Traxxas Finally Gets It’s Scale On…

Traxxas TRX-4 D110 1/10th 4WD Electric Scale & Trail Crawler

Words & Images: Peter Gray, Mike Worthington & Traxxas Archive

Manufacturer: Traxxas USA

UK Distributor: Logic RC UK RRP: £499.99

Specs

Ground Clearance: 80mm

Track Width: 249mm

Wheelbase: 324mm

Length: 586mm

Height: 291mm

Traxxas gave the RC car industry many firsts. The first true Ready to Run Hobby Grade RC vehicles. No building, no fuss, just add a charged battery and go run them. Then there’s the sponsorship and links for many years with Monster Jam, (I even worked at a couple of events doing the warm up with E-Revo’s and E-Maxx Monster trucks!). The iconic Grave Digger, Monster Mutt to name but two of the many licenced MJ models they released over the years.

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THe original Ken Block Replica…a Traxxas first

Then there was the original, (pre HPI) Ken Block Limited Edition Gymkhana Rally car. We all wanted one. We all bought one. Hell, I even interviewed him and shot him for a cover of RRCi back in the day. Sometimes we forget just how influential and innovative Traxxas products are. But that’s not all. They also gave us the ultimate in bashing vehicle, that was the catalyst for the global Short Course revolution, the Slash. Based on the 2 and 4WD vehicles driven by brothers Mike and Mark Jenkins in the real race series across the US, the Slash quickly became the must have bashing tool for any self-respecting RC fan.

I could go on and mention the very innovative Summit, the 103 mph X-01, the HUUUGE X-Maxx, the amazing Spartan Speedboat and many other products that have defined the company, but I don’t need to. You get my gist. The real point of this is to say that, for once, Traxxas were well behind the curve on a certain trend in RC, namely Scale and Trail Crawling.

They sat back, watched the industry, and waiting until the time was right and then “BOOM” the internet was suddenly full of images of the TRX-4, pictures leaked and speculation rife. Many of the claims were inaccurate. “It’s a 1/8th, it looks huge”, “It’s a Summit with shorter arms and a Land Rover body”, “Traxxas are too late onto the market…” yada, yada, yada.

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You have to admit, they got the look and ‘stance’ of the D110 just right…

But they had my interest straight away. Traxxas are one of those brands that hold a special place in my heart. I loved running my 2WD and 4WD Slashes, and have owned many, many Traxxas vehicles over the years. In fact I’m hard pressed to think of one that I’ve not had! The rest of the spec was finally leaked and then there was an official launch, with slick videos, a new section on their website, and an impressive list of features did it boast: –

Deep Breath…

Portal, T lock equipped axles, offering much better clearance under the axles for the diffs pumpkins. Remote locking and unlocking diffs, that could be run as both open, both locked or just front locked only.

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Remote Locking or Unlocking front and rear diffs…The Traxxas T-Lock system worked flawlessly in testing
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By far my favourite feature of the whole design. Portal Axles that again just work. They offer unparalleled under axle clearance.

A two-speed transmission, with a 21T reverse rotation motor, meaning the brushes won’t destroy themselves as the motor itself is facing forwards, not backwards as with most other scale rigs on the market.

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The two speed offers additional wheel speed when required. on 3S that can mean wheelies…NOTE: reverse direction motor alleviated the issue of damaged brushes with the forward motor position.
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The layout and natural Weight Bias is logical and well thought out. A forward mounted battery option, or weighted front wheels would just take it from a 8.5/9 to a 10 instantly.

All the electrics are also 3S compatible as standard, so wheel speed isn’t going to be an issue. Cruise control allowing you to set a speed for long sections of trail running. Shocks are 90mm and designed to be smooth and leak free in use.

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The shocks are smooth and well sealed, Just look at the depth of those seals and piston.

The whole rig was waterproof allowing you to cross streams and run in mud and wet conditions. Under arches for the Lexan (yes Lexan) “Fully Licenced” Land Rover Defender D110 bodyshell. A protective Exo-cage and roof rack.

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Proportionally its near perfect…Just those tinted windows niggle us. We want an interior.

Sticky deep treaded S1 soft compound tyres, with proper tuned inserts. Steel Hexes. 45 degrees of steering deflection and CVD’s as standard, a high torque, metal geared chassis mounted steering servo. A front weight bias and front mounted, motor position. Optimised main pack location and an easy to use reversible battery strap allowing 2 or 3S pack swaps without any hassle at all.

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The now industry benchmark 45 degree steering deflection is included as standard

Rock sliders, solid bumpers with the ability to add a real winch in place of the faux one supplied with the RTR. A very solid C-Section Steel ladder chassis and well-designed cross braces. The ESC is also programmable for Trail or Crawling modes with a “mild” or “always on full” drag brake setting an option. Lastly there’s the ability to fit LED lights and a light bar in the future. Holes are already there for this and mounting points for the LED’s.

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So far weve only run it with the Traxxas D110 shell on. but other body post options are in the box so you could in theory put any LWB shell straight on.

What It Didn’t Have Are 2 things

Windows (well it did but they were tinted), so no interior or the ability for the end user to fit one. That’s a big thing to the established scale community, but will not deter the “yet to get the bug” crowd out there. It’s an odd thing to omit, so much has gone into getting a Licenced D110, why not offer tinted window stickers that could be removed to reveal clear underneath, and the ability to retro-fit an interior (Dear Traxxas, if you read this, please amend!)

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Rear of the Year? Judging by reports of the first two production runs almost selling out on pre-order already…we think so!

True beadlocks wheels were absent too. The stock wheels and tyres are glued. I really don’t get this as there’s so much work gone into everything else, and the first thing most Scale rigs or crawlers have done to them is wheel weighting and improvements in weight bias. It’s a cheap and easy mod that can transform the way a rig ascends an obstacle or drives up a steep incline.

