It’s been a very busy week over here so forgive me for being a bit scatterbrained! TGIF indeed.
As the pic above shows, I received my RC4WD Gelande 2 and have started the build. Thus far I’ve been very impressed with the kit. Everything was laid out in well marked screw bags or packed neatly in foam (many of the pieces are pre-assembled like the tranny, axles, and transfer case). The truck is loaded with metal goodies and the machine work is all top notch. The super detailed body feels way lighter than I thought it would be. Hopefully the heavy chassis and (relatively) light hard body make for a rig that isn’t too top heavy. I’m gonna finish her up this weekend and test it so look forward to some hot Land Rover action gracing this virtual space next Friday.
We just posted our review of Carisma’s Porsche 959 Rally and I strongly recommend you take a gander. Watching a big on road car being hucked repeatedly off a ramp is pretty impressive. Yes, Tim, Cubby, and the rest of the Bash Crew pounded the car and it took it like a champ. It’s becoming harder and harder for your scale columnist to resist splurging on a rally car, and doubly so with kits like that gorgeous Porsche readily available.
RECON G6 is coming up really soon here in St. Louis (April 12) and with my club “playing host” we have been putting in a lot of work getting the grounds ready for the influx of scalers. There is going to be a “Big Squid RC Driver’s Challenge” series of special gates on the course that I’m overseeing and I hope to give you a tease of that next week as well. It’s going to be comprised of several man made obstacles and a muddy frame twister section. Drivers are going to hate me!
And finally, forgive me for treading on Kevin’s territory but I want to talk helicopters for a minute. So I had been thinking about getting a quad forever when our latest quad shootout article went live (please note, I did not take part in the shootout, only edited the video and read the article). That kicked me over the hump and I decided to purchase the winner, the Ares Ethos 130 QX. I headed down to my local Hobbytown USA and plunked down the $100 to finally get my fly on. I’m a total noob to aerial r/c but this copter has been a joy to fly from day 1. The toughness of the platform cannot be understated – I’ve flown it into buildings/trees, it’s had several scary 100+ foot drops, and my 3 year old has had a few wrestling matches with the garage ceiling (the ceiling is undefeated FYI). You know what’s broke? One LED. It’s one rugged S.O.B. I’m definitely still a landlubber but in 2 months of owning the Ares it’s been nothing but good times.
Ares Ethos 130 QX
Hopefully Spring has sprung wherever you live so you can get out and bash this weekend. It’s 70 degrees here so I’m counting down the minutes until I can leave the office and hit the rocks. Til next time!
For more scale r/c news on Big Squid click here.
After 8 years of limited release, Rogue Element Components is gearing up for a final production run of Scale Alloy Lug Nuts. These ultra scale detailed lug nuts are what put REC on the map, if you want to get your hands on some, now is the time to get your order in.
There are 2 different styles to choose from, 8-bolt and Warn Lockers, and they are priced at $29 a set. The lug nuts are 3/8″ in diameter and use a Nylock nut that is threaded for M4x.7 Tamiya & Axial axles. A special wrench is included to make it easy to get them on and off.
To get your set pre-ordered you can hit up the Official Rogue Element website.
Click Here for more Rogue Element news on BigSquidRC.
Rogue Element Lug Nuts
Happy Friday! I hope everyone out there is in as good a mood as I am. The weather is FINALLY turning around, my beloved St. Louis Blues just landed a star goalie (Ryan Miller), my favorite band just released an awesome new record (Drive-by Truckers), my favorite game has a sequel coming out in a couple days (Dark Souls) and I have an RC4WD Gelande 2 on the way! Yes, a great week indeed.
RC4WD announced the Gelande 2 (G2) last year and it’s been on my “to-do” list ever since. After recently finishing up a few different builds I’m finally ready to give this thing a whirl. I’d show some unboxing photos but the kit is still enroute to my LHS for pickup. Hopefully next week I can show it off. I already have 2 scale Jeeps in my fleet so I’m pretty pumped to add a “Landy” to the collection. I can’t wait to build it up and post my impressions and some video.
