RCU Review: Tamiya Amarok Custom Lift

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    Contributed by: Matthew LeMay | Published: November 2015 | Views: 11873 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Aeroworks Laser 200 ARF

    • Gearbox is preassembled 
    • Excellent decals
    • Parts fit together perfectly
    • Excellent instructions
    • Friction dampening shocks
    • Plastic bushings


    Tamiya America, Inc.
    36 Discovery #200, Irvine, CA 92618
    Phone: (800) TAMIYA-A
    or (800) 826-4922
    Fax: (949) 362-2250



    As an official vehicle of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Volkswagen built specialized polar edition custom lifted Amarok vehicles used to trek offroad from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, almost 10,000 miles away. The most amazing part is that it was done completely offroad. Guinness claims this was the longest offroad journey through a single country. This custom lifted Polar edition VW Amarok is the inspiration for the Tamiya Amarok Custom Lift RC truck. While trying to capture the look of the full sized Sochi Amarok, Tamiya used a narrow version of a popular chassis with over sized tires. It's a pretty wild looking ride and Tamiya did well to capture its attitude. Keep reading to see what this kit is made of and if you think it's worth the journey.


    nissan gtr lm nismo

    Though box graphics don't make or break an RC, if a company is willing to put this much effort into the packaging, it gets you a bit excited about the effort put into the design of the actual RC vehicle.


    The step by step instructions are well written, in many different languages as well as english, and easy to follow.

    The gearbox is preassembled with motor installed.

    AMAROK Custom Lift

    Price MSRP: $252.00
    Price Street: $159.99 


    • Radio and Receiver
    • Steering Servo
    • Battery
    • Charger
    • Polycarbonate Paint
    • Tire Glue


    • Kit Type - Assembly Kit
    • Scale - 1/10 Off-Road
    • Chassis - Updated Narrow Version of WT-01Chassis
    • Chassis Material - Plastic
    • Drive Train - 2WD Gearbox Reduction
    • Axles - Dogbone
    • Differential - Gear Differential
    • Suspension - Double Wishbone Independent
    • Steering - Direct Servo (servo horn servo saver)
    • Shock Type - Friction Damper Coil Over Shocks x4
    • Tires - Rubber Chevron Style Tread Pattern
    • Tire Size - Diamete: 123mm, Width: 59mm
    • Body - Clear Polycarbonate (needs painting)
    • Motor - 540 Brushed Electric
    • Bearings - Plastic Bushings
    • Dimensions: Length: 463mm, width: 251mm
    • 281mm wheelbase and 192mm front & rear tread

    Tamiya did a great job organizing parts into categories and then putting each category in its own bag. Each part category was packaged well, which makes it easy to see what you have to work with. The hardware is also divided into labelled bags, A and B, so you can easily access the correct part from the reference in the instruction manual.

    I've taken pictures of each parts bag to give you an idea of how organized everything is.


    The kit does not include a steering servo or radio so you must provide your own.

    ? I chose the Savox SC-1267SG High voltage coreless digital servo. The specs are listed below

    Savox SC-1267SG:
    Weight: 62.0g
    Speed sec/60deg(7.4v): 0.095
    Torque kg-cm/oz-in (7.4v): 20.0/277.7

    This servo will have more than enough power to turn the Amarok's large tires.


    The plastic parts can all be found on the well labelled parts tree and a pair of body scissors or wire snips easily remove each part. It's necessary to clean up the part by removing the leftover plastic nub with a hobby knife, file, or sand paper. Basically like building a really cool model.

    Following the instructions, I started off attaching the rear suspension to the gearbox assembly as seen in the pictures below. I've assembled one side of the suspension and laid out the parts on the other side to give you a better understanding of how it all went together. I'll continue this concept through out the entire review.

    All the hardware is included and Tamiya even supplies a tube of grease.

    The shocks are friction dampened, which caught me off guard at first. The instructions call for a piece of rubber tubing to be inserted into the shock body. I automatically assumed it was to limit travel, since that's how I've limited ride height in the past. After getting two of the shocks assembled, I realized it was for dampening. The shaft screw rides inside of the tubing causing some resistance. At first, of my own negligence, I didn't like this setup. The shock was sticking and wasn't returning to its fully extended position. I then noticed the instructions calling for grease to be applied to the inside of the rubber tube insert. After greasing the tube, the shock worked much better. Compression was smooth and it quickly returned to its extended position. It's still not as good as oil dampening, but it's a step up from bouncy dampening free shocks.

