1/16 scale Products
The cost of fielding one of these models, if bought online -- including the required 4-channel ground frequency (75 MHz) radio, batteries and charger system -- is about $600 to $1,000. When shopping online one can find real extremes such as a T-34 by WSN for $50 -- and when the planets align -- even a rare Imai Elefant costing in the thousands. If your interest is in engaging in war-gaming with other like-minded hobbyists then there is an additional cost of about $100 for the Tamiya Battle Unit (TBU). Because most guys buy after-market accessories such as gear reductions or detail parts, it is a rule of thumb that a typical enthusiast will spend a $1,000 on his hobby. In such instances when you may have an older generation Tamiya, Bandai, or a Trumpeter/WSN T-34, or even a scratch-built AFV, the economics of installing the necessary Tamiya electronics in order to do battle really calls for buying another complete tank rather then trying to adapt new to old. As long as this paradigm exists costs will be unnaturally high for those who go exploring other subjects outside the standard "full-function" Tamiya line-up. To get a tank for cannibalization usually means spending about $400 to $500 unless you can get a deal on eBay, etc. A surprising number of people do this, and repeatedly, too. This is not surprising as it is almost standard practice to own several tanks, which means one will usually be able to battle continuously during a war-gaming day as there are spares to turn to.
By the way, at our field on the private Pony Tracks Ranch south of San Francisco our season runs late spring through the fall with the annual Battle Day weekend in late September being our largest event during the year. Our meetings are monthly, on usually, but not always, the third Sunday of the month.
Many R/C enthusiasts find 1/16-1/15 scale to be ideal for several reasons:
You can probably think of other reasons why these tanks are experiencing greater popularity today. My favorite is that a tank won't spiral into the ground lowering your net worth in one instant!
Here are the main players in this scale:
Tamiya :The advanced versions we have today are the product of one the most progressive model manufacturers in the world, Tamiya, Inc. of Japan. If you love WW-2 armor, then this is a good time to buy an R/C tank. Tamiya produces a balanced line of classic German and American model tanks in this scale. The venerable Tiger I (early version) and the massive late-war King Tiger have as opponents the standard Allied medium tank Sherman (although in a howitzer version), and the heavy tank Pershing. For lovers of state-of-the-art modern armor the German Leopard 2 A6 main battle tank is very impressive in its engineering. The optional gun-stabilizing system in this tank is unique to these 1/16 tanks. Many expect to see another addition along modern lines with the Abrams eventually, but this is by no means a certainty. Most B.A.T. members, and I venture to say, most of the others who battle the tanks around the world would rather see a Panther more then anything else.
Bandai :The models from Tamiyas competitor, Bandai, remain largely unchanged since their introduction in the 1970s so they are quite long in the tooth. These kits offer many opportunities for the advanced modeler in terms of detailing, automotive modernizing, and making them more historically accurate, which is to say they lack the quality of the Tamiya kits in all regards. There is substantial motivation for the war gamers who desire a variety of vehicles for combat to install Tamiya components. A visit to the 16th section on the links page will provide some suggested suppliers. Of the four Bandai kits the Tiger I is the best, but it is still surpassed by the Tamiya version in my opinion. The most popular one based on the Panzer IV chassis is the Stug IV and not the medium Panzer IV itself as it is considered inaccurate. Of course the Stug has many of the same dimensional problems, has less room, and it lacks a turret, which makes it a different sort of beast in combat. Lastly, the open-topped armored artillery vehicle, the Hummel, would not normally be in direct combat, but it has good detailing of it's 150 mm howitzer in any case. Some convert it into the tank killer Nashorn by cannibalizing the howitzer along with fabricating to create an 88 mm weapon. Luckily you can obtain some excellent, if pricey, aftermarket improvements for these vehicles through places like www.backyardarmor.com http://www.backyardarmor.com and http://www.etoarmor.com .
Trumpeter :Trumpeter produces 4 1/16 static variants on the Russian T-34. At this point the T-34/76 versions of the T-34 in 1/16 are only available as static kits from Trumpeter. However the tracks of the R/C WSN are recommended over the ones that come with these kits if you choose to motorize them. On the other hand the static versions have a few more details provided such as engine details. At the low cost of these models many builders utilize both a static and a R/C kit to bash together variants of the T-34 such as the SU-85 and SU-100.
WSN :This is the R/C subsidiary of Trumpeter so the quality of the moldings is as excellent as the Trumpeter kits released earlier. The WWII Russian T34/85 has primitive R/C qualities compared to the Tamiya products. This means the tank is more like a toy in its behavior, that is it does not have a proportional speed control but can move forward/backward, left/right. One saving grace is its excellent turret rotation system. The firing of the main gun means you get flash, recoil, and sound. These tanks come built and ready to run, but while highly detailed they are unfortunately not in the same league, mechanically, as the Tamiya machines. Some skilled modelers have worked wonders with these kits -- including adding all the Tamiya electronics and some metal running gear -- to create much more durable battlefield warriors. One of the major beauties of this kit is it's low price of about $100.
Hen Long :Chinese company that has produced 3 very inexpensive 1/16 scale plastic pellet-firing models that rank well below the Tamiya standard: Tiger I, Pershing, (called "Snow Leopard"), and Panther. They can be found on Ebay for around $100. As an indication of their dedication to the bottom line the Panther uses the same running gear as the Tiger with none of them with actual suspensions. Yet there are fans of Hen Long, especially the Tiger I as the plastic molding is fair. In Germany there is actually a forum devoted to the subject of Hen Long Tigers. Many purchasers got very little run time on the models before they break down while others appreciate the value for the money -- it is a good tank for the kids to run while you play with the $600 version. Here you can see a photo of the Tiger: http://www.toysunlimited.nl/hen_long_1.htm For how the Tiger and the others can be upgraded go to http://www.customrcmodels.com/Tanks/id87.htm .
Hobby Zone/Doyusha :Originally made by Doyusha, the M1A1 comes as a ready-built modern-day tank. It is a real stand-off scale representation of this formidable U.S. main battle tank. You can't compare it to the Tamiya kits as it is more a toy then a serious model. However, if a working model of the Desert Storm legend is what you need then it is a starting point. These can be found at toy stores and many hobby shops.
IMAI :Imai is another Japanese company that released a very elaborate and costly kit of the WW 2 German "Elefant" over 20 years ago. They have gone for $2,000 and more for a NIB, (new, in-the-box) kit. It represents the ultimate kit for 1/16th scale collectors. If available, this tank destroyer, as well as any of the models and accessories mentioned here, may be found on Ebay and the like.
Other Manufacturers :There are rumors of kits coming and there are secret development of kits from smaller producers which will again translate into a sales blip for Tamiya as modelers buy tanks for their components to stuff into these "garage" kits.