It’s hard to imagine this hobby without Tamiya–and thankfully we don’t have to. The Japanese manufacturer is one of the oldest and most iconic companies in RC. Tamiya has made a huge impact on the hobby with releases such as the Grasshopper, Hornet, Blackfoot, Clod Buster, Bruiser, etc., etc., etc. Even with a few racing world championships to its credit, Tamiya is still best known for its loyalty to scale realism over the years and with creating vehicles aimed solely at providing noncompetitive entertainment. Two names from Tamiya’s past that exemplify just-for-fun are the Blackfoot and the somewhat lesser known Mud Blaster. One of Tamiya’s current offerings, the Mud Blaster II, combines the spirit of these two machines into one modern-era basher. The Mud Blaster II features the body of the original Mud Blaster (now in Lexan) on the platform used for the current and fifth generation Blackfoot, the Blackfoot III. It also happens to be a do-it-yourself kit. Read on and get the scoop on an RC truck that you get to build yourself and is designed to put a smile on your face.
DID YOU KNOW?
You’ve probably seen it a thousand times, but do you know what is embodied by Tamiya’s logo? Tamiya’s rather iconic twin star logo is known as the Star Mark, and the red star, on the left, symbolized passion and the blue star, on the right, symbolizes precision.
> Unassembled kit
> Lexan Subaru Brat body
> 4-wheel independent suspension
> Friction shocks
> Enclosed 2WD gearbox
> Plastic bushings
> Includes electronic speed control
> Includes sealed can 540 motor
DID YOU KNOW?
Tamiya released its first RC car back in 1976–1976! The vehicle was a 1/12-scale Porsche 934, and Tamiya purchased a full-size version of the car and dismantled it for reference.
The Mud Blaster II uses Tamiya’s WT-01 chassis. The molded plastic frame has a modular design where the large plastic gearbox is an integral part of the chassis. The design consists of two main halves that sandwich the rear gearbox and an empty front bulkhead that has a similar shape to that of the rear gearbox. A close look reveals that the side plates are identical. This design was originally released as a 4WD platform (WR-01) and experienced hobbyists probably remember the dual motor Wild Dagger and Twin Detonator.
Centered in the chassis is a spot for the battery. The chassis is shaped to hold a standard stick pack–the corners where the battery slides through the chassis are rounded. This means most 2S LiPo packs will not fit. Rounded LiPo packs are available.
4-wheel independent suspension helps the Mud Blaster II soak up the bumps and jumps of off-road terrain. The lower suspension arms are a 2-piece design and adequately long for off-road use. The 2-piece design has been used by Tamiya on a variety of its vehicles. The upper plastic links are fixed length, and on that note, if you’re looking for a truck with numerous tuning adjustments, the Mud Blaster II isn’t for you. While the suspension arms do have two mounting options, there are no other tuning adjustments. The shocks included are short all-plastic units that are not fluid- or oil-filled. Rubber tubing inside the shock bodies provides some cushioning and more rubber tubing outside the shock body and on the shaft acts as a bump stop.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first vehicle to use the WT-01 chassis was the ready-to-run XB Overlander (Expert Built). The Blackfoot Extreme and Blackfoot III also use this chassis.
Even though the Mud Blaster II is a kit, the gearbox comes preassembled. The truck uses a sealed gearbox and all of the gearing in completely encased and well protected. The gears are molded plastic and substantially wider than typically found in 1/10-scale vehicles. Each tooth has a lot of surface area and the end result when combined with the sealed case is a transmission that is essentially maintenance free and very durable. The drivetrain, however, runs on plastic bushings. When heavily greased, this type of bushing does work, but there is no way of avoiding the fact that they wear out rather quickly. And, when the bushings wear out, they will lead to gear wear as well. Our review sample is one of the kits that does include eight sealed 11×5 mm ball bearings which are for the front and rear hubs. The rear axles are steel dog bones–simple but effective.
The transmission only accommodates two pinion options–18-tooth and 20-tooth. The 18-tooth pinion gear is included, and while this design limits gearing options, it does make setting gear mesh absolutely foolproof. It’s also worth noting that the gears are metric 48-pitch and not standard (imperial) 48-pitch. Standard 48-pitch gears are not compatible.
The differential is a gear diff and is “semi sealed.” While silicone fluid would likely leak, heavy grease can be packed in and will be effectively retained by the diff’s plastic cover.
Normally there are no electronic items to mention with a kit, but in this case Tamiya nicely includes its TEU-104BK electronic speed control. It’s a simple unit with forward and reverse control but it’s a nice added-value item considering the kit costs less than $200. And calling the TEU-104BK “simple” may be a bit unfair as it features reverse lockout, an aluminum heat sink and low voltage cutoff which can also be disabled. The speed control is rated handle 6.6- to 7.2V batteries and 25-turn motors and up.
