one of these cars I strongly recommend getting a complete one.
- Collectibility - 10 out of 10
- Fun to drive - 8 out of 10
- Parts availability - 6 out of 10