If you're are a hardcore Radio Control off-road enthusiast there's 80% probability you might stumble this buggy (above picture) around the community forum especially tagged post as 'Nostalgia', 'Retro' or 'Vintage' discussion topic. The new generation 90's baby and above may chuckled when they see it but for those born in the 80's, 70's, 60's and downward this buggy represent the golden age of Radio Control model evolution and the most importantly is when R/C buggy was a 'the Bugg!' way back then with more back stories than just a plastic kit lugged with hardwares. Introducing the 1984 1:10 scale TAMIYA: THE GRASSHOPPER! .....and you can hear your dad, your uncle and grandpa roaring in cheers and applaud in the background as they grin looking at this marvelous looking vintage*,lol. Aesthetically this buggy always looks good and very appealing to this present day which is why many old timer love the looks of this buggy. Living in the mid 1980's if you wanted to start R/C off-roading hobby but don't have the budget for starter class grade buggies then this buggy is your only option. Back in the old days you can count with your finger the total existing hobby grade model brandings that compete among itself in R/C market namely MARUI, KYOSHO, TAMIYA, HIROBO, SCHUMACHER, TEAM ASSOCIATES and a few while some toy grade yet which still looks cools are NIKKO, TOMY, TAIYO, Radio Shack and others...yes i did own 2x TAIYO since it was much more affordable at USD$20 per-models than NIKKO or TOMY which thats the only price tag that my father could afford to buy for me as a kid and i was happy, thanks dad!...with the condition not to tell mom about it, lol. Despite so many brands to choose nothing came close to both good balance of performance, budget and pure hobby grade R/C build than on the Grasshopper itself but at around USD$80 per-kit it was still too steep for my first R/C toys in the 80's, however 0.10cent could buy me a handful of ice-creams! yum! yum!.
Today; the Tamiya Grasshopper that i have is the re-released version in year 2005 (Candy Green edition..which's why no one wants that = cheap!) which then later years i purchased in 2017 just after i purchased my the 1999 TAMIYA WILD WILLY 2 (WR-02) influenced by my uncle who used to owned the first 1982 TAMIYA WILD WILLY in 1983. The differences between the 1984 Grasshopper vs the re-released 2005 Grasshopper was that the sticker/decals no longer carry on real life racing brand/sponsor due to copyrights issues, improvement in CVD/dog bone drive shaft connection between wheels and gearbox and uses modern Electronic Speed Controller instead of servo actuated mechanical speed controller to control the 380 size electric brushed motor. For overall physical and aesthetical looks nothing changed since 1984 except those minor changes on decals/sticker as mentioned before. But from TAMIYA purist point of view the 1984 GRASSHOPPER has more collectibles value and most sought after by hobby enthusiast/collectors due to its aesthetic quality as long the original stickers/decals are intact, mint box art and minimal dents/scratches on the models itself regardless if electronics parts are not present onboard or other wise. This original vintage 1984 Grasshopper can fetch twice or triple its value on online auction market such as on Ebay for the right buyer/collector and same goes to other old vintage R/C TAMIYA models as long its not a 'Re-released Edition' or reproduction models. However if the 'Re-Released Edition' only produced as limited or seasonal this also can cause it to have collectible values such as the TAMIYA HOTSHOT variants. As seen on vintage R/C discussion forum and even on Youtube videos people are just crave all over for these old 80's TAMIYA models not only because its a nostalgic value related to childhood but also the realistic and aesthetic looks of the R/C off-road models of the 80's which is nothing close or match to what today's R/C off-road models physical outlook because in the 80's R/C model designers and manufacturers build these models based on existing vehicles/automobiles, replicas or almost close to reality than simply just build them as hobby toys. Which is why you might notice some old 80's buggies or truck still carry badges/branded racing labels such as "GOOD YEAR" and "BRIDGESTONE" on the tire sidewall which is rarely seen on today build R/C off-roader due to copyright. Btw modern buggies no longer have 'Sand paddle' styled tires or or sand spike knobs which are kinds cool! You can say in the 80's much R/C models are build upon inspiration from real world motor vehicles and racing sponsorships labels where copyright enforcement wasn't much of a priority.
