Included: Tools, Battery and Charger, 2.4Ghz Controller
“Mini Monster Truck, Monster speed…”
Its nicely packaged with good graphics depicting some great off road action, so the expectations are high for such a little machine. Once everything is out of the box you can see this is not a toy grade car, whilst its far from being the most expensive, I’m impressed with what I’m seeing so far.
The controller has a similar casing to a few other cars I’ve driven, so it’s quite familiar, its lift up cover on the back containing the power switch, servo reverse and two rotary dials, one for steering trim, and the other for throttle trim. There is a bind button in there too, not that it was needed in my case, it just worked straight from the box. It’s worth noting that there is a mega bright LED to show when its powered on, and that LED will change from green to red when the batteries are getting low (nice touch). hopefully this won’t come on too often as the transmitter takes 8 AA batteries!
The charger is very simple, mains plug one end, deans plug the other, with some indication lights on the plug to show the current charge state. it worked without fault and was simple enough for anyone to use.
Onto the Animus (meaning : motivation to do something) and its obvious to see there is a lot of thought that has gone into this car, and its quality is beyond its price point
The body shell is well formed, not too flimsy or heavy and a major bonus, its fitted with both front and rear lights, they are quite bright, so i imagine some night time driving is possible, as well as looking cool in the day, it just adds another level of realism. It’s not a massive or complex thing to do, but to me details like this make the whole thing a better experience, well done Helion.
The suspension arms look strong enough for the size of machine (and were proven to be strong in the multiple crashes and tumbles this has taken so far), what is very impressive is the shocks, they are oil filled, something i did not expect at all for a smaller model. it makes such a difference to have nice damping, makes off road smoother and on road or gravel even more fun !
At the end of each arm its fitted with large but not out of scale wheels with very grippy tyres attached to ball raced hubs, happy to say no friction bearings here !
Looking harder, there is even more to play with, you can adjust the top shock positions and inboard upper wishbone location, so not only is it good fun knock about, you can start learning tuning, or if your already in the know, you can adjust it to suit your style, I have to remind myself that this is 1:18 scale, as lots of features from larger vehicles have been put on this model.
There is not a lot of play in the suspension, which is a good thing, meaning it should not wander on its own and have a controlled feeling when driving it.
On the subject of ‘play’, with the particular truck I had, I noticed more steering play in one side than the other, The 2 in 1 esc/steering servo uses a bell crank system to link to the wheels and I found that one of the links had more play than the other, this was not much of a problem as 1/4 turn on the ball joint screw and most of that slack had been taken up. I have to admit to sorting this before driving, so I cant 100% say if it would have affected anything, although my opinion is that it would have been fine and not changed how it drove, certainly off road.
The power train is brushed and includes a replaceable 7.2v 1100mah NiMh that is held in with a retraining strap and body clips , so let’s see how that fairs under some use, will it be saggy and slow, or still pack a punch?
There is a little switch by the power switch to allow you to select between NiMH or LiPo battery, so its got a built in low voltage cut-out ready for a LiPo upgrade, again another simple yet well executed touch. It also has a bind position for the RX…clever stuff Helion!
In the past I’ve found a brushed motors to be a bit slow compared to the brushless systems I’m used to running. However, I have been impressed by the torque they can offer, so this will be interesting.
A Wide Demographic
I’m not exactly sure who the Animus is aimed at, I would say it’s something both for the younger generation, and us older ones who are still 12…so this has been tested by both a 40 something who is still 12, and an actual 12 year old.
After charging the battery and fitting the 8AA batteries into the controller, a quick check on steering rates to make sure its not binding up (where the servo tries to push the steering too far) and its ready to go.
I thought I’d be kind to the motor and give it the first few runs on road, to bed everything in and not put any undue stress on the drive train etc. So off we go…
Gently squeezing the throttle (see ED, I do learn from my mistakes, read my bullet flux review in issue 3!) there is no stuttering or cogging that you can get from an un-sensored brushless motor at low speed, the Animus squats the rear slightly as the suspension takes the load, and its off…(and at quite a rapid rate I must say!) I’m glad to see my earlier concerns about brushed have been put to rest.
The steering is direct, proportional and easy to control, comes back to centre well and not in a snappy way so it won’t induce flips and rolls if you let off the steering quickly. It was not long before I was ‘hooning’ it round the tarmac, and jumping off curbs and out of potholes, this thing is great, my mind has already thought of 4 or 5 of us having a one make race with these, would be a great laugh…perhaps even fit micro FPV systems and race them that way!
Grace v The Molehill
After a recharge Grace and I went down the fields with the Animus to have some fun and get some photos of it before I got carried away with bigger and bigger jumps
Ok, the box art showed the Animus MT throwing up dirt as it was moving at a good pace, is that possible…… Grace lined up a massive molehill, it was about 4 times the height of the Animus and about 3 times a long, let’s see what this is made of. Pinning the throttle wide open from the start the Animus leapt forwards through grass that was at least up to the axles with ease, she steered it up and over, the wheels spinning all the time, throwing mud behind and into the air, as it leapt into the air itself. so, can it do what it says on the box, simple answer is YES.
Of course we had to repeat it, as the speed off road had taken me by surprise and I’d only got half the car in the photo, then of course I wanted a go too. It might be small, but it’s an addictive little monster truck
Thankfully the mole had moved on to somewhere else looking at the number of molehills about, as I imagine he/she would have ended up with a headache after all the jumping we did over its digging spoils.
We spend the rest of the battery, jumping, speeding, climbing hills and having great fun with the Animus. After all isn’t that what its all about?