For you whippersnappers out there, the G2 kit is based on the legendary Land Rover Defender Ninety (D90). Just hearing “D90″ brings to mind images of a bright yellow truck tearing through the jungle or driving through a river with water up to the windshield (thanks to the Camel Trophy Series, more on this in a minute). Whereas the American born Jeep has always exuded more of a macho aura (open top, removable doors, big tires), the British Land Rover gives off a more a more refined aura (simple box design, very tall with lots of cargo space/extra seating). This used to be the case at least. Anyways, the kit looks trick what with a chassis mounted servo, front mounted motor that feeds into a transfer case, and that super detailed D90 hardbody.
For many people in my age bracket (I turned 30 last week) the Land Rover is synonymous with the aforementioned Camel Trophy Series. The series ran annually throughout the 80′s and 90′s and was a wild cross country race pitting man and machine vs. the elements. The location changed every year (frozen wastes of Siberia to the jungles of the Amazon) but the one constant was the brand of vehicle: yup, the Land Rover. I used to catch clips of the race when watching old motorsports highlight shows and thought it was the coolest. If you want to waste some time on your Friday, check out this old series documentary on YouTube. They put these trucks through pure hell!
The Camel series was actually a very big inspiration for the r/c Axial RECON G6 Adventure Series. Next week look for my interview with series founder/director/scale freak Brian Parker as well as information on the upcoming April 12 St. Louis stop of the tour (of which Big Squid will have a big presence). Have a great weekend!
Want to see more scale r/c news on BigSquid? Try right here. Want to see the latest RC4WD goodies? Hit up this link.
When I posted my first Everybody’s Scalin’ video on our YouTube channel a couple weeks back, user “Bad Wobble” asked if I could provide an update on my Gmade Sawback. Well Mr. Wobble, it’s your lucky day! The “first impressions” article I wrote went up a few months ago (view it right here), and in the time that’s passed I’ve put a few miles on the odometer. Time for an update.
You may of noticed I switched drivers and tires since last time. Yeah, the first driver I picked was a little small (people didn’t hesitate to let me know this, heh) but the new “Hunter Dan” figure from Cabelas is just about right. I had to make a few modifications with my dremel to get him to fit (Dan no longer has feet) but now he’s perfect. The second big change was putting on a set of Pro-Line TSL’s (the smaller ones, NOT the XL’s) as they perform extremely well and look great.
I guess the biggest news to report is that there isn’t much news to report. My initial thoughts are still pretty much how I feel today. It’s not going to replace your Axial SCX10 but it’s still a stout little truck. The only problem I had with mine were the stock driveshafts – the yokes are pretty weak and snap easily. I replaced them with Axial Wild Boars (they are a direct fit) and I haven’t had any problems since. Despite the transmission being loud as heck and the ring and pinions being made of a cheap pot metal it’s held up fine with no other breakage to report. My leafs are still springy with no sag and provide good articulation for what they are. The axle hop that happens when fighting for traction on certain obstacles really adds to the overall charm. You can see what I mean in the video I linked above. I’m not trying to give this a free pass for having a stiff suspension…but come on man, that’s kinda what you are paying for here. You want an authentic experience and it gives it to you – I’ve had my teeth rattled driving a 1:1 1942 Willy’s MB and I’d imagine Hunter Dan would probably be able to relate.
All in all I really enjoy the Sawback and it’s found a permanent spot in my collection. It handles very realistically and is great fun when trying to tackle the terrain accordingly. A hardcore bashing scaler this is not though, so if you want an all out performance machine you should look elsewhere. For the hobbyist that loves the iconic look of the classic Jeep and/or that wants to dip their toes into the waters of extreme scale suspension I think you’ll be happy.
Gmade Sawback Gallery
Want to see more Gmade news? Click here.
