Author Archives: Tim Gluth

Score a Free Gift from Carisma with the Purchase of a GT24 R/C Car

Score a Free Gift from Carisma with the Purchase of a GT24 R/C Car

Offer good from September 1 – 10, 2017.

The folks at Carisma are offering up a sweet deal to kick off September. Between 9/1 and 9/10, 2017, you can purchase a GT24TR Truggy, GT24R Rally Car, or a GT24B Buggy and receive a free gift specific to each model.

These are the no-battery models, so you’ll need to supply your own 1S or 2S LiPo pack, however you’re getting some nice spare and option parts as a trade-off.

Carisma GT24TR Gift Pack

  • An additional, pre-painted body (GT24B)
  • Spare shock set (assembled)
  • Medium springs (for plastic oil-shocks)
  • Medium springs (for metal oil-shocks)
  • Soft springs (for plastic oil-shocks)

Carisma GT24R Gift Pack

  • Front suspension arm set
  • Center drive shaft set
  • Steering linkage set
  • Dog bone pair
  • Rear wing mount set (GT24B)
  • Clear body (GT24B)
  • Clear rear wing (GT24B)
  • Green wheels and tires (GT24B)

Carisma GT24B Gift Pack

  • Pre-painted PS Edition body (GT24B)
  • Front suspension arm set
  • Hard springs (for plastic oil shocks)
  • 12T pinion gear
  • 13T pinion gear
  • 14T pinion gear

If you’ve been on the fence about which GT24 model to get, some of these gift packs will allow you to change up the configuration of your machine and expanding on your hobby fun.

Learn more about this special offer at carisma-shop.com.

Image credit: Carisma

Discounts on Select Dromida Models During Tower Hobbies “Hot Buys” Sale

Discounts on Select Dromida Models During Tower Hobbies “Hot Buys” Sale

If you’re looking for small-scale R/C on or off-road excitement, you don’t have to look far to find it. With a number of models available, you may find yourself basing your decision on price and appearance. If you’re a bargain-shopper, Tower Hobbies has you in mind with their latest sale.

Between now and September 8, 2017, you can save $50 on Dromida’s two on-road focused machines. Their brushed-powered, four-wheel drive Touring Car and Rally Car have been discounted to $49.99 a piece and make for some low-cost, durable fun.

The discounts don’t stop there either, as you can couple this sale with Tower Hobbies coupons to save even more money. Check out the deal for yourself and learn more at towerhobbies.com.

Image credit: Dromida

LaTrax Introduces the Desert Prerunner 4×4

LaTrax Introduces the Desert Prerunner 4×4

Get your off-road kicks on a smaller scale (and budget) with the latest offering from LaTrax.

The LaTrax lineup of 1/18 vehicles doesn’t boast large numbers, but what they do have is a solid fleet of small-scale, fun-filled R/C machines. Recently, their surface machines received small updates in the form of Traxxas iD battery/ESC connectors. Another change is in the removal of their SST 4WD truck.

Having seen this specific model up close (and secretly wanting one for a while), I was worried that my opportunity to pick one up had slipped away. Thankfully, LaTrax has announced a replacement model; their Desert Prerunner 4×4. This new truck sports a redesigned body shell and familiar chassis components.

LaTrax Desert Pretunner 4x4 - Side

Featuring a molded light bar and raised hood accents this new body looks quite aggressive and slightly less “boxy” than its predecessor. Two color schemes are available (red and blue), allowing you to easily race and bash with your friends. Under the lid, the components are the same as what you would have found on the LaTrax SST.

A durable, nylon chassis tub serves as the base for the tightly-packed electronic components. A waterproof electronic speed control (ESC), steering servo and sealed receiver box will let you carry on your fun, no matter what the weather conditions may bring.

LaTrax Desert Pretunner 4x4 - Chassis

A brushed 370 motor powers this small-scale truck and an included 7.2v NiMh battery provides the juice to keep it rolling. This model also utilizes Traxxas iD connectors and includes an AC wall charger.

