Inexpensive and Indestructible are In-Da-House!
Words: Jon R. Barnes
Photos: Jon R. Barnes
The name “Revell” has been associated with plastic model kits for over a half a century. Late 2013 will go down in Wiki-History as the date that they broke out of that mold in impressive fashion. Credit Hobbico’s purchase of Revell in 2007 as the driving force for Revell to roll out a new product line of radio control 1/18-scale radio control vehicles, christened Dromida. With three different genres of interest represented (buggy, short course truck and monster truck) via subtle variations on the same core chassis, these all-inclusive, Ready-to-Run minis boast a wallet-arousing entry level price of just under a hundred bucks. What does a one hundred dollar bill buy?
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Revell
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginning drivers
PART NUMBER: DIDC0041, DIDC0042, DIDC0043
HOW MUCH: $99.98
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• High-quality, hobby-grade gear that is both tunable and upgradeable, at an entry level price.
• All inclusive, Ready-to-Run vehicles in a choice of three different flavors of fun.
• Full-size, full-featured 2.4GHz pistol grip radio and waterproof on-board electronics.
• The included six-cell 1300mAh NiMH battery provides run durations of 10 to 15 minutes.
• Eye-popping paint and graphics on all three body sets.
• An extremely durable design that endures utterly thorough thrashings and repeated full throttle crashes into curbs, all without complaints or breakage.
• The exhaustive list of both replacement and upgrade components available can help keep these minis running for a long time.
• The setup of the stock shocks and suspension out of the box will not satisfy all drivers.
• Entry-level speed with the stock brushed 370 power system may not challenge more experienced drivers.
The words “entry-level radio control vehicle” used to be synonymous with the phrases “toy grade,” “nonrepairable” and “throw-away.” The quality level of products peddled to unsuspecting new drivers in the past has often resulted in them bitterly tossing it into the garbage after one big smash-up. Without drama, I claim that Dromida has redefined what an aspiring new driver can expect when buying their first vehicle. With a complete selection of replacement parts readily produced and available, AND an impressive series of speed hop-ups and blue aluminum upgrade parts added in, these three 1/18-scale RTR vehicles can give newer drivers an exciting and positive experience. Springing for the optional brushless speed package (which costs as much as the RTR kit itself), and some of the aluminum upgrades can help make these enticing to more experienced rivers too.
CHASSIS—Though Dromida presents three different options in the product line, they are, at the core, the same durable chassis. The chassis is primarily composed of black, injection-molded plastic parts. A three-way split towards the end of the Dromida factory assembly line allows different shock tower/body mounts, tires/wheels and body sets to create each of the three individual variations that are offered. The trucks all get bumpers pinned to the ends of their chassis, while the buggy receives a high mounted rear wing. All three models soaked up every collision, both accidental and intentional, that we threw at them.
SUSPENSION—Purchase an inexpensive RTR car or truck and you usually are offered very limited suspension tuning options, if any at all. The Dromida 1/18-scale chassis offers several suspension tuning options out of the box. Big bore, oil-filled shocks with coil-over springs can be mounted in several different configurations on both ends of the vehicles and feature pre-load adjusters. If you don’t like the performance of the stock shocks, an inexpensive and easy tuning option is to change to a different oil. Different spring tensions are also available, as are aluminum shocks. Camber can also be adjusted. The number of suspension tuning options offered out of the box is enough to keep a newer driver interested in tweaking, without overwhelming them with all of the intricacies of a fully tunable model.
STEERING—Thanks to the steering rate adjustment on the transmitter , I was able to dumb the steering response down to a point where my young daughter could handle these rides just fine. Wind it back up to maximum though and these models will turn hard and fast. I like that any major adjustments to the neutral position can be made mechanically, thanks to the ball cup-equipped adjustable steering rod. Ball cups are used in several places on the chassis and suspension. Each model steers a little differently, given the different tire types, tread patterns and shock geometries. A servo saver helps prevent overloading the waterproof servo.
DRIVETRAIN—Dromida specs these entry-level 4WD models out to use a power system with a brushed 370-size can motor. A 12T pinion (11T on the monster truck) mates to a 45T pinion gear, which benefits from being fully encased. Twin sealed gear differentials are tied together using an enclosed plastic driveshaft. Plastic dogbones transfer the power out to the four corners. Most of the moving parts are enclosed and protected from the rigors of the environment. Each model features its own unique set of rubber. The MT has the most aggressive treads of the three, while the SC and BT both have a more sedate tread pattern that can capably manage double duty on both hard pack and loose surfaces. I enjoyed the stock set-up of the short course truck the most. It seemed to do the best job of transferring the power to the pavement.
