Huge shout out to www.RC4WD.com For helping facilitate this article.
A few years back I started seeing images and posts online of some of Antipodean RC builder Dphotographer Danny Huynh amazing body shell art and full on build projects. I was simply gob smacked at the intricate detail, the unique approach he put to every aspect, and both the visual as well as mechanical story each one told.
Trying to explain what they convey without actually seeing them is difficult. They have a rare quality in that they are not only visually stunning, meaning you end up scrutinizing each image much longer than most RC posted online, but they are also truly innovate.
Danny utilizes many stock components in very unique ways. he also adds detail features not usually associated with the original vehicles, like faux Rotary Engines more akin to use in a flight scenario, Machine Guns, Revolving cab sections and much more. Each build usually has a driver figure and or gunner/co-pilot/sidekick present, and these are often animated via linkages and servos to make then not only come to life, they actually look like they are steering/firing/riding. The figures often have a slightly dark Sci-Fi twist.
From Terminator androids and Wolverine, to what can only be described as undead Sci-Fi Storm Troopers…(and not the Star Wars kind!), they have a look and presence that seem to elevate each build to an even higher level of cool.
No Two Are The Same…
He’s build 3WD chopper-esc Drift Trikes (yes you read that correctly…3WD, Drift Trike) based on 1/5th Thunder Tiger race bike, rigs based on Axial donors, painted some of the sickest drift car bodyshells I’ve ever seen, and more recently done a series of builds based on RC4WD kits, donor vehicles and parts. And these are something else!
I recently got a chance to interview the man himself. We are friends on Facebook, and comment on each others photographs and projects all the time, but I wanted to know more about him as a person. What inspires the man that himself inspires so many to re-visit the art of truly building. An art that for many has been lost, and to a whole new generation of RC fans, who have grown into the hobby with RTR vehicles, run mostly stock.
I do hope this will be in some way a wake up call and an inspiration to you to go and get yourself a kit, and put some of yourself into its build process. But enough of that, onto the interview…
RCCZ: What led you to this point in your RC builds? We want the Dphotographer Danny Huynh Origin Story…when did they go from Cool to Epic?
DPDH: “I’m a documentary photographer by trade and have always had a passion for cars. Not so much the mechanical side of them, but more passionate about the design aspects of cars. So about 5 years ago, I’ve decided to buy my first RC car!
I always wanted to win one while growing up in the 80’s since my parents couldn’t afford one, but hey… Better late than never!
I’ve never really considered my works as being cool or epic. I just do what I enjoy and am thrilled to see other people appreciate it…”
RCCZ: How would you describe your creations? To me they are functioning works of RC Art…They blow my mind and inspire me in equal measure.
DPDH:“I like to describe them as a form of creative thinking, I like to keep them very similar in style, but also different from each build to set them apart. I’ve never called myself an artist. I just stumbled into the title through the use of Facebook.
I suppose it is a form of art to a certain extent, specifically the painting and photography side of it…”
RCCZ: You seem to see the World in a very different way to most. What’s your favorite film/book? In my head I can see a whole Graphic Novel littered with your builds…what’s inside your head?
DPDH: “Not much goes inside my head to tell you the truth. I don’t read books or graphic novels, I’m more of a music person and must have something on all day, every day while I tinker.
Some of my favorite movies Kill Bill, Blade Runner, movies with alien/s etc., but I don’t see any of those being an influence in my work.
I feel that my biggest inspiration comes from WW2 vehicles. Particularly, the aircrafts during that period which I believe to be the best design in aviation history! “
RCCZ: What was your first ever true RC vehicle? (and did you modify the hell outta it?)
DPDH: “As I mentioned previously, I bought my first RC car about 5 years ago. It was the re-release of the Tamiya Avante and brought back my childhood memories from the 80’s. Back then, it was Tamiya’s design with their Avante and Egress that really got my attention. Even the box art itself was truly a work of art.
Shortly after, I discovered RC drifting and bought a Tamiya VDS drift chassis. That allowed me to be really creative and paint the drift shells in different ways. I think this is where it all really started with teaching myself how to paint drift shells and eventually lead to modifications on the VDS. It was the first of my animated drivers, the Kick Ass action figure!“
RCCZ: If you could build anything, based on any kit, from any manufacturer ever made, no budget restrictions…no scale concerns, what would it be?
DPDH: “I’ll have to go with what I’m building with right now. I have built quite a few different RCs, but nothing compares to RC4WD’s products. Not only do their scale trucks really suit my style of building, but RC4WD provides a great deal of details in all their products. Mainly, their scale chassis’ really brings my designs to life…”
RCCZ: What are the top 3 things you can offer as advice for people inspired to get their own build projects started?
1. Create and don’t imitate
2. It doesn’t have to be realistic, just as long as it works and looks “unreal”.
3. Have fun!
RCCZ: Any insights into your latest projects? Anything we really need to know about you, and the future of PDH?
DPDH:“I try to build a new project every month. it usually takes a month or two for all the detailing and creation to work as one. Currently, I’m working on a RC4WD Gelande 2 with their classic Toyota Land Cruiser Body. It’s a tow truck based on the Zero Warbird with a radial engine. hehe…”
PS: “You might also be seeing another Trike soon, since I’ve been wanting to challenge myself with another 3 wheeler…”
RCCZ: Have you ever thought of producing a book about the entire body of your work? I could see it sitting on coffee tables all over the World…especially mine!
DPDH:“I never considered producing a book, but yes, that would be cool. I pride myself as a photographer as that is after all how this all started… you know, painting drift shells and photographing them. I have to snap a photo everyday otherwise I go mad…hehe!”
RCCZ: Last question…Where do you want to see the RC Industry and this vibrant Scale Scene go in the future? Is it still as exciting and diverse as when you first got hooked? Or do you think it needs more people with your drive and vision to push the boundaries a little, and inspire a new generation into getting involved and building using traditional model making techniques?
DPDH: “That all depends on what one loves about this hobby. I know that this industry is constantly growing and has been awesome with releasing new kits and creations quite regular to keep us happy.
The great thing about this hobby is that there are various aspects as to what we each love about it. For me, it’s creating, painting and photographing it. And yes, it “IS” as exciting as the day I discovered it! For others, it can be the racing side or competitive side to it, or both. Whichever it is, we need to keep practicing what we love about this hobby. Practice makes perfect, or at least pretty darn close!”
A huge shout out to Danny for taking the time to answer my questions. We look forward to seeing more of his builds in the future. Huge thanks’ also to RC4WD for helping facilitate this, and for more on Danny and his builds check out his Facebook page HERE
I do hope that for those not familiar with his work it will inspire you to. Its set a benchmark in terms of being so different and taking us away from always striving to create photorealistic builds. Adding in a little weird and using a little leftfield thinking creates something fresh and exciting, and long may that be so!
In 2010 while I was on “Holiday” in a very hot and sandy place, a buddy of mine ordered a comp crawler. When it came in he brought it to my attention as he knew I was an RC guy. I was just starting to look at the crawler and scale scene, but was still busy trying to make everything I owned go faster, and survive bigger, and bigger jumps. I was a basher through and through and didn’t have time for any other aspects of the RC car world. Sure, I have always loved racing but didn’t have a proper place to do that at the time. So, I focused on making my bashers faster and stronger. Then he brings this crawler to my attention. At first I was stubborn and said why in the world would you want to crawl when you can jump? But he convinced me to watch him on some rocks we had at work. I was interested in the articulation it had going over the obstacles he ran up and over, and was intrigued with its ability to get over some of the bigger rocks. He then handed me the transmitter and I set off on my first crawl. I was immediately hooked and needed one of my own. So, after that I went inside and started to look into my options. I saw the one he had, but thought I should get something different. I ordered a cheapish RTR and waited, and waited…(It took quite a while to get mail where we were).
By the time it came in I had found something else shiny and had changed my mind on crawlers. But it was there, and I wanted to at least try it. I took it out of the box and immediately noticed a lot of plastic on it. It didn’t look very bulletproof to me. But, I loaded in the batteries and gave it a go. I turned it on, tried driving up a wall and over a few objects, I very quickly decided it needed to go back. I had bought a crawler that looked cool, but couldn’t crawl very well. I boxed it up and sent it back. The car I replaced it with help me to launch my YouTube channel so it wasn’t all bad…but that was it for owning a true crawler for a while.
Once I returned home, eventually I got into the scale scene and started to regret letting that crawler go, but everything happens for a reason. I bought one other shafty crawler after that, but I quickly converted it to a scale rig and that ended me owning a real crawler once more. I met Peter Gray and the RCCar.Zone (Formerly RRCi) team in 2010 and have been introduced to many other forms of this great hobby and have gained an appreciation for each one. But I always said I want another, true crawler, I felt like I was really missing out on something.
FFWD To 2016
Pete, being the mate he is, remembered my interest in a owning a ‘real’ crawler. He rang me up recently and said he had a RTR that needed to be reviewed. It was even a Motor on Axle (MOA) design, so something I wanted to run even more. Knowing how this aspect of the market had almost disappeared of late, I thought was it was probably a cheaper brand that would be shockingly bad and resemble something from the toy section of your local grocery store. He assured me however it was (and I quote) “Pure Quality” and I should wait before passing judgement…so I did!
I turned up to his house a couple weeks later and saw the normal stash of incoming reviews in the hallway. The only crawler I could see was an RC4WD one. This couldn’t be it? Do they even do a Comp crawler anymore? The answer was yes, and it was mine to review! After a quick look at the box I learned a bit more about it. The RC4WD Bully II is a MOA RTR, its the second generation of the Bully MOA rig that Pete himself reviewed many years back, and that he put on the cover of the RRCi Crawler Special he wrote back in the day.
He was handing me the responsibility of both reviewing this rig, and also trying to help with my ongoing learning curve of all things RC. A MOA is something I had never run before, and learning about its nuances and the very different driving style required would be very interesting.
Being MOA it means that each axle drives independently, so they can be Front only driven, rear only driven and by letting the drag brake keep the un driven axle locked up completely, they act as a front or rear dig. All this functionality can be easily controlled with the included 3-channel transmitter. As a one box solution its a great way onto MOA rigs and much cheaper than actually buying the components separately and building your own. I couldn’t wait to get this home and get it out of the box!
