57409 Tamiya SW-01 Lunchbox Mini build and review

Not being allowed to go to the track has obviously reduced a lot of my RC action. I have been drawing up some new parts, and restoring a couple of old projects, but my thumbs were not getting enough driving practice. If only there was a Tamiya that I could actually run around the house.. Well say hello to the Tamiya SW-01 Lunchbox Mini.

The SW-01 is still a new 1/24 4WD chassis kit that is that has a lot of very innovative features. I had an exclusive hands on last year but now I have one here and ready to build, so let's take a closer look.

This kit comes with a sprue with plastic bushings, but I decided that I would use bearings, so I got a set from the excellent www.RcBearings.co.uk  

Also when looking at powering the SW-01, you need to remember that the chassis is tiny so a std 2cell lipo will not fit. You have to look for a 7.4v lipo that must be under 66x36x30mm. 

I used a carson 1700 Mah battery that is available in the UK and is easy to source, has lots of capacity and is priced around £15.

The counter gears are mounted into the tiny gearbox half, spinning on tiny 630 bearings.

The spur gears are added next, the gears are made from strong glass re-enforced plastic. The 4WD drive train uses a tandem transmission design where the motor sits in the middle and one spur geart goes clockwise, the other anti-clockwise and they transfer the power equally through the rest of the gears to the front and rear of the car. It's a fantastic piece of engineering and importantly it allows the chassis to be balanced front and rear so that it is able to be really well balanced for its intended stunt action!

The gearbox is now assembled with the Tamiya emblazoned cover. 

Now we come onto the motor, the SW-01 is part of the Tamiya Star Unit series. They all use the 370 size motors, which despite the size do rev quite high. Tamiya also sells hop-up options for these (Sports tuned 54860) (Torque Tuned  54919). 

The motor fits into a mount and you get a push on plastic 16t pinion. There is provision for an 18t 0.6mod pinion, but you would need a brass pipe adapter to fit the std pinion (They adaptors come with the Tamiya option motors).

The motor then mounts into the middle of the chassis and it's time to work on the drivetrain.

The universal shafts are a nice update from those found on the T3-01. The dogbone shaft is now held in place with a grubscrew (not glue). The cross-joints are easy to mount with the included 2mm hex allan key. Very easy to assemble and they move freely.

** TIP** If you want extra durability if running a faster motor, you could still add some glue on the shaft to ensure it doesn't slip.

The driveshafts then fit in the uprights. The SW-01 has the same uprights on each corner, so you attach all 4 at the same time.

The front upper arm is attached to the front two uprights. The SW-01 uses a MacPherson strut suspension system as opposed to the more familiar double wishbones that we see on many other RC cars.

 The shocks are springs held between the upright and the upper arm. The spring does pass through a small suspension ball to ensure it can  move freely, you can easily change the springs if needed, also a dab of thick grease on the top of the shaft can be used to tune the movement. For this build I just left it standard, as the chassis is light and I do not expect it to pogo around.

The differential is the same as the T3-01. The differential outdrives hold 6 internal gears that you just need to grease. The pin ensures that they stay aligned, it is a simple and lightweight diff, but I have used it in the T3-01 for some time and it has been fine.

I dolloped a fair bit of grease into the diff, just to give it a little friction.

The diffs slide into the chassis, they spin nice and freely, especially with the 1280 bearings.
The upper suspension struts have grub screws that are used to restrict  the amount of rotational movement. You lock the rear and allow the front to move left and right, just ensure that you have them the same length on either side otherwise your SW01 will not be balanced.

With diffs attached at each end and the covers placed on, the chassis looks like reptilian robot..

The lower arms move nice and freely, they are retained by the front bumper and rear wheelie bar. The uprights are retained by some small plastic clips that snap on and seem to work well.

The all important wheelie bar is nice and solid, and the plastic wheel is fine, although it just spins on a 5mm plastic shaft so maybe in the future I will tweak that.

The steering linkage mounted to the chassis, the links not only turn the front wheels but also tilts the upper strut so the front of the Truck will lean into the corner.

Time to add the tie-rods, as you can see from this angle you can adjust the front and rear toe by just extending or shortening the rods. The kit settings are very extreme, with around 2 deg front toe-in and 3 deg rear toe out! If this was a race car you would have a disaster on the track, but this is a stunt truck so I will leave these settings for now and see how it handles.

Time to fit the electrics. These are mounted on an upper frame which also houses the battery. A little tip is to drop a small amount of CA glue (Tiny) on the P4 part on the servo saver, making it a little more stiff, providing a better steering response.

The SW-01 is tiny, so you will not be able to use any form of 1/10 or 1/12 batteries. I opted to buy the Carson 1700 Li-ion pack that is easily available in the UK. It provides a good punch and a very long amount of run-time with the standard motor (30+ mins). **TIP **  When looking for a battery, it must not be larger than 66x36x30mm

For the esc I used the TBLE-02S. I am a big fan of this unit, it is very versatile, cheap and lightweight. It is also able to run with 4.8v, so anyone that decides to run the kit with the optional (Tamiya 51610 T3-01 Battery Case) to allow the use of 4xAA batteries will find this works well (Although I would suggest not using a high power servo).

