Tamiya Toyota Tundra


The second die hard scale guys found out that Tamiya discontinued their Bruiser and Mountaineer trucks, they were beating the door down at Tamiya wanting a new truck. Many years later Tamiya answered those demands and hooked us up with the F-350 High-Lift which was a new truck from the ground up and unlike the Bruiser and mountaineer that truck featured more plastic components which make it cheaper to produce and allowed more people to be able to afford it. Since the release of the F-350 version we saw a Toyota Hilux which has a similar body to the Bruiser/Mountaineer trucks of the past and now we have the more modern Toyota Tundra. This truck is packed full of cool features such as a highly detailed body, scale suspension and unique shiftable transmission. It also has a few other tricks underneath that trick Tundra body. Let’s open it up and see what’s inside. 

C-channel chassis

The chassis is simple yet rugged and features two metal C-channel rails with molded plastic cross members connecting the two. Several tapped and through holes in the frame give mounting points for components such as the suspension, transmission and some optional components that Tamiya offers for the truck. A large molded tray is attached to the top side of the frame and it easily has enough space to mount the receiver and speed control of your choice and the steering servo is mounted to the side of the frame. You may notice that there aren’t body mount posts like we are used to seeing on RC cars; instead, the cab of the Tundra is screwed to the chassis and the bed is mounted to a pivoting mount to allow easy access to the battery tray that is mounted below the frame.

Leaf spring suspension

Leaf spring suspension adds to the scale realism to the truck but at the same time limits its performance. The leaf springs limit suspension travel and are quite stiff but Tamiya made the leaf springs on this truck buildable so you can install as many leafs as you want to increase or decrease stiffness. The springs are attached to the axle by two long screws and shackles attach them to the frame. Red anodized dampers are used on all four corners to slow down the action of the springs. Inside the dampers you’ll find o-rings that fit tightly inside the housing and they are coated with special grease; once assembled they feel like fluid filled dampers. The dampers also feature internal springs which further increases the stiffness of the suspension but the springs can be left out to soften it up.

Simple steering

Since the steering servo is mounted to the frame you need a way to attach it to the front axle and that is done through a bell crank that is also mounted to the frame.  A bent linkage connects the bell crank to the axle and that bend is there to clearance the leaf spring then another linkage ties the two ends of the axle together. The cool thing about the steering and axle setup in the Tundra is that you can set it up to have four wheel steering and still only need one steering servo to do the job.

3-speeds of fun

One of the things that makes the Tundra stand out from a lot of scale rigs is its 3-speed transmission. This transmission is a modified version of the transmissions found in Tamiya’s line of 18 wheelers and it now features an adjustable slipper clutch, transfer case and the motor has been rotated 180 degrees. There are a lot of components housed inside the transmission and they include springs, shift forks and a lot of gears. A lot of bronze bushings are used to support the gears so if you are going to use bearings, make sure you install them when you build the truck. A lot of grease on the gears and shift forks keeps things operating smoothly. The shift fork has a ball at one end and when connected to a servo can change the gear ratios of the transmission from the radio. If you don’t care about changing gears, the transmission will stay in second gears thanks to the location of the springs inside. Metal universal driveshafts connect the transmission to the front and rear axles and inside the axles are metal bevel gears and axle shafts. The axles feature bevel gear differentials and the cool thing about the diffs is that you can easily lock them by removing a small rubber grommet from the plastic axle housing and install a long set screw that locks the diff housing to the axle shaft.

Body beautiful

The one thing that makes everyone say wow when people see this truck is the awesome body. A lot of RC vehicles use a lightweight Lexan body to cover the chassis. They’re great when performance is the goal because they are lightweight and can take a beating. But the Tamiya Tundra isn’t made to win races or set land speed records. Tamiya is well known for their incredible scale models and that shows when you take a look at the awesome Toyota Tundra body that’s attached to the frame. It’s made out of injection molded plastic and several parts are screwed together to complete it. It comes in while plastic and if you aren’t the best painter you can just leave it as is or you can paint it the color of your choice. This body had to be painted on the outside just like a model; you can give it a quick few coats and call it a day or spend a lot of time making the body panels and paint as perfect as you can. If this truck tips over that paint will be ruined in seconds so think about that before you paint. Other body details include a roll bar, chrome grill, grill guard, mufflers, mirrors, and off-road lights.

Tires and wheels

Tamiya includes a set of 1.9 inch tires and wheels to complete the scale look of the truck. The tires feature an all terrain tread and are molded out of a stiff rubber. Since the rubber is so stiff, they don’t need foam inserts to support them. They are glued to attractive chrome plated wheels.

Building the Tundra

This truck comes as a kit so that means that you’ll be spending a lot of quality time with it before you go outside to play. Admittedly it’s intimidating when you first open the box and you see a ton of plastic bags full of parts and screws. Tamiya is one of the best in the business when it comes to manuals and the building process of their vehicles. All you have to do on your end is stay organized and don’t rush the building process. To help speed up the build of your Tundra, make sure you have all of the electrical components on hand because the truck will require some disassembly if you choose to install them later. When picking out a radio you need to think a head and decide if you want to install optional Multifunction Unit or not. If you do install it you’ll need to purchase a four channel stick radio to operate it and if you decide not to then you have two radio options. This truck does have a shit-on-the-fly transmission and requires a servo to shift through the gears so you’ll need a 3-channel radio for that function and if you don’t care about shifting the transmission you can get away with a 2-channel radio. A standard servo will be fine for bashing but you may want to look into something a little more powerful if you have r
ock crawling on your list of things to do.

Making it even cooler

Not only is Tamiya good at building scale models and RC vehicles but they also build some pretty impressive electronics as well. A really cool option component for the High-Lift series of trucks is Tamiya’s Multifunction unit. This unit controls the motor, has a sound system and operates several LED lights. It requires a 4-channel radio to operate all the functions and you are limited to a stock brushed motor if you install this unit in your truck. When you fire up the system you hear the roar of a big V-8 engine and the engine revs up as you get on the throttle and when you let off, the brake lights come on. The lights can be turned on and off from the radio and there’s a display mode that puts on a cool light show with all the LEDs in the truck. That’s just scratching the surface of what this cool unit can do.


It may have a stock motor on board but thank to the three speed transmission and throttle control you can get the truck up to some decent speeds and still have good low end torque. Shifting the transmission and operating the throttle at the same time takes some getting used to; you can also pick a gear and just work the throttle. The motor has enough torque to push the truck around in any gear and in the lower gears the truck gets up to speed quickly. On the pavement the truck is super smooth but once you get into the dirt things change. The suspension is pretty stiff and that causes the truck to bounce around quite a bit which isn’t a big deal since this is a scale rig.

What a truck!

Like all Tamiya scale vehicles this Toyota Tundra doesn’t disappoint. This truck at first glance looks just like a real truck. I really like the adjustability in the drivetrain, shifting gears is easy and locking the diffs couldn’t be any easier. The stock suspension setup is a little too stiff if you ask me but on the bright side, you can adjust the leaf springs and remove the internal shock spring to soften it up a bit. Just keep in mind that if you buy this truck, the body that comes with it is fragile and if you plan on running it hard it will be damage. So basically you need to decide if you want it to be a shelf queen or not and then decide on how much time you want to spend on that awesome body.


Tamiya tamiyausa.com

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Updated: October 27, 2010 — 12:23 PM
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