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Well, it had to happen! The hook was set one early afternoon after an S24 Runabout @ Nova Ridge.
Some of you may have noticed that Felix, F1nutz and myself have been playing with these palm sized racers after S24 events.
Before I found slot cars and well back in my university days I raced 1:10 and 1:12 scale remote control battery powered ‘cars’ on a local carpet track in Brampton. Carbon fibre Team Associated chassis with NiCd batteries, Novak controllers, Futaba Alpina radios and servos all enclosed within a clear plastic single piece body were the ticket back then. I even traveled to Florida to race at Lake Whippoorwill International Speedway – a scale version of the Daytona International Speedway… and it was awesome! Sadly that track no longer exists but you can find pictures and references to it elsewhere on the web…
But that style of racing – unpack, charge, apply ‘secret sauce’ to your foam tires, reserve your radio channel, race a 4 minute heat then discharge – and repeat… while sitting on a wooden bench and eating a microwaved hot dog in the comfort of the equivalent of a Canadian Tire garage bay… is not very appealing.
The hobby has come a long way since then though, and these little 1:27.5 scale hard body palm racers by Kyosho are a very pleasant surprise for so many reasons:
- Entry Cost – at approximately $260 (cdn + tax) the Kyosho Readyset kits (if you can find the one you want) is a wonderful Ready to Run experience – just add 8x AAA NiMh batteries;
- Small Scale – at 1:27.5 (or 1:28 as it is often described) this scale is a wonderful compromise for remote control indoor home racing;
- Model Detail – Kyosho with their Readyset, Auto Scale & White Kit Hard Bodies have hit a home run with paint, tampo & detail that rival anything else in the hobby;
- Simplicity of Remote Control – just add batteries and turn on – it uses a proprietary FHSS 2.4GHz system and is not compatible with existing ASF/MHS/FHS 2.4GHz systems – but while there is a limit as to how many Mini-Z models can operate at the same time in the same location I can’t imagine ever reaching it unless you are competing in a large event. Steering wheel, throttle and brake, steering and throttle trim, dual rate steering/throw, LED headlight trim and a beginner training mode are all features of the system;
- Model Range – Depending on how much you are willing to spend you can find quite a variety of modern and historical full body/class styles – from a 1965 Porsche Carrera 6 to a current McLaren GTR – but be careful – different body styles require either different chassis (RWD (ie. MR-03) or AWD), different rear ends (MM/LM/RM/HM), different wheelbases (S/M/L/LL/3L/4L) and different wheel widths (N/W) and offsets (ie. 0/1.3/etc.). It sounds more complicated than it really is but if you are more focused on road race models then the MR-03(W) LM or MM chassis are a good start;
- Batteries – standard ‘AAA’ batteries give you such a long run time (with stock motor & gearing) that you’ll need the break to change batteries when they do finally empty;
- Basic Quality with Performance – you need to try it to believe it – big bang for the buck – but remember that these are still entry level RC models with room for improvement;
- Parts – There are a number of aftermarket parts available for Mini-Z, some offered by Kyosho (LED, Gyro & Suspension kits for instance) and many others from 3rd party manufacturers & distributors. Surprisingly the parts seem quite reasonably priced if you can get them. While quality from 3rd party manufacturers can vary I have not been disappointed by parts from Kyosho;
- Race Anywhere – As long as you have a smooth surface you can race these anywhere. The stock rubber tires offer good grip on any clean, smooth surface;
On the downside availability of certain Readyset kits, finished RTR painted shells, and parts is a big issue. It also appears that purchasing a RTR chassis without a body (either with or without the transmitter) is not very economical – so make sure you get a Readyset that you want even if you have to overpay to get it – the extra $ will be well worth the savings or frustration long term.
As with 1:32 slot cars these models were never meant for hard core hobbyists like us – most components are plastic and difficult to modify – but that didn’t stop us – so why should this?
3D resin printing and the ability to print in any scale might offer an endless bounty for those of us wanting to explore the possibilities. Myself I see a future filled with endurance sportscar models – all in this fabulous odd scale…
This small scale offers the possibility of more realistic hard body model racing in small spaces whether on the floor or an elevated (table top) track. Being able to pick your racing line and reverse out of trouble (without the help of a marshal) opens up a world of possibilities. Simply getting around a course on the proper racing line is a real challenge. Throw in more models all circling the course at the same time… imagine…
Mini-Z racing and R/C racing generally are making their post-covid comeback – but that form of racing still doesn’t appeal to me now. Neither does racing on a generic flat foam course made out of squares. There needs to be more – and speed isn’t it.
In keeping with our common focus can we have detailed class accurate hard body models circle a course that has elevation, cambered corners and scenery? Can this be done? I think so… can it be done in a small 18′ x 9′ space? I think so too… but baby steps first…
Where to Now?
Given the availability of Readysets and bodies a wide net of endurance models (ie. Group C and GT style models – all with racing liveries) seems like a good place to start. Keeping radios and chassis as stock as possible is also preferable. So purchasing a Kyosho RWD Readyset with one of those models would seem to be the ticket for anyone wishing to join in the fun. For more information about our collective thoughts on racing Mini-Zs for fun please visit our Mini-Z Racing – A Gentleman’s Guide sub-forum.
Add any ‘AAA’ rechargeable batteries and you are ready to go… I’m not sure it makes any sense (or difference) at this early stage to specify a particular battery type to use nor do I see any need in the future to do so. To the best of my knowledge all ‘AAA’ batteries are rated between 1.2 and 1.25v which correlates to power, while capacity can range from 750 up to 1100mAh (possibly more) which correlates to run time.
Although I’ve made replacement urethane tires for the Group C models which work better on a concrete floor the stock rubber (not drifting) tires should be OK. No gluing or truing is needed for the concrete floor which also keeps things nice and simple. Nothing wrong with adding a light kit, gyro, nylon wheel lock nuts, axle spacers, chassis ‘bumper’ or reinforcing the body either. Check out our new Mini-Z Readyset and Parts sub-forum for more information.
On the floor at Nova Ridge we’ll make (and design) the walls/barriers (the track) as safe as possible to minimize damage to the models. We’ll have the flexibility to create any flat layout we wish (for now). We’ll also add scenic elements and other racetrack features to give our models something to race through which is appealing to the eye. See what’s up not just on our Mini-Z tracks but others as well in our Mini-Z Racetracks sub-forum.
A home basement track is in the works now too… something in the range of a 17′ x 9′ footprint (smaller at the corners but slightly wider near the centre). More on this later… Some others may be on their way to a basement track option as well… time will tell. I’m sure you can follow along in our Racetracks sub-forum.
Interested slot heads or anyone new to our scale modelling scene wishing to play with Mini-Zs are welcome to inquire by contacting F1nutz or myself. Suggestions and contributions to our new branch of scale model racing are more than welcome! Now is the time to have your say in where we go with this… request your own Scratch32 account and have your say… email me for more information.
A huge thanks to Felix and F1nutz for their invaluable contributions to our new Mini-Z experiment (so far)!
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