Throwback Thursday: The JDM RC Drift Show
2023 Intro

It’s the gift giving season, which means scale model cars will soon be finding their way into people’s hands all over the world. Whether it’s a 1:64 die-cast or something larger and more detailed, we all know the joy that four-wheeled collectibles can bring to young and old.

We’ve covered a wide range of hobby stories on Speedhunters over the years, but one in particular stands out. It’s timely to revisit this look at Japanese RC drifting too, as it was published 10 years ago and ranked as our most-read event story of 2013.

A quick Google search tells us that the model shop at the center of the story – Hobby Garage in Saitama, Japan – sadly no longer exists, but we’re interested to know if a replacement of sorts exists for the local RC drift car community. Let’s see what we can uncover in 2024…

2013 Feature

Wanna check out a cool RC drift event?” Johnny from Weld asked me. I said ‘sure’, as it had been way too long since I spent some time shooting cool little RC drifters sliding around. I thought it would make a cool post, especially since it was held at a track I had never been to before. So I packed up my gear – including my new RC drift car (I thought I may be able to squeeze a bit of driving in between the shooting!) – and headed north to Kuki in Saitama.

My destination was Hobby Garage, a massive hobby shop in an equally gigantic mall. If this place is anything to go by, my assumption that everything to do with this ‘scaled’ world has been steadily growing over the last few years, seems to make a lot of sense. Maybe the recession has pushed people to spend money on other things, and if you are into cars at least, then building up a cool RC machine is far cheaper than modifying an actual car.

This is probably the biggest hobby shop I’ve been to with something for everyone, starting off with a couple of Tamiya Mini 4WD tracks as soon as you enter.

Before heading to the large RC drift track I had a quick wander around the main shop area, where you can really find all sorts of cool things starting off with a nice selection of Tomica diecasts…

…to more Japanese things like these cool Shinkansen train model and track combos.

If you fancy something different and anime characters or robots aren’t your thing, how about a dekotora dump truck?

As you can see, even kids take their slot car racing extremely seriously. Check out the carbon bumpers on these Mini 4WDs.

In the model car section I spotted some true JDM gems, part of the Gurachan collection. Which one would you build if you had to choose just one? Tough isn’t it?!

The selection of RC bodies was just as vast.

Of course, after you pick up your shell you have to think about your wheel selection, and again are totally spoilt for choice.

I even spotted these Team Yayoi Sakura wheels which I almost wanted to buy just so I could paint them in silver and pink. But whatever I saw in the shop section really couldn’t even begin to prepare me for the event I had come to see.

I assumed an ‘RC drift meet’ would entail, well… drifting. But this was actually more to do with customization. Hobby Garage organizes this ‘RC Custom Body Show’ every year and it seems that just like in any other car-related scene, things continue to be pushed further and further.

This was the selection of cars entered. Each participant was part of the judging process but before it all began, the Hobby Garage staff presented each car.

This was done in total Japanese otaku way, with a macro video camera showing all the details of the cars on two big LCD screen on each side of the ‘show venue’.

Up until this point I was standing on the sidelines, so I didn’t really realize just how detailed some of these bodies were.

I soon grabbed my camera, took my shoes off and jumped in. It was at this point that my mind was blown. I know a lot of hobbyists take their art very seriously but this was just ridiculous. Every image that showed up on my camera screen looked almost like I was taking pictures at a real event.

I proceeded to spend the next couple of hours on my belly, getting up close and personal with all of these cars. While some stuck to more simple accessories to dress up the exterior, while others went well beyond that and achieved the almost impossible.

I mean how on earth do you recreate rust so damn well?! It was even realistic to the touch.

It was quite funny to see how the USDM influence the JDM scene is undergoing right now is reflected perfectly on some of these RC drifters.

Stance is very important in order to obtain that realistic feel, so a lot of time goes into body-height adjustments as well as suspension arm fine tuning to get camber and flushness just right. Props to the owner of this E30 M3 for adding a few scaled Speedhunters stickers.

Remember the Hakotora from Tokyo Auto Salon 2013 and the Nostalgic 2 Days? Yep, this is a scaled recreation of it, complete with racing bucket seats and a driver.

There were some non-drift additions too like this fully functioning MAN truck and trailer combo. The realistic touches included a curtain to shade the cabin for when the scale driver needs to catch a couple of hours sleep, to a speaker emitting diesel idle-chatter, and something under the cabin to make the whole thing vibrate.

This older style truck was even more impressive as it’s a fully-functional drift machine with custom rear axles sporting a total of six drift tires.

I was aware that these RC trolleys were on sale, but to see one modified on little drift wheels and running onikyan at the rear, well it really made me laugh. The oishii mikan box was a great touch. I guess the idea is to drift it without dropping the box full of tasty fruit.

Check out this slammed Subaru Impreza STI 22B. It sort of reminded me of some of the N-Style cars we have seen at Hellaflush Japan events in the past.

With so many different type of bodies out there, you can really let your imagination run wild.

A lot of drift shops are getting their own custom RC car bodies made too, just like GP Sports and this perfect recreation of their famous aero kit. What really makes it pop however is the attention to detail in the painting and careful wheel fitment for that perfect look.

Rust seems to be a very fashionable finish to recreate in the world of miniature drifting.

More stance, this time with a more Euro feel.

Did you notice the roll cage inside?

This R31 Skyline wagon body is from R31 House and was sitting on a set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37SLs. Wagon RC drifting?  I’m liking this a lot!

When it comes detail, this AE86 Levin was as wild as it gets, and I’m not just talking about the exterior.

Just have a look at how the engine bay has been beautifully integrated and made to fit around the underlying chassis components. My favorite touches included the exposed cam wheels and belt as well as the heat-wrapped headers.

Here’s another shot of the wild GX71. Incredible!

If you like kaido racer creations, this 330 Cedric should hit the spot rather well.

Squint a little and it looks like the real deal!

Of course how can you not finish it all off with tilted taillights and bozo exhausts!

Of course if you prefer the more modern look there were a ton of S-chassis entries to check out.

Some took their cars out on the track and let their hand-built toy sliders do their thing. I hope you are enjoying seeing a side of RC drift culture that we have never really touched on before.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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The rust is created with... Rust.
It is actually paint that contains iron and you let it oxidize.


It’s All In The Details: JDM RC Drift Car Comp