It’s very easy to get started with Mini-Z, although the options can be confusing, if not overwhelming at first. One of the first points of confusion is the different chassis types. In the realm of two-wheel drive (2WD), there is the MR-01, which is the original Mini-Z, the MR-02, which was the first evolution, and the MR-03, which is Kyosho’s latest and greatest. There’s also the MR-015 which incorporates many of the features of the MR-02 with the narrow battery configuration of the MR-01 in order to accommodate narrow bodies. There are also the MA-010 and MA-015 all-wheel drive (AWD) chassis, as well as Overland street and trucks, Mini-Z Monster trucks, and even boats and motorcycles. This guide focuses on the most relevant chassis for beginners: the MR-02 and MR-03.
Unlike other areas of technology, the latest evolution of the Mini-Z does not make its predecessor obsolete. While the MR-03 is the most common choice at the highest levels of racing, the MR-02 is still a viable option for most racers, which is why it remains in production in the form of the MR-02EX. The MR-02EX is a great choice for beginners because it includes everything you need except batteries: chassis, body, and 2.4GHz transmitter. Add two sets of 4 AAA batteries (or preferably more, if budget allows, so you can charge and race at the same) and a quality charger such as the Maha MH-C9000, and you are ready to race!
If budget is less of a concern, and you want to get on the fast track to top-level racing, you may wish to opt for the MR-03. Being a more pro-level chassis, however, there are a lot more concepts that you must be familiar with when putting together an MR-03 package. As if chassis selection were not confusing enough, the MR-03 requires selection of motor mount configuration. The two most prevalent choices are MM (mid-mount) and RM (rear-mount). Since this article is geared towards beginners, we will focus on the longer wheelbase stability of the MM.
The first piece of the puzzle is the MR-03W MM RC Chassis Set. This comprises all of the “car” portion with the exception of a body. Various special edition RC Chassis Sets are available, but for beginners, this is the current base option. The next piece is the body, most commonly referred to by enthusiasts as an “AutoScale.” Since we are targeting the MM chassis, it is critical that the body you select be of the MR-03W-MM type. The “MR-03″ and “-MM” portions of that identifier should now be clear, but what is that “W” about? Just to really make things tricky, there are both “Narrow” (N) and “Wide” (W) body types. This is due to the legacy of the series whereby the release of the MR-02 chassis, with its 4-on-the-floor low center of gravity battery configuration required a wider body than that found on the original MR-01. The MR-03 was designed to accommodate both types, but that is a topic for a different How-To!
With chassis and body selections made, the last piece in the MR-03 trifecta is the transmitter, sometimes referred to as a “controller” due to the similarity in function with e.g. video game controllers. All MR-03s use 2.4GHz technology (as opposed to the older 27MHz AM frequency used with the MR-01 and some MR-02s), which means transmitter choice is limited. Whereas 27MHz transmitters were for the most part interchangeable between manufacturers, Mini-Zs use a proprietary 2.4GHz technology which is exclusive to KO Propo. This means that only Kyosho Mini-Z transmitters (which use the KO Propo technology) and KO’s own Mini-Z transmitters can be used. Module Adapters exist for a few other transmitters, but Spektrum and other 2.4GHz technologies are not compatible. This simplifies choice down to the entry-level KT-18, the more advanced EX-5, or if budget and time to learn what all the settings do are no option, a top-shelf transmitter like the EX-1 or EX-10.
There are plenty of upgrade options for the Mini-Z, but it is best to get a feel for the car in stock form before making any changes. It’s worth picking up a few spare sets of Kyosho 30° slick front Mini-Z tires and 20° rear slicks, but other than that, just add 4 AAAs for the KT-18 transmitter or 8 AAs for the KOs to the MR-02EX battery recommendations above and you are ready to race!