ECX BeatBox & KickFlip Review – Horizon Hobby
ECX made a big splash with the announcement of their 1/36th scale KickFlip buggy and BeatBox truck. Not only was their small size big news, but also their very affordable price point. We’ve spent a couple months thrashing the BeatBox and KickFlip to find out everything we could about them. Are they truly hobby grade? Do they have enough power to be fun? Do they break in half if you slam them into a wall? At just $35 are they worth the cash? Read on to find out…
Review By: Cubby
Photography By: Tim Mohr
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 2WD
Electric or Gas: Electric
Length: 4.45″ (BeatBox), 4.36″ (KickFlip)
Weight: .1 lb
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Slipper Clutch: No
Servo Saver: Nope
Screws: Phillips heads
Battery: 1S LiPO
Part Number: #ECX00011 (BeatBox), #ECX00010 (KickFlip)
Runtime (measured by BSRC): 8 minutes
Warranty: “free from defects… at time of purchase”
Street Price: $34
Primary Competition: HPI Q32 Baja Buggy
What’s Needed To Complete: Nothing, nada, el’ zero, everything you need is in the box.
Build Quality: We didn’t find anything loose or strange when unboxing the vehicles, everything looked to have been well assembled.
Test Drivers: Iron Mike, Sam-I-Am, Jake, Robby G., T-Money, and yours truly.
Test Venues: A driveway, a Man Cave, and the BSRC conference room.
Set-up Notes: We didn’t change anything out for testing, we ran both vehicles bone stock. Heck, we even used the stock connectors and charging system.
Turning: First off let me note that both vehicles turn almost the same, with perhaps slightly less push from the KickFlip. I must also note that neither has proportional steering, they only have full lock left, full lock right, and center. Both vehicles like to push/understeer a lot while cornering on power, yet would oversteer when off power. We would also like to note that both vehicles turned better to the right than the left. Keep that in mind when you build miniature Supercross tracks to race on.
Jumping: We are BigSquidRC, every review includes a roof jump or two. And no, jumping is not the forte of the little ECXs, they tend to bounce off jump faces and ricochet off the landings. Yes, they can be jumped, but they are hard to control when doing so.
Bumps/Whoops: Hey, they don’t have any suspension, how would you expect them to handle bumps? They did not surprise us here, they were a real handful on anything other than smooth surfaces. If you are looking to go serious off-roading, look elsewhere.
On-Road: When we grabbed them and took’em outside, we really expected them to be unusable, even on relatively smooth pavement. However, we were quite surprised, they were about as drivable on pavement as they were indoors on carpet. No, they aren’t the best thing money can buy for parking lot bashing, but you can certainly have a lot of fun with them on asphalt.
Grass: With a ground clearance of just 5.1mm (about the thickness of a nickel), these vehicles simply sit too low for any kind of grass driving.
Tires: The tires work “ok” on a variety of surfaces, however, once they start getting dirty traction goes down. That is easily cured with some Paragon tire sauce, but for those of you who don’t want your wife to disown you, wipe them off once in a while with a damp paper towel. No, they don’t get as much all around traction as a set of rubber tires, but they get the job done.
Power: Being so small and made primarily from plastic, we were unable to get a radar gun reading for a top speed. However, we would “guess” it to be around 15 miles per hour. That doesn’t sound fast, but when driven they feel quick. They are very small and have no suspension, so what power they do have results in a quick ride. The little vehicles simply have more power than they can put down, which does make them quite fun to drive. Power is snappy off the bottom, then they keep on pulling until they are bouncing around too much to control.
Radio: While extremely small and made from inexpensive materials, it gets the job done. The transmitter also serves as the battery charger, as far as we could tell its charging function worked fine. Of note, we didn’t expect much range from the radio but stepped off a radius of about 75′. At 75′ the KickFlip was so small it was hard to see. While more range might be nice to have, what it comes with works well for most applications.
Broken Parts: We found the little ECXs to be quite tough. We smashed them, we ran them into walls at full speed (over and over again), and jumped them from heights up to 10 feet. At the end of the day we managed to pull one rear pod loose which was easily snapped back into place.
The transmitter comes with a “slow” and “fast” adjustment to tame down the power for noobs. We didn’t notice much of a different except for slightly reduced top end. Our ECXs were too fast in our man cave, so we rotated the knob to “slow”, and they were still too fast for our small driving area.
The ECXs are said to have really fast charge times. How fast? We measured an average charge time of about 18 minutes on our test units.
One of our two vehicles came a with transmitter that worked fine for the first few minutes or running, then started glitching. We bound the suspect transmitter to both vehicles with the exact same result. The other transmitter worked with no issues.
Steering trim isn’t handled by the transmitter, it is adjusted on the bottom of the vehicle. This is fast and easy and we didn’t find our test units to need much trimming.
Some of our drivers did not like the fact that the ECXs did not have proportional steering. I think in the case of our pro-driver guy, he had a solid point, but for others, guys like Iron Mike, I don’t know how it was holding him back. Mike tends to only steer full left or right, even with a proportional set-up, so while it might have mentally seemed wrong to him, I doubt it was actually holding him back.
So are the little ECXs “Hobby Grade” or “Toy Grade”? We consider a vehicle hobby grade when they are relatively fast and they have readily available replacement parts. The little ECXs do not have replacement parts, so even though they are quite fast, they are still definitely toy grade.
Best Mod Under $5: We added a second set of foams over the top of the rears on our BeatBox and found it not only smoothed out the powerband off the bottom (making the truck more driveable), but also gave it more top speed.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: A This just might be the first “A” we’ve ever given out in this category, but with just an 18 minute charge time and everything in the box, it just doesn’t get any faster than this.
Workability: C On the upside, there are very few things to work on, on the downside, everything is microscopically small. Even putting in the body clips is a PITA because they are so small.
Car Show Rating: C Neither vehicle looked very scale, nor did they have much bling to set them apart.
Bash-A-Bility: A Our test units were tanks, neither suffered any broken parts.
Fun Factor: B Big power made them a blast to pin around a micro Supercross track.
Handling: D No suspension and non-proportional steering can make them a handful to drive at speed.
Value: B With other similar vehicles priced higher than the ECXs, we gave them a solid “B” for value.
Parts Availability: F There are no replacement parts available. If you break something, anything at all, you have to buy an entirely new vehicle. The grade might seem harsh, but there are other similar vehicles that offer full parts support.
BigSquid Rating: C+ While not “hobby grade”, we had fun driving the ECX BeatBox and the KickFlip. We found them quite durable and solid little bash machines.