The Box Art Sets The Scene
Once I got back home, I took the box into the office and immediately opened it. But not before truly admiring the box art. The picture on the box is a great shot of the Bully II on the rocks. It truly inspires you to get it out of the box and on to the rocks as soon as! When you see this box in store with all the other boxes, it completely stands out. A lot of other companies have static pictures of their kits. Whether sat in a black background or on a track somewhere. But this shows it in its natural environment and truly makes you want to discover new lands with it! On the side of the box there are listed some of the official RC4WD hop ups for it, and even more great photos of it on the rocks! The exterior of the box is just loaded with Hi-res pics that make you want to charge a battery and hit the rocks!
Once open, the rig comes out on a sliding cardboard stand as most of us are used to. The transmitter is securely fastened beneath the rig and inset into the base. The manual and spare parts are located under the cardboard base. The manual is a picture based manual, as we have come to know and love from RC4WD. The spares contain a battery strap, optional springs for the shocks and some flat bits of Lexan. I was wondering what the Lexan was for until I noticed they were body panels. These are easily attached to the Bully if you want to add a bit of colour to it. They are also ready to be painted with a protective sheeting on one side just like the normal shells you are used to. I opted to paint mine red as a contrast to my normal Blue?Green I tend use on everything I race.
The transmitter was one of the biggest surprises for me. It’s the new XR4 4 channel radio. I have never had a RTR radio with 10 model memory! You can buy relatively cheap receivers for your other kits and control them with this radio!
The radio has all the trimmings (see what I did there) that you will find on the high dollar competitors. It also allows you to name each model with its 3-digit display. For this one I named it MOA, that way I know which rig is on memory one. There’s a backlit LED display screen that makes selecting all the functions a dream. But enough about the transmitter let’s talk about the Bully II!
Straight away the high clearance lower arms let you know this is a serious comp rig! The carbon fibre Twin Vertical Plates (TVP) look almost as good as they perform! When you want light weight and strength, it’s hard to beat Carbon Fibre! The twin Boost 35t rebuildable motors are exactly what I would put on a crawler kit if I was building one, so that was a nice choice by RC4WD, in my case at least.
The 6v – 5 Amp BEC is a great choice as well! I run one of those on my RC4WD Beast II and it performs flawlessly! The RC4WD Outcry Brushed Speed Controller with built-in drag brake is the perfect speedo for this rig and simply gets the job done!
When coupled with the included Rocker Electronic Dig/ESCit proves to be an almost unstoppable combination! The servo is the Twister Metal Gear Digital Servo that is rated at 153oz @ 6v. It seems kind of low for a comp crawler, but it is a RTR and it must work or it wouldn’t be in the kit. But the rocks will reveal all!
The only thing I did notice on the Bully was the routing of the motor wires. The front motor wires ran down the lower links and attached to the bottom of the motor. I was a bit concerned as I knew these areas were very open to abuse from the rocks. I quickly re-routed them and plugged the motor wires into the top plugs out of the way. But enough of all this tech talk it’s time to hit the rocks.
I headed up to Derbyshire for our RCCar.Zone Scaler Nationals. I took along the Bully and was planning on testing it at our comp site in Bracken rocks. The night before we were at John Wasley’s house having a drink or more and they all got talking about the glory days of comp crawlers and how I had missed it. They knew I had the Bully with me and were basically setting me up for a trial run on John’s rock garden course. I immediately agreed and we were off to the garden…well I say immediately, I needed to find a suitable 2S LiPo first to fit on the tiny plinth on the front axle, next to the steering servo.
I was the first one to drive it of course, and I was really enjoying it. John along with Twinset and Pete were giving me tips as I went along. I could see how great the Bully II was, because even with my very basic crawler skills it was making most of the obstacles. John told me to try the dig. To be honest I had completely forgot about it. I hit the slider button on the front of the transmitter and the rear tyres locked. This allows the Bully II to turn by pivoting on its axis, with the front tyres moving and the rear tyres locked in position. It makes for very tight turns and the ability to position the rig accurately ready for your next obstacle or gate. Using the dig you can take approaches to gates that a non dig enabled rig wouldn’t ever attempt.
You can also lock just the front tyres and power it with the back ones and have a front dig. This actually helps get up almost impossible looking ledges as you can lock the front wheels in place holding onto the ledge as the rear wheels push the rig upwards and load the chassis almost like a spring. Then at just the right moment you start the front wheels drivi9ng again and it often magically lifts itself up onto the ledge. You Just simply select which dig you want to use via the 3-position switch.
I decided to hand it over to the old pros and really see what it could do. I wasn’t disappointed. These boys know how to crawl and made my efforts look childish. I couldn’t wait to try it out at the old stomping grounds the next day. You see, Bracken Rock was home to the Crawler Nationals for many years. But when Comp Crawling started to get taken a bit too serious, the fun-loving group decided to switch over to Scale. That’s why we now have the Scaler Nationals there! I charged a couple batteries for the next day had another drink and went to bed thinking about the Bully on the rocks!
Learning To Dig Real Crawling
Next day was the UK Scaler Nationals. We got there early, briefed the drivers made sure they all knew where they were going and headed out to the trails. This year I was judging course three and decided it would be a great place to run the Bully. So after about 6 hours of scoring the course it finally started to slow down a bit. I went and asked my favourite photographer (Twinset) to do a shoot for me. He was happy to oblige and we headed out to the rocks.
One thing very different from John’s home course was mud, grass and water. I was hoping the Bully Comp Tyres would do ok on the added elements. They were definitely soft and had a great tread for dry rocks, but I was a bit concerned about the wet. I sat off onto the marked trail. 10 gates set out for 1.9 and 2.2 scalers. In theory it should be relatively easy for the Bully. The first gate was easy enough. The second was a tight left turn around some rocks. I selected the dig and easily went right around it. The next gate was up a double rock that was a bit steep. I drove the front tyres onto it and noticed it kept trying to wheelie, which would have obviously flipped the rig on its back. Then I decided to use dig again. I locked the back tyres and drug them up the steep face of the rock with just the power of the front wheels. That was really cool looking by the way. I could get used to this crawling thing!
Gate 4 would really test the tyres as it was a side hill. The Bully creeped across the rock face without any slippage and no problems! Gate five was a drop down that you had to climb up to. The climb was a deep V shaped area between two rocks. The Bully had no problem making up the surface and then I used dig to pull myself round to the drop won. Doing the drop down, the drag brake held flawlessly. We even left it there for a few minutes as Twinset got some great pics of it.
Gate 6 was a quick up and over. It was a log that proved to be difficult for some scale rigs, but was just a speed bump to the Bully. Gates 7 and 8 were just two off camber inclines that were no match for the MOA rig. Gate 9 had some tall grass on the sides that I found wrapped around my axles, but I made it through the gates.
Gate 10 would be the only gate I couldn’t finish. It was a steep, slick incline that nearly everyone that made it through had to use a winch. I obviously didn’t have a winch, but I could have definitely benefited from some axle weights here!
Overall I am very, very impressed with this rig! I had a blast with it and learned a lot about driving as well. The included dig was a huge bonus that really opened up some options on the course! So now for the pros and Cons
Front & Rear Dig function, Drag Brakes and Twin ESC
Servo was a bit weak considering loads placed on it in use. It worked, and I got through the course, but I think it would definitely benefit from a more powerful servo and 10 or 20A BEC
The wire routing to motors was a bit of a concern. But this was easily remedied. My concern is someone new to crawling or RC in general may overlook it. This could result in a broken or shorted wire…
Final MOA Thoughts
Great product! The servo was a bit of a let-down as a seasoned RC guy, but in the end, it is RTR so if you knew no better, in most situations it actually wouldn’t bother you that much! At extremes of lock or axle articulation it can get stuck in one position without the physical power to move itself back to where you want it to go.
The wires and their routing to the motors were just a quick fix so that’s not too bad. But the Pros outweigh the Cons tenfold! I could have talked for days about the pros, but I left it to the few above that are the key points. Having both front a rear dig is a great tool when out on a comp course, or just crawling for fun! It is the first rig I have ever had that has this feature, and after using it, it definitely won’t be the last! All in all you need one of these! I would love to see Comp Crawling make a comeback. It became a competition of who had more money last time and that’s what killed it! Companies got to money hungry and started rigs were quickly entering the multiple thousand-pound range as they were being modified. But I believe RC4WD got it right and offer a great comp crawler ready to go for well under £1000!
Get yourself a Bully II and let’s make Comp Crawling Great Again!
Available Globally: HERE Current Price: $589.99 or in UK: HERE
Now, I’m no stranger to the RC4WD Trail Finder bloodline. And at last count I’ve built 3 rigs based on two generations of the kit and run a very capable RTR. With our recent SWB TF2 review by Daniel S getting all down and dirty at the RECON G6 UK Edition, I felt it wise to do something a little different with the latest review kit of the longer wheelbase we were sent by RC4WD.
For a start I decided to use the new Chevy Blazer body kit they had recently released. And while I was at it, the Billet V8 engine that replaces the stock motor mount and becomes part of a far more realistic looking driveline. I wanted a rig that while still performing Off Road, would also look cool as a fictitious daily driver, and be something that if I had the 1:1 vehicle as a donor, the time and the funds…would build myself for real!
V8 Engine and Ladder Chassis
The start of any TF” kit build is always the chassis. You first bolt on the mounting points for the leaf springs and gradually build up what is essentially the backbone of the whole rig.
Remember to use Loctite Blue Threadlock or similar on anything that goes metal to metal, but metal bolting onto plastic should be just fine. The chassis braces, front chassis mounted servo mount and shock hoops go on next, and then the plastic rock sliders and side on body mounting points.
Next you fit the upper deck that provides a decent surface area for the ESC, main pack and receiver (or if you want to use it, you can also fit the kits rear splash proof receiver box that mimics a fuel cell). Personally I keep all my electronics on that plate to:- 1: keep all wiring runs as short and neat as possible and 2: So that if needed I can waterproof components myself. Most ESC’s are at least splash proof these days and for a scale rig that’s usually enough. As for receivers, its a simple enough task to use either an old school balloon, or more modern method of Plastidip liquid electrical insulation to waterproof the receiver and if running one, the BECs boards.
My chosen Carisma brushed ESC with crawling mode was already deemed waterproof, as was the Spektrum receiver I decided to use.
V8 Power Plant…(Ok, 35t!)
Next I deviated from the traditional build schedule and took the Billet V8 Engine to bits to fit the 35t brushed motor I had chosen to use. Its a fiddly job but a little patience and lots of tiny bolts later and I was there. I made sure to check the internal gears in the bolt on transmission housing for grease. The R4 Ultimate Scale Single Speed Transmission has a gear ratio of 10.1:1 and perfectly compliments the V8 engine.