LaTrax Desert Prerunner Specs

  • Length: 12.16″ (309mm)
  • Front Track: 6.73″ (171mm)
  • Rear Track: 6.73″ (171mm)
  • Weight (with battery): 26.06oz (739g)
  • Weight (without battery): 20.16oz (572g)
  • Height (overall): 4.61″ (117mm)
  • Wheelbase: 6.44″ (164mm)
  • Wheel Diameter: 1.38″ (35mm) (Outer)
  • 1.85″ (47mm) (Inner)
  • Shock Length (front/rear): 2.36″ (60mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 0.59″ (15mm)
  • Front/Rear Tires: Slash
  • Front/Rear Wheels: 5-Spoke
  • Electronic Speed Control: Waterproof Forward/Reverse ESC
  • Motor (electric): 370 Brushed
  • Transmission: 10T Pinion / 60T Spur
  • Gear Ratio (internal): 2.5:1
  • Overall Drive Ratio: 15:1 (Stock, Out-of-box)
  • Differential Type: Hardened Steel Bevel (Ring and Pinion)
  • Gear Pitch: 0.5 Mod.
  • Chassis Structure/Material: Molded Composite Nylon Monocoque
  • Brake Type: Electronic
  • Drive System: Shaft-Driven 4WD
  • Steering: Bellcrank
  • Radio System: 2.4GHz Radio

The LaTrax Desert Prerunner 4×4 is priced at $139.99 and can be purchased online and at your local LaTrax dealer.

Image credit: LaTrax

Learn more about the complete lineup of LaTrax radio-controlled vehicles with the LaTrax Buyer’s Guide.

HPI’s Formula Q32 Micro-racers are Ready for Action

HPI’s Formula Q32 Micro-racers are Ready for Action

Introduced in early 2016, the HPI Formula Q32 has taken the green flag. With this addition to the growing Q32 lineup, HPI takes their base 1/32-scale chassis configuration and  marries it to a Formula 1-style race car body.

These cars are perfect for indoor driving and racing. The Formula Q32 features “real steer”, proportional steering and is controlled by HPI’s TF-60 2.4Ghz radio system.

Equipped with foam tires, this tiny racer should have ample grip on most indoor surfaces. The vehicle itself is charged through a connection to the transmitter, so you won’t need to carry an additional charger and cables with you when you take this car on the go.

Also included in this ready-to-run kit are track dots and a ramp for setting up your own indoor race courses and obstacles. If you want to run these head-to-head, two color options are available (red/white and yellow/blue/white) and a clear body and wing set can also be purchased more cars to your grid.

HPI Formula Q32 Specs

  • Length: 110mm
  • Width: 75mm
  • Height: 44mm
  • Wheelbase: 82mm

The HPI Formula Q32 small-scale racer is priced at $54.99 and is available online and at your local HPI dealer. Learn more about this 1/32-scale racer at hpiracing.com.

Image credit: HPI

Hands-on: Painting Pro-Line’s Ambush 4×4 Jeep Wrangler Body Kit

Out of all of the small-scale radio-controlled vehicles in my fleet, the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4 sits atop the heap as one of my favorites. From its compact size to the fun, adventure-ready styling, this has been a terrific “grab & go” vehicle for just about any occasion.

The original body style holds a special place for me, as I’m a fan of the International Scout (although you could argue whether or not the Ambush body is truly a Scout or a Ford Bronco). Even though my love for this lid is strong, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase Pro-Line’s latest option part for this 1/25-scale crawler, a Jeep Wrangler body ($22.91).

A Closer Look at Pro-Line’s Ambush 4×4 Jeep Wrangler Body

My overall R/C body painting experience is…minimal. The first body I painted was for a Traxxas Slash and I experimented with a paint that wasn’t rated for use with polycarbonate material. If you’re looking for ways to paint a body on the cheap, I highly recommend not following my path.

Since that time, I have done a bit of paint work on ABS bodies (Tamiya Grasshopper) as well as some external body painting on a few larger-scale machines. This was my first attempt at a small-scale paint job and I wanted to make sure I headed into battle with a solid selection of materials.

I chose Duratrax polycarbonate paint for this project and after seeing the results, I’m not regretting that decision. My original plan was to apply multiple colors to this vehicle, with base coat being orange and the trim (fenders, hard top, etc) being gun-metal gray or black. After I saw how beautiful the gun-metal color was in person, I decided to paint the entire body that color. Early attempts at masking the inside of the body didn’t pan out, so I chose the all-or-nothing approach to this painting project.

