The RC ‘Kei’ Class

RCZ_Scale 1

Words & Images: Peter Gray/John Wasley/Justine Wasley

Tamiya Suzuki Jimny MF-01X Chassis Kit

Tamiya Website: CLICK HERE

UK Distributor: CLICK HERE

UK RRP: £119.00 (Kit Only)

Specs

  • Length: 347mm
  • Width: 170mm
  • Height: 215mm
  • Wheelbase: 225mm
  • Electric Shaft-Driven 4WD
  • Double Wishbone Suspension
  • Gear Ratio = 9.5:1

Suzuki 4×4 101

Suzuki’s links with 4×4 vehicles dates right back to the year of my birth, 1968…(yeah I’m really that old!). Back then Suzuki bought a former Japanese automaker, the Hope Motor Company. That company had previously produced a series of small off-road vehicles called the ‘HopeStar ON360’. The first fully Suzuki-branded 4×4 was was introduced in 1970 and named the ’Light Jeep 10’or ‘LJ10’ for short. It was driven by a very modest 359cc air-cooled, 2-cylinder, two-stroke engine, and was originally targeted at the Australian market. More exports globally soon followed as the plucky little 4×4 was so popular.

The models kept evolving over time, with the LJ50, the Jimny8/LJ80. The engine grew to 800cc and an in-line, four cylinder, four-stroke, followed by the Jimny 1000/SJ410 and Jimny 1300/SJ413. An updated version of the SJ413 became known as the ‘Samurai’ and was the first 4×4 Suzuki officially marketed in the USA.

13151624_10154838726039148_4841848362730297778_nrthrt
The ‘Suzuki Posse’ grows ever bigger within RCCZ circles!

John Wasley one of the RCCZ crew, and the builder of this review Tamiya owns one (check out our RECON G6 report for a picture!). it’s over 20 years old, has appeared on the front cover of a 4X4 magazine after been heavily modified and is still going strong (when its not on it’s side, or breaking a half-shaft…but more from John and his wife Justine later!)

The True Jimny Emerges

Suzuki_Jimny_cabriolet_2005_-_nv_11
Original publicity shots of the generation of JImny we all know so well

In 1998 a new model and was released. It was called the Jimny in all markets globally and used the G13BB EFI engine, replaced by the M13AA EFI engine in 2001 and the M13AA VVT engine in 2005, in conjunction with an interior redesign. This generation of Jimny is one that the RCCZ crew and many of our Scale Nationals competitors know very well, and between us we now own half a dozen in various states of Lift, modification, and Off Road capabilities.

13342949_10154915961564148_7080247939144858784_njjjjj
Our daily driver…and tons of fun out on shoots and at events!

We even have our own completely stock soft top one as the mag’s daily driver, complete with RCCar.Zone and RECON G6 logos! It’s driven 1000s of miles since we got it and never missed a beat.

13432401_10154959099864148_7653692491277173134_n
It had to be done really…a little branding goes a long way!

It intrigues all that see or has a drive in it, and we are about to start our own list of modifications this winter. ‘Godzuki’ (as we call it) will get a little more capable off road by the new year!

13442160_10154959099954148_7085059443381618905_n
Anyone who knows who this is will understand the nickname of our plucky little Suzuki

You could say this vehicle has a very special place in our hearts…It may be small, but it’s a plucky and very capable Off Roader. It boasts a true ladder chassis, with 2WD for everyday road use and selectable high and low ratio 4WD for off road use, 190mm ground clearance, approach and departure angles of 34 and 46 degrees respectively, which for a car of this size (length 3.7 metres and a wheelbase of 2.2m) is amazing.

And this leads me onto the main purpose of this article…Tamiya recently released a kit of the newer model on a MF-01X chassis, and we just had to source and then let John Wasley build one to mimic theirs!

Out Of The Box & Onto The Build

1
The Tamiya version may be a little more up to date looking than our fleet, but the ‘Cute Factor’ is still there!

As with most Tamiya builds, you start with the rear 3 planetary gear diff. Remember to smear all the rotating components with the supplied grease and check that the diffs action feels smooth without any tight spots or (and yes this is a made up word):- ‘graunchyness’. Getting the tension of all three of the self tapping screws that hold the diffs cover on is the key, just nip them up and don’t force them.

4
Spot our US buddy Charlie Suangka’s favorite bag…

Next the gearbox/transmission is assembled and the internal gears fitted. The whole assembly thankfully spins on bearings, but again smear grease on all the mating surfaces to ensure the gears are well lubricated.

5
An unmistakable Tamiya 3 planetary diff

The lay shaft and spindle that the gears rotate on also requires lubrication, again a light smear, and not a huge blob of grease will suffice.

7
The inner gears of each gearbox…that off-white plastic gets everywhere!

The rear damper stays and BA9 ball studs go onto the front of the gearbox.

8
The rear sub assembly ready to fit the Torque Tuned motor

You are then prompted to add the supplied servo saver/servo horn assembly to your chosen steering servo, taking note the natural point  has the servo horn sitting perfectly 90 degrees to the servo body and with the servos spline sitting to the left as you look at it from above. A 3kg to 6kg servo is perfectly adequate for this little 4×4.

14
The servo saver helps protect the steering servo from damage…this 4kg Core RC unit is fine for this small and light a vehicle

Next comes the steering linkages, or rods as Tamiya likes to describe them. They clip onto ball studs again, and next the servo and steering linkages are affixed into a mount. Now here’s where you must ensure that you use the supplied spacers to get the servo’s height set just right. This will ensure that when bolted into the front gearbox casing that also double as part of chassis, in use the linkages have a free range of movement and don’t bind in any way, even at the most extreme of this pretty rudimentary kit suspension.

Moving Forward

The front diff is built next, and is a carbon copy of the rear. Again once complete you than add this and the front gearboxes internal gears, lube up the lot and bolt the two halves together.

9
The rear sub-assembly almost complete…a middle bridging section is added to link to the front

The front and rear sub assemblies are then joined together using a middle chassis bridge consisting of two halves. This is where things get interesting. You can build this (and the central prop/driveshaft) to accommodate 3 different wheelbase settings. 210mm (Short), 225mm (medium), or 239mm (Long). There is also a low or high ground clearance setting for the suspension.

15
A light smear of grease of advisable…especially on this central prop shafts bevel gears

The Jimny, surprisingly (as its so tiny) runs with a medium wheelbase option of 225mm, and unsurprisingly (as its Off Road) runs the high ground clearance suspension option. The rear arms go on next, with their now trademark Tamiya threaded upper arms/links.

10
Simple and basic, no oil to fill or bleed, just friction based damping

The shocks are built next and being friction units there’s no filling or bleeding required. These take a matter of minutes to construct, and then its time to add the rear god bone drive shafts, hub carriers and axles with drive cups. 10 minutes tops, was all it took to get the rear end assembled and that included fitting the body posts!

11
The shocks take seconds to build…and do their job remarkably well

The front is just as simple with the only real difference the use of C hubs and steering knuckles, and of course the linkages leading from the steering servo, out the sides of the chassis to each hub assembly with it’s dog bone drive shaft, drive cups and axle. The last thing that goes on to this part of the build are the front friction shocks, body posts and bumper. We almost have a rolling chassis by now…almost!

12
Hub carriers at the rear house the bushes that the rear axles and drive cups spin on

As the pinion is held inside the rear transmission and gearbox its impossible to visually set the correct mash or depth the pinion needs to be for the best surface contact.

17
The motor retaining plate. It not only anchors the motor in place, it also sets the perfect gear mesh with ease

Here Tamiya have come up with a simple yet genius idea. You use a supplied plastic cup form that slots over the pinion, with a slit in the side allowing you to loosen or tighten the grub screw…You simply move the pinion as far out as it will go until its resting against the inside edge of the plastic cup, noting that the cup itself is firmly pressed onto the motors bell housing and tighten up the grub screw! ‘Boom’..a perfectly set gear mesh!

16
Setting the position of the pinion on the Torque Tuned motor’s shaft is done in a very novel way…

With the motor firmly bolted onto place, the ESC and receiver are next added. The included TBLE-025 Brushless ESC is LiPo compatible (rated for 2S), and can be switched to either 2 wire brushed or 3 wire sensored brushless operation. Its a little fiddly initially, and all programmed via LED’s, but after a coffee and a little practice its soon done.

2
Brush or Sensored Brushless…the TBLE-02 ESC caters for both

To help simplify the process here’s a video showing how you can set it up:-https://youtu.be/yIZeOaCQZrk

18
Rally Block tyres and cool, replica faux alloys really look the part

With the electrics all in, the steering servo linked to the receiver and everything cantered and tested, we next build up the Faux Alloy wheels and Rally Block tyres.

A thin Cyno is best used to bond the two together and pulling back the bead and letting a slight trickle flow between them the best way.Ensure you clean up the beads of each with lighter fluid to remove mould release, and a slightly scuffing the mating surface on the wheels with sandpaper or wet n dry. A careful 30 minutes later and we had four wheels and tyres done, and no fingers stuck to the table, each other, or any of the wheels and tyres (been there, done that!).

21
Bosy posts on: Check, Wheels and tyres fitted: Check, Body…Body?

Finally, the body. Without boring you with every detail it took a day to paint, cut out and sticker up properly.

10 Points When Painting The Body:-

higlgfly
Take your time, follow out 10 golden rules and all will be good with the shell
  1. Wash the inside with hot water and mild detergent then rinse and dry. This removed the Silicon mould release spray from the inside of the shell used in the vac forming process, that could act as a resist to your chosen paint.
  2. Regularly wash your hands as the oils in your fingertips and skin can again act as a resist for the paint.
  3. Remember to add the window masks on the INSIDE before you paint, bub the edges of these with clean fingers to make sure they are sealed to the shell to avoid ‘bleeding in’ of the paint.
  4. Make sure you use a certified Lexan paint and not exterior paint designed for hard bodies. This will ensure that the first coat etches into the plastic and then that all layers after that build up a good deep colour.
  5. build up thin coats and take your time…thick coats peel off, don’t dry properly and run…
  6. Use curved scissors to cut out wheel arches, practice on waste material first as there’s an art to using them properly.
  7. Use a mild detergent and water mix in a spray bottle or vaporiser to put a fine mist on the outside. then apply decals one at a time, using a soft cloth and squeegee to remove excess moisture and air. This allows some re-positioning time and once dry the stickers will look crisp and flat with no tiny air bubbles or pockets.
  8. Take your time and don’t rush…the body is what makes or breaks any builds final overall look.
  9. Once everything’s dry and settled, again go over all stickers with a soft cloth to ensure they are 100% down and sealed to the body. They tend to relax and can lift in first 24 hours.
  10. For extra ‘Ping’ polish the outside with a spray on liquid wax, normally used for 1:1 cars…use a totally new, clean soft cloth to avoid any scratches on pristine plastic.
19
Still naked and waiting on nearly a days worth of body prep

That’s it…the little Suzuki is now done…It was time to go and give it a run and also take the 1:1 version out for some fun too!