Back at home, Grace got through at least another 3 charges that day, driving both in the garden and on the drive and had a big smile on her face, especially with the new use she found for it, I’ll let her explain that later.
RCCZ TOP TIP: One thing to mention is motor has a sticker on it saying “Caution may be hot”, this is certainly true, I found the motor gets quite hot and after a full run, its best to leave it to cool a little before touching it…you were warned!
So, what’s the verdict. If your after something capable, fun, small enough to use in the garden, yet capable enough to tackle off road, mud, jumps etc, and don’t want to spend a fortune, then I would recommend adding this to your list along with a couple of additional batteries, get a few Animus/Animi (*I’m not sure what the plural is) together and the fun level could be epic.
Thoughts From A Real End User…Grace
So, my verdict of the Helion Animus 18MT…well, the one I tested had a red and blue livery, which I thought was a good combination making it stand out and look very smart. The body shell is a good shape too. I am impressed by the LED lights on it…
They are white in the front and red on the back and are a very good brightness. you could even try driving in the dark. The wheels and tyres are very suited to the type of car it is, they give lots of grip on grass and mud. The controller for this vehicle is easy to hold and operate for small or large hands, its heavier than some others I’ve used though.
When I drove it off road I tried it both in a field with longer grass and on the shorter grass in my garden. Its naturally a very fast car and went reasonably quick on this type of terrain, swerving in and out of garden swing poles, its accurate and able to bounce when you get it wrong. I even tried using some molehills as gigantic ramps and it jumped them very well and stayed upright! Then I tried driving it on road on the driveway. It was most efficient at this kind of driving as it was a smooth terrain which ensured maximum speed. It was very very easy to control. Handling the car was great fun, and as its small, I even managed to crawl it underneath a van!
Among the more unusual uses I found for this monster truck is dog exercise! Drive this car around the garden and the family hound will have a great time chasing it and barking at it (as mine did!) until its lying down panting…(and the dog! ED)
This vehicle withstood numerous collisions, even full throttle into my garden swing and remained intact which has to be a very positive point!
I found the four wheel drive was very interesting as I hadn’t tested a car with this type of drive before. It gave lots of grip which made it easier to control and easier to turn corners at high speed.
The differentials and oil filled shocks were very good and I thought them impressive. They made a positive difference to how it drove both on and off road.
The option of more colour schemes or a clear body shell to paint yourself would make this an even better buy, it is compact in size but packs a punch! Overall this monster truck is impressive and exceeded my expectations especially with regard to durability and I would recommend it to any skill level, or age.
Back in 2015, when RCCZ hadn’t even been conceived yet, and I was still editing Radio Race Car International, I had an idea. It was either the best I’ve had in a while or one that if it went wrong, would A: Cost me a chunk of money personally. And B: Let down a large group of people and an aspect of the RC hobby that I care very deeply about; namely the Scale, Trail and crawling crowd right here in the UK.
You see I had been following the Global RECON G6 community and its figure head, Brain Parker, since its conception. My idea was to co-host a full-on RECON G6 right here in the UK. We would hold it on the same weekend as out regular UK Scale Nationals, an event that had been steadily growing in popularity and drivers numbers for the last half decade and was previously run under the RRCi banner. The Nationals was a known entity, the G6 something new and from the photographs and video’s I had seen online, more about being part of a global community, having Adventures and something that’s often forgotten in RC events of late…good old family orientated fun.
One thing I was sure of though, was I didn’t just want to parody the events Brian runs, trying to re-create the G6 spirit ourselves. No, even with the great team we have at RCCZ that would be both an insult to him and the hard work he’s put into his Scale Adventure Series, and the 150+ UK drivers we wanted to turn up and attend. We needed to fly the man himself over, experience his way of setting the stages as he calls them, witness his very unique driver’s briefings, and be a part of the RECON G6 global family first hand. In some respects it was a big ask, but I always believe that life should be full of new experiences, and however big the challenge seems, if you tackle it head on, and have a great team around you, anything is possible.
A Little Re-wind
For those not familiar with Brian Parker and the ethos behind the RECON G6 events, I suggest you read some of the back issues of RCCZ, it’s a subject we covered in some depth in the run up to the event itself, including a very in-depth interview with the man himself and reports from at least two G6 events. Suffice to say, his involvement with not just the 1/10th and RC, but also the 1:1 Crawl and Off Road scene, goes pretty deep. His face, that gravelly voice (not to mention the trademark unique footwear and Tactical Kilt) are probably the most recognisable in the scene at the moment. There are people and nicknames that over the years stick in your head as pioneers of the scene. Bender, Gatekeeper, and Parker are just three examples. His transformation after losing a side bet during a comp to become Axialman is a classic example…he’s in this for the fun, friendship and comradery, not just the money. Having chatted with him at length many, many times online, I always felt he was someone I actually knew (even though the reality was that we had never physically met).
To anyone looking from the outside in, Brian has played a pivotal role in the growth of ‘Scale’, and been the life and soul of many events, right from the early Axialfest’s, through to the latest RECON G6 events held across Europe. His direct links with the former have now been severed, but just like the demise of RRCi spurred me on with the birth of RCCZ, Brian has been further energised and has grown the G6 brand globally. Just like the now discontinued Axial “RECON G6 Certified” SCX-10 RTR a few years back, new G6 emblazoned products from brands like ProLine, Boom Racing and PitBull Tyres keep appearing to show that the industry is taking notice of the brand identity he has created, and with RC4WD as a headline sponsor, events like the Hong Kong G6 in November, and regular dates in both the US and Europe, this kilt wearing, coffee fuelled phenomenon doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon!