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The wheels look scale. The tyres work epic…but why oh why glue them? Beadlocks would have added that additional tuning aid that weighting wheels brings.

Again, why, oh why not let the end used decide this aspect of the rig. Offer beadlocks and show in the manual what weight biasing will do to the way the rig handles. More on this later…we have experimented and the findings are as we suspected.

Enough Waffle, Time 2 Test The TRX-4!

Traxxas and Logic RC kindly sent me one of the first rigs to hit UK shores and we did a live unveiling of it at the recent UK Recon G6. Brian Parker hadn’t even seen one up until this point and the general consensus of opinion was very, very positive. But as we had three days of event to run, and over 300 drivers in attendance, it was hidden back at my accommodation and I waited to run it properly the following week. I also enlisted the help of an impartial test driver, Mike Worthington, who’s been a part of the Scale and Crawling scene a while, and lives near me in Solihull. I wanted more than one opinion, and then could offer you the reader a slightly different perspective on the rig in use.

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The wheel wells/under arches are sublime. They add another level of detail sadly missing in many rigs on the market today. 10 out of 10 on this aspect Traxxas.

Over to Mike (and his son Maximus!)

Maximus & I…

A few of you may know me but the majority will not, you may have seen my son Maximus and I on Instagram or some other social media platform, or we may be completely new names to you, either way I will take just a moment to let you know who we are.

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Maximus…or “Little Scaler Dude” as RCCZ calls him! (PS: we love the Slimer jumper too!)

I have been enjoying the RC hobby for many years, my first RC car was a Tamiya Blitzer Beetle but my first memory of RC was chasing my Dad’s Tandy Landcruiser around the garden in the 80s as a child, my first scale crawler? I got back into the hobby while I was at college, discovering the online community and eBay, meaning I could get the Lunch boxes and Monster Beetles that I had wanted as a child. My Tamiya collecting allowed me to amass quite a few RC cars which in turn have been ‘traded’ into my current fleet of mainly scale crawlers and off-road bashers.

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Thats the look of a happy RCCZ guest reviewer/driver…(Well two, or three opinions are better than one!)

Amongst my collection I have had a few Traxxas vehicles and their out of the box readiness to be run has always been appealing to me, don’t get me wrong I love building rigs and I have built a fair few, but occasionally it is nice to open a box, charge a battery and hit the trails, so when I heard about Traxxas releasing a scale vehicle, I was keen to know more.

This article covers my expectations of the truck vs the reality of seeing it and running it for the first time with my son. I will touch on some of the features and things that are ‘different’ from other trucks currently available and talk about potential flaws or merits of the TRX-4.

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The wait was worth it, the real rig lived up to nearly all the hype!

Waiting 4 The TRX

When Traxxas announced they were releasing a scale off-roader, I instantly had some ideas as to what I wanted it to be, mainly based on my experience of owning a summit and seeing people on line converting them to scale-ish looking rigs, I hoped Traxxas had taken note and utilised some of the features from the big monster that the summit is, and well I wasn’t disappointed, they have lifted the remote locking Diff’s and the hi/low gear selector, (which Traxxas featured on the first EMaxx trucks years ago) and put them in the TRX-4 but they had also added some new features like the portal axles and the ‘cruise control’ function which I was keen to learn more about.

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Regardless of surface the tyres and lockable transmission just generated grip and traction.

Some early reports I read online were that the vehicle was larger than you would expect, which is common with Traxxas vehicles, their 1/10 vehicles are often closer to 1/8 like the E- Revo and the Summit, but this isn’t the case with TRX-4 it’s not too different in size to my Gelande2 and SCX10s with a 324mm wheelbase, it sits slightly higher (291.6mm) but that’s partly down to the officially licensed Land Rover Defender 110 body shell with its roof rack and off-road styling.

Aside from the size it’s a great looking rig, the scale details are there with the functional spare wheel on the back, the gas can and jack, the exterior roll cage, the fender flares, the replica winch (which can be replaced with a functioning one, I have seen RC4WD test fitting their range already online) and the snorkel which all add to the aggressive modified look of the vehicle, the blacked out windows don’t offend me personally but I’m sure people will cut them out to install some scale interior.

Turning the truck over, the first thing I noticed was the floor pans and wheel wells which provide a good scale appearance, but also will stop some of the muck and debris from entering the model.

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Look how well the underside is protected. The skid and side mouldings helping to work in conjunction with the wheel wells to stop dirt and debris getting inside the cab area

The other thing I was drawn to were the portal axles, Traxxas’ method of creating more ground clearance but also reducing torque twist by using the portals to put the gear reduction right at the wheels. The portal axles also improve the geometry of the chassis by allowing the links and drive shafts to run almost parallel with the centre gearbox, reducing strain on the drive shafts and links, the steering links are also higher as a result reducing the chance of getting caught up when driving off-road.

For the test run we were using a Traxxas 5000mah 3s 11.1v iD Lipo battery which fit the chassis perfectly, as you would expect, the battery holder bar can be rotated to hold either a 23mm or a 26mm battery, I was using the 26mm option, also worth noting there is a recess in the battery compartment which allows for the use of smaller battery packs which is common in the scale world, a big thumbs up for me in this department is the fact that the battery bar is attached on a hinge and there are no body clips used.

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Yes its waterproof, very waterproof!

The ESC is an updated version of their XL5 model, it’s now called the Trail-tuned XL-5 HV which is now capable of running up to a 3s lipo, it’s still waterproof but has the added benefit of new driver profiles such as Trail Mode, to allow for smoother slow speed driving offering a drag brake in neutral, whereas Crawl mode replaces neutral with instant reverse but also offers 100% hill holding brake, which will be useful on technical courses.