Specification (as describe by vendor/manufacturer)
Brand name: TAMIYA
Model name: The GRASSHOPPER
First date production release: 14 May 1984
Re-release edition: year 2005
Scale size: 1:10
Chassis type: ABS Plastic Bathtub
Bodyshell: Hard cover ABS plastic
Motor: 380 Brushed - MABUCHI (*Can easily upgrade to 540 size brushed motor)
Electronic Speed Controller module: Tamiya TBLE-02S (support brushed and sensored brushless)
Front suspension type: Swing arm + Simple King Pin friction shocks struts
Rear suspension type: Integrated gearbox with rigid axle + friction shocks struts
Items required to complete the build. (Not included inside the kit)
- Radio transmitter and receiver unit (2 Channel minimum)
- 1x Steering servo (Standard size for 1:10 scale eg; FUTABA S1001)
- 1x battery; 7.2v Sub-C/NimH or 7.4V Li-Po 2200mah~3300mah
- 1x battery charger
- Building tools such as screw driver, cutter and etc
- Tire glues and plastic cement
- Few plastic acrylic paints
- Spray paint color code: TS26 'Pure White' (85026)
Quality and builds.
Unlike todays modern R/C models most TAMIYA classic and re-release models are available as kit only which means you have to assemble the models from plastic parts tree by hand, buy your own electronics parts and paint the bodies via airbrushing or spray cans which is pretty much what enthusiast did back in the 1980's...so people used to have more time and fun at home doing hand works before the internet era thus they have to depends on manual book and magazines for guides rather than what we currently have via forum or social media..old skools! Since originally TAMIYA was started as plastic scale model kit company in the 1946~50's before expanded into Radio Control market in the 1970's that's pretty much explained everything why much of their Radio Control models available as kits, same goes true for other early rival manufacturer brands such as KYOSHO, MARUI and others back then. The most enticing about the classic R/C packages is their box art; it was simple yet beautiful to look at with picture of the models that was nicely created by retro artist by hand before computer or digital photography came into scene, you can say their box art are very collectibles due to artistic value. Inside the box are bunch of plastic parts trees you need to cut/detached out, unpainted body shell, bags of metals screws, springs, drive trains parts, decals/stickers, a 380 size brushed motor, modern ESC module and manual book neatly placed inside the box like chocolate candy box which is very tempting to look at. The smell of rubber tires kit hasn't changed over the years too since i manage to recall such when my uncle has his kit opened on the table at our home in the mid 1980's. My re-release kit THE GRASSHOPPER i purchased around USD$65 which is a bargain because its available as special edition 'Candy Green' colored bodyshell which unfortunately no one interested in buying so they reduced to price and i bought it. However at the final phase of the build i will painted it back to original 'Pure White' (Tamiya color code: TS26) color to reflect its original Grasshopper looks. Package also came with modern electronic ESC module (TAMIYA TBLE-02S speed controller) which can support both brushed motor and also sensored brushless motor but the classic 1984 package back then was using mechanical speed controller which uses servo to control the 3 step speed on mechanical potentiometer which 'crudely' control how much voltage and current going into the motor to keep it going forward and reverse thus it does come with heatsink to dissipate heat externally... you can say back then the electronics was not so efficient and it was originally run on huge heavy 6V~8.4V Ni-Cad battery instead of today modern 2s 7.4V lightweight Li-Po pack which fully supported with todays modern TAMIYA and alternative aftermarket ESC module. I remember when my uncle who are an R/C enthusiast used to charge the battery which took almost half a day to complete and run just for under 15 minutes at slow pace on the dirt track...FYI even electric R/C planes was running on Ni-CAD + brushed motor; the struggle was real! I can't recall how durable was the 80's plastic kit but on my re-released kits the plastics are made from impact resistant ABS material, as i try to hold and bent the front suspension wing arms and the chassis it seems to have a bit of elasticity property which means its bumpy, resist bent and torsional stress so you can drive rough and hit rough jumpy terrains without breaking parts which is why back in the days the Grasshopper was number one choice for beginners with sketchy driving skills. Note that like any common TAMIYA R/C kits it comes with simple friction bushed bearings to hold most of the moving drivetrains/gear parts and you'll need to supply your own external electronic parts such as steering servo, 2S 7.4V Li-po battery pack and radio combo unit to get this kit running on the ground.....oh yes and don't forget extra cans of paints for bodyshell finishing too.
The assembly is pretty much straight forward by following the manual book; just need small scissor or plastic clipper to detached the parts tree, screwdriver to bind the parts together via assorted screws, extra effort to fit the tires on wheels, tire gluing (if you thin its necessary) and greasy work on the gearbox assembly along with motors and other electronic parts. Lastly some little paint works on the plastic body shell especially the cockpit driver figure and sticking the pre-cut decals. Overall it took me almost half a day or you can say almost 6 hours of work to complete the TAMIYA GRASSHOPPER build. At the end of the day i must say it was fun and most satisfying moment when i manage to complete the build, it give this feeling of satisfaction and gratitude for the effort i put the kit together rather than just buying a complete R/C model of the shelf. This means i appreciate more of my Grasshopper since it was something build by hand, i guess the same feeling also applies to all kit enthusiast out there who share the same build experience as i did. A short statement: PROUD & PRIDE!
