The past weeks seems to have been a veritable storm of new crawlers appearing from a number of manufacturers.
In alphabetical order, hot in the heels of their 6×6 Unimog, Axial racing have released the Capra Unlimited Trail Buggy. Featuring portal axles, 1.9 tyres, dig transmission for FWD or 4WD this builders kit is every bit the competition buggy for those wanting more performance. More details at http://www.axialracing.com/products/axi03004
Last but never least, Traxxis have jumped on the 6×6 bandwagon with their version of the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. Hardly what you would call a subtle vehicle in real life, the licenced RC version is no less flashy! With a high detail body, LED lights and an apparently radical chassis design this vehicle certainly stands out from the crowd. For all the details visit Traxxas at https://traxxas.com/products/landing/trx6-g63/
Sometimes you see Aussie products all around the world, and today we’ve seen them at the Worlds at Huddy Arena in Slovakia with Aussie racers Jordan Isergin and Lachlan Donnelly. Good luck not only to these two, but all of the Australians racing at the Worlds.
Last weekend the Hearns Hobbies 2019 Electric, Off Road, Tasmanian State Titles was held at the Launceston R/C Track at Quercus Park in Carrick Tasmania. Supported by Hearns Hobbies and Launceston Toyota the event was another success for Launceston R/C.
Got a Traxxas Slash, but you really want a dragster, then this new body from PROTOform is for you!!!
Transform your Slash® 2wd truck into a scale 1/4-mile beast with the new PROTOform Chevrolet Corvette C7 Pro-Mod! Our first body dedicated to the growing SC Drag Racing class features a ton of realistic details to give your car a super unique, race-inspired look.
The C7 Pro-Mod is a convenient 1-piece body design with no assembly necessary: just paint it up in your favorite colors and start burning rubber! We recommend using Pro-Line Racing#Hoosier 2.2″ Drag Racing Front Tires on the front and Hoosier Drag Slick SC 2.2″/3.0″ Drag Racing Tires in the rear combined with a set of #Pomona Drag Spec Wheels for the ultimate scale hot-rod stance.
To create a more scale look, this officially-licensed body is designed with a narrower track width than a traditional SC body and will require some modifications to your 2wd Slash® in order to fit correctly. Check out the product page link below for more details!
I’ve seen so many 6×6 builds over the years based on the SCX10 chassis, and of the mainstream crawler manufacturers, the trucks from Cross RC are about the only 6×6 on the market, well no more. Hot on the heels of their latest 4×4 Unimog, comes this mighty 6×6 Unimog truck you can see all the details at http://www.axialracing.com/products/axi03002
With a Dual cab body and massive tray, there is no denying that the truck looks amazing, and from the video Axial Racing have posted it looks to be functional as well. Whilst not the cheapest crawler on the market, there is no denying it has that X factor to it, and buckets full of “I want that!”
The hinged tray for battery access is a clever idea, and I can see so many other 6×6 builds beginning from this vehicle. I only hope that they also release a kit version for those keen for their own build.
This vehicle also answers another question that many asked when Horizon Hobby took over Axial Racing. “Will they continue to innovate”. I think this truck places us well on the path to a resounding yes!
Yes yes, I know that the trail finder 2 has been around for a while, but this one is new to me and the amazing team at RC4WD were generous enough to send me one to test out their amazing new 4Runner body which I built and reviewed earlier this year, details can be found here.
I have made a few kits in the past, although admittedly none have them have been rock crawlers, and certainly nothing like the Trail Finder 2 from RC4WD. To put it simply, opening the box is like uncovering a paint by numbers masterpiece, especially with the chassis rails taking centre stage when you first open the box. Every nut, bolt and screw is in i’s own clearly labelled bag, and the instructions are incredibly thorough with very little ambiguity, if you read them through. I was honestly amazed at how small the box was as well, however there is a lot packed into that box very cleverly. Another thing you will find is very little plastic, almost all of the kit is metal parts with a few small exceptions, so make sure you pack some threadlock if you don’t already have some ready when you are building this kit.
So you have gotten over your initial excitement and it is time to start building. The instructions follow a logical sequence stepping through the build of the vehicle. The screws and small parts are in bags labelled very clearly, and the instructions don’t presume to try and tell you numbers for the major parts, simply choosing to show an image which is more than enough to identify it by.
With all the metal screws in metal parts you will need your threadlock handy throughout most of the build. I found the build of the kit a somewhat cathartic experience compared to my past build of predominantly composite kits. once the two chassis rails come together for the first time to form that familiar ladder chassis was also a satisfying moment. With metal parts fitting so precisely and screws always just the right length, I know I sound a little OCD here, but I enjoyed the build.