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High Torque, Metal Geared, Digital and Waterproof…The servo works very well in most situations, but as ever we felt a little more torque (say 20kg total) would take it from good, to great.

The top of the chassis also provides visibility of the micro servos used for the locking Diff’s and hi/low transmission control, much the same as the Summit, but one thing different here is the use of cables as opposed to rigid metal arms. The cables allow for smoother movement and more articulation of the chassis. The other noticeable change on the chassis is the grey standard sized servo for the steering, the 2075X is mounted high between the front shock towers and appears to be an impressive component, with full metal gears, this digital servo is also fully waterproof.

Running, Climbing & Crawling

By now my son is more than ready to try the truck out, so we powered it up and put the shell back on ready to test it on the rocks at the highest point in Warwickshire. Almost immediately you notice the speed of this crawler, in hi gear it will exceed 10mph (according to vids on YouTube) thanks to the Titan 550 21t brushed motor, it reminded me of the first time I ran a Tamiya CC01 chassis with the stock 27t motor installed. Switching to low gear provides a more scale speed for the rig which I used along with both diff’s locked to negotiate the out crops of rock we were crawling over and It did well, the suspension was just soft enough to allow the tyres to maintain contact with rocks, occasionally as a result of the lightness of the wheels and axles I had to wait for the vehicle to settle before applying the throttle.

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Side hilling was affected by the heavy exo-cage and higher than expected C of G. Weighted wheels counteracted this perfectly in later testing.

The 1.9 Traxxas Canyon Trail tyres also performed well both on the rock surface, the mud and in the loose dirt we were driving on, check the video out to see them in action! The only thing I would prefer here would be bead lock wheels, allowing the option to add some much-needed weight to the wheels, without boiling or peeling the tyres off the stock rims. I am sure some people will swap out the wheels and tyres for this reason, as the only thing which created a problem and prevented me from not keeping up with the modified Vaterra Ascender and modified Axial SCX10 that were being run alongside the TRX-4 during the test, was its high centre of gravity.

One feature I didn’t test was the ‘cruise control’ option, partly because I like to maintain control of the throttle of my vehicle, but also because I feel that Traxxas are relabelling something that almost all RC vehicles have the ability to do already, so they can’t claim it’s a new feature. The cruise control is simply adjusting the trim on the throttle on the transmitter, to trick the esc into driving forward without you touching the trigger. I used to do this on my old Tamiya to help me get action shots.

I only put a single battery pack through the truck so didn’t put the chassis to the test with regards to strength and durability, but that being said, I did run it well over 1.5 hours and it feels like a well put together truck with quality parts. It has adjustable, oil filled, coil-over aluminium GTS shocks which were created specifically for the TRX-4, the steel links are large diameter and look like they will take a lot of abuse. The rigid steel ladder style frame offers multiple mounting points for the rear shock tower, allowing the option to change the wheelbase to accommodate for different bodyshells, you can choose 300mm, 312mm, 324mm or 336mm, the rock rails are also adjustable to accommodate different width bodyshells, the bumpers are also adjustable.

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Just to show the comparison against a D90 Hard body build…the size of the D110 is perfect, but lack of interior or options to add one lets it down on the true scale front.

Traxxas advertise the truck as brushless ready, which personally gives me confidence in the drivetrain, as I like brushed motors in my crawlers, my brushless rigs are for bashing and racing, but knowing that Traxxas have used steel front CVDs, hardened steel rear axles and steel gears everywhere else, means that if I was to go down the brushless route, it would take the strain that brushless set ups put on a gear box and drivetrain with ease.

In Conclusion

So how does the TRX-4 compare to my expectations? I would say it has surpassed them, it’s not perfect, but neither am I and the blacked out windows and high centre of gravity are not enough to put me off wanting to own the truck, the overall package provides a go anywhere truck which will allow people who are not into crawling to experience the slower, technical adventure that crawling adds to the hobby, but when they have had enough of balancing on rocks like a goat, they can open the diff’s and put the truck in high gear and do some donuts and jumps without concern, as the rig is ‘Traxxas tough’.

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Its a keeper…so more experimentation is imminent, as is a body swap and interior.

My son Maximus enjoyed driving the truck just as much as I did and we will add one to our fleet in the very near future.  Ask me again in a year to find out how the truck has lasted in the hands of a five-year-old but for now, I believe Traxxas have got this spot on, a great truck, at a fair price which will keep up with the best of them on the trail.

The RRCZ video from that day:

Final Words From Mr Gray

A huge thanks to Mike for his help and his opinions on the rig, and just to conclude this review here’s my findings having myself now run 5 full packs through it. First, it’s definitely a keeper! In 100% stock form it runs trails perfectly in high or low range and the ability to switch between the two on the fly is liberating. It does wheelies and can even jump pretty well if the terrain allows (on both 2 and 3S!), especially if you run on a high grip surface. I fell short of attempting a backflip, but was very, very tempted!

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One of the most capable RTR rigs we have ever run and reviewed. Its minor niggles aside, the Traxxas fulfills most of the Scale or Trail needs any end user would have.

If crawling on rocks or up steep inclines, drop offs or side hilling over say 40 degrees, the heavy Exo-cage and body does come into play. The C of G isn’t perfect for the kind of things we attempt with many of our rigs. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would say that on many of the official video’s they are running weighted wheels, but that said it did remarkably well in stock form all considered. The trick is to drive it like you would a hard-bodied rig. Let the suspension settle and the weight relax and then drive through the odd floating wheel or almost-but-not-quite tipping over incident. If you drive it like an Axial SCX-10, you will tip the rig over on some obstacles. But take your time and learn its abilities and it will reward you by actually achieving lines that at first seem pretty much impossible.

