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Did Tamiya motorized kits work?

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  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Jefferson City, MO
Did Tamiya motorized kits work?
Posted by iraqiwildman on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:49 PM

I always wondered if these old Tamiya motorized kit work very well? Where would you get the motors at? Anyone ever try this?

Tim Wilding

  • Member since
    November, 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:49 PM

Yes...and no...

  • Member since
    February, 2011
  • From: San Antonio
Posted by MAJ Mike on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2:16 PM

The electric motor came with the kit.  It was a "Mabuchi" brand motor.  I just tossed the motor and built the kit.  One I had was a Soviet T-61 with a horrible rubber band track.  This was about 1970 and there were no after-market detailed tracks.



 "I'd "I'd rather be historically accurate than politically correct."

"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc!"

  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2:32 PM

......those were the days...........

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: Sydney, Australia
Posted by Phil_H on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 5:25 PM

More often than not, they would go a couple of feet and throw a track. Propeller Dunce

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Crawfordsville, Indiana
Posted by Wabashwheels on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 8:13 PM

I've got a Tamiya 1/35 M113 motored up.  I haven't tried it in several years, but could it run!  It traveled about 80-100 mph in scale speed.  It usually hit a wall before it threw a tread, but I don't think it ever broke.  I'll probably have to drag it out of the attic stash now.   Rick


  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • From: Spring Branch, TX
Posted by satch_ip on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 7:49 PM

Heck yeah.  I had the M10 motorized.  I used to play with that for hours, driving over stuff.  It was so cool.

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by Tankman0001 on Thursday, April 11, 2013 3:12 PM

Most of them work pretty well. I made a couple as a kid in the 70's, a panther and tiger, played with them for hours. In my mid 40's I seen the kits for sale on ebay and now that I have the money I've got nearly every 1/35 motorized kit available on ebay. I have about 70 tanks built now, all motorized. Most are tamiya, some nichimo, some academy and some trumpeter, trumpeter are a bit sketchy but they work ok, the tracks suck for sure.

I've motorized all the panzer 4 variants, a strumtiger, a merkiva, a challenger, all the leopard varients, a m3 lee a churchill, a pershing, a marder II, a sgt york, all the T 34 varients, a ferdinand, etc..... I plan to have them all, though some are quite expensive, might take a while.

  • Member since
    August, 2008
Posted by tankerbuilder on Saturday, April 13, 2013 7:54 AM

HI , You bet !

I had two of the motorized ships .all I can say is BLAH ! The old LINDBERG motorized kits (even the ones you had to assemble the motor as well  ) ran good and I have at least three I converted to R.C. because they just worked so darned well .I always changed out the motors with the " MABUCHI " cans you could get for slot car models . This is one reason I still play with motorized kits .I convert them to R.C. and have running models (granted smaller ) That are not generally available in the larger (read 1/96 here )  unless you pay a lot or scratchbuld . I just like to play with them once in a while as a break from building a show stopper for a client ! If TAMIYA had gotten it even close to right I would have more. As to tanks and ARMOR . I have one of their large scale tanks .Cant keep the tracks on it !

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, April 13, 2013 8:08 AM

VERY fond memories of those.

My brother had an M60 and I had a Swedish Strv 103 (both 1/48, I think). We had many hard-fought campaigns in the back yard and driveway, before both eventually died in a hail of .22 cal. pellet gun fire. (I can still see the S-Tank's lower hull spinning in slow, defiant circles on the one remaining track, before it finally succumbed to one last, well-placed shot....)


 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."



  • Member since
    August, 2012
Posted by famvburg on Saturday, April 13, 2013 8:49 AM

I had the Saladin armored car in the early '70s. I guess since it had the advantage of being wheeled it worked pretty well. IIRC it wouldn't follow turns too well on tile floor but on the driveway it did will. With good batteries ISTR it did will in dirt and on carpet.

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Saturday, April 13, 2013 10:14 AM

Rule of thumb on the motorized Tamiya kits is that if the tank had side skirts, they kept the tracks on and the tank worked very well. I still have a number of motorized Tamiya armor kits; my favorites were the M1 Abrams (with wired remote that turned the turret) and the M113. I added the upper hull and turret from the M113A1 FSV to that kit.

The Matilda was also a great motorized tank that never threw a track.

  • Member since
    March, 2017
Posted by widowson on Saturday, March 11, 2017 6:12 PM

You da man, Tankman. I also caught the Tamiya motorized bug, in 1980. Most of the motorized stuff was still on the market. I created a wargame using these kits. I played the German side, with Grossdeutchland stuff, and my opponent played the American side.

There were fireworks and pellet guns involved, but a tank had to be moving to be considered a legit target. We attached fish line to a customized switch, and the other end to a stake in the ground. The line was 15' long, so when the tank had gone 15', the line grew taught and turned off the motor. It was really hard to find terrain suitable for such vehicles. Our final battle was fought in a dried up prehistoric lake bed near Barstow CA. We spent a lot of money getting there, shipping the models, etc.

Ultimately, my GD kampfgruppe had some 50 motorized models, including about 8 Pz IV, 6 Stug III, 5 Tigers and 10 Panthers. I even had some Pz II in the armored recon unit. I had 2 Prime movers to tow the 88s, but these never made it into a game. Later, I converted the Stugs into Pz III from DAK, along with 3 Pz II.