Tamiya also includes one of its trademark sealed “silver can” 540 motors. These motors are truly as simple as it gets, but again, it’s a great added-value item.
Tires, Wheels & Body
This is where Tamiya vehicles generally shine, and the Mud Blaster II fits that proverbial bill. The Lexan Subaru BRAT body is far better than you find included with the average RC car. Tamiya achieves a higher level of detail by using a multi-piece mold. You can see a faint mold line across the front of the body. Tamiya also includes an excellent sticker sheet that will allow you to replicate the box art fairly easily.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Subaru BRAT is properly written in all capitals because it is an acronym (who knew?). BRAT stands for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter, and the Bi-drive refers to the fact the full-time front wheel drive could be switched–on-the-fly–to all-wheel drive. Thus, bi-drive isn’t a reference to 2WD as the BRAT was 4WD; bi-drive references two drive modes.
The tires are something we’ve seen from Tamiya’s early years (think back to the original Monster Beetle). The big tires feature traditional monster truck chevrons but add molded in spikes. No foams are included and the rubber is a fairly hard compound but not overly so.
The molded plastic wheels are chromed, very shiny and a directional saw blade style design. Most people would readily agree that wheels are very good looking, and I truly appreciate the fact that Tamiya properly includes two lefts and two rights.
DID YOU KNOW?
The original Mud Blaster (released in 1989) featured a hardplastic (ABS) Subaru BRAT body and used the same platform as the Monster Beetle and the original Blackfoot (1986). All three of these trucks were based on the extremely popular Frog buggy (1983).
After the Mud Blaster II was built, I did what most people do after finishing a Tamiya kit–off-road or otherwise–and hit the street. Or, in my case, the driveway. The first assessment was the “Let’s see how fast this thing goes” test. The Mud Blaster II is all about acceleration. In stock form, it spins the tires when you grab a handful of throttle and gets up and gets going. It tops out quickly, but that top speed is anything but boring. The bottom line is Mud Blaster II delivers beginner appropriate speed. Rest assured, experienced RCers, the Mud Blaster II won’t disappoint. When you grab the throttle, it takes right off and when you slam the brakes and cut the wheel, it performs perfect bootleg 180 turns (never gets old). I kept thinking if this truck is this much fun with a silver can 540, it would be a blast with an absolute 17.5 brushless setup.
Next, it was off to a nearby softball field for a bash session on some dirt and grass. I took along my 5-year-old son who is well below the recommended age for this type of vehicle, but I was curious as to what he would think of its performance compared to other 2WD monster trucks he’s driven. He initially noted it was slower than other RC cars in the RC Truck Stop fleet, but then quickly said he liked the speed. The reason for his stamp of approval was simply that he could drive around full throttle. At five, he likes to just drop the hammer and go.
While I noticed an occasion hop from the rear suspension when running on pavement, the Mud Blaster II’s friction shocks got more of a workout when off-road. At times, you will notice a bouncy ride and shocks are probably a wise upgrade, but the suspension does work and the Mud Blaster II is easy to control.
Even though the included Tamiya TEU-104BK speed control is rated for 7.2 volt packs, I performed all testing with a stick pack shaped 7.4 volt LiPo pack. I didn’t believe such a small increase in voltage would make any difference and I am pleased to report that both the speed control and motor survived testing just fine. I can’t recommend exceeding the manufacturer’s listed voltage, but I can report I have tested it beyond–albeit slightly–its rated limits and it has held up fine for numerous packs.
Many of us spend a great deal of time tweaking, maintaining and improving our RC race machines. Odds are if you’re a racer, your RC vehicles spend far more time on the bench than they do on the track. Why not have some simple RC fun? Have some fun building a kit and even more fun bashing that finished truck around the yard. Judging a book by its cover, we would surmise that the Mud Blaster II isn’t for performance-obsessed racer types, but in a way, it is. A Tamiya kit is an RC rite of passage. Everyone should own a Tamiya kit. So, even if you’re Joe-serious racer, the Mud Blaster II may be for you. Like I said, everyone should build and experience a Tamiya kit. Plus, you can practically build this particular kit in your sleep, and you don’t have to overthink the electronics. Just throw in a spare servo and receiver and go have fun. Certain aspects of the Mud Blaster II are a little outdated and we would be remiss not to mention them or state that we’d love to see an update, but issues such as the battery “compartment” which is designed for stick packs, plastic bushings, friction shocks and a speed control technically only rated for 7.2V packs really aren’t deal breakers for this type of vehicle. The Mud Blaster II is meant to be fun–starting with the build–and I think RC and fun should go hand in hand.
> Awesome body
> Fun, simple design
> Very affordable
> Includes speed control and motor
> Won’t accommodate typical LiPo packs
> Plastic bushings
> Friction shocks