The Kyosho Optima 4wd 1/10th scale buggy was first released back in 1985, and now Kyosho has re-released the Kyosho Optima in 2016 to compete with today’s brushless vehicles.
The Kyosho Optima was the pinnacle 4WD for Kyosho back in the days, which makes this re-release extra cool for me.
Kyosho Optima Re-Release Review
Kyosho did make a few modification to this version versus the 1985 buggy classic, by making it possible to mount up some brushless sensor power to it and LiPo batteries as well. You can either run the standard stick pack or the shorty pack.
Now prior to this release, Kyosho did release several other buggies – the Tomahawk, the Beetle, and also the Scorpion – all 2WD vehicles. The Kyosho Optima is the first 4WD that Kyosho has re-released.
The Kyosho Optima 2016 re-release comes as a kit so there are no electronics included, but Kyosho does provide almost everything else. You’ll also need additional things like paint, CA glue, and various tools for making the assembly process easier.
Almost all the fluids were included in this kit, including 7.5wt shock oil which is super thin. I ran the Kyosho Optima with the Team Orion R10.1 Brushless ESC, Hitec 8330 servo, Team Orion 8.5T brushless motor, and an Airtronics receiver.
Pinned soft tires are also provided, but be sure to change them out when running on indoor clay track as these tires don’t run well on that. The stock tires work well on hard pack and great on pavement. Instead, I used a full set of AKA Chain Links wheels to run on an indoor clay track.
You can choose to paint the body or spray it white and use the provided vintage decals, which was a pretty cool touch.
This Kyosho Optima kit does come with the optional upgraded belt drive instead of installing the chain drive that was found in original 1985 version. I chose not to install the chain drive and went with the upgraded belt drive as I’ve heard a lot about the need to adjust the chain quite often, and once you stretch it out you will need to remove the links.
Kyosho provides a huge wide front bumper as well as a narrow bumper, and I would swap between both depending on the amount of protection needed – I would use the wide bumper while bashing and it worked very well.
The kit also comes with 12 e-clips – 1 on each side of the arms and multiple e-clips on the shocks – and some people I know do not like the use of e-clips.
The owner’s manual was a great manual with lots of 1:1 specimens of what things look like on a forward diagram as well as a sideways diagram. There are not a lot of words in the instruction manual, but the manual had very clear directions and I was able to build the kit correctly.
A cool feature of the Kyosho Optima and a lot of the other Kyosho vintage vehicles is the little driver figure. You do have to paint the figure and it comes with stickers that you can add on. The driver figure also hides the ESC and the receiver.
The Kyosho Optima jumps decently, although it can be a little heavy in the nose. There is a sharp damping curve as the front shocks are light on damping and laid down at an extreme angle, but nonetheless, this buggy did a decent job when hitting jumps.
The Optima also responds quickly to trigger inputs in the air since it does not use a center diff.
Overall, if you are a basher or a first time user, you will quickly get used to how the Kyosho Optima jumps.
Some slight changes to the shock oil, front pistons, and front shock angle could improve the handling on rough surfaces. The Kyosho Optima tend to swap around and the front suspension blew through its travel quite quickly.
Kyosho did a really good job with the shocks. The dampening of the 7.5wt oil and the spring weight enabled the Kyosho Optima to perform well in corners. Many other modern buggies corner and turn better than the Kyosho Optima, but this buggy lets you experience the true old school ride that vintage nuts are after.
The Kyosho Optima was surprisingly very durable and did not break despite performing some high jumps and getting into several crashes. Cars were really fragile back then, especially when it comes to 4WD vehicles. The Kyosho Optima definitely surprised me with how durable it now is.
Despite being in the market for over 30 years, most local hobby shops don’t have a large selection of Optima parts. Hence if you end up breaking a part, it would take a while to get it delivered to you.
Overall, the Kyosho Optima 2016 Re-Release was a great building, driving, and owner experience. It brought back the nostalgia of the old 80s cars, and many at the track were impressed with it.
While the Kyosho Optima won’t replace your latest and fastest 3-gear buggy, it does have a great performance and lets you have fun with the hobby while experiencing the history of the hobby.