Tamiya Corporation

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Tamiya Incorporated
FounderYoshio Tamiya
Key people
Masayuki Tamiya, President
Shunsaku Tamiya, Chairman
ProductsPlastic Model Kits (Planes, Tanks, Figurines, Ships and Dinosaurs), Radio Control Model Kits, Educational Construction Kits, Plastic Cement, Decal Solutions, Airbrushes, Thinners, Acrylic Paints, Enamel Paints, Aeresol Spray Paint, Laquer Paints, Sandpaper, Filler, Washes, Airbrush Cleaners, Brushes and Aftermarket Parts

Tamiya Incorporated (株式会社タミヤ, Kabushiki gaisha Tamiya) is a Japanese manufacturer of plastic model kits, radio controlled cars, battery and solar powered educational models, sailboat models, acrylic and enamel model paints and various modeling tools and supplies. The company was founded by Yoshio Tamiya [ja] in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1946.

The metal molds were produced from plans which had the concept of being "easy to understand and build, even for beginners". Even the box art was consistent with this throughout the company.

The company has gained a reputation among hobbyists of producing models of outstanding quality and accurate scale detail. Its philosophy is reflected directly in the company's motto, "First in Quality Around the World". Tamiya Inc. has also been awarded, the Modell des Jahres (Model of the Year) award, hosted by the German magazine ModellFan [de].[citation needed]

Entrance of plastic models[edit]

The company was founded in 1946 as Tamiya Shoji & Co. (Tamiya Commerce Company) by Yoshio Tamiya [ja] (15 May 1905 - 2 November 1988) in Oshika, Shizuoka City. It was a sawmill and lumber supply company.[1] With the high availability of wood, the timber company's wood products division (founded in 1947) was also producing wooden models of ships and airplanes, which later became company's foundation. In 1953, they decided to stop the sale of architectural lumber and focused solely on model making.

In the mid-1950s, foreign-made plastic models were beginning to be imported and wooden model sales were decreasing, so in 1959 they decided to manufacture plastic models. Their first model was the Yamato. However, Tamiya's competitors had already sold Yamato models at 350 yen. Tamiya was at risk of getting into the red by setting the same price as the competitors. This cheap price led Tamiya unable to recover the cost of producing metal molds, so once again, they changed their products to wooden models, but at that time the model trade's tide was turning toward plastic models.

Using metal molds no longer needed for plastic toys, they released a racecar mini-kit, which was to finance the production of their next plastic model. To their good fortune, it became a hit. They decided that the second plastic model was to be the Panther tank, which had a linear form which would make the molds simple to produce. They commissioned Shigeru Komatsuzaki [ja] to do the box art. The Panther was motorized, moved well, and had a clear instruction manual which made it easy to assemble. Because of this, it gained a good reputation. The model was made in a 1:35 scale, later to become a standard scale modelling scale for military subjects, because it was decided that tank would use a single TYPE 2 battery but would hold two of them.

Metal molds[edit]

At first, Tamiya used to order metal molds from outside contractors, but often had delays and unclear pricing, which led to trouble. Then they scouted metal-mold craftsmen into the company and in 1964 started their own Metal Molds division. Starting in 1966, they transferred a number of craftsmen to the Mold Manufacturing Factory. They slowly gained the know-how and came to make molds for Tamiya. Today, CAD has also been introduced into the process.

Tamiya was known by their extremely high accuracy of their molds, and that influenced even the condition of the products after they were assembled. In a time when Tamiya manufactured plastic models using mold craftsmen's skills and earlier plans, other companies' products' detail bolts were represented by simple hemispheric protuberances while Tamiya represented bolts more accurately as hexagonal posts. This level of detail and thoroughness with which they produced their models earned them a reputation even overseas.

