Low-buck Is Bet­ter Than Ever

RC Car Action - - STARTING LINE - Peter Vieira Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor/ Sur­face Group pe­[email protected]

SEC­OND ONLY TO DO­ING FUN, CRE­ATIVE WORK with fun, cre­ative peo­ple, the great­est perk of work­ing at RC Car Ac­tion is the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence and re­view the lat­est cars, trucks, and gear. From the most ba­sic begin­ner RTRS to the most ex­otic com­pe­ti­tion ma­chines, there are very few RC cars and trucks that I can say I haven’t driven in some shape or form in my nearly 20 years of writ­ing about the ra­dio con­trol hobby. The Force RC Ham­mer­jaw and brushed-ver­sion Traxxas Slash 4X4 in this is­sue are the lat­est rides I’ve driven in the low-buck end of the spec­trum, and I gotta say, to­day’s cheap stuff is bet­ter than ever. And by “cheap,” I mean “af­ford­able,” of course. When I look at the $200-ish and un­der of­fer­ings from big brands like Traxxas, Tamiya, Kyosho, HPI, ECX, and Ar­rma (among oth­ers), it’s hard not to be im­pressed with the value you get. No, they’re not car­bon fiber and brush­less-pow­ered or loaded with ma­chined-alu­minum parts, but when you look at per­for­mance, fun, and dura­bil­ity for the dol­lar, it’s hard not to con­clude that these are great days for RC fans who need to keep the bud­get tight.

For per­spec­tive, let’s take a look at a Tower Hob­bies ad from 20 years ago. A first-gen Traxxas Rustler RTR, with a clear body, no bat­tery, and (if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly) a me­chan­i­cal speed con­trol is on sale for $155. Or you can get the “Ul­ti­mate Combo” to add a bat­tery, charger, and paint for an even $200. That was a great deal! To­day’s RTR Rustler is much faster, in­cludes a bat­tery and charger, and is way, waaay bet­ter equipped. It still only costs $200. But it gets bet­ter; let’s plug $200 into an in­fla­tion cal­cu­la­tor and, beep-boop, that 1998 Rustler combo would be $312 in to­day’s dol­lars. That’s with plas­tic gears in­stead of metal, fixed cam­ber links, AM ra­dio, and no ball bear­ings. And you have to paint it!

That’s just one ex­am­ple, but across the board, you get way more for way less to­day com­pared to yes­ter­year. And you get it with cus­tomer sup­port and re­place­ment parts’ avail­abil­ity—can’t forget that. If you’re tempted by im­pos­si­bly low-priced, sup­pos­edly hobby-qual­ity, no-brand RC ve­hi­cles that pop up in your so­cial feeds or in Google-placed ads, be aware that those low prices are made pos­si­ble by low qual­ity and zero in­vest­ment in cus­tomer sup­port or parts avail­abil­ity. Those cars aren’t “cheap,” as in “af­ford­able.” They’re cheap as in CHEAP. Stick with the good stuff you see in your hobby store...and in RC Car Ac­tion.

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