Words & Images: Phil Makeitbuildit & Grace Lawrence
Helion Animus 1/18th Electric Monster Truck
UK Distributor: J.Perkins
UK SRP: £79.99
Included: Tools, Battery and Charger, 2.4Ghz Controller
“Mini Monster Truck, Monster speed…”
Its nicely packaged with good graphics depicting some great off road action, so the expectations are high for such a little machine. Once everything is out of the box you can see this is not a toy grade car, whilst its far from being the most expensive, I’m impressed with what I’m seeing so far.
The controller has a similar casing to a few other cars I’ve driven, so it’s quite familiar, its lift up cover on the back containing the power switch, servo reverse and two rotary dials, one for steering trim, and the other for throttle trim. There is a bind button in there too, not that it was needed in my case, it just worked straight from the box. It’s worth noting that there is a mega bright LED to show when its powered on, and that LED will change from green to red when the batteries are getting low (nice touch). hopefully this won’t come on too often as the transmitter takes 8 AA batteries!
The charger is very simple, mains plug one end, deans plug the other, with some indication lights on the plug to show the current charge state. it worked without fault and was simple enough for anyone to use.
Onto the Animus (meaning : motivation to do something) and its obvious to see there is a lot of thought that has gone into this car, and its quality is beyond its price point
The body shell is well formed, not too flimsy or heavy and a major bonus, its fitted with both front and rear lights, they are quite bright, so i imagine some night time driving is possible, as well as looking cool in the day, it just adds another level of realism. It’s not a massive or complex thing to do, but to me details like this make the whole thing a better experience, well done Helion.
The suspension arms look strong enough for the size of machine (and were proven to be strong in the multiple crashes and tumbles this has taken so far), what is very impressive is the shocks, they are oil filled, something i did not expect at all for a smaller model. it makes such a difference to have nice damping, makes off road smoother and on road or gravel even more fun !
At the end of each arm its fitted with large but not out of scale wheels with very grippy tyres attached to ball raced hubs, happy to say no friction bearings here !
Looking harder, there is even more to play with, you can adjust the top shock positions and inboard upper wishbone location, so not only is it good fun knock about, you can start learning tuning, or if your already in the know, you can adjust it to suit your style, I have to remind myself that this is 1:18 scale, as lots of features from larger vehicles have been put on this model.
There is not a lot of play in the suspension, which is a good thing, meaning it should not wander on its own and have a controlled feeling when driving it.
On the subject of ‘play’, with the particular truck I had, I noticed more steering play in one side than the other, The 2 in 1 esc/steering servo uses a bell crank system to link to the wheels and I found that one of the links had more play than the other, this was not much of a problem as 1/4 turn on the ball joint screw and most of that slack had been taken up. I have to admit to sorting this before driving, so I cant 100% say if it would have affected anything, although my opinion is that it would have been fine and not changed how it drove, certainly off road.
The power train is brushed and includes a replaceable 7.2v 1100mah NiMh that is held in with a retraining strap and body clips , so let’s see how that fairs under some use, will it be saggy and slow, or still pack a punch?
There is a little switch by the power switch to allow you to select between NiMH or LiPo battery, so its got a built in low voltage cut-out ready for a LiPo upgrade, again another simple yet well executed touch. It also has a bind position for the RX…clever stuff Helion!
In the past I’ve found a brushed motors to be a bit slow compared to the brushless systems I’m used to running. However, I have been impressed by the torque they can offer, so this will be interesting.
A Wide Demographic
I’m not exactly sure who the Animus is aimed at, I would say it’s something both for the younger generation, and us older ones who are still 12…so this has been tested by both a 40 something who is still 12, and an actual 12 year old.
After charging the battery and fitting the 8AA batteries into the controller, a quick check on steering rates to make sure its not binding up (where the servo tries to push the steering too far) and its ready to go.
I thought I’d be kind to the motor and give it the first few runs on road, to bed everything in and not put any undue stress on the drive train etc. So off we go…
Gently squeezing the throttle (see ED, I do learn from my mistakes, read my bullet flux review in issue 3!) there is no stuttering or cogging that you can get from an un-sensored brushless motor at low speed, the Animus squats the rear slightly as the suspension takes the load, and its off…(and at quite a rapid rate I must say!) I’m glad to see my earlier concerns about brushed have been put to rest.
