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Unbelievable RC

Monster XX 1:10th scale truck

November 2010
monster xx

Street Price: $99.99 US
Manufacturer: Extreme Machines
Mfr's recommended min. age: 14
Our recommended age range: 11+ with adult supervision
Primary use: Outdoors
Top speed: 20mph
Radio: 27mhz & 49mhz available
Includes:

  • Assembled vehicle
  • Controller
  • 7.2V battery pack
  • Charger
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 8x AA batteries for the controller
IMPORTANT: As of March 2011 it has come to my attention that this product has been pulled from the market and customer service has been dramatically scaled back. With customer support reduced and future parts availability in question, I cannot recommend the purchase of this product. The content of this review has been preserved for reference only.

Initial Impressions

This here is the most expensive vehicle I've tested at RC Mania to date. Though it's sold in the toy aisles at Target stores, the Extreme Machines Monster XX is actually an entry-level "pro-grade," hobby-class RC truck. It comes with a very strong, large 7.2V rechargable battery pack and a wall charger, so to run it, you just need the patience to charge that pack plus some AA's for the transmitter.

The vehicle itself is a sight to behold. It has striking graphics on its thin, lightweight, yet impact-resistant body, and the tires are soft, real rubber and huge in size. As soon as I looked at the bottom of it, I recognized that the chassis is a direct copy of a design from world-famous hobby-class RC manufacturer Tamiya. Tamiya called this design the "DF-02" and sold it with several different body styles as a buggy, not a truck. The Monster XX rendition uses tires that are many times larger than heavier than the original buggies, which concerned me somewhat because big tires on a small vehicle can put a lot of excess strain on axles & driveshafts.

  monster xx

The Monster XX features permanent four-wheel drive with a single motor turning a sealed central shaft that sends power to the front & rear ends of the truck. Rather than the typical all-in-one circuit board you see in toy-class RCs, this one has separate units for the radio receiver portion and what's called the "speed controller," which regulates electricity from the battery to give you different speeds. Speaking of different speeds, the truck features very fine digital proportional controls through a pistol-grip radio, meaning you can go slowly from a crawl to top speed with no noticeable steps in between -- it's completely smooth. The same goes for the steering.

The truck is "weatherproofed" but not actually waterproof. This means the electronics shouldn't short out if you accidentally drive through a puddle or splash some moisture inside from driving across wet grass, but you don't want to intentionally drive through water or slushy snow as most of the components are exposed to the elements, and many metal parts like screws & nuts are prone to rust.

Testing

This thing is fast. Really fast. On my radar gun, with a freshly charged battery, it clocked just over 20mph, making it one of the very fastest RCs sold in the toy aisle, ever. With that sort of speed, it's no wonder the manufacturer strongly recommends that the vehicle not be driven by anyone under the age of 14. Honestly though, even for a teen, no, even for an adult, that sort of speed can be dangerous to manage. There's this really simple equation in physics that says force equals mass (weight) times velocity (speed), then multiplied by velocity again. That means that an RC that goes 20mph crashes with four times the impact force of one that goes 10mph but weighs the same. That sort of force can and will break parts on even hobby-grade vehicles that cost 2 to 5 times as much if you're reckless. Parents, train and supervise your kids if they get this vehicle, and keep it off public streets. Adults who are new to hobby-class vehicles, avoid the urge to squeeze the throttle trigger all the way until you're good at controlling the truck!

Alright alright, that's enough warnings for now. Back to the performance of the truck. The huge tires allow the vehicle to get over very rough dirt terrain and even short grass with ease. They also have good traction on the street, and thankfully don't wear out quickly even though they're soft & pliable. The huge size of the tires also has some disadvantages, especially with the relatively small size of the rest of the vehicle, and the overly stiff suspension springs the truck is equipped with. It bounces around a lot, which makes it frequently lose traction momentarily when driving on dirt. If you're turning and this happens, the truck will suddenly spin out. Also, if you do something to get the truck in the air, like jumping off a small ramp, the sheer spinning mass of those big tires will actually rotate the whole truck while it's in the air. If you keep the throttle at full speed when it's flying, it will flip backwards. If you hit the brakes too suddenly, it will flip forward. It takes some finesse and practice to control these movements, and it's best to take jumps at half speed and just let the truck coast through the air until it lands.

One thing about steering. The controller has a centering trim that allows you to make a small correction if the truck doesn't drive perfectly straight on its own. That's a great feature to have, and it works. However, once you get the centering right and then start to drive again, the truck may start to wander off-center again on its own, even though you haven't changed the trim. This is caused by some unwanted friction in a mechanical component (called a "servo saver") that's actually designed to protect the steering actuator from harm in the event of a crash. The only permanent fix that I've found is to replace that part with one made for the original Tamiya chassis this one is based on. Tamiya's part is identical in size & shape, but made from a different material that doesn't seem to bind up.

I did break some parts during my extensive testing of the Monster XX truck over the course of a couple of months. Early on, I broke a specific unique gear in the drivetrain several times, and discovered that it had a design flaw. I had the fortune of making contact with the manufacturer, and I submitted drawings and a full-sized mockup of a stronger design for the gear. That new design was quickly implemented and added to all trucks produced since then. I've then also broken a handful of small odds & ends like the connecting linkages and the corners of the upper shock mounts. I was able to get new parts by calling the customer support number included in the package, and the folks on the line were courteous and got the parts to me quickly. Very few of these breakages were from horrendous crashes, though, just small mistakes and odd jump landings.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

IMPORTANT: As of March 2011 it has come to my attention that this product has been pulled from the market and customer service has been dramatically scaled back. With customer support reduced and future parts availability in question, I cannot recommend the purchase of this product. The content of this review has been preserved for reference only.

The 1/10th scale Extreme Machines Monster XX is quite the beast. There's nothing in the toy-class RC world that can be compared to it even slightly. Its speed is absolutely unmatched on the market today, and it can handle rough terrain better than anything other than a rock crawler. Again, though, all of that power comes with some problems. You really need to learn to drive the Monster XX, you can't just take it out of the box and blast around with it like a typical toy. If you hit a hard object at full speed, you risk breaking a plastic part. Worse than that, an unsupervised youngster can actually damage other property with a little missile like this, or even cause injury to a pedestrian or animal.

I did experience more parts breakages than I expected, so the durability still needs improvement. I was very relieved to be able to get replacement parts with ease. That's something I've not experienced from a toy aisle product since Nikko left the US market. The only catch is, of course, that you have to be able to diagnose or at least properly describe the problem, and when the new part(s) come in, you need to do your own installation. I actually think that can be a great learning experience for anyone who likes mechanical things, whether or not they've had prior experience with assembly & disassembly. However, of course, it would be nicer if the truck was simply tougher.

Well, you see my overall rating for the Monster XX 1/10th scale truck, but I hesitate to say whether I would "recommend" it or not. It all depends upon your perspective. For a young, impatient kid, I would say forget it. They'll drive it into walls and polls, bust it into a million pieces and probably blame the truck for all of it. For a moderately young kid of any age (adults included!) who has some patience and a demonstrated desire to keep his/her possessions in working order and not destroy expensive things for "fun," this truck can be a blast to bash around on a dirt lot, though for its price, you're getting close to the range of entry-level products from some more established manufactuers in the hobby-grade world.

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