Mini D-MAX Mini D-MAX

Meet the Mini D-MAX


"CUTE" is not usually a word that’s used to describe the D-MAX X-TERRAIN. But the ute that delivered the match ball for the kick-off at each game of last season’s Isuzu UTE A-League Finals series wasn’t your typical workhorse. For a start, the fact that there was literally nobody behind the wheel did not seem to bother the match officials or players in its path, even as the D-MAX hit full speed. And secondly, the four-wheel-drive in question topped out at around 40km/h and it weighs just 15 kilograms. 

A painstakingly hand-built 1/6th replica of the real thing, it’s one of just four in existence. Each was crafted simultaneously by a team of film industry prop veterans over a marathon 10-week period last year—just in time for the pointy end of Australia’s domestic football season. Luckily I've had some experience in the film industry and so the first thing I did was reach out to some people I knew from my stunt driving career. I'd worked with one of the guys (on Mad Max: Fury Road)—he’d built some of the fibreglass boulders that were used for the really, really tight shots when we were driving in the canyon scenes.

Mini D-MAX

Then came issues. Finicky technical ones. The first issue, was determining the X-TERRAIN’s bones. Underneath the fibreglass body of each Mini D-MAX is an Axial SCX6 Rock Crawler Chassis, a popular choice amongst hobbyists. It was a complex process of 3D scanning, but because remote control cars are generally not to scale—typically running far oversized tyres, for example— the story was only beginning. After a great deal of trial and error, CAD manipulation, and swearing, the final version runs 1/10th scale wheels, a 1/6th chassis, and a fibreglass body that is precisely 6.137:1.

Time Was A Factor

There were three guys who basically worked full-time for nine weeks on this project. At the end, the guys in the workshop basically went four days straight with one hour of sleep to make the deadline. I can tell you that they were absolutely cooked afterwards. In order to deliver the models to the finals in time, my team and I drove the Mini D-MAXs from Burleigh Heads to Melbourne personally. It was a close-run thing. We picked up the cars so fresh from the paint shop that the paint was still soft. And because you can’t take their lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries on a plane, we set the sat-nav to Victoria.

The final result, though, is one that stands up to any inspection—whether you’re a football fan in the nosebleeds, or, well, an extremely detail-obsessed I-Venture Club instructor like myself. I created a 10-page PDF for the guys to explain all the different paint codes on the X-TERRAIN. Contrary to what this might indicate, I'm genuinely lots of fun at parties. For example, there’s a section of the rear step on the ute that’s matte black and other bits that are gloss black, and there’s a dark grey and a light silver, and then there’s the Volcanic Amber. Just to tape up and mask each Mini D-MAX took about six hours of labour per shell!

Overkill, surely? NO! I was determined that it was going to be exactly right! The craziest little detail is, on the sailplane on the back of the D-MAX there are very, very little red decal stickersThe 1/6th scale version has really small and highly detailed decal stickers—they’re about 3mm big. But that detail is there and it's perfect.

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