Early weekend mornings, oily fingers and that sweet sound of the engine running — TAMIYA racing was a huge past time in Singapore roughly fifteen years ago. Folks from all walks of life enjoyed the racing and building aspect of each toy car, along with friendly competition among peers and family.
Where did all that disappear to? I went on a quest to find out if there were still any TAMIYA car enthusiasts left and where they were racing at.
A quick Google search led me to start my journey at Stargek in the industrial area of Paya Lebar. If it wasn’t obvious enough with the hanging banners and the iconic starred logo, I was off to a good start.
I’m not going to lie; my first steps into the store were done in apprehension. Even though I enjoyed racing and building my very own cars, I was always overwhelmed with how the products were showcased.
Stacks of car models, machine parts as far as the eye can see and an abundance of information at every corner.
The store is separated into two sections: one mainly for products/parts and the other was taken up by a whole track for public use. Consisting of elevated turns and jagged straights, it was a winding course with twists at every corner.
The prospect of racing this track got me wide-eyed in excitement. I felt like I was meeting an old foe that used to get the better of me, but I’m ready now!
I couldn’t go to war empty-handed now could I? So I started to look for my weapon of choice. The store has many ready-assembled cars with motors attached and I could’ve easily picked one out of the glass cases.
They were extremely impressively assembled, with perfectly weighed bearings, a shiny coat of metallic paint and decals with a microscopic attention to detail.
There were also some in a similar vein hooked on the displays, priced at around S$30 each and they could have easily been a simple choice.
Yes, that wasn’t a typo. Ready-assembled cars for just S$30. For that price, you couldn’t even get a Dash or Mach motor back in the day!
I then walked past this display full of almost Power Ranger-like coloured setups. From the shiny finishes to overall completeness, my faith wavered.
This model really had me thinking long and hard. The craftsmanship that went into this spicy looking machine of speed was impeccable.
Priced at a measly S$88, I could’ve pulled the trigger easily. However, something was holding me back.
It was this little guy. The Beak Spider model was one of the very first TAMIYA cars I bought back in the day from the initial collection. I could vaguely remember the other models but this one, in particular, stood out from all the rest.
The Bakusou Kyoudai Let’s & Go! anime series that aired on many Singaporean television sets at the time, featured these Mini 4WD cars. The designs in the line-up were drawn up by the author of the manga series, Tetsuhiro Koshita.
Now came the best part of building these machines – picking the right peripherals. That included the likes of the absurd selection of motors, tyres, bearings and chassis.
As a kid I could never afford a Hyper-Dash motor; they were once the top-of-the-line motors for any setup and could easily cost upwards of S$50! All the quicker cars were rocking this motor on most of the racing tracks that popped up around the island.
The craziest part was when I found out how cheap they’ve become. For S$10, I could get hold of one of the best motors around from back in the day. Sure, a lot of time has passed and many motors have been born since but that’s not the point! I can finally say: “I own a Hyper-Dash motor now!”
For S$20.80, I came away with the Magnum Saber Tamiya Model (S$10.80, Discounted) from the stack and a Hyper-Dash 3 Motor (S$10). I was under the impression that it would easily cost way more and I was thoroughly surprised to find out how much all this totalled up to.
I dived straight into it and had it assembled, trackside, under an hour. My muscle memory was a little rusty but the whole nostalgic experience pushed me through it with a kid-like smile throughout.
I let it run, and from switching the motor on to picking it up again after a few laps around the course, I was convinced – some old hobbies don’t have to die. For S$20, I had a great time and fell back in love with racing these cars again.
Watching them zoom by through your hard graft is a reward unique to this hobby. You’ll still get that adrenaline rush of a race like it’s never left.
With everyone looking into the future for new things to do, sometimes, looking back at your past hobbies can fill up your boring days just fine. This beats your usual weekend activities hands down. Go forth and score extra points for showing off your prowess against unsuspecting racers on the track!
Price: S$20 minimum