The most difficult was the Pz IV, because Tamiya mounted the drive nuts, which fit into the drive sprockets on the model, about one or two mm too far outboard. This is what made this particular model throw its tracks. Once I figured out the problem, performance improved greatly. Pz IV, Pz III and Pz II all suffered from narrow tracks. The wide tracked Panthers and Tigers were no sweat. All the American stuff, also with wide tracks, ran great. It's a good thing, too, because my American counterpart had no patience for fiddly stuff in the field.

Eventually, we got two more friends into it, one went British and the other Russian. The Russians needed no more than the fantastic T-34, tho the KV also came in a motorized version. The Brit had bigger problems. Only the Matilda came motorized, but this resourceful player did take a motorized system off a Sherman and fitted it into a crockodile. Very innovative, and it ran great.

Ultimately, since I didn't have any place to display the models, I gave them to a guy who was wargaming in Oregon. Not using the motorized systems, but at least there was somebody getting some use out of the tanks, instead of them rotting in boxes.

I do miss those days.

  • Member since
    April, 2005
Posted by armourguy on Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:58 PM

Depends on the gearbox. Some kits had thin metal gears and others had broad plastic gears. 

The ones with the thin gears would run, but because all of the tank's power is being pushed on small thin surface areas on the gears the steel gear would cut into the brass connecting gear effectivly wearing out in not much time. 

The plastic gears are more durable as the suface areas where the gears meet are wider and the load is distributed evenly.

Some kits had a single motor, others had dual motor drive for use with a wire connected controller. These dual motors have more power and can actually be converted to RC if the builder is savy

Tamiya also sells a modern dual motor gearbox that many poeple use for 1/35th scale RC conversions, and I myself have performed many static to motorized conversions of tamiya kits, and the ones that work the best are the older kits which were once deisgned to be motorized (M60, M48A3, Type 74...etc) as the hulls can come apart mostly seamlessly to access the gearbox and change the battery. and the conversion is actually very easy to perform to one of these kits and running is also pretty good for the small scale size and indoor use

  • Member since
    May, 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Friday, March 17, 2017 3:26 AM

Me and my friends regularly turned our backyards into "Tamiya tank torture testing grounds" by making dirt obstacles and water crossings.  My friend's M41 Walker Bulldog was the top champion, as it never threw a track and even ran underwater!  Of course it had to be retired after that amphibious maneuver because the motor rusted - but it didn't short out which was amazing.

My personal fav was the M60A1, but the tracks came off at the slightest provocation.  I should have kept the gearboxes to hawk on fleabay!  They seemed to hold up well, and I never had one break.  Of course they were stuffed up with axle grease, which eventually got everywhere.

The kits with two motors and steering control box never seemed to work reliably, plus at around $14 to $18, were too rich for us poor kids!

Ah the 1970s an innocent time when models were FUN!  Great thread subject!

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, March 17, 2017 11:41 PM

The Sdkfz 7 half track ran well.

So did the panther.

The 1/25 one.

Had a couple of T34 76s that ran ok.

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Northern New Jersey
Posted by Tojo72 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 6:42 AM

Different topic but  the new motorized Tamiya Mark IV Male moves very nicely to scale,slow and ponderous.I only ran it in the beginning to check it out,now it's just display.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:51 PM

Wow, I had the old Abrams with the three motors, one for the turret and one for each tread and a wired control as a teen. Pretty neat model actually. It's still around somewhere, no idea if she'd still work or not.

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen


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    April, 2015
Posted by Mopar Madness on Sunday, March 19, 2017 3:33 PM

When I was a kid in the early 80's I saved up a few weeks allowance and bought a 1/25 scale Academy Panther that came with a remote control. It had a movable suspension, individual plastic track links,  and a controller.  Like all toys, I eventually got bored with it and tried to see if I could create a submersible tank by filling gaps with putty and sealing open areas with tape. I ruined it the first time I drove it into the pool!


God, Family, Models...

At the plate: 1/72 Airfix Heinkel He111 H-6

On deck: 1/700 Trumpeter Graf Zeppelin

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Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, March 19, 2017 6:44 PM

That kit was/ is a reissued Tamiya model.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Lakewood, CO
Posted by kenjitak on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 3:49 PM

I had a Tamiya German Leopard that had a motor for each side and a wired remote that worked quite well. The treads stayed on and it could climb pillows quite well. Good bang for the buck at the time.



  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by Briggs4274 on Friday, November 17, 2017 11:33 PM

Hey, so you have built a bunch of them, I'm wanting to mod a Pz.II G with the system.

However, I have NO IDEA what parts to get... Do you have any form of instructions that would be helpful for me? (Hard copy, PDF, generic picture and written)

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Friday, November 24, 2017 4:11 PM


Hey, so you have built a bunch of them, I'm wanting to mod a Pz.II G with the system.

However, I have NO IDEA what parts to get... Do you have any form of instructions that would be helpful for me? (Hard copy, PDF, generic picture and written)


The biggest issue is that the gearbox for the inside came in several widths. So one wide enough for a tank like the Abrams or M60 would be too wide for a smaller vehicle.

I would imagine the Pz II would use a narrow gear box like the type found in the M113. If you can find one on ebay, they are quite common. Here is an auction to a motorized Pz II.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, November 24, 2017 9:52 PM

Good ole' Riverside. Used to meet another forum member there and have lunch next door. I got a good price on a 1/350 Hobby Boss Arizona, and a couple of other hard to find 1/72 aircraft kits.

I was the Chief Engineer on the campaign Widowson mentioned above. The man had a vision.

  • Member since
    July, 2010
Posted by roony on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 9:21 AM

A club member built Tamiya's WWI tank last winter.  If you turned it on it would crawl right out of the diorama.


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