By Brat Attacks
My first Tamiya but never my first choice was a Wild One. It came to me built by my father on Christmas day in 1985. l can still see it now, all that shiny black and red plastic with perfect Acoms radio gear installed and then within one racing pack later that look was history.
The one l wanted was a Fast Attack Vehicle but Beatties where having trouble getting them and they fobbed my father off with a Wild One. He told me that l hadn't got the FAV but the Wild One was almost identical. He also spouted off all the extra benefits that it had over the FAV. So the excitement was high as the Wild One was so new in 85 that there were no pictures anywhere of it.
Fast forward 22 years later and finally l get the chance to build up a new Wild One. l savoured the moments to the last, carefully opening the blister pack, setting out the screws in order, hand painting the shell and all this was done while playing music from 1985. l forgot how great that year was for music, Mr Mister, Starship, Axel F and Paul Hardcastle where all there for my listening pleasure during this build up.
I'd restored my runner Wild One but it doesn't give you the same sense of satisfaction that a new build gives you. From liberating the plastic parts from the tree to the experience of building it up, everything in building up a car like this from the box is new.
If it wasn't for instructions 11 and 12, it would have been a breeze to build. As it was l had to strip the gearbox and start again. And it is here that the Wild One's problems all start. The gearbox was an engineering disaster and for reasons known only to the men in Japan the differential was supported by 2 shims and a nylon washer. The washer itself doesn't have that easy fit that one had come to expect from Tamiya and this was possibly missed in a few build ups. It was on mine and apart from the reason just given about its fit, it was not clearly written in the manual as to what the differential space actually was.
For all the gearbox problems it was beautifully suspended in the chassis. Unlike all the other cars to come from Tamiya this gearbox was not mounted straight to the chassis but suspended in the integral roll cage by a metal plate and by 2 L shaped mounts that screwed into the chassis tub and gearbox. And it made it all the more annoying when you had to remove it to fix the crunching differential. It also wasn't one of the strongest mounting systems and after some heavy use the gearbox would start sitting slightly tilted to one side. A shame really for the gearbox formed part of the cars overall good looks being slung out the rear in full view with no covering.
Once built the Wild One really is a thing of beauty though not quite as good as the FAV. It may be Tamiya's last realistic looking buggy but the FAV was "thee" last. Perhaps it's the black and red colours that let it down or the driver with massive out of scale hands but the FAV had the edge. This is all insignificant stuff really as the Wild One came with those extra pieces that made it special over its sibling. Big oil shocks all round, bigger wheels with better potential for off road running and a road rash resistant polycarbonate shell. It also had a better battery securing system too.
Sadly it didn't all work together as you had hoped. The front shocks where totally inadequate leaking out their oil and the springs had too little tension in them to push it back up, the rears where too stiff and put too much down travel force on the trailing arms thus snapping them. And the main part of the shell would soon look like that of the FAV's when the sides had been ripped off. The battery holder though was great.
For all its now known faults, driving the Wild One is a learning curve and though fun when you first start out it becomes a chore to drive due to the weight distribution set to the rear. Once you start to respect it and obey it like a Jedi Knight it then became a great car to drive. That once problematic high weight balance shift set to the rear made it one spectacular jumper and you had to be unlucky to get it so wrong. Though it wasn't one of the fastest cars out of the box it did demonstrate great controllability over the rough stuff that the rest of the Tamiya stable where still struggling to match. It's then that the looks of the car that you once thought where only second class to the FAV come in to their own and you start to realise that there is only so much fun you can have with a military looking buggy when all around you have Hornets and Frogs. Its scale looks ride head and shoulders above the rest and to drive or to watch the Wild One was the talk of the town.
In today's market the Wild One is starting to be appreciated by those who run them like it has been with the collectors who got to them first. If you do manage to find one, snap it up right away. If its a runner then keep it as a runner. If it's NIB, build it and keep it on the shelf. They look equally as good being run as they do sitting on the shelf. The only problem being once you run it they're a bugger to clean but it doesn't stop you wanting to take it out again so my advice to you is buy 2.