REVIEW: 1/18 Dromida Brushless Monster Truck

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DROMIDA 4WD BRUSHLESS MONSTER TRUCK

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been putting the 1/18 scale Dromida MT4.18BL Monster Truck through its paces and not everything went as planned.  More on that in a minute.  First, 1/18 scale vehicles are a favorite of mine and in particular the BX4.18 both in brushed and brushless versions.  The BX4.18BL still lives in my RC garage so I’m finding the MT4.18BL feels very familiar.  Does that mean there’s no room for the monster truck along side the others?  I’m not prepared to say that just yet, so let’s dive into the review and see where the MT4.18BL fits into the lineup.

The brushless monster truck comes to you fully assembled and ready to drive (after charging the batteries).  Having a look around the truck, it’s all very familiar to the other Dromida vehicles, yet different enough so it has its own identity.  The body is a generic truck style with subjectively good looking color and graphics.   Distinctive is the Brushless and BL labels making no mistake which truck it is you’re driving.

 

MT4.18BL DETAILS

ELECTRONICS – In this application, Dromida uses their BE18 25A ESC and RX-18 waterproof 3-channel receiver. Powering the electronics is a 1300mAh NiMH 6-cell battery, USB charger and charge monitor lights.  The charge monitor has 2 lights; one is an always on green indicator and one is an on/off red charging light.

Getting the truck up to speed is the 5300kV brushless motor.  If you are used to brushless motors, stepping up to the brushless motor can be a bit of a surprise.  The NiMH is a good battery choice and is cheap enough to have multiple packs.  That said, this package is designed for a little more power.  The kind of power a LiPO can provide, so that is also an option for only a few dollars more than the NiMH.

 

STEERING SERVO – There is not a traditional spring loaded servo saver protecting the DS-100 steering servo, however, there is a servo saver.  It’s essentially a 3-piece plastic servo arm.  Attached to the servo arm is a plate with one tooth or spline, which then connects to a c-clip, which attaches to the servo.  When too much force is put on the servo the c-clip expands and the tooth connected to the servo arm slides free which keeps the servo from stripping.  So far it’s working as intended.

The DS-100 does a pretty good job steering the bigger, wider tires on the monster truck with accuracy.  It’s easy to hold your line, work through drifts and come out of 360 spins.  Steering is smooth and predictable during high-speed runs, but adjustable exponential would be nice.  For now, the dual rate option will have to suffice to numb the steering when driving 30+ mph.

 

TRANSMITTER – The D100 comes equipped with the basic features you’d expect for this type of vehicle.  Under the cover on top of the transmitter, you’ll find two battery indicator’s to help you identify when the batteries are both full and when they’re low.

Also under the cover is the on/off switch and steering and servo reversing switches, along with dual-rates for both.  Steering and throttle trim are on the front next to the wheel.  The antenna is a short, static, hard plastic shell.  And the steering wheel is modeled after a real vehicle wheel with foam.

The D100 is light, if not a bit bulky, but comfortable to hold and balanced well.  The trigger is not adjustable, but is positioned well and has a light spring, which I like.  Finally, it comes with the four “AA” batteries required, which is a nice touch on a “RTR” vehicle.

 

CHASSIS & DRIVETRAIN – The chassis is solid plastic, and all the components making up the drivetrain are plastic as well.  This is a way for Dromida to stay at its price point and continue being beginner’s option.  This doesn’t equate to cheap, but it does become a consideration when running on LiPO.  Take a look at the video of what happened when we switched from NiMH to LiPO.

I had several runs on NiMH and the truck or gears showed no real signs of wear.  I removed the covers and checked.  Switching to LiPO changed the narrative, which is exactly why I wanted to see what the NiMH battery was doing to the plastic gears.  If staying with NiMH is your plan, the plastic gears will hold up for quite a while.  In saying that, happily replacement spur gears are only a couple bucks and easily found at a number of online retailers.  Another reason to love 1/18 scale!

As you can see in the video, the LiPO battery destroyed the pinion and spur gears very quickly.  It only took a couple high speed runs at full speed with some aggressive full throttle launches from full-stop to render the gears useless.  For $9 retail, you can upgrade to an aluminum spur gear, which I strongly suggest buying when ordering the truck.  I’ve been running the aluminum spur gears on the BX4.18BL with great success for a couple years.  Spend the $9.

Moving on to suspension, included are fully adjustable oil filled, big-bore shocks that provide nice damping when landing from the bigger jumps, but also cornering.

SPECIFICATIONS

Length: 10.6 in (270 mm)

Width: 7.8 in (198 mm)

Height: 4.6 in (117 mm)

Weight w/battery: 1.4 lb (632 g)

Requires: nothing!

 

DRIVING

Driving the Dromida Brushless Monster Truck is a great experience with NiMH, but the truck really puts you on the edge of your seat with LiPO.  I had the truck close to 25mph under NiMH power on the radar and 30mph with LiPO in the limited time I had with the plastic spur gear.  I have no doubt 30+ is attainable and I plan to find out after a few upgrades.

Out of the box, the truck is fun, reliable and a great beginner RC.  It’s also priced competitively at $149.99.  I would recommend this to anyone that asked for a small RC truck to bash and feel real good about the recommendation.  I would also include in that recommendation the aluminum spur gear.  The pinion is fine and the plastic differentials aren’t as much of a concern, but that plastic spur gear needs to be upgraded.  That puts the MT at about $160, which is starting to top out the price range.

It’s funny to see the reactions of people after they see the smaller 1/18 scale brushless trucks like this run.  At the track with the BX4.18BL, the chatter in the pits was almost non-stop as people tried to figure out what the heck they just saw.  It’s exactly the same with the monster truck at the skate park.  From an outsider’s perspective, it’s just a small toy-grade RC truck.   That is until it shreds the skate park with blistering speed, jumps 20′ off the ramps and keeps going.  That is when people start to stare and ask questions.  I should have had a few NIB in the back of my car, I’m pretty sure they would have sold that day.

This truck is so easy to drive, and while my son is a fairly experienced driver at this point, most of what you see in the video is him at the wheel.  Even with 4wd, it can be a handful on the dirt/gravel with the stock tires as they don’t provide the best traction.  On pavement, it’s fine until you power it with LiPO then the tires stand no change at launch.  I’m not sure any tires would.

The wheels handle high-speed cornering well as they are glued and include foam inserts.

The truck is very controllable when jumping, and we had a blast flying through the air then finding the landing sweet spots at the skate park.  Had we had 10 packs charged, I’m pretty sure he would have run through everyone one of them consecutively.

I did run into a problem not only with the spur gear but also the shock tower body mounts.  One of the rear mounts broke during testing.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when it broke, but it will need to be replaced as well.  We had to have hit something just right for it to shear where it did, so I’m not convinced it’s a problem with the design as much as it is our driving.  As I’m thinking about it, I do recall crashing into a dumpster.  That might have done it.

Ok, let’s wrap this up.  Anyone, any age, can and will enjoy driving the MT4.18BL.  Check it out, enjoy the videos and see if it’s right for your r/c garage.  It will proudly sit on the shelves alongside my other 1/18 scale vehicles until its next adventure, which I’m sure won’t be long from now.

 

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