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The optional light bar and lighting kit are our next purchase…night runs R us!

Remember when testing this rig initially we ran an Axial SCX-10 and a Vaterra Ascender at the same time, in a game of cat n mouse and follow the leader. It made most of the climbs and crawls but the C of G did hamper its abilities. I added a set of weighed beadlocks and the rigs abilities improved no end. It’s the one must do modification and tuning aid that takes this rig from very competent to extremely proficient!

Benchmark Set

Compared to the SCX10.2 and the Vaterra ascender its locking and unlocking diffs are the game, set and match winner. There are times that you need to lock the diffs and climb, and others when you need a tight turn. Flicking between the two states really does make a huge difference. I was a massive sceptic at first, it’s not like using a dig where you physically lock a whole axle and drive the other to pivot around the point the locked axle sits, dragging the rear of the rig like a dog does its back end when you have guests round for tea!!! No, it’s far more sophisticated than that. Leaving the front axle locked and the rear open allowed me to move around certain rocks and turn sharply on climbs right when I needed to. Experimentation is the key here and the more wheel time you get, the better you and the rig become at attempting things.

Traxxas have created a new benchmark in this genre of product. The diffs and driveline features aside, my favourite feature is the Portal Axles. They just make climbing over certain rocks and obstacles a breeze. If I could add any feature to all of my other current rigs and builds it would be this. Traxxas we salute you. The price may seem expensive to some, especially as you also have to provide the main pack and charger yourself. But for a fully loaded vehicle, packed with cool features, a multi-channel 2.4GHZ TQi remote, the future ability to add telemetry and on the fly paremeter adjustment and different driving profiles via a Bluetooth 6511 Wireless add on module and a smartphone app, it’s very good value for money. In fact, probably cheaper than many builds out there already if you factor in the price of a kit and all the components. I’m looking onto alternative bodies for this wheelbase as I write this. I’ve also added weighted beadlocks permanently and will be removing the tyres from the wheels with Acetone to re-use them and keep the intended look.

Now all the team responsible for this product at Traxxas HQ form a tight circle, pat each other on the back hard, and then go get me a shell with clear windows…STAT!

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Real and RC…the Traxxas looks huge against our RCCZ Suzuki Jimny…

Likes

· Portal Axles & Ground Clearance

· Remote locking diffs & 2-speed

· Licenced Land Rover Shell

· Tyres Tread & Compound

· Waterproof Electric’s

· Weight Bias of Motor

· Brushless Ready

· Winch Ready

Dislikes

· Tinted Windows Negate Adding Interior

· Not Beadlock Wheels

· High C of G In Stock Form

Some huge thanks goes to Traxxas USA, Logic RC UK and Mike Worthington & Maximus for their help with this review…

Available in the US from: Traxxas USA

Available in the UK from: Logic RC

Really Tiny Trucks…Simply Rock!

Pro-Line Ambush 1/25th 4WD RTR Electric Mini Scale/Trail/Crawler

Words & Images Daniel Siegl & ProLine

Available Globally: HERE  Available in the UK: HERE

Length: 198mm

Width: 95mm

Wheelbase: 115mm

Weight: 308g

I always fancied a smaller true Scale/Trail/Crawler rig. But until very recently there was only really one option; the Losi Trekker. Trouble is, that rig was never quite my thing, and it was very much a case of form over function. It looked great but out where it mattered it just didn’t cut the mustard. Also, its basic spec left a little to be desired. The NIMH batteries for example, the weak steering servo and relatively high C of G all combined to make the actual driving experience itself a little unimpressive.

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About the same size as a Losi…but that’s where the similarity ends!

This aside, more recently ProLine hit the RC scene with its Ambush and RC4WD its 1/18th D90…The latter will be covered in a future article from Peter Gray, the former, I just had to get my hands on and review.

Just Wow…

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Leaf Springs For The Win…Literally!

Was my first reaction, finally someone had thought a rig of this small scale through properly. But are they the same axles as the Losi or different? Giving it a closer inspection I can confirm, it is a completely different car – the similarities really only relate only to the size and the fact that they both have an integrated Speed Controller and 2.4GHz Receiver unit – that’s it.

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Compact and well thought out electrics placement and weight bias

You’ve probably already read all about the technical details of the rig – So, I won’t bore you with too much of that. This review will be a charge it and run it, hands on affair. After all isn’t that what’s important with a RTR product? Yes many of us eventually modify a RTR vehicle in some way to improve its performance, and also aesthetically to personalize it’s look.

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The tiny motor had lots of well needed Torque!

Actually, I will be totally honest here, we had our review sample car back in November, but our friend Brian Parker found so very entertaining and decided to give it a shakedown of his own! That’s why we ended up getting it just after Christmas, used and without any packaging!

2 Hardcore (But Tiny) Testers…

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Perfect for little (and big) kids anywhere in the World!

I wanted to just look at the rig for a while, its that cute, then go run it myself. But, my 2 girls, one 3.5 and the other 5.5 discovered it for themselves and started the hands on testing for me. The Ambush actually did a great job in this very tough role. After a full pack of running there was nothing broken. I was amazed, as its is finally an RC vehicle that my 2 were self-motivated to play with without prompting. And they keep asking to have more time with it!

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The rig really does perform well above its obvious size limitations

We tested the car in the last 2 months extensively at a variety of locations:

  • Indoor at Lego Course

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Forget Ed Shearan’s Lego House…we built a Lego Test Trail
  • On ice on the pond in front of the house

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Slippy meets Grippy…all together now:- “Ice, Ice Baby!”
  • And finally when the weather allowed, to drive it in Spillern

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Anything a 1/10th can do…you can attempt with the Ambush!

