Drift has become in recent years a quite popular form of motor sport in Asia, North America and Europe. It was not long before drifting oriented RC kits were made available. We can remember the first dedicated kits released by Yokomo circa 2004-2005. Of course, the giant modeling manufacturer Tamiya could not be too far behind and released variant of their super popular TT-01 chassis very soon after Yokomo and hence the TT-01D chassis was born. Many versions of this chassis were released for a multitude of car bodies and with different level of adjustability. In this review we will evaluate one of the most recent releases in this long line of Tamiya drift kit: The Tamiya TT-01D Drift Spec RC Nismo R34 GT-R Z-Tune. This has to be one of the longest names for a kit ever devise.
Main kit features:
This kit has to be one the most complete RC kits ever released as all you have to add is a radio with receiver and one servo. In the box are provided a Sport Tuned Tamiya 540 engine and ESC as standard equipment needed for RC car. On the hop up side of the thing, Tamiya has been quite generous in providing a superb light kit that perfectly adapts to the supplied body, adjustable camber on all four wheels and toe in-out on the front wheels and to top it all some very nice shiny blue anodized motor heat sink. Also worth mentioning is all ball bearing are included and the inevitable hard plastic tires essential to RC drifting.
This level of included hop up straight from the box is quite welcome for the novice or expert modeler alike and save a bundle in shopping time and cost compare to a bland TT-01 and make the price of this quite worth the extra compare to a bland TT-01D.
As with all Tamiya RC kit, assembly is simply pure joy between the screws, the driver and you. Instructions are crystal clear but one must still stay attentive since they are a standard booklet for all TT-01D kits. Some differences exist between kit relating to body length and wheel base and can be confusing since absolutely no where does it mention the wheel base and body length of the kit. Extra instructions are provided for the light kit, body light assembly and painting and the furnished ESC.
Since this is TT-01D drift spec, full CVS suspension is provided all around with tuned spring of a superb fire engine red. The suspension does its job by using a light oil and weak springs that permit an efficient weight transfer of kit on brake and turning for accentuating the drifting effects of perilous side way driving where flies are only suppose to hit your side windows. Camber adjustment is easily accomplished by simply turning your run of the mill turnbuckles. Adjusting toe involves de-snapping the link to the servo saver and adding or removing a couple of turns.
Here again, Tamiya stays in known territory with a standard dual bell crank and draglink steering system that does its job just perfectly for swinging the steering back to back to its maximum extent to be able to better control those drifting wild spin outs.
Drive train, chassis and tires:
The drive train on the TT-01D is full 4wd with the transfer of the power from the back to front is accomplished by a plastic drive shaft. Many TT-01 owners replace this plastic shaft with an aluminum based one before their kit even touches the ground for the first time since these plastic shaft just have a tendency to get twisted out of shape after just a few runs. The front and the rear differentials are unsealed and use exactly the same planetary gear. They come unassembled.
The transmission is well situated in the back but it means that the motor weight is also in the back and this is not optimal for a drifting machine. Drifting kits usually attempt to centralizing their CG at the middle of a chassis in the goal of having drifting/spin out axis dead on the center of the wheel base. Changing spur gear can also get quite sporty as it is hidden under a protective cover and some suspension parts. Engine swap should not be so bad but involves more than your usual two metal screws.
The main chassis of the TT-01D is of bath type and quite sturdy. It will mostly be the last thing to brake on a TT-01D. This sturdiness is in my opinion not enough to compensate for 2 major flaws in the design of this chassis. One the high rpm power transmission shaft is totally exposed and ready to wrap your daughter hair or some precious electronics wirings around its axis. The second thing is somewhat useless aeration openings in the battery tray that just invites dust and debris inside the chassis.
As with most Tamiya body shell, the NISMO GT-R shell included in this kit is highly detailed and also comes with reflective light pit that add a quite nice touch of realism. With such nice polycarbonate detailing, we would have expected some nicer and more exhaustive sticker sheet then the one provided. Popular drift car usually support fancy large scale nylon decal. Maybe Tamiya thought a majority of users would customize their body shell with graphics of their own. The lighting kit is a snap to install and gives quite a good impression.
Once everything is assembled, painted and adjusted, this car is a blast to drive. Drifting will come easily to anyone who has driven a 4wd car before. The car is well balance even with the rear engine mounting position and quite equally drifts left or right even with the unbalance lateral weight distribution. The latter can be adjusted by using a battery of similar weight to the combine weight of the engine, servo, esc and receiver. No needs here to get one of those drift gyros.
- Easy assembly
- Realistic drifting action
- Tamiya tough
- Simple mechanics for easy maintenance
- Bathtub chassis
- Low-quality sticker sheet
When all is accounted for, Tamiya has outdone itself again with a highly detailed kit that is delivered with lots of hop ups and ease of assembly. The ease into which one will absorb into the world of drifting with this kit makes it by itself recommendable to anyone. One thing to keep in mind, this is a Tamiya kit, so no part shortage or unavailability insight for the foreseeable future. So give it try and learn a new type of RC driving: Drifting!