Pro-Line is a name synonymous with winning races. However, in recent years, they have expanded their scope. First came their short course truck, then a buggy conversion, then the incredible PRO-MT that was named our vehicle of the year. Now they have expanded their horizon even further with the 1/25 Ambush RTR Scale Crawler. The Ambush is full of scale realism and obviously aimed at the “lets have some fun” market. We have been lucky enough to get an early sample to put through the wringer. Is it big enough to tackle the great outdoors? Is it small enough to be fun when driven inside? How much does it break? And most importantly, is it worth the $185 price tag? Read on to see what we thought of the Ambush…
Review By: Cubby
Photography By: Tim Mohr
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Shaft or Belt: Shaft
Electric or Gas: Electric
Speed Controller: Combo unit with receiver
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: Pro-Line 2.4GHz
Gear Ratio: Transmission is 13.42:1, axles are 8:1, final ratio of 107.37:1
Slipper Clutch: No
Driveshafts: Plastic center shafts
Shocks: Plastic bodies and caps, internal spring
Servo Saver: No
Screws: Metric, hex
Pinion/Spur Pitch: .3 module
Tires: Pro-Line Flat Iron
Battery: 2S 350mAh Li-Ion
Part Number: #4004-00
Warranty: Any part with a manufacturing defect will be replaced by Pro-Line.
Front wheel travel (straight vertical): 7mm
Rear wheel travel (straight vertical): 9mm
Wheelie on demand: No
Backflip off ramps: No
Stability Control: No
Sound Module: No
Remote Locking Diffs: No
Top Speed (measured by BSRC in “high” mode): 5 mph
Runtime (measured by BSRC on included battery): 40 minutes
Street Price: $183
Primary Competition: The closest direct competition to the Ambush would be the 1/24th scale ECX Temper rock crawler.
What’s Needed To Complete: Nothing, zero, nada. 100% of what you need to get up and running comes in the box.
Test Drivers: Iron Mikeee, Hawaiian Christopher, T-Mohr, various guys at the local crawling course, and yours truly.
Test Venues: Minnie Ha Ha park in Fenton Missouri, St Louis Dirtburners 8th scale track, Meramec Landing Park in Kirkwood MO, and inside the lavish BigSquidRC offices.
Set-up Notes: Stock, stock, and more stock. We didn’t change a thing while reviewing the Ambush.
Turning: How does the Ambush steer? Pretty much like any crawler with locked diffs. However, we must note that the stock servo works quite well, it has good speed and more than enough torque to get the job done. While rock crawling, steering was always on point. Also, the truck centered quite well, something that is quite rare on a RTR.
Jumping: You really shouldn’t be jumping a crawler, nor does it have enough speed to do so on its own, but we did manage to get some air time by jumped off ledges. And no, you don’t want to. It is a crawler after all, which means it mostly nose dives and bounces around like crazy when landing.
Bumps/Whoops: Nope, there isn’t much raw mph on the Ambush, so it is hard to get it really out of shape. We did notice that when going full speed in a rough area like marble sized gravel that the Ambush did a lot of bouncing around. The suspension on the Ambush is best suited for low speed crawling.
On-Road: We got in very little time with the Ambush on pavement, mostly while checking range on the transmitter. The low top speed on the Ambush limits on-road fun. If you mainly drive on-road, the Ambush is not a good pick for you.
Grass: Believe it or not, even though the Ambush is quite small it can get through short grass rather well. Heck, it can even get through somewhat taller grass if you keep the speed up. Tall grass stops it dead in its tracks, but if it is 1″ or shorter, the Ambush can chew right on through.
Crawling: We tested the crawling capabilities of the Ambush in a couple of different ways- indoors and outdoors.
Outdoors- We really don’t have much to compare the small scale Ambush to, so rating how it crawls is quite hard. But what we can say is we had a blast with it. For instance- you don’t need a bunch of heavy/huge rocks to make a challenging course for the Ambush. Simple gravel can be used to make an interesting and challenging course. And while we had a great time rock crawling it, we perhaps had even more fun driving it in course sand. Watching the Ambush chew its way over sand mounds and “working in” its own trail was quite satisfying.
Indoors- We made up a bunch of different courses around the office. Using things like cardboard boxes and spare carpet pieces, we made some extremely challenging obstacles for the Ambush. The tires on the truck provided a lot of traction when run on carpet, allowing the truck to climb very steep angles.
We must note that the Ambush drove like a true “scale crawler”, meaning it carries some weight up high. This causes it to react to steep obstacles like a full scaler does. It does tip over, it does get stuck from time to time, and that is what makes it more fun to drive than a truck that could easily conquer anything. The big fun comes from picking the perfect line, or from using the proper amount of throttle at just the right moment to make it over an obstacle.
The Ambush has a relatively high center of gravity and it has a lot of weight up front. The added weight towards the front of the truck (like the engine in a full scale rig) helps it a lot when climbing up hills, but works against it when going down. To successfully go down hills, throttle control and line selection are even more important.
Overall, we thought it drove like it was supposed to, like a very tiny version of the real deal.
Tires: Hey, it comes with genuine Pro-Line kicks, so we don’t need to tell you that they work really well. From gravel, to sand, to rock faces, we thought the Flat Iron tires did a fantastic job (and looked great while doing so).
Power: The Ambush comes with a tiny motor, like Super tiny. The stock brushed unit is about the diameter of your pinky finger, yet provided enough wattage to get over everything that we encountered. No, there isn’t an excess of power, but it has the yank needed for the tiny truck. And even more importantly, its powerband is ruler flat. The last thing you want when trying to scrounge up that tiny last bit of traction to crest a rock formation is a burst of power, thankfully the Ambush never does that. If you ask for exactly half power, that is exactly what you get, nothing more, nothing less.