Star Mark[edit]

On the occasion of the release of Tamiya's first plastic model, Shunsaku Tamiya (son-in-law of Yojiro) commissioned his younger brother, Masao, then a first year student at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music Design Department, to create a new trademark. He created the Star Mark. At first it was decorated with English. In 1960 with the release of the slot car, the design was changed to its current form. Even now, the left, red star stands for creativity and passion and the right, blue star stands for youth and sincerity.[2]

Tamiya News and other publications[edit]

Tamiya News has been published by Tamiya Model and is an informational, monthly publication about the company's own models. In 1967, when it was started, it was published bimonthly with an occasional special supplement. For a long time it cost 50 yen, but was later raised to 100 yen. The unique, thin publications were placed in envelopes and sent out via standard mail. Introductory articles on new products, model shops, model clubs, and conversions were included, as were articles on famous and obscure modelers. A sister publication with articles focused on miniature vehicles and bullet racers and such, Tamiya Junior News exists as a free publication (formerly costing 20 yen, but now is available for download as a PDF from Tamiya's website). Other model-related publications held doll-conversion contests or scenic photo contests, and then they published the results in booklets. In the UK in 1985, Tamiya Model Magazine was launched. It was published initially as a quarterly title, then bimonthly and finally monthly, as it remains now. The magazine is produced by British publisher 'Doolittle Media' and positively promotes new and existing Tamiya products, but also includes the model products from other manufacturers.


On early products (1961–1967), the box art corresponded to what they distributed. The box art was mainly done by Shigeru Komatsuzaki, Yoshiyuki Takani [ja], and others. As Tamiya's goods' image and world view both broadened, their boxart, which had a feeling of "compositions of achievement" or "a story contained in a picture", became mainstream. This further enhanced its goods' image. However, after 1968's slot racer, products appeared without scenery on a white background. They had changed the boxart to be more accurate. This experiment turned out to be popular, and after that, Tamiya switched to the white package which had removed parts of models of airplanes and warships from the boxes. The boxart of Shigeru Komatsuzaki, which had contributed to the making of Tamiya's early image, has almost disappeared from Tamiya's products due to the change in box art strategies and discontinuation of former products.

Some model tanks' box art included images of items not included in the box. When Tamiya began exporting these, indications of the possibility of applying false advertising laws started to become a problem. Tamiya dealt with this by erasing the items and retouching the backgrounds.

Representative models[edit]

The early Military Miniature Series differed from the western standard scales of the time and used 1/35 scale. The models included the option for the inclusion of batteries and a gear box for motorization. These models were easy to assemble, the completed models looked good, and the parts were accurate. These qualities had given the series a good reputation ever since it was released. However, the option for motorization meant that the models needed to be inaccurate in some respects in order to work as motorized kits. More scale-accurate products which did not allow for motorization were renewed after the Tiger I's later model.

After that, their family of products was seen out into the world. Noticing other companies were imitating their ease of assembly and accuracy of parts, Tamiya went a step further and added deformities in order to make the finished models look better. On the other hand, some modellers felt these deformities were out of place. For example, they were unsure of why both Tamiya's and other companies' King Tiger coexisted in the marketplace. In 2004, the new 1/48 scale series began, and World War items were released at a remarkable pace.

A small 1/700 Water Line Series proudly displayed Tamiya's skill. From when they started selling this series, there were many kits bearing their famous name. Kihachiro Ueda, learned in naval vessels, handled most of the box art for the Water Line Series.