One thing to note is that the pinion and gears while being metal are 48DP so run very smoothly but aren’t as tough as the 32dp gears used on other rigs. You must make sure you mesh the pinion and primary gear inside the transmission perfectly, and that you threadlock the pinions grub screw…not doing so and the pinion moving is a big job top rectify…you were warned!
The alloy engine is the perfect way to disguise a 540 sized brushed or brushless motor
The R4 Ultimate Scale Transmission offers a gear ratio of: 10.1:1 and thus improving traction and torque at the axles
We chose a 35 turn brushed motor for this build, the perfect balance between RPM and torque (even more so on 3s!). This ones re-buildable too
Once mated together the separate components work so well together and offer lots of scope to further accessorise and detail the engine inside the Blazers engine bay.
In situ the V8, Holly Rocker Covers and its pancake filter look right at home. Forward weight bias is greatly improved.
The engine was completed with an alloy pancake air filter and some Holly rocker covers. the whole assembly once bolted in place and linked directly to the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer Transfer Case added a real weight forward bias to the rig, perfect for climbing inclines and counteracting (with the use of weighted wheels) the heavier Blazer hard body and thus much higher centre of gravity.
Next my attention turned to the included kit axles. The cast Yota Axles have a ratio of: 2.67:1 and are 176.5mm wide (measured at the hex’s). They, as ever come pre-built, but will benefit from setting aside a good hour to strip, grease and then re assemble using threadlock. You can just fit them but long term you will suffer the loss of bolts and premature gear wear, forcing the need to shim them. You simply bolt on the leaf springs and then they are affixed to the correct points on the chassis, anchoring them in place.
Axles in place, the Ultimate Scale Shocks are fixed on next, and their sleek look (having internal springs) works perfectly in conjunction with the leaf springs and axles. As Daniel Siegl said in his recent TF2 SWB Jeep review, leaf sprung rigs drive so very differently to 4 linked, more traditionally suspension equipped ones. But they look so much more ‘Scale’ and ‘Realistic’!
Remember though that the shocks are not oil filled and have internal springs. A small amount of oil seems to improve their action slightly, and unless over-filled they stay pretty leak free in use, but as ever experimentation is the key word. The leafs themselves have a period of time where they ‘Break In’ and become more supple in use. So we would suggest you let this process happen naturally and then fine tune the oil weight and possibly even the internal springs.
Fuelling Up The Look
Now with the driveline, chassis and mostly stock running gear in place I decided that to give the Blazer body the look of a hybrid street/trail rig on steroids I would need to run bigger wheels and tyres. to this end I fitted a set of RC4WD Fuel Anza 1.7 Beadlock wheels and shod them in soft compound RC4WD Inteco Super Swamper “Siped” tyres, then during the build process adding 1.5 strips of stick on lead weight to each wheel and tyre combo.
Anza 1.7 Wheel Specs
CNC Machined Billet Alloy
Nut Cover with FUEL Logo
Scale Hex Bolts
Neg Offset: 7.5mm
X2 SS Compound (Super Soft & Super Sticky)
Inner Ribbing offers Sidewall Support
Outer Diameter: 114.2mm
Once fitted they gave the chassis a slightly higher stance and ground clearance from the stock 1.55 Stamped Steel wheels and Mud Thrasher tyres included with the kit (Again these will be put to good used in a future project). Lastly I added the chassis mounted RC4WD Digital Steering Servo and once built the appropriate steering linkage.
From the front of the rig it offers a nice clean look and a more scale appearance. Yes it does suffer a little from bump steer, but no it didn’t really bother me as its an unavoidable foible you learn to live with when running this type of rig.
The wiring to the receiver may look like a rats nest but that’s the Spektrum receiver I used, It is waterproof and sealed with female ports protruding from it to accommodate male Futaba style plugs. Its a 3 channel RX so allows me to add a winch at a later date, plus there’s the power/batt in. I also opted to put in a 20A BEC kindly supplied by Phil at www.makeitbuildit.co.uk after first snipping and then isolating and insulating the red power wire from the Carisma RC branded Crawler ESC, thus bypassing its built in 5A 6v BEC.
The main reason for this is the possible current draw in Amps from the RC4WD Twister High Performance Waterproof Servo, and the fact that in use it may draw enough current to temporarily cause a Brown Out, even with (as I added) a glitch buster Capacitor!
RCCZ Jargon Buster: A ‘Brown Out’ is defined as when the receivers supply voltage falls below the minimum voltage specified for normal use. What that means in practice is that you will get at the very least unpredictable results, or at worst the link failing between the Tx and Rx and a possible run away unless the failsafe for the ESC is set to zero throttle…you were warned!
With everything in place and the rolling chassis even drivable without it’s shell (yes, I couldn’t resist the good old sofa test!) it was time to move on to perhaps the most daunting part of the build for many…the body shell. Now, I knew that this Blazer body was far more detailed than any I had previously built from RC4WD, and to that end I decide top pay our resident hard body and airbrush maestro Jonathan Potts a visit. He’s more used to 1:1 Custom Cars, Speedboats and other such cool stuff, but his eyes lit up when I handed him the body shell and its box of bits.
My brief was simple:- ”Think classic Street Custom Car crossed with classic Off Road 4×4”…he smiled, and then disappeared into his workshop, past the VW Beetle chassis ready to become a Rat Rod, and the big 1:1 4×4 destined to be a comp vehicle of some sort one day…I drove away and then got on with other projects.
Jonny Did The Buisness
Many, many, parts are supplied in the box with the RC4WD Blazer Body . It has not only a metal hinged opening bonnet (Or ‘Hood’ if you are Scott AceofAxe Curlin), but also a hinged opening rear window built into the removable rear hard roof section over the flatbed, and even an opening tailgate. There also the brightwork, A chrome grille, wing mirrors, door handles and huge front and rear bumpers.
Included with the body kit is also an interior, but for this build I opted to tint the windows and not fit it. I know, I know, I can hear all the boo’s and hisses, but I simply didn’t have the time to get an interior done too, and I also wanted to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, so any weight I could shed from above the centreline of the axles would be a bonus.
Clean Up In Isle Five…
After a two week wait, I got the call and went to collect the body. “Oh my god” was my reaction. (I hasten to add I did use those three words, but I may have added another…very much an expletive!). John had done what I had asked and, then added his usual flair and personal touches.
After prepping the components he was going to paint he first laid down a deep burgundy, almost dark Autumn cheery red on the main shell, tailgate and bonnet. Then he painted in the side panels with black as an accent colour, but added an old-skool flame into the design and hand outlined the lot in silver. The result, while not being as perfect as using say a vinyl wrap, does look very real and authentic…decals can look too crisp at times.
Next he used a dark metallic brown to paint the rear roof section and a technique that’s akin to rag rolling. This builds up layers of paint and each is then flattened down to create, once top coated an almost leather look to the finished roof. It was stunning. I spent another day painting in window rubbers, adding in the other details like the metal K5 Blazer and Chevrolet badges RC4WD make, the grille detail and a few scale decals (including the RECON G6 ones RC4WD made for our event) and even a RCCarZone logo on the tailgate. Last I fitted the light buckets, painted the stop and turn indicators inside with Tamiya lens colour.
Scale isn’t just about decals, or accessories, or paint, or wheels or chrome. Its about the combination of all the above elements working in harmony together to fool the eye into thinking:- “Real or RC?”. I think we achieved that with this build, and standing back a looking at it in various locations and natural backdrops, it looks stunning.
The final detail was adding the spare wheel and tyre to the tailgate. It just elevates the overall look to one of utter realism. I also ordered some scale number plates from a contact in the UK Scale Nationals Facebook group. They arrived just before we took the truck for its first trail run and outdoor shoot. It was run alongside the new Axial SCX10.2 and the rigs looked so good together.
Out Blazing In The Great Outdoors
I took the rig to our usual test venue in Warwickshire the same day we tested and shot the Axial SCX10.2. It’s a rig that you have to think about when driving, especially until you have fully broken in the leaf springs. You must always be aware that it is far more top heavy than a Lexan rig, but that’s where the fun lies. It’s realistic in both the way it drives and the way it looks, and you can’t say that of most 4-link Lexan rigs. They always seem to perform outside the parameters of their 1:1 equivalents. With the TF2 platform and this quite large and heavy body, you plan each line you take carefully, you see the way the rig reacts to the surface its running on, the angle of the incline or decent you drive it up or down.
With a hard bodies rig factors like Approach Angle, Break Over Angle and Departure Angle become far more critical as they are far less forgiving.
RCCZ Jargon Buster: Approach Anglerefers to the physical angle that If drive up to a object, incline or ramp, you can safely drive onto it without catching the bumper. If the incline is too steep, the rigs front bumper will hit the ramp first, before the tires are able to. The maximum angle (from the ground) that a hill or obstacle can have and that the front of your car can still clear is therefore called the Approach Angle. As for the Departure Angle, exactly the same principle applies, to the rear bumper and wheels of the rig. For any scale rig, but especially a leaf sprung one like the TF2, when coming down off, say, a rock, or a small natural ledge, you have to know how much clearance you have under your car’s midsection, driveline and transfer box. The angle between your tires and the middle of your car’s underside is the Break Over Angle. If you get it wrong, you will end up balancing on a rock like a see-saw with most of your wheels not in contact with the ground.
One of the most important factors when running a rig for fun or in competition is traction, or the grip your tires have on whatever surface you’re driving on. Traction is produced by a combination of factors, by the type of tires you’re using, their size, and the type of inserts you use. Its also about how much weight from the rig itself is pressing down on them to create a contact patch of tread on your chosen running surface and how the suspension aids keeping the tyres in contact with the ground in relation to0 the rest of the rig.
large angles of articulation are out on a leaf sprung rig like this, and a phenomenon I personally call ‘Wheel Float’ becomes a regular occurrence. This is when the solid axles have surface contact and therefore grip with only three (or sometimes only 2!) tyres, and the other wheel or wheels cannot physically articulate enough via the suspensions range of movement to make contact with the ground. Don’t worry though, as You can very quickly get used to this and often use it to your advantage to use the rig to bridge itself between two objects, where a more traditionally spring rig may have fallen in.