I have to say, of all the rigs that are in this size, so far the Ambush is clearly the most fun! So much fun in fact that that I tended to push it very hard and attempt things I probably shouldn’t with such a tiny rig, and yes as a consequence a lot of the time it ended up falling over. But when it made almost impossible looking lines it gave you such a feeling of achievement.

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The added RECON G6 decals help explain whos had our sample and what its been up to!

The leaf springs suspension work very neat, and like all the other Micro rigs out there, the tiny motors performance of course is rather limited. But that has a huge advantage when a child or newbie is driving it, since it is less can be broken!

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Considering its size the attention to detail is stunning…

At first glance the electrics seem very unexciting. But having run the rig lots now, my opinion is very positive. I think that even my 3.5 year old could handle the modern and simple USB charger. But fast its not…You need some patience when re-peaking the pack.

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Not fast, but safe…USB charging!

Verdict:

The first true small “Scaler” offering the ability to be able to drive it like its a much bigger rig.

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Against the included standard sized Tx it looks tiny…because it is!

It’s suitable for both children as well as experienced RC drivers. The included driver model looks right just needs a bit more paint and detail adding to give it more depth.

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1/10th next to 1/24th….Little n Large

It punches well above its weight and size and offers hope that this size of vehicle, packing much of the performance of its 1/10th counterparts could grow and grow.

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So much scope and so well made…huge thumbs up from me and RCCZ for the ProLine Ambush

With RC4WD and ProLine leading the way, lets hope more manufacturers follow suit., and a dedicated Micro class grows from it…check out our running video below!

Huge shout out to ProLine and the global RECON G6 family

See you out on the trails, or at a G6

Daniel

Punching Well Above It’s Weight!

FTX Outback Tundra 1/10th RTR Scale Crawler/Trail Rig

Words and Images: Matt & Madison Ellis

UK RRP: £154.99 Available In UK: HERE Distributor: CML Distribution

Specs

  • Length: 416mm
  • Width: 200mm
  • Height: 230mm
  • Wheelbase: 250mm
  • Weight: 1350g
  • Gear Ratio: 1:88
  • Tyre Diameter: 105mm
  • Wheel Diameter: 54mm
  • Ground Clearance: 76mm

The term “Scale” can often be confused with the word “Expensive”. While it is true that most RTR offerings in the Scale/Crawler/Trail world are usually in the £350-£400 price bracket, a few companies have got wise to the growth in interest in this genre of RC vehicle and have released sub £200 RTR rigs that work just fine out of the box, but have the potential to be taken to another level of realism and performance, as and when the mood takes them (or cash resources allow). People often forget to just drive a new rig and enjoy it for what it is. They dive in and modify the heck outta them before actually learning how they handle straight from the box.

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Under £160 all in? Unheard of in Scale circles for a RTR…

Good Call CML

When I first spotted the FTX Outback press release and the prices, I had it in mind that this rig would be perfect to get my 8 year old daughter in to the hobby. So when the opportunity came my way from RCCZ to get my hands on one to review I jumped at the chance. With all that in mind though how do you fairly review an entry level product without comparing it to the more expensive rigs myself and the rest of the RCCZ crew often run. So rather than me review the Outback with all my old head preconceptions, I handed it to my daughter Madison for her to review as her first true Hobby Grade RC car. That’s a pretty big moment in anyone’s life…I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride with us!

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The traditional format of Scale Rig has been followed…from a Ladder Chassis to 4-link suspension

Before I hand over to Madison I don’t want you to think for one minute that this rig is some cheap entry level tat, the spec sheet would give a lot of more expensive RTR’s a run for their money. The Outback is Waterproof out the box and comes with aluminium suspension links and steering hubs as standard, the Outback also benefits from a 3 gear high torque transmission, locked front and rear axles and oil filled shock absorbers. Its also includes a very sturdy bumper (good enough to mount a winch without modification or strengthening and something I really was not expecting for this price; LED lights front and back (My double the price point Axial rig didn’t even come with them).

Unboxed N Dissected By A Discerning Consumer!

So the Outback has an impressive spec sheet but the proof for this little rig would be how it drives. So I put it in the hands of Madison here is what she had to say about the Outback I will give you the old head verdict after you have viewed the Outback through the eyes of a kid who hasn’t been worn down by bad RC purchases and told what she should N shouldn’t like…This is verbatim and in eight year old speak, so bear with her!

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The rig definitely punches above its weight in use…

“My name is Madison and the Outback is my first ever RC car. The first thing I liked about it was its soft tyres and the colour, its Blue and I really like the colour Blue! After my Daddy charged the battery we went to the local park because there are lots of hills there.

At first I thought it was a little bit fast but when I got used to it I found it really nice to drive. We got to drive through mud and puddles which was fun, we got to drive over an old tree which had fallen down. My Outback was able to follow my dad’s truck everywhere his could, even up this one really big hill (but daddy’s car got up first as it can go faster!)”

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Anything Dad can do, I can do just as well!

“I really liked the Outback because daddy and I got to go the park and have lots of fun together. The thing is, when he goes Drifting, the cars are too fast and hard to steer and I can’t really have a go. I really like driving the Outback we are charging the battery again ready for the weekend…”

That’s What Madison Thought…Now My Go!

Obviously when we were at the local park she also decided that she wanted to go and have a play on the swings (she’s 8 after all!) which meant dad could eventually have a turn with the new rig. And I have to say I was really impressed the Outback. For its price it’s a very capable little rig, even if at first you may think its not built as sturdily as others in the class…that’s just misguided preconceptions.

