Author Archives: Tim Gluth

Kyosho Mini-Z McLaren F1 GTR MR-03 RS

Kyosho Mini-Z McLaren F1 GTR MR-03 RS

If your small-scale R/C appeal centers around on-road vehicles, chances are, you’ve taken a look at Kyosho’s Mini-Z lineup. Between their fun performance and an array of ultra-realistic 1:1 bodies, this 1/27-scale radio-controlled car line is tough to beat.

A recent update has given these small-scale machines a new controller pairing, packaging this ready-to-run (RTR)/”Readyset” car with a Kyosho Syncro KT-531P transmitter. It’s noted that this upgrading transmitter won’t pair with previous models which used ASF/MHS/FHS 2.4GHz radio systems.

Kyosho MINI-Z RWD McLaren F1 GTR - Kit

Kyosho Mini-Z McLaren F1 GTR Specs:

  • Length: 184.0mm
  • Width: 79.0mm
  • Height: 44.0mm
  • Wheelbase: 98mm (LL)
  • Chassis: RWD (MR-03)
  • Front Wheel Offset: Narrow +2.5mm (for RWD)
  • Rear Wheel Offset: Wide +3.0mm (for RWD)
  • R/C System: Syncro KT-531P

Kyosho MINI-Z RWD McLaren F1 GTR - Rear

Priced at $129.99, the Kyosho Mini-Z McLaren F1 GTR will be available online. While it’s not the lowest cost small-scale machine on the market, you can’t deny it’s beautiful design and sharp looks.

Learn more about this model at kyoshoamerica.com.

Image credit: Kyosho

RC4WD’s Super-scale Dakar Rally RTR Race Truck

RC4WD’s Super-scale Dakar Rally RTR Race Truck

The folks at RC4WD have released a unique off-road R/C machine that’s sure to be the talk of the trail (or dunes). Their latest release is a well-detailed, 1/14-scale Dakar Rally Race Truck. Whether your a fan of the 1:1 Dakar Rally or just a fan of well-built, intricately-designed radio-controlled machines, this vehicle has something for just about everyone.

Made from heavy-duty materials such as aluminum, copper, ABS plastic, and polycarbonate, this beast weighs in at over 20 pounds (10.5KG). All of that heft should suit this truck well, no matter where it’s driven.

RC4WDD Dakar Rally Scale RTR Racer - Side

What strikes me about this model is the complete attention to detail that RC4WD has built into it. Every angle of this truck has some new scale goodies to admire.

A combination of leaf-spring and traditional shock suspension cushion the chassis from impacts and the detailed treads on the tires should carry the Dakar Rally racer over a variety of terrain.

RC4WDD Dakar Rally Scale RTR Racer - Chassis Details

This truck, while small(er) in scale is big on price. Ringing in at $799.99, this truck is for the serious scale R/C enthusiast. Learn more about the 1/14 Dakar Rally Scale RTR Race Truck at rc4wd.com.

Image credit: RC4WD

RPP Hobby’s Week-long Axial Yeti Jr. Sale (1/19 – 1/26)

RPP Hobby’s Week-long Axial Yeti Jr. Sale (1/19 – 1/26)

While I enjoy running my small-scale R/C machines indoors, I can’t wait for warmer weather to hit the Midwest so I can get my fleet outside (and really have fun). If you’ve had your eye on expanding your own personal collection (or want to get into the hobby for the first time), RPP Hobby is running a week-long sale on the Axial Yeti Jr., a fully-capable (and fun) 1/18-scale off-road rig.

Originally priced at $159.99, you can pick up one of two Yeti Jr. models (either the Rock Racer or the SCORE Trophy Truck) for $139.99. Visit rpphobby.com for complete details on this sale. If you want to learn more about the Axial Yeti Jr. Rock Racer, check out my review and see what hop-ups and upgrades are available for this small-scale R/C buggy.

