When we first saw the Thunder Tiger Kaiser e-MTA a few months ago, we couldn’t wait to get one in our hands. Its body had a nice scale look, it had a big ole’ brushless system inside, and it is one of the first trucks to hit the market with an on-board engine sound module. We’ve been bashing the daylights out of our review unit for some time now, read on below to find out if it lives up to the Thunder Tiger monster truck tradition.
Review By: Cubby
Pictures By: Tim Mohr
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Shaft or Belt: Shaft
Electric or Gas: Electric
Weight: 6022 grams
Motor: Brushless IBL40/20 2000kV
Speed Controller: Ace BLC-150C
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: Cougar GP3 2.4GHz
Differential: Front & rear gear diffs
Sound Module: Yes, ESS One
Slipper Clutch: Yes
Driveshafts: CVD style
Shocks: Oil filled
Servo Saver: Yes, on servo
Screws: Metric, hex
Tires: Thunder Tiger chevron style
Battery: Not included
Part Number: #6411-F
Warranty: “…guarantees this model is free from defects in both material and workmanship.”
Wheelie on demand: Yes
Backflip off ramps: Yes
Top Speed (measured by BSRC on 4S LiPo): 43 mph
Runtime (measured by BSRC on 4S 5000mAh LiPo): 14 minutes
Street Price: $649
Primary Competition: ARRMA Kraton, Traxxas E-Revo, HPI Savage Flux
Build Quality: After letting the guys look the truck over, the assembly looked good. We found nothing loose, or too tight, nor was anything leaking.
Test Drivers: Brian The Editor Type, Craig The Uber Ramp Guy, Tim The Pro Driver Guy, and yours truly.
Test Venues: Speed Run Road in Champaign Illinois, a city park in Champaign IL, and a community college baseball diamond also in Champaign.
Set-up Notes: We didn’t make any changes to the Kaiser before we ran it. For battery packs we used a pair of Reedy 3S LiPOs in series for 6S and a pair of Races Edge 2S packs when we ran it at 4S. Charging duties were handled by an iCharger 308.
Turning: The Kaiser comes set-up extremely soft out of the box, leading to a whole lot of lean/sway in the corners. On soft surfaces this works out ok, giving the truck lots of side-bite, but on all surfaces it tended to lean too much and traction roll.
Jumping: With loads of power on tap, the Kaiser loves to aim for the sky. Once getting airborne you’ll find that it is very sensitive to trigger inputs, meaning that a slight tap of the brake dramatically brings down the nose, while a pounding on the throttle will rapidly bring the nose up. Because it is so responsive, it is slightly harder to jump than trucks that have a center diff, but it does allow the Kaiser to easily pull off backflips. Upon landing we noticed that the soft suspension easily bottomed out, if you plan on going big, plan on stiffening up the suspension.
Bumps/Whoops: This is where the Kaiser really shined. A ton of wheel travel along with huge tires allowed the Kaiser to haul some serious ass through rough sections. Even large clods of dirt barely slowed the truck down, over smaller bumps it simply ignored them.
On-Road: On one hand the Kaiser traction rolled a lot, on the other, it was a wheelie pop’n angery beast. Yes, it was a ton of fun to bash on-road with, just expect to make the walk of shame from time to time if you try to corner it aggressively.
Grass: Once again the Kaiser’s huge tires and brushless power work wonders as the truck plows through grass with the best of them.
Tires: The stock tires work fine for everyday bashing. They are best in loam, but don’t wear too quickly on pavement.
Power: Never driven a brushless truck before? If not, the Kaiser will probably give you a heart attack. On 4S the low end is solid but drivable, then it rips into the mid-range and with good pull on top. On 6S it is pretty much insane at any rpm. The Kaiser has the seriously insane power that most bashers are looking for and more than enough for standing backflips.
Radio: None of our test drivers said much about the radio, they just picked it up and used it. We never had a glitch with it and the ergonomics were good enough that none of our testers complained.
Broken Parts: On 4S during “normal” driving, we didn’t break anything. Of course that was during the early stages of testing when we weren’t trying to go huge or anything, but still, under somewhat sane driving it held up well. Then we put in 6S and started upping the stupid factor. The first thing to go was a front wheel. The wheel nuts are not serrated so we had one come loose under the extra rpm of 6S. The wheel hex didn’t strip when it came off, so we popped it back on and gorilla tightened all four wheel nuts. We then started doing backflips off of a small ramp. Upon landing we could hear both the diffs ring/pinion gears crying foul. The ring/pinion gears in both diffs needed to be shimmed tighter than they came out of the box. However, that still didn’t stop the truck from driving so we kept on going, pushing it even harder, eventually to its final limit. Finally, after slamming into a chain link fence at warp 5, we broke both the rear tie rods and popped a CVD out of its outdrive.
While the Kaiser comes with two spots to mount a GoPro camera (passenger seat and in the rear), there isn’t enough room to mount the camera inside of a protective case.
How cool is the sound module on the Kaiser? Very cool, in fact next level cool. The ESS One sounded excellent and brings a whole new level of fun to the truck. We also found that it had good volume when installed in the Kaiser, something that had been an issue previously.
Is the Kaiser on the same level as other big names like the Kraton and Savage Flux? Absolutely, it has the power and size to go head to head.
We really liked the large (and attached) body pins. Believe it or not, body clips are important because they are constantly being used, and we liked the ones on the Kaiser.
The battery tray was not fun to deal with. The way the door closes is a pain and the tray itself doesn’t leave much room for “non-standard’ sized packs.
Best Mod Over: Stiffen up the suspension and shim the diffs if you plan on running on 6S.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: B There wasn’t a great deal of set-up to get the Kaiser going, just the normal charge up a pack and go.
Workability: C Plastic, plastic, and more plastic, plan on taking out lots of screws to get to certain sections of the truck for maintenance.
Car Show Rating: B While our bash crew loved the body with its roll-cage and light buckets, they wanted to also see more scale realistic tires.
Bash-A-Bility: C The Kaiser did take some abuse, but it desperately needs the diffs to be shimmed better out of the box.
Fun Factor: A Yes, a big 6S monster truck is always a blast, but the on-board engine sound module takes the fun factor to another level.
Handling: C Some trucks come with suspension settings that are spot on, the Kaiser just missed the mark. Its suspension comes a bit too soft, making it wallow around in corners and bottom heavily when jumped.
Value: C The on-board sound module brings its value rating up, while durability issues bring it down.
Parts Availability: C Because the Kaiser sits on the e-MTA platform that has been out for several years now, parts can be found on-line, just don’t expect your local hobby shop to have a wall full of them.
BigSquid Rating: B- The Kaiser is a big gnarly monster truck that is extra fun to drive thanks to its sound module.