As someone that’s heavily into both Multirotor and RC cars I was intrigued to learn on the RC grapevine a few months back that Kyosho were releasing a product they called the ‘Drone Racer’. Early images of it showed a very futuristic and yet thin side profile. It was very reminiscent of craft seen in the classic PlayStation game Wipe-out, or an evolution of a Formula E race car crossed with one of the Pod Racers seen in the Phantom Menace.
The initial reaction from the core Kyosho fans, and strangely the car community was very positive. The existing Drone Racing community didn’t seem to get it, and some even ridiculed it initially, but then this wasn’t a Drone Racer in that sense at all. In fact, the biggest shock and polariser of the whole concept was the steering wheel car type, surface remote. That got more questions of “How?” on social media than any other part.
Then things went very quiet for a while until the 23rd of September at a Drone Racer recital at the Japan Model Hobby Show. A buddy of mine Francesco attended and I watched transfixed as four of these craft raced their way around a course at the show, streaming live on his Facebook page. My interest level went through the roof, so I immediately got onto Kyosho UK and arranged this review. The actual retail stock looks to be hitting the UK in late November, so perfect timing for Xmas for anyone stuck what to get themselves, or a RC/Drone/Tech lover (delete as appropriate) for Xmas.
Even More Torment!
Just before the sample physically arrived, just to torment me further, Kyosho released this YouTube video:
I wanted to review one even more! Then thankfully the door bell went, and a box arrived by courier. Just inside the box was a note saying I had just a few days with the sample, as it was one of only two in the UK and was needed by the UK reps to show retailers, I shelved anything I had to do in the next 48 hours and quickly finished unboxed the Drone Racer.
You can see my first thoughts after the unboxing on a Facebook video: HERE
The drone itself is very light and sits at just over 300mm x 300mm. The Lexan body looks like a futuristic f1 car and really suits the genre of product. I’ve been a big advocator of body shells on drones as the standard ‘White for a filming platform’ and ‘Naked Carbon Fibre with alloy standoffs’’ for a race drone is starting to look a little old hat of late.
The drones H chassis design is only about 35mm or so wide along its spine, with a Sonar sensor array and battery holder on the underside, and on the top a 5v out accessory port (For a future FPV Cam possibly?), an LED port (for additional LEDs I’m guessing) and Infra Red Sensor (for a lap timing system and app Kyosho will be selling soon), standard mini USB port, a Bind and then clickable ‘C’ and ‘A’ buttons.
Indicate & Identify
Both sets of arms have RGB LED strips built into them, and these can be changed at the front to any one of six colours (White, Blue, Yellow, Green, Pink or Blue) to help identify your drone if you intend to race it.
On the rear arm they change automatically to any one of four colours to indicate the drones status. This is simple to understand and the colour codes are as follows:-
Red : flashing = Low Voltage Warning, Solid Red indicates safety function is released and the quad is now armed and ready. Once flying the LED’s remain on to act as a tail light.
Yellow : Indicates the transmitter is not connected , so quad goes into failsafe/Emergency stop mode.
Green: Flashing indicates drone detecting horizontal axis, when solidly lit it indicates the drone is ready but safety function is still Active
Blue : Solid blue means Gyro calibration in progress
0, 10 or 20 Degrees Of Tilt
The arms also can be tilted to any one of three locked angles via the use of additional (but supplied) arm holders. These upper clamps hold the arms at either a 0-degree, 10-degree or 20-degree attack angle. Kyosho call it ‘VPUS’ or Variable Propeller Unit Structure. Marketing jargon aside, what this does is increase the forward speed of the quad in flight as the props are already pulling the craft forward because of the angle. Set at 20-degrees it jumps from the stock 30km/h at 0 degrees, to just under 35km/h and it also has an added advantage of flying better if there’s a slight breeze too. It tends to be able to cut through it better, rather than being blown off track (as can happen at the 0-degree setting).
To seasoned quad racers this speed isn’t going to be mind-bendingly fast, but to most RC fans, especially the more car orientated, it’s a fast enough pace to have a good old race at, and more importantly, to have lots of fun with!
The 1s (3.7v) 1000mAh LiPo included in this retail package takes between 1 and 2hrs to charge, all dependent upon the ampere rating of the USB socket you plug the included charger into. Now most PC’s offer quite a low Amp rating, so I opted to use a USB wall plug I had spare, rated at 2A and 5v, this peaked the pack in under an hour. As a rule of thumb, if using a computers USB port, USB 1.0 and 2.0 ports can deliver up to 0.5A; with USB 3.0, that moves up to 0.9A. By using a dedicated charging wall plug like I did, you can expect anywhere between 1.5A and 3A, drastically improving charge times.
By charging at 2A this gave a good ten minutes of mixed throttle fly/drive/hover time, and I’m sure that will improve once the battery has had a few cycles. The battery is a long flat, oblong and slightly wider than many fitted to other quads in the fun sector of the market. I have other packs with the same lead fitted, but all were a different size and lower mAh rating. This means that unless you can source a direct comparative cell by a third-party manufacturer, you will have to purchase official Kyosho spares, if you want multiple cells to enhance your fun.
“A Steering Wheel, But It’s A Drone?”
Now, that was the reaction I got from most of my Drone flying buddies when I first revealed the Kyosho to them. They simply didn’t get it. All are used to flying stick radios. All use pitch and roll in combination to get the type turns they require. How could a wheel transmitter offer the same kind of control? Well…to put it bluntly. It doesn’t.
In use, the Drone Racer is more like piloting a very sophisticated Drift Car/Hovercraft hybrid than a Quadcopter, and for its intended market, that’s not actually a bad thing. The electronics built into the flight controller mix Yaw and Roll together and as you twist the wheel, the craft turns, offering quite a flat almost drift like Yaw turn, but with a small amount of roll mixed in. You can adjust the speed and amount of turn in relationship to the users input using the rotary knobs on the Tx, as can you trim each channel to offer a neutral point for the Yaw/Roll function and the throttle. Both important if there seems to be any slight drifting on any axis while in a straight, on the spot hover.
You must remember however that this Quads built in sensors are for Height Hold only. Two Sonar sensors pointing down help maintain one of the two available pre-set heights you select via the transmitters 3 position thumb switch on the grip. The other position being to land the Drone! At a moderate pace, they react fast enough to lift the drone up over an object, so on say a 1/10th Off Road track you can see the Drone rise in relation to the up ramp of a jump, then settle back to a constant height after the Drone descends the down ramp, or clears it completely.
Go too fast however and there’s a chance the Drone will hit the object before its sensors have compensated for its height. That’s when I found the highest of its two settings is best for this type of terrain. On a flat or semi-undulating terrain go to height one and everything’s smooth as butter. The Drone will compensate for small changes in surface seamlessly. Over rough terrain or where there is a series of objects much higher than the Drone is travelling, the second height is king.
A Fleet Of These Racing = Wipeout 2017
The best analogy I can use for the Kyosho Drones racer and its look and feel when being piloted is the game ‘Wipeout’. Now for this not familiar with the Sony PlayStation gaming franchise. Wipeout and the driving game Ridge Racer where two of the seminal launch titles on the original PS1. Wipeout captured the imagination of gamers by combining futuristic hovering race craft, with pumping electronic music and sweeping almost Tron-Esq tracks. Now Kyosho must have had a design brief of some sort when the project was first initiated, and I’m thinking that this and possibly the Pod Racers from Start Wars Episode 1 were high on that influences list. Sprinkle in a touch of Formula E, the latest in fun quadcopter technology and an easy to use (and futuristic looking) Synchro Steer Wheel transmitter, and you have one of the coolest bits of Xmas 2016 hobby tech I’ve seen in a long while.
Seeing a small fleet of these, all set to display different colours battling it out would be epic. It’s the perfect stock class vehicle for an after-school club, held in a school gym or as I’ve recently seen at a more traditional 1/10th, On or Off Road RC Car club track.
Yes, You Can Run Outdoors…But
In totally stock form, and with the arms flat, any cross winds are hard to fight, and tend to push the craft off course. At slow speeds this is something you can counteract easily, but if the wind picks up, just making any headway can be a struggle, and if you are travelling at the crafts top speed, its momentum tends to make it carry for quite a distance. And this is how the Drone Racer flies, its best described at Point, Squirt and Drift. You use the throttle and steer wheel in conjunction with each other to set the radius as you travel around an actual or imaginary corner marker.
You soon get used to how much speed the Drone Racer can carry if you don’t counteract it with either a tap of the brakes (by pushing forwards on the trigger), or in my case when things looked like I may hit an object you gab a full on handful of brake, reversing the motors and causing the Racer to first slow, then stop, then start moving backwards.
When you first take off you flick the three position switch up to the desired level, pull on the trigger to initiate forward momentum, reach the desired speed and then use the throttle to help keep the Drone Racer pointed where you want it to go, modulating the speed with throttle and brake just like an RC car.
At one point during an outdoor run I ended up with it travelling backwards, at speed heading into a fence. The wind had really picked up and just kept pushing it and even though I was gunning the throttle it just couldn’t fight the wind. Once I tilted the arms forwards however, things got far more aggressive in the handling stakes and the Racer tended to cut through wind moving forwards far better, and didn’t get pushed off course as easily.
On a still day or in a sheltered area outdoors the Drone Racer is lots of fun. It’s just a magnet for people and drew a crowd everywhere I took it, with it flying so low to the ground, excited the big kid in anyone that sees it. Its body shell is a key factor in this. Drones have become part of the everyday fabric of life. But seeing something so futuristic and sleek elevated this product from just 4 sets of blades and a blob of plastic, to something very much more inspiring to pilot or more importantly, observe being piloted.