    The chassis is composed of three major parts, the rear third, center chassis, and the front third. The cool thing about this chassis is the ability to convert into 4wd by swapping out the front third for another rear third. I hope that made sense. The rear third, or gearbox, easily bolts to either end of the chassis, allowing you to install another gearbox in the front as well. The extra gearbox would of course have to be bought separately.

    Below are some pictures of the completed chassis.

    The tires make all the differences in the world in the attitude of this truck. They are the same tread pattern as the original Blackfoot tires and look great on the gun metal colored plastic rims.

    I really like the stance of this truck so far. The narrowed chassis helps with the overall appearance of this monster.

    I threw the body on after cutting it out and drilling the holes. I wanted to make sure it fit properly before I began to paint it.

    The battery compartment allows easy access to your 6-cell NiMH battery pack, but I don't see a possibility of a LIPO pack fitting into that oval hole. There is however, a rectangular hole directly above the oval battery hole, but I couldn't manage to squeeze any type of battery in it. I tried many different 2S LiPOs and 6-cell NiMH batteries, but unfortunately none of them would fit so it looks like I'll stick to using 6-cell NiMH packs in the lower oval shaped battery compartment.

    The Amarok uses plastic bushings instead of bearings. I guess I understand their thinking on this one, since this truck is marketed for being able to go through the snow, as its full size predecessor does. However, many Rcers, including myself, prefer ball bearings over bushings but, to be fair, metal bearings would most likely rust if repeatedly exposed to snow.

    The wishbone style suspension is limited in adjustability. Castor, camber, shock angle, and link angle are not adjustable however, front toe in/out is adjustable through the steering linkage and ride height is adjustable with a clip on shock spacer.

    The Savox servo (not included) is protected by a plastic servo horn style servo saver similar to those found on most RTR trucks.

    The rear suspension is set up very much like the front. The kit comes with a ride height spacer which can be inserted onto the shock body above the spring.

    A 540 brushed motor is mounted to the preassembled gearbox and an 18 tooth pinion gear is fitted to the shaft. Although the motor mount isn't what I would consider to be a true adjustable motor mount, Tamiya has provided the option of using a 20 tooth pinion gear instead of the stock 18 tooth. As you can see in the picture below, there are two motor mounting positions. One for an 18 tooth pinion and one for a 20 tooth pinion. The kit comes with the 18 tooth and a 20 tooth can be purchased separately.

    The Amarok's body is clear polycarbonate and includes separate plastic mirrors. The polycarbonate body will need to be painted from the inside, while the mirrors must be surface painted as you would any other model part. The mirrors are held in place with one body clip for each.

    Using a pair of polycarbonate curved scissor, I cut out the body along the pre-set trim lines. Tamiya actually printed o couple different trim line options into the body. You can cut along the regular Canyon body lines which removes the fender flares and provides a stock looking wheel well. There are also extra trim lines for trimming the front bumper area. The Amarok version of course, utilizes the fender flairs and extra material is removed along the front quarters to allow sufficient tire clearance.

    The wheel wells were then cleaned up with a piece of 400 grit sandpaper.

    There is a clear protective film on the outside of the body, which needs to be left on until the body is completely painted, this prevents overspray from sticking to the outside of the body. Be sure to remove the clear film before applying the decals. That would be bad.

    Before painting any clear polycarbonate body, it's necessary to wash it with grease cutting liquid dish soap. This removes any mold releasing agents left on the plastic. I also scratched up the inside of the body with a 3M maroon pad. These pads are widely used in between coats of polyurethane on wood surfaces, and can be found at any hardware or home improvement store. These small scratches provide the paint with a physical bond as well as its chemical bond. Be sure to stay away from the windows! If you scratch up the windows, it will be noticeable when the body is complete.

    After washing, I let the body sit on the counter to drip dry completely over night.

    Tamiya supplies quality window masks and the instruction manual tells you which color to paint each part of the body.

    I used blue masking tape to cover all areas except those being painted black. Blue masking tape worked well for masking off the areas I didn't want to paint yet. The blue tape comes off without leaving any residue behind, just be sure you push down the edges of the tape before painting. I knew I wanted to use Alclad II chrome paint on the bumper so I also left it unmasked.

    The first color I sprayed was the chrome since it would have to backed with black anyway. With an airbrush, I put a few thin coats of chrome on the rear bumper and let it dry. Black was the next color on the list, so I painted the black components with a rattle can and let the body dry.

    After the black paint flashed off, I removed all of the blue masking tape and was ready to do the main part of the body. I knew the body was going to be silver, but wanted to add a bit of interest to it. I decided to lightly airbrush some candy blue paint along the body lines and across the front of the hood and bumper. I didn't want the blue to stand out, just add a bit of color when the sun sit it the right way. I held a white paper towel up to the body while I misted to blue, being sure not to over do it. You can't see it very well in the pictures, but it was exactly what I was looking for.

    Silver was the last color to spray and I used a Spaz Stix silver metallic rattle can. This paint sprays on very transparent, so I had to be careful not to over saturate each coat. The picture above shows the body with two coats of silver and three coats left to go.

    Once the paint was completely dry, I removed the window masks and outer protective film.

    The decals went on great, though they were quite complex. I chose to use flat black paint on the door handles and rear bumper step pads instead of the decals because I like the contrast of the flat on the glossy body.

    The body looks great with the decals applied. The decals are a high quality stretchy material. Very nice! I used a pair of scissors and sharp hobby knife to neatly cut around each decal before applying. There's a numbered diagram that shows where each decal goes.

    Tamiya actually provides black decals to cover the fender flairs, front bumper, rear bumper pads, and every other black part, just incase you didn't want to mask and paint the black parts yourself. Pretty cool. The only issue I had with the decals is the corners of the red tail lights tend to want to pop up. This is a complex area because of the contour, but once I pushed them down a few times, they seem to be holding.

    The body and door lines are drawn on the outside of the body with a black fine tip permanent marker. The instructions don't call for this step, but I think it added a lot to the overall look of the kit. Close up the sharpie looks purple, but at a distance it looks great.

    I installed a basic 2.4GHz radio system, I had laying around, into the Amarok, charged up a couple NiMH batteries and grabbed my recording equipment. I know the Tamiya Amarok was never intended to be a high performance race truck or even a rock crawler, so I wanted to test this truck in the conditions it will most likely be used in, like a park.

    The Amarok was fun to drive on pavement and looked great doing it. The narrow chassis gives it a scale look, though it did put some limitations on cornering speed. Corning at too high a speed sometimes caused the truck to roll over, usually landing back on its wheels.

    The large tires helped the Amarok plow through medium grass, though the 2wd drive system allowed it to get stuck quite often while attempting to climb steep banks. To be fair, the grass was wet which limited traction. I noticed the gear differential diffing out causing one wheel to spin while the other remained stationary. This could be helped by putting thick oil or packing it full with grease. I was using the factory setup for testing.

    There wasn't a whole lot of dirt in the testing area, but we did manage to find enough to spin the tires a bit. This is where I think this truck is the most fun. The realistic body and proportions look great while the rear tires toss a bit of dirt.

    The limited shock travel is noticed while jumping the Amarok. I plowed over a pile of leaves several times and while the landings were less than graceful, the Amarok managed to stay on all fours ready for some more abuse. I was actually surprised at how much fun it was jumping this truck. The bouncy suspension made it more exciting than I thought it should be and to me, made it much more fun to jump than expected.

    Speed & Acceleration:
    The truck includes a brushed motor and I was using a NiMH battery pack so speed is nothing to get too excited about, though I do believe it is sufficient for this style of truck and will be more than fast enough for new hobbyists. It was easy to spin the rear tires while taking off on loose surfaces, but the truck remained very controllable.


    The Tamiya Amarok was enjoyable to build and the instructions were easy to follow. Ready to run vehicles have their place in the RC market, as many families can't seem to find the time or patience to build an RC kit, but I personally think everyone should build at least one RC kit, especially your first one. It teaches the hobbyist so much about how the truck works, which not only helps in driving the vehicle, but is a tremendous help in troubleshooting as well as tweaking performance. If you know how and why something works when it does work, you're more likely to be able to figure out what's wrong when it doesn't work.

    Overall the Tamiya Amarok performed as I think it should have for a 2WD truck. It was easy to get stuck and similarly easy to roll over, but strangely enough, that's why I enjoyed it so much. Many brushed vehicles get boring quickly when you can hold the throttle wide open and just steer for the duration of the entire battery pack. Putting a few limitations on the truck forces you to think about what you're doing and where you should drive. That's what makes driving RC fun. I know there are some of you out there that like to go full throttle over every obstacle and around every corner, maybe this truck isn't for you. For those of you who enjoy driving a truck while planning and maneuvering obstacles, this may be a great choice for your next RC vehicle.

    The Savox servo was a good match for this truck and performed flawlessly.


    Tamiya America, Inc.
    36 Discovery #200, Irvine, CA 92618
    Phone: (800) TAMIYA-A
    or (800) 826-4922
    Fax: (949) 362-2250



    Savox USA
    2034 South 3850 West
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84104
    Phone: (855)-767-2869


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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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