Preparing the Pro-Line Ambush 4x4 Jeep body for paint.

Prepping for Paint

Before you start-up any R/C painting project, it’s a good idea to wash the inside (or outside for ABS) of the body with some warm water and dish soap. This will remove any residue which may have been left over from the mold-forming process.

Applying paint is a straightforward process, but I’ve managed to learn a few tricks in my short time hobby-painting. If you lay down a light coat first, you’ll help establish a nice base layer and can reduce the occurrence of window mask bleeds or runs. Again, I speak from experience when I say don’t rush any painting project. Especially if you want it to look good in the end.

Pro-Line Ambush 4x4 Jeep body painting under way.

After applying multiple (4-5) coats of paint, I was happy with how the body looked. There wasn’t any daylight shining through and the covering appeared to be very solid. I backed the base coat with a few layers of light gray primer, which was also the same color I used for the interior tray.

Pro-Line's Ambush 4x4 Jeep body shining in the sun.

The Body Shop

With the painting complete, the next step was to trim the extra polycarbonate material from the body. This can be a bit time-consuming, however the small size of this model made the process seem quick. After cutting away the material, take sandpaper or a file to the edges to remove any small bits of material or level any uneven areas.

Much to my original dismay, the decals for this body kit aren’t pre-cut. There was some momentary dread at the thought of hand-cutting each tiny decal out, however, this worry was premature as the process wasn’t too complex. Make sure you lay off the caffeine beforehand and you should be fine.

Pro-Line Jeep Wrangler body for the Ambush 4x4

Ready for a Shakedown

If I rushed any part of this project, it was getting the fit of the body to be “just right”. I didn’t pay attention to the fine details in the product photos which Pro-Line posted, which give away some body mounting tips (if you look hard enough). There are no mounting instructions which come with this body kit, so in a sense, you’re on your own.

Getting everything to settle into place doesn’t take long, it just takes patience. With that said, the entire project went smoothly and I’ve very happy with the end result. While the painting portion of this project has wrapped up, I’m nowhere near finished with this body project. More accents and details are coming, but the bulk of the work has been completed.

If you’re an owner of the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4 and want to give it a fresh look, this Jeep Wrangler body kit is worth taking a look at.

Save 10% on your next order at prolineracing.com with coupon code “RCNEWB10”!

Carisma’s UK Test Track Will Make You Cry (Tears of Joy)

Carisma’s UK Test Track Will Make You Cry (Tears of Joy)

I’ve seen some impressive R/C track layouts in my day, but this video of Carisma’s UK test track takes the cake. Featuring dips, curves, elevation changes and whoops, this track has just about anything you’d need to test the durability and performance of a small-scale radio-controlled vehicle.

Feast your eyes on this clip as a Carisma GT24R takes to the track for a quick run. If anything, this is a jolt of inspiration for a future weekend project. Who needs a deck or patio in their backyard when you could build a race track?

Image credit: Carisma

Save $30 on Carisma’s GT24R 1/24 Rally Car at Amazon.com

Save $30 on Carisma’s GT24R 1/24 Rally Car at Amazon.com

The speedy set of vehicles in Carisma’s GT24 lineup are not only impressive, but they’re priced at just north of $100 (109.99). For that price, you’re getting a brushless-powered mini-R/C vehicle that’s crazy-fast and crazy-fun.

Now you can snap up the GT24R Rally Car for $79.99 at Amazon.com. In addition to the $30 discount, the GT24R also qualifies for Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping (among other member benefits). This sale might not stick around long, so if you’re looking to grab a small-scale radio-controlled rally car for less than $100, this is a model to consider.

Carisma GT24R 1/24-scale Radio-Controlled Rally Car

Image credit: Carisma

Dromida’s BL Monster Truck: The Review

Dromida’s BL Monster Truck: The Review

“Whoa”. That is the one word uttered by everyone who took a turn driving the Dromida BL Monster Truck during my review. Myself included. On the surface, this 1/18-scale R/C truck may not look like much, but once you mash the throttle, you’ll soon discover that there’s more to this machine than meets the eye.