The most obvious when driving this classic GRASSHOPPER is that its a very jumpy and bumpy buggy that leaps and hops around a lot when lunge over a small obstacles due to the fact that its rear suspension is comprises of one piece of rigid axle integrated with gearbox and motor which all mounted on very clunky suspension pivot. Both front and rear shocks are friction based coil springs shocks which moves move up and down along its long travel metal king pin that holds the shocks in places rather than modern style piston oil filled shocks. However this suspension mechanism was consider normal and used widely in the 80's especially on budget beginners buggies. Handling and steering characteristic feels rigid and not always steers accurately on loose terrains due to being 2WD but its fun yet challenging to counter act on the controller for its unpredictable behaviors which helps to make us a good proficient 2WD racer, yes 4WD make life easier which makes us complaisant . Its not as fast as modern R/C buggies but handful enough speed to have some fun leaping off from ramps, spewing off some dirts and few power slides around the corner provided you use the current 2S 7.4V Li-po battery pack which is supported through their latest modern speed controller (ESC) that supplied in their re-released kit. On my Grasshopper i'm using 2S 2200mah 35c Li-po pack which is good enough for 25 minutes of sand bashing. I don't really recommend to drive this wonderful buggy on hard surface such as on solid crusty cements or tarmac as it will wear out those rare looking rear sand paddle tire which is rare to find in R/C market unless your point having the Grasshopper was mere to bash rather than for safe keeping on the shelf for generation to witness this awesome buggy in coming years. If you do choose the later advice i recommend to install wide rear touring tires for better handling but you can leave the front tire as it is.
Accessing battery compartment is far easier than that of modern R/C models; the battery compartment on Grasshopper is accessible under the base chassis where you just flip it upside down with the bottom facing upwards, just slide open the hatch and swing the battery lid up. Such battery compartment hardly seen on modern R/C models after the 1990's where most are accessible via unlatching the pins that holds the to body of the models and remove it to access the battery bay that is located on the chassis bay or tub style compartment. Its pretty much how it was back in the 80's and same goes for other budget R/C model with the exception of classic 4WD models where battery compartment accessible on mid side insertion or by removing the top body cover because of long mid 4WD drive shaft occupying mid center chassis.
With its stock 380 brushed motor and my choice of putting 2S 7.4v 2200mah 35c Li-Po battery pack the Grasshopper isn't going to 'fly' but was handful enough just to have fun spewing dirt, power slide through dirt corners and without ripping the drivetrain gear tooth unlike modern basher where wear and tear is common, you can say this is a good buggy for beginners and also for those who just love to drive normal in those stylish looking scale buggy without breaking to much parts and easy enough to learn how individual parts in the buggy works without to much complication putting the parts in and out in place..you can say it a good tooling for kids to learn the basic engineering nature of how R/C cars works and hopefully more female will join in the hobby too. Since its just a 2WD most of its gears, differentials, spur gear, and drive shaft outer wheels hubs are fully sealed inside one huge rigid box of axle indeed it need less cleaning and maintenance works since dust and sand hardly enters into the moving gear parts such as pinion, spur and differential gears unlike independent suspension gearboxes.
Overall i really love the simplicity and the accessibility on the Grasshopper buggy which makes it a great a 'grab and go' R/C buggy model for a quick outdoor driving without too much preparation to get it moving; just slide the open the bottom battery hatch, plug in the battery, close the cover, turn on the switch and drive! In contrast comparison to modern electric buggy i'll have to; remove from 3 to 4 latching pins that holds the top body in place, lift the whole bodyshell cover, again remove another few pins that holds the battery tray holder, put and plug in the battery, put back the battery holder + pins again, then put back the whole big piece of body shell through the body post (it takes an effort to put the body cover in its position due to twisty Lexan polycarbonate material), put back the body shell pins, then turn on the switch and finally drive it!....whheewwww!!...pppfftt!!....by that time you're ready to drive it your minds already a bit tiring and messed up with all those workouts. A big plus, after dirt bashing its easy to clean the drift of from the model with a simple brushing. This conveniences not only applies to THE GRASSHOPPER but also to other proceeding early Tamiya models that share the same base design such as THE HORNET which also came close at same released era and priced at affordable price range but slightly higher performance level with better suspension system and with 540 brushed motor size aiming for race level model. I probably will write an article about 'THE' HORNET soon.
