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/
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 ……
We can finally release details of the new 4Runner body from RC4WD. It has been in our hot little hands for just over a week now and we couldn’t say a word! For those that don’t know the 4Runner, it was basically a Toyota Hilux with an extra row of seats, a roll bar and a removable fibreglass canopy over the tray, and now you can have an RC one .
Now rc4wd have a reputation for amazing scale products, but I could not believe my eyes at the evel of detail when I opened the box, it was more like a fine scale model than rc model body. Opening doors, bonnet, removable tailgate, even warning label stickers! Newbies beware, some serious model making skills will be needed to complete this body to its full potential.
Needless to say, I will be taking my time to do the model justice, but I am wondering what colour I should paint it, any suggestions? Of course we will be keeping you all in the loop as the build progresses so keep an eye out for updates.
Injection Molded ABS Plastic
Clear ABS Windows
Dashboard with Steering Wheel
Opening Hood and Doors
Magnets Keep Hood/Doors Closed
Removable Top for Open Air Feel
Wheelbase: 11.3in / 287.0mm
Length: 19.1in / 484.2mm
Width: 7.73in / 196.4mm
Height: 5.57in / 141.5mm
Weight: 35.2oz / 997.0g
Finally a massive shout out to RC4WD for sending us this exciting body to test, as well as a trailfinder 2 to test it on, so keep your eyes peeled for that review too.
Yes the man in the red suit has delivered not one, but two boxes from RC4WD to the Aussie RC News office, so we have some building to do. Keep your eyes peeled for more news as this project progresses!
Over the last few weeks HPI racing have been posting a number of refreshed vehicles that will be new for 2019. These include versions of the WR8 rally car in Flux and Nitro versions (and colour changing paint), a F-150 Crawler King, new bodied E10, Jumpshot MT, RS4 Sport 3 Flux GT40 and Savage XS.
Ok, so I saw this one on facebook and honestly, I didn’t know who Jeff Johns was. However it was the crawler that he was holding that got my attention (see below)
This truck it turns out is the new Redcat Racing Gen 8 which looks awesome, and is due out soon, details of the vehicle in the video below. However the importance of the photo it turns out was in the man, not the machine. Jeff was a founder, co owner and president of Axial Racing (after a start with HPI), a somewhat famous name in the crawler scene, and with the purchase of Axial by Horizon Hobbies many have been asking if Axial will stay at the forefront of crawler development or just keep making trucks. However it is quite possible that this appointment will see a new name, Redcat, permeate further and further into the crawler market. Only time will tell I guess!
There is no doubt that the ER-12M 2.0 lightweight is a good looking 2wd buggy with its milled alloy chassis, carbon towers and beautifully presented shocks. I have also found that it is very similar to the Team Durango DEX210, which is probably a good thing considering these are a popular and well regarded buggy. Over a week I set out to build the ER-12 and review it as I went about building it.
Chassis and Towers
The chassis of this car is possibly the most striking I have ever seen and it went together very well, there were no issues at all and the car feels rock solid. The chassis has braces running the full length to add strength and the shock towers are made of 5mm thick carbon fibre. The chassis and towers are for me the most impressive part of the car and if you’re seeking a solid and tough platform that can handle the big impacts then this car is most definitely for you.
The arms on this car are made of a nice strong plastic and they have very little free play. Arms feature a grub screw so that you can adjust suspension droop in the same manner you would on an on-road car. Both front and rear arms are gullwing style, however there is currently no straight arm option available for the front of these cars, which would be more suited to Australian track conditions.
The space for the electronics can be tight, depending on what electronics you are fitting into your vehicle. I found that you must use a low profile servo with this vehicle or you will really struggle to fit anything in the front other than the smallest of electronics. I have used the electronics from my stadium truck in the test vehicle and I had to lightly grind a small section of the chassis brace in order to neatly fit it all in.
Another great feature of the chassis are the Intech monogrammed brass weights which can be placed in the front to improve weight distribution. I also liked the swing away carbon fibre battery straps and alloy thumb screws which not only look great but will make battery changes quick and easy.
Steering and Suspension
Steering on the ER-12 is an all alloy and carbon fibre affair with the drag link being carbon fibre and all other components being alloy. The steering is super smooth with the servo sitting inside a frame rather than on individual mounts.
Suspension is also impressive with an all alloy body, alloy cap and red anodised collar. Shocks went together pretty much the same as any other shocker I’ve built, are smooth and do not leak a drop. The pistons are slightly oversize at 12.4mm which means that you won’t be using your big bore TLR or AE pistons in this car. I found this a little frustrating as I have a plethora of 12mm pistons which would not fit the ER-12. The stock pistons are all 6 hole of varying sizes, I have chosen to use the 1.2mm up front with 30wt oil and the 1.3mm in the back with 25wt oil.
The ER-12 comes standard with a traditional style 4 gear transmission, however a 3 gear is also available. You also have a choice of ball or gear differential and I have chosen to build our ER-12 with the 4 gear transmission and with the ball differential. The ball differential went together easily and is very smooth, but make sure you fully compress the spring before assembly. I especially liked the caged thrust bearing which is carried on the inside of the outdrives, rather than outside, where they would be more susceptible to dirt ingression. The differential rings are also keyed and sit securely on the inside of the outdrives. The differential also has an all alloy T-nut which retains the main spring on the differential, rather than a plastic one. The top shaft of the transmission on the ER-12 is an interesting setup, as it is reversed with the slipper being adjusted from the rear. Overall the driveline has no slop, moves freely and is precise.