Running a single speed transmission means that with a 35T motor fitted, the rig is a bout walking pace on 2S , and a brisk jogging pace on 3S. Run time however is very good and running a 2S 5000 mAh pack granted a good hour of trail running. On 3S you tend to be a little more trigger happy (or is that just me?) and thus run time is affected. 3s does however allow for additional wheel speed when needed, and with a rig of this overall weight you can build up a good momentum to get up a steep incline or even hop up onto a rock or object.
All of these factors are important when running a scale rig and must be accounted for in both its construction, and the way you drive it out on the trail or a comp course.
After 2 packs and just over 2 full hours I called it a day. I loved every minute of running the Blazer and it’s a totally different driving experience to any of my other current rigs. ‘Yes’, you feel a little more ‘concerned. that you will trash the paint on any more technical rock sections, and ‘No’ it didn’t stop me. I left Burton Dassett with a few chips to the paint, but nothing I couldn’t touch up. One thing I did find however is that the rear bumper did rub the body built stock, and therefore I used a cordless Dremal to grind the inner edge by about 1.5mm to offer a little more clearance between the two, then painted the scuffed area matt black to hide the damage.
“Additional Scale Points Go To The Blazer…”
In conclusion, the TF2 kit itself is simple and fun to build. Be as detailed or as simple as you feel you want to go, and take your time to threadlock and metal to metal union and grease all internal gears in both the transmission, transfer case and the axles. Choose electrics suitable for the job in hand, and make sure if possible the ESC, Servo and Receiver are at least ‘Splash Proof. Weight the wheels to lower the rigs Centre of Gravity.
When you enter into a build like this you have to realise what’s involved. It will take many hours to complete but it’s very, very rewarding. Hard bodies will always have the edge over Lexan in the realism stakes as they are solidly constructed and have actual depth to them and their panels. Lexan, while being dimensionally correct will never have this and always seem less three-dimensional. The Blazer is a rig I’m proud to take out to run, or let a buddy do so. It epitomises the scale scene at the moment and is a true snapshot of what RC4WD do best…help RC fans build their dream rigs!
A huge shout out to Tom and the RC4WD crew for the review sample and parts and to RCBitz in the UK for additional help with sourcing wheel weights etc.
final Drive Ratio: 40.44 Stock (33.69 – 54.15 Optional Range)
Now that’s a big boast for any RC companies latest product. Especially when it’s the successor of one that’s been responsible for many RC fans entry into the Scale, Trail and Crawling scene globally. It’s replacing a design that’s been around in various guises since late 2008, and where most brands selling race chassis or out and out performance products would release an update at least every twelve or eighteen months, Axial have instead been concentrating on developing other bloodlines to add to its ever expanding range…and simply released both kit and RTR variations on its now legendary twin ladder chassis design.
But Is That A Good Thing?
Well, in an industry that’s been plagued with, to be blunt, plagiarism, and the more affordable RTR aspect of the market getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie of late, it’s probably a very prudent move. We live in a world where where we have seen some of the most recognisable names in RC simply disappear, with smaller companies getting taken over by other bigger ones, and even the most forward thinking and daring of brands tending to play safe and consolidate their ranges to survive. Think about the impact this one chassis has had on the scene.
I’ve owned, built, modified and comped with at least 5 different versions of the SCX-10 in both long and short wheelbase variants. I even won the 2012 UK Scale Nationals running a Dingo Builders Kit I famously finished building at 3am the night before the comp started. I know it inside out, It’s AX10 based transmission the mainstay of every comp rig and crawler I’ve ever built, with more hop ups and upgrades than any other rig of its genre, and a few inherent foibles to contend with. It was never perfect. We all had to do certain modifications and tweaks to make the rig ‘perform’, but it certainly made its mark, it stood its ground, but time moves on, as do the expectations of its new and more established clients.
Change is inevitable, It’s part of the ever evolving fabric of life. And in this instance, as I sit here on an unusually dry, hot and sunny 2016 UK day, with a newly built and tested SCX-10 2 rig in front of me, it’s the most welcome thing I’ve experienced in a very, long, long time…
Let me start by taking my hat off to the guys at Axial. All products however good or bad get a tough time on social media and forums. It seems that even before the inks dry on the box art someone somewhere has posted a hastily put together review, done to be the first online to dissecting it to pieces, highlighting all the bad aspects and glossing over the good. I don’t really have time for that kind of journalism.
Well we roll a little differently here at RCCZ. I was always taught to test products thoroughly before writing about them. And by thoroughly I mean over at least a week of running. ‘Real World Testing’ was a phrase Dez Chand always used to describe the way we tested any vehicles in RCCZ’s previous incarnation as RRCi, and it’s a process that I’ve always continued to follow on to this day.
I’ve now put about fifteen packs through the rig, and as all my latest 2s LiPo’s are 7000mAh…that’s some serious wheel time. So far, nothing’s broken. Yes, I’ve found a few minor niggles, but nothing that would put me off either A: buying one myself. Or B: recommending anyone else does so.
No, It’s Not an Ascender Clone…
One thing I’ve seen levelled at the SCX-10 2 is that it’s simply a Vaterra Ascender clone. Now I have both rigs in my collection and can tell you categorically, they are very, very different animals. The only things that are similar are the ladder chassis, the chassis mounted steering servo and the near 45 degree steering deflection thanks to the UJ axles. Let’s face it that’s the recipe for almost any descent scale rig of late, so saying the SCX-10 and Ascender are the same is like saying a Ferrari and an Lamborghini are, yes both are Supercars, yes both can achieve insane top speeds, but they handle and drive very differently.
Now while I rate the Ascender, especially if pitted against a stock original SCX-10, the SCX-10 2 definitely has the edge on overall performance, future tuning scope and factors like weight bias and component layout.
Let’s Start With The New AR44 Axles…
Compared to the latest axles from Vaterra and RC4WD, the original AX10 axles fitted to the SCX-10 V1 look huge, and could never be described as ‘Scale’. The new AR44 High Pinion axles are far more refined and scale externally, and have subtle changes internally too that will aid both their performance and longevity. The high pinion aspect allows for more surface contact between the pinion and crown gears. The gears themselves are cut at an angle and the ratio has been changed to 3.75 from the original axles 2.92. This reduces torque twist and means the rig feels more predictable to drive, regardless of taking left or right hand lines.
One thing that’s also not been overlooked when minimising the look of the axle is its durability. The one piece casings are re-enforced where required and Axial have also used larger bearings to help spread the load and the knuckle carriers and straight axle adaptors locate so much better than the old AX axles.
The former has the ability to be rotated in 10 degree increments, and when combined with a stock 8 degree kingpin angle gives the steering less tyre scrub and therefore reduces load on the steering servo when at the full extent of deflection. For my build I opted to use a digital 26kg Alturn steering servo provided by Logic RC. This may seem like overkill, but I’ve found as long as you use a decent BEC to power your receiver then the steering will cope with just about anything you throw at it.
The smaller pumpkins on the new axles really add to the look and aid with the rigs ground clearance. Inside that pumpkin resides a tough one piece locker and the new internal gears. The only thing that kinda niggled me was that red used for the diff covers. I guess chrome would be a little too much like G-Made or Vaterra Ascender…and black a little bland. I guess you could always paint them whatever colour you like…I intend to go either white or gunmetal gray as soon as possible, but for now, red they will stay.
As for steering deflection, you don’t get much better than 45 degrees! To get this with the original SCX-10, you had to fit UJ’s yourself and also swap over the button head bolts that retained the steering knuckles to the axles for flat heads.
None of that required here…just bags of steering lock and a nice tight turning circle. The last thing to mention on the axles is the bolt on link mounts. These not only add contrast being the same red as the diff covers, they also allow for some future fine tuning, as Axial or a third party hop up manufacturer could produce multi position versions to allow the geometry to be changed to suit a rigs intended use.
New Rig – New Transmission
The transmission has also been re-designed to include the look of a real bell housing, oil pan and transfer case. While most of this isn’t visible to the eye in normal use, it does have one huge advantage of lowering and centralising the driveshafts, making the whole driveline more efficient and under less strain and load. The old V1 trick of flipping the transmission around isn’t needed here as when everything’s assembled the weight bias and left/right distribution is pretty much spot on. Internally the gears are all hardened with the whole transmission running on bearings.
Now another slight niggle…the spur and slipper assembly fit onto a lay shaft. The whole thing as you would expect spins on bearings. But built stock and 100% by the numbers there’s some visible and tangible slop in this assembly. You can grab the spur and see it all move. Now in use, the 56t spur and 15t pinion work just fine together, and so far I’ve had no issues.
I was tempted to shim the slop out, but felt to test the rig fully I had to run it as supplied…and I’ve run it pretty hard up and some very demanding inclines and rock formations. I guess there’s either a tolerance issue with one or more of the components, or Axial have revised that part of the build since I got this early bird review sample. I expect there will be an update or addition of a shim set in future releases…watch this space!
Slop aside, the transmission also allows for a wide range of ratios to be employed and its stock ratio sits at 40.44, but there’s scope for between 33.69 – 54.15. If I remember correctly the original SCX-10 ran at something like 35, so Axial have changed the stock ratio to offer a good balance between torque and wheel speed, especially if like me you opt for a motor in the 30-35t range.
To further aid this Axial will also be releasing a optional 2-speed transmission add on that allows the selection of high or low range via a shift servo. Now this is great, and is a ploy that many RC brands use to get add on sales at a later date with a must have hop up, but why not include it in the Builders Kit in the first place? To me, if Axial want to issue a statement of intent that they have the best out of the box, Lexan bodied rig on the planet they should offer it as a ‘complete kit’ with the 2-speed included. It’s a bit like buying the newest console title and not getting the last level, big boss fight to finish it after a week of playing…I get why they do it, I just feel it would have elevated this already very well designed and specified kit to an even loftier height (rant over!)
The RR10 Bomber 2-Speed is still pretty rare here in the UK, and looking at this transmission im convinced its the same part. Many owners wanting the option have had to source one from the US. I really hope the official SCX-10 2-speed part lands soon and in numbers to meet the demand.
Having the steering servo chassis mounted with a 3-link Panhard Link/Track Bar offers a much cleaner look to the front end, far more ‘scale’. To out and out performance junkies, this setup isn’t as efficient as a 4-link and axle mounted servo with drag link and can reduce axle articulation and induce some bump steer. But that said, Axial have obviously done lots of testing on this aspect and also studied many 1:1 vehicles that use a similar setup.
