A detailed guide to Vintage vs Remake Tamiya R/C kits

tamiya-vintage-originalMany of the popular Tamiya R/C models we knew in the 1980s have been remade in recent years. But the remakes are quite different to the original ones.

If you are looking for an introduction to this subject, please see my earlier article A quick guide to Vintage vs Remake Tamiya R/C kits.

However, if you need some more detailed information about actual parts differences between vintage vs remake Tamiya R/C cars, this is the article for you.

Welcome to what will become a lengthy article over time. Unlike other articles on this site, this one is a collaborative effort between myself and other vintage Tamiya enthusiasts, in an effort to collate information about the differences between original vintage Tamiya R/C kits from the 1970s and 1980s, and the remake kits that began in the 2000s.

As much as I usually like to keep most of this website “not too technical” in tone, so that it may be enjoyed by anyone with a casual interest in vintage R/C cars, sometimes you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and get a bit nerdy. So that’s what’s happening here!

The purpose of this article is to help collectors of original vintage Tamiya R/C models identify original cars and parts, and distinguish them from remake cars and parts. The goal is to help those collectors enjoy collecting original vintage items, and to also avoid being ripped off by sellers who try to sell remake cars and parts using words like “vintage” or “original”.

As with all collectibles in the world, original Tamiya cars are the ones that are the most sought-after by collectors. This is simply because original things have provenance in terms of the era they were made. In this case, it’s about what’s considered the “heyday” of early R/C cars – back in the 70s and 80s when the hobby was new and they were the hot toy that almost every kid dreamed of owning.

The good news is, there are many differences between the original Tamiya R/C kits and those that have undergone remakes in recent years, so it’s actually not that hard to identify which is which (if you know where to look).

In some cases, the differences are widespread and obvious. In others, they are not so obvious – yet still permeate throughout the kit. But even in cases where remake components are near-identical, there are ways for collectors to check things like colour, flexibility, embossed stamps in plastic, and parts sprues (the molding frame that many plastic parts are initially attached to) to confirm whether something is original.

As with all collectibles, there is enjoyment to be had from knowing that something is vintage/original. And most people appreciate the notion that original collectibles have strong nostalgia value. This is why they tend to be the most sought after examples of any object, in any field of collecting in the world.

The types of differences…

Before we get into the details, here’s a quick overview of the types of parts differences you will find between vintage and remake Tamiya kits.

All remake kits have parts which are:

  1. Remolded and physically different to the original part.
  2. Not included (or replaced with something different) compared to the original kit.
  3. Made from different materials compared to the original part, resulting in different colour, flexibility or smell.
  4. Embossed with different writing either on the part, the sprue, or both.

The embossed writing is interesting because it actually shows how times have changed – things were simpler in the 80s and the embossed writing carried more simple information as a result.

On modern and remake parts, it has changed, and carries a bunch of (somewhat ugly) numbers and codes. But the good thing is, this means the embossing can be used to easily identify vintage parts over modern and remake parts.

Embossed writing on vintage parts

A vintage part showing only "Made in Japan" and a model name.
A vintage part showing only “Made in Japan” and a model name.
In the 1980s, most original parts had the following things embossed on them:

  • The model name, usually prefixed with the letters “RCC” (which stands for Radio Controlled Car). For example, “RCC THE FROG”
  • Year, e.g. “1983”
  • The words “Made in Japan“, because everything was made in Japan in those days

And that’s it. Those are the only things you will find embossed on vintage parts, with a few exceptions where Tamiya added some additional fancy writing for decoration.

Embossed writing on remake parts

A remake part showing the plethora of modern codes on the sprue.
A remake part showing the plethora of modern codes on the sprue.
Remake parts and other modern parts carry Tamiya’s modern, consolidated part number codes on them, among other changes. So on these parts, you will often find some or all of the following things:

  • EU compliance material stamps with alphabetic codes, e.g. “ABS” (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), “PS” (Polystyrene), “PA” (Polyamide) or “PC” (Polycarbonate). These never appeared on vintage parts.
  • Tamiya name, e.g. “© Tamiya”. This never appeared on vintage parts.
  • Year, e.g. “© 1979”. While year did also appear on vintage parts, the use of the “©” symbol proves a part is a remake part.
  • Vintage model number e.g. “58047”, PLUS product code e.g. some 7 digit number like “0984071”. Even though a vintage model number like “58047” refers to a car from the 1980s, such numbers never actually appeared on vintage parts. Likewise, product codes never appeared on vintage parts.

Don’t be fooled…

As indicated above, it’s important to note that Tamiya has confused matters slightly by often putting the vintage model number and vintage model year, on remake parts.

It was misleading for Tamiya to have done this. But don’t worry! You simply need to look at all the embossed writing on a part to get the complete picture. If you also find things like “©”, a 7-digit product code, or those EU compliance stamps like “PA” etc, you can guarantee it’s a modern or remake part.

Vintage vs Remake Comparisons

Please note: It is hoped that more comparisons will be added here, over time. They require a lot of time and effort.

More to be added in future.

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