I offered the controls to everyone within my RC peer group that wanted to have a go, admittedly mostly are car guys, but even though this was one of only two sample I knew of outside Japan, I even let a couple of complete RC novice buddies have a go. With the height, it travels, the prop guards, the relatively low RPM the blades spin, and the built-in motor cut out programming, I knew that it was safe to be around. you can’t say that about many drones that aren’t 100% toy grade.
All who experienced it gave the Drone Racer a unanimous thumbs-up for simply being so innovative and different, with only one finding the steer wheel method “a little odd”, but then again he also flies planes and quads, and is a stick man when racing cars too…so there’s no hope for him! If it encourages people into the very diverse and interesting world of Drones now that can’t be a bad thing. I hate to use the term, but this is a gateway product if I ever saw one!
The Kyosho Drone Racer is a product that to some may initially look like its Toy Grade, but when you consider the build quality, its price point (£249.99), the technology involved in its realisation and its future potential with the Kyosho timing app and additional future performance upgrades, it’s definitely Hobby-Grade through and through. Drone purists probably won’t get it, buy it or race one, and that leaves it open for the rest of the Tech and RC communities to embrace, and that’s a huge market place globally. Judging by the pre-orders the first batch into Europe will sell out fast, and I’ve got one on my Xmas list for sure.
I just can’t wait to see what Kyosho have up their sleeve next. I hope more variants on the Drone Racer, perhaps a Pro Drone Racer with 2S support, faster motors and FPV? I live in hope…but for the latter I have a confession to make. I have tried it with FPV and its ace fun! I simply used one of the tiny 25mw CE legal AIO 5.8ghz FPV cams we all use on our Tiny Whoop builds, plugged it into the 5V port (the cam takes up to 5v!) and although it reduced the overall flight time slightly, as there’s an additional current draw…it was a very good way to pilot the Drone Racer. In fact, as an entry into the world of FPV, the Kyosho is a great platform. The flight time it offers, and its ability to fly indoors if space allows or outdoors if the winds not too prevalent, make it near perfect.
Final Thought: I would hope that Kyosho will offer a stick version to at some point, even keep in the mixing of Yaw and Roll and just allow throttle and steering, as that would excite even more people about its low flying charms. We shall see…
Huge shout out to Neil Skull and the Kysoho UK team for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get together with a few owners post Xmas and put the Drone Racers through their paces on a track somewhere!
The name Dennis Anderson may not mean anything to a good proportion of you reading this, but I bet most of you have heard of his 4×4 creation, The Grave Digger. Probably the most Iconic Monster truck of all time, and one that many of us have owned at one point in one form or another. From various Mattel Hot wheels 1/64th die cast push along toys to Traxxas 1/16th RC, New bright 1/10th RC and now Axial’s latest 1/10th RTR trucks. It’s been a vehicle that’s inspired kids of all ages with its colour scheme and eerie almost Halloween-esc looks into performing huge real (or imaginary) backflips, jumps and power slides, not to mention crushing other cars! Hell, I even gave my kids official Monster Jam ‘plushie’ versions of it and other Monster Jam trucks to play with as infants…but more on that later.
Mud Bogger to Car Crusher
The origins of the now legendary black and green 1950’s Chevy Panel van started in 1982 with a very different look and model of vehicle. The very first Grave Digger was actually a bright red 1952 Ford pickup truck and was built as a Mud Bogger. Dennis then progressed onto a silver and blue 1951 Ford Panel Truck, and this would become the first ‘official’ Grave Digger Monster Truck, and the rest was history.
The truck was named Grave Digger when Anderson said the now famous line:-“I’ll take this old junk and dig you a grave with it…”. Not just Trash Talk to put the other drivers off, but also pretty factually correct about his old pickup when compared to the other drivers pretty modern rides. Anderson fast built up both respect amongst the o0ther drivers and also a reputation amongst the public who attended these events with an all-or-nothing, 100% committed driving style.
His transition from Mud Bogging to becoming a Monster Truck happened overnight. He was competing at a show, when the scheduled Monster Truck failed to show up and perform Car Crushing for the expectant crowd. Anderson, who already had large tractor tires on the Grave Digger, offered to step in and crush cars in it’s absence. The promoter accepted and Grave Digger was given a shot. He was an instant hit with the crowds and this was the catalyst for his, and the trucks future career as a fully fledged Monster Truck.
The Digger Look
In 1986 Grave Digger first received its famous graveyard paint livery. It was still a Ford at this point, and until 1988 Anderson mostly drove the truck at TNT Motorsports races. Despite his team still lacking the major funding that teams like Bigfoot had, he won over the people that really mattered, and quickly became a firm favourite with the crowds and growing numbers of fans of the genre.
Then in In 1987, he truly made his mark. Grave Digger beat Bigfoot in St. Poodle, MN on a show taped for and then shown on a very new ESPN. It was just what he needed to take the truck, and his team to the next level, both in its design and to help generate additional funding.
Anderson then built Grave Digger 2 in 1989, with a new 1950 Chevy panel van as its body and everything the team had learnt put into the mechanics. It was during this time that his reputation for making exciting and even ‘wild’ passes in Grave Digger was born. The popularity of Grave Digger when crazy. TNT realised what an icon the truck and Anderson were becoming began promoting them heavily, especially for races on the now legendary ‘Tuff Trax’ syndicated TV series.
Evolution Of Species
TNT became a part USHRA in 1991, and Anderson began running on the USHRA tour and debuted his first four-link truck, Grave Digger 3. The rest was history. In the 1990’s, the popularity of the truck grew so much that Anderson hired other drivers to run multiple Grave Digger trucks at various events across the US. Grave Diggers 4, 5 and 8 were built for just this purpose. Anderson drove Grave Digger 7, a direct successor to 3, for most of this decade. It was eventually replaced by Grave Digger 12, well known as the LWD (Long Wheelbase Digger) which was also the first Grave Digger to have purple in the paintjob.
In late 90’s, Anderson sold the Grave Digger team to Feld Entertainment Motor Sports, the current event organiser of the Monster Jam series of events that travel globally to this day. Anderson continues to drive Grave Digger and still is the most visible member of the team. The truck recently had its 30th birthday and competed with a special livery. Fans still flock to see the truck at every event it appears in and regardless of the latest team, or truck to appear on the scene, Grave Digger will always capture the public’s imagination, on and off the track.
The SMT-10 Platform On The Slab…
So what is an Axial SMT-10 rig then? Well, for a start there’s the obvious Monster Truck inspired body shell, and this one happens to be a licenced version of the classic Grave Digger. And I would bet that there’s more options on the way, as let’s face it, why create such a cool Monster Truck platform and not create Axial’s own fleet of 1/10th replicas to please both the hardcore Monster Jam fans, and the existing RC bashing brigade.
Of all the genre of RC Cars out there, the Monster Truck has the widest appeal by far. You can in theory run it just about anywhere. It takes lots of abuse, and where a thoroughbred 4×4 race platform would probably break in two…most of the time a well-designed and made Monster Truck just keeps coming back for more. It’s no thin cheaply made shell either. Its .040 Polycarbonate and comes complete with a .040 scale interior with driver figure, complete with optional glow in the dark skeleton driver’s head!
Other cool touches like sweeping chrome ‘Zoomie’ style header pipes, and yet another optional (but included in the box) part, a chromed Supercharger Blower intake and additional engine detail you can bolt onto the bonnet (hood for my US chums!) all add to the look and feel of the truck.
Then there’s the chassis and roll cage. In this rig it’s a bright Grave Digger Green, but I would expect it to be black in subsequent releases. It was designed to resemble as closely as possible the modern era full size monster trucks, the chassis was developed to offer maximum strength combined with an extremely detailed appearance. That’s not something that’s easy to do, and most Monster Trucks that came before this release had to sacrifice that very detail aspect in favour of very exaggerated and often frankly unrealistic beefed up TVP chassis. The chassis strength actually lies in the clever way, just like in the real thing, Axial have used triangulation of the chassis tubes, making it ready for just about anything you can throw at it in use. But the features don’t end there.
Weight Distribution and C of G
The battery tray can be easily accessed at the rear of the vehicle, without removing the body or disturbing any of the electrics. Yes, it sits quite high up compared to anything Axial have released before, but that’s so the C of G is optimised for the rig to perform and handle just like the real thing. You want to be able to pop the occasional wheelie, to attempt single, double and even triple backflips. And all of these require the truck to rotate around a fixed point, and one that’s pretty high and towards the rear of the rig.
Installing a LiPo is so easy. You just remove one pin, swing out the cell tray, and slide the battery pack in. The tray is fully height adjustable with four screws, making room for most standard sized ‘Brick’ 2S and 3S LiPo battery packs. Talking of which the rig is out of the box set up for 3S use, with a 56T Spur / 11T as standard, but Axial Includes a 16T Pinion for 2S use. Now I find this a bit odd as most of us have 2S packs or would start with a 2S pack until we get the feel of any new vehicle. I guess they want prospective owners to jump straight in and experience the additional thrills and spills 11.1v RPM offers, especially when you consider this rig is supplied with a 27t brushed motor so perhaps not the fastest kid on the block running 2S!
The Monster Truck related design content continues with a new heavy duty tie rod, drag link, and faux scale Hydraulic Ram Steering Link to ensure the massive tyres go where you want them to. Being plastic the steering links are more forgiving than an all alloy setup and offer a little flex in conjunction with the servo saver to help the Tactic TSX45, metal geared steering servo stay intact.