RUNNING GEAR—The Dromida RE18, a combination two-channel, 2.4GHz receiver and brushed speed controller, is touted as being waterproof. It is a singular module that is fully sealed. Ditto for the steering servo. Though we didn’t run any of our test vehicles through water or mud, we did subject them to numerous hot water rinses in the kitchen sink in order to restore them to showroom condition after running all day in the dirt. I wonder if running them through the dishwasher would be considered by Dromida as “normal” exposure to the elements?! Tempting! The full size Dromida D100 pistol grip transmitter includes channel reversing switches, rate adjustments and trims. Most controls, including the on/off switch, are located under a flip-up gray translucent cover. Trims are located to the left of the foam covered steering vector. I personally would prefer that the on/off switch be moved out from under the hatch.
FINISHING TOUCHES—Though the only paperwork included in the box is a single, terse sheet of basic instructions, the Dromida website features bonus materials in the form of an assembly and maintenance guide, complete replacement parts listing, exploded parts views of each vehicle, a tuning guide and more. A visit to the Dromida domain is both vital and worthwhile. Each of the three bodies is adorned with unique eye-popping paint and graphics schemes. I especially like the buggy body’s cool looking cab-forward design and high-mounted rear wing. Large, springy bumpers do a great job of protecting both trucks from collision damage. The short course truck even has real rubber mud flaps on its rear bumper.
TOOLS & ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• NiMH battery charge monitor
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMENED
• Aluminum oil shocks, DIDC1127, $9.99. A couple of sets of these all aluminum oil filled shocks should serve as a great way to improve the suspension but with a plethora of aluminum upgrade parts available, getting them may start a buying spree of blue anodized aluminum that you are not able to easily arrest.
• Brushless speed kit, DIDC1150, $99.99. Because everybody knows that the quickest way to get more speed is to go brushless. This kit includes a 5300Kv brushless motor, 25A speed controller, brushless receiver and other miscellaneous parts.
• 2S 7.4V 1600mAh LiPo battery, DIDC1134, $21.99. The speed kit listed above does not include the required LiPo battery. This 20C discharge rating pack is sized to fit perfectly.
• Brushed speed kit, DIDC1151, $21.99. If the brushless power system option breaks your bank, this upgrade to a 22T brushed motor may temporarily satisfy your thirst for more performance and speed.
ON THE TRACK
My daughter squealed with delight when she saw not one but three 1/18-scale RTRs sitting on the dining room table. (I actually also squealed but only deep inside where nobody else would hear). Seeing that I needed to get some action photos of all three and thus needed a driver, we struck a deal and headed out to the paved cul-de-sac in front of our house. The vehicle that first caught my driver’s eye was the bright red, white and black buggy. Before I could even get as much as one “be careful” out of my mouth, she goosed the gas and stuffed it cleanly under a parked car. Arghhhhh! I carefully extracted it, checked it for damage and, seeing absolutely none, cast a quick dose of stink eye in her direction. Fortunately, Dromida has done their homework on what it takes to make these models stand up to abuse. If there is one thing that a youngster can dependably do, it is test the durability of product. After a quick demonstration of how I preferred that she drive the buggy, I turned her loose again. Full-lock steering plus 100 percent throttle creates a buggy that will do spinning burnouts and donuts, even on pavement. I was somewhat surprised at the power and performance of the little 370-size brushed motor. With the steering rate lowered a little, the buggy was eminently more controllable for her. The speed and performance of the buggy were a little much for her, but using the rates on the transmitter allows you to tame the beast a little. Almost fifteen minutes later, in spite of her best efforts to break the BX, the battery signaled its defeat and we returned to claim our next victim.