In use it works really well, and I would rather trade a small percentage of articulation for the look it gives the rig. Having driven the rig for many hours, over very different types of terrain I have simply become accustomed to it, any foibles it may introduce are driven through and accepted as part of the challenge of running a new rig. With some time spent to tune the pre-load on the shocks, performance can be made pretty even on the articulation when compressing and rebounding both left and right.
As for the included alloy bodied ‘ICON Vehicle Dynamics’ replica faux piggyback units, they are the same shocks that Axial have employed in past builders kit SCX10 releases, and if built, bled and sealed correctly not only look good, they perform well too.
I always use Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ on all ‘O’ rings and seals, and it makes a huge difference to the longevity of the shocks between re-fills and builds. Under duress they do leak slightly, but then again so do 99.9% of units on the market today.
Used in conjunction with the multiple position shock hoops on the chassis, their action can be quickly tuned from stiff ‘Street’ to softer ‘Trail’ in seconds. Add in the threaded bodies and pre-load collars and you have very versatile units.
The benchmark to this day of crawler shocks is still the Losi Comp Crawler units. They have become the holy grail of shocks in this genre, but don’t look ‘Scale’. At full lock the inherent issue of tyres rubbing on the shocks springs and their retaining cups is still present, and if left un-checked can lead to loss of the latter in use. There’s 2 things I do to stop this. Firstly I make sure I set my steering end points to allow a good lock both left and right, but stop the wheels and tyres from physically rubbing, and secondly for years now I’ve been applying a tiny smear of Cyno to literally stick the bottom edge of the spring onto the cup. I know it’s a little OTT, but it works, and saves time searching for missing retaining cups out in the wild…been there, done that!
Servo Winch or Bumper Winch…You Decide!
I simply couldn’t live without a winch on my rigs. And in past generations of Axial products have had to either immediately ditch the stock bumper in favour for a purpose made metal RC4WD unit, ready to accommodate my chosen winch. Or, as I’ve done on 2 past builds, make an elaborate Alloy or Delrin brace, to ensure the stock bumper, made from a hard wearing but ultimately flexible plastic could take the strain. I’ve never understood why Axial didn’t just make a far more substantial unit in the first place, one that’s ready to accept the vast majority of winches on the market…
Well they have, the new bumpers are JCR Vanguard replica units and they do! They still have a small acceptable percentage of ‘flex’, but will happily take the strain of a powerful winch and a fully laden rig…even up the side of a door (my favourite old Skool test of both winch and cable!).
I did however have to Dremel away a tiny section of the bumpers top surface to fit my chosen RC4WD Warn replica winch and accommodate the pod housing and its high torque motor and gearing. I removed the winches alloy bottom plate and fairlead and used the former as a template to drill the mounting holes into the bumper, then bolted it directly from underneath onto the surface for a nice clean look. That said though, it is a big wide unit and placing a 3-Racing and other RC4WD units on the bumper, they will actually fit without any modding at all.
But that’s not all folks…If you want to go down the winch servo route Axial also have you covered. There’s a space behind the steering servo to place the winch servo. There’s a clear route for the cable, tough plastic guides that can be bolted on the the chassis to aid the cables progress and keep it away from vital steering components, and the bumper itself has a built in plastic fairlead and cable opening. The latter can be strengthened as I did with an inexpensive alloy fairlead, bolted directly on top of it. For the few £ it cost, it not only looks great, it will stop my fishing trace winch cable cutting into and abrasions the bumper itself in use. I’m not a winch servo fan myself, but I get those that prefer them, keeping the front looking neat and allowing for more lights to be fitted. I prefer to see the winch sitting on the bumper looking mean!
I Want A Jeep Cherokee Now…
When I first saw the SCX-10 2s leaked images I had initially mixed opinions. I thought “Cherokee…mmm, school runs, soccer moms, trips to the supermarket to get groceries…” But then I saw what it was based on, and researched some of the builds people have done to them in the 1:1 world, and I got it. The body may be 16 years old and very retro (after all it’s a 2000 model), it’s less rounded than what came after, but its quirky, a real brute of a 4×4 and a blank canvas for anyone into building rigs to paint any picture they desire with it.
Since the launch of the SCX-10 2, I’ve not seen two builds that look the same. Everyone has personalised them to the hilt, and my build would be no exception. Even built completely to manual, just a subtle change of colour makes this rig look totally different. I had a plan…and we had a new body painter on the team. This would be his first RCCZ project and I was really looking forward to seeing the end result.
But this isn’t just a Lexan shell with a few stickers trying to fool the eye into believing it’s real. No, this body not only looks proportionally correct, it also comes with a slew of bolt on details like a cool roof rack, door handles, wing mirrors, a combined grill/headlight unit and rear door trim. It’s these little touches that when combined with a crisp pain job and Axia’s quality decal sheets that elevate it to near hard body status in terms of its scale realism. But more on those details a little later, first I needed to design a colour scheme and brief the painter. I have a history with my builds on using colour schemes and liveries more akin to a race vehicle. From my Yeti XL build, through to my Wraith Spawn, I like to be very different. This would be no exception and the colour of the wheels I used would be the key. Although I like the look of the supplied black plastic replica Method Mesh wheels, they weren’t beadlocks, so would need gluing after first weighting and possibly venting them correctly…
This I’m afraid is another minor niggle. I’ve not met anyone yet who gets hooked to this aspect of the hobby that doesn’t experiment with wheels/tyres/weight and insert combinations. It’s not a dark art, but it is one that if learnt, can transform a rigs abilities from impressive…to awesome. Beadlock wheels make this whole process easier and I’m quite surprised that Axial have chosen to go down the glued on wheel route yet again. Even simple, plastic, 2 piece bead locks would elevate this kit in the eyes of the scale building world and show that they understood our pain and weight bias based obsession! I’m guessing it’s a due to a production cost implication but I would far rather they didn’t licence a wheel design that many will simply not use and swap out (like I did), and instead put the same money into a neat, generic looking scale plastic two (or three part) plastic bead lock.
I instead chose to order from Asiatees a set of very detailed, alloy, Boom Racing manufactured ‘Sandstorm Krait’ beadlocks. At £62 for a set of 4, they do look epic and are pretty good value for money. The centre hub is threaded and screws on to hide the end of each axle and its M4 Nyloc nut perfectly. They are a bit of a fiddle to assemble, especially when adding 1.5 strips of stick on weight around each front, but well worth it for optimum weight bias. I also deviated at this point from the stock BF Goodrich kit tyres.
I’ve saved them for future use as I’ve heard great things about them, especially on dry rocks. But where I run is mostly in the local woods, it’s moss covered rocks, moist leaf mulch, stone covered stream beds and deep water and good old fashioned UK mud (all year round).
To this end I fitted a set of RC4WD ‘Mickey Thompson Baja Claws‘. Tyres I’ve found perfect for this environment. As for the colour…well I describe it as Gun Metal crossed with Pewter. I took a picture, sent it to the painter and said “This, Black & Silver…” As for the design, I simply wrote “Go as crazy as you want dude…” And he did, in a very cool way!
That Essential Original 2%
The C section Steel ladder chassis may be the only carry over item from its predecessor but it’s the essential backbone that all the other components literally bolt onto. Cross members offer mounting points for the front and rear bumpers, the new longitudinal battery mount, waterproof radio box and wide plastic protective mount for the RC4WD ESC and any other components like a BEC, LED lighting controller (or as I have, another MTroniks ESC for the winch itself). There’s neat routing points for the steering Servo, optional LED lighting for the bumpers built in light buckets and winch wiring.
As for the new battery pack mount it’s just what the doctor ordered. No more modifying or adding third party battery mounts to forward mount the main pack. My chosen 7000 mAh 2S Optipower LiPo fitted perfectly, with still room to spare if you decided to go 3s in the future. There are bolt on stand offs that can be set to accommodate different sized packs and using a single Velcro retaining strap adds a little more security to the whole process.
As for the packs orientation, having the pack seated on its side is actually a pretty genius approach. It offers far more room either side and even running with wheels with no weights offers a forward weight bias that allows the rig to climb up and over most terrain with ease. Running weighted front wheels it’s even better, and in tests our review rig managed inclines in excess of 50 degrees…
I think the record for a fully loaded MOA comp crawler rig still stands at a staggering 63 degrees, we even ran a competition one year at the Nationals to set that particular benchmark. (I may have to dig out that test apparatus and run it again in October with just scale builds!).
Another minor niggle here is that the plastic moulding for the mount actually covers the female ports on most packs I tested in the rig.
So it’s either been designed for packs with leads built in and protruding from the top, or Axial expect you to do as I did, and use a body reamer, drill or Dremel to make two holes in the correct place to plug in the male connectors of the ESC’s connecting lead.
It’s not a huge omission, but one I would have designed slightly differently myself to accommodate the now almost standard issue ‘Brick Pack’ LiPo’s with female ports on them. That aside, compared to the last gen SCX-10 it’s a night and day improvement.
Racking Up Those Scale Points
The beauty of a kit like this is that every single one will end up slightly different and become an extension of the individual that builds it. I had collated a pile of scale accessories by RC4WD, CarismaRC, Fastraxx and Boom Racing. As soon as the body arrived back from the painter..(and I must stop at this point and just say “Wow”…this dude can paint!) I got on with finishing this aspect of the build. Now in days gone by a one or two colour paint job, a few decals and possibly just a smattering of scale accessories would have sufficed. But in 2016 the industry and scale scene has upped its game, ‘Scale Realism’ are the keywords, and making a rig that at first glance fools the eye and brain into thinking “is that real” is the ultimate goal for manufacturers.
Until now many Axial builds were good, but never had the depth of detail to make you double take. The SCX-10 2 resolves that in one go…and then adds a cherry on the top! From the roof rack, through to the grille and headlamp detail, wing mirrors and door handles, this additional layer of depth from simple mouldings is what we’ve all been waiting for. There are a few tricky bits, like cutting out and Dremeling the opening for the plastic grille moulding. I don’t get why Axial would design that part of the shell to have a very thin line of plastic (about 2.5mm) running under the grille? I simply got rid of that bottom edge and just cut and smoothed 3 sides instead of 4. It retains the look of the front end without all the hardship of cutting that thin strip perfectly.