It’s been a big week for Ghostbusters fans as LEGO just announced an Ecto-1 “30th Anniversary” kit that will be released in June (photo below). As a lifelong fan of the series (and car) you bet your unlicensed proton accelerator that I’ll be picking one of those sets up. As far as my favorite “movie cars” go, Ecto-1 shares a spot in my heart with only the 1989 Batmobile for coolest of all time. Sorry folks, the Bullitt Mustang is cool and all, but it never was used to save New York from the forces of Gozer the Destructor. It also never did kid birthday parties for a cheap buck. Anyways, so with Ray Parker’s classic theme now hopefully pumping through your brain, check out a sweet pair of anti-supernatural scalers that a couple readers decided to share.
First up is Micheal Matthews’s tribute to the famed Ecto-1 Cadillac Ambulance. His off-road version of Ecto-1 is based on an HPI Graverobber body sitting on top of a highly modified Axial SCX10 chassis. He made custom links to stretch the wheelbase to fit and used RC4WD 1.55 Steel Wheels (painted red) and Desert King tires. Many of the scale pieces of ghostbusting equipment you see on top were custom made and all the lights are fully functional. He wanted to give a shout-out to Josh Harris for doing all the wiring. Great looking rig Micheal. That would be a heck of a truck to have on a night run!
In keeping with our supernatural motif, the next truck up is Nicholas Klein’s Scooby Doo “Mystery Machine” inspired Axial SCX10 JK. Nicholas said he decided to do this theme because the actual Mystery Machine always seemed to do well off-road. You know, now that you think about it he’s right. That old van was constantly in the woods, on old dirt roads, and other tough spots while in hot pursuit of Old Man Caruthers. Guess ol’ Shaggy and Fred must’ve locked the diffs, eh? Thanks for sharing Nicholas.
Mystery Machine Gallery
Do you want to show off your scale truck like one of the above fine gentleman? Do you like free stickers? Great! Shoot an e-mail to doug at bigsquidrc.com and include a brief description along with some good lookin’ pics.
So you’re the proud owner of a brand new ready to run Axial SCX10. Congrats, the truck is a lot of fun right outta the box! If you are like most people I know though, the first thing you’ll do (after giving it a test drive, of course) is hop on the internet, go to your favorite r/c forum/facebook page, and start a “I have a brand new SCX10 what should I upgrade first PLEASE HELP ME!” thread. It’s ok, we’ve all been there. I remember my first foray into scale 4×4′s and how overwhelming it was. Fret not, dear reader, for I am here to start a recurring feature on the upgrade path you should take. While this is obviously just one Joe Schmoe’s opinion, I’ve owned 5 SCX10′s (2 currently) and have gone through the rigamarole plenty of times myself.
For “Stage 1″ I’m going to limit the upgrade budget to just $20 because you most likely just dropped 300-400 dollars on that shiny new SCX10 and may not have much dough left over. Click read more to check it out.
Ugh, this winter sucks. Last year I was scaling nearly every weekend thanks to mild weather. This year has just been snow after snow with sub 0º temperatures to boot. Oh well, with spring (hopefully) right around the corner I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know my buddies and I are chomping at the bit to get outside.
The awesome King of the Hammers race took place last week in California and as usual was filled with all sorts of spectacular carnage. I strongly suggest you head to YouTube and checkout some clips, particularly those showing highlights of the “Back Door” section. It was also a big weekend for scale r/c as the 2014 RECON G6 series of events kicked off with their own version of an “Ultra 4″ race. Axial always has a big presence at this event and this year debuted a custom Falken Tires themed SCX10 Jeep (pictured below). You can view more pics on Axial’s site right here. It looks great and the most noteworthy thing about it is the tires. Those are actual Falken Wildpeak replicas and look hot. Axial claims that the truck is a one off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next RTR in their line of SCX10′s. At the very least I’d be shocked if the tires weren’t released. The tread pattern looks like it would hook up great and clean out very well. This is all baseless speculation however, as I have no inside knowledge.