Radio: The radio that comes with Pro-Line worked well for us. We never experienced a glitch and it had awesome range. We stepped off the usable range to have a radius of about 300 feet. At 300 feet the Ambush is a tiny spec on the horizon that you can’t even tell which direction it is turned, so range was very good. For ergonomics, the P-L controller was best suited for smaller hands. Our larger fisted test drivers thought the grip felt a bit cramped, while the smaller handed guys thought the grip was comfortable for a RTR unit. All the test drivers liked the grip/trigger/wheel relationship and the foam that covered the wheel. As far as the trigger went, we would say it was medium in size, not tight on the index finger, but not loose either. The trigger also had serrations where your finger sits, which we liked. Lastly, spring rate on the trigger is quite light and what we would call “medium” on the wheel.
Broken Parts: The Ambush is quite small/light with a low top speed, two factors that contribute to it being a tank. We bound it up in the rocks and jumped it off 3 foot high drop offs, all without breaking anything. The body would come loose on bigger leaps, we had a screw go missing off a leaf spring mount, and the drivetrain started making some noise after being run in sand, but otherwise it just didn’t break.
One of the highlights on the Ambush is its scale realistic leaf spring suspension. The leaf springs slightly hold back the truck’s articulation, but they look dern good on a scale themed off-road machine.
The Ambush comes with worm drive and we were big fans. The worm drive helps to give the small Ambush more ground clearance and a bit of drag brake that worked well when crawling.
The speed of the Ambush is adjustable on the transmitter via a low/medium/high switch. While the difference in speeds was not huge, it was definitely noticeable going from low to high. Also, when the transmitter switch is in low, the first 1/4 throw of the throttle is extremely soft, perfect for ultra-tricky sections.
We normally don’t measure runtime on crawlers, but thought we needed to on the Ambush. We got about 40 minutes of fun time on the included battery.
Speaking of the battery, we also measured how long it took to charge it up. The truck comes with a USB charger so we plugged it into the USB output on our iCharger 308. One cell on the pack was done about an hour and a half in, the other cell took a bit longer, so expect around 2 hour charge times.
A 3 wire servo was nice to see on the truck. Some smaller scale vehicles run a 4 wire servo, which makes upgrading more difficult (and expensive). Not that you’ll need to upgrade the servo right off the bat, but when you do, you should be able to plug an upgrade unit into the brain module and have it work.
The Ambush is a big step for Pro-Line and they did their homework. While it isn’t the first “RTR” from Pro-Line (the Pro-Built PRO-MT RTR was) it is a HUGE departure from their norm and you have to give them props for expanding their boundaries.
BTW, no, the Ambush isn’t officially “waterproof”, but it can handling a bit of splashing. So don’t throw it in your pool and try to make a submarine out of it if you want the electronics to live.
No, there isn’t any foam inside the tires on the Ambush, but the tires worked quite well because of their design and the truck’s low weight.
The Ambush has a fairly tight turning radius. BTW, if you turn up the D/R on the transmitter the tires can rub against the leaf springs when fully cranked.
So… when can you lay hands on an Ambush of your own? The last word we heard is they will start shipping in October, but this is the kind of release where you might want to get one on pre-order if you want a truck off the first shipment. Its low price point and wide appeal are probably going to make it pretty hard to find come the Christmas rush in November.
We ran the Ambush in some really hot temps, generally above 85 degrees F. The speedo/receiver combo barely got above skin temp while the motor reached around 135 degrees F on longer runs.
Best Mod: We were not big fans of the Velcro mounted body. When we get some time one of the first things we plan to do is to install more typical body mounts that will help hold the body more firmly.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: B The Ambush is super easy to get up and running. Just pop in the supplied AA batteries for the transmitter, charge up the Li-Ion pack with the USB charger, and you are good to go.
Workability: A While the Ambush is very small, its hex hardware and simple layout makes it exceptionally easy to wrench on.
Car Show Rating: B The tires and wheels were incredible scale replications and its steel chassis and leaf springs earn it bonus points. Our testers also thought the plastic roll cage and miniature driver’s head were great scale touches.
Bash-A-Bility: A Our Ambush suffered a whole lot of straight up abuse without breaking.
Fun Factor: A The BSRC Bash Crew was divided on the Ambush’s fun factor score. Those that were into crawling loved it, while those that are addicted to 6S brushless power were less impressed. At the end of the day we thought it was loads of fun when used in its element, small indoor areas and in less gnarly spots outdoors.
Handling: A We have only driven one other vehicle in its class and haven’t done a full review on any of them, which made it very hard for us to come up with a handling rating. But, we do know that it seemed to do very well at climbing reasonable terrain for its size. In fact, several of our testers could not believe some of the obstacles the tiny Ambush could get over.
Value: B At a price point well under $200, our test crew had hours and hours of fun with the Ambush, more so than other trucks at the same price point.
Parts Availability: N/A The Ambush won’t start hitting hobby shops for some time, so we don’t really know what its parts availability will be. We do know that Pro-Line products are stocked at nearly every LHS in the country, but we’ll to wait and see how many shops decide to carry parts for the Ambush.
BigSquid Rating: A- How do we sum up the Ambush? It is a fine little scale crawler that is more than worthy of the Pro-Line name. Furthermore, in true Pro-Line tradition, they put an amazing amount of scale detailing on the truck to make it look the way it should. To sum it up, if you are looking for a great little machine to run indoors this winter, or for an outdoor crawler where you don’t have to make a long drive to find challenging terrain, the Ambush is a fantastic choice.
Check out the video below we shot during some of our testing: