Many 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.
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 further help collectors of original vintage Tamiya R/C models identify original cars and parts, and distinguish them from remake cars and parts. And also to avoid being ripped off by sellers who try to sell remake cars and parts using keywords 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. And by original I mean first release.
Original things have provenance in terms of the era they were made. In the case of R/C cars and parts, there was a sort of “heyday” in the worlds of R/C cars, and it is largely considered to be the 1970s and 1980s when the hobby was new and these products underwent a massive craze.
The good news is, there are many differences between the early days of the popular Tamiya R/C kits, and the more recent years when many of those popular kits have undergone remakes. So it’s actually not that hard to identify which is which (once you know where to look).
In some cases, the differences are widespread and obvious. In others, they are not obvious – but do still permeate throughout the model 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 or satisfaction to be had from knowing that something you own is a vintage/original example. And that’s largely why I have gone to the trouble of detailing these differences. Original collectibles have strong nostalgia value, and this is why they tend to be the most sought after examples of any object, in any field of collecting.
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:
- Remolded and physically different to the original part.
- Not included (or replaced with something different) compared to the original kit.
- Made from different materials compared to the original part, resulting in different colour, flexibility, weight, or smell.
- 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
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
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 a bit 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 – then you can be sure it’s a modern or remake part.
Vintage vs Remake Comparisons
Please note: Due to the large amount of work involved in these comparisons, just two have been done (below).
- The Frog – Vintage vs Remake (Completed)
- Hotshot – Vintage vs Remake (under construction as of 18th May 2019)
At this point, there are no plans to do further comparisons.