Steps 29 and 30 however I had a little difficulty with as once they were fitted (and I had to back of the chassis side screws just a little to get the transmission to drop in), I was getting a little binding in the transmission and I couldn’t work out why or where. I ended up isolating the issue to the screws in step 19 which holds the transmission. It was like tightening them too much caused some tightness, however leaving them a little looser, but with some threadlock to hold them in place resulted in a silky smooth movement in the system.
One fascinating part of the Trail Finder 2 chassis is the 2 speed transmission, just like a full size 4wd. Initially I didn’t have a spare radio so I did not install the 2nd servo to control the High / Low shift. You still can use the vehicle and manually shift this from beneath the vehicle if and when it is needed, however there is something infinitely satisfying about hitting the channel 3 button to switch into low range from the radio. A 4 channel radio is the best money I have spent on a radio in years!
The place that I made the most mistakes in the build was step 46, the wheels. I got to this step on page 25 and thought yup, just bolt the wheels together. So I pushed and shoved the screws to try and get the wheel parts to clamp the tyres onto the internal beadlocks. It was hell on my hands and I ended up snapping one of the little M2 screws to boot. However I got them done and turned the page to 26 to continue the build. Then I saw step 48 where you use two longer screws to pull the wheel together before inserting the correct screws to finish the wheels. Then I cried for a while for being so stupid, dried my tears and moved on.
Then about 2 weeks later and a few runs on the trail I noticed I was missing wheel nuts on the right hand side of the vehicle, two on each wheel in fact. After puzzling over this for a while and examining the wheels I realised that after all the trouble I had with the beadlock wheel nuts and screws I had never thread locked those tiny nuts. I had also had trouble holding the nuts with pliers to tighten them as I didn’t have a small enough spanner to hold them, or so I thought…. I reached out to my local crawling group on Facebook and received an excellent piece of advice from Stephen (thanks mate) about a small set of Supercheap Spanners in a funky paint scheme. This rattled a memory and after a search of my tool box I found a set that I had purchased for a job on my Series 2 Land Rover, and low and behold, the smallest one (4mm) worked like it was made for the job, and made that job far simpler!
Building the body, well you can already read about the 4Runner build, so I won’t double up on that here. In terms of equipment, well an old 27 turn silver can took the motor stage as well as a couple of spare servos and finally a Spektrum DX4s took the radio slot and a spare hobbywing speed controller to drive the operation. Essentially what I had lying about the place. That said, a crawler isn’t a static thing, so expect that combination to change and evolve along the way, the same goes for accessories, a rig like this NEEDS some scale accessories added to the build!
Now came that part I had been itching to do since I started this build, drive it!
To begin with, most of the time I had spent behind the wheel of a crawler to date has been driving a SCX10, what is probably one of the most common rock crawlers out there. Now before anybody yells at me, the Trail Finder 2 really is a Trail Truck or Scale Truck, rather than a Rock Crawler I know, but the SCX is an excellent baseline for me to compare to.
Dynamics of the Trail Finder 2 (TF2) are somewhat different to the average crawler, it is a little heavier than your average truck, and a LOT heavier than your average racing buggy. As such it has a much higher centre of gravity than I am used to. This certainly has an adverse effect on some obstacles such as side slopes and climbing / ascending. Even with leaf springs it will not tolerate as extreme angles across a slope.
Crossing rough terrain is a similar problem, large rocks and cross axle situations see the TF2 struggling to articulate enough to gain traction, and the narrower tyres limit the opportunities for grip. The locked differentials do help keep the vehicle moving forwards however. Approach and departure angles likewise mean that larger obstacles soon stop progress as compared with a SCX10.
BUT, this is a Trail Truck, not a rock crawler. Both it’s appearance, and performance are fare more accurate representations of a real life leaf sprung vehicle, in fact on suitable scale terrain, it is an absolute delight to watch traversing obstacles and trails, something it does with aplomb and grace. The more you drive it the more the suspension seems to loosen up and move with the terrain. Yes, the body can be hung up, but that is part of the fun ensuring that you pick lines where this isn’t a problem, and it is so satisfying when you get it right and glide through a tough section of track. From rocky terrain, to walking trails, 4wd tracks, playgrounds and paddocks, i’ve not found anywhere that the TF2 doesn’t shine at doing exactly what it is designed to do, with zero complaints or problems. Even the low range change is smooth and satisfying when it snicks home.
In honesty, I think this truck has spawned a new addiction for me, and my land rover addiction has me eyeing off the RC4WD Gelande II D110 , but I have more plans for the 4Runner first……
I was ecstatic when RC4WD contacted me to review their new hard body for the Trail Finder 2 chassis late last year. However try as I may I couldn’t wheedle out of them what it was until it arrived at my door. As we know now, it was a Toyota 4Runner from 1985 that came out of that box, and today we can now reveal the finished product in all it’s 80’s glory!