  • 1960 - The battleship Yamato; Tamiya's first plastic model. Due to the poor sales, Tamiya diverted the product to battleship Musashi.[3]
  • 1961 - 1/35 Panther tank, Tamiya's first tank model. The Tamiya's famous "1/35" scale originates in the size of this motorized model (using two C batteries) having been 1/35 of the actual Panther tank by chance.[4]
  • 1964 - Tamiya established the in-house mold & die department.
  • 1966 - Shunsaku Tamiya visited to the United States Army Ordnance Museum first time for covering the tanks. The coverage result at this time became Tamiya's early underlying data for tank models. After this visit, Tamiya came to cover actual vehicles eagerly in the tank museums in the world including the Bovington Tank Museum.
  • 1967 - 1/12 Honda F-1; completed by cooperation of Honda. In next year, this model was shown at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany where Tamiya became the first Japanese model kit manufacturer to exhibit.
  • 1968 - 1/35 German Tank Soldier Set; the first product in the Military Miniature Series.
  • 1976 - 1/12 Porsche 934 Turbo RSR. Tamiya actually purchased a Porsche 911, dismantled it, and rebuilt it in order to better understand the car. Tamiya diverted the die to make radio-controlled car (RC car) version of the Porsche 934. Although sale of the plastic model of the 1/12 Porsche 934 was poor, the RC car version won a great success. In 2006, Tamiya choose the 934 Turbo RSR as the product which commemorate the 30th anniversary of Tamiya's RC car series.
  • 1986 - Hotshot Jr.; the first in the Racer Mini 4WD series. This new series gains popularity in Japan till today in the 2010s.

Main remote control products[edit]


Tamiya RC Cars: Grasshopper II, Grasshopper, and Super Sabre

In 1976, Tamiya entered the RC market with their first RC model, the Porsche 934 Turbo RSR. Now, having just passed the 30th Anniversary of the first Tamiya RC model, they are sold in markets both within the country and worldwide. Cultivating skill by all the RC cars they had made until now, they decided to revive the experience in a limited release of models to commemorate their 30 years in the RC business in December 2006. They recently released their flagship model, mustering all their skill into the Porsche Turbo RSR 934 Racing Edition, which had been a part of the developing phase of Tamiya's RC career.

RC model types have included: Countach Competition Special, Super Champ, Ford F-150 Ranger, Toyota Hilux 4x4, Chevrolet Blazing Blazer, Hilux 4x4 High-lift, Mountaineer, Ford F-350 High-lift, Can-Am Lola Racing Master Mk.1, Subaru BRAT, Lancia Rally, Grasshopper, Mighty Frog, Wild One, Hornet, Falcon, Hotshot, Boomerang, Fast Attack Vehicle, Desert Gator, Sand Viper, Avante, Avante 2001, Top Force, Dyna Storm, Dark Impact, Keen Hawk, Avante Mk. II, Twin Detonator, Wild Dagger, Double Blaze, Blackfoot Xtreme, Clod Buster, TXT1, Tamtech Series, Terra Crusher, TNX (Tamiya), TNX 5.2R, Nitrage 5.2, Bigwig, Fox, Monster Beetle, Celica, Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar Rally, Blackfoot, Midnight Pumpkin, Super Shot, Super Sabre, Striker, Sonic Fighter, Lunch Box, Nissan King Cab, Wild Willy, Wild Willy 2, Farm King, Tumbling Bull, Big Wig, TRF 416X, TRF 417, TRF 417X, Nissan R91CP, Mazda 787B, Mercedes C-11, Jaguar XJR-12, Sand Scorcher, TRF 201, Rising Fighter, and the very popular TT-01 series. The TRF 416X, TRF 417, TRF 417X can also be fitted with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell with the H-Cell 2.0 product, making this one of the only (if not the only) professional quality, hydrogen powered model car. The manufacturer claims enhanced run times of 4+ hours on a single Hydrogen charge.

Mini four-wheel drives[edit]

  • Ford Ranger 4x4 (July 13, 1982 Mini 4WD) an early Mini 4WD, released at the same time as the Chevrolet Pickup 4x4
  • Hotshot Jr. (June 16, 1986: Racing Mini 4WD) An early Racing Mini 4WD
  • Avante Jr (December 15, 1988: Racing Mini 4WD) said to be the first appearance of a mini 4WD for serious racing use.[citation needed]
  • Sonic Saber (September 7, 1994: Fully Cowled Mini 4WD) an early Fully Cowled machine, released at the same time as the Magnum Saber
  • Nitro Thunder (November 18, 2005: Mini 4WD PRO) an early Mini 4WD PRO, released at the same time as Nitro Force
  • Aero Avante (July 14, 2012: Mini 4WD REV) an early Mini 4WD REV, featuring a new, aerodynamic and monocoque chassis design.