Image credit: RPP Hobby

First Impressions: WPL C14 “Hercules” 1/16-scale RTR Trail Truck

First Impressions: WPL C14 “Hercules” 1/16-scale RTR Trail Truck

Over the years, my love for small-scale R/C vehicles has blended with my love for R/C scale and trail vehicles. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many 1/18-scale and smaller “trail rig-style” trucks on the market. When I find one, I tend to gravitate towards it, where it eventually finds a way into my collection.

WPL, an overseas brand that I have only recently become aware of, has been producing some smaller-scale, 1/16 off-road trucks which have gathered quite a bit of interest from fellow R/C fanatics. GearBest.com sent me a few WPL radio-controlled models to review, the first of which being the C14 Offroad “Hercules”.

At under $50, this truck looks great, but does the performance match its looks?

WPL C14

The Truck:

What’s Included:

  • 1 WPL C14 “Hercules” 1/16-scale trail truck
  • 1 2.4GHz trigger-style controller
  • 1 USB charging adapter
  • 1 6V, 700mah Ni-Cd battery
  • Various scale accessories/parts

Unboxing the WPL C14 “Hercules”

Initial Thoughts on the WPL C14 “Hercules”

At first-glance, the C14 (and it’s sibling the C24) looks like a scaled-down Toyota Hilux. With a hardbody front cab that’s surprisingly detailed, this truck will get your gears turning from the moment you pull it out of the box.

Two model types are available, a kit and a ready-to-run (RTR). My review models is of the RTR variety, so there wasn’t much work needed before getting it up and running. An included 6V, 700mah NiCd battery pack provides the power for this truck and is rechargeable via an included USB charging adapter/cable.

Before I dive into the details of the truck, I should state that this isn’t a hobby-grade machine as it arrives in the box. That fact is quite obvious after you handle the controller and turn the steering wheel. Rather than a smooth forward and backward travel motion, you’re met with a “click” to the front and a “click” to the back. This is the tell-tale sign of a non-proportional steering setup. Is this the end of the world? No. Does it provide the opportunity for future enhancements? You’d better believe it.

WPL C14 - Rear Side

The C14 truck itself has a blend of hobby and toy-grade traits blended together, which make for an interesting combination. At its core, the WPL C14 features a ladder-frame chassis and metal frame rails. Attached to it are a mid-mounted motor and transmission from which the driveline extends out. With the exception of the frame rails, there aren’t many non-plastic parts on this truck. Depending on how you plan to drive it, these could be seen as potential points of failure.

On the suspension side, there is a decent amount of travel from the spring-equipped shocks, leaving one to imagine that this truck might perform well out on the trail. The tire compound is somewhere around “medium” grip and compression, meaning that the rubber won’t wrap around rocks and trail obstacles (for improved grip), but you’re also not driving on hockey pucks either.

WPL C14 - Rear

Once powered up, the headlight-mounted LEDs give off an impressive amount of light and serve as another nice “scale” accessory. Throttle response is decent and the motor has a fair amount of “pep” to it, allowing this truck to cruise along at a decent pace. Steering, however, is “iffy”.

The RTR version of the WPL C14 uses a motor as its steering mechanism, rather than a traditional steering servo. Not only is the control not as precise (remember the lack of proportional steering on the controller?), but it’s also quite noisy. For as nice as this truck looks, the steering performance is a bit of a bummer. That said, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome.

If you purchase the kit version of the C14, you’re provided with a standard, proportional steering servo. Should you find yourself with the RTR version and you desire more steering performance, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a mini/micro steering servo to replace the stock steering motor.

WPL C14 - Flex

 

Time to hit the trail.

While it may seem that I’m a bit down on this truck (at least the steering), I’m excited to see how it performs out on the trail. For that matter, I’m excited to see how it performs indoors, with the size being perfect for either inside or outside exploration.

The looks alone are worth the $33.99 price and whether you run this truck stock or take the body and attach it to another rig, you’re not spending much to get a solid starting point for a small-scale trail rig. Who knows if my thoughts will change once I get this rig rolling, but for now, it’s looking like a fun little project truck with a mound of potential.

