Buy a tank!

Good news for people in search of a sixteenth-scale (trans: quite big) radio controlled tank.

Mitsuwa tank.

Here one is.

It's a Mitsuwa T-34-85, and it only costs about 17700 yen ($US150, $AU180, as I write this) delivered.

That's not peanuts, but it's far cheaper than Tamiya's famous kits in the same scale. And this is a built tank, ready to roll; just add a bunch of AA batteries (preferably rechargeables...).

For comparison, here's HLJ's page for the Tamiya Pershing I reviewed here (the Sherman's not in production any more).

That's the neat-o Japanese version of the Pershing kit that includes radio, batteries and charger (not normally included with "proper" R/C models), but you could still buy six of the Mitsuwa tanks for the delivered price of the unbuilt Tamiya kit. Probably more, actually, since shipping would then be likely to cost less per unit.

The shipping cost for one T-34 is more than a third of the total price. That's because the tank itself has been marked down to half of its list price. I presume the customers of Hobbylink Japan found the humble T-34 insufficiently sexy.

The Tamiya kits do give you a more impressive toy when you've finished, of course. The HLJ page makes pretty clear what the Mitsuwa kit's missing, though it doesn't mention that this tank doesn't have proportional control - everything's either moving or it isn't, with no control over the speed. People are apparently refitting the Mitsuwa kits with better control gear to fix this, but it'll work well enough without for less demanding users.

You can also expect this kit to be less durable than a Tamiya one, and there's no way to buy spare parts for it, either.

But c'mon. A sixth the price. And it's ready to run.

The big advantage of the Mitsuwa kit over everyday large-scale toy-store R/C tanks is that it has proper articulated tracks. Cheap tanks always have rubber tracks. Those are simple and durable, but they eat a huge amount of the tank's motor power, so even big rubber-tracked tanks are generally an indoor-only proposition.

The Mitsuwa also apparently scrubs up real nice if you invest some work in it. That's another point of difference with cheap tanks - they're seldom very good models, scale-accuracy-wise.

Readers: Please save me from myself, and buy up HLJ's remaining stock of this thing before I do.

(In case you're wondering, I do not have an affiliate deal with Hobbylink Japan. I even had to pay for this. The horror!)

4 Responses to “Buy a tank!”

  1. The Axeman Says:

    I have finally emerged from a maze of Panther, Tiger, Churchill, Centurion, Su100, IS 3, Sherman, Pershing wiki pages all triggered from this post!

  2. darkith Says:

    Another decent & non-expensive 1/16 tank vendor is Heng Long. They have a series of tanks (Pershing, Tiger, PzIII, Bulldog, and a weird Panther on a Tiger chassis). The PzIII is the latest and probably the most realistic looking.

    The Smoke&Sound ones have proportional speed and turning (avoid the non S&S ones!), turret rotation and gun elevation, a smoke producing unit, machine gun and main gun sounds, and a 6mm airsoft gun. Prices run around $80 USD, but there are vendors who sell upgraded units with metal gearboxes & metal tracks. There are even vendors who sell spare parts.

    A really good reference is this forum:


  3. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Browsing eBay sellers like this one turns up Heng Long Panzer IIIs with an allegedly upgraded gearbox and definitely upgraded tracks for about $US250 delivered; probably not a bad deal for what you get, but far above the base-tank price. I can't find anyone online selling the base Panzer III, but here's an M41 for $US70 plus delivery.

    Here and here are discussions of the many and varied brands under which these things may be found.

    I do not need a Sturmtiger. I do not need a Sturmtiger. I do not need...

  4. darkith Says:

    MatoToys ( has PzIIIs with metal gearboxes for $85USD and metal tracks for $88USD.
    I think somebody in NZ/AUS said that Mato will ship items directly from China if they're not in North/South America. And hey, might as well pick up a Sturm while you're there (mere $151USD).
    Buying from Mato has been good so far, we'll see how long it takes to get a new hatch for the broken-from-the-factory one on my PzIII.

    My current mantra is "I do not need a Sturm until I finish my King Tiger and redo my 2nd hand Sherman)..."
    I don't think it's working.


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