22
Looks tiny on the bonnet of the real thing…(needs a snorkel too)

Little N Large

23
In 4×4 circles it’s all a matter of perspective!

The Jimny’s (Plural) were taken to a local 4×4 spot and put through their paces. The Tamiya, while not being as capable as the 1:1 was tons of fun. Its the ideal 1st build, or as a fun collectable. We have seen them take part in RECON G6 events once modified, and we know that our Austrian contributor Daniel Siegl has won classes and had great success with one.

24
The tyres work well on most surfaces…dry rock especially!

At under £120 for the kit its never going to be a full-on comp rig in stock form, but it is, as are all Tamiya models…lots of fun. The Torque Tuned Motor offers the right balance of wheel speed, and as it’s name implies, ‘Torque…

3
The box’s sticker says it all…A Torque Tuned motor & ESC included

In use a 5000 mAh LipPo pack lasts around 20 minutes of run time, longer I would bet if you fitted say a 35t or higher motor. The rally block tyres generate good grip on most surfaces but benefit from being scrubbed up first on concrete to break that outer surface. The motor while not ever going to win a drag race does however offer a turn of speed when required and low down low RPM finesse for more technical driving conditions.

25
The shell looks crisp and true to the bloodline…its a no brainer collectable for Suzuki 4×4 fans

A Suzuki Mad Family Footnote…

John and Justine Wasley are not only part of our RC and 1:1 4×4 global family, John is also an occasional contributor to my past and current magazines, and also a key member of the team that twice a year stages the UK Scale Nationals (and from this year onwards….the UK RECON G6).

They not only own a very cool Samurai that’s adorned the cover of an international 4×4 magazine, both compete in 4×4 events regularly and are also own the red Soft top Jimny in the background of some of our review shots, and the one the little Tamiya is actually sitting on in one…

I recently asked Justine why Suzuki 4×4’s have such a special place in their lives and hearts. Here’s the transcript:-

“Our love for Suzuki’s started with my very first car, even after passing my driving test over 26 years ago, I have still haven’t owned a ‘car’. My first ‘car’ was a 4×4 Suzuki LJ80 that we found about a year after passing my test. I loved my little Suzuki so much that after I started to compete in off road events I realised that I was damaging ‘Frank’ too much, so he was retired to my mother in laws car port (Sadly, for the next 20+ years).

I replaced Frank with ‘Jemima’, another Suzuki LJ80, and then ‘Purdy’ the Suzuki SJ410. Family and job changes meant that the Suzuki’s were replaced as daily drivers with ‘other cough’ 4×4’s, 7-seaters which were much more practical. We have always had a Suzuki in the family though as John built and modified a Suzuki samurai 413 (now with a 1.6 Sidekick engine fitted, a 416) and we have both competed in it for a number of years. After rescuing ‘Frank’ a couple of years ago from the car port and trying to persuade our oldest daughter that it would be the coolest car ever for her first vehicle (and failing miserably), we sadly listed Frank on good old EBay, and much to my regret we sold him…

But on a happier note we now had the funds to get me my own Suzuki. We found a red Suzuki Jimny with a blown engine, but has luck would have it I am married to a mechanic so we went ahead and decided to buy it. John replaced the engine and with his knowledge and experience with Suzuki off roaders he knew which modifications he wanted to do to my little truck. (I wanted to change the colour from red to purple, but that was simply one mod too far!).

The modifications that John carried out are a 3 inch suspension lift, with heavy duty castor correction suspension arms, a snorkel, so I can go in deep water, heavy duty sill bars and front and rear bumpers. The best modification though is a rock lobster transfer box that lowers the 4×4 gears by 80% making it much more controllable (and fun) off-road. The tyres are Insa-turbo special tracks and are about 3 inches taller than standard to give it the ‘Mini Monster Truck’ look.

One of the modifications that I love the most is the exhaust which is a straight through power flow back box that was originally on a Triumph Herald making my little truck very noisy. The next thing I need John to put in is a Lock right rear diff locker which he has sitting on his workbench in the garage. Oddly, he is very reluctant to put it in because I think he thinks that it will make my truck better than his, and I’ll beat him off road (which would probably happen!). I’d also like a winch on the front bumper, not that I would ever use it but it would look good!

These little Suzuki 4x4s are very underrated and looked down on by a lot of the larger green oval badge owners. We recently joined the Buxton Land Rover club at one of their trials. A number of Suzuki’s took part and we showed them that a Suzuki Jimny is a force to be reckoned with. For me personally I love the fact that the Jimny is small enough to use as an everyday vehicle (John even helped source RCCCZ’s daily driver ‘Godzuki’).

They are also an excellent off roader, surprising a lot of people with what they can do. They punch way above their weight and size, and that’s very cool…”

Positives

  • Cheap to buy & easy to build for any age group of RC fan
  • A no brainer collectible for any Suzuki Jimny fan/owner
  • Fun with a capital ‘T’ (& ‘A’ & ‘M’ & ‘I’ & ‘Y’ & ‘A’)
  • Simple to work on and repair if needed
  • Tons of future ‘Scope’ to hop up!
  • It’s TAMIYA what’s not to like?

Negatives

  • Needs oil dampers, friction ones a bit to ‘Springy’
  • ESC can be fiddly to setup initially
  • More people need to comp them!
  • Bushed not Bearings?

For more on Tamiya : CLICK HERE

For more on UK Distributor: CLICK HERE

"No Mr Bradbury…I Expect You To Drive!"

rcz_tech

Behind The Scenes @ The Gadget Show

Words & Images: Peter Gray

Earlier this year I was involved with another RC related challenge on the Channel 5 TV Program; The Gadget Show. We had been bouncing RC Car ideas back and forth for a while, but then in a single phone conversation and a follow up e-mail, the shows researcher explained what the challenge they had decided upon would entail…In short: RC Cars v A Bond Stunt Driver, my smile grew exponentially!

Jason Bradbury, a man who’s no stranger to RC in any form, or pushing the technology right to it’s very limits (something he’s done on more occasions than I can list here!). His credentials as both a very ‘hands-on’ Tech Reviewer and well known TV Tech Presenter are written in the annuals of Tech history. He even chose a Tamiya RC car as one of his favourite bits of tech in a recent top 100 gadgets TV countdown…so his love of the genre goes way back to those late 70s and 80s releases. We also must not forget that Jason has also achieved two Guinness World Records using RC tech. One for distance jumped by an RC car (using a HPI Vorza 1/8th E-Buggy), and another (I actually helped facilitate) a huge RC Loop-the-loop using a brushless 1/5th scale motorbike! So he can drive, knows the kinda crazy stuff we like to provide the program, and he has no fear…no fear at all!

Jason would be driving three different RC cars, each with a very unique attribute or speciality. His challenge would be to go up against professional Stunt & Rally Driver Mark Higgins, doing what he does best, driving a V12 Vantage S Aston Martin very hard, fast and very sideways. Marks CV is impressive. He’s worked on Bond films like Spectre, has (and currently ‘is’) driving cars in the Fast & The Furious franchise, and is about to attempt to set a new Isle Of Man TT course record for a car in a specially ProDrive prepared, Subaru WRX Sti. He’s also three-time British Rally champion and as such set the current record for a lap of the 37.75-mile course in 2014, with a time of 19 minutes and 15 seconds, and with a staggering average speed of 117.510 mph…so he can drive too, oh my can he drive!

The 3 tests chosen for each vehicle would be:-

· A Drag Race Challenge, side by side, point to point between the chosen RC Car & the Aston Martin. The main start line to the end of the main straight being the two points

· A Drift Challenge where the RC Car must mimic the 1:1 on a 1/10th version of track, using throttle finesse and maintaining a long, sweeping and controlled drift

· A Timed Auto Test Challenge where the RC Car will compete on the same circuit to test its agility, road holding and stunt driving capabilities against the clock.

To this end we enlisted the help of 3 very different brands, and 3 very different vehicles. Each was specifically chosen to offer an attribute that would aid it to compete in each challenge and thought through well in advance of this days filming.

Point To Point @100 mph+

12
Mr Wilcox Esq looking rather happy with the X-01

For the Drag Challenge I called in one of the latest generation of Traxxas X-01 (kindly supplied by Logic RC). This 1/7th scale RC Supercar is something I know well, as I reviewed one a couple of years back and had tons of fun with it. I also know a few people with them (Like RRCZ’s very own Mark Jordan). It’s a bit of a one trick pony, but what a trick! It’s capable of 0-100 in under 5 seconds and has a top speed of around 103mph. On those two performance figures alone, I knew we were in a with a shot at winning this. The latest incarnation has the TQi transmitter and Traxxas link app as standard, offering real time adjustment of basic setup parameters like trims and steering rate, right through to more complex drive effects and feedback from its telemetry sensors of Speed, RPM, Temperature, and Voltage. It also has something called a ‘Cush Drive’ built into the driveline that helps it absorb some of the immense forces encountered when you take a RC vehicle of its size and weight and take it from a standstill to over 100mph in just a few seconds. Developed specifically for the XO-1, the Cush Drive absorbs drivetrain shocks with a custom-shaped elastomer damper housed between the spur gear and the drive hub. Under extreme load (such as hard, high-traction acceleration), the elastomer flexes to dissipate shock without interrupting power flow. The result is instant acceleration with no wasted power. Its actually a very clever variation on a slipper clutch and (Hopefully) will ensure that the spur gears don’t get damaged at the point the vehicle is launched at speed. As well as the vehicle, Logic RC also supplied us Stuart Wilcox, technician extraordinaire, RC Racer and Traxxas brand ambassador here in the UK. Stuart would school Jason in the fine art of getting the X-01 between two points and fast and straight as possible (and avoiding any high speed mishaps along the way!)

