It never fails. As soon as I think I’ve found my new favorite R/C model, a challenger always emerges to make a run for the title. Having been on a Traxxas TRX-4M kick for the past year, I found myself drawn to one of the newer 1/18-scale trail and crawling rigs to hit the market; the FMS FCX18 Toyota Land Cruiser 80. Although this is an all-new platform from FMS, it shares similarities with the FMS FCX24 line as well as the ROCHobby Katana. It’s a blend of solid crawling and driving performance mixed with hard-to-beat visual detail that has me hooked.
Thanks to FMS for providing me with an FCX18 Toyota LC80 to take a closer look at. It’s a fun vehicle to wheel, both indoors and out, and might give some other rigs in the 1/18-scale space a run for their money.
FMS FCX18 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Specs:
- Length: 282mm
- Width: 126mm
- Height: 136mm
- LiPo Battery: 2S 7.4V 900mAh
- Tire Size (mm): D56 x W19.2
- Wheel Base (mm): 160
- Ground Clearance: 35mm
- Approach Angle: 61°
- Departure Angle: 35°
- Car Weight: 535g
- Price: $179.99
What’s Included with the FMS FCX18 Toyota Land Cruiser 80:
- 1 1/18-scale Toyota Land Cruiser 80
- 1 2.4GHz Radio Transmitter
- 1 Tire/multi-tool
- 1 Trailer Hitch
- 1 2S 7.4V 900mAh Battery
- 1 USB Battery Charger
- 1 Instruction Manual
While you probably won’t buy an R/C vehicle for its packaging, it’s worth mentioning that the FCX18 (and most other FMS models for that matter) comes in a very nice foam container. Once you open it up, you’ll find everything you need packed neatly in its own space. I rarely hang onto boxes and packaging materials from R/C vehicles, but I’ve kept and continue to use 99% of the foam packs that come with FMS models.
The Body and Body Details:
Ok, onto the good stuff! If there’s one constant with FMS, it’s their knowledge of how to make a good-looking radio-controlled vehicle. Sometimes, the performance doesn’t match the looks, but we’ll get to that momentarily. The visual details on the FCX18 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 are top-notch. If you’re familiar with the ROCHobby Katana, you’ll instantly recognize the shared body on the FCX18. Made of ABS plastic, this high-quality body has plenty of scale detail molded into it, not to mention several bolt-on items to give it the appearance of a true off-roader.
Available in three color options (yellow, gray, and blue), you can easily let your imagination run wild with customization opportunities for this rig. My review machine was the Dijon mustard-yellow version, which looks even better outdoors against a wooded backdrop.
What you won’t find on the FCX18 LC80 is a detailed interior. While this may be a disappointment to scale R/C fanatics, it’s easy enough to add an interior and regain a few scale points. Lack of interior aside, the FCX18 LC80 is a visually stunning machine that only gets better when you put it in motion.
Although the interior was removed, FMS did outfit the FCX18 Land Cruiser 80 with a roof-mounted LED light bar, which not only looks great but serves as a nice add-on for night-time and low-light driving as well.
The Electronics (Motor, Servos, Battery, and ESC):
Accessing the electronics of the FCX18 is as simple as lifting up the hood. Nestled in a compact configuration, you’ll find the battery and ESC/receiver all within the engine bay of this 1/18-scale machine. It’s worth noting that the battery is a 2S, 7.4V 900mAh pack, capable of impressive run times. I have yet to exhaust the battery on a full charge (as long as you don’t count the time I accidentally left the battery plugged into the FCX18 after an evening drive…).
The brushed 180-size motor packs plenty of power for a vehicle of this size. Similar to the FCX24, the FCX18 features a two-speed transmission, which allows for excellent low-end torque and plenty of high-speed pep when you want to pick up the pace. While upgrades are available, I haven’t found the need for more power (at least not yet).
The steering servo offers decent speed and torque performance for light crawling and trail driving, but if you need enough power to break free from entanglements, you may want to install a servo with more overall power. The two-speed servo appears to be the same model as what’s used for steering. Again, nothing to write home about, but it’s not lacking either. With any R/C vehicle, a two-speed transmission can become a potential point of failure; however, I’ve not run into any issues (and I hope it continues that way).
The FCX24 K5 Blazer opened my eyes to the performance possibilities of FMS’s small-scale offerings…at least the FCX models. The FCX18 is no different, as its impressive performance can largely be traced back to its chassis setup. Like most traditional R/C crawlers, this rig has a ladder-frame chassis, metal c-channel rails, and a lower four-link suspension setup. The lower suspension and steering links are metal, improving durability over other models with plastic or nylon links.
The FCX18 also features portal axles, providing extra ground clearance over a straight-axle setup. Another welcomed feature of this model is its oil-filled shocks, which reduce body wobble and allow smoother and more realistic movements while crawling or trail running. The tires are carryovers from the Katana but with the addition of foams, which improve their structural hold. Not lacking traction, I do find them to be narrower than I’d like, appearance-wise.
As a recent convert to the FMS FCX24 scene, I had high hopes for the FCX18’s performance and was not disappointed. This rig rocks in stock form. The two-speed transmission is both fun and incredibly useful, especially if you haven’t experienced this feature on a smaller-scale rig. On my maiden voyage, I had no trouble getting up and over the obstacles on my outdoor crawling course.
The versatility of the two-speed transmission also makes the FCX18 a fun rig to take on a hike. I did just this and had a blast slow-crawling over obstacles and cruising on smoother sections of the trail.
Even with its hardbody and portal axles, I rarely encountered tip-over situations with the FCX18 LC80. It’s a stable machine that is great for indoor and outdoor use.
How Does it Stack Up to the Competition?
It’s hard not to compare the FCX18 to the Traxxas TRX-4M, or even the Katana, as the latter is a juggernaut in the 1/18 crawling space, and the former is effectively a first-generation model of the FCX18 line. A bit noisier (motor and transmission) compared to the TRX-4M, this rig can outperform some of its competition thanks to the two-speed transmission and higher ground clearance.
I previously owned a Katana V2 and found it to be a great-looking rig, but lacking in performance. The FCX18 takes most of the appearance perks from that older model and amps up its performance.
What’s the Verdict?
After months of running this little rig,f I can safely say I’m a fan of the FCX18. While FMS sent me the yellow model to review, I bought a second one, the gray-bodied version, because I had so much fun with the first one. The three color options allow for individual customizations, and that’s another reason I’m a fan of this model and the platform as a whole.
Priced slightly higher than some of its competitors, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. The long runtime, hard-to-beat performance, and ultra-realistic appearance all make this a “must-have” machine.