Speaking of Axial and RECON G6, my club is hosting the G6 crew for a St. Louis, MO tour stop on April 12, 2014. The event is being dubbed the “Axial Iron Mountain Depot RECON G6” and will be taking place in O’Fallon, MO. It’s only 2 months away and, if the weather ever breaks, we will be out there preparing some gnarly stuff for everyone to tackle. It should be a great time! Big Squid will have a big presence and I’ll post the full event details right here when they are released.
Lastly, thanks for all the feedback I’ve received on my mega-truck project (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). As it turns out it’s a pretty good thing I picked this time of year to build one as the snow has served as an ok replacement for mud while putting the truck through rigorous testing. Part 3 of the build won’t post for a couple more weeks as I’m waiting on both the tires AND for warmer weather to properly go boggin’, but thus far I’ve been having a blast with the truck. While waiting on my narrowed Tamiya Clodbuster tires to arrive I’ve been using the stock Axial Trepador 2.2′s that came with the Deadbolt. I gave them a custom “mud cut” and they give the truck a great holeshot. Here’s a teaser of what it looks like right now -
Lastly, keep sending me pics (and descriptions) of your scale rides! Showmescalers at gmail dot com is my addy. Since I sounded the horn last week you guys have sent me some awesome stuff. I’m going to start showing them off next week so keep em’ coming. Remember, anything scale is cool no matter if it’s surface, air, or water oriented. The more outlandish the better! Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.
This week I’m taking a break from the standard “written” column to debut a new YouTube video series. I’ll be doing an episode about once a month and will try to give it a “Wide World of Sports®” vibe that covers all different areas of scale rc (trails, monster trucks, drag racing, sand rails, hill climbing, etc). This first video features both my modified RECON G6 edition Axial SCX10 and bone stock Gmade Sawback. Myself and good friend Mike Ewens took them to the banks of the Missouri River for some wooded trailing and had a blast on a very chilly day.
A couple pieces of housekeeping before we go. In case you missed it earlier this week I started a build series converting an Axial Deadbolt into a high flying mega truck. Part 2 should go live early next week. I’ve been testing the truck and it’s a beast! Also, do you have a cool build/ride that you want to showcase to the scale community? Shoot an e-mail to showmescalers at gmail dot com and if you have some pretty pictures of your rig doin’ work you could see it right here (and score a few Big Squid RC stickers to boot).
I’d also like to thank all the readers who have thus far been reading my scale ramblings every Friday. I have quite a bit planned as far as builds, event coverage, and how-to’s for 2014….if it would ever stop snowing! It’s getting to the point where if I ever plan on getting outside again I’m going to need to build a Kyosho Blizzard. Hmm, a Blizzard does sound pretty cool, right?
Being a scale/crawler dude can be tough when you are surrounded by speed demons like the majority of Big Squid staffers. Let’s be honest with ourselves here – scalers aren’t exactly known for high speed thrills. I think Cubby wanted to kill me when I built the Axial RECON G6 SCX10 for review and put in a slow 18.5 crawler system! I’ve never built a scale truck where speed (and jumpability) was the end goal. That needed to change. Building a scale mega truck is just what the doctor ordered! (If you are unfamiliar with what a “mega truck” is checkout my column here.)
I knew I wanted to base the truck off of the Axial Deadbolt platform due to the stout AR60 axles, rugged transmission, rabid aftermarket support, and my familiarity with the model. I’m getting to the point where I think I could build a truck just with all the spare Axial parts I’ve accumulated over the years. I also knew that for this truck to do everything I wanted I’d have to get pretty wild with the modifications. It would need a powerful brushless system, had to be waterproofed for deep mud, needed big tractor tires to navigate said mud, and required a suspension that could handle speed and air. A very tall order.
The crux of this build is a Crawford Performance Engineering (CPE) Barbarian chassis (pic below). It turns an Axial Wraith, Deadbolt, or Ridgecrest into a scale monster/mega truck by utilizing the stock axles, shocks, transmission, and other miscellaneous pieces. The all aluminum 1:1 inspired frame features heavy duty links and sway bars and adds about an inch of wheelbase to the stock Deadbolt. This has become the hot setup in scale monster truck racing and I’m pretty excited to build a mud truck out of it.
