TamTech Gear The Hornet
Following the On-Road version of my Porsche 935 Martini, I am now trying the TamTech Gear Off-Road series. This choice was mainly driven by an easy access to a new indoor track in the nearby, unfortunately too small for 1/10th scale buggies I already own. However, this is a great opportunity to drive when the weather or temperatures don't let you drive outside.
The starting point is an RTR Desert Gator kit based on the GB-01 chassis: this is the configuration I used to write the beginning of this article and how I first drove my model at the new track. However, thanks to my friend Jérémy, my model quickly turned into a Hornet with the extra bodyshell he offered me. To be honest, I still have the Desert Gator bodyset, but it is now packed into my stuff and I don't think I will bring it back to the light in a near future. This is why this article is about the Hornet.
The TamTech GB-01 Hornet family
The Off-Road TamTech Gear models mainly existed in GB-01 versions, but 2 additional versions were released: they are specific designs made for the Buggy Champ (GB-02, front trailing arms) and the HotShot (GB-03, 4 wheel drive). I am writing in past mode because Tamiya stopped producing the TamTech Gear series... even if the limited series of the Jimny released by the end of 2012 could mean the series is still alive. This is only a guess since this already limited version seems to be available only in Japan and a few more countries in Asia.
56701 The Frog
56702 The Hornet
56703 Fox Mini
56705 Desert Gator
57102 GB-01 Chassis Kit
56704 Wild Boar
84328 Suzuki Jimny (SJ30)
The Wild Boar and the Suzuki Jimny use a slightly altered version of the GB-01 chassis (GB-01T, main differences are the rear damper stay and different wheels).
Strange note about the TamTech Gear series: for both On-Road and Off-Road models, Tamiya Japan never mentioned the scale. For a manufacturer with such a reputation of precision in replicating models, this omission interrogates.
As far as On-Road models are concerned, the lexan bodyshells reproduce ABS bodyshells very well known for years: it doesn't take long to understand the scale is 1/12th.
This is more delicate with Off-Road models, but as the GB-01 chassis wheelbase is 177mm, we can compare with existing 1/10th scale models. However, the wheelbase changes depending on models : from 248/250mm (Frog and Hornet) to 260mm (Desert Gator on the DT-02 chassis andThe Fox). So, what scale: 1/14th or 1/16? The closer scale ratio would be 1/14th, but it is not exact.
This may explain why Tamiya never provided the official scale for their models. Especially since the "market" considers 177mm wheelbased vehicle to be 1/18th scale (Kyosho Mini Inferno, among others).
Anyway, the true scale question is not the point. The point is I have a lot of pleasure driving my Porsche 935 Martini and now it is time to check if the pleasure is the same with the Off-Road version.
The TamTech Gear GB-01 chassis
Every Off-Road TamTech Gear model comes in RTR flavor (except the GB-01 chassis kit, of course): add batteries to the radio, a battery pack and a charger (may change depending on countries). This is what comes out of the box:
Not shown on the photo, extra motor pinions (12-14 and 18T since the 16T is already used), pre-tension spacers for the dampers and manuals. In addition to the radio, the electronics are these:
45033 TEU-102BK Electronic speed controller
45034 TSU-02 Servo
45036 TRU-02 Receiver
The receiver is 27MHz AM and the electronic speed controller can handle any TamTech motor (including the Sport Tuned versions) but also the Graupner Speed 300 6V. The servo is a "low profile" unit. One word: Dear M. Tamiya, how do you make every servo perfectly centered on all your XB models when mine are always going one side or the other when I build a kit?
Well . Let's end the presentation saying the chassis features ball bearings everywhere before we mention parts to upgrade. What you can't miss when handling the buggy right out of the box are the "dampers":
at the front
At the rear
Whereas the GB-01 can proudly claim featuring ball bearings everywhere, universal shafts, a ball differential and even a slipper clutch, the stock dampers are terrible. At the front, they are so stiff that they work in on-off mode: either they don't work at all or they bounce until the front drivetrain reaches the sky. At the rear, it's the opposite: apply full throttle when running on a tiled floor (slippery) and the dampers will instantly go into panic mode, trying to keep the gearbox away from scrapping the floor. The poor stock motor can't pretend to such a terrifying power...
In short, you can consider the model comes with no dampers: at the best, being polite, you may consider them as decorative springs... even the stock TT-01 chassis and the Hornet front "suspension" still laugh at the GB-01's. Despite the humor, I confess I am both surprised and deceived by this lack of consideration for suspension whereas the GB-01 chassis other equipments are well above the average line.
GB-01 chassis must have upgrades
Based on my experience with my Porsche 935 Martini, there are three upgrades to schedule:
40537 TamTech Gear Sport Tuned Motor SPT
3Racing GB-13HD reinforced motor pinions
3Racing GB-06LB hydraulic dampers
The hydraulic dampers are the priority upgrade you want since you can consider the GB-01 chassis comes with no suspension at all. The motor is a required upgrade to replace the asthmatic stock Mabuchi 370 and the reinforced motor pinions will better handle the extra motor power. Please note the Graupner Speed 300 motor in 6V version remains a valid substitute too. If you had only one upgrade to install, go for the hydraulic dampers.