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Product Reviews - April 2005

Published: March 14, 2005
Tamiya Nitro Thunder
Tamiya's Nitro Thunder roars Into Action
Reviewed by Charlie Premier, with Gregg Voss

Product: Tamiya says its new 1:10 XBG Nitro Thunder is the first ready-to-run vehicle to have a slide-carb .15 engine. It also features rear exhaust that allows for a slick body design, impact control system on the front suspension mount and a power-to-weight ratio equal to a .21-sized 1:8 buggy.

Performance: Premier, manager of Hal's Hobby Warehouse in El Paso, Texas, the 2004 Hobby Store of the Year, conducted a unique engine break-in process. "They tell you to idle some tanks through the engine and we do the opposite," he says. "We run it very rich, a pukey rich, so that the piston can set into the sleeve correctly. When you don't run it under a load, it doesn't get to the optimum temperature, and the piston never sets into the sleeve correctly." That process worked like a charm, and took about an hour to complete, using five tanks of Morgan Fuels' Sidewinder 20% nitro/12% oil content.

Premier's shop features a paved road course track at 4,200-foot elevation, which facilitated a true test of the Nitro Thunder's constitution.

"To our surprise, it held up when we were stress testing it," he says. "We jumped it on a ramp, and we did full throttles with acceleration."
One concern was the fact that it sits a bit low to the ground, and the chassis rubs after jumps, but the ground clearance can be easily adjusted by raising the shocks.

Premier got the Nitro Thunder up to about 30 mph on the track's 200-foot straightaway, which was impressive, though he says "that's one suggestion I have for the vehicle: It lacks a little bit of power in the engine. I would put in a .15 long-stroke engine. It would give a little more torque because of the long stroke, and the performance won't heat up as quickly as a four-stroke engine." One viable candidate is the Traxxas Pro .15 engine.

He was more than satisfied with the cut and trimmed body, which allowed easy accessibility to the engine's pull-start and the high-end needle without removal.

Premier suggests marketing the Nitro Thunder toward a beginner in nitro, because "it doesn't require a lot of maintenance, and the body seals everything on the inside." An intermediate to expert driver will likely want to upgrade the engine and radio (he suggests a JR XR3i FM), along with titanium or graphite aftermarket parts. Tire foams aren't included, so that's another potential add-on.

Marketing: The best thing about the box (21 x 13 x 121/2 inches), besides being colorful and chock full of informational marketing text, is the fact that it has two removable panels - one on the top and another on the front - with clear-plastic windows behind them that provide two great views of the Nitro Thunder. Our advice? Pull them both off and let customers see the real McCoy - it's bound to generate sales.

"[Customers] liked the fact that you can see the car," Premier says. "That's the biggest problem with packaging, you can't see the product most of the time. It helps tons. The picture does not do it justice until you see the live product."

Whenever you bring in a new R/C vehicle, you have to make sure you're stocking the lion's share of replacement and upgrade parts, which is why the Nitro Thunder is the perfect choice for an R/C-based shop. "You want to have service at the same time you buy the vehicle," Premier says, adding that's particularly critical with the main demographic for the Nitro Thunder.

Product: XBG Nitro Thunder
Maker: Tamiya
Scale: 1:10
Stock number: 43514
MSRP: $405
Availability: Tamiya America

  • Literally RTR out of the box

  • Perfect speed for a beginner

  • Accessibility/maintenance is a snap

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    Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector
    Find new sales with the Ace 250 Metal Detector
    Reviewed by Gregg Voss

    Product: Retailing is about gaining an edge, which can mean stocking something nobody else does, such as metal detectors. Here's one you might consider: the new Ace 250 model from Garrett Metal Detectors. It has a large LCD display, touch-and-go operation and headphone jack, along with a 12-segment graphic target ID, four-level coin depth indicator and electronic pinpointing.

    Performance: I've always wanted to try metal detecting, and my interest was whetted when Carl Matheis, factory rep for Garland, Texas-based Garrett Metal Detectors, showed me a $20 gold coin from 1876 he found while "hunting" (nomenclature for metal detecting).
    Thus, I couldn't wait to get started. It only took me 15 minutes to assemble the Ace 250 - AA batteries were in the unit - and I was ready to get outside.