Getting Sideways & J-Turn City…

16
The Yokomo of Matt Tunks

The second vehicle I called in for this challenge was a 1/10th Yokomo Drift Car (and the help of our resident Drift Guru; Matthew Tunks). Matthew is sponsored by the company and regularly competes and judges National and even International RC Drift comps. He brought over a selection of his latest 2 and 4WD drifters, but decided that the shaft driven DPR would be the most suitable for this challenge. It’s not the newest model in the range and has now been replaced by the YD-4. But would hopefully (with some tuition from Matthew), be an easier option for Jason to quickly ‘get’ and attempt to master in the short time they would have to get acquainted with each other.

22
The WR8 Ken Block replica…fast as (funk!)

Lastly for the times Auto Test Challenge I enlisted the help of a real Hoonigan. HPI’s Brushless WR8 Hoonigan to be exact with a replica Ken Block Ford Fiesta HFHV shell. Now this is another vehicle that we know back to front here at RRCZ. As a team we’ve reviewed both the Brushless and Nitro incarnations. Its based on the Bullet bloodline of vehicles, but has undergone a tweak here and there to lower arms and suspension. Instead of being a 1/10th Monster or Stadium Truck, its actually a 1/8th Global Rallycross car. Now if you haven’t heard of Ken Block, or seen any of his Gymkhana videos you must have been living as a hermit on a remote island somewhere…Here’s the latest (but its well worth watching them all historically right back from Gymkhana One!) :

Number 46 aside…the HPI car pretty much mimics the real thing, just without the excess tyre smoke. Its 4000kv motor on 3s LiPo power pushes out a very healthy 44,400 rpm and on stock gearing that’s around 60mph. But its not out and out acceleration we are after, the handling must be spot on, with an almost 50/50 weight balance and fast, responsive steering. Luckily HPI have all that in hand and have even added sway (anti-roll) bars front and rear and 11-spoke bright blue Speedline wheels shod with tyres that allow for grip and acceleration (especially on tarmac), but still allow the driver to feed in the power to break traction for performing do-nuts, power slides and even J-Turns.

25.jpg
You gotta love the Block livery…it makes you want to drive it like you stole it (or were given it to rag around without consequence!)

The car tends to offer the classic lift of oversteer characteristics of most 4WD’s, but still allows you to hit a tight turn fast and tap the brakes, unsettle the handling and then feed in the power again to ‘Hoonigan’ it round. This is definitely the right vehicle to attempt a Time Attack against a real car…add to this the fact that the person bringing the car from HPI was none other than long time RRCi and RCCZ collaborator Frank McKinney, it made our trio of vehicles and technical help truly complete.

Rocking Up @ Rockingham Motor Speedway

14
About to go and drift in the Aston together…and believe you me that’s a real experience

 

So on a very cold but sunny day in Spring we all met up at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire. The track was dry and the huge dedicated motor sports venue has everything from fast a banked oval circuit running around its perimeter to International Super Sportscar Circuit, National Circuit and even an infield Handling Circuit. On the banked circuit, the oval comprises four very distinct corners. The oval lap record is held by Tony Kanaan in a Champ Car, lapping in 24.719s, with a staggering average speed of 215.397mph! Obviously we wouldn’t be getting up yo anywhere near that, but the start line and first straight leading into turn one would be perfect for the drag race between the Aston martin and the X-01.

Away from the Oval, a section of the handling circuit on the infield was to be used for the 1:1 drift challenge. For the Yokomo RC Drift car, a perfect 1/10th version of the same challenge was also laid out by the Gadget production team and Matt. It was to be run on a totally smooth piece of outdoor concrete adjacent to the infield paddock and workshop areas. So smooth and shiny it was, that it looked almost tailor made for this challenge.

19
The perfect surface to learn to drift an RC car on…or so we thought!

Then the ‘Talent’ arrived on set. Jason Bradbury was his usual bouncy self, and raring to get stuck in with the cars selected, after 1st he was fuelled by fresh caffeine, and 2nd he had been instructed by each company about their particular vehicles idiosyncrasies and had a good play with each. Having worked with Jason for many years now, we just get on, both with each other and with the shoot in hand. Same age, same mentality and same outlook on life…we are serious when we need to be and have fun when we don’t (guess what aspect always wins!)

5
The production team of Chris and Ben mic up and Go Pro the car itself!

Mark Higgins appeared just as the first of two Vantage Aston Martin’s were delivered onto the set. He immediately fired it up and got himself acquainted with it on the main straight, and then on the infield. Considering it was a V12, but automatic (the manual V8 car would be delivered later in the day) he got it performing some very cool stunts. Huge tyre smoking power drifts around the apexes of the infield corners, a couple of very fast J-turns on the main straight and a serious of mock time trial manoeuvres around random stationary objects, other cars and traffic cones.

2
Mark Higgins shows us why he’s driven cars like this V12 Vantage in films like Spectre…Its the tyres I felt sorry for (NOT!)

A Drag Race…For Pink Slips (Not!)

So we set up for challenge number one, the Drag Race. Stuart Wilcox had the X-01 charged and ready to go, its two 3S, 5000 mAh LiPo cells offering the vehicle 22.2v of power and the Castle Creations 1650kv motor 36,630 rpm. When used in conjunction with the High Speed Gearing and high downforce splitter, its a potent combination!

6
Chris getting a smooth Dolly Shot of the X-01 for the cars on screen tech intro

For the first few runs the X-01 was left in its locked mode. This means that its top speed is initially limited to just 55mph via the Traxxas Link App. This would allow Jason to get a feel for the cars handling and how it accelerates from a standing start. After a few blasts up and down the main straight, Stuart used the app and his IPhone to Unlock the car and enable the Castle Creations Mamba Extreme ESC to give full power on demand, and that amazing 103mph top speed.

8
Jason’s first go with the X-01…Stuart offering advice about feeding in the power

As it was so cold, getting heat into the tyres was vital as the compound is quite hard at low ambient temps. A few mock burn outs later and they felt sticky and warm, but keeping them that way was proving difficult. Stuart did a few runs to check the car was trimmed correctly and even he had to back off the power at times when the car suddenly started to drift to the left or right, losing traction even at 70mph+. Then the transmitter was passed up to Jason who was perched on the gantry high above the start and finish line, offering him a full view of the track, but sideways on. Possibly not the easiest of positions for a drag race (I always prefer to stand behind the car, so I can see it it veers off in any way and correct it). He had a few test runs and initially had the same issues as Stuart. The tyres just wouldn’t stay warm enough in the close to freezing temperatures. Jason would punch the throttle, the car would speed off, accelerating to 60mph in about 3 seconds and then 100mph in under 6. If it veered off course, he immediately would back off halting that run. When it went wrong we had a few tense moments, but he kept it off the barriers and in one piece.

When it went right it was a sight to behold. The X-01 may be over three years old now as a design, but it’s a vehicle that simply hasn’t been toppled by any other in the RC industry. Traxxas set out to design and build the worlds fastest commercially available RC car and they did just that. Seeing it, in its latest white livery streaking down the track was amazing. Having reviewed one myself I know that ‘Buzz’ and hit of adrenalin you get when you first get a 100+ run, and it would be no different for Jason.

7
Stuart Wilcox in the pit lane making sure the car was trimmed and ready to go…Note the tyre marks from Mr Higgins!

Drivers Ready? Cars Ready? Go…

We had an official on hand from Rockingham to start the Drag Race standing between the two cars with a chequered flag, and as they lined up side by side for the first of 3 runs, the sheer size difference made it seem a very David and Goliath battle. Run one and two would be to practice, and then run three the actual challenge recorded for the TV show.

11
The gantry overlooking the start line and side on to the track offered Jason a full view of the entire straight

Run One: The flag dropped and Mark floored the accelerator of the Aston, even being a Automatic, he had the option of putting it into a sports mode, and as Q says in Spectre “It’ll do 0-62 in 3.2 seconds…”. He had also switched off traction control and launch aids, wanting to be in as much control over the delivery of power from the V12 to the tyres as possible. That was pretty evident by both the speed of the launch and the amount of tyre smoke he produced too! From the RC side Jason gave the X-01 a good squeeze of the throttle and both cars sped away from the start line like rockets. It was neck and neck until about half way up the straight and then Jason saw the Traxxas starting to drift towards the Aston and backed off. Having done previous RC challenges where the RC vehicle ended up being run over by the full sized one, he learnt from that and wanted it to survive the challenge.

10
Side-by-side…both drivers nervously awaiting their chance to pin the throttle

Run Two: This time it was Mark who actually backed off, correction, the Aston did! It seemed that on its full throttle launch from the start line, the Aston sounded like it miss-shifted about a third of the way up the run and went from a tyre spinning rocket ship, to a Sunday afternoon plodder…Jason and the X-01 sped away and passed the finish markers (Cones) at what looked like nearly maximum speed. I could see the grin from Jason right from my vantage point on the other side of the track!

“Best Of Three?”

9
It was time to see who had the fastest car…and nerves of steel

This was what Jason jokingly shouted to mark as the cars lined up again for the final run. This was it, the real deal. The flag dropped, the cars both launch perfectly and sped away into the distance. For the first 3rd of the run it was completely neck and neck. If you were a betting man (or Woman) it would be a hard thing to put odds on. But then spurred on by the fact the tyres were starting to consistently give grip, Jason pinned the throttle and the X-01 gradually moved ahead of the Aston, passing the finish line a good 1:1 car length ahead. We all shouted and screamed, RC had won its first victory over the real thing. Jason was jumping up and down on the gantry and Mark showed his feelings by spinning the Aston round and power sliding it back up the straight and performing a handbrake turn top finish back perfectly on the start line again. We then moved onto the Drift challenge…

But First Mark Took Me 2 laps Of The Circuit – ‘Sideways’…

4
What gets me is that he’s so calm while driving like this…lighting up the rubber at every opportunity

The infield circuit location wasn’t too far away but carrying a heavy camera case and lenses I had my hands full. Then Mark shouted over for me to jump in the Aston with him. I needed no encouragement. He then took me for two laps of the handling circuit, clutching my camera case between my feet and most of it completely sideways, smoke billowing out from the rear tyres. Now remember this is an Automatic and occasionally the electronics tried to cut back in and offer traction control and bring the Vantage S back onto the straight a narrow. It actually did it mid drift once, and you went from being pushed into the corner of the seat and pulling a few G, to it snapping back to normality and cleanly taking the apex pointed perfectly in the right direction. I know which I preferred and I would show you the video I shot on my phone but I may have uttered a few expletives in my excitement! Mark truly is a master of his art and to him driving like this, in full control is simply another day in the office.

