This platform is probably Tamiya's most important ever. In addition, it is also probably one of the most important event in RC history.
To correctly understand the TA platform, you need to replace it into the period context: have a look to the article abtout Tamiya Off-road article, especially the section dedicated to the DF platform and the DF-01 chassis.
In broad strokes, Tamiya's on and off-road chassis series at that moment, meaning the very late 80's:
- Late 70's:
- first platform, mainly models in motion
- first buggies
- Early 80's:
- first F1 platform
- first 1/12 Racing Master series
- more buggies
- Late 80's:
- modern F1 platform
- buggies, buggies, buggies
Yes, this is caricatural, but overall, the fact is that Tamiya's offering is a huge choice of very successful buggies.
Sorry, I was forgetting the 2 Formula 1 from 1987 plus the two Racing Master models still remaining in the catalog since 1985. Period.
So, in the very early 90's, Tamiya only relies on their buggy offering, a fate shared by all the manufacturers at this time, or so.
In retrospect, we know that Tamiya had a perfect view on the situation at the time and on how dangerous that was. Which means that the RC market tsunami Tamiya was about to provoke was definitely anticipated and well planned. Just as a reminder of what we've seen in the previous pages, the new F101 and GroupC chassis are about to be released.
The first move occurs on october 23 1990 when the Manta Ray (kit 58087) is released with the brand new DF-01 chassis.
The tsunami probably occurred in may 1991 when Tamiya officially presented their new TA-01 chassis at the Shizuoka Fair (because Tamiyablog didn't exist yet, I can't be sure about this).
On july 31 1991, the 58096 Toyota Celica GT-Four Rally kit is officially released, the first model based on Tamiya's new on-road TA-01 chassis.
This chassis is a revolution in RC history, and a masterstroke from Tamiya. Indeed, it is nothing more, nothing less than the conversion of an off-road buggy (DF-01 chassis) into on-road usage. In fact, this is an entirely new kind of RC vehicle that was invented, featuring a bathtub chassis to protect the chassis from pebbles found on parking lots, where most RC fans were driving their on-road models at the time. Except that all on-road chassis existing until the TA-01 came were based on the Pan-Car architecture, which means exposed gears where pebbles never failed to get and to ruin them.
Except that... the true fact is Tamiya did not invent the concept of a buggy chassis converted to on-road usage. Instead, Tamiya is the manufacturer who understood and succeeded in making it a fantastic success.
In fact, Marui was the first ever manufacturer to have the idea of such a concept in 1988, when they converted their Shogun buggy into the on-road Coors Melling Thunderbird.
Marui Shogun (1988)
Patrick NICOLAS, Auto 8 #37 September 1988 @ retromodelisme.com
Marui Coors Melling Thunderbird (1988)
Régis & Yves Faucqueur, Buggy Mag #10 May/June 1989 @ retromodelisme.com
Unfortunately, this was Marui's last stand since the company abandoned the RC market a few months later. What the story doesn't say is whether Marui designers went to work for Tamiya to design the DF-01/TA-01 duo after Marui left the business, or if Tamiya understood on their own how to turn such an innovative concept (as there were hundreds in the 80's) into a tremendous worldwide success.
Anyway, the fact is that Tamiya rapidly succeeded in making their on-road chassis the preferred public choice, creating what will become the still successful Touring category. In just a few months, Tamiya will deeply and durably modify the RC market, leading to deep changes in their RC offering since 75% of the models released during the next decade will be on-road models.
After explaining the important context background, let's now focus on this platform which name means Touring Group A. It is by far the most used platform ever used by Tamiya up to the present day, featuring 6 different generation since it was first released back in 1991.
TA-01 chassis (1991)
TA-02 chassis (1993)
TA-02T chassis (1994)
58128 Alfa Romeo 155
Basically, the TA-02 is a slightly shorter TA-01 chassis. More precisely, the rear arms were modified to keep the wheelbase, the front arms are longer, the spur gear is one-piece and the turnbuckles are modified to fit bigger wheel axles (so more resistant). Three more TA-02 chassis variants were released:
- TA-02T that received this name after its was re-released in 2011: uses TA-01 arms, the rear ones being flipped in order to increase the wheelbase.
- TA-02W (Wide) using TA-01 parts on kits 58144, 58165 and 58170 to widen the front track.
- TA-02SW (Short Wide) on kit 58172, also using TA-01 parts to widen the chassis track and shorten the wheelbase. This version is used by only one model in order to fit the specific Porsche 911 GT2 Taisan bodyshell dimensions.
In 1996, the TA platform received a radical upgrade: that year, Tamiya introduced the TA version 3 with kits 58177 TA-03F Pro et 58182 Audi A4 STW. The new generation abandoned the original DF-01 4WD shaft-driven concept for a new belt-driven transmission. In addition, the first two generations were oriented to the leisure kind of use, even if the platform versatility allowed more race-oriented versions. With the TA-03, Tamiya modified their approach: the TA-03 and future generations will be the “general public” versions of their world championship class chassis (the 1996 ROAR championship was won by David Jun and his TA-03F Pro chassis).
Perfect move, since Tamiya will, at last, become a major manufacturer in international championships thanks to their TRF Team (Tamiya Racing Factory), first on-road then off-road a few years later. Thanks to the excellent results in high-end international competition, the models using the platform were successful: obviously, race drivers were interested in them, but non-racers too due to the very detailled and realistic bodyshells (like the kit 58278 Lancia 037 Rally).