So, in late 2015 I rang him and pitched my idea…there was a long pause, I was bracing myself for the worst, and that his schedule wouldn’t allow it, or the UK wasn’t of interest to him, but then I heard a laugh at the other end of the Skype line…and four words: ”Let’s make it happen!”. We chatted for a further hour or so, about everything from BMX bikes to Jeeps and RC, then bounced a few provisional dates around. Eventually we decided upon the middle of June 2016. This would allow Brian to fly into Europe, attend and co-host our event, then fly over to Austria, host 2 more G6 events before flying home a few weeks later.
There would also be some C.R.R.M (Coffee Related Roasting Matters) to attend to in Austria also, and those that know Brian well, will understand that…Work hard, play hard is all I will say on that matter, and having met him now, he does both with gusto. We said our goodbyes, did a virtual knuckle bump via instant messenger, and then the line went dead on Skype…
The Kilt Said Yes…Now What?
I sat back in my chair and thought about the consequences and enormity of that single Skype conversation. This was the first 6 months of the magazines existence, we were growing, our core readership was loyal, we were keeping our head above water and we had amazing support from the industry. But if no-one turned up, or the weather ruined the event, we could potentially end up with an invoice that could put the mag under. I winced a little at that thought, but smiled as well at the thought of a UK RECON G6.
I rang round the RCCZ team and got their unanimous support. I told them the provisional date and my plans. We decided that we would run the G6 on the Saturday, and also incorporate a night run into the mix. This would mean that competitors would have in theory a 12+ hour day ahead of them, the latter finishing in real terms past 11pm that evening. Speaking again with Brian a few weeks later it seems there would be two long G6 trails. The “Little Britain Stage” with white trail markers placed on the right, and the “Go Large – US Stage” with the white trail markers on the left, for obvious reasons…I was tasked with making the trail markers, but more on that later!
The Nationals on the Sunday would consist of 2 long 100 gate self-scored trail runs, using our usual red and yellow gate markers, and a very technical 10 gate organiser scored (and timed) comp course to decide its winners. We even decided to take along a set of ‘Old Skool’ tennis balls to set out a Comp Crawling Course in memory of our buddy Skippy, who, if you read the mag will realise we lost a few months before the event, but who was a huge part of the early days of the UK comp scene. It was designed as a fun, guest event for those still with a comp rig still in their collection and we also sold smiley face stickers (a skippy trademark) with proceeds going to his favourite charity. This is something we hopefully can grow for our next event, as there seems to be enough interest in the genre (especially with the recent launch of the RC4WD Bully 2 MOA rig). It seems comp crawling may get a mini renaissance very soon, and there are rumours of more rigs by other manufacturers in late 2016 and beyond…
I also did my usual ring around of the brands that have always supported our events and got unanimous support from the Scale, Trail and Crawl RC Industry. Our headline sponsor would be RC4WD, and Tom Allen and the RC4WD crew really stepped up in a big way. Not only would they be offering goody bags for every entrant of the G6 and Nationals double header event, they also offered us the biggest prize package we’ve seen to date, with 2 rigs, T-Shirts, Hats, sets of axles, beadlock wheels, trailers, tyres, and more individual accessories than we’ve ever seen before.
Tom also surprised us by secretly making scale sticker sheets just for the RECON G6 UK Edition, perfect for adorning our rigs with and celebrating the fact this was the first ever event of its type on UK soil…Kudos guys, we cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support.
Martin at RC Bits also donated an RC4WD rig as a prize for the G6 event and some scale accessories. He also supported us as ever with a huge Trailside retail offer, giving entrants not only the opportunity to lighten their wallets with a selection of the best the industry has to offer, but also essential spares to keep the competitors rigs up and running all weekend in the event of a breakage of electrical failure.
Other RCCZ friendly distributors like AsiaTees sent over G6 endorsed prizes by brands such as Boom Racing, with sets of shocks, beadlock wheels, accessories and sticker packs. CML Distribution sent us some scale specific prizes from ProLine and FastTrax, The Hobby Company a very cool Carrera slot racing set as a junior prize, and HPI a box full of tyres, pit mats and wearables. Add to already substantial prize pool vouchers for invaluable brushed motor strips and tunes by Andy Smith, 3D printed axles stands, barrels, fuel cans and sand ladders from and our very own Scott (AceofAxe) Curlin.
Buts that’s not all folks…Ivan Carisma from Carisma RC also sent a huge box of Scale accessories, injection moulded on sprues with everything from generators, to tool boxes, oil barrels, fire extinguishers, pots ‘n’ pans to bicycles in perfect 1/10th scale, all ready to cut off, glue together, paint and then be added to roof racks or scale garages. The generosity these companies show the scene each year is nothing short of amazing. The whole team would like to thank everyone involved with this event for their commitment and generosity. Having great prizes and a fun raffle ensures that the winners get something they can be proud of. Everyone else still has a chance to win something of real value, and get some cool hop up’s and scale accessories.
A Golden Ticket
Axial Racing were the headline sponsor of the Nationals on the Sunday and simply offered the winner a Golden Ticket…At first we were a little confused by this, until Andrew Rawlinson enlightened us that it would entitle the winner to get one of the very first SCX10-2 rigs in the UK, and that he had even brought along the only built sample of a SCX-10 in the UK to whet the appetites of perspective future owners. (We, admittedly by this time had also been secretly sent our review sample by Axial direct…as seen in this issue, but had not had time to physically build it yet…but when you see the results you will understand why!)
