Team Associated MT10 Rival 1/10 RTR Monster Truck

Team Associated MT10 Rival 1/10 RTR Monster Truck

MT10 Rival

The Team Associated MT10 Rival is a budget option in big-name bashing. It’s a 1/10 scale 4×4 brushless monster truck that’s ready to go out of the box. We’ve heard good things about it and decided we should really test it out!

MT10 Berm Jump

Out With the Old

Story time! Back in 2012 we ordered a Traxxas Stampede VXL 4X4 RTR. It had similar specifications and overall dimensions to the MT10 Rival and accounting for inflation, was about 20% more expensive. It had a number of issues that needed sorting before it could be bashed with any level of severity beyond yard running. The truck flipped over a lot and the tires were not great. We put over $1000 into strength and handling upgrades (build log archived here) and eventually it was reasonably reliable and a lot of fun.

Stampede VXL Jump

Credit: sandman77, AusRC forums

In With the New

What a difference a decade makes! Many of the things we changed on the Stampede are included out of the box with the MT10 Rival. The tires are excellent, there are front and rear anti-roll (or sway) bars and there are even lights, both front and rear. There is a mesh cover to keep stones and dust out of the bucket chassis and there is a hard cover over the drive-shaft so wires don’t get twisted and ripped off – and it keeps the stones out from grinding through the shaft, too!

A Paradigm Shift

Probably the biggest improvement in the MT10 Rival over the Stampede VXL is something that we were not ever able to mod into ours: a center differential. This extra level of tuning and performance is what takes the MT10 Rival to the level of bigger, more expensive jump and bash trucks. Combine this with the low weight and flexible plastics used throughout the vehicle and you have an exceptionally durable, low-maintenance and high-performance monster truck.

We can’t really over-emphasise how big this is in RC: there are not many vehicles in any category of the hobby that give you all three of Cheap, Durable and Fast. The MT10 Rival may just be that elusive unicorn!

MT10 Rival Features

  • 2.4GHz 2-channel radio system
  • High-Torque digital servo with spring-style servo saver
  • Powerful Reedy 3300kV 4-pole brushless motor
  • Water-resistant high-power Reedy brushless speed control with T-plug connector and LiPo low-voltage cutoff
  • Three sealed gear differentials
  • 12mm hex wheels inspired by Method Race Wheels
  • Threaded, oil-filled, coil-over shock absorbers
  • 4mm heavy-duty adjustable steel turnbuckles
  • Durable slider-type drive shafts
  • Factory-finished RIVAL monster-truck-inspired style body
  • High-traction, all-terrain tires
  • Steel center drive shaft
  • Rugged, adjustable wheelie bar with LEDs
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Durable, impact-absorbing front bumper with LEDs

MT10 Rival Specs

  • Length: 507mm (19.96in)
  • Width: 325mm (12.8in)
  • Wheelbase: 285mm (11.22in)
  • Weight: 2850g (6.28lbs)
  • Internal Gear Ratio: 2.85:1
MT10 Wheelie Bar
MT10 Rival Chassis Rear
MT10 Method Wheels
MT10 Rival Chassis Front

Our Test Drive

We cracked ours out of the box and got it immediately onto the skate park. The MT10 Rival never had a chance to do any tame driving; we had ours headed for the clouds straight away! The radio is comfy to use and getting the truck set up is easy. There is a T-connector on the ESC and it takes 2S and 3S power. We used 2S in our testing but will return to the skate park with 3S soon.

The vehicle was plenty fast and the suspension perfectly tuned to handle big air. It’s a lightweight truck and jumps well. The turning circle is rather massive – one of just two things we’d like to change on this machine. It’s forgivable given the price and otherwise stellar performance, but it would have been nice to have a tighter turning circle.

MT10 RTR Package

Air Authority

The other shortcoming concerns flight! That is, when the vehicle is not on the ground at all. When your truck is in the air, you can brake to drop the nose or accelerate to raise it. You can not only ensure you land on the wheels most of the time, but with practice, you can pull off various forward- and back-flips, all with the use of your throttle input. This is what we call ‘air authority’ in relation to controlling the vehicle in the air after a big jump.

The MT10 Rival is 4WD and has big monster truck wheels and tires. This should be a recipe for decent air authority – but this seems to be the one area the MT10 doesn’t quite deliver. Braking to drop the nose was reliably good, but we often found we couldn’t bring the nose up. It just didn’t have the power to generate the sudden wheel speed needed to raise the nose on many jumps.

There are two ways to address this: one is to put heavier wheels and tires on, such as the Pro-Line Trenchers we used on our old Stampede. Those tires weigh a lot more and it gives you ALL the air authority! But with such heavy wheels you then start breaking drive shafts. The better and simpler way will be to go to 3S (12V) instead of 2S (8V). This should have the desired effect. We’ll post the follow-up video here when it’s done.

Final Thoughts

The 3300kv motor is a perfect size for this size and weight of vehicle. There’s plenty of punch on tap and battery life is quite reasonable too. The MT10 Rival is easy to drive, takes bad landings and other abuse very well and looks great doing it. We heartily recommend this as a budget, big-name, durable basher. Go grab one, you won’t be disappointed!

 

Manufacturer’s page: https://www.associatedelectrics.com/teamassociated/cars_and_trucks/RIVAL_MT10/RTR/

MT10 Front-Under
MT10 Chassis Uncovered
MT10 Rear-Under
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Remo Hobby 10275 – World’s Cheapest 1/10 Crawler?

Remo Hobby 10275 – World’s Cheapest 1/10 Crawler?

The Old Adage

The Remo Hobby 10275 is interesting for its features and price. There’s a real promise of value in this most budget of 1/10 scale RC crawlers – IF it performs! There’s an old adage in the motoring world that goes, “fast, cheap and reliable: pick two”. Apply it to RC crawlers and it may be something like, “capable, cheap and reliable: pick two”. The Remo Hobby 10275 may be attempting to cover all three of these measures – and honestly, on paper, it looks like there may be something to it.

Remo Hobby 10275 Top-Down

Trust, But Verify

As always, we test our 1/10 scale rock crawlers on our 6-problem course. This gives a decent, broad-level indication of performance relative to others. We’ll get to performance in a bit. First, let’s take a closer look at what you get when you buy a new Remo Hobby 10275.

Remo Hobby 10275 Unboxed

What’s In the Box?

Aside from the car itself, there’s a radio transmitter, manual USB charger, 1500mAh Li-ion 7.4v battery and a handful of basic tools and spare body clips. The manual is pretty good, for a cheapie. It includes basic operations, troubleshooting steps, exploded parts diagrams and a list of spares and upgrades available for the vehicle. The package is well assembled, protects the vehicle nicely and is attractive. This is about as nice as one ever might expect of cheap RC vehicles – five stars on inclusions and packaging here.

Remo Hobby 10275 Transmitter

Power Play

The radio transmitter requires just two AA batteries. You’ll need to supply these yourself, but that’s the only thing you’ll need to bring to this party. Remo has you covered for the rest. The Li-ion USB charger is slow but it’ll get the job done in a few hours. The Li-ion battery is made of two 18650 cells and is appropriate for this type of vehicle. As far as power and charging is concerned, this is a well-rounded package.

Remo Hobby 10275 Manual EPD

Assembly Required?

The wheels are not attached to the vehicle in the box. There are spacers on the axles to ensure the metal wheel hexes and drive pins remain in place, so you’ll have to remove them. Also note the tires are directional, so pay attention to that when putting the wheels on. The wheels are plastic, three-part bead-lock design with 5 self-tapping screws each. It’s easy to get the tires mixed up – evident in the photo below! – but otherwise, that’s it for assembly. Easy!

Remo Hobby 10275 Front Axle

About the Vehicle

The Remo Hobby 10275 has steel chassis rails and fibre-infused plastic spacers throughout. There is a standard 4-link design with plastic links with nylon ball ends on each end of the vehicle. The servo is chassis-mounted, with no panhard, so steering is imprecise and worsened when suspension is articulated. With a 4-link setup, you’d want the servo mounted on the axle itself rather than on the chassis in order to preserve steering accuracy and full throw. We modified ours after initial testing – more on that below.

The driveshafts are plastic, telescoping universals with E-clips holding the unis together. They’ll be strong enough on this vehicle to never need replacing, we think. There are unshielded ball-bearings are the pinion end of the diffs and brass shims on the rest of the vehicle. Though this is seen often as a negative, for this cheap, lightweight rig, shims could well be a good thing. They don’t seize up as readily after exposure to mud and water – something to consider!

Remo Hobby 10275 Chassis

Remo Hobby 10275 Suspension

Suspension on all corners is plastic bodied, oil-filled shocks with metal caps and coil-over springs. The springs are too firm for the low weight of the rig, but the shocks do not leak and some articulation is still possible. We modified ours after the initial rock test – again, we’ll cover mods in a bit.

Remo Hobby 10275 Shock

Body & Lights

The body is a single-piece, polycarbonate shell with through-holes for body posts and basic stickers applied on top. Our unit’s stickers were not applied with much care and things are poorly aligned in several spots. This is forgivable, given the low price of the model, we think. There are light buckets at each end for 2x 5mm white LEDs up front and 2x red LEDs in rear.

Remo Hobby 10275 Body

Remo Hobby 10275 Electronics

The company claims the Remo Hobby 10275 sports a 40A ESC (Electronic Speed Control). Under moderate throttle, our unit kept cutting out with the included 390 motor and stock gearing. We suspect the ESC is more likely to have a limit of somewhere around 20A, but this is unconfirmed. There is a way to address this – we’ll cover this in the Mods section, below.

The radio system is integrated with the ESC, along with a 5V 2A BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) that powers the steering servo. This 3-in-1 device has a single Futaba-style plug for the 3-wire servo and another micro-JST plug that outputs 3V to power LEDs. We installed a set of LEDs in ours and they powered perfectly from this second port, which is otherwise unused in the default configuration.

The radio transmitter is small in the hand but will suit kids very well. There’s a 50% throttle limiter button on the radio, as well as steering trim and steering dual-rate dials. It’s a basic unit but fine for this vehicle.

Steering

The Remo Hobby 10275 gets an entire section for steering, and that is unfortunately not for good reasons! The trim and dual-rate dial system on the radio creates an unnecessarily low limit to steering end-points. There is more throw available in the throttle than what the radio allows, in other words.

We tested this by maxing out the dual-rate dial first, then steering fully left and/or right, then holding the wheel and adjusting the trim further in that same direction. For both left and right we found there was more throw available in the servo. There’s no way to fix this without replacing the ESC with a discreet ESC and radio receiver, which would also mean a new radio transmitter too. Not ideal given this is possibly one of the world’s cheapest 1/10 RC crawlers – there will not be a budget for all that in most cases, we’d think. This is especially unfortunate given the CMS (Chassis Mounted Servo) and 4-link front setup already limit steering and so the car needs every bit of throw it can get from the servo!

Remo Hobby 10275 Servo

Fit For Purpose?

This is a very cheap RC car. It’s certainly not a bad vehicle – just search the web for “cheapest RC car” or “best cheap RC car” and you’ll find many blog and store sites loudly proclaiming how good this or that cheap model is. In our experience, most of these “best cheap” models really aren’t so good.

The Remo Hobby 10275 gets really close to being a good choice for bargain-basement 1/10 RC crawling. The electronics and components are not terrible! There are imperfections and limitations by design and everything is made to a price. Much is forgivable at this price-point.

However – and this is the kicker – the Remo Hobby 10275 is not a rock crawler in its stock form. The ESC cutting out is an issue, as is the poor steering and low traction. There’s a poor drag brake and a throttle delay when changing directions. See all of this in our video series below:

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Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

What Is It Good For?

All is not lost with this model! For all the challenges we found with rock crawling, keep in mind that we tested this vehicle on the same course that challenges vehicles costing fully ten times this amount! The car is durable in its stock form and materials used are fully appropriate for its intended purpose.

Yes, it’s a poor rock crawler. But it will make a fabulous backyard basher. It’ll handle puddles and creeks and it’ll deliver fun while doing so! The light weight and bouncy suspension combined with the tall-ish gearing and fast 390 brushed motor mean this thing is a hoot on bumpy ground.

Remo Hobby 10275 Mods

Keeping in mind this is a very cheap new RC crawler, any changes we’d make to this model need to be low-cost. We can’t just rip out all the electronics and replace them with high performance gear and do the same with wheels and tires. That would defeat the purpose entirely!

No, for the Remo Hobby 10275 we want only to change or upgrade things whilst keeping the price as close to $0 as possible. We wanted to lower its center of gravity, slow it down, improve its steering and address that ESC cut-out issue. We managed to achieve all of this for about $15!

Remo Hobby 10275 Crawling II

Our Verdict

For the price, we think the Remo Hobby 10275 will deliver on both longevity and fun, particularly in the hands of kids. For this purpose, we recommend it. However, if you’re after a rock crawler first and foremost, look elsewhere.

Where To Get It

We have a 10% discount coupon available care of Banggood, who also graciously supplied us with the Remo Hobby 10275 for review and testing.

Remo Hobby 10275 Underneath
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Traxxas TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler

Traxxas TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler

Traxxas TRX-6 Flatbed Hauler (#88086-4)

The Traxxas TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler is nearly here! But this isn’t the start of the story. About two years ago, Traxxas released a limited run of the TRX6 called the ‘Snap-On Hauler’. It was only available through a special Snap-On promotion. The big red rig was covered online and saw a few YouTube videos, but it never had a retail release.

It seems Traxxas was sitting on their designs and molds from that Snap-On run. For whatever reason, they’ve waited until now to release it to retail. And so, finally, this 6×6 hauler has been announced and we’ll see it on shelves within the month. Woohoo!

How Big Is the TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler?

The TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler is a truck cab with a flatbed for hauling. To give you an idea of size, the front-to-rear axle on the TRX6 6×6 G63 Benz is 454mm/17.87”. The new model is based on the TRX-6 platform, but its front-to-middle axle is 471mm/18.6”! That is to say, the gap between front and rear axles on the older Benz is smaller than the gap between the front and middle axles on the TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler! Blimey!

The tray, or flat bed, is rather long. 584mm/23” long, in fact! Between the low-set side rails is a gap of 222mm/8.75”. The total width of the bed is 246mm/9.7”.

