It has been 20 years since the original Ultima 2WD buggy took the world by storm, winning the 1987 IFMAR 2WD World Championships in Romsey, England. Then driven by Joel ‘Magic’ Johnson, now an employee of Kyosho USA.
Fast forward 20 years to the present day - 2007, another World Championships year, this time held in Japan – Kyosho’s homeland. The Ultima has been given another chance to shine. Just what Kyosho can do against such massive teams as Losi and AE remains to be seen, but it’s sure to be an exciting year with a third main competitor entering the stagnant 2WD class.
The Ultima ‘RB5’ as this latest incarnation is known, is Kyosho’s second push into the 10th off-road electric classes, to accompany their current ZX-5 four-wheel drive buggy.
Previous to the RB5 and ZX-5, Kyosho showed a high level of ineptitude when it came to promoting and selling their Electric Buggies. The Ultima Type-R and Type-R EVO of recent years were hugely expensive and exclusive racing buggies – rarely seen outside Japan.
Times have changed, prices have become more realistic, and you can actually purchase Kyosho’s Electric competition vehicles! This would never have happened 5 years ago.
The ‘RB5’ as it is now known, was first rumored and speculated upon during 2005, when the ZX-5 was still being prototyped. Looking not overly dissimilar from the previous Ultima Type-R, the earliest prototypes were seen at the 2005 World Championships, narrowly missing the A final in the hands of Mark Pavidis and Jeremy Kortz. Some of the most striking features were the ‘bent’ front suspension arms – now dropped in favor of something a little more conventional.
The Kyosho Ultima RB5 promises a lot – can it deliver?....
The Ultima RB Type-R, a rare sight on race tracks outside japan
The Kyosho Ultima RB5 come packaged in a modern looking box, with more than enough room for the contents. This being a high-spec racing buggy no tyres are included, again cutting down on the contents within.
No fancy packaging like the original Ultima here, all the contents are bagged up into stages though which is a nice touch.
Many of the plastic parts are still on the 'trees', and generally need a bit of cleaning up with a scalpel after removing.
The main chassis on the Ultima RB5 is a moulded tub, as is common with modern 2WD racing buggies. The chassis on the RB5 is moulded with carbon composite material (graphite) which was initially a point which I thought could be a drawback to this car. Plastic chassis are generally considered to be easier to drive and more forgiving than their Graphite siblings. I was happy to note the chassis, whilst stiff, still has a little flex - enough to allay my fears.
RB5 on the left, AE B4 chassis on the right
The sides of the chassis are swept up for clearance
The chassis bears more than a passing resemblence to the 'Ultima RB Type-R' Chassis, though I am told it is updated in many ways, and possibly longer. I can't really comment about that since the RB Type-R is so rare that I've never seen one in the flesh.