At the supplied 5v BEC voltage from the Axial AE-5 ESC the servo produces just under 11kg of torque that for a RTR isn’t a bad g brakes between 100% or 50%figure. AS for the ESC itself, the AE-5 is one of the simplest units in the RC world to use. Its rated for a peak current of 180A with a motor limit of 12t on 2S or 18t on 3S and uses a simple jumper system to set up the desired parameters of battery type (between NiMH or LiPo), and drag brake force (between 100% or 50%).
But that’s not all. When you plug in your chosen cell to the pre-soldered Deans connector, the ESC goes through a self-test/diagnostics routine. It automatically sets the throttle and brake end points, and if set in LiPo mode, it checks if you are using a 2 or 3S LiPo. No switching on, holding throttle or brake and waiting for beeps or lights…It’s pretty much fool proof (well, I could use it so….)
To put all that torque and RPM where its needed most, Axial have produced a scale BKT MOnster Truck tyre. BKT are the official and exclusive tire manufacturer of Monster Jam and its 1:1 fleet of trucks. The full size tyres, just like their 1/10th equivalents have been designed to handle the inherent stresses involved with both ‘Racing’ and ‘Freestyle’ Monster Jam competition.
The rig also features a waterproof radio box to keep the 3-channel TR325 3-channel receiver safe and dry, if you do decide to go and run the truck in the wet. And thats brings me nicely onto the included 2.4GHz 3-Channel transmitter. The Tactic TTX300 is not your ordinary RTR radio. For a start it has a user programmable 3rd channel, allowing the end user to control almost anything they desire. RC Dig Units and Winches are the obvious choice, which makes this system perfect for the scale and crawling community. But it can also be used to switch on and off LED lighting, onboard cameras and even sound units and other such accessories. Then theres the SLT (Secure Link 2.4Ghz Technology), which once bound creates an unbreakable link between the receiver and your transmitter. The look is also very unique and futuristic, this isn’t a RTR Tx you will feel ashamed of being seen with!
Proven Axles…Beefed Up C -Hubs
The SMT10 features the now proven AR60 axle with a true trailing arm 4-linked rear suspension and also offers additional shock mounting positions. As with previous releases the AR60 OCP-Axle is injection moulded in a tough composite which has a very low flex rate, but is not as brittle as standard glass filled nylon used by many other brands. The axles feature an Off-center pumpkin design with reinforced axle tubes with a boxed-in axle truss to offer stability and durability. They even changed the diff cover to give them a slightly different look. Subtle but cool.
Axial understand that Monster trucks undergo many more stresses than scale rigs or rock racers. So to that end they have strengthened the front C-Hubs to take all the hard impacts and occasional bad landings the rig will endure from monster jumps and good old fashioned RC bashing.
Where other brands fit multiple units at each corner to share the load, Axial know their current breed of oil filled shocks can take Monster abuse off road and stick to just a single unit in each corner, far more in keeping with the real Grave Digger. The chassis offers a variety of shock mounting points for additional suspension tuning options, meaning in seconds you can either lay the shocks down at more of an angle to soften the ride and lower the ride height, or sit them more upright to stiffen the suspension and raise the ride height.
Although the alloy bodied shocks have plastic tops they are very well made and even under the most extreme bashing duress didn’t immediately start spewing shock all from their seals. It is worth noting that as the shock bodies are actually 10mm, and not the 12mm of most of their other shocks, at the moment alloy caps are hard to find as a Hop Up, but once the SMT10 has been out a while and some get released, adding these, with a smear of Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ to each seal will greatly improve the longevity of the shocks between routine maintenance. Also remember not over tighten them as the plastic caps can strip their internal thread leading to even more leak issues! Just nip them tight and all will be good in the world.
Old Skool AX Transmission
In a departure from the recently released SCX10 II transmission, with its optional 2-speed add-on, with the SMT10 Axial instead decided to revert back to the trusty AX10 single speed unit. Initially I was a little shocked by this, but then thought through this trucks intended use and the stresses the transmission would have to endure. Keeping things simple meas that 1: it will take more abuse, even with a brushless setup. 2: tons of spares are available, from hardened internal gear sets and alloy cases to the choice of motor mount and spur gear choice. Its a unit that’s served us well for many, many years and nice to see Axial still utilising it in their latest vehicles. When used in conjunction with the WB8 HDDriveshafts
with their larger diameter cross pin for added strength and a new center splined slider to reduces flex and fatigue its a potent combination…especially when running on 3S!
Anatomy Of The SMT10
Seen from above, the layout of the rig’s chassis and electronics follows a well thought out patten. Weight is evenly distributed, the track width and wheelbase offering stability where its needed and the Centre Of Gravity sitting in a position to offer a fun driving experience.
Let’s face it, iid this was the most stable RC vehicle ever invented then its wouldnt mimic the trucks that compete at Monster Jam. I’ll go into this more in part 2, where I put it through its paces on various different terrains, but suffice to say, this shell will not remain immaculate, it will get thoroughly bash tested on both 2 and 3S and I will attempt my party piece, the double (or even triple) Backflip. Until then I leave you with a few more images of the pristine truck…as I eagerly charge LiPo cells and get my official Grave Digger Monster Jam T shirt on…I am so looking forward to this!
But why does this truck mean so much to me? Well, a few years ago myself and the then RRCi team worked at Monster Jam at the UK events they staged. We did the warm up for the crowd using Traxxas 1/8th RC Monster Trucks (with incidentally, the now head of Axials UK office, Andrew Rawlinson!). Hanging out with all the teams was amazing, we had a great time, even getting to sit in the Trucks and experience the practice runs and event itself right next to the track itself. We even have the blower belt from Grave Digger hanging in Speedy Steve’s garage after he broke it in the final on his very last winning run!
The driver and team of Grave Digger at that event bet me a mountain of Grave Digger goodies I couldn’t backflip the biggest gap in the stadium (well over 90 feet) in front of the very large crowd, so no pressure there then! Always up for a challenge I attempted it both days as the finale of the warm up. I would position my 6s powered truck at the far end of the stadium and drive it full speed to the take off ramp! 1st day I landed on the down ramp at an odd angle and broke an A arm and bent a shock, plus the rear of the trucks body didnt fare too well either. The second day it actually landed ‘in’ the last crushed car in a line of them just before the down ramp and disappeared completely, to a round of applause from the crowd…
I Got My Stash Of Goodies!
Because of the sheer entertainment factor of my attempts (you could hear them all laughing from the pit area!) they gave me my goodies (plush Monster Jam trucks for kids, kids T shirts and one of my most prized possessions to this day, my GD Cap and adult T’s). I still keep in touch with some of the crew on Facebook and I know for as fact they are digging the new Axial in a big way. Oh, and there was also an incident with a certain RC truck and the shows compare…but what happens in Pride Park Derby, stays in Pride Park Derby eh Andrew!
Join me soon for part 2 when we run the rig, test its abilities to the hilt and see if I can get my backflip mojo back! Until then here’s the official Axial video of the SMT10 Grave Digger Monster Jam Truck in action…
For more on Monster Jam and the 2016/17 global tour dates click: HERE
For more on Axial Racing and the SMT10 Grave Digger click: HERE
Now, I’m no stranger to the RC4WD Trail Finder bloodline. And at last count I’ve built 3 rigs based on two generations of the kit and run a very capable RTR. With our recent SWB TF2 review by Daniel S getting all down and dirty at the RECON G6 UK Edition, I felt it wise to do something a little different with the latest review kit of the longer wheelbase we were sent by RC4WD.
For a start I decided to use the new Chevy Blazer body kit they had recently released. And while I was at it, the Billet V8 engine that replaces the stock motor mount and becomes part of a far more realistic looking driveline. I wanted a rig that while still performing Off Road, would also look cool as a fictitious daily driver, and be something that if I had the 1:1 vehicle as a donor, the time and the funds…would build myself for real!
V8 Engine and Ladder Chassis
The start of any TF” kit build is always the chassis. You first bolt on the mounting points for the leaf springs and gradually build up what is essentially the backbone of the whole rig.
Remember to use Loctite Blue Threadlock or similar on anything that goes metal to metal, but metal bolting onto plastic should be just fine. The chassis braces, front chassis mounted servo mount and shock hoops go on next, and then the plastic rock sliders and side on body mounting points.
Next you fit the upper deck that provides a decent surface area for the ESC, main pack and receiver (or if you want to use it, you can also fit the kits rear splash proof receiver box that mimics a fuel cell). Personally I keep all my electronics on that plate to:- 1: keep all wiring runs as short and neat as possible and 2: So that if needed I can waterproof components myself. Most ESC’s are at least splash proof these days and for a scale rig that’s usually enough. As for receivers, its a simple enough task to use either an old school balloon, or more modern method of Plastidip liquid electrical insulation to waterproof the receiver and if running one, the BECs boards.
My chosen Carisma brushed ESC with crawling mode was already deemed waterproof, as was the Spektrum receiver I decided to use.
V8 Power Plant…(Ok, 35t!)
Next I deviated from the traditional build schedule and took the Billet V8 Engine to bits to fit the 35t brushed motor I had chosen to use. Its a fiddly job but a little patience and lots of tiny bolts later and I was there. I made sure to check the internal gears in the bolt on transmission housing for grease. The R4 Ultimate Scale Single Speed Transmission has a gear ratio of 10.1:1 and perfectly compliments the V8 engine.
One thing to note is that the pinion and gears while being metal are 48DP so run very smoothly but aren’t as tough as the 32dp gears used on other rigs. You must make sure you mesh the pinion and primary gear inside the transmission perfectly, and that you threadlock the pinions grub screw…not doing so and the pinion moving is a big job top rectify…you were warned!