The roof rack was also a little tricky as you have to used a beveled mount placed inside the shell and screw the top half into it to compensate for the angle of the roofs sides. This isn’t as simple as it sounds as screwing into the angled internal mount is fiddly to say the least. Again all for making life easier I simply made the mounting holes slightly bigger, used M2.5 nuts and bolts with rubber grommets placed on the inside to space the Nyloc nuts away from the body inside and avoid damaging the amazing paint job internally. It’s not me being rebellious, it’s me making the build process as easy as possible!
I next added the wing mirrors, the moulding that sits on the trucks tailgate and after painting the smaller lenses that affix inside the grill and headlamp moulding with a Tamiya Acrylic designed for LED lenses, I sat back and took a look. In this ‘stock’ built form it’s an impressive looking rig, but I wasn’t finished, not by a long shot! I added four fog lamps. Two to the front bumper, either side of my RC4WD Warn winch, and one more on the top of each windscreen pillar either side of the front of the roof rack.
I next added an RC4WD LED light bar to fit into the gap between the roof spots and complete that area. I put a tiny rubber grommet into a hole under the bar and fed the wiring through to hide it from view. Internally I hot glue gunned the wires neatly into the shell and then covered them in black electrical tape to hide them from view.
I had amasses a range of scale accessories but didn’t want them bouncing around loose on the roof rack or strapped down with individual bungee cords. I came up with an idea. I used a thin sheet of black expanded rubber packing measured to the internal dimensions of the roof rack, and then used Cyno to glue the accessories into place. They looked like they had been packed properly, wouldn’t move about or damage each other, and when covered with a cargo net made from the inside of an old camera bag, edged with black electrical tape looked perfect!
I didn’t use the plastic tow hook/hitch that came with the kit. Instead I fitted a metal RC4WD rear carrier, that fits perfectly into the bumper. in normal trail use it doesn’t impede the rear clearance angle, but in comp use of over more challenging terrain it can be in-hooked and fixed flat against the rear door/tailgate. In the 1:1 works these carriers I’m informed are used for anything from carrying luggage, snowboards or mountain bikes to deer carcasses! I opted to use it for storing two sand ladders AceoAxe had 3D printed for me, and then use two RCBitz scale bungee cords to affix them in place! My last piece of detailing was to add a RC4WD snorkel. It’s actually an item not designed for the Cherokee, it’s designed for a D90 or D110, but a little re-shaping with a craft knife and some fine grit wet and dry, and it looked like it was!
After another hour of applying subtle decals to the body, and with a fine water and detergent spray and squeegee the windows in place, I was nearly ready to fit the body to the chassis. I named this part of the build ‘Operation Stealth Mount…’ I had a set of magnetic mounts I had planned to fit to one of Yokomo my drift cars. I decided that I would use them at the front to keep the bonnet/hood area as clean looking as possible, and simple us the normal rear roof mounts as stock, but hide under the cargo netting and accessories. This plan worked a treat as the rear mounts were totally unseen, and added an extra level of security in case the body got cause up and came loose at the front in use. Another hour later and the rig was finished….well I say finished, but I just couldn’t resist adding more LEDs into the light buckets in the headlamps and side lights, again hot glue was used to mount them, then the glue painted Matt black to hide it internally and help it blend in.
A last touch was to keep the front window surround in, and use a scalpel to cut out the window decal. It’s an old drifting build trick and makes the front window look far more crisp than a decal itself ever would. In a future part of the build I will attempt an interior. But as the rig doesn’t come with one from the box, I thought for now that was enough. I was itching to get the rig up and running…
I photographed the rig from all angles and was very pleased with the end result. I packed the rig into the boot of my jeep and the following morning set out to Burton Dasset. It’s the place I first ran an Axial, the place I first met Speedy Steve, and since 2007 has been a regular haunt for crawling and scale fun. It’s also somewhere I know every part of intimately, it’s lines and inclines may be getting more worn with time, but It’s by far the perfect place to test this new Axial rigs abilities and have some 1:1 fun too as it also has a 4×4 trail!
Re Discovering Scale Adventure
The sun was out, the sky slightly cloudy but bright blue, my 1 hour drive, roof off, at 6.30am, coffee in hand made me feel glad to be alive. I arrived, grabbed a ticket to use the park all day and hit the first location, a section of rocks surrounding a muddy and wet gravel area with a series of steep inclines on the other. Now surrounding this location are a series of 1:1 trails leading first down a steep incline, across my location and then up another incline the other side to disappear over the hill the other side. At 7.30am it was deserted and I must admit I did spend a while driving up and down both sides in 4WD low range before parking on the top of the hill! Who needs car parks!
I got the rig out and did the usual glamour shots, recreating some of the poses my very first SCX-10 build was put in all those years ago. I then plugged in the 7000mAh pack, made sure the winch was working properly and hit the trails. The first test was a very steep incline over some tree roots and then onto and even steeper mud track leading to the upper level of the area I was in. It breezed it, like effortlessly, my 2s LiPo, RC4WD brushed ESC and Igified 35t brushed motor offering just the right combination of torque (and when needed) bursts of wheel speed.
I spent the next 4 hours just driving the rig up lines I knew well from my Comp Crawling ands early MK1 SCX-10 days, some it destroyed, others because of its size, it struggled and got its rock sliders hung up on, but that was more about me trying to squeeze it through narrow gaps it wasn’t designed for, than the rigs out and out ability.
I drove it through ankle deep water in the woodland area with its stream at the lower part of the park, and it survived that, and then up and down the steep inclined that are scattered across this multi acre site.
Side hilling at even steep angles it coped with perfectly, you just had to remember where its tipping point was and the sheer amount of accessories I had put in that roof rack. Yes it ended up on its side on a few occasions, but that’s how you get to understand a rigs capabilities, by truly pushing and testing its limits. The time just flew I was that engrossed. I’ve not been into driving a rig so much since my original ARX10 way back when.
Its a great all round rig and other than tuning the pre-load to stop it trying to torque twist (yes it does it a little bit, (all shaft driven rigs will, regardless of the manufacturers claims to the contrary) it ran flawlessly.
The transmission while using a coarser 32dp gear than previous rigs wasn’t noticeably more noisy in use, and the driveline took everything I threw at it. My earlier concerns about the slop in the lay shaft and Spur assembly seemed trivial as I had no issues. It simply found its natural mesh point and stayed there. I will shim it at some point or as others have done add an additional bearing, but for now, its being run stock.
Would I buy one? Hell yes. Its the natural progression of everything that I love about this hobby. This is my go to everyday rig, for both fun and competition. My other is a leaf spring hard bodies build that’s chalk and cheese different. Neither can be compared or contrasted. I run each for very different reasons, and treat each with the respect they deserve. The SCX-10 2 it must be said is the more capable rig in most situations, but then again it would be…its been designed and built to perform way beyond a scale version of its 1:1 self, and that’s a point to remember.
I’ve just recently fitted FPV to it and I’ll follow up with a smaller article on that very soon. I have a future plan for this rig, and its so cunning you could (insert Black Adder Joke of your own preference!). But more of that in the future. Until then. Batch one that hit the US and Europe sold out very, very quickly. There’s lots of interest in the new SCX-10 2 and quite rightly so. Pre-orders are being taken on batch 2 that lands at the end of September from what I’ve been told.
If you are teetering on the edge, go on take the plunge. For die hard Axial fans like me its a total no-brainer. And for those wanting a fun build, and a well manufactured and designed kit, you cant really go wrong…unless you hate building, painting and detailing. but there is a solution, Axial recently released a RTR version in a rather fetching Gray. Its a blank canvas for a future project, but without all the initial build time.
Either way, and minor niggles aside, the SCX-10 2 is a worthy successor for the global scale communities Lexan Crown…Long live the King!
Here’s Axials ‘Official’ video of the SCX-10 2 in action:-
A 98% ‘New’ design (just original chassis rail design remains)
Front mounted main pack & optimised weight bias
Build it to your own Specification & chosen use
Bumper Mounted or Servo Winch Options
Clear future 2-speed upgrade path
Near 45 degree steering deflection
Included ICON Alloy shocks ‘Work’!
Additional Scale Details look epic
Roof rack fiddly to fit from inside & out, can damage paint in process
Glued Tyres…Non-beadlock wheels…(Axial why?)
Transmission slop in Layshaft/Spur assembly
2-Speed NOT included in box…(again, why not?)
For more on Axial Racing & all its products: CLICK HERE
For more on RC4WD & its range of suitable SCX Hop Ups: CLICK HERE
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)
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.
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!
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
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.
The second layer contains all the frame and bumper components.
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
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.
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
Good Quality Kit
Very nice packaging
Endless customization support
Great driving and handling
Plug & Play body mount for Stock Tamiya Jeep body
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.
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
Castle 10 BEC
Here’s a cool video of the rig in action at the recent Globetrotter Rodeo RECON G6…
Back in 2015, when RCCZ hadn’t even been conceived yet, and I was still editing Radio Race Car International, I had an idea. It was either the best I’ve had in a while or one that if it went wrong, would A: Cost me a chunk of money personally. And B: Let down a large group of people and an aspect of the RC hobby that I care very deeply about; namely the Scale, Trail and crawling crowd right here in the UK.
You see I had been following the Global RECON G6 community and its figure head, Brain Parker, since its conception. My idea was to co-host a full-on RECON G6 right here in the UK. We would hold it on the same weekend as out regular UK Scale Nationals, an event that had been steadily growing in popularity and drivers numbers for the last half decade and was previously run under the RRCi banner. The Nationals was a known entity, the G6 something new and from the photographs and video’s I had seen online, more about being part of a global community, having Adventures and something that’s often forgotten in RC events of late…good old family orientated fun.
One thing I was sure of though, was I didn’t just want to parody the events Brian runs, trying to re-create the G6 spirit ourselves. No, even with the great team we have at RCCZ that would be both an insult to him and the hard work he’s put into his Scale Adventure Series, and the 150+ UK drivers we wanted to turn up and attend. We needed to fly the man himself over, experience his way of setting the stages as he calls them, witness his very unique driver’s briefings, and be a part of the RECON G6 global family first hand. In some respects it was a big ask, but I always believe that life should be full of new experiences, and however big the challenge seems, if you tackle it head on, and have a great team around you, anything is possible.