    Operation takes a bit of practice, which is why I was glad Matheis gave me a quick tutorial. All buttons are on the control panel and are thumb-operated. After pressing the power button, Matheis explained that I should toggle through the various types of treasures I desired via the Mode button - Jewelry, Relics, Coins and All Metal. There is also a Custom mode, which allows you to search for a specific item that has been lost, like an earring. Simply sweep the remaining earring in front of the coil, then use the Discrim and Elim buttons as you toggle through the various items shown on the graphic display (such as iron, foil and all types of coins) so you're only searching for the missing item.

    I had started on All Metal and there were plenty of beeps, most of which I knew were junk because Matheis said that one unrepeated beep indicated as such. But once I switched to the Coins mode, the beeps were fewer and far between. But that was OK, because I knew that whenever I got one, it was most likely actual money. Plus, the graphic display showed what type of coin it probably was, and its depth, shown in increments of 2 inches up to 8 total inches. When you find something, you sweep the coil over the area several times to determine its location, then press and hold the Pinpoint button to isolate exactly where it is. Drop the coil on the spot and use a small shovel to break the ground around the coil, thus creating a plug, which you remove. From there, you've got to have eagle eyes.

    I searched several times over two weeks outside my apartment and in a field by Kalmbach Publishing Co., among other places, and while I didn't find much of value before the snow flew, I had a great time digging my plugs, and I know I will find plenty over time.

    Marketing: Market the Ace 250 this spring as a way to search for valuable (potentially very valuable … check out the coin photos Matheis sent me) items while getting some exercise. Plus, it's a hobby for everyone in the family. Imagine dad and junior hunting the local park, taking turns detecting and digging. Even if they don't find anything, at least they've had fun together for a few hours. You could also create a package deal including Garrett headphones (sold separately), and bill it as a great way to escape for awhile.

    But be sure to provide a quick tutorial for customers after they buy, much like Matheis gave me. Maybe even include a quick list of success and etiquette tips, such as replacing plugs and asking whether it's OK to hunt on private property.

    A CD-ROM with marketing tools such as clip art/logos for POP and advertising use is available free from Garrett.

    Product: Ace 250 metal detector
    Maker: Garrett Metal Detectors
    Stock number: 1139070
    MSRP: $249.95
    Also available: Headphones (No. 16030, $29.95)
    Call: 423-538-5418

  • Easy to put together

  • Simple to use and lightweight

  • Mystery factor makes it an easy sell

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    Toypresidents Toy Presidents
    Hail to the Chief with Toypresidents
    Reviewed by Gregg Voss

    Product: Toypresidents has followed up its 12-inch action figure of President Ronald Reagan with four more, all in period-specific clothing - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. And just like Reagan, these presidents have plenty to say, thanks to a 25-phrase sound chip that's activated via a switch under the lapel of their jacket. Each comes with a biographical pamphlet.

    Performance: Toypresidents' newest figures are as well done as Reagan, especially Washington and Jefferson. Ol' George is decked out in a hand-tailored suit in a style that was popular in the 1790s. It's constructed of a felt-like material with piping down the edges and plenty of buttons.

    Jefferson has a similar look. Like Washington, he's got knickers, gold-buckled shoes and the lacy scarf and cuffs. But he's wearing a gold suit with a blue overcoat, and actually looks quite dashing. And like Washington, his likeness - down to the slight grin - is well captured. He looks kind and confident, which contrasts Washington, who looks resolute, with a firm jaw … which I suppose he developed during the Revolutionary War.

    Obviously, Toypresidents didn't have sound bites of the actual men, but I was impressed with the voices they used. Jefferson has a slight country drawl and speaks slowly to make his point. Washington has a very deep voice and speaks in the flowery vocabulary of the time, which means his sound bites are longer.

    Nixon's and Carter's sound bites are actually from speeches they made during their tenures as president, both of which I vaguely remember. I started paying attention to TV during the Watergate affair, and recall Nixon making a speech, and his figure bears a striking resemblance, though I thought his face and chin were long, similar to Lyndon B.
    Johnson. As with Reagan, I thought the lines on his face were accurate, and his shiny gray suit with white shirt and gray power tie looked more realistic than Reagan's. But the best part of this figure is the fact that both his hands are in "V for victory" signs, his calling card after resigning in August 1974. That complements two of his most famous quotes - "I'm not a crook" and "Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow."

    I was a tad disappointed with the Carter figure, mostly because his hair was darker brown, unlike the lighter color in the photo on the front of the package. His navy suit with light blue shirt and striped tie matched the photo perfectly. However, he's flashing his trademark toothy grin, and yet his eyes appear to be frowning, which I thought was unrealistic.