When this model arrived on my doorstep, courtesy of Hobbico, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My recent 1/18-scale experiences had ranged from the low-slung LaTrax Rally to the off-road Axial Yeti Jr. Rock Racer. Both of those vehicles were amazing to drive and relatively fast. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the power that the BL Monster Truck was hiding under its hood.

A Quick-charge Summary

  • Insanely-fast
  • Great handling and performance
  • Durable and very resistant to crashes and tumbles
  • An excellent choice for speed-seekers and bashers

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Dromida BL Monster Truck Specifications

  • Length: 10.6 in (270 mm)
  • Width: 7.8 in (198 mm)
  • Height: 4.6 in (117 mm)
  • Weight w/battery: 1.4 lb (632 g)
  • Price: $149.99

What’s in the Box

  • 1 Dromida BL Monster Truck (1/18-scale, ready-to-run)
  • 1 2.4GHz, 2-channel radio transmitter
  • 1 7.2v, 1300 NiMh battery (for truck)
  • 1 USB battery charger (for truck)
  • 4 AA batteries (for transmitter)
  • 1 Instruction manual

The Body

It may be easy to dismiss the appearance of a non-licensed R/C body, but there’s something to be said for making a “no-name” car or truck lid appealing. The BL Monster Truck features an eye-grabbing red base with white, orange, and black flames across the hood and sides. It looks mean, and it looks fast. The question now becomes, is it all show and no go?

DSC_0453

The Chassis

Starting from the ground up, the Dromida BL Monster truck features a stance that’s somewhere between a 1:1 monster truck and a short course truck. With a wide stance, this truck has been surprisingly nimble and fun to drift and slide on pavement and gravel.

The chassis tub is compact and carries a low profile. The arrangement of the internal components is well thought-out, taking up almost every available millimeter of space. Weight has been distributed evenly, with the battery and motor on opposite sides of the chassis and the radio receiver, ESC (electronic speed control) and other components distributed throughout the chassis tub.

If (and when) the BL Monster Truck takes to the air, there isn’t much body lean (side-to-side or front to back). This overall balance makes jumping and launching the truck skyward almost as fun as keeping it glued to the ground.

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When you do find yourself taking to the air, the fear of hard landings is quickly put to rest, thanks to the four ample, oil-filled shocks which provide cushion and support to this truck. The overall suspension travel is impressive. Quite impressive, actually.

After sending this truck into the air on more than one occasion (not to mention, in a variety of “maneuvers”), there are only a few select scuffs on the bottom of the chassis. This is a drastic contrast to other models that I’ve driven, and speaks volumes to the stock suspension setup.

Dromida BL Monster Truck - Backwards Jumping

During my review, I kept the BL Monster Truck in stock suspension setup. There are adjustment rings provided, however, I didn’t see the need to use them as I was very happy with the out-of-the-box performance.

Traction and handling performance was very crisp, with more than a few opportunities to let this truck slide around and drift around. The tires, although appearing to be big and beefy, have a low profile without much sidewall flex. This helped keep the truck nimble, allowing it to “thread the needle” of numerous obstacles.

The Battery

While the battery of a RTR radio-controlled car or truck usually isn’t something to make note of, I must say that the run time and overall power provided by the 7.2v, 1300mah NiMh battery was quite impressive. I was seeing run times of 10-15 minutes on a full charge, with almost all of that time being spent hard on the throttle.

Charging time is decent, taking 20-35 minutes using the included USB charger. Plugging the unit into a computer will take the longest time to achieve a complete charge, so you’re better off using a smartphone or tablet USB charging adapter to get the job done quickly.

Dromida BL Monster Truck

The Controller

Regardless of where this topic sits in my review, the radio transmitter is one of the most important pieces of your R/C experience. Not only does it provide the control and range needed to drive (or fly), but it’s the only tactile connection you have to your R/C model. If the feel isn’t right, chances are, you won’t enjoy your time behind the wheel.

To that end, the controller which is included with the Dromida BL Monster Truck is quite comfortable. It has a smooth, ergonomic grip that feels great while holding it and the controls are all placed in easy to find, easy to reach locations. I could quickly adjust my steering and throttle trim without having to perform too many head-nods.