Aston Challenge Two: Mark Takes Jason Drifting

15
Mark made the Drift Challenge look easy…as long as the traction control didn’t cut in mid-corner!

Cones were laid out between two parts of the track, and two apex’s were earmarked for Mark to drift the Aston around. With Jason in the passenger seat he did just that, executed three runs, all perfectly sideways, transitioning between both drifts and offering just enough throttle to control the drift, while still smoking those poor tyres…It was effortless, and with only one minor hiccup (again when the traction control cut in mid-corner). Marks runs were a master-class in car control and his abilities as a driver. The benchmark was set, and the benchmark was very high.

RC Car Challenge Two: Jason Takes The Yokomo Drifting

20
Its was harder that Jason anticipated, and really shows the skill required to ‘properly’ drift a RC car

With some expert guidance from Matt Tunks, Jason got started on the Drift Challenge. Just like the Aston, first initiating and then maintaining a drift is all about breaking traction, throttle control or Finesse, Counter Steering and knowing that point at which to balance all these factors. With Matt demonstrating it looked effortless and if this was a challenge between Mark and Matt it would be one that would be hard to separate the two. But it wasn’t. This was between mark and Jason, and what Jason soon found out was that real RC drifting is much harder than top drivers like Matt make it seem.

18
Jason tried time after time to get the right finesse on the throttle and lines…but to no avail

The initial learning curve can feel quite steep, and I have to admit, even after years of practice, it always takes me a few laps to get that ‘feel’ again and to be able to seamlessly thread a car through a series of apex’s in one fluid movement. Jason is a self confessed RC nut. He gives everything 110% and this was no exception, but try as he might he just couldn’t match Marks drift prowess. At the end of this Drift Challenge it was firmly: RC 1 – Aston 1.

With everything still to play for, it was a nice way to go into the final Challenge after a break for lunch: The RC v Aston Auto Test.

Come In Number 43, Your Time is Up…

23
No that’s not a Russian leader with Jason, that’s a very cold American…the one and only Frank M

After a healthy lunch in the track-side restaurant, and a coffee re-charge it was time for Mark to drive the manual Aston Martin Vantage V8 and Jason the HPI WR8 Ken Block replica. A large car park adjacent to the pit workshops had been allocated as the venue and a variety of challenges awaited both drivers. Cones were used to mark out a start line, multiple islands to drift around, sections to weave in and out of, then drive into and then reverse back out of, J-turn 180 degrees and then sprint for the finish line.

26
Note the Go-Pro’s attached to Marks Aston…I’m sure one fell off during filming and gave its life for the cause

What you must remember here is that the WR8 is (on the correct gearing) capable of a top speed of over 65mph with the 3S pack Frank McKinney had fitted. But this wasn’t about top speed. It was about acceleration, manoeuvrability and handling. Without waxing too lyrical its was also about man and vehicle in harmony, using each cars abilities to negotiate the course in as fast a time as possible. This was a very hard one to call as the course was designed to accommodate the Aston and yet the WR8 would have to cover exactly the same distance, and negotiate all the same 1:1 obstacles. Both drivers were allowed a couple of practice runs, they both watched each other safely from a vantage point on the roof of the buildings adjacent to the challenge.

28
OK, so admittedly its an older version of the Block livery, but it’s still Uber cool

It took both drivers a couple of attempts to get around the course cleanly, one J Turn that mark attempted didn’t swing the full 180 degrees and meant a time sapping correction before the sprint to the line. Jason took out one of the cones at speed and popped of a steering linkage and sheared off a body mount, but that was quickly repaired. Time wise you couldn’t call it between the two, and it would all come down to how composed they were during the challenge itself.

An Aston Attacks The Course

27
“Eyes right…” oh and wheels counter steering into the drift!

Mark went first and after being counted down by Jason, accelerated away from the line and made short work of the entire course. The Aston drifted perfectly, pirouetting around each Cone Island, it weaved perfectly around each chicane section, combining out and out tyre smoking power, with deft use of the handbrake and cars own weight and momentum. He then drove the car expertly into the cone parking bay that had been setup at the far end of the course, stopped fore just a Millisecond and then reversed the car at speed, wheels spinning and then performed a picture perfect J turn before sprinted to, and then over the line, stopping the Aston perfectly between both white lines and asking for his time from Jason. 36.30 seconds. That was fast, very fast…

‘Mr Bradbury’ Is Possessed By ‘Mr Block’

24
“Concentrate Jason, just not too hard…” words of encouragement from Mark or an attempt to unsettle Mr B?

Jason was very fired up for this and after warming up the tyres with a few impromptu donuts he then put the WR8 on the start line and waited for the signal to go. Mark was perched this time on the roof next to him, Jason’s view was again side-on to the whole area in question and with a “Three, Two, One!” from Mark, he was off!

30
The faces say it all…close was an understatement. The cars perfectly matched

The WR8 sped away as if possessed by Ken Block himself. It rocketed around both the cone islands (this thing corners like its on rails) and the tighter more technical parts of the course. Seeing a vehicle so small being driven at well over 50mph most of the time, even 60mph+ on the longer sections brought a smile just as big as Jason was showing to most of those faces (including mine) looking on. The last third of the course involved driving into that Cone Parking Bay and then after stopping, going full speed in reverse and J Turning the RC car before sprinting at over 60mph over the line.

31
Little n large…it’s all about perspective!

The pre-J-Turn would be Jason’s downfall. Even after performing two flawlessly in practice, as he pulled into the parking area, he got the angle wrong and hesitated. The WR8 needed to be corrected for its angle and then the J-Turn could happen. He then simply punched it and aimed for the line. Even with the pause and correction, Jason still managed a very fast transition, but that single aspect lost him valuable seconds and wasn’t the smooth, flowing all-in-one movement the Aston Martin had managed…The WR8 shot over the line and Jason stopped perfectly between the white lines. All eyes turned to Mark as he first showed Jason the time…then the cameraman. ”Nooooooo” came the shout from Jason, and Mark’s smile said it all…The Bond Stunt Driver had won!

Just 2 Seconds Slower!

29
It just wasn’t to be…2 seconds slower on the run and just half a second on a re-run…but man was it fun!

It was a very close fought thing. The RC car had passed the line in 38.43 seconds, and we were all convinced that without the pre-J-Turn mistake it would have been neck and neck. To prove this point, Mark let Jason try the course again. 36.50 seconds later he crossed the line. Close, but not close enough. Jason’s a good sport and said his first time must stand, and that’s the run that the program aired on TV. The day ended there. We all said our goodbyes, the crew packed up everything, Mark sped away in a very cool looking BMW M3, Jason disappeared in a Taxi to get his train back to London and Stuart Wilcox, Matt Tunks and Frank McKinney lines all the vehicles up for a final parting show for the mag before themselves packing away and departing Rockingham Raceway…it’s a wrap!

0SPS For Header
The amazing tunnel that goes under the track…yes we may have ragged the WR8 down it!

A huge thanks for as ever to The Gadget Show having faith in both myself and the RC industry to help them make some very interesting and hopefully inspiring television. RC Tech, and presenter challenges have been a part of the program for many, many years and they always get a very positive response from the shows millions of viewers. I hope you enjoyed this little behind the scenes insight into the making of an episode and roll on the next one!

For more about The Gadget Show & View Whole Episode click: HERE

For more about the Traxxas X-01 click: HERE

For more about Yokomo Drift cars click: HERE

For more about the HPI WR8 Ken Block click: HERE

Coming In Fighting

RCZ_Bash 100

My-First-Kit-Build

Tamiya DT-03 Racing Fighter

UK RRP: £99.99 UK Distributor: Click HERE

  • Type 2WD Electric Buggy
  • Length: 400mm
  • Width: 244mm
  • Height: 134mm
  • Wheelbase: 287mm
  • Gear Ratio = 9.28:1

Words & Images: Ian Haden

Last time out, as a total newb to the RC hobby I was graced with a ready to run offering that required very little setup before I could get out in to the wide open spaces and play. I loved it and was well and truly hooked as I whole heartedly knew I would be. Knowing this, and also knowing I’m always looking for new things to try and new toys to play with, Pete felt I was ready for the next step toward RC enlightenment.

Self-Build

On a rare sunny afternoon, I met up with Phil Makeitbuildit Lawrence at his man cave / workplace / RC haven and with a smile on his face he handed me a big box. “Your next assignment” he said. I looked on the box and on it was a cool looking orange buggy. It was the new Tamiya Racing Fighter. “Cool”, I thought, I had seen an advert for this in the last edition of the RCCar.zone magazine and remembered thinking how great it looked. I was looking forward to giving this a test drive! At this point, I didn’t realise it was in bits, and opened the box to look at it, expecting to see a fully assembled buggy with a painted body shell just waiting for me to drool over. However, as I opened the box I saw a clear body shell still in the moulding, gears, more screws than B&Q, lots of plastic parts on sprues and more besides.

IMG_2990
Parts, lots of parts…I gotta build this before I can run it…intriguing!

It was then that the full reality of the task dawned on me and if I’m honest, as well as being excited at the prospect of being able to have a go at this, I was also a little apprehensive. This was a far cry from the Lego kits I’m used to doing with my kids.

Tamiya I know is a huge name in the RC world. They have been around since I was young and always seem to be releasing new great looking kits. The opportunity to build one of these was a great one, and I knew I’d be in good hands with such a trusted manufacturer. After all, if they have been around this long they must be doing something right. The kit came with an ESC and an upgraded torque tuned motor. I did however have to add the steering servo, transmitter and receiver myself. Also, there was no battery included in the box, so this also had to go on my newly formed shopping list. I contemplated turning to ebay for the parts, thinking I could grab a bargain or two, but I wanted to make sure I not only got the right parts, but good parts too. I didn’t want to spoil the review with sub-par parts that weren’t up to the job. Luckily I had a handy alternative. I have the aforementioned friend who has a healthy interest in all things RC, and an RC hobby store just up the road from where I live. Yay.

I arranged to meet with Mr MakeitBuildit and we made our way to the store. After a brief chat with the owner I purchased a mid-range servo, controller and receiver. While these did not break the bank, they were of sufficient quality to ensure I was not going to do the Racing Fighter an injustice.

tamiya-logo
Probably the most iconic logo in RC Car history

Before we left, I remembered the clear plastic body shell. Paint!! I need paint too. I toyed with the idea of copying the box, the orange body with the black tail section. It’s a very striking colour scheme and looks great. However, I imagine a lot of the appeal of building these comes from the freedom to choose whatever colours you want from the Tamiya paint range. So, after a few minutes’ deliberation I decided to exercise this freedom and go with my own colours and design. After throwing some ideas around (sometimes you can have too much choice) I decided to go with a slightly retro look. I settled on a light blue shell with a white “Cobra” stripe down the middle. How I was going to make this a reality at this point I was unsure, but nonetheless I bought some Tamiya blue and white spray paint along with the rest of my goodies. With my new parts and paints literally “in the bag” I was all set to start the build.