With my plans now in place I ordered a slew of parts. I already had the motor on hand so I decided to throw that in the stock truck and see how the drivetrain would handle it without any modification. I pulled out the RTR ESC and 20t motor to install a Castle Mamba Max Pro 6900 kv system. Go big or go home! The result was impressive. The big motor yanked the front wheels up with hardly any throttle (see the top pic). The change in power was akin to going from a V6 to a super-charged big block. I’m also happy to report that the stock Axial drivetrain held up to this big power with no breakage whatsoever. It also jumped surprisingly well considering this vehicle was presumably designed without hang time being a big priority.
After a little over a week, all my parts had finally arrived. It was time to start building. Part 2 of this series is coming up very soon, but here’s a teaser (see below) showing off the Barbarian chassis with the Deadbolt rear end partly installed.
Before we go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the tires I’m planning on using. Can you say cut & shut Clodbuster wheels/tires narrowed to about 2 inches? That should nail the tractor look I’m going for. Look for Part 2 of this build series coming soon!
Exceed announced their RTR Mad Torque 6×6 last week and it’s caused quite a stir in the scale/crawling community. Regardless of what you think of the actual truck (personally, I think it looks pretty cool) it shows that 6×6 trucks are growing in popularity. In many cases they are actually 6x6x6 (that means six wheel drive with six wheel steering). It’s becoming more and more common to see one of these monstrosities out at your local bash/crawling spot. To this point they are all custom built but I expect to see those Mad Torques start popping up at club meets soon.
Most of the 6×6′s I’ve seen locally are Tamiya Clodbuster based due to the simplicity of not needing to mess with extra driveshafts (Clods are motor on axle i.e. no driveshafts or central transmissions, the new Exceed is the same setup) but shaft driven stuff is gaining in popularity due to the availability of Axial axles and parts. The 2nd axle typically has two output shafts in which the backside connects to a standard third axle via driveshaft. It’s not very complicated and just requires a few additional axle pieces and an extra set of shocks to hook up to the back of the frame.
The colossal truck in the picture above deserves special recognition as it has become something of a local legend here in St. Louis, MO. It belongs to my good buddy Dan Ryan and is always the most popular vehicle with drivers/gawkers when he has it out. It uses a custom chassis with trick aluminum Clodbuster axle housings. Power is supplied by three Tekin ESCs, three 45 turn motors, and an 8 channel radio (!). The tires are gargantuan RC4WD 40 Series Roc Lox that tower almost 9 inches off the ground and all three axles steer. That kind of rubber needs big torque so 400 oz servos are equipped on each axle. It’s topped off by a Tamiya Bullhead cab and tips the scales at a whopping 20 lbs. Whenever we hook it to a pulling sled we have trouble finding enough weight to stop it! Even a Traxxas Summit looks like a puny vehicle in comparison to this big rig.
A conservative pricing estimate places this truck just north of $1,500, but that doesn’t include all the blood (and I literally do mean blood…when this thing falls off a hill it freaking hurts to catch it), sweat, & tears. If you are hoping to see video of this big boy in action then soon you will be in luck! I hope to launch a scaling video series very soon as a sort of companion piece to this column.
A six wheeler like Dan’s is a nice mix of engineering, redneck ingenuity, and sheer lunacy…basically everything scaling is all about! I’d also like to give a shout out to Dan for hooking me up with the Big Squid crew last spring. If not for him I wouldn’t be able to waste several minutes of your work day each week! I hope everyone has a great weekend and be sure to check back next Friday where I’m taking a look at my favorite niche of hardcore scale R/C…truck and tractor pulling!
Looking for a big crawling machine? Is 4×4 just not enough for you? If so, the picture above of the Exceed MadTorque 6×6 should get your attention.
