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
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
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
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