Range for the radio system was equally impressive as I was able to send the truck across a large parking lot and back again without any interruption.

The Motor

Ah yes, this is where the real fun begins, and where memories of previous 1/18-scale experiences joined me in a chorus of “Whoa!”. The brushless motor of the Dromida BL Monster Truck is what really makes this beast shine. Your first reaction, at least my first reaction to handling any new R/C machine, is to mash the trigger and see what it can do. Don’t get me wrong, brushed motors can have their own level of pep, but that is quickly overshadowed by the raw, blinding speed achieved by a brushless system.

The 5300kv motor puts out more speed than I knew what to do with (in some cases). At least, it was more speed than my driveway was willing to handle. Thankfully, a road trip to a wide-open parking lot provided the perfect spot to let this truck roam free and stretch its legs.

“I Wanna Go Fast!”

Everyone has their own, inner Ricky Bobby yearning to break free. The trouble, however, can be do you have the space needed to go fast? While 1/10-scale and larger R/C machines can carry impressive speed, the space required to accommodate, and fully appreciate that speed, can be excessive.

With smaller-scale R/C vehicles, the amount of space required for top-end performance is greatly reduced. For suburb-dwellers such as myself, that formula of size and speed made the Dromida BL Monster Truck an excellent test machine in that regard. From narrow sidewalks to a short driveway, not to mention a backyard that’s hardly a palatial spread. Would the space I had be enough to fully enjoy what this brushless-powered truck had to offer?

The answer to that question came to me as soon as I ran my first battery pack through the machine. I won’t come right out and say it, but the fact that I was able to rip through a full charge and couldn’t wait to recharge the battery for another spin.

 

DSC_0434

No matter the terrain, this monster truck was a great performer. Although taller grass (1.5” and up) Gave the traction of the tires a tougher time, it motored through at a reasonable speed. I set up some ramps in the back yard and easily performed jumps, flips, and a few cartwheels (with one of my kids landing a sweet backwards flip).

From there it was time to test pavement performance, where the lower-profile tires were given a chance to shine. When I took this truck out of the box, the tires gave the appearance of being a harder compound, however, that appearance quickly went away after they were properly broken in through wheelspin.

DSC_0449

The BL Monster Truck showed amazing performance on my driveway and sidewalk tests, which allowed for higher-speed jumps and durability testing. One one landing/crash, a dogbone axle/drive shaft popped out of place, causing a brief moment of panic. Popping it back into the socket was the quickest fix I’ve ever experienced with an R/C vehicle “repair”. After that, it was as good as new and ready to take on the next challenge.

Sparing the details of each small adventure this truck went on, I have driven it on a variety of surfaces and there wasn’t anything that gave this machine fits. Each time I had to pack it up and head home for a recharge, the grin on my face and the white-knuckle grip on my hand told the story of how my session played out.

Is the Dromida BL Monster Truck Right for You?

Now we get to the real meat of the review. Is this truck worth spending your money on? Without a doubt, I’d say “YES”! With this being my first experience with a Dromida surface vehicle, I wasn’t sure what to expect. From the build quality, and durability to the performance and overall joy this machine brought me (and others), it’s made me take a hard look at the other vehicles in Dromida’s lineup.

IMG_0341

For the price of $149.99, you’d have to search high and low to find a vehicle that’s as durable, fast, and fun as the BL Monster Truck. It not only held up to my, at times, out of control driving, but it quickly became the favorite “go fast” truck for my kids. In fact, if it wasn’t securely nestled in my review “garage”, it would probably be stored in my oldest son’s room. That is, if it isn’t already there. Sneaky kid.

In all honesty, nothing about this model has disappointed me. And while I haven’t met a R/C vehicle that I haven’t enjoyed, I’m thankful that the Dromida BL Monster Truck is keeping that streak alive.

Where to Buy the Dromida BL Monster Truck

Pro-Line’s Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Body Kit for the Ambush 4×4

Pro-Line’s Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Body Kit for the Ambush 4×4

The Pro-Line Ambush 4×4 has become one of my go-to small-scale R/C machines. From its compact size to the pure joy I get from driving it, the Ambush 4×4 brings much of what I love about the scale R/C world into an entirely new arena.