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The included 2.4GHz radio serves its purpose well and is both ergonomic and light in the hand

OK, so the throttle is a little punchy compared to other Crawler ESC I’ve used, but once you get used to the handset you have pretty good control over the power delivery. It is a little smaller than the likes of the SCX10, but its size doesn’t hold it back and once you get how it feels to drive,  it can go pretty much anywhere my SCX10 does.

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That tiny 370 can motor does struggle at extremes of terrain, but the rigs light so there’s a balance in the Force

Granted, some things can be a little more of a challenge as its only got a 370 can motor fitted, but I enjoyed that, it’s rather dull being able to get over everything with no effort. The Outback makes you plan your route a little more, which I liked. It’s back to basics RC and that’s what the industry needs more of at the moment.

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With true 4-link, double-triangulated suspension and a bumper sturdy enough to mount a winch…you simply can’t go wrong!

Scaling The Reservoir

We took the Outback out for a second run at Edgbaston reservoir. I really wanted us to give it some abuse this time, a torture test if you will, and truly test the limits of the outback. Madison went first and put the rig through its paces with ever growing confidence in both her abilities to drive it, and what it was actually capable of.

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This is what Trail Running and Scale Crawling is all about…the big and great outdoors!

Taking it through streams and over rocky waterlogged terrain, the FTX proved itself to be most definitely waterproof. She had it almost fully submerged at one point and it just kept going! When we hit certain boggy muddy patches the FTX struggled a little bit but we were getting towards the end of the battery run time, and being a NiMH its lost its punch, so that wouldn’t of helped. We re-charged the pack back at the car and I had a go myself and this led to me making a few conclusions of my own and also recommendations for end users of the rig.

Biasing Things Correctly

After this review I was going to swap out all the electrics for Madison, but to be honest it is fine the way it is. the battery life is okay, exactly what you would expect for NiMH battery, but the ESC is also capable of taking A 2S LiPo cell, so that’s a logical (and cheap upgrade). Also changing the location of the main pack to over the front axle under the hood is another that will drastically change the rigs weight bias and let it tackle steeper inclines and pull itself up and over certain obstacles it struggled with before.

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Changing the main packs position from rear to forward, improved the rigs abilities even further

Sadly as the wheels and tyres are pre-glued no weight can be added unless you attempt to de-bond and then re-glue them…not and easy or pleasant task. I wish they were beadlocks, but that would probably have added £20 to the RRP so I get why FTX have gone down their chosen route. CML Distribution sell a vast array of hop ups and after market bits for scale rigs and crawlers, so you could buy another set and weight them yourself with stick on strip weights.

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The three variations on wheel that FTX uses on the whole range…The Tundra has the most Scale of the lot as standard

Small But Plucky

As for the motor, it may be small, but the 1:88 gearing used is spot on for leisure crawling, trail running and having fun. The 370 sized brushed unit packs just enough punch to do what it needs, but it can struggle at times when the transmission is under duress, solid axles and drive shafts tend to put a lot more strain on motors, that’s why 540 can and high wind is the usual industry standard. Big torque usually requires big magnets. I live in hope that someone will come out with a third party motor plate to accommodate a 540 can in the future, or CML may get in a high torque, waterproof 370 can Brushless, Sensored combo designed for crawling? But again all that will push up the initial or future costs, so until then it stays as it is!

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I wasnt expecting LED’s as standard…that shocked me!

Big plus point for the Outback though is the minimal cost of upgrades. There are lots of little aluminium bits (Bumpers, Gear Housings, Battery Tray’s etc.) you can add to the Outback or any of its siblings that won’t break the bank. So it’s also a rig that can be improved as you feel necessary. Spares are also very well priced so should you break something when you are testing the limits of the FTX, you won’t have to spend a fortune to fix it.

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Nice and bright too…FTX lead, others follow

One thing to mention is that the bumpers have been designed in a way that they flex very slightly, but are strong enough to bolt a RC winch to and the rig will be comp ready. The supplied Tx may only be 2-channel, but you can get key fob remote winch controllers that uses Bluetooth to spool out and pull back in the cable, so that’s not biggie!

Quick Fixes

I will swap the servo horn for an aluminium one but that is me being picky it is something I always change straight away even in more expensive rigs. I will definitely upgrade the main pack for a brick pack LiPo, as the ESC is compatible and move it forwards on the chassis. This will increase the run times and add some weight bias over the front wheels. But that is about it really…for now!

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The main NiMH pack is smaller than a traditional ‘Stick Pack’ so easy to re-locate

I think if you are on a budget or looking to get your kids involved in the hobby you really can’t go wrong with this offering from FTX. CML have something in this range of rigs that many other brands don’t…true value for money RC, and that I feel, as do many on the RCCZ team is the future of helping the hobby to grow again both here in the UK and globally.

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The sub £160 rig next to my nearly £400 Axial…and they both managed the same things in testing

Yes, it will get criticised by the keyboard warriors on forums who like to stay loyal to whatever brand they are fan boys of, or those that only run high end kit, and often take things far too seriously. Yes its got a small motor, yes it has a all-in-one ESC and RX, and yes it only has a 3KG steering servo. But its light, and all the components work well together as a consequence.

If you stop and think for a second its not designed for someone wanting the pinnacle of a RTR Scale Rig. It’s a product that’s been designed to put a smile on a kids face, or as an adults first steps into true hobby grade RC, for the price of a gaming console. And it its very much fit for purpose on that count.

My daughter loves it, and I’ve been won over by it. For its price point it simple can’t be beaten…the gauntlet is now firmly laid down, I hope a few other manufacturers see the light and we see more sub £160 RTR rigs enter the market, but I doubt it somehow. I think FTX hit the nail on the head with this and the other variations in the Outback range.