So, we had the dates and the venue booked, Parker’s flights and accommodation arranged, the prizes and goody bags agreed, now it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and make all the things that take this type of event to the next level. I first designed some trophies for the Nationals based on Axial Logos with RR10 wheels and tyres as their bases. I went to see Phil Lawrence, who not only writes for RCCZ, but also owns www.makeitbuildit.co.uk and commissioned him to 3D print the trophies and then set each onto its wheel/tyre base with a Carbon Fibre rod.
The end results are simply stunning, and Phil did an amazing job, I cannot thank him enough for his efforts. Next I rang the guys at Hoverspeed RC. Now my contact with them up until now has been with my other hat on, as editor of a couple of Drone magazines. They actually make the most amazing air gates and corner flags and have been instrumental in pushing the FPV racing scene both here in the UK, and globally. I designed some start and finish gates for the RECON G6, incorporating the headline sponsor, RC4WDs logo, our very own RCCZ logo and of course an official “RECON G6 Certified” stand for good measure. A couple of emails later and the design was finalised, and when they arrived by courier a day or so later, I was gobsmacked. Tim had done a simply amazing job. They were free standing, with a pipework frame and legs, made from neatly laser cut vinyl and expertly printed front and back. We now had two start and two finish gates as a little bit of additional theatre to add to the event. I was starting to get really excited about this upcoming event…
Trail Markers R Us…(OK, R Me!)
The job that I was actually dreading the most was making any additional trail markers Brian may need for the RECON G6. What seems like years ago now, Speedy Steve had made us over 200 pairs of red and yellow gate markers using welding rod cut to length, with plastic tops and all individually numbered. They had served us very well, had lasted three years of comps so far, and were still going strong. Brian needed at least 150 if not 200 more gates to set out his two trails and the night run for day one. I was tasked with this job and wanted to ensure they looked totally different to the UK Nationals markers.
I went on EBay and ordered 300 green garden sticks, and 16 packs of large red and white plastic bunting. Each pack contained 12 plastic flags, and each individual flag could be cut into 4 smaller ones. The garden sticks could cut into two to make in theory 600 trail markets if required. I spent every evening until about midnight for the next two weeks making 200 pairs of red and white flag markers. It was as expected mind numbing…but vital work!
After showing Tom at RC4WD what I was up to, he again surprised me by sending us about 60 printed plastic trail signs that just needed to be glued onto sticks, to again add a little more theatre and detail to the whole event. It’s these little touches that make all the difference, and as ever Kudos to him for the idea…it’s something we will definitely be doing more of in future events.
Setup Day Arrived…
With the pace of life these days the event was soon upon us and myself and Scott loaded up his van and my Jeep with the prizes, banners, Trail Markers etc and headed to Bracken Rocks. We had arranged to rendezvous with Brian nearby and lead him in as the Sat Nav co-ordinates and site turnoff is notorious for getting first times lost…
An hour or so of driving later, and a black and yellow Citroën hire car appeared at our chosen meet up spot. In the car was Parker himself fighting jet-lag but beaming from ear to ear, and Joey W, fellow G6er, female 1:1 4×4 adventurer, Master Barista (I kid you not!) and roaster of some of the finest coffee anywhere on the planet. She would play a pivotal role in keeping the whole crew alert, awake and alive over the next few days. Scott I I gave each other a knowing glance…this was going to be one fun weekend!
Arriving on site, the team had got to work like a well-oiled machine. We all had our job roles and all knew how important set up day was to the success of the event. The Trail Control was already open, generator running, lights on and the on-site facilities unlocked and ready for action. Brian and Joey extracted themselves from the hire car and we said our official hello’s and introduced them to the team. As ever the RCCZ team of myself, Andy Moore, Scott Curlin, John Wasley and Speedy Steve was swelled by Ian Walters, and his Partner Claire and Speedy’s wife Sam. This was our core team, we had not just one but two epic events to stage, so we simply got on with it…
Torrential Rain & Muddy Trails Espresso
About an hour into dressing the site with banners, boundary marking the main areas and Brian and Joey starting to get their trail markers laid, it rained. And I’m not just talking drizzle or a light shower here. It was in all my years of hosting the Nationals the heaviest downpour I’ve ever seen, my heart sank and it didn’t relent. We have video of rivers of water flowing through and down the lower half of the site, by trail control and disappearing into the field earmarked for camping below. Martin appeared with his RCBitz pop up shop and fought the weather to set out his stall, torrents of rain and wind buffeting his efforts.
We by now were mostly all soaked, Parker and Joey had on some cool looking camo poncho’s and despite their baptism by fire (or cold airborne UK water) their spirits were high. They just kept disappearing into the woods and laying more and more trail markers. Returning muddier and wetter each time, but always smiling. Joey then got out all her coffee making paraphernalia and we called a time out. She proceeded to instruct us all in the fine art of making good coffee. From weighing and grinding the beans properly, to using a filter and water at the right temperature and brewing it properly. I even shot a video of the process that’s well worth a watch on my YouTube channel. Fortified and buzzing with some of the best fresh coffee I’ve ever tasted, we all got back into setup mode.
By 6PM we had everything ready to rock and roll the following morning. The site was starting to fill with campers, all totally undeterred by the continuing wet weather, but the field was getting pretty water logged and some without 4x4s struggled to get to their pitch. Add to this reports that roads were flooded on the approach to the site, I was still feeling rather nervous at this point, I just wanted the rain to stop and the sky’s to clear…
The Team BBQ Live + A Night Time Adventure For Parker & Joey
We called it a day on site and went to Johns for our now legendary Team BBQ. Parker and Joey Joined us as our honoured guests and in his trademark style Parker televised most of the evenings events live to the World using the Live feature of facebook. The video’s he shot are both funny and capture perfectly the closeness and spirit that the RCCZ have. We aren’t just colleagues. We are truly friends, and over the years have been through a lot between us, both as individuals and together. We are all very different, but share a love of anything Off Road, both RC and 1:1. We did a guided tour around John’s man cave, his motorbikes, Quad bike and his & his wife’s very modified Suzuki Jeeps.
The latter got lots of very positive reaction especially from the US based friends of Parker and the G6 family and can still be watched on Facebook, as can all the other Live uploads we made during that whole weekend. But it didn’t end there. We took the Samurai and the Jimny out to a local 4×4 trail and took Parker and Joey on a 1:1 4×4 adventure to show just how capable and robust these plucky little 4x4s really are! (note to self, as I’m well over 6ft tall and when sitting in the back of a Suzuki, I should wear a seatbelt)…Yes, I didn’t put one on. Yes, I hit my head on the roll bar, yes I broke my glasses in the process, yes I laughed all the way round and home again, no I probably didn’t learn a lesson from the experience!
Much later, back at The House Of Wasley, at well past midnight, and After much BBQ, Speedy’s Chilli Jam and (for those not driving) copious quantities of real ale supplied by Ian we all said our goodbye’s, vowing to be on site by 7.30-8am for an 9am start for booking in…or so we thought.
“Tyre Down, I Repeat Tyre Down…”
Then at around 2am I got a message…”We got a flat on the way home, had to leave car by the side of the road. Are both walking to the hotel, let’s talk in the morning about collecting Brian. I will go and sort car…Joey”
It seemed the funky French car with its low profile tyres had experienced either a blow out or possibly an annoying impromptu puncture half way back to Parker and Joey’s hotel. He had evidently shrugged his shoulders, put on his head torch, picked up as much as he could carry physically, and he and Joey had walked for 1.5 hours along country roads to their rather remote Derbyshire hotel. Imagine that sight if you came driving the other way at 2am…pouring down with rain, kilt blowing in the wind, head torch on full beam. It had been an eventful few hours.
Talk about a welcome to the UK. First the rain, (which still hadn’t stopped) and now this. I was assured by Joey there was nothing we could do to help until daybreak, so I unsuccessfully tried to get back into a deep sleep…
The Cold Light of Twinset
After dispatching Andy Moore to drive the 45 minutes to the hotel and go and collect Parker for around 9am, the rest of us made our way to the site. I was pleasantly surprised the amount of additional campers that had braved the weather, floods and closed roads and having posted on the official Facebook page about starting an hour late due to Parker not arriving until at least 9.30-9.45…we set about getting the first ever RECON G6 up and running…well after a hearty breakfast from the on-site caterers anyway!
I had made up a G6 score card and Ian had duplicated them into double sided A5 format. Brain arrived and immediately got to work being Brian. He has a way of just working a crowd. Everyone gets some personal attention, everyone regardless of age, or gender gets treated the same. He makes you feel part of something special and that’s the real key to what he does. Booking in started with each competitor and their rig being categorised and given a title…From “Drivin Divas” to “Veterans”, Not only did each entrant get to experience the full day and night trail, they also got a RC4WD Goody bag that included the exclusive RECON G6 UK Edition stickers. A queue formed and just kept filling up again. They just kept arriving, wave after wave of them. The turnout was astonishing all things considered.
By now the rain gods had decided to give us a break. The sky whilst not being blue was at least clearing if a little cloudy. Between 9am and 10am we had over 150 entrants book in and with the on-site caterers doing a roaring trade in breakfasts and drinks, things were starting to look very promising.
At 10.15 we called everyone together and had a drivers briefing. Brian inducted everyone into the global RECON G6 family and with all the rigs placed on the road loading up to the trail control it was an impressive site. The two “stages” as he calls them were described to the drivers. Brian explained that the “Little Britain Stage” to the right as you entered the woods had white trail markers to the right, and the “Go Big USA Stage” that started to the left had them on the left.
He also explained that he had hidden “Adventure Items” in and around the trails. From stamps and hole punches you could mark your score sheet with, to obscure objects like rubber frogs, even lost plastic toy puppies (allegedly that had escaped from the Derbyshire pound). If found any of these Adventure Items must be stowed aboard your rig and then brought back to trail control and showed when handing in the score sheets.
They not only ended up as a memento of the event and their time at the UK G6, but would also entitle the finder additional free raffle tickets for the grand prize draw on Sunday afternoon. One such ticket actually got one of the main prizes during this, so its proves the point about the importance of this additional aspect to the event, You didn’t just drive the stages, you explored them, and took time to actually soak in the surroundings.
“Trail Etiquette” Is also the Key
The other thing that Brian stresses to all competitors was “Trail Etiquette”. This isn’t a Scale Competition, it’s a Scale Adventure. Drivers are expected to work together to ensure everyone who goes through the start gate on either the UK or US side makes it round the whole stage and gets home safe and sound. It’s the same in 1:1 4×4 circles and is a great message for the whole community.
There were sections on both stages that had rigs stuck hard and fast. “Scale Quicksand” is how Brian described one section on the US stage. A winding section of gates that seemed near impossible to negotiate without using a winch or without the aid of a winch buddy. This is where trail etiquette really came into play. We witnessed one European driver from Daniels group spend nearly an hour in one section pulling rig after rig out of the mud and making sure they all got past that natural obstacle onto firmer and less perilous ground.
Other instances where were a driver had suffered a driveshaft failure half way round the huge stages. A complete stranger appears, stays with the driver and offers a spare he or she was carrying on their rig.
New friendships are formed during the event and the comradery between the “Competitors” (if you want to call them that) goes through the roof.
This isn’t just about winning or losing as many RC comps are. This is about being part of something much deeper, a member of a real community, and that’s the biggest life lesson anyone attending a G6 event will learn.
Whole blood related families went out through our RCCZ Start gates…bigger extended G6 families came back through the finish ones.
Another twist in the G6 way of doing things is the way Brian has set the stages. Often gates would just stop. You would see drivers looking around for the next, often for a matter of minutes. At first out British sense of black and white where rules and course setting are concerned threw up a few minor protests.
We all expect to go through gate 13 and then visually see gate 14 somewhere nearby. This wasn’t always the case on Brains stages…He pulled me and a group of drivers to one side and explained something:-
“Life is about going on a journey. We all make decisions as to the path to take. We sometimes make wrong turns, have to do a U turn or even double back and start again. But we learn from that and eventually we get from point A, to Point B and feel like we have achieved something. It’s your own journey, your own path, and your own choice…If you can’t see the next step, go explore a bit. You never know what you will find just over that next crest…”
You see Brian isn’t just someone who stages events and just like me and the magazine tries to make a living from doing something he loves. He’s truly and inspirational leader and that’s little speech made complete sense. You could see the expression on people’s faces change. They got it, and went off, driving their rigs before them to explore…then a shout went up. “Got it, next gate is over there, hidden between those two bushes…”.
It actually lead though to space you almost had to physically crawl after your rig to negotiate. That’s what elevates this type of event from a mundane drive to being pure class. The other thing to note is that Brian is constantly going up and down the stages, he‘s there to encourage the drivers, spurring them on to get past difficult features and gates, have some fun with them and keep the G6 ethos going throughput the event. If you could bottle whatever Brian has, it would be a rare commodity. But luckily you can’t and that the G6 magic and unique nature of this event.
Fog, Orbs & Glo Sticks…
At night fell, the majority of drivers readied themselves for the night stage and I got out my secret weapon. 200 8” Glow Sticks and 60 reflective gate markers. By using these, some additional lighting that Brain had brought with him, and sections of the Go Big US Stage, we created a night stage to be very proud of.
The combination of spooky stories about “Orbs” in the drivers briefing, the man-made “Fog” generated by the Vapers amongst the group and a pitch black woodland setting worked a treat.
Parker lead the group out to the start of the stage. Then went up and down the trail making sure everyone was having fun. He counted em out…and counted em back in again.
Meanwhile back at trail control, Joey kept us awake and alert with regular hits of black coffee, and stories of past G6 adventures and their hopes for the events going forward.
We left the site at past midnight, everyone having had a blast. Everyone getting back safely, all having thoroughly enjoyed every second of the run. No punctures were had that drive home…and Parker and Joey sent a message to confirm they had got back safe and sound. I actually slept that night, despite the caffeine overload.
WE had done good. The first ever RECON G6 was a huge success, and we still had a day of Scale comps and 200 gates if trail runs ahead of us!
For more on everything RECON G6 related CLICK HERE
It’s been a long few months since Issue 4. It seems like a distant memory, but we got there in the end and issue 5’s content is now well on the way in a new 100% online format. It’s been a very odd few weeks, with lots of professional highs. And in parity, a few personal lows too. Let me explain…
First of all an apology. We lost nearly 8 weeks of the production schedule leading up to the collation of issue 5. I developed a swollen optical nerve that’s meant very little or no computer time was allowed until the swelling subsided. And as ever in life, it was my ‘good eye’ affected so double the problems for me. I couldn’t drive, use FPV goggles or headsets, watch TV or Films and taking manual pics with a DSLR resulted in some rather interesting if blurred results.
Thankfully, after listening to about a million audio books and doing every little job I’ve ever put off doing in the house, garden and on my aging Jeep, I have finally been given the go ahead to start using computers again. With new glasses and regular breaks, things are ‘almost’ back to normal. It’s going to take a little longer to collate and edit each issue from now on, and to that end we will be drip feeding in content for a while to accommodate this. The good news is that you can now easily read the articles on any type of device without having to download a PDF first!
The support I’ve received from friends, the RCCZ and Hive Mind RC teams is nothing short of amazing. Other than giving me a right royal roasting (par for the course) their phone calls, emails, messages and visits kept me sane. They all pulled together to make my burden as editor a little less of a strain. I won’t mention individuals, but certain team members made me laugh when I needed it most. For that I’m truly thankful. #Huge #Respect
Now For The Good Stuff…
Our recent RECON G6 UK and Scale Nationals event was a huge success. There’s a report of each inbound. In fact by the time you read this, the RECON G6 one will be up and ready to read, with additional articles being put together offering a competitors viewpoint from on of the drivers who travelled over from Europe to compete. We have another Scale comp planned for late October and Brian Parker has confirmed the UK G6 will now be an annual event and given us full ‘G6 Certified’ Status. But there’s more… Keeping on the ‘Scale Vibe’ We will have a full review and Trail Test of Axial’s new SCX10 2 Jeep Cherokee Builders Kit.
And for hard bodied scale fans the RC4WD’s Long Wheelbase Trail Finder 2 with the epic Chevy Blazer hard body & Alloy V8 engine. It’s the ultimate Lexan v Styrene build off and just cemented our love for both genres of rig.
We sent a SWB version of the Trail Finder 2 chassis kit to our Austrian contributor Daniel Siegl and he transforms it into the rig he ran at the RECON G6 UK Edition. We get his thoughts on the build, how it performs on the trail and why these small wheel, leaf spring rigs are so much fun to drive.
For Tamiya fans we have a new entry level 2WD buggy. The perfect gateway model into RC and kit building. Our newest recruit takes this right of passage and emerges the other side having learnt vital skills and inspired for more.
On the RTR front we have a fun brushless 1/8th 4WD buggy from Maverick, the Desert Wolf. A very cool Pikes Peak inspired Carisma RC 1/24th Brushless 4WD, the GT24R. A 1/18th Monster truck from Helion. We also explore the world of RC Drifting further with a close up look at the Midlands drift scene and report from a recent event.
We really do hope that you enjoy the way RCCZ is evolving. It’s been a little more demanding than usual to collate the content, but everyone involved is very proud of what we have managed to achieve. Remember to keep checking out our website and Facebook for more announcements…as we haven’t finished the transformation yet (lets say it’s ‘In Progress’).
Keep an eye on our dedicated Facebook page HERE for more on the ever evolving world of RCCar.Zone
I was first introduced to RC drifting back in 2008 and have been hooked ever since, I simply cannot stress just how much fun it is whatever your skill level or age. RC drifting is a great part of the radio controlled hobby with a great community of people involved. It continues to grow each year with people taking it up and embracing the culture that comes with it. RC drifting has a massive worldwide following and has bought people together from all walks of life.
RC drifting is a scaled down version of one of the fastest growing motorsports on the planet, for those not familiar with its full-size counterpart the aim is to negotiate a specially designed track using pin-point throttle control to keep the car sideways for as much of the track as possible. Where most motorsports are based on fastest laps drifting is very much based on style, someone once told me it’s like skateboarding with a car. Drifting has come a long way over the last 5 or 6 years, with manufacturers designing drift-specific chassis’ and pushing the technical boundaries of RC to the limits.
Chassis now boast some amazing feats of engineering normally reserved for the high-end real-world cars. The higher price chassis’ are draped in carbon fibre and lightweight aluminium. If you have spotted RC drifting online or read about it and fancy having a bash, getting started can be as simple as throwing some drift tyres on an old touring car and popping to your local car park to have some fun. If you don’t have an old touring car knocking around then you have some choices to make and hopefully this little drift 101 will help you make those choices.
A Few Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Drift
If you are totally new to the hobby you can get drifting on a small budget and your local model shop will no doubt stock the latest offerings from HPI who produce some great ready-to-run (RTR) options to get you started for under £200. There is also the trusty Tamiya and their touring cars models, this has been the way to go for many beginners for years.
However, there is now a huge amount of choice when you are starting out, so let’s try and cut through some of the waffle.
AWD (All Wheel Drive) or RWD (Rear Wheel Drive?)
When I started drifting this question didn’t exist but it sure does now, with the development of RC drift chassis’ over the last few years you now have a choice between AWD (All wheel drive) & RWD (Rear wheel drive).
AWD offers two options to choose from, the traditional 50/50 style offers equal drive to the front and rear wheels and is very forgiving for beginners. The popular choice for the more advanced driver is CS (Counter Steer), by altering the gearing you can overdrive the rear wheels or underdrive the front, this will essentially mean your rear wheels will rotate at a higher rate than the front making the chassis a little more tail happy and allowing for better car control through subtle throttle control.
RWD is exactly that, a rear wheel drive chassis, in most cases a gyro is used to help prevent the chassis spinning out and it also makes the handling more realistic, although the goal of any driver would be to master the settings of the chassis to prevent relying on the gyro. There are some very good entry level rear wheel drive chassis’ available although it is not for the feint hearted.
Belt Drive or Shaft Drive?
Almost all chassis’ will be belt of shaft driven. Basically, a belt driven chassis will be smoother and a little more forgiving while a shaft driven chassis will give you a more instant response and be more aggressive. So the choice comes down to you and how you like to drive, belt drive can be a little easier for beginners but you can tame some of the aggression out of the shaft driven models.
What To Buy…
Right then, you’ve made your choice between RWD and AWD, you have thought about belts and prop shafts, now it is time to count those pennies and work yourself out a budget. Thankfully, due to the increasing popularity of drifting the entry level price range has come down a lot, while you still have the staple offerings from the major brands other brands are bringing new affordable models to the table all the time.
Some great budget options are now available in both rear wheel drive and all-wheel drive options. You can pick up a rolling chassis with endless potential for just over £100, granted you will have to add electrics, radio gear and a bodyshell which will see your spend creep over the cost of a RTR but you will have a chassis’ that can grow with you as you progress.
Spending a little extra on your first model is worth considering, all too often people end up needing a new chassis in a very short space of time, so it is worth looking at what upgrades are available for your first RC drifter before taking the plunge.
If you are one of those lucky people who doesn’t have a budget to worry about then man are you going to have some fun, if there is one thing the RC drift world offers it is bling! And while most parts offer some extra function or performance some are just purely to make your chassis pretty, but hey we all love some shiny bits on our chassis don’t we?
There really is no ceiling when it comes to what you can spend on your drifter, higher end models start from £400 to £500 for a rolling chassis, couple this with a few choice upgrades, some high-end electrics and top of the range radio gear and you will notice a couple of grand missing from your bank account. Of course most people will work their way up to this level but there is always that one person who has all the gear and no idea, their pit bag is usually the envy of everybody.
However don’t be put off by the crazy prices of the high-end stuff, you can still have just as much fun with the entry-level stuff, if you take to drifting (and most people do) you will soon find yourself thinking two grand is a worthwhile spend. If you are still struggling with what to buy the internet is your best friend, there are thousands of drift groups and social media groups with people who are always happy to talk about drifting. If you prefer to see the stuff in the flesh, some model shops now carry a good range of drift related products and of course, you can always pop along to a track and see them in action for yourself.
