Boulder Dash: Radio-Controlled Rock Crawlers Take Toys to New Heights

Product: Boulder Dash

Manufacturer: Roundup:

Wired Rating: 0

With high-torque electric motors, low gear ratios, and wildly articulating suspensions, radio-controlled rock crawlers venture where no toys have gone before.

1. RC4WD Killer Krawler

This 1/5-scale truck should be called the Overkill Krawler. Its CNC-milled aluminum chassis provides 5 inches of ground clearance and a rigid frame to support its contortionist suspension, dual electric motors, and twin computerized speed controls. Weighted pendulums inside the wheels boost traction by keeping pressure on the rocks below. But you need serious skill to make this beast behave; reprogramming your brain to steer front and rear wheels is tricky.

WIRED So well engineered and built it could be drafted into military service. When you’re not duking it out with rocks, mount this machined beauty on the wall—it’s that gorgeous.

TIRED All that pretty metal jacks up the weight, which weighs down battery life. Krazy expensive.


2. Losi Night Crawler
To tackle jagged rocks and steep slopes, you think ahead and go slow. That means you may have to park in a precarious spot while you sort out your strategy. The 1/10-scale Night Crawler encourages this strategic approach with a worm-gear drive that can apply just enough torque to hold the truck steady. Once you’ve chosen a path, the 45-degree steering angle and 4-inch aluminum shocks let you take the route you want, not just the path of least resistance.

WIRED Accepts powerful, long-lasting lithium polymer cells for extended missions. Or you can keep it cheap and go with standard NiMHs.

TIRED LED lights, intended to help you crawl around at night (hence the name), aren’t quite bright enough to make that possible. Worse, they only point downward.


3. Axial SCX10 TR
Realism runs high in Axial’s 1/10-scale Trail Ready crawler: Its tunable suspension, solid rear axle, and bead-lock wheels—which cinch the tires onto the rims so they don’t slip while you’re grinding up a steep rock face—faithfully replicate a real-life crawler. And its smoother tires and less extreme gear ratios help you squeeze more meters out of each battery charge. Just don’t go trying to scale the woodpile.

WIRED When the sun drops below the horizon, LED headlights brightly illuminate the trail ahead of you. It’s also faster on flat surfaces than the rest of this convoy.

TIRED Doesn’t scoff at gravity like the Krawler or the, uh, Crawler. Abundance of plastic components might add up to dubious durability—even in miniature, this sport is brutal.


4. Traxxas Summit
The Summit’s waterproof electronics open up oceans of new challenges: Rocky streams and snowy slopes will no longer be off-limits for fear of damaging your $500 toy. But the fan-cooled motor drinks a lot of juice—two sets of seven-cell NiMHs. On the plus side, that amplitude of amps, combined with a smart transmission, lets this 1/10-scale truck wear two hats: deft climber one minute and flat-out trail runner the next.

WIRED Transitions from high-speed bashing to methodical ascents at the flick of a switch. (Well, two switches, actually: One changes your gearing and the other locks or unlocks your differentials.)

TIRED Plastic wheels have fake bead-locks—a deadly sin to purists. Suspension articulation not on a par with the other crawlers here.


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