Kyosho Mini-Z are a new way of looking at RC Cars. These mini-scale models mix die-cast level details with spec-chassis performance. Ready-to-run (requiring only AAA batteries) they make a fantastic first radio-control car for ‘kids’ of all ages.
What are Mini-Z cars?
Kyosho Mini-Z are a range of micro (1:27th scale!) remote control cars from Japanese model car company Kyosho. To give you a sense of the size they are around 16cm long and 7cm wide. Ideal for indoor use, Mini-Z brings hobby-grade RC at a tiny-toy size! They are the embodiment of Japanese quality and miniaturisation, available in Sports, Drift, Buggy, Monster truck, motorcycles and even Race editions! The ‘Z’ in the name refers to the all-encompassing A-Z ‘ultimate’ range, offering something for everyone.
Ready to Run. Just add the juice!
Open the box, install batteries and you are ready to run. You will need four AAA batteries for the car and a further four AAA batteries for the controller. We recommend you invest in some 850mAh (or 1000mAh if you can stretch to them) 1.2v rechargables and a smart charger.
Kysoho Mini-Z codes explained
Each of the Mini-Z models comes with a chassis code to identify the driven wheels, iteration, factory setup and so on. A prefix of MR identifies a Rear-Wheel-Drive chassis, whilst MA points to All-Wheel-Drive. MB is used to identify AWD buggies, F1 for open wheel racers and Moto for bikes. Beyond that a higher secondary number suggests a more recent revision or evolution of the chassis (this is not to suggest earlier models are in any way substandard).
Chassis codes also give information to motor position and track width. Our 911 above is a MR-03 N-RM. N identifies that the car comes setup with a ‘narrow’ track (or tread as Kyosho refer to it) whilst RM tells you the motor is positioned behind the rear axle.
For more information on Mini-Z cars (this is but an introduction), check out Mini-Z.com which is an ‘indispensable guide’ to the series, as as well as the official Mini-Z info site which features this great FAQ.
Mini-Z 2WD Sports (MR-03)
The sports car MR-03 models feature a rear-wheel-drive chassis. They are available with a selection of highly-detailed, interchangeable bodies.
The 130-class motors are good for 17km/h (faster than it sounds) and transfer power to the large spur gear via a differential as standard. The top mounted damper works with the t-bar rear suspension setup to control roll and pitching. A coreless steering motor hooked up to precision manufactured components provides accurate, reliable steering.
The four AAA batteries are paired low on either side of the chassis for optimal weight distribution. The entire rear of the model is on a sprung two-point mount that allows the rear end to rotate and flex providing unique handling characteristics.
These RWD models include the KT-531P FHSS Transmitter. It features steering and throttle trim, dual rate adjustment of steering angle. It even has a training mode that limits the performance (one that might leave you a little disappointing had you not read the manual!)
The unit is basic but ergonomic to hold. It has an additional channel dial for controlling the optional lighting kit. If you want to upgrade you need to pick a transmitter that is compatible with the proprietary electronics of the version you have. We’d recommend going for the KT-432PT with its touchscreen control offering maximum adjustment.
In terms of model selection we have many different body styles available for the RWD chassis. The Lava Orange Porsche 911 GT3 pictured (also available in silver), a white Lotus Exige, an Ultimate Silver Nissan GTR R35, the Audi R8 LMS 2015, a nouvelle Blue Pearl Honda NSX 2017, and a racey Petronas Tom’s Lexus SC430.
Mini-Z AWD Drift (MA-020S)
The MA-020S chassis is a 4WD design setup for drifting. This selection of Mini-Z cars has proved the most popular with our customers so far. The pairing of an AWD drift setup with classic Japanese performance bodies always a winner.
These models have their own handling characteristics with excellent weight balance. The hard tyres are suitable for drifting on hard floors but we found they work best on linoleum or very short-pile carpets.
The front and rear differentials are shaft driven from a mid-mounted motor, whilst the batteries are sat to one side of the chassis. A VCS front suspension setup optimises camber angle in unison with the suspension stroke (springs can be swapped out to your preference) which is pretty incredible in a model of this size.
Our beautifully detailed skyline body included LED lights which hook up to the spare port on the speed controller. The other free port is for the optional gyro board to replace the blanking plate installed from the factory.
The included KT-19 transmitter looks like it was styled in the 90’s but is comfortable in use. Batteries are loaded into a magazine that is then inserted into the base, with a release button at the rear. Unlike the KT 531P, it has a hook for a lanyard strap and a USB port.
In terms of model selection we have many different body styles available for the 4WD chassis. The Silver R33 Nissan Skyline GTR pictured (also available in purple), a Gun Metal Grey R32 Nissan Skyline GTR, a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO-X in pearl white (also available in blue), a Subaru WRX STI in blue and a rather questionable Black FD Mazda RX7 ‘4WD’. It’s worth noting that the 4WD Skyline models include an LED kit as standard.
Spares and Hop-ups galore!
The Mini-Z has a huge following thanks to its ‘upgradability‘. You wouldn’t believe the amount of parts you can throw at a chassis so small! Improving your run-time and maintaining a race pace takes more than just selecting larger capacity batteries. We are talking up-rated bearings, ball differential sets and even revised motors.
Racing radial tyres, softer front springs and stiffer rear suspension plates allow you to fine tune the turn in and general handling of your car. Camber knuckle hubs can be swapped in for more aggressive drift setups. External Gyro units can assist when holding a slide and of course LED light kits can be added for posing. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Beyond this, forum members have researched custom ball bearing upgrades and much more.
Reviving the club racing scene
The small scale makes them ideal for indoor circuit racing, a hobby that has been increasing in popularity in Japan. Meets happen weekly in short-pile carpeted halls where racers get serious on a selection of track layouts. The ‘stock’ nature of the base chassis makes for some fantastic ‘spec’ racing, with a chase mode (on certain MR03 models) available providing bursts of speed for overtakes!
Smaller scale / larger pricetag. Why should I buy a Mini-Z model?
Its easy to look past the Mini-Z cars, but you would be doing yourself a disservice. These are premium scale models of excellent build quality, ideal for indoor use. You can of course just enjoy them as a casual RC car but (thanks to the training mode and modifications) they have a gentle learning curve but with enough headroom to get really nerdy with them.
The models are beautifully detailed (we are talking die-cast levels here) compared to larger RC cars of the same price and thus do double duty as desk ornaments/shelf queens. Our pick has to be the Mini-Z RWD Porsche 911 GT3 in Lava Orange featured in this article. It’s a beautifully made car that looks fantastic just sat on our desk, but one that is great to slide around the office on our lunch-break!
Where can I buy Mini-Z cars?
RC Geeks currently stock a whole host of Sports and Drift models with others in the pipeline. You can find them all on our webstore. If you are looking for a particular body/model then please get in touch and we will endeavour to source it for you!
We will be looking at these cars in more depth in the coming months, so don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to keep informed!