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A "Gun Bluster XTO", as used by Rion Cusco in the anime.
Mini 4WD cars refer to a battery-powered scale model car made in a scale of between 1:20 to 1:48, though the term is mostly associated with 1:32 plastic AA battery powered plastic model race cars without remote control, which are commonly run on circuit tracks similar to slot cars but with separate lanes for each car instead of electrified rails. All four wheels are driven by a small brushed DC motor, one axle being driven through a small gear set and the other through a propeller shaft; the MS and MA chassis utilise a longitudinally-mounted motor with two driveshafts, making a propeller shaft unnecessary and allowing for more even power distribution as both axles are directly driven by the motor.
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While Adolph Eddy Goldfarb is credited by some sources to have invented the Mini 4WD line through the Stompers line of miniature 4x4 trucks based on real-world trucks and pickups in 1980, a precursor line called the Quick Racer was released by Tamiya in 1968. The Quick Racer was rear-wheel drive only and used a different motor form factor, but it had a similar mechanical layout to modern Mini 4WD cars, thus setting the template for future models. Then-Tamiya president Shunsaku Tamiya made it a point "to make a model product that can be assembled easily," simplifying the internals by reducing the number of parts—eliminating wiring through the use of stamped-metal terminals connected directly to the motor and using as few moving parts as possible—and utilising a snap-together construction, as the company feared that the use of adhesives in a scale model line marketed towards children wasn't worth the bad press owing to inhalant abuse.note  In 1982, Tamiya produced Mini 4WD variants of their remote-control and static model kits, spawning a new hobby and various imitators from the likes of Hasbro's Record Breakers endorsed by Jesse Ventura (yes, that Jesse Ventura), Auldey and countless bootleg factories in China and elsewhere.

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Tamiya's Mini 4WD line later spawned numerous manga serials in various Japanese manga magazines, all of which served as Merchandise-Driven tie-ins to the toys. Only two series that were serialized in Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic (and later, CoroCoro Aniki) stands out — Dash! Yonkuro and Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!!, both of which were adapted into their respective anime series. While both Dash! Yonkuro and Let's & Go did not see a Western release, they were credited for spawning a cult following from children and hobbyists alike especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy and the Philippines, where the toy line experienced an immense surge of popularity in the early 2000s note . Tamiya commemorated this by producing special editions of the Shadow Shark, Gun Bluster XTO and Cyclone Magnum along with the Trairong, a car based on a winning design in a contest held by Tamiya in Thailand, and the Dyipne, which as the name implies, is based on the iconic Jeepney — a minibus commonly used as a form of public transport in the Philippines, which in turn was originally based on the Willys jeeps left by American forces right after World War II.

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As of 2020, Tamiya has produced 28 different chassis platforms for their Mini 4WD line, a few of which are still being produced with the more recent ones sporting carbon reinforced composites and mid-mounted motors in stark contrast to the simpler and less mechanically complex ones from the 80s and 90s.

     List of works that focus on Mini 4WD racing 
Anime & Manga
  • Dash! Yonkuro (1987-1992) (Written by Zaurus Tokuda, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
    • Shin Dash! Yonkuro (1993-1995) (Written by Zaurus Tokuda, poster manga)
    • Hyper Dash! Yonkuro (2015-Ongoing) (Written by Hiroyuki Takei, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Aniki.)
  • Mini 4 Top (1988-1991) (Written by Tetsuo Tanaka, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Racing Mini 4WD World Grand Prix (1989) (Written by Junichi Ikeda, serialized on Kodansha's Comic Bom Bom.)
  • Bakusou! Dash Club! (1989-1990) (Written by Manavu Kashimoto, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
  • Moero! Avante Kyoudai (1989-1990) (Written by Tetsuhiro Koshita, serialized on Shogakukan's Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic.)
  • Go! Go! Mini 4WD Fighter (1989-1991) (Written by Yoshihiko Ochi, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
  • The Wind Racer! Otokogi (1993) (Written by Zaurus Tokuda, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
  • Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!! (1994-1999) (Written by Tetsuhiro Koshita, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
    • Bakusou Kyoudai Let's & Go!! Return Racers(2014-Ongoing)(Written by Tetsuhiro Koshita, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Aniki.)
    • Let's & Go! Tsubasa (2017-2021) (Written by Tetsuhiro Koshita, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Ichiban!.)
  • Dash Boy! Ten (1995-1997) (Written by Zaurus Tokuda, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Mini 4 Fighter V (1995-1999) (Written by Takao Aoki, serialized on Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic.)
  • Winning Ran (1997-1998) (Written by Ganma Suzuki, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Mini 4 Kids (1998-1999) (Written by Akira Himekawa, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • BREAK IN (1998-1999) (Written by Nobuhiko Santoku, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Future Racer V-Twin (1999-2000) (Written by Koichi Mitaka, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Mini 4WD Racer Kakeru (2006-2007) (Written by Takayuki Sakai, serialized on Shogakukan's Shogaku Years.)
  • Twin Stars Mechanomotive Force Laboratory (2013-2015) (Written by Kentaro Hayashi, serialized on Shueisha's Tonari no Young Jump.)

