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Tamiya Lunchbox RC Kit Review

Article by Hunter Wick

To be completely honest, I never did understand why people thought slow, sometimes poor-performing, vintage kits were fun. Read on to see if my opinion of vintage RCs changed after building and driving this Tamiya Lunchbox kit or if vintage kits just not for me.

Take a look at our Lunchbox build video series here. Check out the unboxing of the kit here. Some wheelies and onroad fun can be seen here.

Steering - 7/10

I was pretty disappointed in the Lunchbox's turning radius on the work bench. While the whole front end's geometry screams 1980s, the steering geometry itself is actually alright for a basher. The problem lies in the steering knuckles. They are not designed to allow the truck to turn sharp. There are a couple of modifications I've seen some guys do to better the turning radius, but honestly the stock turning radius is adequate because most of the time the truck's front wheels aren't even on the ground!

Acceleration - 10/10

Great acceleration is what allows this kit to do those famous wheelies that it's known for. While I did not use the mild brushed motor that came in the kit, the brushless system I used was very mild and was likely similar in power. As expected, the Lunchbox had no problem pulling wheelies from a standstill and even while rolling. Top speed was nothing crazy at only around 15-20mph, but for a truck like this that is more than plenty to keep the fun going.

Braking - 5/10

The first time I ran the truck I made a big mistake by not enabling the ABS (anti-lock braking system) on my transmitter, which tries to prevent the rear tires from locking up under hard braking. Because of this, when I slammed on the brakes to avoid running into my dog, the truck immediately turned sideways and then rolled several times. Unfortunately, this is a huge problem with 2wd RCs, so it's not really the Lunchbox's fault completely. However, the use of a heavy, plastic body instead of a modern lexan body is the Lunchbox's fault, and does not lend itself well to performance under hard braking. To be short about it, the Lunchbox can be controllable under braking, but keep braking as mild as possible.

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Suspension - 8/10

A lot of hobbyists like me who are used to modern RCs with oil-filled shocks may be unimpressed with the Tamiya Lunchbox's friction shocks, but they actually aren't half bad. Unlike oil-filled shocks, these friction shocks have no oil to dampen the suspension movement, only stiff springs which attempt to act as oil and springs at the same time. Despite there being no doubt that oil-filled shocks provide better performance, friction shocks are one of those things that make the Lunchbox so unique and fun to drive. It's hard to explain why driving the truck on rough ground and watching it bounce up and down is so fun, but it is! The overall suspension geometry could also be improved, but it works fine for a just-for-fun truck like the Lunchbox, so I'm not complaining.

Jumping - 7/10

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a truck with an extremely high center-of-gravity and friction shocks isn't going to be the best jumper, and the Lunchbox is no exception. While it does alright for what it is, it has a nasty habit of flipping forward during flight. This is because most power systems that are going to be used in a vintage RC like this are too mild to balloon the rear tires and level the truck out. Besides this, though, the truck does fine off of jumps.

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Durability - 10/10

The Tamiya Lunchbox greatly surprised me with its impressive durability. The first issue I was afraid of was the use of plastic gears in the transmission, but thankfully they were plenty beefy enough and ran smooth as butter. The second issue I was hoping to avoid was cracking the hard plastic body. Unlike modern standard lexan bodies, the hard plastic body will not flex under pressure, and may crack more easily. Thankfully, though, the plastic body never showed any signs of giving out and the lexan paint stuck to it like super glue. The final issue that I'm aware of is the short life of the plastic bushings included in the kit. I never experienced any issues with the bushings, though, so I don't see these being a problem. Overall, the Lunchbox exhibited exceptional durability in all aspects, so I would definitely recommend this kit as a backyard basher.

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At the end of my test session with the Tamiya Lunchbox re-release, I was very happy. In fact, I'm willing to say that it has been the most fun RC that I've gotten the chance to own within the last six months (and I buy and sell a good number of RCs), so whatever the next RC is going to be has a lot to live up to. The Lunchbox's final score is a 7.8/10. I think an old timer who had something like this as a kid may enjoy this kit more, so whether or not to buy this kit is something that you have to decide depending on your own needs when making that next RC purchase.

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