Where Can You Drift?
Once you have made your decisions on chassis set-up it’s all about where you can drift. The truth is you can get sideways anywhere with a smooth enough surface, local car parks are almost always the stomping ground of budding drifters, they provide nice, open spaces for you to get used to going sideways. A word of warning here, watch out for concrete pillars, they don’t mix well with RC cars.
As RC drifting has got more popular in the UK permanent tracks have popped up in model shops and complete stand-alone tracks. Drifting on track is a totally different animal to being out in a car park but is much more enjoyable and rewarding in my opinion. Drifting on track is the best place to work on your technique and improve your drifting.
One of the most stunning tracks in the UK is N.R.D (Northern Race & Drift) in Wakefield, the level of detail there is incredible, just looking around can take a couple of hours of your time. As a club it is the benchmark for all drift venues, its family friendly and home to some very talented drifters who are always happy to give advice and guidance where it is needed.
If you are not lucky to have a permanent track nearby, a quick search on Facebook should point you in the direction of your local team or group. Some of these teams/groups are even hosting their own events, on a monthly basis in most cases. These little events are popping up in town halls and community centres all over the country.
From groups of friends in car parks to indoor tracks you will definitely find somewhere to get your slide on, wherever you are from.
Getting sideways is pretty simple, keeping it there and controlling it is another story, it is all about chassis set-up and throttle control.
Find yourself a nice open space, a wide figure of eight is always a good place to start as this will help you get to grips with your throttle control and learning to transition the car from one direction to the other while staying sideways. Once you have mastered the wide figure of eight reduce speed and go for a tighter eight. If you are lucky enough to have a track on your doorstep don’t be afraid to go and hit the track straight away, just be respectful of the fact some folk at the track will have a lot of money invested in their chassis and a little etiquette goes a long way.
Another thing that will greatly benefit you as you learn to drift is understanding your chassis, sit down and learn the basics of car set-up from suspension geometry to camber, castor and toe. Understanding these will allow you to tailor your chassis’ handling to suit your style. A simple search of the internet or social media will give you a wealth of reading material on all of these subjects. Set-up guides are also readily available for most models and are always a good starting point, giving you a solid base to build on.
If all this sounds scary, don’t worry, the great thing about drifting is the community it has created. Help is always on hand, sharing tips and advice is not a crime, noobs are most definitely always welcome. People are always happy to share their experience with you and will happily sit and explain the various aspects of chassis set-up with you. Getting people up to a good standard seems to be the goal of most drifters as it ramps up the fun factor when everyone is driving at an equal standard, I am sure this attitude is the same wherever you go in the drift world.
Now You’ve Mastered The Slide… Let’s Talk Bodyshells…
Once you are confident enough that you are not going to smash into everything, you might want to consider making a killer bodyshell. With drifting being about style it should come as no surprise that people put just as much effort into the look of their bodyshells as they do the functionality of their chassis. Some people are even making a pretty penny custom painting bodyshells for people who don’t have the skills or time to create these works of art.
Seeing what people come up with is one of the coolest things about drifting, you will see beautifully shiny shells and beaten up rust buckets with broken windows and parts missing and you will be equally impressed by both. The level of detail people go to is insane, from simple touches like adding a light kit to scratch building interiors and body kits.
Bodyshells are your chance to get your personality across, and like anything RC you don’t have to spend much to get started. You can pick up a shell for just over £20, throw in a couple of tins of polycarbonate paint and for about £30 you can put your own stamp on your car. Trust me, it won’t stop at just the shell, soon you’ll be looking at accessories like intercoolers, engine bays, over fender kits and beautifully made wing mounts to make your shell look as realistic as possible.
The possibilities are endless, with almost every type of car ever made from Japanese drift icons to classic American muscle cars available in a 1/10 scale, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
Taking Drifting To The Next Level
RC drifting now offers drivers the opportunity to showcase their skills to a wider audience through national and international competitions. If you find yourself wanting to pit your skills against other drivers from around the UK the national championship offers competitions in both RWD and CS classes and is backed by some big sponsorships from some of drifting’s top brands.
You could always take things that step further and pit your talent against the best drifters in the world over in Holland at the world championships. The world championships are held annually and attract the best drivers from across Europe as well as drivers from Japan and the USA. This year’s world championship which has just come to a conclusion was also streamed live on YouTube and attracted a lot of attention on the internet. These championships are a perfect example of just how much RC drifting is growing on a worldwide scale, the fact that it is now popular enough that teams of people will travel all over the world to slide is a testament to the people involved with the hobby from the top right down to the newcomers.
You don’t need to be a drift legend to enter these competitions and although they are taken very seriously by the guys and girls competing in them, they are a great place to go and have fun and make new friends who share the same interests as you.
Summing Things Up…
RC drifting, much like the scale/rock crawler scene, is a shot in the arm for the RC industry, bringing in new faces and reinvigorating those who have been involved for years. It has brought a host of new manufacturers to the industry and opened up RC to a larger audience.
It is a great way to spend your time, you are never too young or old to get your slide on. It doesn’t matter if it’s a group of friends skidding around the local multi-story car park or a band of brothers travelling across Europe to drift against the best in the world, the feeling you will get from both is the same, and that feeling is fun. Let’s face it that is what RC is all about, whatever aspect of the hobby you spend your time doing.
So get down to your local track see what it’s all about, get on the internet and absorb all the sideways goodness you can find there, but most of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions or get involved, you will meet some truly awesome people and make some great friends. Now go and have fun…sideways!