Onto The Assembly

When I opened the box to start the build I had forgotten just how many parts there were. Bags of parts, many, many sprues, stickers and a smattering of electrical parts and wires. This was not going to be a quick job. I couldn’t help but think “Where do I start?” as I laid out the parts in front of me.

IMG_3026
A classic Tamiya diff, before being greased I dry assembled it

One thing I learnt from the small setup I did on the ready to run truck was to make sure I read the instructions before doing anything. As you would expect from an established kit manufacturing giant like Tamiya, the instructions were very detailed. Each bag of parts was labelled A to D. The instructions clearly show which bag of parts you need for each part of the build. This helps no end. The parts on the sprues, I was very pleased to see, were also clearly marked. Identifying the correct parts is much simpler when they have a letter and number to identify them by.

IMG_3019
You could describe this chassis as a monocoque…very cool

For seasoned builders, none of this will be a big surprise but as a newcomer, I cannot tell you how helpful it was. A simple touch that makes all the difference, and this one actually allowed me to get started with minimal fuss. The diagrams were so detailed that I actually looked to match up the parts in the pictures, with those in the pack, and then double checked I had the correct numbered piece. Unfortunately, because of other commitments, there was no way I was going to get this done in one sitting, however, so once I completed the Bag A section I put the body build to one side. It was already starting to look a little bit like a car and I was pleased I’d made a decent start with nothing snapping or bursting into flames.

IMG_3032fff
The rear sub assembly fitted with the Torque Tuned Motor

Later that week, Phil called. He had another Tamiya car to build and wondered if I wanted to go round and finish my build at same time. Sounded like a good idea to me. When I got there I decided to start on the body shell first. I knew this was going to need to dry after painting so thought it was best to get it out of the way early. However, I had not appreciated just how much work goes into getting the body shells prepared and painted. The shell needed to be cut out, and once again I felt a bit nervous. This is the bit that everyone sees, the bit that people comment on firsthand to add to the pressure, it was going to be photographed to go into an online magazine! One wrong cut and it’s all over. So, slowly, with a very small pair of scissors I took to the plastic. There were a few awkward corners, but thankfully nothing I could not cope with in the end. After a few minutes I had two sections cut out, and with a sigh of relief I started to prep them for painting.

IMG_3033 fg
THe rolling chassis came together quickly…It’s the body that took some time

After washing out the undersides, and then covering up the windows on the inside of the shell with the stickers that are provided I moved onto covering up the Viper stripe I was looking to create. I decided to run a thin covering of masking tape down the middle of the main body shell, but went with a thicker line on the tail. This would hopefully create a nice effect once finished and add a bit more interest to it. Once happy they were straight and in position I took out my tin of blue spray paint. Phil had already advised me that long smooth passes with the spray was the order of the day, so with that in mind I went to it. The blue took three coats to get a complete covering, but thankfully they did not take too long to dry in between. Once I was happy this layer was complete, I moved onto the white stripe. I took off the tape that I had used and was gutted to find that some blue paint had still crept underneath and leaked onto what should have been the white section.

Lucky however, as the paint was now dry I was able to scrape most of this off with a scalpel, taking care not to scratch the shell itself. This tidied the lines up some way. It was not perfect, but it was good enough. With that, out came the white paint. Again, three coats were needed to make sure the white had covered the whole shell evenly. Once this was dry I was able to remove the stickers in the windows and look upon the completed shell. I was really pleased with how my first paining attempt had finished. The blue was just the right shade I was after, and it had the stripe I wanted down the middle. In the end I was pleased that I had not simply opted for a single colour. I wanted to challenge myself to an extent, without giving myself an impossible task. As such, I had a shell that I thought pretty good. Yay me!! Phil then handed me another tin of spray paint. “Smoke for the Windows” he said. “Brilliant” I replied. A quick spray later and I had some smoky, half blacked out windows too.

IMG_1527ggt
Painted, fitted and pre-stickers being applied (or ‘decals’ as pete calls em!)

Leaving the shell to settle I went back to the main body build. One of the most satisfying things I found from doing the build was finding out how things worked. Putting the “diffs” together and sealing them in their casing is something I have never done before. It was fascinating to see the simplicity of them, while understanding what a crucial role they play, not only in RC cars, but in their big brothers that we drive every day. There were many other areas of the build I enjoyed too. Setting up the gears that worked with the motor, and then onto the drive shaft. Putting together the quality oil filled front and rear shock absorbers. All the time, gaining an understanding into what makes this car tick. Although at the time I don’t think I fully appreciated it, I was gaining an in-depth knowledge into how the Racing Fighter works, which bit does what, where it is meant to go and what it is meant to do. Of course, this knowledge will in time transfer itself to other builds and models too, which can only be a good thing.

IMG_1528kk
Stickered up and raring to go…looks ace finished!

There was however one part of the build I did not enjoy as much as the rest. Getting the tyres onto the wheels. This is especially true for the rear tyres. I understand why they are tight. I don’t want a tyre ripping itself away from the wheel because it was too loose, but wow are they a pain to get on. It was a struggle of epic proportions, with grunting many of the Wimbledon tennis players would have been proud of before I finally had them all on.

With the wheels finally completed, and attached, the main build was complete. I had of course followed the instructions to place all of the electronics in the correct place and connect them up to each other. So with that the car was in essence ready to run. However, the build had taken me around 4 hours to complete and it was midnight at Phil’s. I thought it best to leave him to his cocoa and being honest I was pretty tired myself. The test run would have to be another day.

Before I could take the Racing Fighter out there was one more job I had to do to finish things off. The livery stickers that come included in the set. These would finish the shell off to give it the polished look. For this job I enlisted the help of my partner Wendy. She cut out the stickers and I stuck them on. The partnership worked wonders and we were done in a little over 20 minutes. And looking down at my completed shell I was chuffed with how it looked. It’s amazing how much some quality stickers can lift a paint job. While I was pleased with the body shell before, once finished I was not only pleased, but also proud. Proud of the whole thing. The sense of accomplishment at building this was something I was not expecting. I couldn’t stop looking it, thinking “Wow…I did that”. I’m sure even the most veteran of builders out there can remember their first build and how they felt when it was done. It’s a great feeling.

The Driving Experience

IMG_3167 - Copy
For my first ever buggy build the way it drove was amazing…I can see more on the horizon!

The first time out with my new car was just into the back garden with my son. I didn’t really know what to expect. I half expected it to explode in comedy Simpsons style, hurtling into the flower beds. Anyone who knows me would probably expect the same. But no. With my 2S battery inside, it raced around the garden and, looked great as it did so. It jumped off the decking and onto the grass with ease, taking the landing in its stride before racing off once more. I upped the ante a little and pulled out the skateboard ramp. Again, the Racing Fighter handled it, and both me and my boy loved seeing it fly though the air. It felt really well balanced. Every jump and turn was easily controlled by the oil filled dampeners and we were loving racing it around the garden. Then after 15mins something happened. The car stopped. The motor was revving, but the wheels were not turning. Now, if this had happened with the ready to run truck I used, I would have panicked. I had no idea how that was put together and would not have known where to start in finding any internal faults that were not obvious.

IMG_3179
Even totally stock and on 7.2v it still manages a rooster tail of gravel

However, that was not the case with the Racing Fighter. I had screwed every screw and greased every gear. I knew how this car worked. Looking at it, I could see everything was connected to where they should be and the drive shafts where exactly where they were meant to be too. Which left one option. The gears in the motor housing. I figured something must have come loose in there, and therefore no power is getting to the drive shaft. With the confidence that only comes from knowing exactly what to expect, I removed the cover to expose the gears inside. Sure enough, the gear that attaches directly to the motor was not aligned to the other gears. As it turned out, I had not sufficiently tightened up the grub screw that fixes it in place. A simple fix. After correcting my mistake, and putting the cover back on a quick test showed that this was indeed the problem. The motor was turning the wheels once more! This fix was only possible due to the fact I did the build. Already I was seeing the benefits this approach can bring.

IMG_3181
Slight air for a start to see how it jumps…

I have since taken the Racing Fighter out a couple of times. The car is a lot of fun. It is fast, nimble and very responsive. As it is rear drive, skids and donuts are very easy to achieve and very satisfying. It handled every terrain I could find to throw it at with ease, from grass fields, to stony car parks and pretty much everything in-between. It looks great too. The sleek body shell offset by the big rear wheels and thinner front ones gives it a great classic buggy look. It sits close to the floor and seems to hug the ground as it races off. I quickly felt very comfortable with it, and was confidently throwing it into corners, skids and jumps. Of course, not everything you try goes to plan and I was pleasantly surprised by how resilient it is. It has already taken its fair share of tumbles, flips and bumps, but the Racing Fighter has taken these on the chin with little fuss. There is hardly a scratch on the shell or the plastic bumpers keeping it looking its best. I have even had some people comment on the paint work, bringing with it that pang of pride again. Something you don’t get with a body shell pre-painted.

IMG_3186
Then some real airtime, over and over again!

Conclusion

When I was first given the Tamiya box and told to build my next car, I didn’t really get why people would do this. Looking at all the parts in the box my first thought was “isn’t it easier to buy one ready-made?” And of course, yes, it is. But that, I now know, is not the full story. Building your car from scratch, piece by piece, is very fulfilling. I learnt so much about how RC cars work during the build that I now feel much more confident when taking off the lids. If something were to go wrong in the future I have no doubt I would not only know what the issue is, but also how to fix it. Something that cannot be said for a pre-built machine. I literally know this car inside and out.

Something I have already mentioned is the freedom to paint your shell as you want it. It’s is great to have the choice and even better to see your design, your paint job racing around for others to see.

IMG_3194
The start of my journey into racing and more sophisticated kit builds. Tamiya, I thank you!

The Racing Fighter itself is great! As I’ve already mentioned it’s fast, easy to get the hang of and very well behaved. Because of how stable it is, it is easy to get it up to full speed (at least in a 2S battery) and still feel in total control. It is very nimble and is aided by a very small turning circle. For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong. The Tamiya write up says this kit is aimed at less experienced builders, offering hassle free assembly and the opportunity to get to grips with RC car composition and construction. Tamiya have hit the mark on all of these points and they deliver a tough car that is a lot of fun and is sure to be a favourite of anybody who builds it. It’s certainly a firm favourite of mine!

