Cox Sidewinder prototype surfaces

Some might say the Kyosho/Cox/Graupner Beetle is the odd one out in the Kyosho Scorpion series. With it’s unique body, wheels (although re-used on the engine powered Assault and Advance), radio tub cover and body post, it somehow stands out from the more sleek-looking members of the Scorpion family. But wait, there is another one, the Sidewinder. Released by Cox Hobbies (US only) in 1982, at the same time as the original Scorpion. The Sidewinder was meant to compete with the Tamiya Ford F150 Ranger XLT from the year before, and the (then) just recently released AYK 566B Super Trail American Pick Up.

The AYK 566B Super Trail American Pick Up, released in 1982, just before the Cox Sidewinder. The American Pick Up shown in the photo has been modified with rear wheels/tires at the front, instead of the original narrower front wheels/tires it originally came with. Photo source: unknown

I have not been able to get an “official” explanation as to just why it didn’t get a world-wide release like the rest of the Kyosho models, but one can only assume that the popularity of the truck style cars in the US was the reason behind this US exclusive version. I don’t have any real statistics on this, but based on the low numbers of second hand Cox Sidewinders, Tamiya Ford Rangers and AYK American Pick Ups offered up for sale compared to the much higher numbers of Kyosho Scorpions, Tamiya Rough Riders and AYK Baja Bison’s that I have seen, I’m tempted to say those truck models were not that popular, or very big sellers, outside of America. A bold claim maybe, but I’ll say it anyway, the kids of the world wanted baja buggies, but the dads in America wanted trucks! Today that makes these truck models much rarer than the baja buggy versions, and can (in certain cases) fetch quite some money for those having a nice specimen and the will to sell. Eg. used Tamiya Ford Ranger body kits can today sell for more than used, complete Rough Riders.

The Tamiya Ford F150 Ranger XLT from one of the Tamiya RC guide books. Unlike Cox that just used rear wheels at the front of the Sidewinder, and AYK who used the narrow front wheels of the 566B Baja Bison version, Tamiya actually made custom front wheels to match the rears, including space for ball bearings or bushings.

It’s actually difficult to put any price estimates on Cox Sidewinders and AYK American Pick Ups, as there are so few of them showing up for sale. The fact that they are rare should result in higher prices, but the fact that they are unknown to most, seems to push the prices back down again. It’s different with the Tamiya Ford Ranger, as “everyone” knows about that model from the Tamiya guide books from the 80’s. Not many owned (or even saw) AYK or Cox guide books/catalogs back then. This might have been the reason a friend of mine, Mike Mills from Ohio, managed to snatch a mint PROTOTYPE version of the Cox Sidewinder from a popular auction site for less than most Scorpion wrecks go for. It’s very rare that prototypes of a popular chassis like the Scorpion series comes up for sale, and had this been a Scorpion instead of a Sidewinder it would probably have sold for a couple of thousand dollars.

The prototype Cox Sidewinder owned by Mike Mills. All photos of it are used with permission.

So what differs the Sidewinder from the Scorpion?

A production Cox Sidewinder owned by master restorer Tommy Russell. Photo: Tommy Russell

There are just a handful of differences between the Sidewinder and the Scorpion, mostly related to the body and the wheels. You can download the Cox Scorpion/Sidewinder manual from my document repository.

1. The body (obviously).

2. The front body post. The front of the Scorpion body is mounted to a small body post on the radio tub. On the Sidewinder this post is used, like on the Beetle, to secure the radio tub cover. The body is held in place by a tall body post mounted on top of the servo saver assembly, like on the Beetle and the Tomahawk, just taller.

The Sidewinder front body post to the right, with the roll bar to the left. Photo: Mike Mills

3. The roll bar. The straight roll bar is different to the forward slanted Scorpion roll bar. It’s also taller than the Beetle roll bar, and has holes for body clips.

From left to right: Scorpion, Beetle and Sidewinder roll bars. Photo: Mike Mills

4. The radio tub. The radio tub is black, unlike the Scorpion that had a yellow tub at the time of release. Later there were also Scorpions sold with black tubs, both standard Scorpions, Beetles  and Turbo Scorpions.

A Scorpion with the same black tub as found on the Sidewinder.

5. The radio tub cover. The dust cover for the radio tub is identical to the cover for the Beetle.

One of my Kyosho Beetles with the same tub cover as found on the Cox Sidewinder.

6. The wheels. Front and rear wheels are identical, and are chrome plated versions of the Beetle rear wheels. At the front the wheels are mounted directly to the axle without any bushings or bearings.

7. The tires. All four tires are the same “block pattern” tires as on the Beetle.

The Sidewinder wheels. Photo: Mike Mills

That’s it really! Not much different from the Scorpion actually. Some of the solutions seem quite “agricultural” to say the least. The way the body is mounted at the rear looks very much like a temporarily solution, and not something Akira Kogawa would have come up with. The same goes for how the wheels are mounted at the front. No bearings or bushings means the axle hole will wear quite quickly, and does not seem like a solution from the genious Akira Kogawa. Well, I think you know where I’m going here… What I’m trying to say is that Akira Kogawa did not design the Sidewinder beyond the design of the standard Scorpion chassis. He did not design the body, nor did he design the changes from the Scorpion and the solutions for mounting the body and the wheels. These things were done in the US by Cox themselves. But this does not take anything away from the Sidewinder as a very cool, and historical significant, RC car. It’s probably the only vintage Kyosho that isn’t a Kyosho, maybe beside the Pro-X that could be argued to be a Losi, if that makes any sense. Much of the same can be said about the AYK American Pick Up. The Pick Up version seem to be a last minute decision. The AYK uses the same narrow front wheels as the 566B Baja Bison, something that looks kind of odd on a truck, and the rear body mount solution of the AYK also seems like a quick fix. It’s actually rather strange that none over at AYK thought of just using a set of rear wheels/tires at the front, like on the American Pick Up shown further up on this page, as they bolt right on. Of the three truck “contenders”, only the Tamiya Ford Ranger, designed by Tamiya legend Fumito Taki, seems to be a solid and thoroughly planned release.

A US Cox ad for the Scorpion and Sidewinder.

How does the prototype differ from the production Sidewinder?

Well, back to the prototype I mentioned earlier….. How does the prototype differ from the production version Sidewinder? Let’s do this the same way as above.

1. The screws and hardware. On the production version the screws and other hardware are black, but on this prototype they are silver.

Notice the chrome screws and hardware.

2. The spring retainers. The shock spring retainers are aluminum on the prototype, while they are red plastic on the production version.

Notice the aluminum spring retainers.

3. The shock ball ends. The prototype has black plastic ball ends for the shocks, while the production version have red ones. (see pictures above)

4. No black aluminum “sealing” plate for the motor plate/gear cover. The early production versions actually didn’t come with this plate either….. (see pictures above)

5. The drive shafts. The drive shafts on the prototype are actually drive shafts from the Rally Sport series, that used the same gear box, and very similar (but not identical) rear trailing arms.

The Kyosho Rally Sports drive shafts are highlighted. Photo: Mike Mills

6. The wheels. The prototype wheels are white, while the production wheels are chrome plated.

Notice the white wheels.

7. The radio tub. The tub on the prototype are creamy white, while the production tubs are black. The prototype is also missing the “Kyosho” and “Made in Japan” markings found on the production tubs. The material seems to be the same, though.

The underside of the prototype radio tub. Photo: Mike Mills

8. The radio tub cover. The tub cover is clear on the prototype, while black on the production version (see the picture further up on this page). It also has a slightly different form.

Production cover to the left, with the prototype cover to the right. Photo: Mike Mills

9. The box. The box that came with the prototype is much thicker than the production boxes. Also the artwork seems to be glued on to the box, and not printed directly on, like the production boxes were.

10. The decals/stickers. This prototype only came with decals for one side. Actually the body was only painted on one side, indicating that this was originally meant either for photographic use, or as a display car, maybe for a fair/trade show or something like that. The decals are much thicker than the production decals. They are also quite rough, and some of them looks to be hand colored. In fact the decals for the rear bumper look like they’re not fully finished, and only partially colored.

This prototype only came with decals for one side. Photo: Mike Mills

11. The suspension mounting plates. The plates on the prototype are missing the extra holes of the production plates. Those holes should later be used to mount the wider roll bar of the engine powered Kyosho Advance.

The prototype rear suspension mount plates, without the extra holes of the production version. Photo: Mike Mills

12. Various smaller differences. The front body post of the production version has a “star washer” that the body rests on. The prototype does not have that washer. The same body post is pointed at the end, unlike the the production version that has more of a rounded shape. The black plastic rear cage/motor guard on the prototype has a rougher texture than the production cage/guard.

Lastly I would like to thank Mike Mills for giving me insight into both the production version and his prototype Cox Sidewinder. Thanks for patiently answering my many questions and picture requests. I also would send a thanks to Tommy Russell who sent me pictures of his box art production Sidewinder.

This is not a web-shop

This is not a web-shop, and beside what’s listed under the “FOR SALE” tab in the menu, nothing presented here is for sale, so please don’t ask. If I have anything I would like to sell, I’ll post it in the “FOR SALE” section.

About TomEG 54 Articles
I have been into RC cars since the beginning of the 80's, but have really never been much of a racer. I competed in some local races and some "Tamiya Cups", and actually came 6th in the Tamiya Cup Norwegian Nationals in 1987. My main interest has always been building and modifying, and that's where I still am today. Through the years I have been able to build a solid network of contacts around the world, consisting of both former and current members of the industry, as well as quite a few of the former top drivers.

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