A Little Re-wind
For those not familiar with Brian Parker and the ethos behind the RECON G6 events, I suggest you read some of the back issues of RCCZ, it’s a subject we covered in some depth in the run up to the event itself, including a very in-depth interview with the man himself and reports from at least two G6 events. Suffice to say, his involvement with not just the 1/10th and RC, but also the 1:1 Crawl and Off Road scene, goes pretty deep. His face, that gravelly voice (not to mention the trademark unique footwear and Tactical Kilt) are probably the most recognisable in the scene at the moment. There are people and nicknames that over the years stick in your head as pioneers of the scene. Bender, Gatekeeper, and Parker are just three examples. His transformation after losing a side bet during a comp to become Axialman is a classic example…he’s in this for the fun, friendship and comradery, not just the money. Having chatted with him at length many, many times online, I always felt he was someone I actually knew (even though the reality was that we had never physically met).
To anyone looking from the outside in, Brian has played a pivotal role in the growth of ‘Scale’, and been the life and soul of many events, right from the early Axialfest’s, through to the latest RECON G6 events held across Europe. His direct links with the former have now been severed, but just like the demise of RRCi spurred me on with the birth of RCCZ, Brian has been further energised and has grown the G6 brand globally. Just like the now discontinued Axial “RECON G6 Certified” SCX-10 RTR a few years back, new G6 emblazoned products from brands like ProLine, Boom Racing and PitBull Tyres keep appearing to show that the industry is taking notice of the brand identity he has created, and with RC4WD as a headline sponsor, events like the Hong Kong G6 in November, and regular dates in both the US and Europe, this kilt wearing, coffee fuelled phenomenon doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon!
So, in late 2015 I rang him and pitched my idea…there was a long pause, I was bracing myself for the worst, and that his schedule wouldn’t allow it, or the UK wasn’t of interest to him, but then I heard a laugh at the other end of the Skype line…and four words: ”Let’s make it happen!”. We chatted for a further hour or so, about everything from BMX bikes to Jeeps and RC, then bounced a few provisional dates around. Eventually we decided upon the middle of June 2016. This would allow Brian to fly into Europe, attend and co-host our event, then fly over to Austria, host 2 more G6 events before flying home a few weeks later.
There would also be some C.R.R.M (Coffee Related Roasting Matters) to attend to in Austria also, and those that know Brian well, will understand that…Work hard, play hard is all I will say on that matter, and having met him now, he does both with gusto. We said our goodbyes, did a virtual knuckle bump via instant messenger, and then the line went dead on Skype…
The Kilt Said Yes…Now What?
I sat back in my chair and thought about the consequences and enormity of that single Skype conversation. This was the first 6 months of the magazines existence, we were growing, our core readership was loyal, we were keeping our head above water and we had amazing support from the industry. But if no-one turned up, or the weather ruined the event, we could potentially end up with an invoice that could put the mag under. I winced a little at that thought, but smiled as well at the thought of a UK RECON G6.
I rang round the RCCZ team and got their unanimous support. I told them the provisional date and my plans. We decided that we would run the G6 on the Saturday, and also incorporate a night run into the mix. This would mean that competitors would have in theory a 12+ hour day ahead of them, the latter finishing in real terms past 11pm that evening. Speaking again with Brian a few weeks later it seems there would be two long G6 trails. The “Little Britain Stage” with white trail markers placed on the right, and the “Go Large – US Stage” with the white trail markers on the left, for obvious reasons…I was tasked with making the trail markers, but more on that later!
The Nationals on the Sunday would consist of 2 long 100 gate self-scored trail runs, using our usual red and yellow gate markers, and a very technical 10 gate organiser scored (and timed) comp course to decide its winners. We even decided to take along a set of ‘Old Skool’ tennis balls to set out a Comp Crawling Course in memory of our buddy Skippy, who, if you read the mag will realise we lost a few months before the event, but who was a huge part of the early days of the UK comp scene. It was designed as a fun, guest event for those still with a comp rig still in their collection and we also sold smiley face stickers (a skippy trademark) with proceeds going to his favourite charity. This is something we hopefully can grow for our next event, as there seems to be enough interest in the genre (especially with the recent launch of the RC4WD Bully 2 MOA rig). It seems comp crawling may get a mini renaissance very soon, and there are rumours of more rigs by other manufacturers in late 2016 and beyond…
I also did my usual ring around of the brands that have always supported our events and got unanimous support from the Scale, Trail and Crawl RC Industry. Our headline sponsor would be RC4WD, and Tom Allen and the RC4WD crew really stepped up in a big way. Not only would they be offering goody bags for every entrant of the G6 and Nationals double header event, they also offered us the biggest prize package we’ve seen to date, with 2 rigs, T-Shirts, Hats, sets of axles, beadlock wheels, trailers, tyres, and more individual accessories than we’ve ever seen before.
Tom also surprised us by secretly making scale sticker sheets just for the RECON G6 UK Edition, perfect for adorning our rigs with and celebrating the fact this was the first ever event of its type on UK soil…Kudos guys, we cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support.
Martin at RC Bits also donated an RC4WD rig as a prize for the G6 event and some scale accessories. He also supported us as ever with a huge Trailside retail offer, giving entrants not only the opportunity to lighten their wallets with a selection of the best the industry has to offer, but also essential spares to keep the competitors rigs up and running all weekend in the event of a breakage of electrical failure.
Other RCCZ friendly distributors like AsiaTees sent over G6 endorsed prizes by brands such as Boom Racing, with sets of shocks, beadlock wheels, accessories and sticker packs. CML Distribution sent us some scale specific prizes from ProLine and FastTrax, The Hobby Company a very cool Carrera slot racing set as a junior prize, and HPI a box full of tyres, pit mats and wearables. Add to already substantial prize pool vouchers for invaluable brushed motor strips and tunes by Andy Smith, 3D printed axles stands, barrels, fuel cans and sand ladders from and our very own Scott (AceofAxe) Curlin.
Buts that’s not all folks…Ivan Carisma from Carisma RC also sent a huge box of Scale accessories, injection moulded on sprues with everything from generators, to tool boxes, oil barrels, fire extinguishers, pots ‘n’ pans to bicycles in perfect 1/10th scale, all ready to cut off, glue together, paint and then be added to roof racks or scale garages. The generosity these companies show the scene each year is nothing short of amazing. The whole team would like to thank everyone involved with this event for their commitment and generosity. Having great prizes and a fun raffle ensures that the winners get something they can be proud of. Everyone else still has a chance to win something of real value, and get some cool hop up’s and scale accessories.
A Golden Ticket
Axial Racing were the headline sponsor of the Nationals on the Sunday and simply offered the winner a Golden Ticket…At first we were a little confused by this, until Andrew Rawlinson enlightened us that it would entitle the winner to get one of the very first SCX10-2 rigs in the UK, and that he had even brought along the only built sample of a SCX-10 in the UK to whet the appetites of perspective future owners. (We, admittedly by this time had also been secretly sent our review sample by Axial direct…as seen in this issue, but had not had time to physically build it yet…but when you see the results you will understand why!)
So, we had the dates and the venue booked, Parker’s flights and accommodation arranged, the prizes and goody bags agreed, now it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and make all the things that take this type of event to the next level. I first designed some trophies for the Nationals based on Axial Logos with RR10 wheels and tyres as their bases. I went to see Phil Lawrence, who not only writes for RCCZ, but also owns www.makeitbuildit.co.uk and commissioned him to 3D print the trophies and then set each onto its wheel/tyre base with a Carbon Fibre rod.
The end results are simply stunning, and Phil did an amazing job, I cannot thank him enough for his efforts. Next I rang the guys at Hoverspeed RC. Now my contact with them up until now has been with my other hat on, as editor of a couple of Drone magazines. They actually make the most amazing air gates and corner flags and have been instrumental in pushing the FPV racing scene both here in the UK, and globally. I designed some start and finish gates for the RECON G6, incorporating the headline sponsor, RC4WDs logo, our very own RCCZ logo and of course an official “RECON G6 Certified” stand for good measure. A couple of emails later and the design was finalised, and when they arrived by courier a day or so later, I was gobsmacked. Tim had done a simply amazing job. They were free standing, with a pipework frame and legs, made from neatly laser cut vinyl and expertly printed front and back. We now had two start and two finish gates as a little bit of additional theatre to add to the event. I was starting to get really excited about this upcoming event…
Trail Markers R Us…(OK, R Me!)
The job that I was actually dreading the most was making any additional trail markers Brian may need for the RECON G6. What seems like years ago now, Speedy Steve had made us over 200 pairs of red and yellow gate markers using welding rod cut to length, with plastic tops and all individually numbered. They had served us very well, had lasted three years of comps so far, and were still going strong. Brian needed at least 150 if not 200 more gates to set out his two trails and the night run for day one. I was tasked with this job and wanted to ensure they looked totally different to the UK Nationals markers.
I went on EBay and ordered 300 green garden sticks, and 16 packs of large red and white plastic bunting. Each pack contained 12 plastic flags, and each individual flag could be cut into 4 smaller ones. The garden sticks could cut into two to make in theory 600 trail markets if required. I spent every evening until about midnight for the next two weeks making 200 pairs of red and white flag markers. It was as expected mind numbing…but vital work!
After showing Tom at RC4WD what I was up to, he again surprised me by sending us about 60 printed plastic trail signs that just needed to be glued onto sticks, to again add a little more theatre and detail to the whole event. It’s these little touches that make all the difference, and as ever Kudos to him for the idea…it’s something we will definitely be doing more of in future events.
Setup Day Arrived…
With the pace of life these days the event was soon upon us and myself and Scott loaded up his van and my Jeep with the prizes, banners, Trail Markers etc and headed to Bracken Rocks. We had arranged to rendezvous with Brian nearby and lead him in as the Sat Nav co-ordinates and site turnoff is notorious for getting first times lost…
An hour or so of driving later, and a black and yellow Citroën hire car appeared at our chosen meet up spot. In the car was Parker himself fighting jet-lag but beaming from ear to ear, and Joey W, fellow G6er, female 1:1 4×4 adventurer, Master Barista (I kid you not!) and roaster of some of the finest coffee anywhere on the planet. She would play a pivotal role in keeping the whole crew alert, awake and alive over the next few days. Scott I I gave each other a knowing glance…this was going to be one fun weekend!
