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
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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?

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 🙂

What Is The Best RC Rock Crawler?

What Is The Best RC Rock Crawler?

What is the Best RC Rock Crawler – Really?

(Updated: Aug 2023)

If you’re contemplating a purchase and want to make the best choice, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’re going to help you more clearly define what you’re after, and then to hopefully point you in the right direction. There’s a lot of choice in the RC rock crawler market, but with a little knowledge and exploration, you’ll be on track for the best off-road rig in no time!

(If you’re after something other than a rock crawler, or don’t know what you want, check out our Best RC Car guide instead!)

RC Rock Crawlers

Research Now Pays Off Long-Term

There are many blog sites out there purporting to be knowledgeable about this topic, giving ‘Editor’s Choice’ and ‘Author’s Recommendation’, but half the time it seems they’re recommending 2WD monster trucks or other similarly ridiculous vehicles. As a long-time hobbyist, this is a bit galling to know that so many people are being mislead on what constitutes a “best crawler”. They’ll buy the “#1 Recommended for 2021!” model, making the blog site some ad revenue in the process (which is fine – as long as the advice is good!) only to find it utterly disappointing and deciding crawling just isn’t for them.

Step 1: Get Good Advice!

RC-TNT is run by me, Craig, a hobbyist who also has participated in national and world level events and has run local competitions in/around Melbourne, Australia. You’ll find good advice on relevant vehicles on this site, rather than just blog-factory churned-out articles designed to get your clicks and not having more than 20 minutes of web searching to back their regularly silly, outdated or plain wrong claims! Repeat after me: a monster truck is not a rock crawler!

Step 2: Know What You Want

The hobby of RC rock crawling covers a few elements of RC driving. While there’s no ideal definition, maybe aside from ‘slow driving over rocks’, there are a few common driving scenarios you might be expecting if considering rock crawling. If you’re not sure yet whether crawling is for you at all, take a look at this article and especially at the video within: Is RC Rock Crawling Fun? (Then come back and take a look through the options below, there are some great choices here!)

Trail Driving

The best RC rock crawler for trail obstacles may be a different beast entirely from a rock-focussed truck. Trail obstacles often include dirt, dust, mud, possibly water and possibly sand. Essentially, you’re taking a drive ‘off-road’ with your crawler. Top speed isn’t relevant beyond an average of walking pace, because you’re going to work the vehicle through and over various obstacles on a trail through a park, forest (or bushland in Australia), or other outdoorsy settings.

The best RC crawler for this terrain will ideally a 1:10 scale vehicle, or 1:18 at the smallest. Smaller than that and your average walking trail will just be too much for it. Bigger than that (like 1:8 or larger) and you’re unlikely to be crawling – it’ll just be too big and/or too fast for a satisfying drive.

The ideal vehicle will be electric, will typically have a battery life of a couple of hours, and will be a reasonably accurate scale model of a real-life 4WD vehicle. This is known as ‘trailing’, ‘scaling’ or ‘trail driving’ and it’s a commonly enjoyed niche of RC rock crawling.

RC Crawlers on the Trail

Rock Crawling

The best RC rock crawler is, in this case, literally designed to drive on and around rocks. Often, this is done on a course, with ‘gates’ marked by chalk, half tennis balls, or some other marker through which your vehicle will be driven. The challenge of such a course adds to enjoyment for many people. For the author, a home course is useful for tuning and testing vehicles as well as making a compelling setting for rock crawling videos, of course!

With the typical RTR (‘Ready To Run’) 1:10 crawler one might buy from a local hobby store, you’d be ready to face both trail driving and rock crawling, often merging them on a nice walk through the trees and coming across rocks and creeks on the way. Many pleasurable hours have been spent by countless thousands of us enjoying the hobby in this way.

I’ve said it before, the best RC rock crawler is the one you have – just getting out there is the biggest step! But if you’re looking to buy, read on, there are some gems to be unearthed here!

