Carisma tweaks and tunes their 1/24-scale R/C crawler for true trail performance.
Last year’s release of Carisma’s 1/24-scale MSA-1E crawler gave me high hopes for the state of small-scale crawling rigs. As a fan of larger-scale R/C crawlers, I’ve amassed quite a collection of scaled-down crawlers over the years, searching for the “perfect” rig for indoor and outdoor adventures. The original MSA-1E was an eye-opener for me as it offered up both performance and scale appeal, both in looks and overall handling.
Building on that “Gen 1” platform is the refined, second-generation of the MSA-1E. Not only does this rig sport a new, officially-licensed 1976 Ford F-150 body, but it also features a selection of tweaks under the hood. Thankfully, Carisma was gracious enough to send me a review unit to check out and test against their original.
- 1 Carisma Scale Adventure 1976 Ford F-150 MSA-1E 1/24-scale R/C crawler
- 1 KD Propo 2.4GHz radio transmitter
- 1 Instruction manual
- 1 set of option/spare gears
- 4 “AA” batteries
Carisma Scale Adventure MSA-1E 1976 Ford F-150 Specs:
- Length: 217mm
- Width: 100mm
- Wheelbase: 125mm
- Height: 119mm
- Price: $119.99
Out of the Box and onto the Rocks…
Wasting no time to see what this rig was capable of, the MSA-1E ‘76 Ford F-150 was freed from its confines and got it ready to roll. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the original MSA-1E and honestly, the Axial SCX24 Deadbolt has stolen my attention for the past few months. To get reacquainted with Carisma’s crawler, I fired up the “Gen 1” and took it for a quick spin.
Now it was time to compare the generations. One of the first differences that I noticed between the 2018 and 2019 models was the overall speed. Carisma has racing in its blood, and that shows through in every radio-controlled machine they make…even the crawlers.
The 1976 Ford F-150 MSA-1E is noticeably slower than its predecessor during straight-line tests. This speed reduction is mainly due to the lower gearing applied to this model, but that’s a benefit rather than a hindrance. When it comes to trail driving, you typically want more top-end speed. That said, at 1/24-scale, this rig is better-suited for indoor driving, meaning you probably won’t find yourself walking behind the truck too much.
Improved low-end performance definitely helps out with the overall crawling performance. The “Gen 2” MSA-1E had no trouble driving up and over the scattering of river rocks that were laid out before it. Performance was smooth and I rarely felt the urge to over-accelerate in order to clear an obstacle.
The motor on this second-generation rig has also been improved. While hard to tell based on the lowered gearing, the overall performance felt great and the truck maneuvered quite smoothly.
Another easy-to-miss feature found on the MSA-1E is the servo saver. While I haven’t had issues with the original, non-saver-equipped servo horn, having this little spring-loaded assistant is a nice feature, especially if you plan on driving through tricky, tight terrain.
The elephant in the room has to be the new body on this small-scale R/C crawler. Taking their 1/10-scale Ford F-150 lid and sizing it down to fit the smaller frame of the MSA-1E, Carisma has once-again shown that they know how to recreate classic automobiles as well, if not better, than anyone else. While most of the styling details and Ford DNA live within decals, the overall body shape and paint job make this a beautiful truck to look at.
The body also has a few secrets up its sleeve, specifically around the hook and loop mounting setup. A larger hook and loop pad can be found on both the front and rear of the chassis and body, allowing for a more snug, secure fit. While this isn’t a huge change, it’s a welcome one, as I often find myself picking these tiny trucks up by their bodies.
Final First-charge Thoughts
Carisma’s knack for creating realistic radio-controlled rigs continues with this version of the MSA-1E. If you’ve been searching for a capable small-scale R/C crawler that has characteristics on-par with larger-scale machines, the MSA-1E “Gen 2” appears to be a worthy contender.