Positives

  • Easy to build and understand
  • Great ‘Training’ for future builds
  • 2WD is a true drivers car
  • Off Road Basher or stock club racer

Negatives

  • Painting and cutting out shell difficult for a newb
  • Stickers can be fiddly for a newb
  • Needs ballraces included as standard

For more on Tamiya globally : CLICK HERE

Raising The RR Bar…

RCZ_Bash 100

RRCZ Explores: Official Axial & 3rd Party RR10 Bomber Hop-Ups

Words & Images: Steve “Speedy” Allen

Donor Vehicle Manufacturer: Axial Racing

Donor Vehicle RTR RRP: $399.99

Specs

  • Length: 570mm
  • Width: 280mm
  • Height: 230mm
  • Wheelbase: 375mm
  • Ground Clearance: 72mm
  • Weight: 2.83kg

So..

You’ve got yourself an Axial Bomber, do you want to take it to the next level? With some selective Hop-Ups you can make it into an awesome Rig – to do just about anything – be it rock racer or full on crawler.

image_05_950
The stock RTR is good…but ‘Speedy Steve Modded’ it’s so much better!

I wanted the best of both worlds, a scale rig that can go fast but also crawls as well as can be. The RR10 which is part Wraith, part Yeti has the bonus of being good at both. With the optional two speed gear box you can get some good speed out of a brushed motor in the second gear and still be able to crawl in the first low range gear.

I have to admit here I haven’t driven a box stock RR10 Bomber because as soon as mine turned up it was stripped and prepped for hop ups! So I took the chance to go out with fellow contributor Scott ‘AceofAxe’ Curlin and got to see how well a box stocker handled and crawled.

High Scores

The RR10 uses the AR60 axles the same as the Wraith and on the rear of the Yeti, these are great axles and stand up to a fair bit of abuse. The front has a new double shear knuckles which look very scale and should prove to be tough and durable.

image_08_950
If the RR10 is AceofAce Proof, its tough, but we wanted to make it tougher

Both the link and dampers have extra mounts for secondary dampers on the front and a Yeti sway bar on the rear. Unfortunately they don’t use nuts to retain them like on the wraith and yeti but rather just screw into the plastic. I’m not sure how long these will last to abuse but I’m sure Axial will be releasing some alloy options soon enough.

There is a bit of play between the ball stud for the link and damper so it’s wise to nip these up and remove the play. The grub screws that hold the links to the chassis can’t be tightened as the screw has no head. I think with a little modification a normal machine screw will be possibly used.

ax90048_rr10_bomber_dual_shear_mounts_470x353
Regularly check the grub screws that anchor the links to the chassis

Overall I’m really impressed with what Axial have brought out. It looks really good and performs so much better than any stock Axial before it. Moving the battery under the bonnet was such a smart move, getting the weight up front is such a must and makes a huge difference. The easy access bonnet is also great. The battery compartment will handle 3s 4000mAh LiPos with the only issue being tucking the wire out of the way.

Where’s The Cheat Codes?

A total of eight screws hold the body to the chassis and four grub screws hold the dampers to the body. With no electrics mounted to the body it makes life easy to get in and work on the rig.

3
Bye Bye spare tyre…it just gets hung up in use

The first thing to be stripped of was the spare wheel mount. I think it looks great with the tyre on but for all out performance the weight is in the wrong place and it hangs out of the back and easily gets caught.

Tip: Replace the grub screws on the shocks with the normal domed head screws from the spare wheel to make life a little easier out on the trail if you need to fix it.

2
Stock electrics go out…

Next job was stripping the electrics out. The servo is held onto a new style mount with some nice large-head screws – usually only included with a few servos and not kits – there was even a spare one in the
bag of parts included.

Also in the bag of spares is the coolest part, Axial have made a through -drive for the AR60 axle so you can make a 6WD rig with an AR60 axle with ease. You’ll also find so many other cool bits in this bag that you hadn’t thought of, though I do miss all the scale guns you used to get!

I replaced the kit servo with a Savox SA1283SG. I chose this servo for its reasonable price and also its 30kg power at 6V. The reason I went for 6V is I’m thinking of adding a winch and the stock servo would be perfect to make a winch servo so it was safer to go for the lower voltage.

14
Upgraded electrics go in…

Servo power was to be supplied by a Castle Creations BEC which would be fitted in the radio box which looks the bottom of an engine, very cool feature! Also in the radio box goes a 6 channel Futaba receiver to work with my Futaba 4PL radio.

Next step on the electric upgrades were the motor and ESC. Up until now I have always been a brushed motor guy for crawlers and scale builders alike. But I knew the Bomber needed more power, greater speed and still be able to crawl. There was only one type of motor to go for: a four pole brushless motor. I’m not the best off – all hop ups were bought by me and not gifted, but I’m also currently restoring a 1970 Audi – so my budget had to be tight but it also had to be smart. With a little hunting online I found Toro had come out with an S-Pro4 four pole range of motors and I chose to go for a 3000kV model. This should give me plenty of wheel speed but still be good a low-end for crawling control.

To feed power to this I had a Castle Creations Mamba Max Pro in my old Wraith review car from years ago. The Wraith is getting all the Bombers electrics and become my wife’s new rig. The Mamba Max Pro needed the settings adjusted on the PC to make it more suitable for the Bomber and brushless power.

10
A new black alloy motor mount was fitted offering a far more security

With the motor being swapped out I knew I wanted an alloy motor mount and after looking online I found that GPM made a nice black anodised item which comes with both the mounts to the transmission and to the motor.

Extra Life Given

12
The driveline components and links used…offering better steering deflection and better geometry

The transmission is very similar to the Yeti’s one with the only difference being the transmission case. I’m not 100% on if the gears in the transfer case are the same as the angle it mounts to is different to the Yeti. It comes away from the skid plate with six screws and is soon apart with another six screws.

8
Wheres the lubrication? Grease them puppies up good and proper

I gave the gears a good coating of Heavy duty bearing grease as there was very little to no grease on the gears. No upgrades were done on the internals gears or even to the spur gear. I did order an Axial alloy spur but when it turned up I went to fit it and the slipper pads appeared to be stuck to the plastic spur, so rather than risk damaging them with no spares on hand and not be able to run the rig. I did fit Some Axial alloy slipper plates, though I’m not sure if these are really needed.

9
Now thats more like it…Marine Grease FTW

I felt that the rear axle didn’t need too much improvement, so the only upgrades were Axial’s HD stock ratio gear and Hot Racing’s locker. I left the axle shafts standard and even the axle lock outs were kept.

11
Axial’s HD stock ratio gear and Hot Racing’s locker were employed at the rear

The next upgrade were the rear links, I went for some Blue Monkey Yeti rear arms which use Traxxas rod ends which are a lot stronger. For the upper links I made some carbon rods and again used the Revo rod ends to keep it all nice and tough. This all bolted up nice and easy and the only play was the lower links to the skid plates, a shim could be easily fitted to take out this play.

16
Blue Monkey Yeti rear arms & Traxxas rod ends

I’ve been really impressed with the Axial WB8 drive shafts and so these were reused on both ends – all I did was put a nice bit of thread lock on the grub screws as there didn’t seem to be any on then and you don’t want them coming out!

Moving to the front axle a little more work was carried out – again Axial HD gears were used but this time I went for overdrive gears and Hot Racing lockers. Looking online most people who have upgraded their’s have gone for under drive on both or just rear but me and going slow just doesn’t happen.

The dog-bone driveshaft’s were not going to cut it, so in went some Axial Wraith universal driveshaft’s which increase steering and are just better overall.

Next are the knuckles and hubs, I’m not normally a bling brand name guy but after seeing Vanquish products knuckles and clamping hubs I just had to have some, though I didn’t want them to stand out too much so I went for black.

13
It had to be done…Vanquish Products Knuckles & Camping Hubs

Steering links I went for some titanium items again from Vanquish, although I did order the wrong one but with a little extra bending and some longer Traxxas rod ends it was soon fitted and in a stealthy way under the servo.

15
Titanium Steering Links needed a slight mod (again from Vanquish)

With the steering all sorted it was just the front links to sort. But I dropped the ball here, I only ordered lower links in titanium, so for now I will have to stick with the plastic uppers until I can find some I like at a later date along with a few other choice upgrades to get it fully ready for the UK’s first ever Recon G6 event, so this bad boy better be ready.

New Shoes N Rubber Soles

4
The stock wheels n tyres are OK for bashing and starting out, but I wanted more…

The final items on the upgrade list where the wheels and tyres. Tyres there was only one choice for me the Voodoo U4 2.2 – I have these tyres on my yeti and I not only love the look but the performance is amazing.

Matching these with some Crawler Innovation foams which I did some secret modifications to give me a little edge over the rest. For the wheels I was torn and after some hunting online I found some great cheap scale looking bead-lock wheels from China, so without me being able to pick a favourite I ordered two sets and they still came in cheaper than some other brands for one set. These all went together great and had no real issues fitting the wheels to the tyres after my modifications to the foams. This was also made easier by the fact I didn’t run any extra weights in the wheels.

5
Voodoo U4 2.2s…more grip than thin Cyno on freshly cleaned kitchen table (we’ve all been there!)

For initial testing and with the wonderful weather we were having I wasn’t going to fit my lights yet and I also want to mount a winch but for now that’s all I’m going to do to the little Bomber. Apart from give it a dame good spanking out testing it!

Snow Doesn’t Stop Play

The day after I finished the build was a Sunday, and what happened while I was sitting working on the Bomber? Yep, it snowed!

18
Snow…what snow?

Now even though I’ve gone brushless I wasn’t going to let this hinder the testing and even thought it would make for some good video. So with the help of my ever-loving wife we ventured out to Bradgate Park with a huge flask of coffee, a few tools and a couple of cameras.

19
Grip was an issue on certain obstacles…as was the ambient temperature!

What we came back with was huge smiles on our faces and cold fingers. We only went through two battery packs but they were 4000mAh and they did last over an hour each, in fact the second pack didn’t quite go flat, but my transmitter did and the constant beeping was enough to make me stop.

21
3s, in the snow, me having fun? Never!

I have to say with the betting that we gave (yes my wife drove me to it ) I was amazed at how well it could handle the snow. OK it wasn’t loads of snow but it was enough for us brits to get a sledge out and slide down a rocky hill.

At the very start of driving the rig there was a little stuttering in the higher rev range of the motor but after a little while this stopped. I had just put liquid insulation over the sensor wires and motor terminals, so maybe this hadn’t fully dried.

SPS
Thankfully I killed nothing during my testing…waterproofing is key to scale success

I’m really impressed with how well this Bomber drives and crawls. The long wheel base really helps in crawling up steep ledges – which I had tried a few weeks before when I came with Scott and his bomber in the dry but both failed – but now with the new tyres and extra wheel speed just gave me that edge.

I will admit there where some places that I couldn’t get up for toffee but snow covered slick rock can be a challenge to even walk on but that didn’t stop me trying.

22
THe RR10 was great for just ragging about as well as more technical crawling

Wheel-speed flat out was perfect, I was a little worried it might be too fast and I would lose some low end control but the motor was amazing. If you’ve got the money by all means go for the bigger names in motor manufacturing but the Toro has really impressed me. Of course the Mamba Max Pro isn’t a cheap esc but I have had that for probably 3 years now and run it in everything from 1/8th buggies, to a Wraith with 2.8 sand paddles and 6000kv motor, so it’s done me very well.

The Savox servo was also amazing and the huge power didn’t show any sign of faltering even in the cold and wet and being bound up in some tight spots. Both myself and my wife Sam had a great time, got plenty of video and photos and the truck stood up to everything I could throw at it (yep even the plastic WB8 shafts.)

Not Game Over

20
My Tx was the only annoying thing about this test session (Note to self, charge it before leaving next time!)

What am I going to do to the Bomber? As I have already said, the upper links on the front will be upgraded to either aluminium or titanium depending on what I can find. Though, stay away from the one piece alloy ones and instead go for ones with rod ends.

Some lights will be needed for the night stage of the Recon G6 so plenty of LED’s will be used, with maybe a secondary battery in the fuel cell in the back to power these.

I think it doesn’t really need a winch, but for looks and that just in case moment a winch will be picked out of my spares box and stealthily fitted somehow.

And then I think a colour change is in order. I do really like the scheme but I need to make this individual and with the name I’ve given the truck I have the perfect scheme in mind.

Long live the “F” Bomb!

Positives

  • Good variety of after-market upgrades
  • Proven Wraith and Yeti DNA
  • A great all round rig, made even better

Negatives

  • Random grub screws where machine screws should have been
  • Lack of Transmission grease
  • Slipper pads stuck to plastic spur gear

For more on Axial Racing CLICK HERE

For more on the RR10 RTR & Kit CLICK HERE

For more on Vanquish Hop Ups CLICK HERE

Size Of A Mouse – Heart of a Lion

RCZ_Bash 100

Carisma RC GT24R

Words & Images: Phil Makeitbuildit Lawrence

  • Type: 4WD
  • Scale: 1/24
  • Height: 64mm
  • Length: 180mm
  • Width: 107mm
  • Wheel Base: 119mm

Features

  • 8000kV brushless motor
  • Friction damper
  • New CTX8000 Tx
  • Fast micro servo
  • 500mAh 1S 3.7V LiPo
  • USB charger included
  • Rubber tyres

Available From: Carisma RC

UK Distributor: CML

Current RRP $109.99

This is the smallest RC car I’ve had for many years, those memories are not particularly rosy, as often the smaller the car the more “toy” like it is, lets see how the Carisma GT24R fairs (and I hope it replaces some of those memories with shiny new happy on!)

2
Everythings in the box…bar the patience needed to wait for it to charge

Billed as a Ready To Run, with everything included is a great idea. One thing that always peeves me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) is “batteries not included”, after spending a chunk of money, being asked to go and spend again is never a good feeling, even if its only a few quid for some batteries. This is certainly NOT the case with the Carisma RTR, everything is in the box to get you up and running. Thank you !

13
The hologram sticker says it all…genuine Carisma quality, performance & manufacture

What is the GT24R?

A Pikes Peak international hill climb inspired 1:24 scale car, for those that don’t know about Pikes Peak, it is probably the oldest hill climb event still running, it was first ran in 1916 in Colorado, USA. A 12.5 mile race with 156 corners, climbing over 4,700 feet from the start to the summit of the Pikes Peak mountain at just over 14,100 feet altitude.

21
The ‘Pikes Peak’ replica body is amazing…(very 6R4 Group B Retro too)

Ok, so that’s a serious hill, but why does that inspire a car design, and more importantly, one that we would want as an RC car. With all those corners and hairpins, often with no barriers, it takes a very well built car or bike to make it to the top quickly, and often some don’t make it at all.

The higher you go, the thinner the air, which reduces the power your engine makes. So to get up the mountain fast, sprinting from corner to corner requires MONSTER horsepower often over 1000bhp. coupled with massive down force produced from outrageously big wings to give lots of down force and grip. For a lot of petrol heads it is a holy grail event, so this little 1:24 scale RC car has a lot to live up to if its inspired by Pikes Peak.

What’s it like ?

Ok, so it’s all out of the box and laid out on the table, first impressions are very good, I’m immediately struck with the well printed group B rally car inspired body shell with its Pikes Peak wings and splitters sprouting out at jaunty angles, if it drives as well as it looks, this will be great.

DSC05355
Spares, tools, body clips, cells, LiPo and charger are all included!

Looking at all the included goodies, I can see a nut spinner, screwdriver, spare drive gears, different motor pinions, steering arms and even body pins alongside a lipo battery, charger and batteries for the transmitter, superb! the inclusion of the batteries is great, the drive gears and spare steering links are a total bonus.

15
Just think of the bodyshell possibilities for this platform…

Lifting the lid on the GT24R, I was very surprised to see a super neat completely enclosed chassis centre, a small door on the bottom houses the LiPo next to the power switch, and apart from cooling vents all the workings are enclosed/sealed in a lightweight but compact case. In this covered centre, there is a receiver, fast servo for steering and of course the power train, consisting of a LiPo ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) and an 8000kv brushless motor, driving through a slipper clutch.

11
Friction (not oil filled) dampers…but they work a treat on this light platform

The slipper clutch mates onto the front and rear differentials via a simple driveshaft arrangement. on 1s battery I’ve not had noticed the GT24R needing to use the slipper clutch, but its fantastic to have one installed by default. All of this terminates with the rubber tyres, which provide good grip on hard surfaces and carpet. Everything is supported throughout with full ball bearings and no friction bearings in sight.

14
Yes, it’s that small!, and no, my hands aren’t actually that big!

The only friction parts on this car are the suspension dampers, which are typically bouncy, but work acceptably at this weight, although oil dampers are available directly as an upgrade. Whilst I mention upgrades, there are also carbon shock towers, driveshaft upgrades and if you want to drive this more seriously, 2s LiPo and even a 12000kv motor, now we are talking Pikes Peak power!

16.jpg
Double-wishbone rear suspension soaks up all the bumps in style!

The suspension is double wishbone front and rear with adjustable shock mounts on both upper and lower points, so you can change the effectiveness of the shock absorber to suit your driving style.

10
The worms eye view shows the LiPo compartment cover & on/off switch
4
THe included 2.4GHz CTX8000 has all the features you would ever need, some even for ‘racing’

As per usual one of the first things i do when I pick a car up is wiggle the wheels to see how much play there is in the suspension/steering. I take this (unless its been engineered to have play) as a mark of the build quality. the GT24R is all plastic and 1:24 scale, so i expected some slop, but I was flabbergasted, there is zero play in the steering and no binding, looking at the suspension, there is very little unwanted movement too. The engineering tolerances at 1:24 scale are tiny, yet they have been achieved and then some.

The included radio is the CTX8000 which alongside the usual trims for steering and throttle comes with a throttle limiter that you can slide over the trigger, so it stops the driver using full throttle. something that would be useful when you hand the remote to a new to RC younger driver for example, or for use indoors in a smaller space

5
The throttle limiter is simple, yet very effective. Perfect for the younger RC fans in the family!

As usual, with most models the steering rate is adjustable, however on the CTX8000, this is very conveniently located on a rotary thumbwheel on the handle of the controller.

7
Steering rate adjustment is just a thumbwheel away…

Very well placed so when your ‘hooning’ around like a loon at full throttle, you can easily dial back the steering throws to aid with high speed stability. Then put them back to full when you come to a hairpin with a quick slide of your thumb, after a few attempts it becomes very natural and effective.

6
Power, Trims, Bind & Servo Reversing, all easy to use and figure out in seconds

I’m very impressed with the engineering of this car and the attention to detail, both for those things in sight and hidden away, even down to having ‘handed’ body pins so its symmetrical. someone’s OCD at Carisma has been put to good use, and is noticed…

20
Now thats a silhouette of a very cool car…The GT24R Rocks!

Is it fast ?

Running on the standard 1s battery, running it outdoors on a hard surface, the acceleration is rapid and it has a respectable speed for its size. As mentioned earlier, I found myself turning the steering rate down for outdoor, as at higher speeds it is very easy to roll the GT24R with large steering movements, of course this is easy to do with the well placed thumb wheel on the CTX8000 controller

19
The view others should get if you race them! The 24R is the perfect fun bashing and race platform

Indoors, stick the throttle limiter on and I was doing good laps of the lounge, steering needed to be turned all the way up this time, and at times I wanted a little more for the last hairpin round the sofa (shhhhhh…please don’t tell the wife!)

Is it Pikes Peak fast? out of the box on a 1s battery, no, but switch to a 2s I would say so, or perhaps 1s with the 12000kv motor, and it would be very interesting, once the UK summer stops raining I can’t wait to try this and unleash some Pikes Peak power.

18
Part Pikes Peak, Part Group B Rally Car…we love the look, what do you think?

It’s nice to have options on the upgrade path, I’m not sure if the 12000kv motor will do 2s, if it will, that would be totally mental (I want one…)

The GT24R not really an off road car, although it handled loose dusty gravel surfaces well, especially when you consider gravel is like driving over a boulder covered road at this scale. Therefore I would say its better suited to a smoother surface to get the most out of the speed. There is more than enough speed to get airborne, and I found a nearby skate park a great playground do race round and have a lot of fun.

Before I Go…

One of the beauties of something this scale is the price, so its inclusive for you and a mate or 3 to get one each and have some fun races with them, something I would recommend, either that or in true Pikes Peak style, set out a course with lots of tight corners and sprint through it, timing runs and then passing the controller to the next driver. you can have a lot of fun for not a lot of money.

22
A true ‘Pocket Rocket’, especially on 2S and with a 1200kv motor fitted!

The advantage of the smaller 1s LiPo batteries is they take very little time to charge and they are not expensive, so you can either take masses of them out with you or just a couple and a charger.

23
WE just need 3 more now and we can have a RCCZ GTR office race!

In closing there are a lot of very nice touches on this car, and its fun to drive, I will try 2s when the weather gets better (classic British summer at the moment aka rain). The attention to detail and build quality is great and far beyond what I expected, some good memories have been created.

Thank you Carisma RC

Monster Fun – Micro Size

RCZ_Bash 100

Words & Images: Phil Makeitbuildit & Grace Lawrence

Helion Animus 1/18th Electric Monster Truck

UK Distributor: J.Perkins

UK SRP: £79.99

Included: Tools, Battery and Charger, 2.4Ghz Controller

Specs

Length:  235mm

Height:  100mm

Width:  172mm

Weight:  540g

“Mini Monster Truck, Monster speed…”

 

DSC05413
Lets see if it lives up to its boxes strapline!

First Impressions

Its nicely packaged with good graphics depicting some great off road action, so the expectations are high for such a little machine. Once everything is out of the box you can see this is not a toy grade car, whilst its far from being the most expensive, I’m impressed with what I’m seeing so far.

1
At under £80.00 this little Monster is huge value for money

The controller has a similar casing to a few other cars I’ve driven, so it’s quite familiar, its lift up cover on the back containing the power switch, servo reverse and two rotary dials, one for steering trim, and the other for throttle trim. There is a bind button in there too, not that it was needed in my case, it just worked straight from the box. It’s worth noting that there is a mega bright LED to show when its powered on, and that LED will change from green to red when the batteries are getting low (nice touch). hopefully this won’t come on too often as the transmitter takes 8 AA batteries!

2
Basic but very functional…2.4GHz for glitch free running

The charger is very simple, mains plug one end, deans plug the other, with some indication lights on the plug to show the current charge state. it worked without fault and was simple enough for anyone to use.

DSC05309
The included ‘trickle’ wall charger is simple to use, even for a complete novice

Onto the Animus (meaning : motivation to do something) and its obvious to see there is a lot of thought that has gone into this car, and its quality is beyond its price point

3
LEDs are fitted front and back, wiring is taped securely in place inside the shell

The body shell is well formed, not too flimsy or heavy and a major bonus, its fitted with both front and rear lights, they are quite bright, so i imagine some night time driving is possible, as well as looking cool in the day, it just adds another level of realism. It’s not a massive or complex thing to do, but to me details like this make the whole thing a better experience, well done Helion.

DSC05333
Shock Towers and Suspension Arms are built to take abuse

The suspension arms look strong enough for the size of machine (and were proven to be strong in the multiple crashes and tumbles this has taken so far), what is very impressive is the shocks, they are oil filled, something i did not expect at all for a smaller model. it makes such a difference to have nice damping, makes off road smoother and on road or gravel even more fun !

DSC05332
The threaded Alloy shock caps add add a nice touch of quality

At the end of each arm its fitted with large but not out of scale wheels with very grippy tyres attached to ball raced hubs, happy to say no friction bearings here !

DSC05338
The tyres are a soft compound with a traditional self-clearing MT tread pattern

Looking harder, there is even more to play with, you can adjust the top shock positions and inboard upper wishbone location, so not only is it good fun knock about, you can start learning tuning, or if your already in the know, you can adjust it to suit your style, I have to remind myself that this is 1:18 scale, as lots of features from larger vehicles have been put on this model.

DSC05337
The design ethos and layout is taken straight from much bigger models

There is not a lot of play in the suspension, which is a good thing, meaning it should not wander on its own and have a controlled feeling when driving it.

On the subject of ‘play’, with the particular truck I had, I noticed more steering play in one side than the other, The 2 in 1 esc/steering servo uses a bell crank system to link to the wheels and I found that one of the links had more play than the other, this was not much of a problem as 1/4 turn on the ball joint screw and most of that slack had been taken up. I have to admit to sorting this before driving, so I cant 100% say if it would have affected anything, although my opinion is that it would have been fine and not changed how it drove, certainly off road.

DSC05336
A logical and ‘balanced’ layout…with the driveline going straight down the centre

The power train is brushed and includes a replaceable 7.2v 1100mah NiMh that is held in with a retraining strap and body clips , so let’s see how that fairs under some use, will it be saggy and slow, or still pack a punch?

There is a little switch by the power switch to allow you to select between NiMH or LiPo battery, so its got a built in low voltage cut-out ready for a LiPo upgrade, again another simple yet well executed touch. It also has a bind position for the RX…clever stuff Helion!

4
Note the three positions to that white slider/switch….very clever stuff

In the past I’ve found a brushed motors to be a bit slow compared to the brushless systems I’m used to running. However, I have been impressed by the torque they can offer, so this will be interesting.

A Wide Demographic

DSC05495
From ‘Big Kids’ to real Kids…the Animus has a broad appeal

I’m not exactly sure who the Animus is aimed at, I would say it’s something both for the younger generation, and us older ones who are still 12…so this has been tested by both a 40 something who is still 12, and an actual 12 year old.

DSC05501
Size is subjective…this thing punches well above it’s weight!

After charging the battery and fitting the 8AA batteries into the controller, a quick check on steering rates to make sure its not binding up (where the servo tries to push the steering too far) and its ready to go.

I thought I’d be kind to the motor and give it the first few runs on road, to bed everything in and not put any undue stress on the drive train etc. So off we go…

DSC05488
Its not supposed to be clean…so we got it dirty!

Gently squeezing the throttle (see ED, I do learn from my mistakes, read my bullet flux review in issue 3!) there is no stuttering or cogging that you can get from an un-sensored brushless motor at low speed, the Animus squats the rear slightly as the suspension takes the load, and its off…(and at quite a rapid rate I must say!) I’m glad to see my earlier concerns about brushed have been  put to rest.

The steering is direct, proportional and easy to control, comes back to centre well and not in a snappy way so it won’t induce flips and rolls if you let off the steering quickly. It was not long before I was ‘hooning’ it round the tarmac, and jumping off curbs and out of potholes, this thing is great, my mind has already thought of 4 or 5 of us having a one make race with these, would be a great laugh…perhaps even fit micro FPV systems and race them that way!

Grace v The Molehill

After a recharge Grace and I went down the fields with the Animus to have some fun and get some photos of it before I got carried away with bigger and bigger jumps

5
The perfect launch pad…sorry Mr Mole!

Ok, the box art showed the Animus MT throwing up dirt as it was moving at a good pace, is that possible…… Grace lined up a massive molehill, it was about 4 times the height of the Animus and about 3 times a long, let’s see what this is made of. Pinning the throttle wide open from the start the Animus leapt forwards through grass that was at least up to the axles with ease, she steered it up and over, the wheels spinning all the time, throwing mud behind and into the air, as it leapt into the air itself. so, can it do what it says on the box, simple answer is YES.

hero 1
Brushed motors produce tons of torque…and it shows!

Of course we had to repeat it, as the speed off road had taken me by surprise and I’d only got half the car in the photo, then of course I wanted a go too. It might be small, but it’s an addictive little monster truck

DSC05472
More airtime…this was tons of fun and what bashing is truly all about!

Thankfully the mole had moved on to somewhere else looking at the number of molehills about, as I imagine he/she would have ended up with a headache after all the jumping we did over its digging spoils.

We spend the rest of the battery, jumping, speeding, climbing hills and having great fun with the Animus. After all isn’t that what its all about?

6
Grace & the Helion Animus MT…RCCZ’s ‘Destruction Tester’!

Back at home, Grace got through at least another 3 charges that day, driving both in the garden and on the drive and had a big smile on her face, especially with the new use she found for it, I’ll let her explain that later.

RCCZ TOP TIP: One thing to mention is motor has a sticker on it saying “Caution may be hot”, this is certainly true, I found the motor gets quite hot and after a full run, its best to leave it to cool a little before touching it…you were warned!

So, what’s the verdict. If your after something capable, fun, small enough to use in the garden, yet capable enough to tackle off road, mud, jumps etc, and don’t want to spend a fortune, then I would recommend adding this to your list along with a couple of additional batteries, get a few Animus/Animi (*I’m not sure what the plural is) together and the fun level could be epic.

Thoughts From A Real End User…Grace

So, my verdict of the Helion Animus 18MT…well, the one I tested had a red and blue livery, which I thought was a good combination making it stand out and look very smart. The body shell is a good shape too. I am impressed by the LED lights on it…

DSC05499
The LEDs shine bright…even in daylight!

They are white in the front and red on the back and are a very good brightness. you could even try driving in the dark. The wheels and tyres are very suited to the type of car it is, they give lots of grip on grass and mud. The controller for this vehicle is easy to hold and operate for small or large hands, its heavier than some others I’ve used though.

DSC05409
The livery stands out and looks the part

When I drove it off road I tried it both in a field with longer grass and on the shorter grass in my garden. Its naturally a very fast car and went reasonably quick on this type of terrain, swerving in and out of garden swing poles, its accurate and able to bounce when you get it wrong. I even tried using some molehills as gigantic ramps and it jumped them very well and stayed upright! Then I tried driving it on road on the driveway. It was most efficient at this kind of driving as it was a smooth terrain which ensured maximum speed. It was very very easy to control. Handling the car was great fun, and as its small, I even managed to crawl it underneath a van!

DSC05406
Classic MT lines and look…Helion know their stuff

Among the more unusual uses I found for this monster truck is dog exercise! Drive this car around the garden and the family hound will have a great time chasing it and barking at it (as mine did!) until its lying down panting…(and the dog! ED)

DSC05412
Wide and stable…this translates to minimal grip roll and good handling in use

This vehicle withstood numerous collisions, even full throttle into my garden swing and remained intact which has to be a very positive point!

I found the four wheel drive was very interesting as I hadn’t tested a car with this type of drive before. It gave lots of grip which made it easier to control and easier to turn corners at high speed.

DSC05407
It should be called ‘Unanimous’…that’s the thumbs up it got from the team!

The differentials and oil filled shocks were very good and I thought them impressive. They made a positive difference to how it drove both on and off road.

DSC05495
Perfect as a fun basher or as an entry level 1st vehicle…Versatile

The option of more colour schemes or a clear body shell to paint yourself would make this an even better buy, it is compact in size but packs a punch! Overall this monster truck is impressive and exceeded my expectations especially with regard to durability and I would recommend it to any skill level, or age.

For more on the full Helion range CLICK HERE

For more on the full J.Perkins range CLICK HERE