The MadTorque uses 3 solid axles to put the power to the ground from its three 540 brushed motors and two electronic speed controllers. An aluminum chassis, six oil filled shocks, and multi-link suspension help it climb over tough rock sections. Some of its other features & specifications include-
* RTR w/ 2.4GHz radio system
* Comes with 6 cell 3300mAh Ni-MH battery
* Equipped with ball bearings
* Bead lock wheels
* High torque servo
* Length- 790mm
* Wheelbase- 630mm
* Width- 360mm
The part number for the MadTorque is #03C20 and it has a street price of $289. Hit up This Link for more information.
You Never Know what is behind a BigSquidRC TGIF Mystery Link.
6x6 MadTorque Gallery
The virtual ink hasn’t even dried yet on our review of the Axial RECON G6 SCX10 but it’s time to talk upgrades! When I mentioned I was building it a few weeks ago in this very column, I said I had big plans for it. Well, it’s time to discuss said plans.
The first thing I did was switch out the stock wheels and tires for a set of beastly Pro-Line Swamper XLs mounted on Axial beadlocks with 3 oz of weight in each front. The memory foam that comes with the Swampers works well, but I went ahead and splurged on a set of Crawler Innovations closed cell foams to better support the weight of the rig and avoid flat spotting. The addition of the tires was profound; the truck looks gnarly, has better ground clearance, and the big lugs make quick work of most terrain.
The next thing I’m going to be doing is swapping the stock ring & pinions for a pair of hardened Axial beveled gears. This will increase durability while eliminating slop. I’m going to use the overdrive (OD) gear set in the front and underdrive (UD) in the rear, which will cause the front tires to spin slightly faster than the rear. This eliminates torque twist, allows for a tighter turning radius and (most importantly) since the front “drags” the rear, it really helps its vertical climbing ability. (NOTE – If you don’t understand OD/UD, fret not, I’ll be doing a full explanation in a future column)
Oh, but I’m just getting started. The ultimate goal of this project is to compete and complete the St. Louis RECON G6 event coming up on Saturday April 12, 2014. This is a good start, but I still have much work to do before then! Part 2 of this build will include new recovery gear (hello scale Warn winch!), waterproofing the ESC, installing a functional light bar, and adding a driver!
Hot Rodding an Axial SCX10 JK Part 1 Gallery
My club held our annual pre-Thanksgiving trail run a few weeks ago and despite the temperature being in the low 20s we still had over 30 people show up. Doing three miles of frozen mountain terrain was tough on both driver and vehicle but it was a freakin’ blast! As you check out the pics of our latest adventure below, let me explain to the non-indoctrinated what exactly a scale trail run is and why scalers across the world enjoy them so much.
Trailing is the lifeblood of almost any 4×4 club. While in our case its 1:10 scale, it’s still the same old adage of man and his machine taking on the elements. The premise is simple; pick a location (mountain bike trails work great), meet up with your buddies and set off. Depending on how long you intend to wheel, you will want to bring a backpack with spare parts, batteries and food/water. A run can be anything from a jaunt in the backyard creek to an all-day affair encompassing many miles.
We normally run the designated path until someone finds a cool spot to hit. It can be anything; a mud hole, rocky cliff, steep hill, etc. It’s all about seeing what your rig can handle and one-upping your buddies. Someone will see something that looks very difficult or impossible and everyone has a go. Broken parts and nuked electronics are worn like badges of honor.
I would recommend any r/c’er to give scale trailing a go at least once, regardless of whether you are a hardcore racer or are picking up a transmitter for the first time. It can be a relaxing way to explore your local parks and make friends, or an intense experience as you tackle terrain so extreme that the penalty for failure is most likely the destruction of your vehicle. That’s the beauty of scaling; it’s whatever you want it to be.
Before we go, quick shout out to the RC Car Cast podcast. They had me on as a guest this past week (episode 6) discussing scale r/c, how I hooked up with Big Squid RC and the time I got behind the wheel of a monster truck. Look the show up on YouTube or iTunes.
Trail Appeal Gallery #1
Trail Appeal Gallery #2