The alloy engine is the perfect way to disguise a 540 sized brushed or brushless motor
The R4 Ultimate Scale Transmission offers a gear ratio of: 10.1:1 and thus improving traction and torque at the axles
We chose a 35 turn brushed motor for this build, the perfect balance between RPM and torque (even more so on 3s!). This ones re-buildable too
Once mated together the separate components work so well together and offer lots of scope to further accessorise and detail the engine inside the Blazers engine bay.
In situ the V8, Holly Rocker Covers and its pancake filter look right at home. Forward weight bias is greatly improved.
The engine was completed with an alloy pancake air filter and some Holly rocker covers. the whole assembly once bolted in place and linked directly to the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer Transfer Case added a real weight forward bias to the rig, perfect for climbing inclines and counteracting (with the use of weighted wheels) the heavier Blazer hard body and thus much higher centre of gravity.
Next my attention turned to the included kit axles. The cast Yota Axles have a ratio of: 2.67:1 and are 176.5mm wide (measured at the hex’s). They, as ever come pre-built, but will benefit from setting aside a good hour to strip, grease and then re assemble using threadlock. You can just fit them but long term you will suffer the loss of bolts and premature gear wear, forcing the need to shim them. You simply bolt on the leaf springs and then they are affixed to the correct points on the chassis, anchoring them in place.
Axles in place, the Ultimate Scale Shocks are fixed on next, and their sleek look (having internal springs) works perfectly in conjunction with the leaf springs and axles. As Daniel Siegl said in his recent TF2 SWB Jeep review, leaf sprung rigs drive so very differently to 4 linked, more traditionally suspension equipped ones. But they look so much more ‘Scale’ and ‘Realistic’!
Remember though that the shocks are not oil filled and have internal springs. A small amount of oil seems to improve their action slightly, and unless over-filled they stay pretty leak free in use, but as ever experimentation is the key word. The leafs themselves have a period of time where they ‘Break In’ and become more supple in use. So we would suggest you let this process happen naturally and then fine tune the oil weight and possibly even the internal springs.
Fuelling Up The Look
Now with the driveline, chassis and mostly stock running gear in place I decided that to give the Blazer body the look of a hybrid street/trail rig on steroids I would need to run bigger wheels and tyres. to this end I fitted a set of RC4WD Fuel Anza 1.7 Beadlock wheels and shod them in soft compound RC4WD Inteco Super Swamper “Siped” tyres, then during the build process adding 1.5 strips of stick on lead weight to each wheel and tyre combo.
Anza 1.7 Wheel Specs
CNC Machined Billet Alloy
Nut Cover with FUEL Logo
Scale Hex Bolts
Neg Offset: 7.5mm
X2 SS Compound (Super Soft & Super Sticky)
Inner Ribbing offers Sidewall Support
Outer Diameter: 114.2mm
Once fitted they gave the chassis a slightly higher stance and ground clearance from the stock 1.55 Stamped Steel wheels and Mud Thrasher tyres included with the kit (Again these will be put to good used in a future project). Lastly I added the chassis mounted RC4WD Digital Steering Servo and once built the appropriate steering linkage.
From the front of the rig it offers a nice clean look and a more scale appearance. Yes it does suffer a little from bump steer, but no it didn’t really bother me as its an unavoidable foible you learn to live with when running this type of rig.
The wiring to the receiver may look like a rats nest but that’s the Spektrum receiver I used, It is waterproof and sealed with female ports protruding from it to accommodate male Futaba style plugs. Its a 3 channel RX so allows me to add a winch at a later date, plus there’s the power/batt in. I also opted to put in a 20A BEC kindly supplied by Phil at www.makeitbuildit.co.uk after first snipping and then isolating and insulating the red power wire from the Carisma RC branded Crawler ESC, thus bypassing its built in 5A 6v BEC.
The main reason for this is the possible current draw in Amps from the RC4WD Twister High Performance Waterproof Servo, and the fact that in use it may draw enough current to temporarily cause a Brown Out, even with (as I added) a glitch buster Capacitor!
RCCZ Jargon Buster: A ‘Brown Out’ is defined as when the receivers supply voltage falls below the minimum voltage specified for normal use. What that means in practice is that you will get at the very least unpredictable results, or at worst the link failing between the Tx and Rx and a possible run away unless the failsafe for the ESC is set to zero throttle…you were warned!
With everything in place and the rolling chassis even drivable without it’s shell (yes, I couldn’t resist the good old sofa test!) it was time to move on to perhaps the most daunting part of the build for many…the body shell. Now, I knew that this Blazer body was far more detailed than any I had previously built from RC4WD, and to that end I decide top pay our resident hard body and airbrush maestro Jonathan Potts a visit. He’s more used to 1:1 Custom Cars, Speedboats and other such cool stuff, but his eyes lit up when I handed him the body shell and its box of bits.
My brief was simple:- ”Think classic Street Custom Car crossed with classic Off Road 4×4”…he smiled, and then disappeared into his workshop, past the VW Beetle chassis ready to become a Rat Rod, and the big 1:1 4×4 destined to be a comp vehicle of some sort one day…I drove away and then got on with other projects.
Jonny Did The Buisness
Many, many, parts are supplied in the box with the RC4WD Blazer Body . It has not only a metal hinged opening bonnet (Or ‘Hood’ if you are Scott AceofAxe Curlin), but also a hinged opening rear window built into the removable rear hard roof section over the flatbed, and even an opening tailgate. There also the brightwork, A chrome grille, wing mirrors, door handles and huge front and rear bumpers.
Included with the body kit is also an interior, but for this build I opted to tint the windows and not fit it. I know, I know, I can hear all the boo’s and hisses, but I simply didn’t have the time to get an interior done too, and I also wanted to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, so any weight I could shed from above the centreline of the axles would be a bonus.
Clean Up In Isle Five…
After a two week wait, I got the call and went to collect the body. “Oh my god” was my reaction. (I hasten to add I did use those three words, but I may have added another…very much an expletive!). John had done what I had asked and, then added his usual flair and personal touches.
After prepping the components he was going to paint he first laid down a deep burgundy, almost dark Autumn cheery red on the main shell, tailgate and bonnet. Then he painted in the side panels with black as an accent colour, but added an old-skool flame into the design and hand outlined the lot in silver. The result, while not being as perfect as using say a vinyl wrap, does look very real and authentic…decals can look too crisp at times.
Next he used a dark metallic brown to paint the rear roof section and a technique that’s akin to rag rolling. This builds up layers of paint and each is then flattened down to create, once top coated an almost leather look to the finished roof. It was stunning. I spent another day painting in window rubbers, adding in the other details like the metal K5 Blazer and Chevrolet badges RC4WD make, the grille detail and a few scale decals (including the RECON G6 ones RC4WD made for our event) and even a RCCarZone logo on the tailgate. Last I fitted the light buckets, painted the stop and turn indicators inside with Tamiya lens colour.
Scale isn’t just about decals, or accessories, or paint, or wheels or chrome. Its about the combination of all the above elements working in harmony together to fool the eye into thinking:- “Real or RC?”. I think we achieved that with this build, and standing back a looking at it in various locations and natural backdrops, it looks stunning.
The final detail was adding the spare wheel and tyre to the tailgate. It just elevates the overall look to one of utter realism. I also ordered some scale number plates from a contact in the UK Scale Nationals Facebook group. They arrived just before we took the truck for its first trail run and outdoor shoot. It was run alongside the new Axial SCX10.2 and the rigs looked so good together.
Out Blazing In The Great Outdoors
I took the rig to our usual test venue in Warwickshire the same day we tested and shot the Axial SCX10.2. It’s a rig that you have to think about when driving, especially until you have fully broken in the leaf springs. You must always be aware that it is far more top heavy than a Lexan rig, but that’s where the fun lies. It’s realistic in both the way it drives and the way it looks, and you can’t say that of most 4-link Lexan rigs. They always seem to perform outside the parameters of their 1:1 equivalents. With the TF2 platform and this quite large and heavy body, you plan each line you take carefully, you see the way the rig reacts to the surface its running on, the angle of the incline or decent you drive it up or down.
With a hard bodies rig factors like Approach Angle, Break Over Angle and Departure Angle become far more critical as they are far less forgiving.
RCCZ Jargon Buster: Approach Anglerefers to the physical angle that If drive up to a object, incline or ramp, you can safely drive onto it without catching the bumper. If the incline is too steep, the rigs front bumper will hit the ramp first, before the tires are able to. The maximum angle (from the ground) that a hill or obstacle can have and that the front of your car can still clear is therefore called the Approach Angle. As for the Departure Angle, exactly the same principle applies, to the rear bumper and wheels of the rig. For any scale rig, but especially a leaf sprung one like the TF2, when coming down off, say, a rock, or a small natural ledge, you have to know how much clearance you have under your car’s midsection, driveline and transfer box. The angle between your tires and the middle of your car’s underside is the Break Over Angle. If you get it wrong, you will end up balancing on a rock like a see-saw with most of your wheels not in contact with the ground.
One of the most important factors when running a rig for fun or in competition is traction, or the grip your tires have on whatever surface you’re driving on. Traction is produced by a combination of factors, by the type of tires you’re using, their size, and the type of inserts you use. Its also about how much weight from the rig itself is pressing down on them to create a contact patch of tread on your chosen running surface and how the suspension aids keeping the tyres in contact with the ground in relation to0 the rest of the rig.
large angles of articulation are out on a leaf sprung rig like this, and a phenomenon I personally call ‘Wheel Float’ becomes a regular occurrence. This is when the solid axles have surface contact and therefore grip with only three (or sometimes only 2!) tyres, and the other wheel or wheels cannot physically articulate enough via the suspensions range of movement to make contact with the ground. Don’t worry though, as You can very quickly get used to this and often use it to your advantage to use the rig to bridge itself between two objects, where a more traditionally spring rig may have fallen in.