 

RC Rock Crawler

How This Influences Your Purchase

Where this leaves you is knowing you want a low-speed, scale model of a full sized 4WD vehicle that can tackle the natural elements with a degree of competency and of durability. If neither of the above scenarios sound appealing, it may be that RC rock crawling just isn’t for you. Though, actually trying someone else’s vehicle (or running a demo truck at a hobby store car park or rock course) may help you decide on this versus a faster RC option. This is where your monster trucks, short course truck (SCT), truggies, buggies and other racing off-road models may be worth a look!

At this point, you may have an idea of what you want. I’d encourage you to now check out some trail driving and rock crawling videos (RC-TNT has a bunch: https://www.youtube.com/c/RCTNT) as this may help solidify what you’re after. Next, we get into the pros and cons of what’s available to buy!

Step 3: RC Rock Crawler Options

At time of writing (late 2021), there are a few brand names that are commonly recommended as best 1:10 RC rock crawler for the prospective buyer: Traxxas with their TRX-4 and TRX-6 platforms, Axial’s SCX10 II and SCX10 III variants, Redcat Racing with the Gen 7 and Gen 8 models, Element RC’s Enduro range, GMade’s GS02 range, some hard-body scale options from RC4WD and Cross RC and then a few lesser-known options with more niche followings (HPI, RGT, RCRun and HG to name a few).

So where do you even start?

RC Crawler Budget

My first suggestion would be to look at your budget. How much do you want to spend on a model, and are you prepared to consider modifications, upgrades and repairs or do you want a buy-once-and-drive experience?

The adage, ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ applies to most things and while there are some cracking deals on crawlers from time to time, generally you will get what you pay for. However, there are some models that are commonly agreed on as being overpriced for what you get – the SCX10 III Gladiator being one example (opinion, not fact – you’ll make your own opinion on this once you’re more familiar with the RC crawler landscape, of course). At the other end of that, there are some cheap models that deliver amazing value, but beware of other cheapies that just are not worth it. For example, the more expensive (but still ‘cheap’) RGT models are very good, while the HG P401 Bruiser clone is cheap and fun, but is a lousy rock crawler, owing to its aged design and limited durability.

 

Also, don’t forget about batteries. Some models do come with one, but it’s usually a NiMH pack (that’s Nickel Metal Hydride). Mediocre performance but eminently safe to include with models as they’re a very stable battery type. Lithium Polymer (or LiPO) batteries take a little more care to handle safely, but their power density is very high and they’ll rock your RC world. We review a brilliant all-rounder here (which you can buy here). Just keep batteries in mind when budgeting for your new beastie!

SCX10 III Rock Crawler

Hobby Ability

As well as budget, you’ll know how handy you are with hex drivers, cutters, paint and a soldering iron. If you have some hands-on experience or the willingness or desire to learn, many of the big-brand RC crawler kit builds are a great introduction to the hobby. The learning curve is still going to be steeper than if you buy a RTR (“Ready To Run”) model, that just needs batteries out of the box and you’re driving.

Personally, I buy both RTR and kit builds regularly. Some builds are difficult and drawn-out affairs (some of the Cross RC and RC4WD models), whilst others are fast and fun (the TRX4 Sport and Gmade GS02F both fit the latter case). Both kinds of builds can be very satisfying and though challenging, can leave you with a sense of accomplishment as well as enhanced enjoyment when you’re running the model over your chosen terrain. You can think, “I built that! Look at it go!” – there’s some real value there for people.

RC Crawler Kit Build

Willingness to Learn

For the time-poor, or those without tools and/or the ability or willingness to use them (and I’m not judging, there’s nothing wrong with this, truly), a ready-to-run vehicle may be just the ticket. There is a vast amount of choice here and many solid videos online to help you make up your mind.

RC-TNT has a range of reviews of both kit builds and RTR models. Check out our playlist, ‘Rig Reviews’ for a detailed look at all the big names and some of the rare gems you may find out there as well!