While the stock body on this 1/25-scale scale trail truck is great, there’s always the desire to change it up and customize it. To that end, Pro-Line has announced a new body option for their tiny truck; a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Clear Body with included interior.

Pro-Line Ambush 4x4 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Body - Side

This new body kit is made of durable GE Lexan and features authentic styling details that you’d find on a 2-door, 1:1 Jeep Wrangler. Molded grill and headlight details, fender flares, hood and door lines, and more give this small-scale body some big-time visual pop.

Adding to the exterior details, this body package also includes a clear interior tray which can be painted and detailed as much, or as little, as you’d like. The driver figure that is included with the Ambush 4×4 ready-to-run model can easily be transferred over to this interior, so your rig will never have to be driverless.

Pro-Line Ambush 4x4 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Body - Interior

Along with the body shell and interior, the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4 Jeep Rubicon Body kit also includes window masks and a decal sheet to help you finish off your customized ride with style.

Priced at $22.91, this new body option for the Ambush 4×4 will be available at prolineracing.com in late-June (2017).

If you haven’t yet experienced the Ambush 4×4 for yourself, check out my review of this small-scale rig.

Image credit: Pro-Line

Save 10% on your next prolineracing.com order with coupon code “RCNEWB10”.

First Impressions: Dromida’s BL Monster Truck

First Impressions: Dromida’s BL Monster Truck

More than a simple speed boost, this is a complete performance overhaul.

Dromida’s line of 1/18-scale surface R/C vehicles have become popular models for many reasons. Their low cost make them great entry-level vehicles for newbies or perfect add-ons for growing a radio-controlled car collection. Their Speed Series gave these small-scale machines another lease on life through the addition of smooth, efficient brushless power.

They recently sent their latest creation (the Dromida BL Monster Truck) my way for a shake-down and review. Although my time with it has been limited, I must say, I like what I see.

Dromida BL Monster Truck Specs:

  • Length: 10.6 in (270 mm)
  • Width: 7.8 in (198 mm)
  • Height: 4.6 in (117 mm)
  • Weight w/battery: 1.4 lb (632 g)
  • Price: $149.99

What’s Included:

  • 1 Dromida BL Monster Truck (1/18-scale, ready-to-run)
  • 1 2.4GHz, 2-channel radio transmitter
  • 1 7.2v, 1300 NiMh battery (for truck)
  • 1 USB battery charger (for truck)
  • 4 AA batteries (for transmitter)
  • 1 Instruction manual

Unboxing the Dromida BL Monster Truck

Charged up and Ready to Roll

As I write this, I have the largest Cheshire Cat grin on my face. The BL Monster Truck is, simply put, fast. Crazy fast. Stupid fast. Gloriously, unabashedly, and perfectly…fast.

On a full charge, the stock NiMh battery supplies a steady stream of juice to the 5300kv brushless motor. Mash the throttle trigger and that’s when the fun begins. While this truck has a variety of settings to adjust the launch, braking, and control setup, the stock settings are more than enough to turn this vehicle into a rocket.

The low-profile tires and wide stance give it plenty of stability for drifting and the tires provide enough grip for torque-filled launches. With all of this grip, there is more than enough power to break traction and test your driving ability.

The stock suspension setup absorbs bumps and jumps without adding excessive rebound. This helps in keeping the truck planted after a landing and also keeps it grounded as it flies over uneven terrain.

There have been (quite) a few landings that haven’t gone according to plan. Whether the driver got squirrely on takeoff or the landing area wasn’t as smooth as originally thought, the Dromida BL Monster Truck has been sent on a few acrobatic excursions in the short time I’ve been driving it. Through it all, it’s come out looking (and performing like a champ). There was one instance where a front axle shaft became dislocated, but a quick pit stop fixed that up and we were back to bashing in no time.

At $149.99, the Dromida BL Monster Truck raises the level of fun and performance of its brushed brother. Combining grab-and-go portability with a quick and responsive motor, this is an option worth looking at if your need for speed is saddled with a budget.