The entire rig is 953mm/37.5” from nose to tail – that’s just about a meter! The track and total vehicle width is the same as the TRX6 G-Wagon, at 249mm/9.8” front and rear. We have yet to get firm details on the approach, break-over and departure angles, as Traxxas’ site for this monster still list the TRX6 G-Wagon angles – clearly that can’t be the same, with such a long bed and gap between front and middle axle. We’ll update this when the numbers are available. The whole thing weighs 4.83kg/10.7lb, as opposed to the TRX6 Benz’s weight of 4kg/8.8lb.

TRX6 Hauler Specs Front
TRX6 G63 Specs Front
TRX6 Hauler Specs Side
TRX6 G63 Specs Side

Just What Is This Thing?!

This new release is all about the truck cab and flatbed, complete with running lights and shiny, black-chrome trim. Truck style wheels, fuel tanks, toolboxes and bumpers, the TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler is very attractive, even if this style of RC vehicle is not your usual thing.

The new, big rig has a few key differences underneath, if you’re wondering: the total wheelbase is considerably longer at 603mm/23.7” than the regular TRX6 wheelbase of 454mm/17.9”. There’s a ball-bearing carrier between rear transmission out-drive and middle axle. That extra drive shaft helps the TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler achieve its longer wheelbase without needing other changes to the TRX6 configuration.

Also different are the tires, though they’re still on 2.2” wheels, same as on the TRX6 Benz. All else is body and trim related, which we’ll cover below.

What’s New?

Aside from the lengthened driveline, there are truck-style wheels and bumpers. A full light system, including running lights on the tray. The bold new truck cab body and flatbed towing tray.

There are small details, too, such as the front portal hubs having extended axles to fit the chromed hub caps. The tires are the same size, tread and compound as on the TRX6 Mercedes, but the side-walls are distinctly truck-like in their lack of detail, aside from the Traxxas logo.

The cab itself is a little taller than the G-Wagon variant. The side mirrors are hinged, but their faces are covered with a non-reflective sticker. Minor detail, but worth noting if you care about that stuff (and you can buy reflective sticker sheets cheaply online). Speaking of decals and disappointment, the front and side grille detail on the cab body are all stickers/decals rather than moulded plastics – a small thing, but a shame, nonetheless. The windows also are blacked-out stickers and the body has been painted over those windows on the inside, so even removing the stickers won’t grant you a view to any interior you might install later.

TRX6-6X6-Chassis
TRX6-Hauler-Chassis-3qtr-Front

What’s the Same?

Both the original TRX6 and the new Ultimate RC Hauler share much of the same running gear. This is still very much a ‘full-fat’ TRX vehicle. The same two-speed transmission is present, as are the lockable/unlockable diffs on all three axles. The front axle can be locked separately to the rears. The same Titan 21T reverse-rotation 550 brushed motor is present, running from the same Traxxas XL-5 HV ESC (Electronic Speed Control). Even the same light control hub, Traxxas 8028, is present, piping 3V 0.5A power to the LEDs on and around the body.

The tires look a little different on the sidewalls, but they’re still the same 2.2” CANYON RT rubber as found on the regular TRX6. The steering servo is unchanged also, being the Traxxas 2075X 125oz unit. All electronics run at 6V, supported by the built-in BEC (Battery Elimination Circuit) in the XL-5 HV ESC.

Underneath, the links, shafts and axles are the same high-durability units as found under the TRX6, that extra shaft and carrier bearing aside. There’s still a full-size battery tray with battery latch and the same plush 90mm GTS aluminum shocks are present on all axles.

It’s Bed Time!

The bed is moulded ABS plastic. It’s attached at 8 locations along the 30” chassis rails and has a tidy sidewall underneath that sits on top of the rails. It looks solid and has a pleasing texture on the bed itself, with the Traxxas logo inlaid. The bed doesn’t roll or tip, unfortunately – but the space is definitely there for enterprising hobbyists to either implement a tip or roll system, or even simply to add ramps that could hook into the end for drive-on/drive-off. The bed also features hard plastic side rails and utility loops.

There are a few locations to fit included wheel chocks, which are supplied with stretchy O-rings to fit over tires of whatever vehicle you may choose to carry. This will ensure a secure load even when the going gets bumpy. It’s a small but thoughtful inclusion and a rather elegant way to accommodate a variety of possible vehicle types.

Lastly, there’s an included winch plate that will allow you to fit any regular style RC winch to the front of the bed. As it doesn’t tilt, it’s purpose is somewhat diminished, but the inclusion is still thoughtful for the scale addition and will also be appreciated by the aspiring hobbyist with plans to incorporate a tilt mechanism or ramps (hello!).

88086-4-TRX-6-Flatbed-Hauler-Tire-Bands-Detail
88086-4-TRX-6-Flatbed-Hauler-Winch-Detail
TRX6 Hauler Underneath

Black Chrome is Cool

All the shiny bits on this new rig are finished in what Traxxas calls “black chrome”. It’s like regular chrome, but tinted. The plastic pieces have the finish, as do the bumpers (which look metal but are going to be plastic as well). There are diamond-plated, chromed steps on both sides of the cab, set into faux fuel tanks. Even the storage boxes get the treatment – they don’t open, but they look good.

The wheels even have this finish. It’s very smart and very ‘truck’. Looks great, doesn’t it! One thing that would be nice to consider adding could be dual wheels on the rear two axles. Traxxas already makes that extended outdrive for the front axles to reach that screw-on hub cap, so we’ve got to wonder whether we might be able to grab one of the dually-ready 1.9” wheel types (AsiaTees has a few to choose from, including the Pro-Line Carbine plastic set) and get even more scale with this thing. We’ll investigate that and get back to you.

Light Me Up

The new Traxxas TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler sports a total of 25 LEDs! They’re located:

  • In the headlights, with one bright, cold-white LED in each headlamp bucket.
  • In the front light cluster, with one orange parker on each side.
  • On the cab roof, with 5x orange running LEDs in chrome-lined light moulds.
  • On the tray side, with 2x orange and 1x red LED along each side of the bed.
  • On the rear of the headache rack, behind the cab, with 5x rear-facing red LEDs.
  • On the rear bumper, with 5x rear-facing red LEDs.

That’s a lot of lights! They all run from the Traxxas 8028 light control module which comes with the model. The 8028 unit outputs 3v 0.5A to power all the lights without flicker or fade, even when the other electronics are working hard. (Some models run their LEDs from the BEC, which leads to the lights flickering with voltage droop when the servo is working hard, for example. No such problem with the Traxxas setup. Awesome!).

Wiring under the tray and under the cab is super tidy. Cable ties are used and there are guide pieces to ensure the wiring is routed tidily throughout.

TRX6 Hauler Crawling

Do We Like?

We do like. Very much!

We’ll grab a unit and check it out as soon as its broadly available. We already have plans for a tilting tray and even exploring adding an extra axle to the rear. There’s an overflowing parts bin here that we’ll take a dive through – the TRX6 Ultimate RC Hauler is surely worthy of some time on the work bench, we think!

The USA-market asking price is only $20 over the older TRX6 model. For all its shortcomings – stickers, static bed, opaque windows – the truck is greater than the sum of its parts. This is a compelling vehicle and we are genuinely excited to get this one onto the bench and then out into the world. Nice one, Traxxas!

Links

Find Traxxas’ page for this new rig here: https://traxxas.com/products/landing/trx-6-flatbed-hauler/

The TRX6 G63 page is here, for comparison: https://traxxas.com/products/landing/trx6-g63/

Keep an eye on our YT channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/rc-tnt) for when our TRX6 video drops. We’ll add it to our TRX6 playlist when it is ready. Can’t wait!

88086-4-TRX-6-Hauler-Red-HRT-7975
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 1/14 Brushless 4X4 Buggy

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 1/14 Brushless 4X4 Buggy

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 – Cheap & Cheerful?

Relative to other brushless fare in this scale, the Rlaarlo SDKJ-006 is cheap! The value seems to get even better when you consider the buggy’s carbon fiber chassis and quality shocks. Excluding battery, the Rlaarlo buggy weighs just 923g (or 32.5 oz). This makes for a compelling buy at first glance.

Yes, it certainly looks good on paper. Fast steering, light weight for its type, four wheel drive and full metal drivetrain. So, what’s the catch? Join us for a closer look as we try to find out!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 top-down

What’s In the Box?

Let’s start with what you get for your USD$199.99 (use 15%-off code RCTNT here for further discount).

  • Rlaarlo #XDKJ-006 1/14 Brushless Buggy RTR
  • Radio Transmitter
  • 2800mAh 2S LiPO battery & USB charger
  • Accessories bag with foam bumper, spares & tools:
    • 1 x Front Bumper
    • 4 x Suspension Arm
    • 4 x Wheel Hub Kit
    • 2 x Dogbone
    • 4 x Body Clip
    • 1 x Wrench
    • 1 x Screwdriver
    • 1 x USB Cable
    • 1 x User Manual

Packaging is the same as what you’ll find in the 144001 and similar models. There’s no plastic aside from bags for the spare parts. All else is cardboard, which is great to see.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Box Contents

The Rlaarlo’s Power System

In an email, Rlaarlo told us the XDKJ-006 is the brushless version of their brushed XDKJ-001 model. The 001 is essentially a clone of the 144001 – not necessarily a bad thing. The motor is a 3200kv 2847 sized motor, with a max rpm of about 40,000 (that’s 3200 multiplied by the full-charge voltage of a 3S LiPO battery, 12.6v).

The ESC is a 45A unit that supports 2S and 3S batteries and is splash-proof (we tested that!). Whilst the ESC has a cooling fan along with overheat and overcurrent protection built-in, both it and the motor will run better and longer on a 2S battery. Lower voltage means less heat. It also means a longer run-time for the same rated capacity battery – and this buggy is plenty fast on 2S, honestly! We’d recommend keeping to 2S batteries unless you’re doing the odd speed run.

Let’s Talk Speed

Rlaarlo has made a few claims about this vehicle’s top speed. So, while we’re talking about speed, we should address some of their claims. On Rlaarlo’s website, the vehicle is advertised as being able to do “90KM/H+”. On the box itself is a sticker that says “100KM/H (on 3S battery)”. Bold claims indeed!

That said, we’d think the high 80s (50mph+) should be possible on 3S power and in ideal conditions – smooth road, no headwind, etc. The low-mid 60s (35-40mph) may be possible on 2S power. These are real-world estimations after having driven this thing on a track and on sealed road.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006

Theoretical Max Speed

Rlaarlo has this claim on their website: “Max 80KMH on 2S battery, 90KMH speed potentials on 3S battery”. From a theoretical perspective, this cannot be correct. Here’s why: remember above where we discussed RPM and motor kv? The unloaded speed of a motor at any given voltage is a function of its kv rating. In this case, a 3200kv motor has a definite maximum RPM of 26,880 with a fully charged, 2S LiPO battery (that’s 8.4v multiplied by 3200kv). That same motor has a maximum RPM of 40,320 with a fully charged, 3S LiPO battery (3200kv x 12.6v).

A 3S battery has 1.5x higher voltage than a 2S battery. We know that motor speed is a function of motor kv and battery voltage. Therefore, the max RPM on 3S should be 1.5x higher than on 2S. Let’s see: 40,320 / 26,880 = 1.5. Great, our numbers are correct! Now let’s get to what that means for our purple buggy vs physics!

XDKJ-006 Power System

Real-World Top Speed

Let’s say the car really can hit 80KM/H on a 2S battery (spoiler – it will top out at 60 to 65km/h). If it really could do 80km/h on 2S, it should be able to do a theoretical maximum of 120km/h (75mph) on 3S (remember, that’s 80km/h times our 1.5 multiplier). This is setting aside air drag, vehicle stability, effective radio control distance and being able to keep the front tires down. But if 2S will deliver 80km/h, we really should at least see 100km/h though, right? The box sticker says so, after all!

What’s the top speed of the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006? You could reasonably expect 60km/h (37mph) on a 2S battery and maybe, maybe 90km/h (56mph) on a 3S battery. Real world variables will harm these potentials – surface, temperature, air speed, and so on. Would the motor and ESC handle the required current draw for such speed runs? We’d think it would be okay if you did it once or twice. Drive on 3S regularly and ESC and/or motor burn-out will be likely.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Rear Wing

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Running Gear

That’s the electronics out of the way. What about the drive-train that has to get all that juicy brushless power down to the road? Rlaarlo claims ‘powder cast’ metal gears. We’re pleased to report at least that this powder casting system seems to be much better than the pot metal mold and cast process that was so common in the hobby over years past. We’ve had a similar experience with the RGT Rescuer gears, recently. It turns out their gears are actually quite strong – here’s our recent Q&A post about that. The gears in the Rlaarlo look to be of similar quality. Awesome!

All gears in the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 are powder metal – the new, stronger kind, not that older pot metal casting. The drive shafts and axles are all steel and the front CVDs and dog bone axles and cups are all of stainless steel as well. Ball bearings are metal throughout, though unshielded. For a cheaper vehicle that packs brushless power, all of this is good. You might break something eventually, but it’ll be a LOT stronger than the ‘cheapie’ cars of just a few years ago. Double awesome!

The 006’s Radio System

Things are a bit less rosy when it comes to the radio transmitter. As we said in our video review (embedded further down this page), the radio looks like the FlySky Noble’s ugly younger sibling. It clearly has design cues from the Noble, which is a gorgeous transmitter, by the way, but it misses the mark. For our grown-up hands it was cramped to use. The dials are minimal but functional and the unit takes 3x AA batteries, which is good to see. Range is sufficient for the vehicle’s size and steering was predictable.

Probably our least favourite element of this radio is the throttle feel. The first half of the throttle trigger’s pull gives nearly no feedback from the car – it starts rolling, but only just. It’s as if there’s a high degree of exponential programmed into the radio. The second half of the trigger pull gives very rapid response – so rapid that on any surface other than carpet or bitumen, you’ll spin the wheels and then spin out! We’d love to see that expo effect dialled back – you’ll need to replace the radio system and ESC entirely for that. Worth it? Maybe, maybe not. (But if you do it, consider the FlySky GT-5, which comes with the gyro-equipped FS-BS6 receiver, and the HobbyWing QUICRUN 16BL30 ESC.

XDKJ-006 Radio System

Electronics

As with other cheaper 14-scale buggies, the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 comes with an all-in-one radio receiver, ESC and BEC. It features a cooling fan and a spare port for another cooling fan for the motor and a simple button-press for power. The BEC outputs 5V 2A, which is sufficient for this vehicle. The servo is a 3-wire, 1.7kg unit and has plenty of speed and sufficient strength to turn the buggy, even on rough terrain.

