RC Cars – Tamiya Midnight Pumpkin

Tamiya Midnight Pumpkin, so much fun!

Midnight Pumpkin ready to roll!

Midnight Pumpkin ready to roll!

I really enjoy building RC Cars with my kids.  Though I’m certainly not a gear head, it’s something fun and accessible for my kids and it’s an easy excuse to build a project with them and that’s what I love about it.  I recently put together a Tamiya Midnight Pumpkin kit (metallic version) with my 8 year old son and it was a blast!  What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn’t get a kick out of driving a cool RC truck inspired after a 1950’s pick-up with oversized tires that does wheelies off the line and will easily hit those sweet jumps?! 🙂

To give you an idea, here’s a quick video including a fun time lapse of the build along with some driving action! 🙂

Growing up in my Dad’s shop (Jet Hangar Hobbies), I vividly remember many of the Tamiya RC car and RC truck kits on the shelves of the shop.  My memory was that they had some of the most fun and stylish RC cars — meaning that they were unique and fun to not only drive but to look at too.  Growing up I remember having the Grasshopper, Subaru Bratt and Wild Willy (was actually my sisters) and remember seeing so many more on the shelves of the shop.  For a long time, these kits have been discontinued, but many have now been re-released and they’re just as awesome as I remembered as a kid!  It takes me back to my childhood and it’s great that I can share the same experiences with the same products that I had growing up with my own kids.  The kits are easy to assemble and are a great way to expose anyone to our awesome hobby.   You can find many of them on Amazon and/or Tower Hobbies or at your local hobby shop (they can usually order items for you).

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The Truck

Classic Midnight Pumpkin Box Art

Classic Midnight Pumpkin Box Art

The Tamiya Midnight Pumpkin is a 1950’s style truck body atop a large chassis with nice oversized tires.  It shares the same chassis as the Lunchbox (built one of those with my daughter last year, she was 9) and is a really fun and easy build.  The kit comes with everything you need with the exception of a battery, steering servo, transmitter and receiver.  With a street price of only $125, this is an excellent value!  Starting from a stop, the Midnight Pumpkin does wheelies which is a nice feature for the kid in all of us!  Though not a practical feature for racing, it’s a great RC car for just driving around at the park or in front of your house.  In our case, it even is great for exercising our dog!

Kit contents upon opening the box

Kit contents upon opening the box

The Build

Pumpkin chassis with electronics installed

Pumpkin chassis with electronics installed

Regarding the build, it took my son and I about 3-1/2 hours from start to finish building it straight out of the box.  The instructions are clear and concise and offer up full size drawings of all of the hardware for each step in addition to the labeled parts.  So, armed with a screwdriver and some needle nose plyers (all other tools included), the build starts with installation of the electronics (steering servo and ESC) and then quickly rolls into building of the differential, mounting the motor and then mounting it onto the chassis.  The key is to ensure everything is properly lubricated within the gearing using the supplied grease.  From there, the suspension builds onto the chassis.  IT’s a simple spring system, so no filling canisters with oil or anything like that which makes it simple and easy to install.  The only key here too is to
Tam_Pumpkin-22ensure the suspension shafts are lubricated to remove any kind of friction from the suspension system.  From there, the steering servo is hooked up and the tires are placed on the rims and onto the chassis again ensuring sufficient grease on the axles and that completes the chassis.  The last item of business is assembling the body and applying the markings.  They are peel and stick and so I recommend taking time in placing the stickers, especially around the flared fenders.   My recommendation is to stick them at one edge and slowly work press them down working them down around the curves with your finger.  If done right, they look quite nice, especially on the metallic body.

Finished body with stickers applied

Finished body with stickers applied

The finished Midnight Pumpkin looks awesome!  I was pleasantly surprised by the metallic body as it has a nice dark hue to the metallic finish as opposed to a straight bright chrome and as a result it looks nice on the truck body.  Also, the body being injection molded plastic supplies a nice durable product which is nice as you’re bound to have a few bumps here and there!

 

The drive

Complete, ready for a test run

Complete, ready for a test run

Driving the Midnight Pumpkin in short is a blast!  The smile on my son’s face as he drives it pretty much says it all.  It doesn’t matter the terrain, with the large oversized tires and the large suspension travel the Midnight Pumpkin makes short order of whatever it faces which makes it that much more fun.  The wheelies are a really fun feature that give the truck that much more style in the way it drives.  Combined with a DuraTraxx 3000 mah MiMH battery, the Midnight Pumpkin can be driven hard for a good 30 minutes! This is a huge change from when I was driving these cars as a kid.  Where I couldn’t re-charge the battery quick enough after about 4 minutes, my kids actually get tired of driving before the battery even runs down.  A welcome change indeed!

The beauty with RC Cars is that they are accessible for virtually anyone.  They are a segment of the hobby that someone can get into for a relatively low investment while also easy enough that someone can drive it straight out of the box without needing much up front training like RC planes.  So, it’s no surprise that the popularity of RC cars continues to rise.  Though the market is certainly saturated with a variety of ready-to-run pre-built cars, there are still some fun RC car kits out there that are really fun to build and a great project to build with your kids — especially in these Tamiya RC car kits!  Give it a shot, you’ll like the results!

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