Running a single speed transmission means that with a 35T motor fitted, the rig is a bout walking pace on 2S , and a brisk jogging pace on 3S. Run time however is very good and running a 2S 5000 mAh pack granted a good hour of trail running. On 3S you tend to be a little more trigger happy (or is that just me?) and thus run time is affected. 3s does however allow for additional wheel speed when needed, and with a rig of this overall weight you can build up a good momentum to get up a steep incline or even hop up onto a rock or object.
All of these factors are important when running a scale rig and must be accounted for in both its construction, and the way you drive it out on the trail or a comp course.
After 2 packs and just over 2 full hours I called it a day. I loved every minute of running the Blazer and it’s a totally different driving experience to any of my other current rigs. ‘Yes’, you feel a little more ‘concerned. that you will trash the paint on any more technical rock sections, and ‘No’ it didn’t stop me. I left Burton Dassett with a few chips to the paint, but nothing I couldn’t touch up. One thing I did find however is that the rear bumper did rub the body built stock, and therefore I used a cordless Dremal to grind the inner edge by about 1.5mm to offer a little more clearance between the two, then painted the scuffed area matt black to hide the damage.
“Additional Scale Points Go To The Blazer…”
In conclusion, the TF2 kit itself is simple and fun to build. Be as detailed or as simple as you feel you want to go, and take your time to threadlock and metal to metal union and grease all internal gears in both the transmission, transfer case and the axles. Choose electrics suitable for the job in hand, and make sure if possible the ESC, Servo and Receiver are at least ‘Splash Proof. Weight the wheels to lower the rigs Centre of Gravity.
When you enter into a build like this you have to realise what’s involved. It will take many hours to complete but it’s very, very rewarding. Hard bodies will always have the edge over Lexan in the realism stakes as they are solidly constructed and have actual depth to them and their panels. Lexan, while being dimensionally correct will never have this and always seem less three-dimensional. The Blazer is a rig I’m proud to take out to run, or let a buddy do so. It epitomises the scale scene at the moment and is a true snapshot of what RC4WD do best…help RC fans build their dream rigs!
A huge shout out to Tom and the RC4WD crew for the review sample and parts and to RCBitz in the UK for additional help with sourcing wheel weights etc.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
The rear damper stays and BA9 ball studs go onto the front of the gearbox.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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:-
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.
Regularly wash your hands as the oils in your fingertips and skin can again act as a resist for the paint.
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.
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.
build up thin coats and take your time…thick coats peel off, don’t dry properly and run…
Use curved scissors to cut out wheel arches, practice on waste material first as there’s an art to using them properly.
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.
Take your time and don’t rush…the body is what makes or breaks any builds final overall look.
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.
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.
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!
Little N Large
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.
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…
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.
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…”
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?
Needs oil dampers, friction ones a bit to ‘Springy’
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+
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-shiftedabout a third of the wayup the runand 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?”
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’…
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
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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’
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
final Drive Ratio: 40.44 Stock (33.69 – 54.15 Optional Range)
Now that’s a big boast for any RC companies latest product. Especially when it’s the successor of one that’s been responsible for many RC fans entry into the Scale, Trail and Crawling scene globally. It’s replacing a design that’s been around in various guises since late 2008, and where most brands selling race chassis or out and out performance products would release an update at least every twelve or eighteen months, Axial have instead been concentrating on developing other bloodlines to add to its ever expanding range…and simply released both kit and RTR variations on its now legendary twin ladder chassis design.
But Is That A Good Thing?
Well, in an industry that’s been plagued with, to be blunt, plagiarism, and the more affordable RTR aspect of the market getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie of late, it’s probably a very prudent move. We live in a world where where we have seen some of the most recognisable names in RC simply disappear, with smaller companies getting taken over by other bigger ones, and even the most forward thinking and daring of brands tending to play safe and consolidate their ranges to survive. Think about the impact this one chassis has had on the scene.
I’ve owned, built, modified and comped with at least 5 different versions of the SCX-10 in both long and short wheelbase variants. I even won the 2012 UK Scale Nationals running a Dingo Builders Kit I famously finished building at 3am the night before the comp started. I know it inside out, It’s AX10 based transmission the mainstay of every comp rig and crawler I’ve ever built, with more hop ups and upgrades than any other rig of its genre, and a few inherent foibles to contend with. It was never perfect. We all had to do certain modifications and tweaks to make the rig ‘perform’, but it certainly made its mark, it stood its ground, but time moves on, as do the expectations of its new and more established clients.
Change is inevitable, It’s part of the ever evolving fabric of life. And in this instance, as I sit here on an unusually dry, hot and sunny 2016 UK day, with a newly built and tested SCX-10 2 rig in front of me, it’s the most welcome thing I’ve experienced in a very, long, long time…
Let me start by taking my hat off to the guys at Axial. All products however good or bad get a tough time on social media and forums. It seems that even before the inks dry on the box art someone somewhere has posted a hastily put together review, done to be the first online to dissecting it to pieces, highlighting all the bad aspects and glossing over the good. I don’t really have time for that kind of journalism.
Well we roll a little differently here at RCCZ. I was always taught to test products thoroughly before writing about them. And by thoroughly I mean over at least a week of running. ‘Real World Testing’ was a phrase Dez Chand always used to describe the way we tested any vehicles in RCCZ’s previous incarnation as RRCi, and it’s a process that I’ve always continued to follow on to this day.
I’ve now put about fifteen packs through the rig, and as all my latest 2s LiPo’s are 7000mAh…that’s some serious wheel time. So far, nothing’s broken. Yes, I’ve found a few minor niggles, but nothing that would put me off either A: buying one myself. Or B: recommending anyone else does so.
No, It’s Not an Ascender Clone…
One thing I’ve seen levelled at the SCX-10 2 is that it’s simply a Vaterra Ascender clone. Now I have both rigs in my collection and can tell you categorically, they are very, very different animals. The only things that are similar are the ladder chassis, the chassis mounted steering servo and the near 45 degree steering deflection thanks to the UJ axles. Let’s face it that’s the recipe for almost any descent scale rig of late, so saying the SCX-10 and Ascender are the same is like saying a Ferrari and an Lamborghini are, yes both are Supercars, yes both can achieve insane top speeds, but they handle and drive very differently.
Now while I rate the Ascender, especially if pitted against a stock original SCX-10, the SCX-10 2 definitely has the edge on overall performance, future tuning scope and factors like weight bias and component layout.
Let’s Start With The New AR44 Axles…
Compared to the latest axles from Vaterra and RC4WD, the original AX10 axles fitted to the SCX-10 V1 look huge, and could never be described as ‘Scale’. The new AR44 High Pinion axles are far more refined and scale externally, and have subtle changes internally too that will aid both their performance and longevity. The high pinion aspect allows for more surface contact between the pinion and crown gears. The gears themselves are cut at an angle and the ratio has been changed to 3.75 from the original axles 2.92. This reduces torque twist and means the rig feels more predictable to drive, regardless of taking left or right hand lines.
One thing that’s also not been overlooked when minimising the look of the axle is its durability. The one piece casings are re-enforced where required and Axial have also used larger bearings to help spread the load and the knuckle carriers and straight axle adaptors locate so much better than the old AX axles.
The former has the ability to be rotated in 10 degree increments, and when combined with a stock 8 degree kingpin angle gives the steering less tyre scrub and therefore reduces load on the steering servo when at the full extent of deflection. For my build I opted to use a digital 26kg Alturn steering servo provided by Logic RC. This may seem like overkill, but I’ve found as long as you use a decent BEC to power your receiver then the steering will cope with just about anything you throw at it.
The smaller pumpkins on the new axles really add to the look and aid with the rigs ground clearance. Inside that pumpkin resides a tough one piece locker and the new internal gears. The only thing that kinda niggled me was that red used for the diff covers. I guess chrome would be a little too much like G-Made or Vaterra Ascender…and black a little bland. I guess you could always paint them whatever colour you like…I intend to go either white or gunmetal gray as soon as possible, but for now, red they will stay.
As for steering deflection, you don’t get much better than 45 degrees! To get this with the original SCX-10, you had to fit UJ’s yourself and also swap over the button head bolts that retained the steering knuckles to the axles for flat heads.
None of that required here…just bags of steering lock and a nice tight turning circle. The last thing to mention on the axles is the bolt on link mounts. These not only add contrast being the same red as the diff covers, they also allow for some future fine tuning, as Axial or a third party hop up manufacturer could produce multi position versions to allow the geometry to be changed to suit a rigs intended use.
New Rig – New Transmission
The transmission has also been re-designed to include the look of a real bell housing, oil pan and transfer case. While most of this isn’t visible to the eye in normal use, it does have one huge advantage of lowering and centralising the driveshafts, making the whole driveline more efficient and under less strain and load. The old V1 trick of flipping the transmission around isn’t needed here as when everything’s assembled the weight bias and left/right distribution is pretty much spot on. Internally the gears are all hardened with the whole transmission running on bearings.
Now another slight niggle…the spur and slipper assembly fit onto a lay shaft. The whole thing as you would expect spins on bearings. But built stock and 100% by the numbers there’s some visible and tangible slop in this assembly. You can grab the spur and see it all move. Now in use, the 56t spur and 15t pinion work just fine together, and so far I’ve had no issues.
I was tempted to shim the slop out, but felt to test the rig fully I had to run it as supplied…and I’ve run it pretty hard up and some very demanding inclines and rock formations. I guess there’s either a tolerance issue with one or more of the components, or Axial have revised that part of the build since I got this early bird review sample. I expect there will be an update or addition of a shim set in future releases…watch this space!
