Overall conclusion on Tamiya Off-Road chassis

The story of Tamiya Off-Road chassis mainly took place in the 80's, the buggy golden era, either for Tamiya or other manufacturers. At the time, off-road vehicles represented about 60% of Tamiya catalog, until they share dropped at about 20% during the 90's when Tamiya started the Touring craze. Currently, off-road models tend to represent about 30% of Tamiya's offering.

Here too, Tamiya's strategy is to target at the entry-mid market segments, basically leisure-oriented usage and club racers. Pretty late, by the end of the 2000's, Tamiya finally succeeded in developing an efficient race program for 2 and 4WD buggies, not yet with the extraordinary amount of success of the Touring category. But it has to be mentioned that competition in the off-road category is very strong, in particular because the major manufacturers of the 80's never abandoned racing in the buggy categories (at least, for those manufacturers that still exist).

During their long off-road history, Tamiya often offered significant evolutions to the RC world, including the development of several new concepts that became categories as we know them today. In fact, many of these new concepts created new markets, not replacing existing ones, but creating new market niches for new customers in RC. That's what happened with the “wheelies” models the kids love (but not only kids laughing), Monster Trucks "the American way" or models in motion such as the 3 Speed which are much appreciated by static model and precision mechanic fans.

The story of Tamiya Off-Road models is very rich, richer and more diverse than with On-Road models, probably because Tamiya tried to open the market after realizing that no off-road platform fulfilled the customer needs as well as the TA or TT platforms did on-road. Somehow, it looks like the off-road market was in need to be reinvented after the golden age period in the 80's. Besides, the great variety in the current Tamiya off-road offering seems to confirm this idea, as well as Traxxas sales hits over the past years: with their steroid-charged RTR models at prices you usually buy high level racing buggies, Traxxas first revisited the Monster Truck concept with their E-Maxx / Stampede and then reinvented the Short Course concept with their Slash. In both cases, the success is huge and most competitors are only left with trying to unsuccessfully copy Traxxas, or stay apart like Tamiya does. This brings new customers in RC, unfortunately raised with “ready to consume” models, unlike previous generations of RC fans. Only the future will tell whether it is good for RC, if RC needs to massively change to adapt to the new customer habits, or if the new RTR fan generations will acquire the taste of mechanics to enlarge their overall love of RC.

As for Tamiya, the Off-Road offering over the years count several iconic models, many of which are not iconic only for Tamiya fans:

  • the SRBs, among which the Sand Scorcher with its Beetle bodyshell
  • the 3 Speed models, in particular the first Toyota Hilux
  • the Wild Willy, probably the 1st as well as the 1999 version
  • the Frog, Grasshopper and Hornet an entire generation of kids drove and liked so much
  • the Blackfoot and Monster Beetle, the so popular Monster Trucks before the Clod Buster was released
  • the Avante, of course
  • the Manta Ray, actually not really for itself, more because it gave birth to the TA-01 chassis
  • the Mitsubishi Pajero on the CC-01 chassis

Of course, other models could be listed, but I believe this list is quite representative for many Tamiya fans. And not only for Tamiya fans for many of the models. In fact, it is much easier to list iconic off-road than on-road models, probably because the Touring category is so abundant that iconic models mostly rely on iconic bodyshells alone.



Writing this article and the other one about on-road vehicles, but also researches for information and photos took me several months, and then about one full additional month in order to update it in 2015. When I first started, I was far from guessing how big this would be.

Please note the 2015 update is not just a lifting or limited to adding photos of new models:

  • all pages were corrected, removing the remaining typos despite final read-through: I hope I didn't miss any (again)
  • almost all pages were re-written at some point, in particular to rephrase or to add information in complement
  • several mistakes were corrected: since the first publication back in 2009, I found new documents that sometimes contradicted my first thoughts.
    For example, I though Tamiya had to face the sudden Touring craze in the early 90's: in fact, Tamiya made that radical change on the market.
    About the WR platform: the WR-01 chassis never was the name of the Wild Dagger chassis, unlike the information I had stated back in 2009. So the Wild Willy 2 WR-02 chassis has no relation at all with the Wild Dagger's (or with what is now called the WT-01 chassis)
  • Last, several pages were added in the articles to review the new platforms Tamiya released since 2009.


I could never have written all this without help from Tamiya fans around the world who publish photos of their models, videos, who post comments on forums or who create RC-related internet websites. I specially want to thank TamOR for the great videos he makes, David from RC4ON and Laurent58 for their friendship and their help in taking photos and flming my models or theirs, the person at Tamiya Japan who helped me understand the name of some platforms and the members of the Vintage-RC forum, some of them providing photos of their models for these articles.


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