My first impressions of the kit when I opened the box was of amazement at the level of detail that it included from big details like opening doors, tailgate and bonnet, down to stickers for the dashboard, instruction placard for 4wd and even the tiny indicator stalks on the steering column. At this time my excitement moved a little into the arena of panic. Whilst I have built an worked on a lot of RC cars from Kits to RTR’s, this was my first detailed hard body from any firm, let alone one with a reputation for amazing detail like Rc4wd, and I really didn’t want to make a mess of it. But then how different could it be to the model plane and tank kits I used to make not so many years ago…. right?
So working with a combination of tools for my radio control racing pit bag, and my modelling toolbox I set off on the build. Naturally the first step was reading the instructions and then I put it all away for the next most important step, research. Below are the images that I used for inspiration.
No, i’m not mad (ok, maybe a little) but a key part of any project like this is knowing what the vehicles looked like in real life, and knowing what colours you want to paint it, what markings (in this case stickers) you need to use, and details like bumper colours etc etc. With that done and deciding to go with a bright red colour scheme I purchased a can or red paint, some black and browns for the interior, and the build could begin in earnest.
Tip 1: know your size, 1 pressure pack of tamiya paint may be fine for a small tank in 1:72 or 1:48, but not a big 1:10 4wd! In the end I used 3 cans of paint.
Tip 2: Don’t spray on windy days, I suspect I lost almost a whole can battling the wind in trying to get the bodywork painted. Don’t Rush, take your time.
Now I mentioned research and planning earlier, and planning is an important part of this built. If you just put the kit together as stated and tried to paint it, you would be left in a nightmare of close together parts that should be different colours. Even step one can’t really be completed until later in the build as you need to paint the taillights in 2 different colours, and the body needs to be painted before you can attach them. So plan ahead, and work out what gets put together before and after painting and you will be far happier with the result.
One thing I loved about the instructions is that they presume you know what you are doing. Parts are rarely needed to be labelled by their numbers, and the screws are also labelled clearly as to size and number needed for any given step. Not only that but each screw is in it’s own labelled bag, often with a spare in each size which I did need.
Tip 3: The screws that hold in the tail lights need 2 different screwdrivers, get it right or you strip the small M1.6 philips head screws. Spares in the kit to the rescue!
So whilst a first glance at the kit may be panic inducing, the steps move through logically and smoothly. All parts were good fits, especially the metal parts. I had to remove some moulding flash from a few parts, but it probably doesn’t show up when you look at it on a larger scale. I probably spent more time worrying about what colours what part would be than any concerns with the build itself.
I loved that all the lights have provision for LED lights to be fitted, and I thought the magnet built into the bonnet and frame to keep the bonnet closed (and a similar arrangement with the passenger doors) were very clever additions to this detailed kit. Similarly the great looking, but actually made of rubber so they don’t break off so easily rear view mirrors were also a clever inclusion.
Painting the large body proved to be my biggest headache with a lot more real estate to cover with paint than I am used to. As a result of rushing (yes, again take your time!) and inexperience I can see a slight variation in the colouring on a couple of my panels. Whilst it isn’t particularly noticeable it has given me a few ideas to weather the model from an as new look, to a work and repaired look of a well used vehicle, but that will be a topic of a different article.
Tip 4: Paint all of your exterior panels at the same time, and shake the c^@& out of the cans before you start spraying.
Tip 5: Don’t skimp on masking tape, the Tamiya tape is worth it over normal blue masking tape, and take it off as soon as you can, even between coats.
Tip 6: if you need to remove masking tape residue without damaging the paint, I found WD40 does wonder after trying about 20 other products.
Bits I didn’t like about the kit, well they are few and far between. The back of the headrests and interior of the canopy on the tray could have had a little more detail, but considering the detail there is to be found on this kit, it really is nit picking.
The Final Result
Well I would be telling porky pies of I said I was 100% happy with the result, but that is entirely down to small mistakes made on my part. As far is the kit is concerned, it is magnificent. It more than justifies it’s asking price and is rich in detail and features. Be it for a hard working crawler or shelf queen, it has certainly entered the annuls of the Crawler Hall of Fame as an iconic vehicle recreated with perfect clarity.
I have learnt a lot from the build, and enjoyed it more than a little, in fact I found myself contemplating what I could or would do differently, or improve upon, next time. I wonder what else RC4WD have up their sleeve. In the meantime, Brady, didn’t you have a Gelande 2 that needed some repairs ……