The motor got warm on 2S running, but far from hot. If you decide to run just on 2S with this buggy, the entire electronics package should reward you with long and reliable life. Ours hasn’t missed a beat – so far!

There’s an included 2800mAh 2S battery. Note, the battery capacity seems to be labelled with the same enthusiasm as the buggy’s top speed. We think it is more likely to be about 1500mAh, based on charged capacity and runtime, compared to various other 1000mAh, 1500mAh and 2200mAh 2S batteries we have here.

XDKJ-006 Open Chassis

Road Character

The buggy accelerates best on high-traction surfaces. It holds a straight line at speed and brakes well. The tires hold on sharp turns on bitumen and the plush suspension can be firmed for road use with stiffer shock oil if you so desire.

Acceleration on 3S power is where things go a bit wrong. The buggy’s short wheelbase and low-ish kv motor means there’s a lot of torque on tap. 3S power on flat surfaces is really where that exponential feel we discussed earlier may be a strength – the only time it’s welcome, really! You’ll want to bring the throttle on gradually, as the buggy can wheelie even when its already travelling at speed.

The best advice we can offer after driving this thing for a while is to keep it on 2S power. The buggy is happiest at 8v rather than 12v. You have less undesired wheelies, lower heat, longer runtime and better overall handling at 40mph and below. Stick with 2S and you’ll get a lot of value from this buggy.

XDKJ-006 Suspension & Steering

Offroad Handling

How does the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 handle off-road? Not well, at least, not in stock form. The rear bottoms out too much. The tires spin, struggling for traction on clay and dirt surfaces. The shorter wheelbase only adds to the twitchiness.

There is hope, however. We swapped the rear shock oil for 45wt. and dialled in the pre-load on the rear to about 70%. We dialled the front to about 20%. Lastly, we packed the rear diff full of moly grease, inducing an LSD (Limited-Slip Diff) effect. All of this worked together to increase the available traction on bumpy and slippery surfaces. The buggy certainly still suffers with a short wheelbase, but it’s a lot better than in the stock configuration at least!

Check out our short ‘Three $3 Fixes’ video for more detail on that:

How’s It Jump?

The buggy is well balanced. It gets a little unsettled on bigger jumps, but with 4WD and brushless power, there is ample air authority if you get the throttle inputs right. If you accelerate whilst in the air, the nose comes up. If you brake, the nose drops. It’s all fairly predictable and this is one satisfying part of the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006’s design.

The balance is well distributed on all four wheels, too. We found it consistently landed flat and even if you get out of control in the air, there is time to recover and land with grace. It’s not amazing, but for a cheap, short wheelbase buggy, it’s pretty good!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Big Jump Sequence

Is the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Waterproof?

It’s splash proof. We tested that with a watering can and then a garden tap. No problems there, the 006 took all the water in stride and kept going. Puddles might be an issue, but for rain driving at least, the news is good. You can get it wet. Just don’t go swimming with it.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Water Test

It’s Cheap. How’s the Quality?

Overall, it feels cheap. But it performs like it’s more expensive than it is. Be aware that the carbon fiber chassis has its limits and you absolutely can break this model if you abuse it. There is an alloy chassis available and Rlaarlo sells replacement and upgrade parts (here: https://rlaarlo.com/collections/xdkj-011-parts-amp-replacements).

For the asking price, we’d rate it as Good Enough. The alloy model is a little cheaper than the carbon fiber model and it might last a bit better. For the extra weight, the added durability may make sense to you. We received our unit from the manufacturer to test and review, but if we were buying it ourselves (as we’ve done for most of our RC garage here), we’d probably go for the alloy one.

The dogbone cups will wear out. The servo will die. The front shock mounts will break after a few bad landings. But all of this is par for the course on even expensive RC buggies. For what you pay, this machine is definitely good enough. Not great, but absolutely satisfactory.

After-Sales Support

Rlaarlo have a catalogue of parts available from launch day for this buggy. They also claim parts compatibility with the 144001, brushed power system aside, obviously. This bodes well for the model’s longevity.

What we don’t see on their site yet is the all-in-one ESC-receiver-BEC unit. We emailed today to ask about that and they’ve said they’re available. We’ll also note that if you have an electronic failure outside of warranty, and/or if you want to upgrade for better radio features or other reasons, the FlySky and HobbyWing combo we covered above wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

Certainly, you’re covered for breakages, then. We’ll repeat ourselves here to recommend that you run this thing on 2S power. You’ll reap the benefit of a more controllable buggy, longer run time and lower wear and tear. For the Rlarlo XDKJ-006, 2S is the sweet spot.

XDKJ-006 Included Accessories

Is It Worth Buying?

If you like the WLToys 144001 and similar buggies and the idea of a brushless version appeals, then the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 should be on your short-list. You should be aware that the LC Racing EMB models are far and away better in quality and performance, but they’re also 33% more expensive than the XDKJ-006 here.

We’ve tried to frame the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 as a half-way point between the brushed 144001 and the brushless EMB-T (or the EMB-1 for similar money). The performance and quality is about right for the price, relative to these vehicles. And to be fair, to get anything like this kind of performance even just a few years ago would have been easily twice the money it is today.

With that in mind, this one is easy to recommend. What do you think? Check out our video review below where we make this comparison and even compare the EMB with the Rlaarlo on our rocky track. See what you think!

Where To Get It

Grab yours here, direct from manufacturer: https://rlaarlo.com/?ref=uDkKyZb6JFa7v

Our thanks to Rlaarlo for providing an XDKJ-006 for our review and testing, and especially for welcoming our proviso that the review would be honest, even if that meant it might be negative. That was an integrity move.

The Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good – and for the asking price, that’s not a bad deal!

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Element RC Enduro Ecto Trail Truck RTR

Element RC Enduro Ecto Trail Truck RTR

Element RC for Fun

If you are returning to the world of RC (Radio Control) after some years, you’ll be familiar with Associated Electrics (AE). You may not be so familiar with one of their newer brands, Element RC. AE is known for its off-road racing heritage, going back to the slot car era from 1965. Meanwhile, Element RC is a more fun and family focussed brand with community and exploration as core concepts rather than AE’s trophies and podiums.

Reedy Power is another AE brand. This covers motors, speed controls, batteries, chargers, servos and accessories. Under the one umbrella, AE can deliver a complete in-house package in the Element RC Enduro platform. And that’s what we’re looking at today.

Ecto Top-Down

The Elemental Platform

In recent years, Element RC has run on a single flexible platform known as the Enduro. There’s a current kit option in the Enduro Trail Truck Builder’s Kit 2. The rest of the range is RTR (Ready To Run) and models are differentiated by modular options of body, suspension, axle type and wheelbase.

We’ve reviewed and enjoyed the very capable Sendero HD, a trail truck with a scale body and live axles at each end. The Knightrunner is another interesting unit, also a scale trail truck but with IFS (Independent Front Suspension). Rounding out our collection is the Gatekeeper with its rear trailing arms and anti-roll bar.

At the heart of all these models is the same StealthX transmission, which provides drive to front and rear axles and a mid-mounted motor over the skid plate. The StealthX transmission features a 5.7% overdrive output to the front axle. Also, all Enduro vehicles include an additional gear set that grants 11.83% overdrive to the front instead of the default 5.7%. The vehicles all ship with a steel C-rail chassis, 5-pole motor, waterproof & metal geared steering servo, a Reedy brushed ESC and the XP-130 radio system. It’s a solid platform that allows a variety of implementations for different effects on the trail and rocks.

Gatekeeper & Ecto
StealthX Overdrive Gearing

Element Ecto Chamber

Given how similar the two vehicles are, our experiences with the Gatekeeper are going to be quite relevant to our expectations of the Element Ecto’s performance. We had a very good experience with the Gatekeeper when we tested it a few months ago. It was a very capable machine, if a little top-heavy with that hinged exocage on top. (Check out our GK series here on YouTube). With the modular design of the Enduro platform in mind, the Ecto would appear to be very similar indeed to the Gatekeeper. The only differences that jump out on first inspection are the lighter-weight polycarbonate body and the straight links, rather than the bent links of the Gatekeeper.

Both Ecto and Gatekeeper use the same Reedy 14-turn, 550-size brushed motor and other electronics. Gearing is the same and the trailing-arm rear suspension are identical too. The bent links of the Gatekeeper give the CVD joints (Constant Velocity Drive) in the drive shafts a slightly better angle on the Gatekeeper. Other than that, the Ecto appears to be the better-equipped of the two for sheer rock crawling performance – and that’s what we’re interested in.

Suspension Similarities

Fit For Purpose?

We wondered about this when we compared the Gatekeeper to the Axial Capra in a video last year (view that here, if you’re interested). The trailing arm suspension of the Gatekeeper is what we called “go-fast suspension”. Given the suspension choice, the Gatekeeper and Ecto are ostensibly more aimed at rock racing rather than rock crawling – faster rather than slower, technical driving.

However, we found that although the Capra did indeed outperform the Gatekeeper on the rocks, the GK wasn’t far behind. Both vehicles could complete our 6-problem course and the overdrive from the StealthX transmission definitely helped.

Gatekeeper vs Ecto
Underneath Ecto
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Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

Ecto vs Gatekeeper vs Capra

The Element Ecto is lighter than the Gatekeeper. The Axial Capra is heavier than both. The Ecto’s COG (Center Of Gravity) is lower because of that polycarbonate body – the Gatekeeper’s exocage was heavy! We therefore expect the machine to do quite well on the rocks. However, the suspension and faster 14-turn 550 motor still make us wonder. Can it best the Capra on the rocks? The Capra has a DIG (DIsengageable Gear) that gives it quite an edge.

Honestly, we’re not sure. This article is being written during a week-long rain period here locally and while we’ve done a little testing in our review video this week, we still haven’t been able to get the Ecto onto dry rocks for a more precise comparison. Stay tuned for an Ecto vs Capra video soon as well as an Ecto vs Gatekeeper video. We are excited for both and can’t wait to see how they stack up!

Ecto on Rock

What’s in the Box?

Element RC Ecto RTR, XP-130 radio, manual, sticker sheet, spare plastics and body trim. No tools, no battery, no charger. That’s the default box contents. Check out our review (below) to see how we set our rig up in preparation for rock crawling. We’ve left it largely stock for comparison purposes, but even in that configuration we expect it will be a performer. Here’s the full review and initial rock run:

Should You Buy It?

If you’re into this style of body and are looking for a capable rock crawler, then yes – the Element Ecto is for you! If you’re on the fence about the body but still want a capable crawler and you like the Element RC Enduro range, take a look at the Gatekeeper or the Sendero HD. Both are superbly capable crawlers. Aside from suspension and motor turns in the Sendero HD, both share the same reliable and well-designed components of the Ecto.

If you’re after a capable scale crawler and are wondering what else might meet your needs, there are a few other rigs you might consider:

Whatever you choose, the selection available today is better than ever before. Any of these rigs will serve you well. We plan to have some head-to-head action between many of the above vehicles soon, too. In the meantime, the Element Ecto is impressive. Time will tell, but we think it may just be the cream of the Element RC Enduro crop.

More Info

See the manufacturer’s page here: https://www.associatedelectrics.com/element/cars_and_trucks/Enduro/Ecto_Trail_Truck/

Grab one here, shipping is world-wide (and using this link helps support us at no extra cost to you – thank you kindly if you use it)!

Ecto Approach Angle
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Axial Base Camp RTR Crawler

Axial Base Camp RTR Crawler

The Most Basic Yet

The Axial Base Camp is something familiar, yet also quite different. In the third generation of SCX10 vehicles, Axial has released numerous models in both RTR (Ready To Run) and kit form and in varying wheel-bases. To date, we’ve tested and reviewed the Gladiator and more recently, the JLU kit. Both were capable and interesting vehicles and both had Axial’s trick new DIG (DIs-engageable Gear) and 2-speed transmission. Both were Jeeps and both ran Nitto Grappler tires.

No so with the Base Camp, Axial’s latest and cheapest SCX10 ever. But don’t let the concept of ‘budget’ confuse your expectations of performance from this new rig. We expect the Base Camp will be a fixture at social crawls and comp meets for years to come. This thing is cheaper than the other SCX10 IIIs, but ‘premium’ is still its middle name. Let’s dive in!

Base Camp Top-Down Chassis

Axial Base Camp in More Detail

We’ve just completed a detailed review of the new Axial Base Camp. Our unit was the AXI03027T2 RTR – the green one. Rather than going over every section of the vehicle, we’ll take a different tack in this article and suggest you watch our video review. We cover every part of the new vehicle and we test it on our 6-problem course to evaluate its performance. Spoiler: it does not disappoint!

Check the video out here:

Price and Performance

In our recent 4-part upgrade-and-test series, we watched the RGT Pioneer EX86110 go from a middling 1/10 scale budget crawler to a real performer on the rocks – and on a tight budget at that! The Pioneer is 60% the cost of the Axial Base Camp and its performance is right up there with other 1/10 scale crawlers. So, what makes the Base Camp so special?

It does cost more than the Pioneer, it’s true. However, the rig is still cheaper than its other SCX10 III stablemates and the ‘fat’ has been trimmed in just the right places to simplify it, make it more rugged, and to really eke out the performance. In short, it’s out-of-the-box performance blew us away!

Counting Loss as Gain

It’s a fair question, right? Premium though the Axial Base Camp is, we’re still talking about a ‘basic’ rock crawler. It doesn’t have the DIG or the 2-speed transmission of the others. There are not moulded-plastic details adorning the body. No wheel wells, nor hidden body clips. Glued tires fit the Black Rhino rims rather than the beadlock wheels of the other SCX10 III family members. Even the links are a thinner 3.5mm diameter than the 6mm links of the other SCX10 III vehicles.

But that’s only one side of the coin. In listing what’s been lost from the other, more expensive Axial options, there are several things gained in the transaction:

  1. Simplicity – no mini shifting servos to fail (as ours did on the new Gladiator during the first ten minutes!);
  2. Durability – no sliding parts inside the transmission to foul with mud or silt. Just sealed ball-bearings inside a sealed plastic enclosure;
  3. Center of Gravity – with a more basic body and less electronics on board, the weight is lower on the vehicle, greatly enhancing its performance potential;
  4. Body Choices – with the more traditional body posts and adjustable chassis rails, its going to be a lot easier to fit other Lexan bodies to the Axial Base Camp than to other SCX10 variants.

Better Than the Others

There are some new components on the Axial Base Camp that help draw this rig to higher levels of performance than its SCX10 III brethren:

  1. All-aluminum shocks – these are new, oil-filled units with new coil springs to suit. They’re adjustable, give a plush ride and are well-sealed. They cycled smoothly in our testing and are absolutely worth keeping on the vehicle, even if you plan on prepping the Base Camp for pure competition use;
  2. Falken Wildpeak M/T tires – the Nitto Grapplers on the other SCX10 III variants are reasonable performers on dry rock. They’re not so hot on wet rock and dirt, as we’ve found in our tire comparisons last year. The new 4.7” R35 compound tires on the Axial Base Camp are rock stars, at least in the dry (we have yet to test in the wet). So far, we’re very impressed.
  3. Adjustable chassis rails – like the Vaterra Ascender, the wheelbase can be changed on the Base Camp to suit a different body or to tune for comp use. Note, some competition rules (including the RCCA rule-set) may not allow adjustable chassis rails in Performance Scale/Class 2, so you may need to spot-weld the chassis to a locked position to pass muster. Apart from this note, the adjustable rail length is very welcome.
  4. New transmission – this may be a gain or loss, depending on your needs. The new transmission and motor assembly is positioned on the skid plate, keeping the weight nice and low. Also, the new LCXU transmission gives you a reversible drive option to allow for straight axles rather than the AR45 portal axles, making reverse motor rotation unnecessary. A small thing for most – until the day you decide to do the conversion!
Base Camp with SLT3
p

Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

Base Camp Descending Rock

Bottom Line

We’ve tested many crawlers on our 6-problem course over the past year. There aren’t many 1/10 RC crawlers that can finish all 6 problems in stock form. After some modifications, things get a little more interesting. But if a crawler can conquer all 6 in stock form, it’s an impressive machine indeed.

To date, these vehicles have finished all 6 in stock form:

  • Traxxas TRX6 6×6 (did it in the wet!) – video here;
  • Cross RC EMO AT4 (kit build with heavy weighted wheels) – video here;
  • GMade BOM TC (also a kit build, running plastic wheels – most impressive) – video here;
  • Element RC Gatekeeper (kit build with weighted wheels) – video here; and,
  • The Axial Capra (kit build with weighted wheels and DIG) – video here.

That’s the whole list! We’ve tested crawlers from all of the big names and some of the lesser known manufacturers. (All our reviews can be found here). Several rigs have made 4 or 5 of the 6 problems – few get all 6.

Good news for the performance-minded drivers: the Axial Base Camp is RC-TNT 6-Probems Approved™.

We like this truck and if you’re into performance crawling, it’s likely you will too. Recommended.

Base Camp Top-Down Crawling

More Info

Find the manufacturer’s page here: http://www.axialracing.com/products/axi03027t2

Wondering which crawler to get? We have a recent video that covers some of our favourites from the last year. Check that video out here:

Base Camp On Rock
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

FMS Chevrolet K10 1/18 RTR Crawler

FMS Chevrolet K10 1/18 RTR Crawler

FMS Chevy K10

If you’re into American pickups from the 70’s and you’ve been thinking about a smaller scale crawler, your search is over. The FMS Chevy K10 scale RC crawler is a gorgeous, licensed hard-bodied model with moderate performance to match its looks.  It’s an RTR (Ready To Run) and you only need to supply 4x AAA batteries and a USB 5V 2A charger to get going.

FMS Chevy K10

FMS Does Impress

We were recently impressed by the FMS Suzuki Jimny 1/12 model, with its exquisite scale detail inside and out. The FMS Chevy K10 is a little over a foot long and enjoys nearly the same level of detail on its body. The underside is tidy and the interior reasonably accurate, though somewhat more spartan than the Jimny. The price is accordingly lower than the little Suzuki and we think there’s a lot to like in this model. Let’s take a closer look.

FMS K10 Rear Quater

1970s Hard Body

This model is all about the body. FMS makes a few other similar models with the same running gear and different tops. There’s a Hilux and FJ Cruiser, among others. The FMS Chevy K10 here has a lengthened rear to suit the long bed of this classic pickup truck. That means the trailing arms, drive shaft and chassis are longer than the others. This hurts performance, but oh boy, does it look good! Worth the trade off? We think so!

You get a shiny exterior, complete with chrome bumpers, grille, mirrors, and period-correct wheels. Black plastic door handles and wipers add to the scale detail. This thing just looks amazing when it’s rolling outdoors.

FMS K10

Lights!

There is a pair of headlights in the FMS Chevy K10 that are pleasingly round and yellow when on. They have a standard light and high-beam setting. Underneath these, a pair of indicator lights are located just above the bumper. These can be set to flash with the corresponding steering direction like faux indicators, or to be set to ignore steering entirely, or to stay on in hazard-flash mode.

The rear of the tray features red brake lights that light up when the vehicle is in reverse. There aren’t taillights nor brake lights. Reverse lights should be white, but they are red. It’s forgivable, as they look great and aren’t distractingly incorrect; just a little incorrect! The car still looks fabulous.

FMS K10 Headlights

Electronics

The FMS Chevy K10 features a Chassis Mounted Servo (CMS). This setup hides the 1kg servo up and away from the front axle, helping to add to the scale appearance of the rig. There’s an 050 sized brushed motor, lights at each end and an all-in-one ESC, Receiver and Light Controller located in the engine bay area. The 2S 380mAh LiPO battery goes here too, along with the power switch. A 1A USB LiPO balance charger is included with the model.

The ESC is a 20A brushed unit designed to run on 7.6V. Note, no part of this vehicle’s electrics is waterproofed. There are ways to do this without buying different hardware components, but be aware of this break with the current norm in the hobby. Lack of waterproofing aside, it’s a tidy setup and everything works well together. However, the radio transmitter needs a little more explanation – read on.

FMS K10 Electronics

Radio Transmitter

It’s small in the hand and easy to operate. We found the springs under the 4x AAA batteries weren’t stiff enough and the radio would power-cycle and need to reconnect with the vehicle if it was shaken too much. Also, whilst there are many buttons on the transmitter and the appearance of 6-channels (including beeps when pressed), most of the extra buttons don’t serve any purpose with this model.

Confoundingly, there are several features programmed into this handset that do require extra buttons, but instead of using those Ch-3, 4, 5 and 6 buttons, the functions are instead accessed via multi-purpose buttons with the help of a Mode A/B switch. In Mode A, your Throttle Trim and Steering Reverse buttons work as labelled, but in Mode B, your Throttle Trim + button cycles through the light profiles while the Servo Reverse button acts as a steering end-point limiter, cycling through 30%, 50% and 100% of steering range. It’s not an intuitive system – but once you understand these functions, operation is easy enough.

FMS K10 Radio

FMS Donuts

The shiny chrome wheels perfectly suit the K10 body. The axle width is just right, and that soft rear suspension means the rear wheels tuck right up into the wheel well with articulation – it looks just like the real thing! The licensed Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires complete the look for a stunning finish.

In real life we’ve been driving on Cooper tires for years on our 4WD vehicles. The 80-series here ran the Discoverer STTs and the 100-series is currently rolling on the Discoverer ST MAXX variants. We haven’t used the STT Pros before, but the Discoverer range is known for its rock ability, particularly for steep ascents and descents. This is a seemingly perfect match for the intended purpose of this plucky little model. Love!

Cooper Discoverer STT Pro

Shocks, Coils & Links

Coil-over springs around plastic ‘friction’ shocks comprise the suspension on all four corners. The front shocks are nearly upright. The rears are laid forward at around 45 degrees – this ensures they fit under the bed. The laid-over shocks give the rear a very soft, bouncy character. Stiffer springs could help, but ultimately, laid-over shocks at such an angle give a diminished response part-way through articulation. This will compromise handling if you’re carrying anything in the tray, but on the plus side there is plenty of plush movement to help keep wheels on the ground in the slow and rocky stuff.

The links are a different matter. There’s a 4-link setup at both ends. This makes sense for the rear. There is the same 4-link setup in front, which would make sense if there was an axle-mounted servo. However, as this is a CMS vehicle, a panhard rod is required to ensure the suspension can cycle without lateral movement, which would otherwise compromise steering input. A panhard system works best with a 3-link arrangement, comprising one upper link rather than two. Panhard and CMS will work with a 4-link setup, but not so well as with 3-link. We think one of those two upper links should be removed to allow proper and smooth articulation of the front axle. We’ll cover this in more detail in a follow-up video where we address a few minor issues with this vehicle. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, the system works well enough as-is and we were able to enjoy it on the rocks.

FMS Front Underside
FMS Rear Underside

Rock and Roller

Speaking of rocks, we took the FMS Chevy K10 to a favourite local river spot with large, round boulders and long slabs of rock. This is perfect terrain for a vehicle such as this. We enjoyed steep ascent and ascents, steps, side-hilling and (very) shallow water crossings. (Incidentally, the ball-bearings in this vehicle are not sealed. Along with the electronics, you’ll want to avoid water in your adventures whilst in stock form).

Gearing and motor size seem well matched to the intended purpose. The servo has sufficient strength and speed to handle such terrain. The radio was comfortable in the hand and the vehicle’s speed was a good compromise between low-speed torque and high-speed running. This thing will go happily at walking pace and still be able to bog right down on challenging obstacles with sufficient torque to turn the wheels. In a word, driving the K10 is fun.

FMS K10 Cresting Rock

The Verdict

The last FMS model we looked at was the Suzuki Jimny. This was a pleasant surprise, with a great mix of hard-body and scale features and able to deliver a reasonable off-road driving experience. This set the expectation for the Chevy K10 reasonably high.

Did the K10 deliver? We’re glad to report that it absolutely did! If you’re a fan of 1970s square style pickup trucks and you’re interested in a vehicle in this size, the FMS Chevy K10 should be on your short-list. We really like this thing! Check out our video review to see it in action!

Specifications

  • Size: 323.8 x 139 x 130.7mm
  • Tire: D:54.8mm W:19.5mm
  • Wheelbase: 196mm
  • Ground Clearance: 37.7mm
  • Approach Angle: 58.8º
  • Departure Angle: 34.6º
  • Speed: 5km/h Max
  • Remote Control Distance: 80m
  • Smart Lighting Effect
  • Max Climbing Angle: 42º
  • Approx. Runtime: 30mins
  • 2.4GHz Transmitter
  • 2-in-1 20A ESC & Receiver 3 Channel
  • 3Y 1kg Digital Servo
  • 050 Brushed Motor
FMS Side

What’s Included

  • 1:18 CHEVROLET K10 RC Crawler x1
  • Transmitter x 1
  • Receiver x1
  • USB Charger x1
  • Battery 2S Lipo 7.4V 380mAh x1
  • Manual x1
  • Hex Wrench Socket x1
  • Color: Red
  • Package total weight: 1240.00 grams (incl. packaging)
  • Package size: 19.00 x 43.00 x 18.00cm
  • Factory description: FMS 1:18 CHEVROLET K10 1:18 Chevrolet K10 RC Crawler Hard Body (Officially Licensed) RTR
  • Manufactured by FMS
  • Manufacturer number: FMS/11808
FMS K10 Open Box

Where to Get It

We’ve been using AsiaTees for years and now have an affiliate account with our favourite hobby store. If you’re interested, consider using this link helps support us at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

The manufacturer’s link to this model can be found here.

FMS Chevy K10 Box
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

FMS Suzuki Jimny 1/12 4WD RC Crawler

FMS Suzuki Jimny 1/12 4WD RC Crawler

FMS Jimny by ROC Hobby

If you’re into hard-body crawlers and highly-detailed scale, is this the car for you? (Spoiler: yes, yes it is!). Made by ROC Hobby, in conjunction with Eachine, this is the FMS Suzuki Jimny – and it’s gorgeous! The vehicle is branded by official licence from Suzuki Motor Corporation Ltd. This lets the factory bring us scale detail at a pleasing level, right out of the box. Let’s take a closer look!

A Very Scale Model

We recently looked at the Jimny look-alike from RGT. It was a performer (for its size) and it had a lovely scale body. But now we have the FMS Jimny here the RGT is looking decidedly less scale in comparison!

The RGT was a mish-mash of different scale ratios. The track and wheelbase were inconsistent with the full-size vehicle and the body was a different scale again. We covered this in the article and videos for that vehicle – check them out if you haven’t seen them yet.

In contrast, the FMS Jimny is consistent in its overall dimensions, in and out. This does limit its off-road performance, but that’s a feature rather than a bug.

FMS Jimny & Radio

FMS Jimny Specs

  • Scale: 1/12
  • Length: 291mm x Width 135mm x Height: 158mm
  • Weight: 925g with battery
  • Wheelbase: 187mm
  • Ground Clearance: 16mm
  • Departure Angle: 60°
  • Approach Angle: 61°
  • Wheel Diameter: 60mm; Width: 15mm
  • Top Speed: 8km/h (2nd gear); 2km/h (1st gear)
  • Remote control distance: 30 meters
  • Battery charge time: 25 minutes
  • Battery run-time: 20 to 60 minutes depending on drive style & terrain
  • 2.4GHz 4-channel transmitter
  • 3-in-1 ESC, Receiver & Light Controller w/3x 9g digital servos
  • Not Waterproof!
FMS Jimny Open

Scale Exterior

From bumper to bumper, the FMS Jimny sports a stunning array of accurately reproduced scale parts. The bumpers themselves look like the real thing, with integrated lights at both ends. Real mirrored glass adorns the flexible side mirrors. Under an opening hood you’ll find an engine bay filled with faux engine parts – not just a cover hiding the electrics! The battery and power switch live here, too.

The 3 doors open and there is a pleasing amount of scale trim adorning the body exterior. Flip the vehicle over and you’ll find a convincing appearance of the real car underneath, too. Just have a look at this!

FMS Jimny Undercarriage

Let’s Take This Inside

The scale party continues once you open a door and peer inside. The doors themselves have an inner skin with arm rest, non-functional window winder, open lever and map holder. The rear barn-style door also incorporates an inner skin with an approximation of the real thing. There’s also a wire pair visible near the hinges that goes up into the integrated tail and brake light at the top of the rear window – which also has the demister lines across it!