They also produce very high end mini four-wheel drive models in the EVO chassis. These are chassis that have carbon fiber and aluminum components.

Association with CAVE[edit]

In March 2005, Tamiya partnered with CAVE, a game developer. Starting In June of the same year, they developed components for use in cell phones. Later, in November, they joined in releasing the Mini Vehicle PRO, and since October has established an informational site about miniature vehicles, which included the online game "Mini Vehicle Online Racer." At first, the service schedule was for spring 2006, but because of delays, official service was postponed to summer 2007.

On February 1, 2006, Tamiya and CAVE established MINI4WD NETWORKS CO., LTD., a spin-off business dealing with miniature vehicles. In July of the same year, the company began the "MINIon Club" service, a social networking site which also gave special deals on miniature vehicles.[5]

Overseas subsidiaries[edit]

  • Tamiya America, Inc.
  • Tamiya Philippines, Inc.
  • Tamiya Hong Kong, LTD
  • Tamiya Europe, GmbH

Presently, over half of Tamiya's products are manufactured in the Philippines and in Antipolo City. Tamiya's 1/48 Mini Military AFV, complete even to the point where it was given weathering, aimed to expand the market for completed, painted models as was seen in the snack and toy boom. In order to accommodate that, Tamiya has about 1200 workers to make finished die cast models which are then shipped to hobby markets around the world.

Tamiya is a major shareholder of Creative Master Bermuda Limited, a Hong Kong-based contract manufacturer which includes Tamiya amongst its clients.[6]


The Lotus Type 102B

Tamiya produces components for moving toys and models which are like their Fun-to-build Series, and also makes kits to make simple robots. Also included is the continuing older Mabuchi Motor, a popular product which runs in water.

In 1960, beginning with the Honda F1 (RA273), Tamiya dealt with many plastic models of Formula One. Because of that, the company decided to sponsor Team Lotus in 1991. Since 1976's Tyrrell P34, they paid royalties to the teams whose cars their models were based on. Because of the excellent quality of the finished products and so forth, they built strong relations with the teams to the point where even the teams' well guarded plans (CAD data) were shown only to Tamiya and no other model makers. However, recently this sort of arrangement has petered out and models are based on things like news photographs, and the demands for the royalties by the Formula One teams have risen. Thus, it is not easy to sell a new model in recent years. Other model companies have taken over the F1 market (Model Factory Hiro) and now have the connections that Tamiya used to have with current and past F1 teams.

Tamiya's drive to perfect their models' appearance began in 1966 with a visit to the Aberdeen Tank Museum, Maryland. Because no pictures or sketches of the classified tanks were permitted, as soon as the people from Tamiya left the grounds they sketched all they could remember.

In 1980's Tamiya introduced Programmable logic controller for moving models. It used a 4-bit Microcontroller.[7]

Product lines[edit]


Tamiya has several large regional divisions, notably in Irvine, California, home of "Tamiya America," the North, Central and South American branch responsible for many of the company's racing developments. Tamiya America also features a world-class racing facility in Aliso Viejo, California which is the site of several world championship events, as well as an annual scale model contest called Tamiya/Con, the last of which was held in 2006. An assembly plant is located in Mactan Export Processing Zone, Cebu, Philippines, and Germany is the home of "Tamiya Europe's" operations.


Between 1984 and 1989, Tamiya had its own mascot called Plastic Model Moko-chan, who has a rabbit sidekick called Rabbi-kun (プラモ Puramo) and sometimes they were titled Moko-chan no (and) Rabbi-kun [ja] (プラモのモ子ちゃん Puramo no Moko-chan). Drawn by manga artist Fujita Yukihisa, they usually appeared in various Japanese language pamphlets and in comics with Japan-released Tamiya models. They would teach kids about the various models they were building and there was even a series on how to build them, all in a comic format as well as its only bilingual series of leaflets titled RC Lecture By Moko Chan (モ子ちゃんRC講座), teaching children RC car care and maintenance. Despite being out of use by Tamiya, the characters still have a large following with devotees. In the instructions of some plastic 1/35 scale tanks, a tank crewman usually gives tips.

