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Creepy Crawlers! - Hobby Letter #13/21


Creepy Crawlers!

Hello friends! Snow has finally transformed to mud and time has come to talk about RC Crawlers and Scale Trucks. Spring and early summer months are perfect for crawling as the grass and other annoying vegetables have not yet grown too high. Never underestimate the power of weeds like blueberry - I've seen some very reasonable adults lose their mind completely when their rig gets stuck in blueberries and the comp was lost. Crawling is serious business nowadays so let's take a quick dip in to mudpit!

Early crawlers

Once again it's bit hard to point the exact moment when something really started to be its own genre. Building your own truck and scale realism has always been at the core of RC Crawling. First ones were mostly made out of Tamiya parts as people started to put solid type of axles (from Tamiya Clod Buster) under the hard plastic bodies like Tamiya Bruiser Hilux. Other parts like shocks and tires were borrowed from other type of trucks. HPI Wheely King played also big role in the dawn of crawlers with it's innovative gear reduction unit. First real, well-performing RTR Crawer you could buy was Axial AX-10. Axials dominance was challenged only after Traxxas released their infamous TRX-4.

Crawlers started to evolve in to two different paths. Performance orientated people ditched laws of the physics along the hard bodies and other half started to build super realistic yet under performing mobile dollhouses. It's funny to think that these use pretty much same parts but are so far away from each other.

Competition crawlers look like moon buggies. They can lock their axles to complete halt (other axle stopped and other moving) and have often motor-on-axle type of setup to keep center of gravity low. These rigs are made only performance in mind, for example battery chosen is so small in capacity that it just makes it through the competition.

Scale Realistic Off-Road trucks are usually replicas of something you can see in real world - often made to look so realistic that the photos of them fool even my seasoned eye! Today we have a huge availability in bodies, tires and all the accessories - not to even mention what 3D printing has done for this area - that you can pretty easily build offroad truck of your dreams and equip it with all the necessary accessories like beer keg and shovel.

Spirit of Scale

Yeah bashing is fun but it's not really something you see real sized cars to do in everyday traffic. Scale realism is in the heart of this side of RC hobby. Truck should look realistic but it should also perform and behave like their real life counterparts. This means that you should drive it in the manner that it looks realistic. It also means that even if you could build or do something revolutionary in the limits of rules, you do not necessarily go that way because you respect the Spirit of the Scale. I often imagine myself behind that small steering wheel and try to take my perspective for driving from that point!

One example of Spirit of Scale is if you roll over in the comps and the wheels end up point up to the skies. There is no Hand Of God to turn you back in wheels. Instead your friends come and help you with their winches and little shovels and try to get your rig back to the road. In competitions you get bonus points when helping your buddy and minus points if you need to grab your rig with your big hands.

But it's so boring!

Crawlers go slow and for many speed freaks they are just too lazy. For slow paced boring type of guy like myself these are best thing since sliced bread. I can easily spend hours in the rocks just trying to see where my crawlers limits are. It's also very nice to have a bunch of friends and have a kilometers long safari-type of easy driving in the woods without stressing out about the lap times. With crawlers you move too, not only the car! When was the last time you took a four hours walk in the forest?

How do you even comp with this stuff?

Where there is people there is competition. With crawlers you basically try to go trough gates (often in shape of sliced tennis ball!) and try to make as little mistakes as possible. Every crawler is different and to compensate this the comp folks have come up with a point system that gives compensation for not-so-well performing trucks. Have a look for SORRCA set of rules if you got interested! They may seem bit complex but they have a good faith in them. Especially scale-classes should be always run in the Spirit of Scale!

Ok count me in - what to get?

Crawling stuff has been in slow rise for the last ten years and is still not declining. There is something in these steady but strong going trucks that seems to appeal especially for people who have not been interested about RC before. These types of trucks make also a nice hobby for the whole family as you can easily let even the younger ones drive these. Slow speed means less broken parts!

Here is some of our best Crawlers and Off-Road trucks!

Traxxas TRX4

Fastest name in the RC is now also the slowest name in the RC. When released, TRX4 dropped a bomb to crawler scene with it's portal axles and lockable differentials. Besided that their chassis is excellent and performs incredibly well, Traxxas has also licensed some of the most immortal 4x4 truck bodies out there. Hands down, TRX4 is today the crawler platform that everything else is compared to.

FTX Outback Texan

British FTX has been stepping up in their game during last few years and the latest revision of their Outback-series is the Texan Trail Truck. Texan has everything what you could expect from modern day crawler like metal driveshafts or chassis mounted servo. One interesting detail is the cantilever-type of rear shock absorbers. Looks cool with its 50's retro body with flatbed too!

Check out our test drive video of this truck and see what it can do!

Element Gatekeeper Builders Kit

Ultra-4 type of racing is getting popular! Build this excellent kit from Team Associated and conquer the unknown. Ultra 4 racing combines the fast driving through the deserts to dangerous climbing on the mountains. Gatekeeper is a versatile platform that allows you to build the rock racer of your dreams!

Here it's for this week! If you miss my Xray XB2 buggy build updates do not worry, next week we will dive deeper in to this topic! Meanwhile - Keep on crawling for the free world!

Take care eveyone and stay safe and see you at our shop!

Heikki / EuroRC

ps. Did you miss some of our Hobby Letters? You can now find them archived from our Shop! Please click here to read all of our Hobby Letters!

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