There’s a lidded storage compartment behind the rear seats, which independently fold down. The front seats both fold and slide forward and back. The dash is fully detailed with labelled dials and radio. Best of all, the steering wheel moves in conjunction with the front wheels! Just fit your 6” figurine in the front seat and you’re set for some real fun with suspension of disbelief intact!

A Bright Idea

Part of the appeal of the FMS Jimny is its slick light kit. The 3-in-1 radio-ESC-light controller gives tight integration with throttle and steering inputs, plus a separate channel to change light profiles. There are several settings from which to choose (manual except with light control outline here).

The lights can be found in the front and rear bumpers, the front grille, side quarter panels for indicators and the aforementioned tail-and-brake light in the rear window. The system works very well and adds to the scale experience in day and night driving.

FMS Jimny Grille

Walk and Crawl

With those tiny 60mm tires and limited suspension articulation, you won’t be crawling any major terrain. But that’s okay, as the FMS Jimny is clearly intended to bring you more of a trail drive and light-obstacle clearing experience. The car includes a 180-size motor with appropriate gearing and power for the car’s size and scale nature.

In second gear you get walking speed from the car. That’s just fine for taking it along the trail. Then drop it into first for the harder obstacles and you have a decent little crawler. Limited in tire and suspension, sure, but still quite able if it can get sufficient traction.

FMS Jimny on Rock

Suspension & Geometry

Just like the real thing, the FMS Jimny sports live axles front and rear. There is three-link suspension (ie. with panhard) at each end, which is great for realism but not so much for performance! Again, given this is a scale machine, that is more than forgivable.

There are coil springs on all corners and angled shocks too. The shocks are not oil-filled and really their only purpose seems to be to limit the maximum articulation before the links reach the end of their throw. Without them, the coil springs could pop out. Still, the lack of proper shocks leaves the Jimny to bounce quite a lot on the bumpy stuff. Everything’s built to a price and in this case, the lack of proper shocks seems a logical place for some compromise.

FMS Jimny Front Rear Undercarriage

Battery & Charger

The car comes with a USB balance charger that needs 5V and 2A. It outputs the required voltage range to charge the included 2S LiPO battery via its balance plug – that is, ~6v to 8.4v, at 1A. This means the 380mAh battery should be able to charge in 20 to 25 minutes, which is absolutely fine for a ‘cheap’ included battery system.

Note, the battery charger does not have a Storage charge program, so you want to try to keep this battery at around 7.4v when you’re done with it. For reference, empty is about 6.6v and full is 8.4v, so if you run it for 2/3 of the usual runtime before you put it away, that’ll be much better for it than storing it full or empty. It’s a LiPO thing.

FMS Jimny Engine Bay

Radio & DIP Switches

The little radio takes 4x AAA batteries. It’s comfortable in the hand and the steering wheel has a pleasing and precise spring and movement. There are end point and trim dials for throttle and steering, a 2-way switch for channel 3 (that’s high and low gear) and a button for channel 4 (to cycle through the light profiles).

There is also a set of 4 DIP switches on the top of the unit. These are all two-position switches whose functions are not listed anywhere in the included manual, so here are their functions:

  • Switch 1: driving profile (down is forward/brake/reverse; up is forward/reverse with no brake)
  • Switch 2: battery profile (down is for LiPO with Low Voltage Cut-off; up is for NiMH with no LVC)
  • Switches 3 & 4: drag brake (3 Down 4 Down 25%, 3U4D 50%, 3D4U 75%, 3U4U 100%)
FMS Jimny Radio

Finish & Durability

The FMS Jimny ships in an attractive EPP case. Being a hard bodied vehicle, the protection works well and the car arrives in good condition. Our unit had loose screws in the roof, with one screw out and the second rear one half out. Both of these were easy to screw back in (1.5mm hex driver) with threads intact. Our RHS side mirror was also loose, but that was easily tightened via the screw on the inside of the RHS door.

There was protective film over the windows and the wiring and electronics were tidily installed from factory. The car is designed in such a way that the fixings should not come loose with use, but if they do, everything is accessible without fuss, though you’ll need your own tools. The car will last as long as its driven as intended. Don’t push things too hard with rock crawling or running second gear in hard terrain and everything should serve you well for a long time.

FMS Jimny Roof

The Verdict

Is it a rock crawler? Well, kinda sorta. Is it a trail truck? Also kinda sorta. Scale is the focus here and while there are some interesting bells and whistles like the steering wheel and light system, nothing is waterproof and the tires are not aggressive. The steering servo does have sufficient torque for the model and the motor is well matched to the transmission. Some pros and cons here – so where does that leave the prospective purchaser?

If you like scale and the smaller size of this model appeals to you, definitely pick one up. If you’re after a scale experience in 1/12, you will not be disappointed. However, if you want more capability in the rough stuff but you still want something in this size and with a moderate amount of scale, you might instead want to check out something like the MN86KS or the WPL C44KM. As for us, we’re gonna get this thing out and maybe even improve it a little – we’ll let you know!

Where To Get It

Who makes it: ROC Hobby under the FMS brand

Where to get it: AsiaTees ships globally.

Also available from: Banggood.

FMS Jimny Hood Up
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Axial SCX10 III Kit Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JLU Review

Axial SCX10 III Kit Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JLU Review

The SCX10 III Kit (AXI03007) is a 1/10 scale crawler with portal axles and a polycarbonate body. It has much of the body detail found in hard body or ‘class 1’ rigs.

SCX10 III Front & Rear

It’s A Kit, Bob

A few decades ago, if you wanted a hobby-grade RC truck, you could expect to have to build it before you could drive it. Over the years, there’s been an accelerating trend toward Ready To Run (RTR) models – unbox it, charge the batteries and go.

Today, Axial sells a considerable range of SCX10 III vehicles in RTR form whilst there’s only one option if you want an SCX10 III kit. Axial also offers the SCX10 II Raw Builders Kit if you just want a ‘slider’ on which to build your own custom rig. Both the SCX10 II and III ranges are considerably varied, with at least five models of each.

SCX10 III Kit Box

Experience Where It Matters

Axial have been in the game for many years and their expertise shows in the kit. On opening the box you’re greeted with labelled bags, neatly sorted beneath and within the clear polycarbonate body, some basic tools and fluids and a quality manual.

The company also offers a set of exploded parts diagrams for the SCX10 III kit, freely available online. In short, you’re in safe hands when attempting an Axial kit even if you’re a newcomer to the hobby.

SCX10 III Exploded Parts

Getting’ Prepped

Like many RC kits, you’re going to need to supply your own electronics. This means a 2, 3 or 4 channel radio system, depending on what you want to achieve in this build. Specifically:

  • 2-channel if you only want throttle and steering. You’ll lock out the DIG (DIsengageable Gear) and the two-speed transmission for constant low-speed 4WD operation; or,
  • 3-channel if you only want one of DIG or two-speed control (Axial suggests the Spektrum DX3 radio system); or,
  • 4-channel (or greater) if you want full-function from the SCX10 III kit: throttle, steering, DIG and two-speed (we recommend and used the Flysky GT5 radio system, available here).

You’ll also need an ESC (we recommend the HobbyWing WP-1060 brushed ESC), a motor (we recommend the Holmes Hobbies 15-turn 550 brushed motor), steering servo (we like the jx Servo WP5323LV), waterproof mini servos for DIG and two-speed control (we suggest the PowerHD TR4 units), and your own 2S LiPO or 6 or 7 cell NiMH battery (2000mAh to 5000mAh capacity as needed).

Tools required are 1.5mm, 2mm and 2.5mm hex wrenches, body scissors or hobby knife, needle-nose pliers, tweezers and polycarbonate paint for the body.

SCX10 III with Electronics

Hypoid Gears!

Axial supplies the new 6-bolt locker and hypoid gears from the Capra in front and rear axles. Hypoid gears are good for extra strength and have the added benefit of being quieter than straight-cut teeth. They always have contact with multiple teeth at once, giving that extra strength over the simpler straight-cut designs.

You do need to ensure there’s sufficient lubrication, but the grease you apply at build-time should last a couple of years in regular use. Also, hypoid gears just look cool – do a web image search for ‘hypoid gears’ to see what I mean if you’re curious.

Axial AR45 Portal Axle

SCX10 III Kit Axles

The build begins with the portal axles. You’ll start with the ‘A’ bag, which contains neatly organised smaller bags of parts, sorted by type for easier identification. You will be assembling bearings, gears, shafts, screws, plus larger plastic axle and portal pieces. Axial uses a coding system that guides you through applying lubrication, thread lock, direction of insertion and so on, with the actual build steps intuited by way of exploded parts diagrams.

That may sound intimidating if you’re new to this stuff, but take a look at this picture from the start of our build. Note how you’re only ever putting a handful of parts together at a time, and how subsequent steps follow logically from the previous ones. There will be some challenging steps in the build, but you will hopefully find yourself gaining confidence as you progress. This kind of build is great for building one’s experience and sense of accomplishment – plus you’ll know what’s inside your model, so future repairs, upgrades and maintenance will be things you’re confident to attempt yourself. It’s a great way to get started in the hobby.

SCX10 III Kit Axles

Shafts & Joints

Axial supplies the AR45P universal axles up-front. You don’t get a constant velocity speed at angle to the front wheels, but universals provide greater strength than CVD (Constant Velocity Drive) joins and this is a decision Axial has made consistently for many years: strength first, smoothness second.

Their WB8 HD Wildboar driveshafts are the latest design with larger diameter cross-pin than previous models had. Though they’re plastic, the drive shafts are some of the best plastic units in the hobby and they will be good for everything up to high-level competition (and even then, they’re quite good. We had the previous version Wildboar shafts on a 2.2 Sportsman at the 2018 Worlds in Perth and they were utterly reliable in the harshest conditions this writer has ever experienced – surface temperatures nearing 50 degrees C, long days, tough rocks. Epic!)

WB8 HD Wildboar Shafts

Clicking in Reverse?

Our unit made a weird clicking noise in reverse if under any load. There was also some movement on the pinion shaft from the diff. The pinion was able to move too close to the crown wheel, so a diff between the drive shaft and the base of the pinion shaft cover was needed. We discuss this in our video review (further down the page).

The below image shows where the shim was needed. We put 2x 0.3mm shims on the front shaft and 2x 0.2mm shims on the rear. Note, yours may vary as the need for shims is determined by inaccuracies in the moulding or cutting process at manufacture. Some units may be much better than others and you may not need any shims at all.

SCX10 III Diff Shim

Fenders & Side-Boards

The SCX10 III JLU body’s inner fenders and floor give welcome visual cover to the internals. It can really break immersion to look sideways at a vehicle and see right through the wheel wells into the chassis rails and motor and wires within. The quality plastics on this kit give good cover to that and should be compatible with most bodies of suitable wheelbase.

There are holes ready for rock lights if you so desire, too. A great way to brighten up the rig for evening driving – highly recommended.

SCX10 III Fenders

Shift & DIG

The SCX10 III transmission has all-metal gears throughout and gives you four configuration options:

  1. Most basic, run full-time 4WD, single-speed;
  2. As above, but with DIG (DIsengageable Gear);
  3. No DIG, but now high and low gear selection in full-time 4WD; and,
  4. High/low speed in full-time 4WD, plus DIG.

As it’s a kit, you’ll need to supply your own electronics. Here are the differences in what you’ll need in the above list, depending on how you set it up:

  1. 2-Channel radio system and a steering servo;
  2. 3-Channel radio system, a micro servo and a steering servo;
  3. 3-Channel radio system, a micro servo and a steering servo; and
  4. 4-Channel radio system, two micro servos and a steering servo.

In our unit, we went with option 4. This way we have both a high and low speed selection as well as the DIG component. On that point, here’s how the DIG works:

SCX10 III Transmission

Transmission & Gears

Axial’s transmission design puts the motor up-front, next to the steering servo. The DIG and 2-speed linkages are at the mid and rear points, situated at about the middle of the vehicle, over the skid plate. There are outdrives to front and rear both rotate in the same direction, so torque twist could be an issue. Thankfully, portal axles help minimise the effect, but it’s something to be aware of.

All gears on this model are of cut steel. No cast metal in sight and even the spur gear is steel! This means more noise in the drive-train, but utterly reliable moving parts, electronics aside. This is a good thing.

There are 8 motor mount positions for pinion sizes from 11-tooth to 18-tooth, with the Axial-supplied AX30725 (14-tooth, 32p) pinion being the recommended size to match the recommended 35-turn 540-size motor.

SCX10 III Transmission Ext

Attractive & Adjustable

Even though most folks won’t see it when you’re out wheeling your rig, there are numerous scale features on and around the chassis. In particular, the replica V8 engine (well, most of one), attractive transmission housing and transfer case all cover your motor and look great doing it.

The side boards we mentioned above are adjustable via pre-tapped holes along the chassis. There’s overlap from the fenders, too, so if you lengthen or shorten the vehicle to match whatever body you want to use, you don’t have to sacrifice the attractive finish to do so.

There are also two battery trays, allowing you to fit those larger 4A to 7A packs in the rear or a smaller competition pack on the left side. You’ll find space on the side rails, too, so you have room to fit additional electronics like light controller or an additional ESC for a winch.

SCX10 III Engine Cover

SCX10 III Kit Geometry

The suspension geometry is based on the SCX10 II but refined slightly for the new chassis layout. Here, the front suspension has been optimized to reduce bump steer, while the rear 4-link reduces torque twist. It also helps with steep off-camber climbs by having the proper amount of anti-squat and roll characteristics. The 4-Link system also aids against suspension wrap-up in high power applications. Strong 6mm stainless steel links with high grade plastic rod ends for durability.

Chassis-Mounted Servo (CMS) has become a standard in scale RC and the SCX10 III is designed with that expectation in mind. The servo is mounted in the chassis. CMS brings with it the potential problem of ‘bump steer’. That is, undesirable steering caused by bumps interacting with improper length or angle of suspension and steering links. Axial designed the front suspension in such a way that bump steer is minimised without compromising a decent turning angle of 45 degrees.

SCX10 III Underside

SCX10 III Shocks

This kit includes oil-filled shocks have hard anodized, threaded bodies, a single coil over spring, plus an emulsion-style cap with screw for easier rebuilds. The shocks are tuneable for achieving the best dampening rate. Their increased bore size also creates more fluid volume for better performance.