Slop aside, the transmission also allows for a wide range of ratios to be employed and its stock ratio sits at 40.44, but there’s scope for between 33.69 – 54.15. If I remember correctly the original SCX-10 ran at something like 35, so Axial have changed the stock ratio to offer a good balance between torque and wheel speed, especially if like me you opt for a motor in the 30-35t range.
To further aid this Axial will also be releasing a optional 2-speed transmission add on that allows the selection of high or low range via a shift servo. Now this is great, and is a ploy that many RC brands use to get add on sales at a later date with a must have hop up, but why not include it in the Builders Kit in the first place? To me, if Axial want to issue a statement of intent that they have the best out of the box, Lexan bodied rig on the planet they should offer it as a ‘complete kit’ with the 2-speed included. It’s a bit like buying the newest console title and not getting the last level, big boss fight to finish it after a week of playing…I get why they do it, I just feel it would have elevated this already very well designed and specified kit to an even loftier height (rant over!)
The RR10 Bomber 2-Speed is still pretty rare here in the UK, and looking at this transmission im convinced its the same part. Many owners wanting the option have had to source one from the US. I really hope the official SCX-10 2-speed part lands soon and in numbers to meet the demand.
Having the steering servo chassis mounted with a 3-link Panhard Link/Track Bar offers a much cleaner look to the front end, far more ‘scale’. To out and out performance junkies, this setup isn’t as efficient as a 4-link and axle mounted servo with drag link and can reduce axle articulation and induce some bump steer. But that said, Axial have obviously done lots of testing on this aspect and also studied many 1:1 vehicles that use a similar setup.
In use it works really well, and I would rather trade a small percentage of articulation for the look it gives the rig. Having driven the rig for many hours, over very different types of terrain I have simply become accustomed to it, any foibles it may introduce are driven through and accepted as part of the challenge of running a new rig. With some time spent to tune the pre-load on the shocks, performance can be made pretty even on the articulation when compressing and rebounding both left and right.
As for the included alloy bodied ‘ICON Vehicle Dynamics’ replica faux piggyback units, they are the same shocks that Axial have employed in past builders kit SCX10 releases, and if built, bled and sealed correctly not only look good, they perform well too.
I always use Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ on all ‘O’ rings and seals, and it makes a huge difference to the longevity of the shocks between re-fills and builds. Under duress they do leak slightly, but then again so do 99.9% of units on the market today.
Used in conjunction with the multiple position shock hoops on the chassis, their action can be quickly tuned from stiff ‘Street’ to softer ‘Trail’ in seconds. Add in the threaded bodies and pre-load collars and you have very versatile units.
The benchmark to this day of crawler shocks is still the Losi Comp Crawler units. They have become the holy grail of shocks in this genre, but don’t look ‘Scale’. At full lock the inherent issue of tyres rubbing on the shocks springs and their retaining cups is still present, and if left un-checked can lead to loss of the latter in use. There’s 2 things I do to stop this. Firstly I make sure I set my steering end points to allow a good lock both left and right, but stop the wheels and tyres from physically rubbing, and secondly for years now I’ve been applying a tiny smear of Cyno to literally stick the bottom edge of the spring onto the cup. I know it’s a little OTT, but it works, and saves time searching for missing retaining cups out in the wild…been there, done that!
Servo Winch or Bumper Winch…You Decide!
I simply couldn’t live without a winch on my rigs. And in past generations of Axial products have had to either immediately ditch the stock bumper in favour for a purpose made metal RC4WD unit, ready to accommodate my chosen winch. Or, as I’ve done on 2 past builds, make an elaborate Alloy or Delrin brace, to ensure the stock bumper, made from a hard wearing but ultimately flexible plastic could take the strain. I’ve never understood why Axial didn’t just make a far more substantial unit in the first place, one that’s ready to accept the vast majority of winches on the market…
Well they have, the new bumpers are JCR Vanguard replica units and they do! They still have a small acceptable percentage of ‘flex’, but will happily take the strain of a powerful winch and a fully laden rig…even up the side of a door (my favourite old Skool test of both winch and cable!).
I did however have to Dremel away a tiny section of the bumpers top surface to fit my chosen RC4WD Warn replica winch and accommodate the pod housing and its high torque motor and gearing. I removed the winches alloy bottom plate and fairlead and used the former as a template to drill the mounting holes into the bumper, then bolted it directly from underneath onto the surface for a nice clean look. That said though, it is a big wide unit and placing a 3-Racing and other RC4WD units on the bumper, they will actually fit without any modding at all.
But that’s not all folks…If you want to go down the winch servo route Axial also have you covered. There’s a space behind the steering servo to place the winch servo. There’s a clear route for the cable, tough plastic guides that can be bolted on the the chassis to aid the cables progress and keep it away from vital steering components, and the bumper itself has a built in plastic fairlead and cable opening. The latter can be strengthened as I did with an inexpensive alloy fairlead, bolted directly on top of it. For the few £ it cost, it not only looks great, it will stop my fishing trace winch cable cutting into and abrasions the bumper itself in use. I’m not a winch servo fan myself, but I get those that prefer them, keeping the front looking neat and allowing for more lights to be fitted. I prefer to see the winch sitting on the bumper looking mean!
I Want A Jeep Cherokee Now…
When I first saw the SCX-10 2s leaked images I had initially mixed opinions. I thought “Cherokee…mmm, school runs, soccer moms, trips to the supermarket to get groceries…” But then I saw what it was based on, and researched some of the builds people have done to them in the 1:1 world, and I got it. The body may be 16 years old and very retro (after all it’s a 2000 model), it’s less rounded than what came after, but its quirky, a real brute of a 4×4 and a blank canvas for anyone into building rigs to paint any picture they desire with it.
Since the launch of the SCX-10 2, I’ve not seen two builds that look the same. Everyone has personalised them to the hilt, and my build would be no exception. Even built completely to manual, just a subtle change of colour makes this rig look totally different. I had a plan…and we had a new body painter on the team. This would be his first RCCZ project and I was really looking forward to seeing the end result.
But this isn’t just a Lexan shell with a few stickers trying to fool the eye into believing it’s real. No, this body not only looks proportionally correct, it also comes with a slew of bolt on details like a cool roof rack, door handles, wing mirrors, a combined grill/headlight unit and rear door trim. It’s these little touches that when combined with a crisp pain job and Axia’s quality decal sheets that elevate it to near hard body status in terms of its scale realism. But more on those details a little later, first I needed to design a colour scheme and brief the painter. I have a history with my builds on using colour schemes and liveries more akin to a race vehicle. From my Yeti XL build, through to my Wraith Spawn, I like to be very different. This would be no exception and the colour of the wheels I used would be the key. Although I like the look of the supplied black plastic replica Method Mesh wheels, they weren’t beadlocks, so would need gluing after first weighting and possibly venting them correctly…
This I’m afraid is another minor niggle. I’ve not met anyone yet who gets hooked to this aspect of the hobby that doesn’t experiment with wheels/tyres/weight and insert combinations. It’s not a dark art, but it is one that if learnt, can transform a rigs abilities from impressive…to awesome. Beadlock wheels make this whole process easier and I’m quite surprised that Axial have chosen to go down the glued on wheel route yet again. Even simple, plastic, 2 piece bead locks would elevate this kit in the eyes of the scale building world and show that they understood our pain and weight bias based obsession! I’m guessing it’s a due to a production cost implication but I would far rather they didn’t licence a wheel design that many will simply not use and swap out (like I did), and instead put the same money into a neat, generic looking scale plastic two (or three part) plastic bead lock.
I instead chose to order from Asiatees a set of very detailed, alloy, Boom Racing manufactured ‘Sandstorm Krait’ beadlocks. At £62 for a set of 4, they do look epic and are pretty good value for money. The centre hub is threaded and screws on to hide the end of each axle and its M4 Nyloc nut perfectly. They are a bit of a fiddle to assemble, especially when adding 1.5 strips of stick on weight around each front, but well worth it for optimum weight bias. I also deviated at this point from the stock BF Goodrich kit tyres.
I’ve saved them for future use as I’ve heard great things about them, especially on dry rocks. But where I run is mostly in the local woods, it’s moss covered rocks, moist leaf mulch, stone covered stream beds and deep water and good old fashioned UK mud (all year round).
To this end I fitted a set of RC4WD ‘Mickey Thompson Baja Claws‘. Tyres I’ve found perfect for this environment. As for the colour…well I describe it as Gun Metal crossed with Pewter. I took a picture, sent it to the painter and said “This, Black & Silver…” As for the design, I simply wrote “Go as crazy as you want dude…” And he did, in a very cool way!
That Essential Original 2%
The C section Steel ladder chassis may be the only carry over item from its predecessor but it’s the essential backbone that all the other components literally bolt onto. Cross members offer mounting points for the front and rear bumpers, the new longitudinal battery mount, waterproof radio box and wide plastic protective mount for the RC4WD ESC and any other components like a BEC, LED lighting controller (or as I have, another MTroniks ESC for the winch itself). There’s neat routing points for the steering Servo, optional LED lighting for the bumpers built in light buckets and winch wiring.
As for the new battery pack mount it’s just what the doctor ordered. No more modifying or adding third party battery mounts to forward mount the main pack. My chosen 7000 mAh 2S Optipower LiPo fitted perfectly, with still room to spare if you decided to go 3s in the future. There are bolt on stand offs that can be set to accommodate different sized packs and using a single Velcro retaining strap adds a little more security to the whole process.
