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TamTech-Gear 'Buggy Champ' - reviewed and hopped, oOple.com

The TamTech Gear mini frog was reviewed shortly after released on oople and despite its fun looks I never really had much time for it after the review.  I closed the review with a suggestion that perhaps one day my dream might come true and Tamiya would release a 'Rough Rider' in the TamTech range - and that's exactly what Tamiya have done!
Called the Buggy Champ, the mini rough rider is based on its bigger 10th scale cousin from around 1979 or so - yes, really that long ago!  The overall (fantastic) look of the original rough rider has been kept much more so than in the mini frog's case.  The main distinct feature of the Buggy Champ being the trailing front suspension which is really the only difference that seperates this, the newly-designated GB02 chassis, from the GB01 used on all the other current range.

The electrics are all identical to those included with the other TamTech-Gear RTR kits. A simple steerwheel transmitter is included.

Rather than go over all the same points as the TamTech Frog review - I decided to show the interesting points about THIS chassis - and hopefully go racing with a few choice hop ups along the way.
The car was actually a gift from my wife for our 2nd wedding anniversary - awwwwww.  There were no surprises as such - this car comes packaged much like the original GB01 Mini Frog did - fully pre-assembled apart from aerial tube installing, battery charging and 8 'AA' sized cells for the included steer-wheel transmitter.  The package is the same as the Mini Frog essentially - again, plead read that review for some of the details on the TamTech cars!

Before I decided to 'review' the car I'd already eagerly ripped the box apart - hence no photos! oops.   That keen was I to look at this car that I simply had no time for formalities, like sticking it on a bit of white paper and snapping away.  If I didn't say already - the Buggy Champ looks very close to the original 'Rough Rider' - at least enough for a fanboy like me to enjoy just looking at the thing.  So, lets have a closer look at what the GB02 offers over the other design.

The same bouncy zero-damping 'shocks' feature on the Buggy Champ as they do throughout the rest of the TamTech range. As mentioned on the Mini Frog review, the shocks just about make the included 370 sized motor enjoyable in a small area - don't believe manufacturer blurb or hype, it's damn slow and handles terribly! (hehe) If racing around the house is your idea of fun, the standard car is perfect though- and that's just how I tested it! Despite - or because of the shocks and motor maybe, the car was great fun to drive and had a better 'feel' from the front end than the GB01-based mini frog. Unlike the Tamiya Frog I'd tested a while ago, the Buggy Champ just felt more enjoyable to drive - I'd put this down to an in-built safe understeer, so rather than fighting the little car to keep control you could push it hard.

I set up a jump in the living room and treated Vicky to hours of entertaining thuds and knocks as she listened to me smacking the little car off everything in sight. The drivers headlights on the roof and front suspension can take some serious knocks - the front suspension lights will rotate backwards to absorb impacts and remain intact. The roof lights simply flex in the mounting a little, but will eventually fall off if hit hard enough - pushing back into the roof is no problem.

The only damage I really had was one of the rear shock shafts bending quite badly - enough to stop the shock moving. Since these things aren't exactly top-flight race equipment it was no big deal to bend the shaft back - it didn't affect 'performance' (what??) at all.

Fun as the standard car is in a confined space, there's only so much low-speed action I could take before the desire to race this little beast began to run through my blood. So..... I set about building the car with a few choice upgrades to see if it would keep with the big boys at a round of the UK Micro National series - or fall flat on its face and embarass myself in the process.

The front end of the car is one of the most interesting and unique features.  A scaled down version of the VW beetle suspension, as seen on the original Tamiya Rough Rider - with dual trailing arms connecting to the main chassis via beefy looking 3mm shafts.  The hubs connect to the trailing arms with large pivot balls which look like they could take the biggest hits without flinching. I personablly think this design is far better than the mockery of a setup that graces the front of the GB01 based cars - it might not be very adjustable (at all) nor modern, and it certainly has its flaws - but it works quite well. If it didn't I wouldn't have even got this far into the review.

One 'problem' with the GB02 front end is the front suspension actually softens toward the end of its travel. The mounting for the front 'shocks' are so far forward on the trailing arms that toward the end of the travel the shock shaft barely even moves.

The front suspension gives a realistic buggy look to the GB02
Front wheel attachment is fiddly

The front wheels mount in a slightly (!) fiddley and frustrating way - the wheel screws into a nut, which sits inside a plastic holder. To unscrew the front wheels you need to use the provided 1.5mm allen key to stop this plastic 'nut holder' from rotating, which can be a bit tricky. Once unscrewed, the nut holder falls out and it just seems a fairly naff design.

The pivot ball suspension allows the track width to be altered slightly or the camber angles quickly adjusted without even removing the wheels - neat. The steering lock isn't great however - maybe it could be increased very slightly with some dremel-work, but compared to the GB01 this is going to be a much safer (read 'understeery') car to drive.

The front hubs - minus the axles
Plastic retainers for the pivot balls
Disassembled front hub parts

Taking apart the front suspension to take a closer look is an excercise in (extreme) frustration. The dual trailing arms pivot on 3mm hinge pins - themselves captured by small e-clips at either end. The e-clips are hard to remove as they're so well concealed, meaning getting any sort of tool in there to remove them is tricky.


I challenge you to remove that e-clip!!!

I ended up using the back of a scalpel blade to press on the open side of the e-clips to push them off, which seemed to work quite well - if a little dangerous.

The overall feel of the front end is a contrast to the GB01's dual wishbone setup. Gone are the weedy hinge pins and the floppy plastic and terrible angles - replaced by something far more robust.

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