I have always loved tanks.
There is something about the treaded behemoths that gets my testosterone
running in rivers and before I know it, I am beating my fists against my chest
and grunting like Tim Allen.
So, when the opportunity came along to take a look at the Combat DigiQ series
of radio-controlled tanks, I was jumping up and down in my seat.
For those who were unconscious over the previous holiday season, the micro RC
racer was the latest Japanese toy import (if you don’t know what I’m talking
about, Julie has a great write-up on them here).
Sure, I have a couple, and they are a blast to drive around my cube at work or
annoy the dog, but for those of you wanting a little something more… tank
Yes, you read the above correctly. Konami brings us the Combat DigiQ. These
little guys (which are only slightly larger than their automotive brethren)
actually fire an infrared beam at each other (more later).
There are four models of armor currently available; German Tiger and Panther,
Russian T36, and a good ‘ol Sherman from the US of A (always with the bad waves,
man…). I got my hands on the T36 and Panther (Oddball will have to
wait…alas). The models are stored in their controller, which uses the four AA
batteries to power the transmitter and charge the tanks for action.
When I first saw these little guys on the web, I initially thought they were
cool, but quickly decided that there was no way that something that small could
have working treads…they must have some cheesy wheels on the bottom, right?
The models (which can not really be deemed "scale" representations) are
pretty detailed for less than 2 inches in length. The packaging contains various
tools to adorn the side of your tank, and more than a few enterprising folks out
there have painted their machines to match various camouflage patterns and
Sadly, the turrets atop these toys are for appearances only. While they will
manually traverse, there is only about forty-five degrees of rotation available,
but there are rumors of a new version with working turrets. The commander’s
hatch is made of clear plastic that is used for registering hits and receiving
commands from the transmitter.
Speaking of the transmitter, forget the little box that houses the Bit CharG
cars – this thing is fairly mammoth (I am reminded of the controller that
shipped with the Nintendo 64) and is meant to resemble a pair of field glasses –
there is even an optional neck strap for the device, an item that seems to be
used by the majority of veteran RC’ers.
Currently, the Combat DigiQ is available only as an import model, which is
not really a problem with the cars, as the operation is rather straight-forward.
However, the complexity of operating these tanks without a manual slammed me
into the language barrier.
Thankfully, a translation of the instructions can be found
This manual is a must as all of the control labels are in Japanese – and they
are not something easy to figure out.
Actually, it took me a day just to get one of my mini-behemoths tracking
around on my desk (note, it is imperative that the tank be in the "OFF" position
for charging to be effective…learn from my mistake)…
When charged and assigned to a controller (you can quickly create a link
between any tank and a controller than bears the tank’s crystals) you are off
for some treaded mayhem. The speed of these tanks, while nowhere near that of
the cars, is pretty good – much faster and more responsive than their 1:1 scale
The treads work as intended, with one control operating forward and back, and
the other essentially slowing/stopping one of the treads to turn left or right.
There is an issue raised with the controls. The left/right control does feature
an analogue-like control system (you can turn the tank in small degrees with a
short control pull) but the same feature is not found in the forward/reverse
control. Push the stick forward slightly and the tank is moving at flank speed.
More control is always better in my book.
Depressing either of the trigger buttons fires the main cannon – an operation
that can not be accomplished while the tank is in motion. When the "big dog"
speaks, there is no roar of a 75mm shell thrown at supersonic velocities, but
the tank does back up a few inches from the "recoil."
When a vehicle takes a "hit," a red light blinks underneath the forward
chassis and it spins in circles for a moment, then play is resumed (assuming
that you have life left).
There are three different modes of play; MANEUVER, BATTLE, and EXPERT. In
Maneuver mode, you basically move around and shoot – there are no ammo
limitations and no score is kept. Battle mode allows for a defined game to be
played, and Expert mode requires customization of the manner in which the tank
operates (cannon power/life/reload time/ammo).
Adjustable modes greatly expand the possibilities of these little toys,
allowing veteran mini-tankers a challenge while not alienating the noobs.
Okay, a select few of you are reading this, and thinking "this is nothing
new…" and you would be absolutely correct. Tamiya has offered a similar system
for their 1/14 scale model tanks for some time, but with a price tag that can
easily (with some aftermarket modification) close near to the four-figure mark,
the $64 asked for the micro version seems rather slight.
At the moment, I am resisting the overriding urge to get back into "n" scale
model railroading and build myself the quintessential French village as an area
for my latest obsession.
Down sides??? Sure… First getting charged and mobile can be remarkably
annoying and time-consuming – please download the English instructions. There
have been a few accounts of the Panther’s treads being lost during battle, a
situation which I did encounter from time to time. Lastly, the price can be
somewhat misleading, as it is an absolute necessity that you get two of these
items – if you are tankin’ solo, you are missing three-quarters of the fun…
Price: $64 from
Many play modes
Immediate Maturity Reduction of Operator
No firing when in motion
Forward/Reverse are on/off
Getting one ain’t enough