TA-03F chassis (1996)
TA-03FS chassis (1998)
TA-03R chassis (1997)
TA-03RS chassis (1997)
58189 Martini Alfa Romeo 155 V6
58218 Toyota Corolla WRC
58203 Nissan R390 GT1
58193 Porsche 911 GT-1
The TA-03F featured a front-mounted motor (F for Front) and introduced the 4WD belt-driven transmission. The FS version (Front Short) featured a shortened wheelbase by fitting the front gearbox closer to the chassis. R versions had a rear-mounted motor (R for Rear) and the R-S version (Rear Short) had a shorter wheelbase (from the rear side this time) and featured a relocated battery tray.
In 2000, Tamiya released the TA-04 generation on 58261 TA04-PRO and 58266 Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge kits. This new generation was based on the two-belt driven and double-deck TRF414 chassis used in international championships by the factory team.
TA-04 chassis (2000)
TA-04S chassis (2001)
TA-04R chassis (2001)
TA-04SS chassis (2002)
58266 Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge
58272 Corvette C5-R
58276 HKS Racing Altezza
58300 ABT Audi TT-R
Compared to the standard TA-04, the TA-04S (S for Sport) variant came with ball bearings everywhere and adjustable steering turnbuckles, the TA-04R (R for Racing) was an hopped-up S variant (carbon parts) and the SS variant (Sport Short) reduced the wheelbase by 10mm.
In 2005, a new generation was released with the TA-05 on the 58345 Ferrari F430 kit, then a first evolution came in 2007 with the TA-05-IFS, and then the TA-05 V.2 was released in 2009.
TA-05 chassis (2005)
TA-05-IFS chassis (2007)
TA-05 v.2 chassis (2009)
58345 Ferrari F430
58389 Ebbro 350R
58435 Cusco Dunlop Subaru Impreza
The TA-05 was based on the TRF415 chassis. Compared to its predecessor, it featured a two-isometric belt transmission to improve power distribution, a lower center of gravity and a centrally-mounted motor. The IFS version (Inboard Front Shocks) released in 2007 featured inboard horizontally-mounted front dampers: this solution better protects the dampers and the damper mount from hits and track debris. Another advantage is to allow low-nose profile bodies to fit the chassis. The version 2 released in 2009 kept most of the IFS evolutions, but the chassis was slightly narrowed, the stick pack was moved more to the front and several parts were redesigned.
2011, new generation with the TA-06 release:
TA-06 chassis (2011)
Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R
Natural evolution of the TA-05, the TA-06 keeps the front IFS suspension system. Compared to the TA-05, the 6th generation mainly improves the weight distribution by re-centering the masses along the chassis axis, chassis balance update required by the use of much lighter LiPo batteries. For the first time in the TA series history, the battery pack is inserted by the bottom of the chassis instead of inserting from one side or transversally.
Now, as an aside, we will review the TRF41x series because it is closely coupled with the TA platform. In 1996, David Jun wins the ROAR championship with the TA-03F chassis (quite modified compared to the standard kit version). In fact, it is the first significant victory of a Tamiya chassis in high-end racing since Tamiya created the Touring category back in 1991. However, from David Jun's victory, Tamiya will deploy many efforts in order to raise their chassis at the highest international race level.
The story really began back in 1998 when a prototype is first tested by Team TRF (Tamiya Racing Factory) drivers with the objective of improving the chassis performances to meet the best international standards. The first version named TRF404X will be driven in several races in Japan only. Then the second version named TRF414X will be produced at only 150 units before the “definitive” TRF414 is marketed, still in limited series.
93013 TRF414X prototype (1999)
49132 TRF 414 (1999)
Rights from its debuts, the TRF414 reveals to be an excellent chassis, so good that TRF Surikarn Chaidajsuriya driver wins the 2002 IFMAR world championship. This is no luck: from the next edition (in 2004 since world championship are held every 2 years), the reign of a 17 years old driver begins. His name is Marc Rheinard, he drives a TRF415 and he wins the world championship. And the story goes on every 2 years up to now: Marc Rheinard + TRF41x = world champion. When you say it, it sounds easy To my knowledge, in 2015 and since 2002, Tamiya only missed one world champion title, the same Marc Rheinard missed (since 2004).
I will not review all the chassis that succeeded since 2002 because I'm not skilled enough to explain the upgrades and their impact on the chassis handling or performance. However, as mentioned earlier, the world champion TRF chassis and the TA chassis are related. The biggest updates on the TRF side (number of belts, weight distribution etc) are transferred on every new TA generation. Of course, high-end racing being very demanding, TRF versions are updated much more often than there are TA generations. But overall, the TA-06 is the general public version of the high-end TRF416.
Conclusion about the TA platform
Overall and for a great part of it, the story of the TA platform is the story of RC since the 90's, whether it is at its debuts when Tamiya transformed almost the entire buggy craze into a Touring craze, or since 2002 with the TRF series winning almost every world champion title. Never before a manufacturer had had such an influence on the overall RC market, and it never happened ever since. Nevertheless, such phenomenons happen in RC history, perhaps not to such an extent:
- Associated RC10: since 1984, of course including upgrades, this 2WD race buggy won about every world championship in its category
- Traxxas: since the begining of the 2000's, with several models, this manufacturer is transforming leisure-oriented RC
Three examples showing that the RC market can be affected on the long-term by the influence of one manufacturer, either with one model (Associated RC10) or a chassis defining a new market need (Tamiya TA-01) or even a new approach of the market for Traxxas (E-Maxx/Stampede for Monster Trucks and Slash for Short Course). It is interesting to note that these hegemonies are not mutually exclusive.
- 58117 Lancia Delta HF Integrale - TA-01
- 58087 Manta Ray - DF-01
- 58161 Ford F-150 - TA-02T
- Audi Quattro TA-03F
- 49278 TA-04 TRF