Arriving on site, the team had got to work like a well-oiled machine. We all had our job roles and all knew how important set up day was to the success of the event. The Trail Control was already open, generator running, lights on and the on-site facilities unlocked and ready for action. Brian and Joey extracted themselves from the hire car and we said our official hello’s and introduced them to the team. As ever the RCCZ team of myself, Andy Moore, Scott Curlin, John Wasley and Speedy Steve was swelled by Ian Walters, and his Partner Claire and Speedy’s wife Sam. This was our core team, we had not just one but two epic events to stage, so we simply got on with it…
Torrential Rain & Muddy Trails Espresso
About an hour into dressing the site with banners, boundary marking the main areas and Brian and Joey starting to get their trail markers laid, it rained. And I’m not just talking drizzle or a light shower here. It was in all my years of hosting the Nationals the heaviest downpour I’ve ever seen, my heart sank and it didn’t relent. We have video of rivers of water flowing through and down the lower half of the site, by trail control and disappearing into the field earmarked for camping below. Martin appeared with his RCBitz pop up shop and fought the weather to set out his stall, torrents of rain and wind buffeting his efforts.
We by now were mostly all soaked, Parker and Joey had on some cool looking camo poncho’s and despite their baptism by fire (or cold airborne UK water) their spirits were high. They just kept disappearing into the woods and laying more and more trail markers. Returning muddier and wetter each time, but always smiling. Joey then got out all her coffee making paraphernalia and we called a time out. She proceeded to instruct us all in the fine art of making good coffee. From weighing and grinding the beans properly, to using a filter and water at the right temperature and brewing it properly. I even shot a video of the process that’s well worth a watch on my YouTube channel. Fortified and buzzing with some of the best fresh coffee I’ve ever tasted, we all got back into setup mode.
By 6PM we had everything ready to rock and roll the following morning. The site was starting to fill with campers, all totally undeterred by the continuing wet weather, but the field was getting pretty water logged and some without 4x4s struggled to get to their pitch. Add to this reports that roads were flooded on the approach to the site, I was still feeling rather nervous at this point, I just wanted the rain to stop and the sky’s to clear…
The Team BBQ Live + A Night Time Adventure For Parker & Joey
We called it a day on site and went to Johns for our now legendary Team BBQ. Parker and Joey Joined us as our honoured guests and in his trademark style Parker televised most of the evenings events live to the World using the Live feature of facebook. The video’s he shot are both funny and capture perfectly the closeness and spirit that the RCCZ have. We aren’t just colleagues. We are truly friends, and over the years have been through a lot between us, both as individuals and together. We are all very different, but share a love of anything Off Road, both RC and 1:1. We did a guided tour around John’s man cave, his motorbikes, Quad bike and his & his wife’s very modified Suzuki Jeeps.
The latter got lots of very positive reaction especially from the US based friends of Parker and the G6 family and can still be watched on Facebook, as can all the other Live uploads we made during that whole weekend. But it didn’t end there. We took the Samurai and the Jimny out to a local 4×4 trail and took Parker and Joey on a 1:1 4×4 adventure to show just how capable and robust these plucky little 4x4s really are! (note to self, as I’m well over 6ft tall and when sitting in the back of a Suzuki, I should wear a seatbelt)…Yes, I didn’t put one on. Yes, I hit my head on the roll bar, yes I broke my glasses in the process, yes I laughed all the way round and home again, no I probably didn’t learn a lesson from the experience!
Much later, back at The House Of Wasley, at well past midnight, and After much BBQ, Speedy’s Chilli Jam and (for those not driving) copious quantities of real ale supplied by Ian we all said our goodbye’s, vowing to be on site by 7.30-8am for an 9am start for booking in…or so we thought.
“Tyre Down, I Repeat Tyre Down…”
Then at around 2am I got a message…”We got a flat on the way home, had to leave car by the side of the road. Are both walking to the hotel, let’s talk in the morning about collecting Brian. I will go and sort car…Joey”
It seemed the funky French car with its low profile tyres had experienced either a blow out or possibly an annoying impromptu puncture half way back to Parker and Joey’s hotel. He had evidently shrugged his shoulders, put on his head torch, picked up as much as he could carry physically, and he and Joey had walked for 1.5 hours along country roads to their rather remote Derbyshire hotel. Imagine that sight if you came driving the other way at 2am…pouring down with rain, kilt blowing in the wind, head torch on full beam. It had been an eventful few hours.
Talk about a welcome to the UK. First the rain, (which still hadn’t stopped) and now this. I was assured by Joey there was nothing we could do to help until daybreak, so I unsuccessfully tried to get back into a deep sleep…
The Cold Light of Twinset
After dispatching Andy Moore to drive the 45 minutes to the hotel and go and collect Parker for around 9am, the rest of us made our way to the site. I was pleasantly surprised the amount of additional campers that had braved the weather, floods and closed roads and having posted on the official Facebook page about starting an hour late due to Parker not arriving until at least 9.30-9.45…we set about getting the first ever RECON G6 up and running…well after a hearty breakfast from the on-site caterers anyway!
I had made up a G6 score card and Ian had duplicated them into double sided A5 format. Brain arrived and immediately got to work being Brian. He has a way of just working a crowd. Everyone gets some personal attention, everyone regardless of age, or gender gets treated the same. He makes you feel part of something special and that’s the real key to what he does. Booking in started with each competitor and their rig being categorised and given a title…From “Drivin Divas” to “Veterans”, Not only did each entrant get to experience the full day and night trail, they also got a RC4WD Goody bag that included the exclusive RECON G6 UK Edition stickers. A queue formed and just kept filling up again. They just kept arriving, wave after wave of them. The turnout was astonishing all things considered.
By now the rain gods had decided to give us a break. The sky whilst not being blue was at least clearing if a little cloudy. Between 9am and 10am we had over 150 entrants book in and with the on-site caterers doing a roaring trade in breakfasts and drinks, things were starting to look very promising.
At 10.15 we called everyone together and had a drivers briefing. Brian inducted everyone into the global RECON G6 family and with all the rigs placed on the road loading up to the trail control it was an impressive site. The two “stages” as he calls them were described to the drivers. Brian explained that the “Little Britain Stage” to the right as you entered the woods had white trail markers to the right, and the “Go Big USA Stage” that started to the left had them on the left.
He also explained that he had hidden “Adventure Items” in and around the trails. From stamps and hole punches you could mark your score sheet with, to obscure objects like rubber frogs, even lost plastic toy puppies (allegedly that had escaped from the Derbyshire pound). If found any of these Adventure Items must be stowed aboard your rig and then brought back to trail control and showed when handing in the score sheets.
They not only ended up as a memento of the event and their time at the UK G6, but would also entitle the finder additional free raffle tickets for the grand prize draw on Sunday afternoon. One such ticket actually got one of the main prizes during this, so its proves the point about the importance of this additional aspect to the event, You didn’t just drive the stages, you explored them, and took time to actually soak in the surroundings.
“Trail Etiquette” Is also the Key
The other thing that Brian stresses to all competitors was “Trail Etiquette”. This isn’t a Scale Competition, it’s a Scale Adventure. Drivers are expected to work together to ensure everyone who goes through the start gate on either the UK or US side makes it round the whole stage and gets home safe and sound. It’s the same in 1:1 4×4 circles and is a great message for the whole community.
There were sections on both stages that had rigs stuck hard and fast. “Scale Quicksand” is how Brian described one section on the US stage. A winding section of gates that seemed near impossible to negotiate without using a winch or without the aid of a winch buddy. This is where trail etiquette really came into play. We witnessed one European driver from Daniels group spend nearly an hour in one section pulling rig after rig out of the mud and making sure they all got past that natural obstacle onto firmer and less perilous ground.
Other instances where were a driver had suffered a driveshaft failure half way round the huge stages. A complete stranger appears, stays with the driver and offers a spare he or she was carrying on their rig.
New friendships are formed during the event and the comradery between the “Competitors” (if you want to call them that) goes through the roof.
This isn’t just about winning or losing as many RC comps are. This is about being part of something much deeper, a member of a real community, and that’s the biggest life lesson anyone attending a G6 event will learn.
Whole blood related families went out through our RCCZ Start gates…bigger extended G6 families came back through the finish ones.
Another twist in the G6 way of doing things is the way Brian has set the stages. Often gates would just stop. You would see drivers looking around for the next, often for a matter of minutes. At first out British sense of black and white where rules and course setting are concerned threw up a few minor protests.
We all expect to go through gate 13 and then visually see gate 14 somewhere nearby. This wasn’t always the case on Brains stages…He pulled me and a group of drivers to one side and explained something:-
“Life is about going on a journey. We all make decisions as to the path to take. We sometimes make wrong turns, have to do a U turn or even double back and start again. But we learn from that and eventually we get from point A, to Point B and feel like we have achieved something. It’s your own journey, your own path, and your own choice…If you can’t see the next step, go explore a bit. You never know what you will find just over that next crest…”
You see Brian isn’t just someone who stages events and just like me and the magazine tries to make a living from doing something he loves. He’s truly and inspirational leader and that’s little speech made complete sense. You could see the expression on people’s faces change. They got it, and went off, driving their rigs before them to explore…then a shout went up. “Got it, next gate is over there, hidden between those two bushes…”.
It actually lead though to space you almost had to physically crawl after your rig to negotiate. That’s what elevates this type of event from a mundane drive to being pure class. The other thing to note is that Brian is constantly going up and down the stages, he‘s there to encourage the drivers, spurring them on to get past difficult features and gates, have some fun with them and keep the G6 ethos going throughput the event. If you could bottle whatever Brian has, it would be a rare commodity. But luckily you can’t and that the G6 magic and unique nature of this event.
Fog, Orbs & Glo Sticks…
At night fell, the majority of drivers readied themselves for the night stage and I got out my secret weapon. 200 8” Glow Sticks and 60 reflective gate markers. By using these, some additional lighting that Brain had brought with him, and sections of the Go Big US Stage, we created a night stage to be very proud of.
The combination of spooky stories about “Orbs” in the drivers briefing, the man-made “Fog” generated by the Vapers amongst the group and a pitch black woodland setting worked a treat.
Parker lead the group out to the start of the stage. Then went up and down the trail making sure everyone was having fun. He counted em out…and counted em back in again.
Meanwhile back at trail control, Joey kept us awake and alert with regular hits of black coffee, and stories of past G6 adventures and their hopes for the events going forward.
We left the site at past midnight, everyone having had a blast. Everyone getting back safely, all having thoroughly enjoyed every second of the run. No punctures were had that drive home…and Parker and Joey sent a message to confirm they had got back safe and sound. I actually slept that night, despite the caffeine overload.
WE had done good. The first ever RECON G6 was a huge success, and we still had a day of Scale comps and 200 gates if trail runs ahead of us!
For more on everything RECON G6 related CLICK HERE