 

The Review: Dromida 1/18 FPV Rally Car

The Review: Dromida 1/18 FPV Rally Car

If the R/C hobby is addicting, you’ll only find yourself getting pulled in deeper once you experience the thrill of FPV. My journey into FPV began last summer, outfitting an Axial RR10 Bomber and Axial Yeti Jr. Rock Racer with a low-cost FPV setup.

This cobbled-together approach was a great starting point, however, I wanted to experience more. That’s when the Dromida FPV Rally Car entered the picture. This 1/18-scale rally car came equipped not only with an FPV camera but also an FPV monitor (Tactic RM2) and headset. It was everything you might want in a surface-FPV experience.

After extended drives, both indoors and out, my feelings toward this car (and the FPV experience) have only gotten stronger.

Dromida FPV Rally Car - Side

 

The Vehicle:

Dromida 1/18-scale FPV Rally Car ($229.99)

What’s Included:

  • 1 Dromida 1/18 FPV-equipped Rally Car
  • 1 2.4GHz trigger-style radio transmitter
  • 1 Tactic FPV RM2 FPV monitor
  • 1 Tactic FPV-G1 FPV headset
  • 1 Tactic FPV monitor sunshade
  • 2 charging adapters/cables (1 for the car and 1 for the FPV monitor)
  • 1 Instruction manual

Unboxing the Dromida 1/18 FPV Rally Car:

The Car

My thoughts on the Dromida FPV Rally Car’s appearance haven’t changed from my earlier “First Impressions” post. This car, like many rally cars, looks great. As a fan of “rally car design”, if there is such a thing, you’d have to go out of your way to create a compact, low-slung R/C racer that I didn’t enjoy looking at. But what about driving it?

Ah, that’s where the real fun sets in. This little rally car is an absolute blast to “wheel”, whether you’re driving it traditionally (line of sight) or with the FPV headset on, putting you directly inside the action. Nimble and precise, this car is a dart no matter where you’re driving it.

Dromida FPV Rally Car - Front Side

Between trips to a local park (and parking lot) to slinging around my basement when the outside temperature dropped, I never felt a shortage of fun while driving this car. Its stock setup is very sporty and the ability to adjust on that (by way of twistable shock rings and shock mounting location) setup only adds to the experience.

Speed-wise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the brushed motor, having previously been spoiled by Dromida’s brushless BL Monster Truck. As soon as I mashed the throttle trigger, however, all of those fears went away. This car is quick. Not brushless-quick, mind you, but it’s fast enough to keep things interesting, while still maintaining control of the car. This does beg the question, what about strapping an FPV camera to a brushless-powered R/C car. Perhaps that’s a project for another day…

The FPV Gear

Dromida’s two FPV vehicles are nice on their own, but when you add the element of first-person-view video to the mix, you’re really upping your ante. Not only was this my first experience with an on-road Dromida car, but it also gave me the opportunity to check out some of Tactic’s FPV gear, specifically their FPV RM2 monitor and FPV G-1 headset. If purchased separately, these two components would cost $89.99, however, you get them as part of the Dromida FPV Rally Car’s $229.99 price.

Tactic FPV-RM2

The headset with FPV monitor installed is a bit heavier than what I’ve experienced with other models. That’s not to say it’s uncomfortable, but you do notice you have something strapped to your head, even when you find yourself immersed in action on the screen.

The video quality through the FPV RM2 monitor is quite good. Scary-good, in fact. It actually appears to be more crisp and clear than when viewing recorded video on your computer. The menu setup is very clear and the settings and mode buttons are easy to find and use. I managed to locate a clear reception channel less than a minute after powering on the monitor. The less time fiddling with controls means more time behind the wheel.

Tactic FPV-G1 Headset

I didn’t realize it at the time of the unboxing, but the Tactic FPV RM2 includes a DVR/video recording function, something that my Eachine setup lacks. Even though I’m not capturing HD-quality footage, it’s still fun to relive my R/C adventures, whether they be good or bad.