Video Games

  • Racing Mini 4WD Japan Cup (1989) (Famicom, published by Konami.)
  • Mini 4WD Shinning Scorpion Let's & Go!! (1996) (Super Famicom, published by ASCII.)
  • Mini 4WD GB Let's & Go!! (1997) (Game Boy, published by ASCII.)
  • Fully Cowled Mini 4WD Super Factory (1997) (Sega Saturn, published by Media Quest.)
  • Bakusou Kyoudai Let's & Go!! WGP Hyper Heat (1997) (PlayStation, published by Jaleco.)
  • Mini 4WD GB Let's & Go!! All-Star Battle MAX (1998) (Game Boy, published by ASCII.)
  • Bakusou Kyoudai Let's & Go!! Eternal Wings (1998) (PlayStation, published by Jaleco.)
  • Mini 4WD Let's & Go!! Power WGP 2 (1998) (Super Famicom, published by Nintendo.)
  • Mini 4WD GPX (2007) (Mobile phones, published by CAVE.)
  • Mini 4WD GPX Revolution (2009) (Mobile phones, published by CAVE.)
  • Mini 4WD DS (2009) (Nintendo DS, published by Rocket Company.)
  • Mini 4WD Championship (2010) (Mobage, published by CAVE.)
  • Mini 4WD World (2010) (PC, published by CAVE.)
  • Mini 4WD Victory Road (2011) (GREE, published by CAVE.)
  • Bakusou Kyoudai Let's & Go! Mini 4WD World Runner (2015) (Android/iOS, published by Bushiroad.)
  • Mini 4WD Hyper Dash Grand Prix (2020) (Android/iOS, published by Bandai Namco.)

The Mini 4WD toy line provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Earlier releases of Tamiya's Mini 4WD line often had an illustration from the manga and some lore about the car in the box. This has largely been discontinued presumably due to licensing issues and to cut costs.
  • Fragile Speedster: A number of chassis were derided for their lack of durability, like the Type 2 and Super-1 chassis to name a few. Not to mention that this ensues with a cheapo bootleg bought off a street stall should it fly off a track.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Counting special/limited editions, premium variants and such, there's roughly about 800-1200 kits which Tamiya has produced, at least some of which are still being sold to this day. Most collectors would just settle for those that suit their racing needs.
  • Gratuitous English: Loads and loads of them with the cars' names, that is.
  • Merchandise-Driven: There are lots of manga series that are focused on Mini 4WD, with many of them being serialized on either Shogakukan's CoroCoro magazines or their Shogaku Years magazines. As mentioned above, only the Dash! Yonkuro series by the late Zaurus Tokuda and the Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!! series by Tetsuhiro Koshita stands out.
  • My Little Panzer: Not to the extent that it is in the anime and manga, though since the toys are marketed towards children and they contain small parts which could be easily ingested, Tamiya generally advises kids to seek adult assistance should they need to service or build a new car, and given the intricate construction as well as the minuscule parts involved, the cars are typically sold in hobby shops instead of mainstream toy stores, saving them the trouble of having to comply with toy regulations (albeit within reason, as they wouldn't want to use hazardous or toxic materials anyway). Though as mentioned above, they did make it a point to design the cars to be as easily assembled by children as possible, using snap-together construction instead of model glue for easier servicing and out of substance abuse concerns.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: The toys' popularity led to countless imitators who cashed in on the craze especially in Asia, where it isn't uncommon in the early 2000s to see a toy stall selling bootlegs from Diamond, Jiada, Gokey and Heipao to name a fewnote . Most of those who produce pirated Tamiyas adopted a variation of the company's twin-star logo, often substituting the stars with diamonds, crosses or other random symbols, and would use artwork ripped from the original packaging. Auldey was a unique case in that while they too made blatant bootlegs of various Tamiya Mini 4WD cars, they were of decent quality as opposed to lower-tier counterfeits which had weaker plastic and hard tyres compared to the more rubbery ones used by Tamiya and Auldey, not to mention that the electric motors that came with their kits are said to give Tamiya's stock motors a run for their money. However some Tamiya purists still do not think highly of the Audley models, since after all's said and done, they are still bootlegs. Though later Auldey models were built from the ground up instead of copying Tamiya's.
  • Word Salad Title: Coupled with Gratuitous English as mentioned earlier. Some of the car's names like Brocken Gigant, Gun Bluster and Beak Spider Zebra sound like as if the designers at Tamiya had fun with an English dictionary and threw up words at random.
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