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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- GMade BOM TC (click for video review)
- Axial Capra (click for video review)
- Axial Base Camp (click for article & video review)
- Traxxas TRX4 Sport (click for video review series)
- Cross RC EMO AT4 (click for article & video review)
- Redcat Racing Gen 8 V2 (click for video review series)
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.
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)!
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 🙂