Getting Behind the Wheel

Now to the fun part, putting rubber on the road and goggles on your face. The element of FPV has given me more “white-knuckle” experiences while driving than any line-of-sight excursion ever has. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy line-of-site drives, it’s simply the fact that you have an entirely new perspective when it feels like you’re behind the wheel.

Maneuvers seem to be snappier, and my temptation to get closer to obstacles increases, simply because I know how close I am to the edge. And when I go over that line, lesson learned. It’s a real-life video game experience that no video game has managed to match, at least for me.

Is the Dromida FPV Rally Car Worth Adding to Your R/C Garage?

This car manages to check off a number of boxes, both as a radio-controlled car fiend and a fan of FPV. It’s fast, sporty, and well-designed, and that’s before you take it out of the box and power it on. Driving this car is easy, however, you can push this machine to extremes rather quickly. It has terrific handling and can put on a show during both line-of-sight and FPV driving.

Dromida FPV Rally Car - Park Front

While I feel that I say this quite often, this car has become a favorite “go-to” for me, whether I want to go for a quick spin indoors or out.

For the price, you’re getting a solid small-scale rally car and a solid FPV video setup, all in one package. Hobbyists of any experience level should get a thrill from this car, and the added dimension of FPV makes this car all the more appealing.

Where to Buy the Dromida FPV Rally Car

 

See it in Action: The ECX Barrage 1/24 Trail Truck

See it in Action: The ECX Barrage 1/24 Trail Truck

The ECX Barrage 1/24 is proving to be an interesting truck. What it lacks in low-end torque, it makes up for in trail-riding prowess. I recently set up an indoor crawling “course” on the top of a table and put both the ECX Barrage 1/24 and the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4 to work.

Made up of rain gutter insert foam, wooden shims, and pieces of driftwood, this was a fun opportunity to not only see how both trucks worked on this terrain but also see where one may excel over the other.

The Barrage seems to have a tough time “boosting” itself over obstacles, but when it gets cruising, can be a fun vehicle to drive. The high-end speed is decent, for a vehicle of its size, and it’s relatively-wide stance allows it to handle multiple approach and decline angles with ease.

My testing of this tiny truck has only begun, and I’m excited to see what else it’s able to tackle and what areas can be modified for enhanced performance.

First Impressions: ECX Barrage 1/24 Micro R/C Crawler

First Impressions: ECX Barrage 1/24 Micro R/C Crawler

I’m always on the lookout for vehicles that can bring R/C fun both indoors and out. During the winter months (and when the weather doesn’t quite cooperate), having a vehicle that can be driven in a smaller amount of space, while still bringing big-time fun, is always at the top of my “must-have” list.

Thankfully, there are a variety of fun and capable small-scale radio-controlled vehicles to choose from. One model that had been at the top of my list is the ECX Barrage 1/24. Equal (or very close to it) in size to the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4, this scaled-down Barrage aims to bring a wide world of R/C adventure into your living room. After receiving my pre-order, I couldn’t wait to get this tiny truck fired up and rolling.

ECX Barrage 1-24 - Rear

What’s Included:

  • 1 ECX Barrage 1/24-scale Micro Crawler
  • 1 Controller/transmitter
  • 1 USB charging cable
  • 1 Decal sheet
  • 1 Instruction manual
  • 4 AA Batteries (for the transmitter)

Unboxing the ECX Barrage 1/24

Initial Thoughts on the ECX Barrage 1/24

Starting with its appearance, I love the job that ECX did with the body and chassis details for this truck. Echoing design queues from the 1/10-scale Axial SCX10/SCX10 II Trail Honcho, the ECX Barrage 1/24 packs a trail-ready design into a small-scale package.

Visual features such as the functional spare tire, rock sliders, winch-ready front bumper, and LED lights make this truck fun to look at, both while driving and when sitting still. With the amount of scale detail this truck has, it’s easy to get lost in the moment when driving across a living room or basement, dodging errant toys and other “unnatural terrain”.

