Why hobby-grade radio controlled vehicles are superior to toy-grade, department store RC cars

An old style 550 size electric motor. Photo permission: nosynation.com.

A lot of people think the big box stores offer good radio controlled cars. That’s not the case.

Hobby-grade equipment is so much better and a good hobby shop is the place to buy a good radio controlled vehicle and offer help when things break.

I have owned 1/10 and 1/12 scale cars and trucks but am thinking about buying a 1/8 vehicle or 1/5 scale truck.

Traxxas has this new X-Maxx that looks sick. According to their stats, it weights 19.1 lbs, is 29.84 inches long and 22.26 inches wide.

It is amazing how good monster trucks have progressed through the years. Back in the day, 1/12 scale trucks like the Big Bear or 1/10 scale trucks like the Blackfoot and Clodbuster were kings but now trucks have changed so much.

Take the motor for instance. We used to get a 540-style 27-turn stock motor in most trucks. These motors were super slow and sucked. They’d go 15-20 mph with good batteries.

The current batch of trucks come with fast motors. The brushed Stampede has a 12-turn 550 sized motor, which is fast. But, most monster trucks are coming with best brushless RC motor for the money that have speeds in excess of 30 mph out of the box. When the batteries are changed to LiPos, speed and power improve.

LiPos do have drawbacks. They require much more care than NiMh because LiPo do have the potential to explode when they are punctured, overcharged, wet, or in any way damaged.

I have never seen one explode in person. There are a lot of YouTube videos that show explosions but it is always tough to know what kind of abuse that person put the equipment through to get it to do what it did.

Another thing I like about current vehicles is the suspension and drivetrains. Drivetrains and suspensions are built to handle the power of brushless motors. The benefit is cars can be driven harder and may not be as prone to breaking, I think.

I owned an RC10 for awhile. It was one of the early models, with the gold-tub chassis.

That RC10 broke a lot but handled a lot of abuse. In all fairness, it was abused by me when I was a kid. I jumped it off the roof, I burned the tires bald. I drove it into trees and concrete buildings.

These are all things that it was not designed to do. It broke, but just about any new vehicle would break under those situations. What makes the reliability of newer vehicles better is the drivetrains.

I put 10-turn and 15-turn motors in an original RC10. It did not have the Stealth transmission when I bought it. I over-geared it; I under-geared it. I was learning.

Eventually, I grenade the original tranny. I put a Stealth-trans in it then. It handled the abuse better.

With metal gears available for most trucks now, we can put those crazy fast brushless motors in them and not worry about blowing the trans up.

If you are not into speed, there are always crawler rigs. A radio controlled rock crawler is modeled after trucks that crawl up almost-vertical rock walls. These vehicles have massive amounts of torque but little speed.

Crawlers focus on driving skill and picking the right line to get up the wall. Where bashers just hammer their way over obstacles. Both are cool in their own way.

Having owned a crawler, I like them but want to move into a different monster truck.

As I mentioned, I have been looking at the X-Maxx. I saw a comparison of its size to 1/10 trucks and also seen a few YouTube videos with size comparisons. Here’s one: