The entry level radio control segment of this great hobby is rather saturat- ed with really good vehicles at good prices, making it fairly easy for consumers to get a deal when looking for a vehicle. Because of this, it is hard for a vehicle, or manufacturer for that matter, to stand out from the crowd. Then ECX, a division of Horizon Hobby, came out with the AMP MT and AMP DB 2WD off road vehicles and totally changed the playing field. Not only are they totally ready to run, good looking and well equipped, they have a price that will allow you to take home two or three and still have a few bucks left over.
Entry Level Awesomeness!
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: ECX
WHO IT’S FOR: Entry level enthusiasts
PART NUMBER: AMP DB; ECX03029T1 & ECX03029T2 AMP MT; ECX03028T2, ECX03028T1
HOW MUCH: $129.99
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Everything you need comes in just one box
• Much quicker than I would have thought
• Very durable
• Transmitter is ideal for small “entry level” size hands
• Great parts support
• Many cool option parts readily available
• Phenomenal price point
• Waterproof electronics package
• Would like to have seen a quick type charger included
I was way more than skeptical that these AMP vehicles could be any good considering the out of this world price point. Then I got ahold of them, as did my kids, and well before the battery packs started to fade the first time out I became a believer. The AMP vehicles from ECX are all they are billed to be and more. If you have a youngster who wants their first real, hobby level vehicle, you can’t go wrong with either version.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• 4-way wrench
• Pre-load shock clips
• Foam battery block spacer
• Spare servo arms
• 4 “AA” batteries for the transmitter
• Duracell “AA” batteries
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• Blue anodized aluminum front shock tower, ECX331000, $17.49, Not only is this more durable and more rigid than the stock unit it replaces, the blue anodized finish is eye-catching.
• Blue anodized aluminum steering blocks, ECX334002, $20.99, The stock plastic steering blocks take a great deal of abuse and often develop slop. These aluminum replacements are much tougher and like the shock tower look cool in blue.
The ECX AMP vehicles all utilize an injection molded nylon composite tub style two-piece chassis. What does that really mean? It means that the backbone of these vehicles is plenty tough and has just enough flex to spring back if there is a hard collision rather than crack or break. Channels down the center of the chassis create the battery compartment and a gray colored composite strap secures the included battery in place. On flipping the AMP vehicles over it is easy to notice that the sides of the chassis angle upwards slightly to help aid in ground clearance when cornering hard.
The AMP vehicles feature fully independent suspension that is smooth and efficient. On each corner there is a composite bodied coil-over oil-filled shock with a pair of bottom loaded seals to help keep the oil in and contaminants out. Preload on these shocks is adjusted by way of included spacers. Each suspension arm, like the chassis, is super tough and has just enough flex so it will remain in one piece in a hard collision.
A waterproof Spektrum S607 servo with decent speed and torque attaches to a dual bellcrank style steering system in the AMP vehicles. The left side of the bellcrank has a built in spring loaded servo saver to keep the gears inside the servo from stripping out in a hard collision. Tough but flexible fixed length turnbuckles attach to either side of the bellcrank and extend to the steering knuckles on the left and right.
The transmission starts off with an external dual disk type slipper clutch that not only helps smooth out acceleration but also helps keep the gears from stripping out in tough conditions. Inside the transmission case is a trio of gears culminating in a gear differential that sends power, by way of slide shafts with universal joints at each end, to the wheels. The entire drivetrain rides smoothly on a set of sealed ball bearings.
Delivered ready-to-run, the AMP vehicles come with everything you’ll need to get the tires spinning. Unique here for a 1/10-scale is a combination ESC/receiver combo unit affixed to the right-hand side of the chassis. A high current EC3 type connector is found on the battery and power wires that exit the ESC/receiver. Speaking of the battery, it has a good capacity at 1800mAh NiMH and comes with a trickle type wall charger. The 2.4GHz transmitter is rather small, so people with large, sausage link-type fingers might have a difficult time holding it. That said, the size of the transmitter is ideal for smaller hands that young, entry level, kids have.
The AMP DB comes delivered with either a cool black/ yellow or white/red buggy type body. A wing located on the back looks neat and actually does work in helping keep the rear wheels planted. The AMP MT comes in black/green or white/orange open wheeled style pickup truck body. Both vehicles come with the same pattern all terrain tires that work well almost everywhere. The only difference when it comes to tires between the two vehicles is that the fronts on the DB are narrower than those used on the MT.
ON THE TRACK
With fully charged packs, my nine-year-old daughter and I headed for the stone dust parking lot near my house for some fun. She decided the white/red AMP MT looked cool so I handed her the appropriate transmitter and I drove the AMP DB. As expected the transmitter was a bit small for my hands but was just right for my daughter. As RTR vehicles at such a phenomenal price point I was expecting the AMP vehicles to be less than stellar when it came to acceleration. To my surprise, these vehicles have some pop and easily spun the tires and took off quite well. We drove around in a giant oval for a short while so my daughter could get the hang of the truck and in no time she figured out how to power slide around the left turn. We did this for at least 10 minutes before the vehicles began to show signs of slowing. Back home I put the packs back on charge and gave the AMP vehicles a once-over before heading back out. Other than being a bit dusty inside and out they both looked great, everything was still tight and the shocks were holding their oil perfectly.
With the batteries fully charged once again we jumped in my car and drove over to R/C Madness in Enfield, Connecticut to have some fun on the big outdoor dirt track. Here there are plenty of jumps, bumps and turns that my daughter was going to need to navigate through and around. Being a good dad I handed her the transmitter, had her drive the AMP MT from the drivers stand and I stayed trackside and played the part of corner marshal. She did a great job navigating down the long straightaway and the truck tracked very straight the whole way down. She liked the straight so much she forgot to turn a few times and drove right off the track! Luckily the AMP MT is super tough and other than body scuffs was no worse for wear. Through the infield she drove the AMP MT into a board or two a few times but again, the truck bounded right back. Over jumps, where my daughter liked to simply hold the throttle wide open, the truck worked better than expected. It kept a nose up attitude and bounced minimally on landing. More than once the AMP MT took a big tumble over a jump or, in the case of the double, did not get up enough speed and landed short. In these cases the truck again showed no ill effects.
When the AMP MT started slowly I told my daughter to head down from the drivers stand and handed her the AMP DB transmitter so she could keep having fun. With all the practice she had from the MT she did quite well and even put down a few consecutive laps in which I did not need to flip the buggy over! All in all, both of these vehicles are ridiculously tough, quite quick and loads of fun for big and little kids.
for in-depth reviews on the latest RC vehicles
SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
Length: 16.9 in. (429.3mm)
Width: 12.9 in. (327mm)
Wheelbase: 11.6 in. (294.6mm)
Weight: 3.44lbs (1.6kg)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels: 6-spoke black
Wheel adapter type: 12mm hex
Type: 4-wheel independent
Shock positions: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 2-arm
Ride height: Pre-load clips on the shocks
Type: Dual bellcrank
Type: Tub style
Material: Injection molded nylon composite
Differential: Gear diff
Clutch Type: Adjustable slipper
Gear ratio: Optional pinion gears
Bearings: Full set of shielde
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 10
Everyone needs to start somewhere and for the youngest of users the ECX AMP vehicle line is an ideal place. They come with plenty of standard features, have the perfect combination of speed and performance that entry level enthusiasts need, and best of all are per- haps the best priced 1/10 RTRs ever to hit the market. Finally, should you or your child really like what the ECX AMP vehicles have to offer and if you are ready for more there are plenty of option parts readily available to ramp up speed and performance before jumping to a much more expensive, well equipped race level vehicle.