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As a first Scale Rig, or for a child to get into RC it’s perfect…hats off to CML for bringing the Outback range into the UK

Now go get your own Scale Adventure, and we hope to see you at the UK RECON G6 in May and our own RCCZ Scale Nationals in the Autumn.

For more information on the whole range head: HERE

And for all things Scale, Trail, Crawl and Bash…keep your eyes peeled for more RCCZ articles very soon. We have some very cool stuff lined up!

Hard Body…Short Wheelbase

RCZ_Scale 1

RC4WD TF2 SWB Kit for Jeep CJ Body

Current RRP: $379.99 (+Shipping)    Available Globally : HERE

In the UK HERE UK RRP: £417.99

  • Wheelbase: 242mm
  • Width: 211mm
  • Height: 141mm
  • Ground Clearance: 58.5mm
  • Overall Length: 389mm
  • Weight: 1.76kg (Without electrics)

Features

  • Hammer Transfer Case (Ratio – 1.47:1)
  • Gears – Wide 32P steel gears
  • All New R3 Single Speed Transmission (Ratio: 1.78:1)
  • Pinion/spur 14/64 = 4.57:1
  • Cast Yota 2 Axles (Ratio: 15/40 = 2.67:1)
  • Trailfinder 2 SWB Chassis
  • Adjustable shock hoops
  • Punisher Metal Driveshafts
  • 1.9 5 lug Steel Wagon Wheels

Built & Driven H.A.R.D

Words & Images: Daniel Siegl/Andy Moore (with special thanks to Günther Waldburger for additional detailing and painting)

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If I was asked to review a leaf sprung 4×4 rig a while ago I might have had a very different reaction to now. Lets just say I wouldn’t have been very excited at the prospect. But in the last year or so my experiences with my Tamiya MF01-X showed me how much fun small tyre cars with close to zero articulation can be out on the trail. Then at a recent event my friend, Gerald Murhammer showed us with his TF2SWB what is truly possible with these amazingly realistically handling vehicles.

So when RCCZ asked me to review the RC4WD SWB Kit, I was pretty stoked! The plan was to build a very nice looking scale rig, and then travel over to ‘Real World Test It’ at the recent RECON G6 UK Edition.

RC4WD Logo Variations_Red 100

 

Big Decisions on Body Choice…

So the kit is designed for a Tamiya “square headlight” Wrangler body they say. But thinking about it, I didn’t want to go down that route, especially as many of my trail buddies run this exact body style on a variety of chassis – No, I would do something very different, and it would would needed to be special.

Because I will never run a car on leaf that has linked suspension in the real world I could rule out the New Bright or Nikko TJ toy hardbodies.

Looking at the Tamiya range I found that the Lexan Bronco would work – but how could I judge the performance of the chassis package with such a light shell? A Tamiya Blackfoot Could be another option for an TF2SWB – but somehow this also didn’t ring my bell.

So after some discussions with my Italian friend Giuseppe Musumeci (of: RC-Crawler.it the solution was obvious. Let’s make this an Old-Skool Jeep CJ, but Moab Old-Skool, with big tires and a big bumper!

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I just didn’t have time personally to build and detail the body…luckily there is an Italian who does!

First I received a pre-prepared Tamiya Jeep Wrangler body with the amazing CJ conversion from Italy. Giuseppe handcrafts those parts in Sicily – if you want some of his art locate him on Facebook and start a conversation!

 

Then A RC4WD Box Showed Up

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The instructions are easy to follow with all hardware in bags by type and dimension, not part of build

If you open that box – you are really surprised how well and tidy everything is packaged. All the content of the kit is very tidily organized in 3 layers, the screw bags are organized by screw sizes and not build steps – I like that approach. The axles and gearbox components are preassembled and ready to use.

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The Box Of Scale Delights…it got more interesting layer by layer!

The second layer contains all the frame and bumper components.

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In the bottom of the box you find the hardware and the tires and wheels, again nicely organized and easy to get when required.

 

Read Twice…Build Once

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Billet Alloy and black anodised…the chassis rails are the backbone of this rig

The RC4WD building instructions are a little different than others, but for me they work perfectly! I prefer the screws sorted by size rather than having build step bags. With the way the process is described and organized it is very easy and efficient to build the kit.

The chassis rails, cross members and motor mounts all bolt together with ease. The forward mounted R3 single speed transmission and transfer box add to the realistic weight bias/distribution and make the rig drive far more like a 1:1 Leaf sprung 4×4 would.

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On a scale rig a front weight bias is a must, and RC4WD deliver!

 

Transmission to Transfer Case to Axles

That central skid is the mounting point for the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer transfer case. Note how far forward that R3 single speed transmission, slipper and motor mount is.

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It’s ‘Hammer Time!’ (Sorry couldn’t resist)

The Hammer Transfer Case in all its glory. It’s worthwhile stripping and packing with grease for longer service intervals. As Yoda would say:- “A tough little unit this is…”

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Half of the SWB equation…

Cross members brace the chassis and form the ladder aspect of the design. Everything’s got a hard anodised black coating helping it blend into the final build, just like a good chassis should! Its detailed enough to look realistic without sacrificing strength.

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That solid link is necessary to take motive power into the Hammer Transfer Box

That vital solid link takes the drive straight from the transmission and feeds it into the transfer case, then onto each of the longitudinal prop shaft’s and then each axle.

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Shock hoops are also CNC Billet Alloy
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Yota II Axles are cast, Scale looking and compliment the chassis perfectly

Note the Shock Hoops. CNC machined just like the chassis and offering a stable and robust upper mounting point for the shocks, and scale look to that aspect of the chassis. The R3 Single Speed Transmission comes with a cast aluminium case and new wider gears to allow for more abuse along with a Delrin spur with slipper clutch assembly.