ECX Barrage 1-24 - Side

Underneath the hood (or body) you’ll find a ladder-frame chassis, four-link suspension, and shocks with an impressive amount of travel. I’m resisting the urge to draw direct comparisons to the Pro-Line Ambush 4×4, however, it’s hard not to when you look at how the small-scale Barrage is set up.

The suspension and wheel travel on the Barrage is impressive for a vehicle of its size. Combined with a width of 4 inches (102mm), this truck is quite stable when driving over obstacles and uneven terrain. The stock springs are quite soft, which help the articulation of the truck, however, this also causes the truck to bounce and bobble which could lead to “bump steer”. All in all, the chassis and suspension of this truck are quite solid.

This leads me to the battery and motor for this rig. At “cruising speed”, this truck is an excellent performer, happily motoring along and getting to where it needs to go. This truck, however, begs to be driven over “trail-like” terrain, which is where I first put the Barrage 1/24 to work.

ECX Barrage 1-24 - Climbing Foam

Using my go-to indoor crawling obstacles (rain gutter foam inserts, wood shims, and crafting driftwood) I lined up my rig and set off to see how it performed. At first, it took to the makeshift trail like a champ, however, it quickly began to slow and eventually stop after the first encounter with a steep incline.

My approach to this incline was no different than that of a 1/10-scale R/C trail rig, minimal throttle, smooth approach. Whether it’s the battery (4.8v, 22mah NiMh), the stock gearing (12t pinion/64t spur), the motor, or a combination of all three, this truck doesn’t have much torque and seems to lack power when and where it needs it the most.

At first, I was a bit disappointed by this, however, subsequent trips around my “indoor adventureland” (aka: my house) have found me driving over 3-ring binders, blankets, and random kids toys without much issue. The power/gearing setup is an area that I’ll be looking into further and appears to be an item which could be improved.

ECX Barrage 1-24 and Pro-Line Ambush

In all, I’m still happy with this rig, as it’s a fun “grab and go” machine that looks great and can motor around to just about anywhere I’d like. We’ll see how it performs over time and ultimately, how it stacks up against other small-scale trail rigs in the 1/24/25-scale category.

Additional Information:

Team Associated’s RC28 Retro-styled Micro Buggy

Team Associated’s RC28 Retro-styled Micro Buggy

Team Associated has been bulking up their micro line of R/C vehicles, with their latest model throwing back to the glory days. Hot on the heels of the RC28T release comes the RC28 Ready-to-Run, a 1/28-scale replica of the classic RC10 Team Kit.

Based on their 1/28-scale chassis, the RC28 features an orange buggy body, high-mounted rear wing, and other features from the classic, 1/10-scale model. Scaled down RC10 tires are also included, capturing the knobby texture (rear) of the originals.

Team Associated RC28 - Side

As with the other SC28, MT28, and RC28T that have come before it, the RC28 charges off of the transmitter, eliminating the need for extra cables and gear. Simply grab the buggy and controller, and go.

Team Associated RC28 Specs:

  • Power Source: Electric
  • Terrain: Off-Road
  • Body Style: Buggy
  • Scale Size: 1:28 Scale
  • Assembly Level: Ready-To-Run*
  • Length: 143mm (5.63in)
  • Width: 86mm (3.39in)
  • Wheelbase: 101.5mm (4in)
  • Weight: 76.2g (0.17lbs)
  • Drive: 2WD

Team Associated RC28 - Mini and Original

While these small-scale vehicles aren’t what I’d call “speed demons”, they’ve proven to be very fast and incredibly fun to drive. What’s more, they’ve been priced attractively at $49.99.

Learn more about the RC28 buggy and other vehicles in Team Associated’s 1/28-scale lineup at teamassociated.com.

