› Custom Builder Close-up: Mike Lohmann
Clod Buster master—and much more
Mike Lohmann first popped up on RC Car Action’s radar when he sent in to Readers’ Rides a stunning retro-themed Clod Buster build. Then he sent another that was even better. We started following some of his builds on Facebook, and when he launched the Youtube channel Mike’s RC World earlier this year, we became truly aware of how extensive his skills were and how diverse his project list is. So we reached out to Mike and found out that he is not only a brilliant builder but also excited to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for all aspects of RC. He epitomizes the contemporary RC maker, blending old-school craftsmanship with modern tech to create some amazing vehicles. We sat down to talk with Mike about his history with RC, current trends and interests, and where he sees things going in the future.
RC Car Action: Some of our readers may know you primarily for your stunning Clod Buster builds, but you’re obviously a prolific builder with lots of different interests. What was your first love Rc-wise? What was your first car/truck? Was it that one that got you hooked, or was there a later vehicle that really flipped the switch for you?
The first hobby-grade RC [I received] was at the age of nine, and it was a Tamiya Blackfoot that was handed down to me by my stepdad
Jeff. It was basically all stock but had a Lunchbox body on instead of the typical F-150 body. What really drew me in was when Jeff got his first Clod Buster and then seeing “Prima Donna” built by Steve Levine, which was featured in the August 1991 issue of RC Car Action.
You’ve seen some trends come and go. Anything you’d like to see make a comeback? Any that surprised you?
Well, everyone said that rock crawling would be a “fad” and it would never last; now it’s probably one of the largest segments. Glad that stuck! When I started into the scale crawlers, I was using very expensive and discontinued (at the time) Bruiser chassis and Tamiya TLT-1 axles with cut-down/narrowed
2.2 tires to fit onto
1.9 wheels. Trying to find the Hilux body at the time was the hardest and most expensive part.
I would love to see some more old-school Clod
Buster parts make a comeback— aluminum roll bars, bumpers, wheels, etc.
How many vehicles do you have? Do you have a favorite one or a favorite category? Why?
The collection is currently sitting at 115 vehicles, which includes: monster trucks, pullers, drag cars, scale trucks, and vintage Tamiya vehicles. It’s really hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to, it is my old-school Clod Buster, which I refer to as the “Purple People Eater.” I love old-school-style Clod Buster builds, but I am also very involved in scale RC trucks; I was a big into vintage Tamiya 3-speed trucks (Bruisers) and have been building “scale” trucks since 2000.
To what do you attribute your skills? Any particular thing you got into that taught you the most? Anything give you trouble?
Early on, [I got] a lot of help came from my stepdad Jeff. I am also heavily involved in full-size cars. I drag-race a ’68 Chevelle SS and fourwheel an ’83 Toyota mini truck, so wrenching on 1:1s helps with the RC stuff. To this day, I have always had trouble laying down paint; I’ve never been fully satisfied and usually end up having a 1:1 body shop paint my bodies for me.
Give me a super-tiny model brush and some Testors paint, however, and I can paint the tiniest of details all day.
Did you have a mentor or somebody that passed along the love of RC to you, or did you find it on your own?
That credit—100 percent— goes to my stepdad Jeff; he got me hooked. All of my parents were very supportive of the hobby as I grew up. As a kid, I was in the local hobby shops every weekend, and as we got into competing, we would travel 14 hours to the NRCTPA [National Radio Control Truck Pulling Association] events to race monster trucks and compete in truck/ tractor pulling.
Any current trends that excite you that you’re expanding into?
Shooting video, for sure. I started up a Youtube channel, Instagram, and Facebook page called “Mikes RC World” and have really enjoyed getting my vehicles out, shooting some footage using a gimbal tool, and learning to edit. There is quite a bit to know/learn but it’s been fun, and the feedback I have received in doing
“Rig Reviews” has really motivated me. It has been a great way to interact with like-minded enthusiasts.
Anything you predict will become a trend in the near future?
I think 3D printing is going to be a huge part of the future. It’s growing in leaps and bounds, and it allows for some awesome creativity, which is great for building the scale trucks. As the print quality gets better, it’s going to open a lot of doors for new bodies and parts.
When you run into rookies just getting into RC who are blown away by your work and want to learn, what advice do you give them? Anything to get into/stay away from?
I would say to check out local clubs and tracks, and find fellow enthusiasts to talk to. The Internet is great, but don’t believe everything you read! You also don’t need a super-expensive rig to have fun, either.
Get your kit, build it up, play with it, and see what you actually need. That way, you can focus your time and money in the right places.
Currently, I have been working on my “Nitemare” Retro Clod Buster build. I even tracked down John Riccio, who originally painted “Prima Donna,” and had him do the artwork on the truck. I am always working on my scale trucks too. I am pretty excited about a custom 4Runner that a friend and I built together. He did the 4Runner conversion, and I did all the paint, detailing, custom interior, armor, etc.
Mike’s stepdad Jeff (left) gave him his first RC truck and supported his love of the hobby, traveling with him to compete in RC monster truck and tractor-pull events. Top: This is one of two retro Clods that Mike submitted to Readers’ Rides that first caught our attention. It is a fully chrome-dipped kit with APM front and rear bumpers and APM roll bar with RAM lights. It rolls on AJ’S foams mounted on TMS aluminum wheels. Above: This Motion Graphics–painted body dates from 1990. The blue-anodized Sassy Chassis is old school, too. It sports Trinity shocks, JPS aluminum axles and steel APM gears, Chatham CNC aluminum ladder bars, Sees wheels, and IMEX puller tires.
This grainy snapshot shows Mike’s first real RC truck: a Tamiya Blackfoot with a Lunchbox body his stepdad Jeff gave him when he upgraded to a Clod Buster (the kit box is in the background). Jeff still has the Clod!
With so many awesome trucks, it’s tough for Mike to pick a favorite. But if he had to name just one, it would be his oldschool tilt-bed Clod, which he calls the “Purple People Eater.”
Mike says that his RC4WD 4-door LWB Hilux is his most detailed build to date. The engine is a 3D-printed GCM Racing 22r engine. The coolant and washer jug bottles are also 3D-printed, by VS Customs. Many of the other engine-bay details he scratch-built out of styrene, such as the brake master cylinder/ booster and clutch master. In the back of the truck, the milk crates and Power Tank are also 3D-printed.
Mike’s collection of 115 RC vehicles runs the gamut in terms of style and genre.
Mike’s current project is a retro Clod Buster with tons of extras: tilt bed, tilt hood, Parma Hemi engine converted into a Chevy engine, and aluminum wheels. All the hand-painted lettering, character, and pinstriping is by Max Customs/john Riccio, the same guy who painted the “Prima Donna” truck that inspired Mike way back in 1991!