As for the packs orientation, having the pack seated on its side is actually a pretty genius approach. It offers far more room either side and even running with wheels with no weights offers a forward weight bias that allows the rig to climb up and over most terrain with ease. Running weighted front wheels it’s even better, and in tests our review rig managed inclines in excess of 50 degrees…
I think the record for a fully loaded MOA comp crawler rig still stands at a staggering 63 degrees, we even ran a competition one year at the Nationals to set that particular benchmark. (I may have to dig out that test apparatus and run it again in October with just scale builds!).
Another minor niggle here is that the plastic moulding for the mount actually covers the female ports on most packs I tested in the rig.
So it’s either been designed for packs with leads built in and protruding from the top, or Axial expect you to do as I did, and use a body reamer, drill or Dremel to make two holes in the correct place to plug in the male connectors of the ESC’s connecting lead.
It’s not a huge omission, but one I would have designed slightly differently myself to accommodate the now almost standard issue ‘Brick Pack’ LiPo’s with female ports on them. That aside, compared to the last gen SCX-10 it’s a night and day improvement.
Racking Up Those Scale Points
The beauty of a kit like this is that every single one will end up slightly different and become an extension of the individual that builds it. I had collated a pile of scale accessories by RC4WD, CarismaRC, Fastraxx and Boom Racing. As soon as the body arrived back from the painter..(and I must stop at this point and just say “Wow”…this dude can paint!) I got on with finishing this aspect of the build. Now in days gone by a one or two colour paint job, a few decals and possibly just a smattering of scale accessories would have sufficed. But in 2016 the industry and scale scene has upped its game, ‘Scale Realism’ are the keywords, and making a rig that at first glance fools the eye and brain into thinking “is that real” is the ultimate goal for manufacturers.
Until now many Axial builds were good, but never had the depth of detail to make you double take. The SCX-10 2 resolves that in one go…and then adds a cherry on the top! From the roof rack, through to the grille and headlamp detail, wing mirrors and door handles, this additional layer of depth from simple mouldings is what we’ve all been waiting for. There are a few tricky bits, like cutting out and Dremeling the opening for the plastic grille moulding. I don’t get why Axial would design that part of the shell to have a very thin line of plastic (about 2.5mm) running under the grille? I simply got rid of that bottom edge and just cut and smoothed 3 sides instead of 4. It retains the look of the front end without all the hardship of cutting that thin strip perfectly.
The roof rack was also a little tricky as you have to used a beveled mount placed inside the shell and screw the top half into it to compensate for the angle of the roofs sides. This isn’t as simple as it sounds as screwing into the angled internal mount is fiddly to say the least. Again all for making life easier I simply made the mounting holes slightly bigger, used M2.5 nuts and bolts with rubber grommets placed on the inside to space the Nyloc nuts away from the body inside and avoid damaging the amazing paint job internally. It’s not me being rebellious, it’s me making the build process as easy as possible!
I next added the wing mirrors, the moulding that sits on the trucks tailgate and after painting the smaller lenses that affix inside the grill and headlamp moulding with a Tamiya Acrylic designed for LED lenses, I sat back and took a look. In this ‘stock’ built form it’s an impressive looking rig, but I wasn’t finished, not by a long shot! I added four fog lamps. Two to the front bumper, either side of my RC4WD Warn winch, and one more on the top of each windscreen pillar either side of the front of the roof rack.
I next added an RC4WD LED light bar to fit into the gap between the roof spots and complete that area. I put a tiny rubber grommet into a hole under the bar and fed the wiring through to hide it from view. Internally I hot glue gunned the wires neatly into the shell and then covered them in black electrical tape to hide them from view.
I had amasses a range of scale accessories but didn’t want them bouncing around loose on the roof rack or strapped down with individual bungee cords. I came up with an idea. I used a thin sheet of black expanded rubber packing measured to the internal dimensions of the roof rack, and then used Cyno to glue the accessories into place. They looked like they had been packed properly, wouldn’t move about or damage each other, and when covered with a cargo net made from the inside of an old camera bag, edged with black electrical tape looked perfect!
I didn’t use the plastic tow hook/hitch that came with the kit. Instead I fitted a metal RC4WD rear carrier, that fits perfectly into the bumper. in normal trail use it doesn’t impede the rear clearance angle, but in comp use of over more challenging terrain it can be in-hooked and fixed flat against the rear door/tailgate. In the 1:1 works these carriers I’m informed are used for anything from carrying luggage, snowboards or mountain bikes to deer carcasses! I opted to use it for storing two sand ladders AceoAxe had 3D printed for me, and then use two RCBitz scale bungee cords to affix them in place! My last piece of detailing was to add a RC4WD snorkel. It’s actually an item not designed for the Cherokee, it’s designed for a D90 or D110, but a little re-shaping with a craft knife and some fine grit wet and dry, and it looked like it was!
After another hour of applying subtle decals to the body, and with a fine water and detergent spray and squeegee the windows in place, I was nearly ready to fit the body to the chassis. I named this part of the build ‘Operation Stealth Mount…’ I had a set of magnetic mounts I had planned to fit to one of Yokomo my drift cars. I decided that I would use them at the front to keep the bonnet/hood area as clean looking as possible, and simple us the normal rear roof mounts as stock, but hide under the cargo netting and accessories. This plan worked a treat as the rear mounts were totally unseen, and added an extra level of security in case the body got cause up and came loose at the front in use. Another hour later and the rig was finished….well I say finished, but I just couldn’t resist adding more LEDs into the light buckets in the headlamps and side lights, again hot glue was used to mount them, then the glue painted Matt black to hide it internally and help it blend in.
A last touch was to keep the front window surround in, and use a scalpel to cut out the window decal. It’s an old drifting build trick and makes the front window look far more crisp than a decal itself ever would. In a future part of the build I will attempt an interior. But as the rig doesn’t come with one from the box, I thought for now that was enough. I was itching to get the rig up and running…
I photographed the rig from all angles and was very pleased with the end result. I packed the rig into the boot of my jeep and the following morning set out to Burton Dasset. It’s the place I first ran an Axial, the place I first met Speedy Steve, and since 2007 has been a regular haunt for crawling and scale fun. It’s also somewhere I know every part of intimately, it’s lines and inclines may be getting more worn with time, but It’s by far the perfect place to test this new Axial rigs abilities and have some 1:1 fun too as it also has a 4×4 trail!
Re Discovering Scale Adventure
The sun was out, the sky slightly cloudy but bright blue, my 1 hour drive, roof off, at 6.30am, coffee in hand made me feel glad to be alive. I arrived, grabbed a ticket to use the park all day and hit the first location, a section of rocks surrounding a muddy and wet gravel area with a series of steep inclines on the other. Now surrounding this location are a series of 1:1 trails leading first down a steep incline, across my location and then up another incline the other side to disappear over the hill the other side. At 7.30am it was deserted and I must admit I did spend a while driving up and down both sides in 4WD low range before parking on the top of the hill! Who needs car parks!
I got the rig out and did the usual glamour shots, recreating some of the poses my very first SCX-10 build was put in all those years ago. I then plugged in the 7000mAh pack, made sure the winch was working properly and hit the trails. The first test was a very steep incline over some tree roots and then onto and even steeper mud track leading to the upper level of the area I was in. It breezed it, like effortlessly, my 2s LiPo, RC4WD brushed ESC and Igified 35t brushed motor offering just the right combination of torque (and when needed) bursts of wheel speed.
I spent the next 4 hours just driving the rig up lines I knew well from my Comp Crawling ands early MK1 SCX-10 days, some it destroyed, others because of its size, it struggled and got its rock sliders hung up on, but that was more about me trying to squeeze it through narrow gaps it wasn’t designed for, than the rigs out and out ability.
I drove it through ankle deep water in the woodland area with its stream at the lower part of the park, and it survived that, and then up and down the steep inclined that are scattered across this multi acre site.
Side hilling at even steep angles it coped with perfectly, you just had to remember where its tipping point was and the sheer amount of accessories I had put in that roof rack. Yes it ended up on its side on a few occasions, but that’s how you get to understand a rigs capabilities, by truly pushing and testing its limits. The time just flew I was that engrossed. I’ve not been into driving a rig so much since my original ARX10 way back when.
Its a great all round rig and other than tuning the pre-load to stop it trying to torque twist (yes it does it a little bit, (all shaft driven rigs will, regardless of the manufacturers claims to the contrary) it ran flawlessly.
The transmission while using a coarser 32dp gear than previous rigs wasn’t noticeably more noisy in use, and the driveline took everything I threw at it. My earlier concerns about the slop in the lay shaft and Spur assembly seemed trivial as I had no issues. It simply found its natural mesh point and stayed there. I will shim it at some point or as others have done add an additional bearing, but for now, its being run stock.
Would I buy one? Hell yes. Its the natural progression of everything that I love about this hobby. This is my go to everyday rig, for both fun and competition. My other is a leaf spring hard bodies build that’s chalk and cheese different. Neither can be compared or contrasted. I run each for very different reasons, and treat each with the respect they deserve. The SCX-10 2 it must be said is the more capable rig in most situations, but then again it would be…its been designed and built to perform way beyond a scale version of its 1:1 self, and that’s a point to remember.
I’ve just recently fitted FPV to it and I’ll follow up with a smaller article on that very soon. I have a future plan for this rig, and its so cunning you could (insert Black Adder Joke of your own preference!). But more of that in the future. Until then. Batch one that hit the US and Europe sold out very, very quickly. There’s lots of interest in the new SCX-10 2 and quite rightly so. Pre-orders are being taken on batch 2 that lands at the end of September from what I’ve been told.