Our next test venue was, of necessity, going to be a horse ranch, in all its late summer dusty, grass-less glory. The monster truck seemed the best suited for the dusty environs offered by this venue. I called dibs on driving the truck and offloaded the camera to my daughter. With a pinch of the throttle trigger, the MT jumped forward. The tires on the MT feature a more aggressive tread pattern but the peppy little power system still managed to break them free at will in the loose dirt. We seldom encountered terrain or obstacles that the truck could not make its way over, though getting into vegetation of any length had a habit of eventually dragging it to a halt. When kept in the dirt, the truck would lunge forward and grab air whenever presented with an opportunity. After a few minutes of full-throttle monster trucking, I detected a change in pitch in the power system. I found that one dogbone had managed to get a hold of a bunch of horse hair lying on the ground and it was slowly immobilizing that corner of the truck’s power system. The easiest way to clear it was to remove the wheel/tire. Once cleaned, the truck went back into the dirt for more mayhem. Our total run duration when running the MT was also nearly 15 minutes!
I saved the best for last, having decided early on that the SC had the best aesthetics of the three Dromidas. And our test bed for it was a bona fide dirt track at a local club. I had a local driver take the wheel and asked him to have at it. I was surprised when the short course truck had noticeably less top end than the other two units. A quick check of the transmitter settings revealed that the throttle rates had been dialed back from full. With full rates restored, we were off to the SC races. It took my driver a few laps to get the feel for the SC but once he did, he started hitting the jumps with perfect rhythm. The truck grabbed some pretty impressive air on the larger jumps. The track had not been groomed in a while and there were a few oversize rocks that managed to impede the little 1/18-scale truck but once we cleaned the rough stuff away, the SC sped around the track impressively. We did notice that the body would often contact the tires and chassis when landing hard. Though the suspension works fine for most novice racers, we found ourselves eager to experiment with different shock oil and spring tension. Dromida gives the nod of approval by making the chassis and suspension tunable in several basic ways.
One final note involves recharging the battery. Don’t forget to use the included NiMH battery charge monitor. It goes in-line between the charger and battery and tells you when the battery is fully charged by means of a pair of LEDs. Without it in place, there is no feedback on the progress of the charge cycle. And if you by chance own any other charger, use it. It will probably recharge faster than the included charger does…yawn.
SPECS & TUNING OPTIONS
• BX 4.18 Buggy
LENGTH: 10.2 in. (260mm)
WIDTH: 7.2 in. (182mm)
HEIGHT: 3.9 in. (100mm)
WEIGHT: 1.29 lbs. (589g)
• MT 4.18 Monster Truck
LENGTH: 10.6 in. (270mm)
WIDTH: 7.4 in. (190mm)
HEIGHT: 4.3 in. (110mm)
WEIGHT: 1.4 lbs. (639g)
• SC 4.18 Short Course Truck
LENGTH: 11.4 in. (290mm)
WIDTH: 7.5 in. (190mm)
HEIGHT: 4.1 in. (105mm)
WEIGHT: 1.34 lbs. (612g)
MOTOR: Brushed 370 can
TRANSMITTER: Dromida D100 2.4GHz pistol grip
RECEIVER: Dromida RE18 2-in-1 twochannel 2.4GHz with integral waterproof ESC
STEERING SERVO: Waterproof Dromida DS100
BATTERY: Dromida 1300mAh NiMH 6-cell flat with HPI RS4-style mini connector
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted and cut
WHEELS: Gray plastic, design varies by model
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: Listed as 8mm hex (measured at 7mm)
TIRES: Rubber with foam inserts, tread and dimensions vary by model
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 2-tower, 2-arm, (R) 2-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles
RIDE HEIGHT: Fixed
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
MATERIAL: Injection molded plastic
TRANSMISSION: 2-gear rear-mounted
DIFFERENTIAL: Gear differentials
CLUTCH TYPE: NA
GEAR RATIO: 12T pinion, 45T spur, optional pinions available
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
This duo of Dromida 1/18-scale trucks and buggy are an absolutely affordable way for newbies to jump into the world of radio control. A positive experience is all but guaranteed. (Dromida offers a ninety-day limited warranty). They are notably versatile in that they can be run on and off-road, indoors and out and in just about all weather and conditions. The full size 2.4GHz pistol grip radio allows a new driver to bypass having to use an undersized, game style of controller, such as is often included with inexpensive entry-level products. The out-of-the-box performance and speed are perfectly suited for younger or less experienced drivers and numerous upgrade options allow drivers to hop-up their ride as their skills improve. We bashed and crashed all three of them mercilessly and failed to break anything. And all this for under one hundred bucks?! The words “entry level” are no longer dirty words!
Dromida dromida.com, 217-398-0007