The Cast Yota 2 Axles run a ratio of  15/40 = 2.67:1
and have a total width at the hex of 176.5mm. They add weight low down aiding the centre of gravity of the whole rig and look very scale. Again stripping them, packing them with grease and threadlocking anything you feel needs it will ensure many trouble free hours of use. The most scale accurate axles on the market, the RC4WD Cast Yota II axles feature innovative round knuckles, new lower mounting points and compact offset pumpkins.

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The Ultimate Scale Shocks are internally sprung for a clean scale look

 

The Ultimate Internally Sprung Shocks

The included dampers aren’t oil filled from the factory, but can be by the end user. The ‘Ultimate Scale Shocks’ have been designed for ultimate scale looks and ultimate performance. The shocks are machined from billet aluminium and are internally sprung. Experimenting with different oils and springs, or as we suggested internally limiting them with fuel tubing works wonders.

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Chassis mounting the steering servo is the only option for a true scale build

The servo is chassis mounted and sits up in the gods away from harm and keeps the scale look. Rigs like this can suffer from bump steer, but ensuring the servo you use is strong enough, and centring the steering and linkages for equal throw helps to alleviate this.

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The RC4WD servo we cose offers 11kg of torque when supplied with 6v of electricity

We chose to use a RC4WD Z-E0035 in our build, its Digital, Metal Geared and produces 153oz or 11kg of torque at 6v input, and is more than up for the job in hand.

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Cast, clean looking & ready for action…the rear Yota II axle

The rear Yota II axle looks streamline and Scale, with again a compact offset pumpkin and solid cast construction. Strip, grease and threadlock…you know it makes sense!

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Our 35t brushed motor. The perfect trade off between torque and wheel speed

Brushed motor produce the most torque near ‘stall’. so from a standstill this baby will pull like a steam train! Using a 35t offers the best balance between torque and RPM. So wheel speed, especially on 11.1v 3S isn’t going to be an issue!

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Remember, Threadlock is your friend

The Metal Driveshafts for the TF2 are an all new design featuring bulletproof steel universals and a new high quality plastic shaft for great driveline angles and durability on the trail. Again…threadlock is your friend as losing a grub/set screw mid trail halts the fun fast.

 

Carnage Report

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THe UK RECON G6 was a combination of Rocks, Mud, Moss and even more Mud…it was #Epic

During the first UK Recon G6 the only problems that occurred where of cosmetic fashion – e.g some might say I drove to hard for a pristine body fresh from the body shop.

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As Brian Parker said: “We got a dust free stage!” (and then some!)

By the end of the day I had to strap down my hood with tape in order not to loose it. After the event I found out that the turnbuckle screws needed to be tightened – so it might be helpful to apply some Loctite to those screws despite the axles arrive fully built.

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Perfectly at home on rocks as on the trail…the SWB Leaf Sprung Jeep was great fun to build & drive

During further working hard with the truck I managed to break a dog bone in the front axle. Luckily there as excellent parts support from RcBlitz on site so I could upgrade to CVD in a short tea break.

Other than that I only had to tighten my slipper a little bit after 2 days – and roughly 6-7 hours on the the excellent UK trials.

 

A word on Articulation…

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You learn to live with the lean…Leaf Springs offer a whole new way of driving

Most of the RC scale rigs that you see on the trail have lot’s of articulation. But contrary to popular opinion, In many situations a car with less articulation is much more predictable to drive. Our scale rigs have typically both axles fully locked so you can still have plenty of traction if you end up 3 wheeling on an obstacle. Leaf sprung cars are just that – very predictable and if the leafs are set up and broken in you get a very sensitive suspension. Try it out!

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I’m totally won over by this rig…I take back everything I ever thought about Leaf suspension

Tip: On cars with 4 or 3-Link you can use a fuel tube inside the shock or a limiting strap to reduce the suspension travel.

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The cleanest it was all weekend at the UK RECON G6…But I never built it to sit on a shelf!

 

Verdict

This car is very rewarding to drive – and amazingly capable after my past experiences with leaf sprung cars I have to clearly say for me this is the best handling leaf sprung car I have personally driven so far.

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Back home in Austria…basking in the sunshine

 

Positives

  • Good Quality Kit
  • Very nice packaging
  • Endless customization support
  • Spare Hardware
  • Great driving and handling
  • Plug & Play body mount for Stock Tamiya Jeep body

Negatives

  • Steering deflection limited by kits dog bones & drive cups
  • I don’t like that the stock wheels don’t use hexes
  • CVD’s could/should be standard at this price point

I would also recommend the following:-

After you run stock for a while, if you feel like comping then fit CVD’s and 1.9 Rims. I also used Baja MTZ’s tyres (but with stiffer foams like the ‘Crazycrawler’ foams I ran). Fit a Rock Hard front bumper and to mount the battery plate rotated so the battery can be mounted more to the front of the car helping increase further front weight bias.

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Parts Used In Addition To RC4WD Kit

  • Tamiya Jeep Wrangler Body with Jeep CJ Conversion
  • Axial Racing Wraith Corbeau Seats
  • Custom Lexan front windscreen
  • RC4WD Raceline 1.9 Wheels
  • High lift shock towers
  • RC4WD Baja MTZ 1.9
  • RC4WD 35T Motor
  • Rampage Bumper
  • RC4WD Servo
  • Castle 10 BEC
  • Tekin FXR

Here’s a cool video of the rig in action at the recent Globetrotter Rodeo RECON G6…

For more on the whole RC4WD range CLICK HERE

For more on the RECON G6 globally CLICK HERE