If you are teetering on the edge, go on take the plunge. For die hard Axial fans like me its a total no-brainer. And for those wanting a fun build, and a well manufactured and designed kit, you cant really go wrong…unless you hate building, painting and detailing. but there is a solution, Axial recently released a RTR version in a rather fetching Gray. Its a blank canvas for a future project, but without all the initial build time.
Either way, and minor niggles aside, the SCX-10 2 is a worthy successor for the global scale communities Lexan Crown…Long live the King!
Here’s Axials ‘Official’ video of the SCX-10 2 in action:-
A 98% ‘New’ design (just original chassis rail design remains)
Front mounted main pack & optimised weight bias
Build it to your own Specification & chosen use
Bumper Mounted or Servo Winch Options
Clear future 2-speed upgrade path
Near 45 degree steering deflection
Included ICON Alloy shocks ‘Work’!
Additional Scale Details look epic
Roof rack fiddly to fit from inside & out, can damage paint in process
Glued Tyres…Non-beadlock wheels…(Axial why?)
Transmission slop in Layshaft/Spur assembly
2-Speed NOT included in box…(again, why not?)
For more on Axial Racing & all its products: CLICK HERE
For more on RC4WD & its range of suitable SCX Hop Ups: CLICK HERE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Easy to build and understand
Great ‘Training’ for future builds
2WD is a true drivers car
Off Road Basher or stock club racer
Painting and cutting out shell difficult for a newb
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Good variety of after-market upgrades
Proven Wraith and Yeti DNA
A great all round rig, made even better
Random grub screws where machine screws should have been
All New R3 Single Speed Transmission (Ratio: 1.78:1)
Pinion/spur 14/64 = 4.57:1
Cast Yota 2 Axles (Ratio: 15/40 = 2.67:1)
Trailfinder 2 SWB Chassis
Adjustable shock hoops
Punisher Metal Driveshafts
1.9 5 lug Steel Wagon Wheels
Built & Driven H.A.R.D
Words & Images: Daniel Siegl/Andy Moore (with special thanks to Günther Waldburger for additional detailing and painting)
If I was asked to review a leaf sprung 4×4 rig a while ago I might have had a very different reaction to now. Lets just say I wouldn’t have been very excited at the prospect. But in the last year or so my experiences with my Tamiya MF01-X showed me how much fun small tyre cars with close to zero articulation can be out on the trail. Then at a recent event my friend, Gerald Murhammer showed us with his TF2SWB what is truly possible with these amazingly realistically handling vehicles.
So when RCCZ asked me to review the RC4WD SWB Kit, I was pretty stoked! The plan was to build a very nice looking scale rig, and then travel over to ‘Real World Test It’ at the recent RECON G6 UK Edition.
Big Decisions on Body Choice…
So the kit is designed for a Tamiya “square headlight” Wrangler body they say. But thinking about it, I didn’t want to go down that route, especially as many of my trail buddies run this exact body style on a variety of chassis – No, I would do something very different, and it would would needed to be special.
Because I will never run a car on leaf that has linked suspension in the real world I could rule out the New Bright or Nikko TJ toy hardbodies.
Looking at the Tamiya range I found that the Lexan Bronco would work – but how could I judge the performance of the chassis package with such a light shell? A Tamiya Blackfoot Could be another option for an TF2SWB – but somehow this also didn’t ring my bell.
So after some discussions with my Italian friend Giuseppe Musumeci (of: RC-Crawler.it the solution was obvious. Let’s make this an Old-Skool Jeep CJ, but Moab Old-Skool, with big tires and a big bumper!
First I received a pre-prepared Tamiya Jeep Wrangler body with the amazing CJ conversion from Italy. Giuseppe handcrafts those parts in Sicily – if you want some of his art locate him on Facebook and start a conversation!
Then A RC4WD Box Showed Up
If you open that box – you are really surprised how well and tidy everything is packaged. All the content of the kit is very tidily organized in 3 layers, the screw bags are organized by screw sizes and not build steps – I like that approach. The axles and gearbox components are preassembled and ready to use.
The second layer contains all the frame and bumper components.
In the bottom of the box you find the hardware and the tires and wheels, again nicely organized and easy to get when required.
Read Twice…Build Once
The RC4WD building instructions are a little different than others, but for me they work perfectly! I prefer the screws sorted by size rather than having build step bags. With the way the process is described and organized it is very easy and efficient to build the kit.
The chassis rails, cross members and motor mounts all bolt together with ease. The forward mounted R3 single speed transmission and transfer box add to the realistic weight bias/distribution and make the rig drive far more like a 1:1 Leaf sprung 4×4 would.
Transmission to Transfer Case to Axles
That central skid is the mounting point for the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer transfer case. Note how far forward that R3 single speed transmission, slipper and motor mount is.
The Hammer Transfer Case in all its glory. It’s worthwhile stripping and packing with grease for longer service intervals. As Yoda would say:- “A tough little unit this is…”
Cross members brace the chassis and form the ladder aspect of the design. Everything’s got a hard anodised black coating helping it blend into the final build, just like a good chassis should! Its detailed enough to look realistic without sacrificing strength.
That vital solid link takes the drive straight from the transmission and feeds it into the transfer case, then onto each of the longitudinal prop shaft’s and then each axle.
Note the Shock Hoops. CNC machined just like the chassis and offering a stable and robust upper mounting point for the shocks, and scale look to that aspect of the chassis. The R3 Single Speed Transmission comes with a cast aluminium case and new wider gears to allow for more abuse along with a Delrin spur with slipper clutch assembly.
The Cast Yota 2 Axles run a ratio of 15/40 = 2.67:1
and have a total width at the hex of 176.5mm. They add weight low down aiding the centre of gravity of the whole rig and look very scale. Again stripping them, packing them with grease and threadlocking anything you feel needs it will ensure many trouble free hours of use. The most scale accurate axles on the market, the RC4WD Cast Yota II axles feature innovative round knuckles, new lower mounting points and compact offset pumpkins.
The Ultimate Internally Sprung Shocks
The included dampers aren’t oil filled from the factory, but can be by the end user. The ‘Ultimate Scale Shocks’ have been designed for ultimate scale looks and ultimate performance. The shocks are machined from billet aluminium and are internally sprung. Experimenting with different oils and springs, or as we suggested internally limiting them with fuel tubing works wonders.
The servo is chassis mounted and sits up in the gods away from harm and keeps the scale look. Rigs like this can suffer from bump steer, but ensuring the servo you use is strong enough, and centring the steering and linkages for equal throw helps to alleviate this.
We chose to use a RC4WD Z-E0035 in our build, its Digital, Metal Geared and produces 153oz or 11kg of torque at 6v input, and is more than up for the job in hand.
The rear Yota II axle looks streamline and Scale, with again a compact offset pumpkin and solid cast construction. Strip, grease and threadlock…you know it makes sense!
Brushed motor produce the most torque near ‘stall’. so from a standstill this baby will pull like a steam train! Using a 35t offers the best balance between torque and RPM. So wheel speed, especially on 11.1v 3S isn’t going to be an issue!
The Metal Driveshafts for the TF2 are an all new design featuring bulletproof steel universals and a new high quality plastic shaft for great driveline angles and durability on the trail. Again…threadlock is your friend as losing a grub/set screw mid trail halts the fun fast.
During the first UK Recon G6 the only problems that occurred where of cosmetic fashion – e.g some might say I drove to hard for a pristine body fresh from the body shop.
By the end of the day I had to strap down my hood with tape in order not to loose it. After the event I found out that the turnbuckle screws needed to be tightened – so it might be helpful to apply some Loctite to those screws despite the axles arrive fully built.
During further working hard with the truck I managed to break a dog bone in the front axle. Luckily there as excellent parts support from RcBlitz on site so I could upgrade to CVD in a short tea break.
Other than that I only had to tighten my slipper a little bit after 2 days – and roughly 6-7 hours on the the excellent UK trials.
A word on Articulation…
Most of the RC scale rigs that you see on the trail have lot’s of articulation. But contrary to popular opinion, In many situations a car with less articulation is much more predictable to drive. Our scale rigs have typically both axles fully locked so you can still have plenty of traction if you end up 3 wheeling on an obstacle. Leaf sprung cars are just that – very predictable and if the leafs are set up and broken in you get a very sensitive suspension. Try it out!
Tip: On cars with 4 or 3-Link you can use a fuel tube inside the shock or a limiting strap to reduce the suspension travel.
This car is very rewarding to drive – and amazingly capable after my past experiences with leaf sprung cars I have to clearly say for me this is the best handling leaf sprung car I have personally driven so far.
Good Quality Kit
Very nice packaging
Endless customization support
Great driving and handling
Plug & Play body mount for Stock Tamiya Jeep body
Steering deflection limited by kits dog bones & drive cups
I don’t like that the stock wheels don’t use hexes
CVD’s could/should be standard at this price point
I would also recommend the following:-
After you run stock for a while, if you feel like comping then fit CVD’s and 1.9 Rims. I also used Baja MTZ’s tyres (but with stiffer foams like the ‘Crazycrawler’ foams I ran). Fit a Rock Hard front bumper and to mount the battery plate rotated so the battery can be mounted more to the front of the car helping increase further front weight bias.
Parts Used In Addition To RC4WD Kit
Tamiya Jeep Wrangler Body with Jeep CJ Conversion
Axial Racing Wraith Corbeau Seats
Custom Lexan front windscreen
RC4WD Raceline 1.9 Wheels
High lift shock towers
RC4WD Baja MTZ 1.9
RC4WD 35T Motor
Castle 10 BEC
Here’s a cool video of the rig in action at the recent Globetrotter Rodeo RECON G6…
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!)
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.