The steering is direct, proportional and easy to control, comes back to centre well and not in a snappy way so it won’t induce flips and rolls if you let off the steering quickly. It was not long before I was ‘hooning’ it round the tarmac, and jumping off curbs and out of potholes, this thing is great, my mind has already thought of 4 or 5 of us having a one make race with these, would be a great laugh…perhaps even fit micro FPV systems and race them that way!
Grace v The Molehill
After a recharge Grace and I went down the fields with the Animus to have some fun and get some photos of it before I got carried away with bigger and bigger jumps
Ok, the box art showed the Animus MT throwing up dirt as it was moving at a good pace, is that possible…… Grace lined up a massive molehill, it was about 4 times the height of the Animus and about 3 times a long, let’s see what this is made of. Pinning the throttle wide open from the start the Animus leapt forwards through grass that was at least up to the axles with ease, she steered it up and over, the wheels spinning all the time, throwing mud behind and into the air, as it leapt into the air itself. so, can it do what it says on the box, simple answer is YES.
Of course we had to repeat it, as the speed off road had taken me by surprise and I’d only got half the car in the photo, then of course I wanted a go too. It might be small, but it’s an addictive little monster truck
Thankfully the mole had moved on to somewhere else looking at the number of molehills about, as I imagine he/she would have ended up with a headache after all the jumping we did over its digging spoils.
We spend the rest of the battery, jumping, speeding, climbing hills and having great fun with the Animus. After all isn’t that what its all about?
Back at home, Grace got through at least another 3 charges that day, driving both in the garden and on the drive and had a big smile on her face, especially with the new use she found for it, I’ll let her explain that later.
RCCZ TOP TIP: One thing to mention is motor has a sticker on it saying “Caution may be hot”, this is certainly true, I found the motor gets quite hot and after a full run, its best to leave it to cool a little before touching it…you were warned!
So, what’s the verdict. If your after something capable, fun, small enough to use in the garden, yet capable enough to tackle off road, mud, jumps etc, and don’t want to spend a fortune, then I would recommend adding this to your list along with a couple of additional batteries, get a few Animus/Animi (*I’m not sure what the plural is) together and the fun level could be epic.
Thoughts From A Real End User…Grace
So, my verdict of the Helion Animus 18MT…well, the one I tested had a red and blue livery, which I thought was a good combination making it stand out and look very smart. The body shell is a good shape too. I am impressed by the LED lights on it…
They are white in the front and red on the back and are a very good brightness. you could even try driving in the dark. The wheels and tyres are very suited to the type of car it is, they give lots of grip on grass and mud. The controller for this vehicle is easy to hold and operate for small or large hands, its heavier than some others I’ve used though.
When I drove it off road I tried it both in a field with longer grass and on the shorter grass in my garden. Its naturally a very fast car and went reasonably quick on this type of terrain, swerving in and out of garden swing poles, its accurate and able to bounce when you get it wrong. I even tried using some molehills as gigantic ramps and it jumped them very well and stayed upright! Then I tried driving it on road on the driveway. It was most efficient at this kind of driving as it was a smooth terrain which ensured maximum speed. It was very very easy to control. Handling the car was great fun, and as its small, I even managed to crawl it underneath a van!
Among the more unusual uses I found for this monster truck is dog exercise! Drive this car around the garden and the family hound will have a great time chasing it and barking at it (as mine did!) until its lying down panting…(and the dog! ED)
This vehicle withstood numerous collisions, even full throttle into my garden swing and remained intact which has to be a very positive point!
I found the four wheel drive was very interesting as I hadn’t tested a car with this type of drive before. It gave lots of grip which made it easier to control and easier to turn corners at high speed.
The differentials and oil filled shocks were very good and I thought them impressive. They made a positive difference to how it drove both on and off road.
The option of more colour schemes or a clear body shell to paint yourself would make this an even better buy, it is compact in size but packs a punch! Overall this monster truck is impressive and exceeded my expectations especially with regard to durability and I would recommend it to any skill level, or age.
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