SCX10 III Kit CMS

Wheels & Tires

The wheels are officially licensed KMC XD Machete bead lock units. They are  made of plastic and have a matt-chrome finish. Quite detailed, they’re 3-piece bead lock wheels, so your tires can be swapped out without worrying about glue. The wheels are lightweight, solid enough and reliable.

Tires are Nitto Trail Grappler in R35 compound. They’re 4.74” x 1.7” wide. Our past testing has shown these are quite good on dry rock, but struggle a bit on dirt and especially poor on wet rock. They’re attractive and they suit the vehicle and the included foams are nicely balanced. Use these until you’re ready for an upgrade, basically. Here’s a bit about the tire performance – the second half of this video goes into comparison with other options:

SCX10 III Tires & Wheels

JL Wrangler Body & Interior

One thing that sets this kit apart from other crawler kits is the attention to detail on the body. The interior is quite complete, cleverly done from a mix of plastic pieces and paintable polycarbonate mould. Stickers are included to help finish the look, so even a simple plain paint job will be enough to look quite nice under the stickers. The interior features a functional roll cage, full dash and steering wheel, 4 seats and even a driver.

The details keep coming on the outside. Axial’s under-body, hidden body clip system is tidy, if a little finnicky to attach. A polycarbonate exterior body comes clear, ready for paint which you must include yourself (grab the Tamiya PS series rattle cans for this job). There are many included pieces: front radiator and light buckets, front hood vents, a front cowl, front windshield wipers, side mirrors, door handles and fuel door. The end result is very smart.

SCX10 III Kit Painted

Vital Statistics

Here are some basic numbers to give you an idea of the size of this thing:

  • Length: 125″ (485mm)
  • Width: 25″ (234mm)
  • Height: 5″ (241mm)
  • Wheelbase: 3” (312mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 3″ (76.2mm)
  • Weight (no electronics): 5 lb (2.9kg)
SCX10 III Kit Unpainted

Rock Crawling Ability

The suspension and geometry of this rig is good. It’s detailed body works against it on the rocks with a higher center of gravity than is ideal. The tires are fine in the dry.

This all adds up to a reasonably capable crawler out of the box (or in this kit’s case, with basic electronics). The best way to give you an indication of this vehicle on the rocks is to refer you to our review video – check that out here:

Trail Characteristics

Things are a little better for the Jeep on the trail. Yes, the tires aren’t the best compared to others, but they’re still absolutely ample and our advice would be to use them until they’re worn and you’re ready for something better. The gear ratio between low and high is too small, or close. Low should be slower and high should be faster. This will be a frustrating point on the trail. You’ll also want to get some lights installed to enhance the realism, if you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s absolutely capable. You can expect to push the car quite hard and it’ll stand up to hard driving, time after time. The SCX10 III kit brings you a very useable trail rig and you’ll be able to keep up with other models – particularly with better tires. It’s fun, durable and handles nicely. That high/low speed issue is really the only sticking point for us.

SCX10 III Side

Decisions, Decisions!

The Axial SCX10 III kit is a worthy unit. If you want to build a kit that can be driven hard and has room for upgrades and modding whilst looking great from day 1, this should on your shortlist.

You might also want to consider these models if you’re looking for a 1/10 scale crawler kit:

GMade BOM TC: Our Review

Vanquish Phoenix Portal: Our Review

Traxxas TRX4 Sport (video)

Overall

All models have their pros and cons, so keep in mind that subjective element of what speaks to you the most. We’re spoilt for choice these days – even doing a ‘what crawler to buy’ article is tough! (Check that out here).

The Axial SCX10 III JL Wrangler kit is a perfect example of just how good we have it in 2022. If you like this one, grab it. You’ll love it!

SCX10 III On Its Side

More Info

We recommend AsiaTees as a great starting point for RC crawlers, parts and upgrades. This is an affiliate link that costs you nothing to use and helps support us in the process. Our thanks for using this, if you do!

Axial SCX10 III Jeep Wrangler JL Kit

Manufacturer’s page: http://www.axialracing.com/products/axi03007

Related: our SCX10 III Gladiator RTR playlist.

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

RGT 136100V3 Rock Cruiser RC-4 V3

RGT 136100V3 Rock Cruiser RC-4 V3

What’s New About the RGT 136100V3?

This is the successor to the budget performer, the RGT 136100 V2 Rock Cruiser. The Rock Cruiser V3 (or 136100 RC-4 V3, or 136100V3) may have a confusing name, but it is still a recognizable evolution of the V2 under the lid. The same chassis and running gear are present, but this is a very different vehicle.

In short, the body is the immediately-obvious update. The body is unlicensed, but it’s easily recognizable. Also, there are a bunch of new plastic pieces adorning the exterior. The lights have gotten a trick overhaul too. There’s a functional spare wheel, a higher turn motor and better suspension. But even all that notwithstanding, the new version brings something special that is largely new to the entire hobby, not just this model family!

RGT 136100V3

It’s All in One, Jim!

The headline change to this model is the integrated ESC, receiver and light controller. There’s a radio transmitter to match and combined, the RGT 136100V3 delivers a very slick driver experience.

The magic is the result of a collaboration between HobbyWing and FlySky. The former specialises in motors and speed controllers, whilst the latter is known for their radio systems. HobbyWing has integrated a FlySky radio system with a 40A brushed ESC that also has a wide range of light control and LED output ports, plus 4 useable channels. It’s quite an impressive device. More on this in a moment.

What’s in the Box?

There’s a 1500mAh NiMH 6-cell battery and a 100v-250v 500mAh wall charger, both with Deans/T-connectors. The battery is secured by hook & loop straps in the vehicle when shipped. There’s a radio transmitter that needs 4x AA batteries – you have to supply those yourself, but that’s the only thing you need to add to get it running. There’s a manual that unfolds into a large sheet of paper. It has exploded parts diagrams on one side and radio and lighting system how-to on the other. There’s also a small bag with front & rear wipers and hubcaps & screws for the beadlock wheels – an optional aesthetic decision for the owner. Lastly, there’s a sticker sheet – the same as the one included with the 136100V2.

RGT 136100V3 Unboxing

Running Gear

The gearbox is a basic, three-gear design. It’s the same design type as the center-mounted transmission you’ll find in the original SCX10 (and in many similar and cloned rigs in the following decade). While the box claims ‘Reverse Drive Transmission’, this is not accurate. The transmission outputs front and rear shafts in the same direction, so torque twist is moderately present in the 136100 V3. It isn’t hugely pronounced and is acceptable. Just worth noting the error in the claimed specs.

The motor is a 25-turn 390 brushed motor. The V2 had a 20-turn motor, which was too fast for the gearing and correspondingly hard on the battery. On the V3, this motor is more suitable for trail and rock driving and is a good match to the stock gearing. No complaints.

The drive shafts have the same steel universals and plastic shafts. They’re up to the task of driving this rig and should last the life of the model. Axles are also tough with steel gears and ball bearings throughout. We noted no slop at either end in the shafts and gears, so out of the box, this part of the vehicle is well-sorted.

RGT 136100V3 Transmission

Wheels & Tires

The Rock Cruiser V2 had white, plastic wheels and tires glued to the rims. While the design suited the body, this was clearly a cheap approach. It suited the budget truck quite well and we had impressive rock performance from the standard tires. For the price, it was most impressive.

The 136100 V3 comes with much higher quality wheels. They’re a 1.9” beadlock design with 6 screws around the outsides to keep them clamped onto the tire bead. The wheels are plastic but they’re attractive and amply strong, both in holding shape and keeping the bead secure. We had no problem with them during testing and they look great.

The tires are a scale-looking, all-terrain tread and the rubber is sticky and pliant on the rocks. Foams are appropriate to the vehicle weight and they really dress up the car. There’s a functional spare wheel on the rear. The donuts are a strength on this car, even given its higher price relative to the V2.

RGT 136100V3 Wheels

Steering

There’s a claimed maximum steering angle of 45°. However, we found that after extending the EPA (End Point Adjustment) on the radio to get that full range of steering, the front-left tire contacted the coil-over preload adjustment collar. When under articulation on the rocks, this had the result of winding the adjustment collar right down, compressing that front-left spring. This unbalanced the whole vehicle. To fix this, you’d either want to run a lick of tape around that adjustment collar or else back off the steering maximum left throw a tad.

The servo is a 6kg waterproof unit with nylon gears. It’s mounted on the axle, so while that isn’t as ‘scale’, the steering performance benefits from the more direct control over the steering arm. The 136100V3 has adjustable front caster angle and the front axles are universal joints rather than CVDs, which helps give that extra angle potential (CVDs max out at around 42° typically).

Our servo failed pretty much from the start of testing. We replaced it with a cheap 15KG waterproof metal geared unit and that was much better suited to this vehicle. Steering was precise and the sticky tires were not a problem for the heavier unit, even on tough rock problems.

RGT 136100V3 Steering

Suspension & Links

Link setup is 4-link at each end. Links are nickel-coated steel with stainless steel ball ends. Articulation is generous for the vehicle type without being excessive. Is the setup an accurate scale replica of the Jimny? No – the full-size vehicle uses a 3-link system at both ends. The real Jimny does have rigid axles and coils at both ends, but the panhard system delivers a better and safer on-road ride while the 4-link system in the RGT 136100V3 is arguably a logical sacrifice to scale detail in favour of better crawling ability.

The shocks themselves are plastic, oil-filled units and the coil-over springs are on the soft side with adjustable pre-load. It’s a plush system overall and it works well with this model. (There’s a pleasing amount of body roll, too – check out our video review at the end of this article to see that. It’s quite fun).

RGT 136100V3 Undercarriage

Body Mounting

The Jimny body attaches without visible body pins. This is a welcome trend in the hobby and we hope to see more of this! Still, not all systems are equal – some can be straightforward while others can be downright frustrating (I’m looking at you, SCX10 III Gladiator). On the RGT 136100V3, there are two pins through body posts underneath the front grille area and the body slips easily onto the chassis mounts.

In the rear is a hinge system that can be unscrewed to fully remove the body – but it opens right up on that hinge, so you should rarely need to do this. The only catch is that the light wires aren’t quite long enough (just an extra 3” or so would be good) to allow the body to fully hinge open. A minor criticism on an otherwise well-executed hidden mount system.

Front Body Mount
RGT 136100V3 Body Hinge

Is It 1/8, 1/10 or 1/12? Yes. Also, No.

RGT’s own marketing material for the RC4 V3 claims they’ve “chosen an off-road vehicle with a relatively historical brand”. Growing up, I loved the Suzuki Sierra (aka. Samauri in other markets) and the new Jimny is a progressive step forward for safety and capability while still retaining that light-weight, short wheelbase design that made its predecessor so beloved for so many years.

However, the body itself is not branded. They appear to have used the design without licensing; we cannot confirm this, but the absence of any branding is telling. The reproduction is pretty good, though the wheelbase, tire & wheel size and overall dimensions are not aligned. Compared to the real 2021 Jimny, this model is roughly a 1/8 scale, though it’s similar in size to other 1/12 scale models. Here’s the thinking behind the 1/8 scale claim, despite this being sold as a 1/10 scale car:

RGT 136100V3 Scale

Light System

This is one of the party tricks the RGT 136100V3 has up its sleeve. While many model crawlers now come with at least basic white/red front/rear lights today, there aren’t as many with a proper light-control system. Indeed, the best light system we’ve found in recent times was in another RGT model, the Rescuer (EX86190) – see our review here for that one.

The light control system in this car is different to that of the Rescuer, however. The Rescuer had its own discrete light control unit, a separate ESC and separate radio receiver. On the RGT 136100V3, all three of these components have been combined into the HobbyWing/FlySky HW-711. That’s just one central hub for all electronics control, from light to motor to steering. This is actually pretty neat, though the execution is a little lacking.

The biggest drawback is the confusing number of wires and how they connect to the HW-711. Ours popped out during filming when the lid got bumped open harder than intended. We found reconnecting the right wires to the right ports was not as simple as you’d think. The wires all have their own numbers on them, yes, but there are multiple ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ wires and it wasn’t clear what went where, exactly. Further, there are a few spare ports on the HW-711 for future additional lights to be added (taillights and roof lights are vacant but possible to add – a good thing in itself). Finding what wire went where was not straightforward, but once everything is where it should be, there’s quite an array of possible lighting configurations you can eke from the system.

Trail Manners

The 25-turn, brushed 390 motor is an appropriate upgrade to the 20-turn motor of the 136100V2. The latter was too fast and drew excessive current, running the battery down too quickly. In the world of brushed motors, more turns means less speed and less power draw, and conversely more torque (to a point). In a 390 size motor, perhaps a 30-turn motor could be even better for crawling, but for trail driving, RGT has nailed it with a 25-turn. There is sufficient speed for walking on a trail behind the car, but enough low-speed control that it’s not as jumpy as the V2 was.

The plush suspension and accompanying body roll is pleasing to the eye. It soaks up the bumps. The motor is reasonably quiet and the car looks great on the trail. The tires are not particularly aggressive, but the all-terrain style of tread in combination with the sticky rubber compound is enough to give the rig plenty of grip.

The integrated ESC, receiver and light controller is waterproof! This is huge – the vehicle is wet-weather ready from out of the box. All told, the Rock Cruiser RC4 is an excellent little trail rig and is very easy to recommend for this purpose.

RGT 136100V3 Trail

Rock Performance

Things fall apart a little for the RGT 136100V3 when it comes to heavier-duty rock crawling. The 136100V2 was a rock-crawling powerhouse, if limited compared to larger 1/10 scale crawlers. For its size and especially its price, the V2 was truly impressive. (You can see our video review of that here).

The RGT 136100V3 is about double the price of the V2. That is, in Australia, as of May 2022 – it may be cheaper when you’re reading this or if you’re elsewhere in the world. It’s nicer in nearly every way than the V2, with the glaring and important exception of rock crawling ability. Where the V2 manages to claw its way over problems that challenge some 1/10 scale vehicles, the V3 tends to tumble or scrabble in vain. Steep climbs and side-hilling were both challenging to the V3. Its sticky tire compound made up for some of this and after we replaced the servo with a stronger unit, steering wasn’t an issue. But the rig really struggled more than we expected. It did manage to finish Problem 1 (out of 6 total) on our regular 1/10 scale test course. It’s good that it could do this, but it really should have at least been able to get Problem 5 finished as well.

RGT 136100V3 Rocks
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Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

RGT 136100V3 RR Qtr

Value for Money

Possibly the weakest point of the RGT 136100V3 is its value proposition. The V2 was a steal at A$200/USD$150, but the V3 sells for around A$320-A$380 (or around a little under USD$300). It is an improvement in many ways over the V2, it is true. It looks great, has interesting electronics and a tightly integrated radio and power and lighting system. The tires and wheels are very good and the suspension is well implemented.

It really struggles on the rocks and the steering is a glaring weakness. For some, this author included, these can be a deal-breaker on a “1/10 scale crawler” purchase. However, for others, this will still represent a good deal on a pretty and still quite capable little scale trail truck. It is certainly a reasonable machine at its price point – we just would have liked slightly more rock performance at this price, or else to see a lower asking price to better match its rock crawling ability. Let’s call it a matter of subjective preference, as both buying it and passing on this one are completely understandable decisions.

RGT 136100 V3 Headlights

The Verdict

Could it be better? Absolutely. Is it worth the money? Kinda-sorta. Do we regret buying ours? Nope.

Why? Because it’s still fun to drive. In our video review we discussed the concept of ‘smiles per mile’ as a reasonable measure of value. If a car looks great and handles in a pleasing way, even if it isn’t as capable as other crawlers on the rocks, well, the fun is still there. And if its enjoyable to drive, the purchase is probably justifiable.

We’re going to look into improving its abilities on the rocks in a future episode. We’ll also fix a few of the issues with the design, such as lengthening the lighting harness so the body can open the whole way. We’re going to achieve these things for $10 or less as there are a few optimisations to be found with just a few hand tools and some creative changes.

With all this in mind, the RGT 136100V3 is a fun vehicle with potential for better performance. It looks great on the trail and there are enough well-implemented changes over the V2 to reasonably justify the price. It isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into the Jimny and have a focus on trail over rock driving, this may just be a model for you. Check out our video review combo for more:

Where to Get It

Get yours here from AsiaTees, with global delivery options for wherever you are! (It also is available here in a Ford Bronco body).

The servo we’d recommend to improve steering is the jxServo WP5323LV. It’s a full-size unit that runs on 6v, so it’ll be a straight swap with the stock, nylon-geared 6KG unit.

(The above are affiliate links, which help support us at no extra cost to you – thank you for your support!!)

For more info on this vehicle, check out RGT’s website for this car here. If you’re in a country that has FTX brand more readily available than RGT, the FTX-equivalent model is the Outback Peso 3.0. Find the FTX site for this car here.

Lastly, in the videos we mentioned the RGT Pioneer EX86110. That’s a brilliant 1/10 performer. Read all about it in our review of that one here.

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Traxxas Bandit XL-5 Buggy

Traxxas Bandit XL-5 Buggy

We take a close look at the Traxxas Bandit XL-5 1/10 Scale, 2WD, Ready-To-Race RC Buggy (Traxxas models 24054-4 & 24054-1).

Where It All Began

The Traxxas Bandit has been a household name for RC bashers and entry level racers for decades. Punting an RC car off the curve and up the street is almost a rite of passage for the RC enthusiast of the Western world. For years, RC drivers have been enjoying their short course trucks, stadium trucks, monster trucks, road cars and of course, buggies! On the street is where it often starts, and on the track is where things get interesting.

In 1995, Traxxas released a model that would be on store shelves for decades under the same name and with a similar overall build. That model was the Traxxas Bandit 2WD Buggy.

Changing With the Times

The original Traxxas Bandit had a Stinger 540 motor with 26mph (or 42km/h) top speed on a 7-cell battery. It used the same Magnum 272 transmission found in other Traxxas machines, such as the Slash and the Rustler. There were common parts over these models too, though the Bandit was always the narrow option and very light in the nose.

Over the years, the Magnum 272 planetary transmission has remained. The transmission has been updated to a tougher variant that uses real ball bearings and stronger gears. The Titan 12-turn motor is now a bigger 550 unit than the 540 Stinger – and there’s even a brushless Bandit variant. Plastics and links have changed over the years as well, and there are still shared components across the Slash, Rustler and Stampede 2WD platforms. Even with the updates, the Traxxas Bandit is still a solid and reliable buggy that’s at home bashing in the backyard and still a cheap starter platform for grassroots dirt track racing.

Blue Bandit

The Modern Traxxas Bandit

Traxxas claims a top speed of 35mph (or 56km/h) for the current brushed model. This is with an optional 31-tooth pinion and 8.4v NiMH battery. You can mod nearly any rig to be a straight-line champ, but the Bandit is not a speed-running beast. Its big suspension hints at its dirt track roots,

With the included 21-tooth pinion, you can expect a maximum speed of 23mph (or 38km/h). This may sound slow, but in the context of a RWD buggy to be used on gravel and dirt short courses with many turns and a few jumps, acceleration may actually be the greater concern. Again, this is not a racing buggy so much as a fun machine, so the maximum speed feels about right. Courses with long straights will certainly make the Bandit seem slow, but on tighter courses it may actually be rare to have the throttle completely open.

Jumping Red Bandit

Bandit XL-5 Variants

Firstly, there are two variants available of the Traxxas Bandit XL-5:

  1. Model 24054-4: Fully assembled, waterproof, Ready-To-Race®, with TQ™ 2.4GHz radio system, XL-5 Electronic Speed Control, and ProGraphix® painted body; and,
  2. MODEL 24054-1: Fully assembled, waterproof, Ready-To-Race®, with TQ™ 2.4GHz radio system, XL-5® Electronic Speed Control, 4V NiMH 3000 mAh Power Cell™ battery, 4-amp DC Peak Detecting Fast Charger, and ProGraphix® painted body.

Our unit was the 24054-1, which includes the 4-amp DC charger and a 7-cell 8.4v 3000mAh NiMH battery. For both models, you need to supply your own AA batteries for the transmitter (x4), but everything else needed to run is included on the -1 variant.

Bandit 3-4 Chassis

Vehicle Specs

The Traxxas Bandit XL-5 is 16.25” (or 413mm) long and 9.84” (or 250mm) wide. The vehicle chassis itself is quite narrow, so the width here is also its track width, front and rear. It’s a low vehicle, at 7” (or 178mm) tall, excluding antenna pole. Vehicle wheelbase is 11.25” (or 286mm) and it weighs 48oz (or 1.36kg), excluding battery. Find the full Bandit specs page here.

Bandit Specs

Traxxas XL-5 ESC

The Traxxas XL-5 Electronic Speed Control (ESC) powers the motor and the electronics. It handles 4-7 cell NiMH and 2-cell LiPO batteries. It has a built-in Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) that outputs 6v 1A. Read more about the ESC here.

The ESC features Low Voltage Cutoff (LVC) for LiPO batteries. It is easily toggled between NiMH and LiPO profiles with a 3-second hold of the button after turning it on. Red is NiMH, green for LiPO. Simple! The ESC also features a 50% power limiter for young and new drivers who need a lower top-speed whilst learning to drive smoothly.

XL-5 & Titan 12T 550

Traxxas Titan 12T 550 Motor

A 550 motor has greater torque than an equivalent 540 unit, though it has marginally lower acceleration. It can handle greater current without the heat of a 540 of same spec and its well-suited to the Bandit. Full throttle with a full battery gives plenty of speed.

Both the motor and the ESC become hot with hard use, but not so much that they are damaged. The electronics should stand up to extended use in all conditions – though mud in the motor will lead to premature failure. A garden hose to wash out the motor after especially muddy runs is usually a good idea!

Red Bandit Dust

Traxxas TQ Radio System

The radio is the Traxxas TQ 2.4GHz 2-channel transmitter. The receiver is the Traxxas TQ 3-channel micro unit (#6519). Traxxas #2056 High Torque Waterproof servo handles the steering and the Traxxas Titan 12T 550 motor drives the buggy.

The radio receiver is safely enclosed within a waterproof receiver box and the entire model can be driven in the wet. The only thing to worry about is the radio transmitter getting wet if you’re in the rain. A plastic bag over the transmitter and wrapped around your hand is a quick and easy way to protect it. You can steer through the bag with your other hand and everything stays dry.

TQ 24GHz 2ch

Traxxas #2056 Servo

Rounding out the electronics is the Traxxas #2056 High-Torque Waterproof steering servo. We’ve had probably a dozen of these servos in various models here over the last decade. They’re plastic geared but quite tough and reliably waterproof. The #2056 servo runs at 6v.

Though not hugely fast nor strong compared to the nicer options after-market, for a stock servo it’s a fine choice for the Bandit. It doesn’t have to be as strong as it is, with 80-oz of torque, but it could use a little more speed. The #2056 is a good choice for the Bandit and the servo is easily upgraded if you so desire.

Traxxas 2056 Servo

Steering

The Traxxas #2056 servo manipulates a bell-crank system for steering. Bump steer is minimised and angles are optimised for accurate control on both wheels. The steering parts are a mix of stainless-steel links and nylon arms – the bell-crank itself is nylon, with two bearings within the central shaft. The whole system is protected with an integrated shield in the chassis on the top side, and the tub chassis’ base and sides keeping stones and debris out underneath.

It works well enough and there’s room to fit upgraded servos if greater speed is needed. The torque at least is sufficient with the stock unit, particularly given the small size of the undriven front wheels on the Bandit. The system works well and there’s a good amount of flex to handle those nasty, heavy landings. Our unit took several wheel-first hits and seems none the worse for it, so it’s a Pass from us!

Bandit Bell-crank

Bandit Wheels & Tires

The Bandit rides on mirror-chromed 2.2″ Tracer™ five-spoke wheels with pre-glued tires and foam inserts. The rear tires have step-pin tread and the fronts are ribbed. The wheels accept a wide array of accessory tires including the Traxxas Anaconda® 2.2″ street tires for Bandit and other buggies.

We found the rears hooked up nicely on gravel and dirt. The fronts provided ample steering as long as the buggy wasn’t under acceleration. Buggies tend to lift the nose, being so light up-front, so you need to come off the throttle to steer. The wheels’ chrome finish chipped quickly and looked ratty after just a few runs. The front tires came unglued from the wheels in an equally short time – were they glued in the first place? Maybe not – it isn’t hard to rectify this, in any case. A quick clean and then a few drops of super glue on the rim and the tires will stay put.

Bandit Wheels Tires

Body and Wing

Polycarbonate plastic comprises the Bandit body. The rear wing is also made of this light and flexible material. It looks great, but we’ve gotta wonder whether that wing will be destroyed prematurely with a few bad landings. Many other makes of vehicle use an ABS plastic or flexible Delrin for exposed pieces like a rear wing. The Bandit’s polycarbonate wing seems positively flimsy in comparison.

That said, over three batteries we landed on the wing maybe 7 or 8 times (I know, I know – practice needed!!). The wing has some dents and marks on it and the paint is chipping. However, it’s still largely intact. The wing is tougher than it looks and though it won’t last forever, it’s not the terrible design decision it may first seem to be!

Blue Bandit 3Qtr

Diff and Transmission

The transmission goes by the same name of the original: Magnum 272. It employs 48-pitch gears and is ready for brushless without needing further upgrades. This is a nice touch! The spur gear is nylon, quite normal for this type of implementation. If you ever have to move the motor to clean or service things, or replace the pinion, be sure to set your gear mesh as finely as possible. 48-pitch gears have less tolerance for excess gaps, so stripping the spur gear is a likely outcome if not done correctly!

That said, as long as things are done right, the gears will serve you well for a long time. The gears other than the spur are of hardened steel and the transmission uses sealed ball bearings throughout. The transmission also features a slipper clutch that is adjustable in the usual way, with a locknut over a spring to set pad tension.

The diff is a planetary unit comprising multiple parts. There is a set of 4 hardened steel gears internally, plus a hardened steel outdrive on both sides from the centre. The diff casing is nylon and then the ring gear is also hardened steel. The diff is tough and though the steel gears will mean more noise than plastic gears would ever come close to making, the trade-off with longevity should be easily worth it. We’d expect this diff to outlast most motor configurations, brushless included. It’s a properly solid unit.

Motor Mount

The motor mount completes the transmission seal, keeping out dirt and debris whilst also keeping the motor cool. The cooling channels work in conjunction with the internal fan in the Titan 550 motor to help keep the temps down.

Bandit Motor Mount

Drive Shafts

The Bandit employs plastic, telescoping driveshafts. They are the same type that are used on both the XL-5 (brushed) and VXL (brushless) vehicles across the Bandit, Rustler, Slash and Stampede range. Under bigger power systems, these tend to break after fatiguing from torque. However, with the lower power from the brushed systems, they should last the life of the vehicle in many cases.

You should be aware that if a rock gets caught between the arms and the shafts, the rock can grind away at the shaft plastic until it snaps clean through. Ours has already begun to do this after just three battery packs. There are metal shafts readily available from a variety of sources.

Bandit Driveshafts

Battery and Chassis Layout

The battery bay on this chassis can fit anything up to about 6500mAh 2S LiPO, or a 7-cell NiMH pack – including most ‘hump’ packs. There’s plenty of vertical room for fatter, shorter packs as well. Battery retention relies on the battery being long enough to fit under the ESC at one end and under the battery clip at the other, so if you have a shorter pack you may need to get creative with securing it. In any case, the space is generous and the supplied battery with our unit was snug and secure.

The ESC is lightweight, so it isn’t a big deal for center of gravity to have it sitting above the battery. The motor sits low in the rear at just above axle height and the steering servo is low and forward near the front axle line. The underside of the chassis is mostly flat and the buggy is overall quite streamlined. It’s an attractive machine in either the red or blue finish.

Bandit Chassis

Suspension

In stock form, the suspension seems best suited to very smooth dirt tracks with long sweeping jumps and turns rather than heavy landings and uneven terrain. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to adjust the setup to suit your driving and course conditions.

Traxxas supplies the Bandit with oil-filled Ultra Shocks. These use a dual x-ring design and are customizable with various springs and pistons available for purchase. The shocks can also accept spacers for the coil-over springs for spring pre-load tensioning and ride height adjustments. Rebuild kits are available from Traxxas.

The springs are the white, powder-coated race coils from Traxxas. They’re a single-stage unit and are balanced nicely for the weight and intended use of this vehicle. We found adding larger spacers in front really helped with big landings, whilst replacing the stock oil in the rear shocks with 50 wt. fluid helped slow the heavy end down a bit over bumpy terrain.

How’s It Drive?