As mentioned before the reason why people purchased the Tamiya Grasshopper is because of the aesthetic and nostalgic value even despite its driving performance is not on par with today's performance and engineered race buggy. You can say majority of the Grasshopper owners are well above their 30's of age and beyond; it could be your father, your uncle or even grandfather who used to lived through such golden period who never have their changes on this kit OR some youngster may pick this models because influenced from from their older peers or maybe simply because it looks good on the table. As for myself its was my fulfillment desire be part of the great classic era where once can only drool on the magazine and not able to have one as a kid. So two decades later i'm now able to afford the Grasshopper via re-release i treat myself with this kit as a reward for able to live long enough to enjoy and inspired the root culture of Radio Control hobby. The best part about owning The Grasshopper and also its subsequent variants of other vintage Tamiya are because they are 'timeless/ageless' and doesn't depreciates its 'face' value compare to other hobby models such as drones, quadcopters, multicopters, fpv where its characters build entirely upon electronic hardware hence functionality over looks because people love how the model looks (aesthetic value) just like real life collectors of vintage supercars like BENTLEY, FERRARI, LAMBORGHINI, HARLEY DAVIDSON or even as simple as collecting the classic letter Stamp collections. Again its all about aesthethics.
Here are sample of video of i posted on my Youtube channel contain fun driving & bashing around my TAMIYA GRASSHOPPER.
Here are list of reputable vendor/seller which i bought from and also verified by community forum discussion groups. Also i've experienced buying from these places that have good support and services:
1. Seller Rcmart.com: 1:10 scale Tamiya: The Grasshopper (Re-released 2005)
**Note: There are many vendor/seller for TAMIYA models around the globe but the above is closest to my country in east asia.
Places where you can find help and resources related to this product:
Company website: https://www.tamiya.com
Wikipedia TAMIYA CORPORATION: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamiya_Corporation
Tamiya model information database: https://tamiyabase.com/articles/52-things-to-know/180-the-grasshopper-by-tamiya-1984
Tamiya 1984 THE GRASSHOPPER specification sheet: https://tamiyabase.com/tamiya-models/58043-58043
Tamiya 2005 re-release THE GRASSHOPPER specification sheet: https://tamiyabase.com/tamiya-models/58346-58346
Tamiya TBLE-02S Speed controller module support: https://www.tamiyausa.com/shop/electronics/rc-esc-tble-02s-brushless/
When i was a small kid i couldn't afford it and just able to dream or watch the adults enjoy the TAMIYA, now two decades later as a working adult i finally got my hands on THE GRASSHOPPER as prove and reward myself for being able to live long to see the day i fulfill my childhood missing links, same goes to other R/C enthusiasts who are in the same shoes as i am now being able to enjoy this fine vintage kit that they weren't able to acquire as being pennyless kid back then. Even after more than 2 decades the TAMIYA GRASSHOPPER still remains a popular buggy among old timers who really wants to re-lived their old days and get their smile back thinking how lucky they were to live in those golden age of R/C models especially to remind them how life was simple and care free without the burden of internet and digital technology.....heck 80's Saturday morning cartoon was awesome!!!! (M.A.S.K, Ghost Busters, WOODY WOODPECKER, STARCOM, G.I JOES and others.....on some other days you get AIRWOLF, BLUETHUNDER and you know what i'm talking about..hehehe!). Most popular reason why lots of people including myself bought this kit because we who are mostly lived through the 80's would like to reminds ourself: "Ah! my old days was so awesome!!!". The Grasshopper not only has nostalgic value but also based on its appearance the buggy designed to be close to real world dune buggy with 'Sand paddle' tires, scale looking bodies, cockpit driver and looks good blasting the sand like dune buggy always does. By today standard its not a race worthy but still its a fun to drive around the dirt, along the sandy beach or bashing backyard without much of hassle to setup up everything right on the first run till the end plus maintenance wise its easy to work on and cheap too.
Like most of us classic TAMIYA enthusiast after few runs mostly likely 'The Grasshopper' will ended up on the shelf and it will be there for a long time as a shelf queen than basher...just to be there to make us smile every time we see it or enter our R/C shrine or Man Caves full of our hobby collection as a reminder who we were in the past, present and for the future R/C'er enthusiast to come. And so now you know what was all the hype about on THE GRASSHOPPER for you all who are new to these classic 80's buggies. Keep on hopping little dune bug!