Monster Truck Madness #8 – Why the Clod Endures
Few, if any radio controlled model kits have lived the life of Tamiya’s infamous Clodbuster. So, how does a vehicle that was released 30 years ago not only remain relevant, but also be arguably the most popular it’s ever been, save for maybe the early 90’s? I know that many non-monster truck people actively wonder this. For them, I’ll try and explain.
For one, so many hobbyists have some kind of history with the model. Hitting store shelves in 1987, it came on the scene right as monster truck mania started to sweep the nation. This was also before the days of big 1/8 vehicles that are common nowadays- the truck was simply massive compared to all else. Who can forget the iconic magazine ad where the Clod sits atop several buggies (seen above)?
People immediately loved the Clod, and it created a strong nostalgic bond that has permeated ever since, through multiple generations. However, it would be foolish to dismiss the vehicle’s popularity just because of that. Does it help? Hell yes it does. Still, it ain’t the only reason.
Tamiya may of been first, but they also got it right. It has stood the test of time while all its competitors have fallen mainly because of this. The truck has always been mechanically sound (yes, certain things like the steering are janky out of the box, but there are no major flaws) with the perfect monster truck proportions, whereas so many others seemed to always possess a fatal flaw or two. The Kyosho USA-1, the Clod’s top rival back in the day, was known for being on the workbench more than the play yard. And heck, it wasn’t even solid axle! So many other vehicles that challenged it were the same way.
You know why a “Clod sized tire” has become a category all to itself? It’s because so many other OEM manufacturers have totally bungled the scale appearing monster truck tire. You would think a classic 66″ flotation tire would be an easy thing to replicate, especially given that the big rubber is the most important feature of a monster truck, but so many companies have whiffed on it over the years that it’s baffling.
The aftermarket has also been all over the Clodbuster, probably the most important key to its longevity. Back in the day it was mail order JPS, Clodzilla and Sassy chassis kits- nowadays it’s high end / low batch carbon fiber and trick CNC machined get-ups from the likes of Crawford Performance Engineering and Absolute Chaos, to name a few.
There are multiple small companies that produce other accessories as well such as four link mounts, steering kits and even old-school style classic chassis. The Clod and trucks of its ilk are so popular nowadays that even hop-up giants like Pro-Line and JConcepts offer a range of fantastic products for it.
Because of the large number of available parts, each modded Clod winds up as being its own individual beast. It is rare to find “cookie cutter” trucks. This is all part of the fun!
Speaking of mod Clods, some wonder how guys are still managing to race Clods these days, especially against advanced shaft trucks. In my experience, anyone saying this has never wheeled one. A modern race clod, with the proper aftermarket components, tires and twin brushless system is a freaking ANIMAL. For all the crap that the Motor-on-Axle setup gets from those decrying it isn’t scale, they allow for a very specific r/c experience. Unlike a shaft truck, there is no torque twist. The weight is also completely on the axles, creating a low CG rocket ship. They are capable of doing ridiculous things and are a blast to drive and/or race.
The Tamiya Clodbuster is one of the few examples where a nostalgia kit isn’t popular for just nostalgic reasons. Despite being pretty much the same vehicle that came out of the mold 30 years ago, with a little elbow grease and some aftermarket goodies you can do damn near anything with it.
Ok, so that may answer the “why” question, but doesn’t do much for the “how”. With the introduction now out of the way, I have a lot of Clodbuster content planned for the next year of MTM. Differences in various chassis types, how to build a solid “retro” style truck as well as “pro-mod” racer, how to have fun with a box stock rig, tire comparisons….the list goes on and on. I’ve got around 20 years of personal experience with these things, so I’m looking forward to talking about it in-depth!