Guinness World Records[edit]

Tamiya radio controlled models previously held two Guinness World Records, both for distances travelled.

  • Greatest distance by a radio-controlled model car on one set of batteries
    • 38.28 km (23.79 miles) by David Stevens of Australia, Templestowe Flat Track Racing Club, Templestowe, Victoria, Australia on 20 April 2013. Car used: Tamiya F104 v2 with LRP 2S Lipo motor.[8]
  • Greatest distance by a radio-controlled model car in 24 hours
    • 269.7 km (167.58 miles) by students of Anna-Schmidt-Schule at a route between Hesse and Thuringia, Germany on 24 July 2011 taking 14 hours and 50 minutes. Car used: Tamiya Desert Gator with LRP Quantum Bullet motor.[9]
The school previous held the record for the single battery pack 34.1958 km (21.25 miles) at Tamiya Raceway Sonneberg in Sonneberg.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tamiya, Shunsaku "People who made Tamiya Plastic Model" Bungeishunju Ltd. September, 2004 publication ISBN 4-16-366250-2
  2. ^ "tamiyablog.com". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  3. ^ Tamiya Inc. (September 2000), Tamiya-mokei Zenshigoto Visual-ban 田宮模型全仕事ビジュアル版(3) Ship, Aircraft Models [1946–2000 The Complete Works of Tamiya (3) Ship, Aircraft Models] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd., ISBN 4-89036-113-8
  4. ^ Shunsaku Tamiya (7 July 1997), Tamiya-mokei no shigoto 田宮模型の仕事 [Works of Tamiya] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (published July 7, 1997), ISBN 4-89036-950-3, English Version "Master Modeler - Creating the Tamiya style"
  5. ^ CAVE's details of MINI4WD Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Creative Master IPO 166 Times Subscribed". 2003-12-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08.
  7. ^ "憧れのマイコン玩具". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Greatest distance by a battery powered radio-controlled model car on a single charge (RC)". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Greatest distance by a radio-controlled model car in 24 hours (RC)". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  10. ^ "280 km drive with Tamiya Buggy in 14 hours – Guiness [sic] World Record". Retrieved 3 July 2016.


  • Shunsaku Tamiya (7 July 1997), Tamiya-mokei no shigoto 田宮模型の仕事 Works of Tamiya [Works of Tamiya Corporation] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (published July 7, 1997), ISBN 4-89036-950-3
  • Shunsaku Tamiya (25 September 2004), Tamiya-mokei wo tsukutta hitobito 田宮模型をつくった人々 Dream Makers of Tamiya [People who create Tamiya Corporation] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (published September 2004), ISBN 4-16-366250-2
  • Tamiya Inc. (29 May 2000), Tamiya-mokei Zenshigoto Visual-ban 田宮模型全仕事ビジュアル版(1) Military Models Army [1946–2000 The Complete Works of Tamiya (1) Military Models Army] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (published May 2000), ISBN 4-89036-101-4
  • Tamiya Inc. (25 July 2000), Tamiya-mokei Zenshigoto Visual-ban 田宮模型全仕事ビジュアル版(2) Car, Motorcycle Models [1946–2000 The Complete Works of Tamiya (2) Car, Motorcycle Models] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (published July 2000), ISBN 4-89036-108-1
  • Tamiya Inc. (September 2000), Tamiya-mokei Zenshigoto Visual-ban 田宮模型全仕事ビジュアル版(3) Ship, Aircraft Models [1946–2000 The Complete Works of Tamiya (3) Ship, Aircraft Models] (in Japanese), Japan: Bungeishunjū Ltd., ISBN 4-89036-113-8

External links[edit]