When the original Wraith was released a few years ago there was nothing else like it on the market. It combined size, speed and scale appeal into a package that instantly made it a hit. Fast forward to late 2014 and the platform has been updated with the release of the Axial Wraith Spawn. The scale 4×4 genre is now ultra competitive with many quality kits vying for your dollar. Is the Wraith Spawn worth your cash?
Review By: Doug Welker
Pics By: Doug Welker
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Electric or Gas: Electric
Length: 19.25″ (490mm)
Width: 11.2″ (285mm)
Wheelbase: 14″ (355mm)
Motor: 20 turn brushed
Speed Controller: AE-5 ESC w/ drag brake
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: Axial AX-3 2.4 GHz
Slipper Clutch: Yes
Driveshafts: WB8 HD splined
Shocks: Plastic oil filled
Servo Saver: None
Spur/Pinion Pitch: 32 pitch
Tires: 2.2 size Axial Ripsaws
Battery: Not included
Part Number: AX90045
Top Speed (measured by BSRC w/ 2S Lipo): 15 mph
Warranty: The manual states “…to be free of defects in materials and workmanship when new in the factory sealed box.”. It also states “…a 10-day warranty from the date of purchase on electronics..”
Street Price: $369
Primary Competition: Axial Yeti, Vaterra Twin Hammers, Kyosho FO-XX
What’s Needed To Complete: A battery, charger, and 4 AA’s for the transmitter.
Build Quality: Everything was cinched down nicely from the factory. Gear mesh was spot on. No hardware was stripped.
Test Drivers: Steady Teddy, Show-Me Dan, Lily the Explorer, Mr. Steve, Rachel Rachel and yours truly (Doug).
Test Venues: Mark Twain Hobby Center Crawling Course, Castlewood Park, Bangert Island Park, various construction yards, a parking lot, playground and cul-de-sac.
Set-up Notes: We used a “Tamiya to Deans” plug adapter for the ESC and primarily a Pro-Match 6500 mah 2S Lipo pack . A 3S “shorty” pack was also used for durability testing.
Turning: The Wraith Spawn has better turning than you’d expect for a truck with big tires and locked diffs, but a 2wd buggy it’s not. If you’re running on a high bite surface be prepared to do some upside down roof dancing. The included foams are soft and the front tires will double over on themselves when you are up at speed if premium traction is found. The suspension is soft and tight cornering produces lots of body roll. Take it to some loose stuff and it’s a ton of fun though. You can rip off some sweet power slides through loamy dirt or mud.
Jumping: The Spawn is a decently balanced jumper, helped out no doubt by the 4 big gyroscoping tires. It was taken off some gnarly jumps and with one exception (more on that later) the suspension handled it all with no problem.
Bumps/Whoops: The truck is awesome on the whoops and stays very stable. The problems that locked diffs present when turning are nullified when pinning it in the rough stuff. When throttled up it’ll generally stay on all 4’s and go where you point it.
On-Road: I discussed this during the “turning” section above, but if you run pavement be prepared to be upside down a lot. This truck is setup for off-road so you won’t have much fun if asphalt is your thing.
Grass: This thing eats the grass like a hungry cow. If you plan on doing a lot of running in your yard or in wide open fields then fret not, it can wade through deep grass/leaves with impunity.
Crawling/Trailing: Wraith’s have long been the king of the 2.2 tired scale trail trucks and nothing changes here. The big tires and high ground clearance allow you to take on a wide variety of terrain. The AE-5 ESC has a decent drag brake hold and allows for smooth operation when navigating obstacles. The 20t motor has good wheel speed on 2S and if you use 3S you’ll probably have way more than you need. The truck is a pretty good rock crawler right out of the box as well. The only knock against it is the battery tray being located in the rear. The gives it a rear weight bias when traversing steep stuff and causes it to tumble. Serious crawlers/trailers will want to relocate the battery up front.
Water: This was hands down the most hardcore water testing I’ve ever done. The truck was driven in muddy puddles at first, made a few trips through a shallow (i.e. axle centerline) stream and, after it handled that fine, caution was thrown to the wind and it went deep water wading. Despite being nearly completely submerged and going against a strong current, the Wraith Spawn fought it’s way to dry land each time without even so much as a glitch. It also went mud bogging numerous times and lived to fight another day. If you want to get wet, I can’t think of another truck more suited for it.