Perhaps this is answered best on our review video, which focuses heavily on handling and durability. In a word, the Bandit is fun to drive. It jumps well and once you’ve mentally adjusted to a buggy driving style, it’s quite satisfying to work on smoothing out your inputs and enjoying the improvements in lap times. For general bashing duties, impacts could be a problem with those exposed front wheels, but a nice wide bumper from RPM would help protect the vehicle.

Blue Bandit Accelerating

Will It Last?

If you can accept some repairs and maintenance come with operating an RC car on rough terrain at speed, then yes, the Traxxas Bandit will last a good long time. Just be prepared to replace the rear wing and for the wheels to chip and look pretty bad pretty quickly. The rear tires will wear down but there are many options for buggy tires on all sorts of surfaces, so there’s no issue there. The motor will eventually burn out too, but this is cheaply replaced.

Our unit had a control arm failure on the rear left just two batteries in. The screw popped out and the plastic thread was ruined. We had to replace with a slightly larger screw to get the arm back on. Wasn’t a complex fix, but it was a breakage. We cover this in our video review below, too.

Is It Fun?

The current generation of Traxxas Bandit XL-5 is fun and handles well. It’s not a pure race machine, but for the price you can expect a solid starting point if you want to build a budget buggy for local comp meets. For a basher, it’s a light to moderate duty fun machine that will benefit from mechanical sympathy and regular maintenance. The Bandit is a stalwart of the RC off-road hobby and its value proposition for a fun and simple dirt blaster is hard to beat. We’re gonna enjoy running and upgrading ours over the coming summer! Recommended.

More Info

See the manufacturer’s page for the Bandit here.

Find parts and hop-ups here (affiliate link helps support us at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support!).

If you’re interested in RC crawlers or construction equipment and vehicles, you might want to check out our Reviews section and our YouTube channel.

 

Red Bandit Profile
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

1/14 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS 6×6 Truck

1/14 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS 6×6 Truck

An RC Heavy Hauler!

This is the 1/14 scale Mercedes-Benz ZETROS 6×6 truck with remote-locking diffs and two-speed transmission. It might be smaller than the real thing but don’t lets its size fool you: ‘heavy duty’ is its middle name!

A Truck of Many Names

It’s sold under a few names: JD Models, JDM, JD Concepts, Team Raffee and RC4WD. Regardless of badge, this is a 1/14 scale model of the Mercedes-Benz Zetros 6×6 truck. The Zetros is made in 4×4 and 6×6. Occasionally you’ll find it in 6×4 configuration and there are even a handful of 8x8s out there. The 4×4 variant is most commonly seen in 1/1 scale and the 6×6 isn’t far behind. You might think of the Zetros as the offroad answer to Mercedes-Benz’s Actros, a very capable on-road workhorse.

We sourced ours from Hong Kong, care of a small company called ‘HIGHWAY TOY Store’. We’re not sponsored but they have been excellent in both shipping and after-sales support for the numerous vehicles we’ve bought from them. Our unit came well packed and communication was good throughout the transaction. It sells on AsiaTees under the Team Raffee badge. If you’d prefer to buy directly from the USA, once or twice a year RC4WD runs discount days and you may be able to nab a bargain on this truck then. Worth keeping an eye out!

 

Sizing Up

This model weighs 7.5kg (16.5lb). Its dimensions are 734mm long, 230mm wide and 273mm high. It has a front-rear wheelbase of 482mm with front-middle axle of 365mm and middle-to-rear axle of 115mm. First gear ratio is 1:64 and second gear ratio is 1:16.

Zetrox 6x6 Hood Open

What It Isn’t

Despite having remote locking diffs and a heavy-duty drive train, the Zetros 6×6 Truck is not a rock crawler. The suspension is hefty and clearly capable of supporting significant weight. When loaded with enough weight on its hitch plate the rig will work nicely across uneven terrain. Physics works both ways though, so when running without a trailer the truck will be bumpy!

Another factor affecting the truck’s progress on uneven terrain is its clearance. Specifically, the lower-hanging componentry along the mid-area of the chassis. You’ve got a couple of hydraulic oil tanks (empty and unused in default configuration) and a ladder. Things can be removed, but the truck is just so pretty you’ll understandably probably want to keep it all attached. This means its break-over angle is poor. Again, this is not a rock crawler. With that expectation set up-front, the off-road performance this truck can deliver is actually quite good. More on that in a moment.

Zetrox 6x6 on Rock

Ready To Run (Well, Not Quite)

The vehicle is advertised as being a RTR (Ready To Run) model. Experience dictating caution, we spent two evenings going over all the screws in our model to ensure everything was secured before running. Be aware that it needs thread lock applied to nearly all screws, wherever there’s metal thread. Many parts arrived only loosely attached, some nearly completely apart. But even if things are firmly installed, without thread lock it is inevitable that the screws will work themselves out over time.

 

Zetros 6×6 Truck Fix

As well as securing your screws with thread-lock, the other ‘gotcha’ with this truck relates to a design shortcoming rather than pre-assembly oversight. Namely, the drive shafts are strong but poorly secured. The universal joint has a hinge block in center that would commonly be secured by a set screw, as many manufacturers commonly do it. However, the units on the Zetros 6×6 truck are secured by a pin with E-clip at each end. It is strong, but unsuitable for off-road use. Those E-clips are exposed on the outside of the shaft collar, so if either of them are bumped by rock or stick passing underneath, they have a tendency to pop off. Once that happens, the whole assembly rapidly falls apart! It can be very frustrating and we had this happen twice on our unit. Not good!

To address this, we surmised the E-clips needed to be captured/covered and prevented from popping off. One could replace the shafts entirely, but it seems a waste, as they’re otherwise solidly made and should outlast the truck. So, our cheap workaround was to wrap a few layers of TESA Tape (or other automotive fabric tape) around the assembly. This way, even if they get knocked by a rock, the E-clips should remain snugly in place. After months of off-road driving since then, it’s been sufficient.

The Good Stuff!

Minor issues out of the way, let’s focus on what makes this model great! The diffs are enormous and feature remote diff lock by cable actuation. The truck comes set up with a three-position switch on the radio that’s connected to two servos. It cleverly achieves two different functions on the one switch:

  1. High and low speed (more on low speed in a moment); and,
  2. Locking and unlocking all three diffs.

It works really well and transforms the truck when the going (or towing) gets tough!

The high-speed gear delivers a moderate walking pace at top speed. That’s with the included 55-turn brushed 540 motor and also with the similar speed 1200kv brushless unit we’ve later installed (HobbyWing Fusion 1200kv). Second gear drive ratio is 1:16.

Low speed is where things get interesting. The Zetros 6×6 truck model features a somewhat unusual transmission. High gear is standard fare and 1:16 ratio is fairly typical. However, when you see a number like 1:64 for first/low gear drive ratio, you’ll appreciate why the truck employs a planetary gear set for such a huge reduction. The torque this thing puts out is incredible and the accompanying low-speed capability made possible is just perfect for a heavy tow rig like this! All gears are steel and all moving parts have been consistent and reliable in our testing so far. Again, we’ve had ours for 7 or 8 months at time of writing this article.

Zetrox 6x6 Underside

Cabin Fever

The drive train is wonderfully tough, but that’s not all to love with this machine. The scale cabin features integrated and functional spare wheels mounted on a swing-out bracket behind the rear window. There’s ample clearance for most scale trailers on the hitch plate behind it and they just look great. The cabin itself is plastic and is coloured silvery-gray. This is not paint but the plastic itself, which is good news for scratches and longer-term aesthetics. Both doors open, as does the hood, under which is an aluminium battery tray and the model’s radio and ESC.

Inside the cabin is a scale interior, with three seats and a full dash. The steering wheel and pedals are convincing and the dash controls look good even unpainted. There’s room to fit a 4” to 5” action figure/driver.

 

Trim and Terrific

The mirrors are realistic, as is the trim around the hood and the guard bars around the lights. Empty but functional light buckets and a snorkel round out the scale fittings. Aside from the integrated light buckets, these external trim items need to be installed after you get the truck. Presumably this is because they are too fragile to reliably survive shipping. Thankfully, installation is easy to do. The only weird part of the cabin/hood piece is the headlights, which are coloured amber rather than clear or white. It’s a strange decision but it isn’t distractingly bad, just noticeable.

Zetrox 6x6 Cabin

Bumper to Bumper

The front bumper is plastic. There’s a bash plate underneath it that is metal. Both pieces look good and both are made of the most appropriate material for their function. You want a bit of flex on the upper, main bumper, while the metal bash plate is protecting the sway bar-cum-lower linkage in front of the axle, which you do not want to break!

At the other end of the rig are a set of four metal mud flaps. They’re attached by tiny screws in a somewhat complex assembly. The threads on a couple of ours were stripped from over-tightening at the factory. We tapped a larger thread and installed bigger hardware but found the metal quite soft. Second repair attempt was simply using a longer bolt with locking nut on the other side. Both methods will work. Be prepared for yours to take damage either in transit or during driving – they’re fragile and not a great design from a durability point of view. They certainly look the part and the rear-facing ones have light buckets in them, ready for your light kit if you so desire.

The bumpers and mud flaps round out what is a fabulous looking scale body. The twin, shiny chrome fuel tanks that double as actual, functional hydraulic oil tanks look brilliant. Also completing the distinctive look is the prominent pair of spare wheels. Speaking of which…

Zetrox 6x6 Top-Side

Wheels and Tires

This is a 6×6 truck with twin dual wheels on the rear axles. There’s an additional pair of functional spare wheels mounted up top. That’s 12 aluminium wheels and heavy-duty tires for this Zetros 6×6 truck! The wheels feature attractive, black metal hubs and the tires are super firm. There is some air inside, but its only from the moulding of the tires. There are no foams and they hold their shape due to the sheer amount of material in their carcasses. For a heavy towing truck, the wheel and tire choice is completely appropriate. Tread pattern is good for an off-road capable truck and besides all that, they just look fabulous.

Zetrox 6x6 Flex

Electronics

The truck ships with a 55-turn brushed 540 motor, a 9kg steering servo and a pair of 4.5kg shifting servos for high/low and diff lock duties. The ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) is a HobbyWing WP-1060 with integrated 6v/3a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit), which powers the radio and servos. The radio is a 6-Channel DumboRC system. The high-low/diff lock function is located on the 3-potision Channel-4 thumb switch.

The ESC is waterproof, as is the motor. However, the servos and radio gear are not, so keep that in mind if you plan any extended outdoor adventures. The radio transmitter requires 4x AA batteries and the truck runs best on a 2000mAh to 2500mAh 3S 25C+ LiPO battery. It would run acceptably on 2S or even NiMH stick packs and there’s sufficient room in the battery tray for up to 5000mAh 2S LiPO or 3500mAh NiMH stick packs. For best results use a 3S LiPO. We’ve been using 2200mAh 3S 30C packs and the truck has been perfect.

Lastly, there are several spare channels on the included radio receiver. These will be welcome if you have a trailer that needs a channel or two for tipping, support legs, third axle, hydraulics and so on. The radio suits the truck and possible intended uses perfectly.

The Driving Experience

Our initial video review (as shown above) was all about the truck itself. Because of our drive shaft problems, we never really got a chance to showcase much actual driving! We’ve been enjoying the truck for some months since that initial review and it’s running beautifully. It seems timely we make a follow-up video that covers all the main elements of operating this big rig outdoors. In the below video, we cover high and low speeds, diff lock, steep ascents and descents, side-hilling and even some mild rock crawling.

We also discuss towing. However, as we have yet to find a suitable trailer to use with this truck, all driving so far has been done with the hitch plate empty of load. That makes for a rougher ride with those super-firm rear leaf packs, but the heavy diffs and ultra-low center-of-gravity have made up for any shortcomings in smoothness!

In short, the truck is a pleasure to drive and it looks fantastic on the trails. Catch the video for the longer answer!

Let’s Torque About It

Once we got the drive shafts sorted out, the next thing to improve was power efficiency and torque. The included 55-turn 540 motor was definitely appropriate for the big truck, but we wanted a more broad speed range and better battery life (though it’s pretty good for brushed, already). We installed the all-in-one HobbyWing Fusion 1200kv motor and ESC in place of the 55-turn brushed motor.

The Fusion gives unparalleled smoothness and control at low speeds, even under load. This is thanks to the FOC (Field Oriented Control) system HobbyWing employs in their Fusion and AXE line of brushless systems. The motor spins according to your throttle input and is computer-controlled to maintain that speed even under load. More traditional brushed, sensored systems will slow as load is applied, requiring you to increase throttle signal. The FOC systems instead will boost power to the motor to ensure it delivers exactly the RPM you ask of it, regardless of load. It’s a bit of an acquired taste and maybe not for everyone, but on a heavy truck it’s just fun, fun, fun. Very satisfying to see this thing inching its way up a stupidly-steep hill, or to exude buttery smooth control down a steep rock face!

 

Water, Light & Sound?

Power system aside, the other upgrade you may consider down the track is to install a waterproof servo set. The default equipment is fine and the steering strength is ample for this kind of model, but you’ll need to keep the truck dry above axle height. You’d also want to waterproof the radio receiver for wet running.

A light and sound kit might be last on your upgrade list. There’s a premium version of the truck out there that includes these, but is hard to find. Besides that, it’s worth noting the all-metal gear drive train sounds pretty good on its own when running, even under no load. There’s a lot of sound under throttle, but it’s a pleasing pitch and it sounds like there’s a lot going on inside. It’s quite a fun rig to drive and again, it looks fantastic.

Zetros with Fusion

The Verdict

If you want to add a 1/14 scale truck to your stable with off-road capability and/or heavy towing capacity, the Zetros 6×6 truck should be on your short-list. Regardless of vendor, its cheaper than the other off-road (ish) options from the likes of Hercules Hobby, Tamiya, JDM and LESU. Price isn’t the only attraction; this thing is absolutely capable. Decent price and performance, plus it’s gorgeous? This one is easy to recommend!

Zetros 6x6 Truck

Where to Get It

The Team Raffee 6×6 model is available here & the TR 4×4 model is available here. Both these links are from the ever-reliable AsiaTees online store. Alternatively, you can find the truck on the Highway Toy Store here. Lastly, it sells under the RC4WD Sledge Hammer badging here.

 

One Last Thing

Like the Zetros model? Enjoy playing with Lego? We’ve got an RC Lego Zetros to show you, too! Check it out here: https://youtu.be/moggvEgLaP8

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