Image credit: Team Associated

See it in Action: Dromida’s 1/18-scale FPV Rally Car

See it in Action: Dromida’s 1/18-scale FPV Rally Car

My first taste of FPV left me thirsty for more. Thankfully, the Dromida FPV Rally Car arrived on my doorstep in time for some pre-snow fun. Taking a trip to a local park, I turned loose with this 1/18-scale rally car.

With the Tactic RM2 FPV monitor set up and DVR feature engaged, I put this car to the test, slinging it around the open parking lot and paved walkways of the park. Both the handling and throttle response were crisp and the video relay from the onboard camera was very clear. My thirst for FPV has been quenched…for a little while.

Learn more about the Dromida 1/18-scale FPV Rally Car:

First Impressions: Team Associated RC28T 1/28-scale Stadium Truck

First Impressions: Team Associated RC28T 1/28-scale Stadium Truck

Last year’s arrival of the Team Associated SC28 ($49.99) had me chomping at the bit to get one, however, after the first batch sold-out, my interest in this vehicle cooled. Thanks to a guest-review by Zach, “The Inconsistent TechDad”, I felt that I had a solid understanding of this vehicle and decided to hold onto my money for a little while longer.

Fast-forward a year and Team Associated’s 1/28-scale lineup has grown from one vehicle to four. After adding a second SC28 stadium truck option and the MT28 monster truck, the latest option was too cool for me to pass up.

DSC_0717

Marrying my love for classic R/C design and small-scale models, the RC28T stadium truck is a micro-sized (body) replica of the Team Associated RC10. That retro look and small size were too much for me to pass up.

What’s Included:

  • 1 Team Associated RC28T Stadium Truck
  • 1 Trigger-style transmitter/controller
  • 1 Instruction manual
  • 1 Decal sheet

Unboxing the Team Associated RC28T Stadium Truck

Initial Thoughts on the RC28T Stadium Truck

The body is what sold me on this model and, in my eyes, it doesn’t disappoint. The styling is classic 90’s R/C racer, from the body lines to the decal package. It’s a fun machine to look at, even when it’s on the shelf.

Outside of the visuals, this truck is not only fun to drive, but it’s also a blast to send airborne. Despite its lack of front wheel suspension, the chassis and steering setup handle bumps and impacts with ease. The rear suspension (dual shocks) setup seems to have an even blend of bounce and rebound and recovers from jumps quickly.

DSC_0716

Having proportional steering (something that the slightly-smaller, 1/36-scale ECX KickFlip and BeatBox lack) is great, especially when wheeling around tight corners and lining up for a run towards a ramp. The rubber tires provide substantial grip and perform very well on carpet. Driving this truck on hardwood and tile flooring is fun, yet challenging and makes for an entertaining time.

The included controller matches the smaller-scale of the vehicle, but thankfully, isn’t uncomfortable to hold. The steering trim adjustment knob is the only fine-tuning you can perform via the transmitter, however, that’s about all you’ll need to adjust when wheeling this tiny truck.

Charging the vehicle is straightforward; open the battery door at the bottom of the controller, pull the charging cable out, and connect it to the port on RC28T chassis. The charging indicator on the transmitter is easy to spot and charging time doesn’t appear to take too long (20-25 minutes).

DSC_0713

While the style and handling of this tiny truck are solid, the throttle performance leaves room for improvement. After mashing the gas, it takes a while for this tiny truck to get up to top speed, which caught me off-guard the first time I drove this truck. Having only driven it a handful of times since, then, it’s a bit disappointing to not have quicker throttle response. While most of that thought stems from my experience with Carisma’s GT24 vehicles and their brushless-powered motors, I do feel that the acceleration of the RC28T could be improved.

That said, it’s hard to pass up any radio-controlled vehicle with a price tag of $49.99. Even with its somewhat sluggish response, the RC28T has been a fun vehicle to drive around indoors, especially when I’m not able to get outside for a spin. For those looking at adding something fun to their lineup, this is a model that’s worth checking out.

Where to purchase the Team Associated RC28T 1/28-scale Stadium Truck: