A better way to describe R/C kit variants

On this website (and others), collectors of vintage R/C cars have over the years tried to categorize “variants” of vintage R/C cars as “Mk1, Mk2, Mk3” etc.

This approach has proven popular, and it works OK for vintage RTR (ready-to-run) models. But it’s actually very misleading for kit-based models. So I’m now scrapping it for those, in favour of a simple naming convention of “Early”, “Mid” and “Late”.

Here’s why…


The inevitable consequence of having a passionate interest in a certain type of collectible, antique, toy, or anything at all… is that you end up delving into the little details – the history, the variations, the flaws, and even the reasons why they were made the way they were.

In writing this site, I’ve learned a lot. And that includes the ongoing discovery that many vintage R/C cars underwent a lot of variations during their production runs. And even though these amount to small details in a lot of cases, they can also mean big differences in the dollar value of certain cars. For example, very early kits of the Tamiya Wild Willy in 1983 (which were known for having a shorter wheel base) can be worth many hundreds of dollars more than later examples (the kit was modified to use a longer wheel base from about 1985 onward).

Being a nerd for details, I (and many others on the web) started a few years ago to use the terms “Mk1”, “Mk2” and so on, in an effort to catalogue the variations of cars for other collectors and fans. And these terms work fine for ready to run models (such as those from Nikko and others) which usually only underwent some changes maybe twice or three times during their production runs. Or even had no changes at all.

However, kit-based models like those from Tamiya, Kyosho, Associated, Marui and all the rest… have proven much harder to categorize into those “Mk1”, “Mk2”, “Mk3” designations.

The reason for this, is because vintage kit-based models from the 1980s often underwent lots of changes and tweaks to their constituent parts, and these changes were often phased-in over time – one by one. Some were small, some large. But overall, the sheer number of tweaks in some cases has made it impractical to try to use the “Mk1”, “Mk2”, “Mk3” naming for all kit-based models. If we did, then sometimes we’d end up with variants running up to “Mk10”, or even “Mk15” and beyond. Which of course, is getting a bit crazy. And as one wise African American woman once said: ain’t nobody got time for that. We all need to get out into the sunshine too. Contemplate our lives. Stare at the clouds. And consider why humans sometimes feel the need to sit at computers, labeling, regulating, and categorizing every little thing in their world. 🙂

So for this reason, I have decided that from now on, R/C Toy Memories will be 0.1% less “OCD”, and will no longer bother with the “Mk” labeling for any kit-based models (Tamiya etc).

Instead, variants of kit-based R/C cars will be described in broader terms only, namely:

  • “Early Vintage” – Kits containing parts known to be from the early years of the production run of the model.
  • “Mid Vintage” – Kits containing parts known to be from the middle of the production run of the model.
  • “Late Vintage” – Kits containing parts known to be from the later years of the production run of the model.

Simple.

These “general” groupings will also be more accurate, being based on what collectors actually know.

And hopefully, people can also stop worrying so much whether they have “Mk1” or “Mk2” of say, a vintage Tamiya, and just be happy knowing if their car was “early”, “mid”, or “late” in the production run. And otherwise just be happy they’ve got a rare, vintage R/C car in itself.

So if you see anyone else referring on forums to “Mk1” Tamiya kits and so forth… please feel welcome to direct them to me for a little sit-down and a quiet chat. The “Mk” thing has been falling out of favour with Tamiya collectors for a couple of years now, as many are coming to the conclusion that there is no clear “cut-off” between “Mks” for R/C kit models. While Team Associated RC10 collectors know well just how hard it is to keep track of every little change that was made to the original RC10 kit from it’s “Edinger” to it’s “Cadillac” era.

So to sum up – here is a very simple graphic to explain the principle, using the Tamiya Rough Rider as the example…

I have already updated my Models, Releases and Variants page to reflect this change in ‘philosophy’ for kit-based models. Along with all articles about kit-based models. But if you find any other old pages here where I can be found referring to “Mk1”, “Mk2”, “Mk3” etc, please let me know so I can update those also.

Thanks as always for following this website.

Apologies for the “public service announcement” tone of this article – please stay tuned for more interesting articles soon. And be sure to click “follow” in the right sidebar, if you wish to be notified by email of new articles!

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5 responses to “A better way to describe R/C kit variants”

  1. Branko says :

    Has anyone ever seen an early frog kit with a short bumper? Does that even exist or is it a myth.

  2. Dave Gannaway says :

    Onya Rob. The same applies to old Kyosho models too, I know the Scorpion went through several kit variations.

    • R/C Toy Memories says :

      Yeah it definitely did – and it’s proven quite impossible to break them up into distinct variations. Plus on top of it all, the kit box photo depicts a seeming prototype carrying several parts that were never released (like the white wheels!)

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