Tires: All of our testers remarked at how soft the tires felt. The included Ripsaws feel like the performance oriented R35 soft & sticky compound that Axial sells, despite not being advertised as such. They hooked up to everything and needed no modification, siping, or breaking in to work. The scale Method bead-lock wheels look very trick. We were impressed.
Broken Parts: Nothing broke during “normal” testing so it was time to get stupid. We launched the truck twice off a bridge overhang and it drove away unscathed. It was then hucked off the top of the bridge. The suspension hung to one side and it looked like two shocks were blown out. Instead they had just pulled off the bushings. A simple re-popping put them right back. For a final attempt to grenade something I put it on 3S and bombed around, still to no visible problems. I then hooked it to a pulling sled on concrete. That wasted a rear drive shaft pretty quick and caused one of the wheels to spin out (they are pin drive, not hex). You shouldn’t have any problems with it if you plan on running 2S. If you are going to bump it up to 3S you’ll want to plan on bullet proofing a few spots. All in all, it’s a durable truck.
The body was subject of much discussion amongst our reviewers. Some liked the new SUV look, others much preferred the “rock buggy” style of the original Wraith. Everyone agreed that the scale driver looked very cool.
The 32p spur gear w/ dual slipper held up very well. Even when doing our crazy durability testing we never blew it.
If you are looking for a mud truck then look no more. The Wraith Spawn is a ton of fun in the muck and easily handles it with the big tires, waterproof running gear and locked differentials.
It’s inevitable that this truck will be compared to the Yeti when it comes purchase time for many a hobbyist. The general consensus amongst our crew was that this truck is better suited for the person more interested in trailing/crawling whereas the Yeti takes the cake for someone who is more the hardcore basher. Both trucks can do either role with a little modding.
The rear battery tray can be a real PITA to access if you have fat fingers (sorry Steve) because of how tight it’s cramped. It does accommodate a wide variety of packs though.
One of our testers (Rachel) enjoyed the vehicle so much that she plans on buying one upon general release. That has to count for something.
Best Mod Under $5 – Move the battery up front and relocate the radio box to the rear.
Best Mod Over $5 – Aluminum steering linkage to eliminate all slop. Aluminum knuckles and chubs would also be a great investment.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: C You’ll need a battery, charger, and four AA’s to get up and running. If you are running lipo you will want to change the included Tamiya style connector to a high current offering.
Workability: B The original Wraith required the removal of multiple body panels (with a lot of screws) to access the guts of the truck. The Spawn’s body comes off with just 4 screws and makes for much easier maintenance. The cool scale looking cage makes some things a bit harder to get too but on the whole it’s not a bad vehicle to turn wrenches on.
Car Show Rating: B The Wraith platform has always been a major head turner with it’s scale looks and large size. The reason it’s a B vs A is because of how mixed the opinions were on the body.
Bash-A-Bility: B The truck easily handled all the abuse we threw at it and only failed once we started intentionally trying to break it. This is a tough platform. The electronics can take 3S juice to up the fun factor, but you’ll want to upgrade the driveshafts accordingly.
Fun Factor: B Those looking for a first dedicated scale bash/trail machine will have a lot of fun with the truck. The big tires let it step over most regular obstacles and the suspension can handle airtime. It’s a nice multipurpose machine that excels when the going gets very tough.
Handling: C The included servo has good yank for holding a nice line on the trail but the suspension doesn’t promote high speed turning. If you fly into a corner with bookoo traction be prepared for a lot of rolling.
Value: B With a price of $369 I think you are getting a great value. It has a nice ESC, good tires and solid servo. You can have a ton of fun right out of the box without needing to spend additional money right away.
Parts Availability: B Ah yes, I remember when the original Wraith was released a few years ago and parts were hard to get. How times have changed. Axial product now occupies a lot of shelf space at most major hobby shops and the aftermarket is so active that in the time it took you to read this sentence, a new accessory was announced.
BigSquid Rating: B The Axial Wraith Spawn is a solid truck that can take a beating. It’s great for a basher looking to get into the world of scale off-roaders or for a scale off-roader looking to get into the bashing scene. The truck can handle a trail run right out of the box and is durable enough to sustain a thrashing at the bash spot. If you dig scale trucks we think you’ll love it.