TRX4 Sport Kit Build
Building an RC Crawler

Step 4: Intersect Your Intentions with Your Options!

Now we get to the fun part. You know what kind of driving you want to do (from Step 2) and you know your options (from Step 3), so now the question is: which is the best RC rock crawler?

So glad you asked! Hopefully some of the following will be helpful! We’ll organise the next section into kit builds and ready-to-run (RTR) models.

 

The Best RC Rock Crawler Kits

To buy a kit means you’re buying a box of pieces that need to be assembled into a model. You’ll typically need to have the required tools (usually a 2mm, 2.5mm and 3mm hex driver, ABS model glue (for styrene/hard body models only), Lexan/polycarbonate paint (for Lexan bodied models, which is what most on this page are), wire snips, scissors, possibly a small philips head screw driver, thread lock (blue Loc-tite or similar), some small cable ties and possibly some super glue. That about covers it – plus you’ll need to buy the electrics separately, typically a motor, ESC, servo and radio system at minimum. We’ll cover this more in other videos and articles soon.

Best Rock Performance

For overall rock crawling performance and ability out of the box, the Gmade GS02F BOM TC has taken the performance crown in our testing. However, it has a bit of a reliability issue with the front diff, though I’m working on finding the ideal setup for durability and performance. There’s an ultimate tuning video coming soon for this rig and honestly, out of the box it may be the best performing rock crawler I’ve yet encountered – and that’s saying something!

See the full review here.

Best Build Experience

This is a subjective one, but having built 20+ models in the last decade and having built RC models for nearly 30 years, the author is in a reasonable position to offer an informed opinion! For me, it’s the most enjoyable build experience is a tie between, in no particular order, the Gmade GS02F BOM TC and Traxxas TRX4 Sport.

Best Scale Vehicle

I thoroughly enjoyed putting together the RCRun RUN-80, a Toyota Landcruiser 80-series 1:10 model. It isn’t as capable as the above two models, and is more delicate with its ‘hard body’ (that is, a styrene body – typical of more ‘scale’ models, as opposed to the durable and flexible Lexan/polycarbonate bodies most crawlers come with). As a trade-off for the durability though, you get a very pretty and realistic model in the RCRun RUN-80.

You may find our more in-depth article all about this brilliant scaler right here on rc-tnt.com!

There’s another incredible option and honestly, I’m torn between the two. If you’re after the best scale RC crawler, the Boom Racing BRX01 definitely deserves a look as well. Here’s our write-up and our video review is ready to watch, too. Tough choice!

 

The Best RTR RC Rock Crawlers

Now this is a hotly-contested category and you want to be sure you have your thinking done from Steps 2 and 3, as the range in budget and crawling ability really varies here. For your consideration I offer the most popular models in a variety of general categories. The best RC rock crawler for one person may be different to what another thinks – and that’s okay, we’re completely spoilt for choice these days!

Best All-Rounder RTR Crawler

The TRX4 Sport kit is arguably a better option than the RTR variant, giving you the choice of electronics (BYO ESC + Motor, steering servo and radio system for the kit). However, the RTR variant is still very popular as the TRX4 platform is rock-solid, the electronics are simple and reliable and the vehicle’s performance is excellent. The after-market support for the TRX4 platform is rivalled only by that for the Axial SCX10 models – quite an achievement. I own three TRX-4s of various kinds and a TRX-6 and can speak from experience when I say these are possibly the most durable and all-round capable models available today.

Here’s the RC-TNT playlist for the TRX4 Sport.

Playlist for the TRX4 Bronco.

And the RC-TNT playlist for the TRX-6 Benz 6×6.

Best Value Trail Crawler (& Best Beginner RTR!)

The Redcat Gen 8 V2 is an obvious candidate for best value RC crawler on the trails. Its crawling is ‘good’, where others are better, but on the trail this is a superbly optioned vehicle that is ready for the elements and will be a durable ‘basher’ that you can drive and then forget about until next time you get the itch. For the money you pay for this fun machine, it’s an easy recommendation.

Here’s the playlist for the Gen 8 V2.

Get your Gen 8 V2 here. (Update, the Gen9 is now available and it’s an improvement on the Gen8 V2 in many ways. We have a comprehensive review of the Gen9 here, including a video review AND a rock test video).

Another brilliant option is the Element RC Bushido. This is an expected powerhouse on the rocks, with its short wheelbase working well to conquer tricky obstacles that see longer vehicles bottoming out. Check the Bushido out here.

 

 

Best Value RC Rock Crawler

You’ve decided you want something that’s capable on the rocks but still is something of a scale model. Your budget is limited and you’d like to not have to upgrade anything to get the most enjoyment from your purchase. If this is you, the very best choice and heartiest recommendation to make is for the Element RC Enduro Sendero HD. It is excellent and is an easy choice for the best overall value RC rock crawler, especially where rock performance is concerned.

We have a detailed article all about this very machine! Find it here.

Our YouTube channel also has a playlist for this vehicle. The playlist, including reviews, tests and comparisons, can be found here.

You can find this rig for purchase on AsiaTees.

 

I Want A Jeep & Money Is No Object

Well, that’s oddly specific, but I won’t judge you! The modern granddaddy of this hobby is arguably Axial and their SCX10 III Gladiator is a model that gives you a disengagable rear axle (aka ‘DIG’), 2-speed transmission (though the ratios are too close together to be overly useful – it’s not slow enough in first and not fast enough in second, but still, it’s a two-speed), it’s fully waterproof and it is quite pretty. Many after-market bits are available for it and it is a fun machine to drive.

Comprehensive RC-TNT playlist can be found here and the rig itself is available on AsiaTees.

Other Axial Crawler Options

If you like the Axial platform but don’t want the Jeep in particular, there’s a truly capable vehicle also available that has rock crawling performance as it’s primary purpose, but one I know from experience that is also great on the trails. It can tackle just about anything – consider this the most capable 4×4 all-rounder available with 1.9″ tires – the Capra, of course!

More Axles Are Better and I Can Afford It

Watch my review video for this vehicle and be convinced that for an all-rounder that will conquer all trails and rocks and look amazing in day or night, rain or shine, you can’t go past the Traxxas TRX-6 6×6.

For performance, durability, features and fun, this is the best RC crawler all-rounder. But it comes at a price! You could buy two Redcat Gen 8s for one of these monsters!

Other Worthy Crawlers to Consider

If none of the above are quite what you’re looking for, there are still numerous other options that are worth a look.

Element RC Gatekeeper: this is a ‘rock racer’ inspired design with some decent rock crawling performance. You might consider it if you’re after a reliable and capable basher with a rock crawling bias. Video here and it’s available here to buy.

Similar to the Gatekeeper is the Axial Capra, also worth considering if the GK interests you. Video here.

Traxxas TRX4: For an all-rounder with durability, upgrade availability and some clever electronics to enhance your fun (2-speed, remotely lockable diffs, nice scale body, quality suspension and great tires out of the box), check out any of the TRX-4 range (Defender, Bronco, new Bronco, Chevy, Tactical, etc.). They’re all very good and have the same running gear as you’ll find in the TRX-6, but just in a 4×4 rather than 6×6 package.

Cross RC EMO AT-4: another model that has remotely-lockable diffs and two-speed transmission, this one comes as a kit and should be a good vehicle. I have yet to complete this model but it’s next in my build pile. I’m looking forward to completing and reviewing it soon!

> Update: review is here and video is here. Spoiler: this crawler’s amazing.

We now also have an article now comparing the TRX4 and the EMO AT4. Find that here.

Element RC Knightrunner: a polycarbonate Toyota body with smaller 1.55” wheels (all else in this article has 1.9” wheels) and 3.85” tires (again, most in this article have 4.05” to 4.8” diameter tires), this truck has one thing none of the others have: independent front suspension (IFS)! This means it’ll be more stable at speed and whilst it’ll be more limited on the rocks, that limitation can be an enjoyable challenge. Plus, the body looks amazing and comes with a bunch of scale goodness thanks to Element’s partnership with James Knight of Knight Customs. Our review of this one is here and you can pick it up on AsiaTees.

RC4WD Gelande: this is one rig not in the RC-TNT stable. Its reputation goes before it and it’s worth checking out. It’s been around for years and is still popular today for its scale detail and off-road performance. If you want a hard body rig that is capable and reasonably durable, the Gelande is worth a look.

TRX4 RC Rock Crawler

RC4WD Trail Finder 2 (or TF2): another hard body rig (like the RCRun RUN-80), but with 1.55” wheels like the Knightrunner above. This model has been around for a while and is a redesign of the venerable Tamiya Bruiser, with rock crawling ability design enhancements. Leaf sprung front and rear, this is not a performance beast but is still popular today for it’s overall capability in the scale competition classes – not to be missed if you like the body style and want more scale suspension from the older off-road legends like the Toyota Hi-Lux from the 80s. Video discussion here.

RC4WD Trail Finder 3 (or TF3): RC4WD’s latest scale entry in the legacy of Tamiya’s 1985 legend, the Bruiser. The TF3 goes back to its roots in chassis and steering design and is a worthy contender if you like scale detail in a capable platform with room to grow. Read our review and see the accompanying video here.

RGT EX86110 and EX86120: these are popular, budget-oriented 1:10 scale trail machines that are capable and well-appointed for fun. Durability is good and you can expect the kind of performance one might have found with the SCX10, Vaterra Ascender and more recently, HPI Venture (and incidentally, those three are fine ‘used’ choices also, if you’re looking for a second-hand bargain). See our video series here for the Pioneer. AsiaTees sells both the EX86110 and EX86120.

RGT 136100 V2: an ultra-budget option (USD$150) that is surprisingly capable and durable, for the price. Video review here.

MST CFX-WS DC1: comes in a kit and RTR variant and is at the cheaper end of 1/10, brand-name crawlers. Not hugely capable and lacks an interior, but it is pretty! Review and video here.

TF2 RC Crawler behind TRX6

WPL C44KM: though it’s just a footnote in this article, this little 1/16 scale 4×4 is a fun little build – though be prepared for a more challenging build than the larger 1:10 scale options. WPL make a cheap machine that is excellent value for money, but the instructions are somewhat minimal. It’s a great little crawler – find out more about it in our video! Grabs yours here.

Step 5: Get Out There!

Hopefully you’ve found something you like in this list of crawlers. There are more to be explored than what’s listed here, but honestly, if you buy any of the models listed in this article, you are guaranteed to get a good feel for RC crawling and many rewarding hours enjoying your scale rig on the trails and rocks.

As I’ve said above, the best RC rock crawler is the one you own. Though the bug bites many of us and we end up with more than one, the best recommendation I can make is to just get out there and enjoy your truck!

TRX4 Defender RC Crawler

Make sure you keep an eye on our YouTube channel as there are more vehicles, tests, reviews, comparisons and experiments being added every week.

If you need a place to buy kits, models, parts and upgrades, I’ve used AsiaTees for years. We now have an affiliate link with them to help support our site (https://www.asiatees.com/shop-now?rc_pal=3736303730) so if you start there and buy anything after that, we’ll get a small commission. If you use this, thank you for your support! (And even if you don’t use it, ATees is known for its solid shipping options and excellent after-sales service. Other great international stores are Amain Hobbies, Tower Hobbies (now Horizon Hobbies) and RCMart).

Happy trails,

-Craig, RC-TNT

Craig, RC-TNT

All photos, videos and text in this article were created by and are the sole property of RC-TNT. Unauthorised reproduction or use of these media is strictly prohibited. RC crawling is awesome, so stop reading the fine print and get out there and enjoy it!