Take your time to arrange the wires. I have not done any of my usual wire shortening here (Yet), I just wanted to see how tidy you can make it look by using all of the included bands and wire holders.

The body mounts are magnetic, these attach to the outside of the shell and hold it on. The magnets are very strong and they do a good job of holding the body in place, however there is still provision to use a bodyclip on each side as well to ensure that the shell always stays in place.

The wheel / tyre combo is familiar to anyone that runs the TT01E trucks as they are the same (Albeit the wheels are in Lunchbox yellow). You will be able to use any M03 size wheels with these tyres if you want to customise the look.

The wheels attach to the 12mm hex with a 10mm screw, not the standard nut that we use on larger 1/10 cars.

To be honest I really enjoyed the build. This chassis is very different to the standard kit, it shares some similarities with the T3-01 trikes (which I also like), but it is very much its own design. If anything it reminds me of the excellent GF-01 chassis cars such as the Heavy Dump Truck, in miniature form.

Despite all of these different links, the chassis feels solid and everything moves freely, the basic dampers seem to also do a good job.

The battery is held in by body pins and you have some lee-way for your lipo length.

The body lexan and pre-painted, convenient, and saves you spending £8 on a tin of paint. If you want to be unique you will either need to strip it with some Carson Paint killer and repaint, or buy the spare clear shell.

So you just need to cut the shell and add the stickers. I was surprised that they were not pre-cut as the shell was pre-painted. However they were easy enough to cut and I took my time applying them to the shell.

The end result looks great!

As you can see it is tiny compared to the original.

Test Drive

As soon as you hit the throttle the Lunchbox Mini launches into life and like it's larger sibling it wants to wheelie straight away. It holds the wheelie very well and I could easily run the whole length of my hallway and kitchen before reducing the throttle and letting the front wheels hit the ground.

As predicted with the initial settings the Mini Lunchbox was very skittish, this made it very easy to navigate around my house, but could make it a little unstable. I reduced the front toe in (2mm space instead of 1mm), and also did the same at the rear (2mm) to reduce the rear toe out.

These changes took a little bit of the skittish behaviour out of the truck but it still remained very manoeuvrable.

The speed with the kit included 370 motor and the Carson lipo is perfectly fine for indoors (Unless you live in a mansion).

When it is on all four wheels it handles better than it's larger counterpart. I was able to drive it around table legs at speed and weave around makeshift tracks with ease once I had settled the front end with the throttle.

With the good range of speed and vicious acceleration of the kit, you can perform a wide array of stunts with the SW-01 Mini Lunchbox. The wheelie is obvious, just push the throttle to the floor and watch it lift the front wheels and ride off into the distance. Although this little truck allows you to do much more.

You can perform a front roll, pick up some speed and then hit the brake hard and watch the Lunchy tumble forward into a roll, dab the throttle as the wheels are about to hit the ground and break the roll.

A backwards roll is also possible, go into reverse, hit the brakes and somersault backwards, accelerate as the front wheels hit the ground and you can sometimes perform a double flip, otherwise wait until the rear wheels hit the deck and use the accelerator to stop the momentum and settle the truck.

The Mini Lunchbox just loves being thrown around. I became more confident every time I pushed this little truck, and I was jumping it off the coffee table and ramping it around the house.

I was also able to run the truck on gravel and grass in the garden, I was quite surprised how well it ran on the cut grass. Obviously this is not an off road truck in anyway, and it would struggle on long grass, but for a short lawn it was totally fine, even with the kit motor.
After a couple of packs of driving the SW-01 I was totally hooked. It's diminutive size and great handling just made me start looking at all sorts of surface as potential tracks or stunt opportunities.

Check out the video.


The Tamiya SW-01 Mini Lunchbox has been superb at feeding my RC craze whilst in this lockdown period. Its great fun to drive around. Whether that is just bashing about, pulling stunts or making little time trials. The Mini Lunchbox just soaks it all up.

As the video proves I have put it through a lot of different stunts, and nothing has broken, I am surprised at how durable it is. I put that down to the lightweight design and that typical Tamiya quality.

There already seems to be a good amount of option parts for this truck and I fully intend to see how I can tune it up going forward. I know this might like sacrilege to some, but I prefer this Mini Version of the Lunchbox to the larger one.
What it loses in size it makes up for in many other ways.

The SW-01 Mini Lunchbox and the Mud Mad are recommended for anyone that wants to scratch that Tamiya itch. They are a fun build, they are innovative, look great and you can drive them indoors and out.

Available from your local Tamiya Stockist.  Contact http://www.hobbyco.net/ for more info.
tamiya 2730798357044619451

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