Body and wing
The body and wing is made of a quite thick and strong polycarbonate plastic, however the cut lines were not clear around the transmission and you will need to mark your own lines. This is necessary to get the body to fit around the transmission. Once you have cut a hole for the transmission the body fits well and comes with Velcro to secure it as well as a pin arrangement. I removed the pin arrangement and will just use the Velcro around the edges of the chassis to secure it.
The kit as a whole is very good but if I was to make any changes I would like to see the instructions printed a little bigger to make them clearer and also the screws placed in bags with labels telling you their size. This would speed up the build particularly if it was your first time building an Intech vehicle. I would also like Intech to provide in their instructions the spring rate of the kit springs, the number of teeth on the kit spur and the final drive ratio to make setting the car up easier.
The whole kit went together very well and has taken about 10 hours to build. Tolerances throughout the car are precise and overall the car has little to no slop in key areas such as the arms, steering and shock mounts. Components on this car are all top notch and you certainly get a lot of standard parts that others would call hop-ups and charge you extra for.
I originally intended to build and race this car in the stock buggy class but as I built it I have come to the conclusion that it would be better suited to the modified class. The solid build and lack of smaller spur options has meant that getting the ER-12 setup for modified will be far easier than stock.
In the new year I’ll be bringing you a full race and track review of the ER-12, so bring on the 2018 season!
Rcstore.com.au are currently offering 15% off the entire Intech Racing range and throwing in free Australian postage!
If you’d like check out the full range of Intech Racing cars and products check out www.intechracing.com or to get your hands on any of the cars in the Intech Racing range, contact the Australian distributor, Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (TEL) 0408 906 326. We also need to give a huge Thankyou to the team at Intech Racing and Rcstore.com.au
Here is what Lachlan had to say about his trip to the worlds in China!
2017 Worlds in China are all done, and boy do I have a lot to say! Ok, so in 2WD I qualified 63rd with some runs in the 40’s and 50’s but it was really hard to do better as I had some hacks in my group. Just crazy to see how different their racing etiquette is! In my final I led until the last lap, then hit a random bump and my car flipped 🙁 Such bad luck 🙁🙁 Finish 62nd. In 4wd I also had some top 40 and top 50 runs. I was getting pretty tired by then and I qualified and finished 66th^-^ even though I tried my hardest. I was hoping to win that race but I got hit pretty hard and I had to race with a bent shock absorber from lap 2! It was actually pretty fun taking the jumps with a broken car and still finishing 6th with a car that wouldn’t jump or turn properly. It was pretty funny. The early starts, late nights and dark racing were really challenging, as well as having a sore stomach, but I am very happy with my results overall as I smashed my top 100 goal🔥
My highlights (not in order!!!!)
Holding the Australian flag at the opening ceremony. Representing Australia
The worlds best drivers signing my B64 body
Meeting Masami Hirosaka
Holding the World Championship trophy with Ryan Maifield
Ty Tessman giving me his 4th place trophy and pass
Meeting new friends Clement Boda and Matthieux from France. Stéphane Boda
Getting interviewed by Liverc and visiting the Liverc box Aaron Waldron
Being on the drivers stand with Dad at a World Championship
Seeing the massive facility!
The bus ride home after the banquet with the funny Aussie team
“waiting for a taxi”
Sitting with the ‘rockstars’ in the AE team Spencer, Kyle, Ryan, Dustin
After the racing finished, we also did some sightseeing around Xiamen City. Now , i want to talk about my expectations vs reality side of things. I thought it would be like a giant metropolis! Well it was like that, but different in many ways. I thought it would be more tall buildings and apartments- well there were, but there were also lots of small buildings and traditional buildings. Was the traffic like i expected? No. Just.Plain.No. The drivers are crazy!!! Every day we thought we would be in an accident. There are huge buses and trucks swerving, people going the wrong way down the freeway, tuk tuks, mums on scooters with babies and no helmets, three cars wide in two lanes. One day we had a supersonic bus ride- we all cheered when we arrived back at the hotel safely.
I thought crowds would be like Australia, but with more room! Nope. It was very squishy, and it was a bit push to the front-ish. Actually it WAS push to the front-ish.Very much so. You have no personal space, and people kept wanting to touch and photograph me and my sister.
Now enough about that for now. Im going to talk aboutall the wonderful experiences! (well, mostly😂) One of the coolest things In my opinion was gulangyu island, nanputuo temple and the hotel! At the botanic gardens get this, we saw 30 weddings going on!!!! We also did a bit of rock hopping 🙂
Gulangyu island, which was a tourist island, had a great view of the ocean and some nice street food! The temple and botanical gardens was a massive day where we saw such beautiful gardens but had to climb hundreds of stairs. We also went to the hot spring in the hotel which was bliss 😁
The last day we basically spent nearly the whole time at the Airport waiting for our planes. Aaaaaaaand, now where back in Aussie Australia!!!!!!
All in all I learnt a lot and did much better that I thought I would. I also learnt that I have to do a lot more practice to be able to drive like the amazing drivers in the A-main final. I screamed so much watching them as they changed positions and raced so close. Maybe one day I can do that. I also learnt that China is an interesting and different place to visit, and that we are very lucky to have our life in Australia.
Thanks very much to everyone who has supported me in this journey to China! I read your messages but was too tired to respond. It was awesome having all of you cheering us on. I can honestly say I did my very very best.
Finally thanks to…… #HelloWorldWatergardens for helping me get to China and supporting me #RCRS Matt Griffin for his support
ACE- Matthew Kellett and Gary Kellett #TeamAssociated#ReedyPowered#JConcepts for the awesome products.
Mum and Dad for working on the car.
Jasmine for being a great sister.
Andrew Selvaggi for always helping out.
My Australian Team mates for their support and encouragement
The organisers for putting on such a cool event.
Bringing RC News and Reviews from right across Australia