    However I really liked his sound bites, because I actually remember some of them, especially those related to the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Marketing: One way to market these products is to draw up a sell sheet showing the figures and including information on pricing. Send it to all the history/social studies teachers at your local schools, and emphasize that this is an opportunity for students to learn history in a more personal way than a textbook. My co-workers also amused themselves by creating a "debate" between Washington and Jefferson, which is another idea you can float to teachers.

    Marketing should be even easier considering the packaging has a front flap that opens to reveal the figure. A hole in the plastic window allows a prospective customer to press their favorite president's lapel.

    Product: 12-inch presidential figures
    Maker: Toypresidents
    Stock numbers: 02111732-007-092004, Washington; 04131743-008-092004, Jefferson; 01091913-009-092004, Nixon; 10011924-010-092004, Carter
    MSRPs: $29.95 each

  • Product's uniqueness should attract

  • Interactive and realistic

  • Allows for school-targeted marketing

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    House of Balsa P-51D Mustang
    House of Balsa's 1:10 Ziroli-designed P-51 Thrilling
    Reviewed by Ron Eigenschink

    Product: House of Balsa's 1:10 kit of perhaps the most famous warbird of them all - the P-51D Mustang (No. K-72, $99.95) - is designed by Nick Ziroli, has a 47-inch wingspan and comes with decals, Du-Bro hardware and an easy-open top hatch to get at the motor and battery. A four-channel radio with four micro servos is required, as is a motor. House of Balsa recommends the Hobby Lobby long-can 400 (used for this review) or the Astro Flight geared 020 brushless motor. For customers that want to go nitro, I would recommend a .15-sized engine.
    Performance: Although not a first kit for a beginner, anyone with a kit or two behind them should be able to do a reasonable job and end up with a good-looking Mustang. The kit could be framed in one weekend; covering and placing the electronics could be done the next.

    House of Balsa officials told me not to attempt to fly the P-51D if I wasn't getting at least 7,000 rpm at the prop, because anything less than that would mean the aircraft is underpowered. After setting things up and checking the rpm, I was getting 7,300.

    The test day was exceptional. The temperature was in the very low 60s with clear blue skies, hardly a cloud to be seen and just a slight breeze.

    One of the nice features of my field is that for first flights you can almost always position the aircraft so that your first takeoff is directly into the wind. Had the grass been any longer I might have had to do a hand launch, but after a short run the little P-51D became airborne. What a joy! I kept the climb-out shallow, made sure I had enough airspeed and started a slow right-hand turn.

    I had been really careful when setting up the controls so almost no trim was needed. Once at a safe altitude I found that even throttled back this little plane really scoots.

    Loops are a sight to behold with no tendency to snap at the top. Rolls are reasonable with a slight amount of down elevator required when upside down. It's capable of any aerobatic maneuver, including snap rolls, inverted flight and stall turns.

    As far as landing, it wants to float in and settle down. A couple of times I came in fast and with the small wheels in the grass it wanted to nose over - but that's not a fault of the airplane.

    Flight times of 5 to 8 minutes are possible on the 10-cell 1,300 mAh battery pack I used, though 8 minutes will require exceptional throttle management. Lithium-polymer cells would add significant flight time.

    Marketing: The box measures roughly 37 x 41/4 x 41/4 inches, so it's long and skinny, but shouldn't present any space problems. It's basically a white cardboard stock with a sticker at one end showing the plane and mentioning the name and the company.

    The biggest drawback of this kit for the hobby shop is it's not an ARF and won't appeal to fliers that don't want to spend the time building. However, it isn't hard to build nor does it take an extreme amount of time.

    And unlike an ARF, there is a great opportunity to sell the extras needed to complete this kit. The shop owner selling $100 worth of extras for it could also help the customer install these items and get it ready to go before they head to the flying field. Give them a business card; if they make a mistake they know where to go.

    Product: 1:10 P-51D Mustang
    Maker: House of Balsa
    Stock number: K-72
    MSRP: $99.95

  • Capable of any 3D maneuvers

  • Works with multiple motors

  • Sparks add-on sales

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    Carousel 1 A.J. Foyt '77 Indy 500
    Stock a Piece of History With Foyt's Indy Winner
    Reviewed by Mark Savage

    Product: For most of his four-decade long racing career, and since then as a car owner, A.J. Foyt has stuck with his legendary No. 14. It rode on many of the cars he drove to a record 67 Indy Car wins stretching from 1960 to 1981.

    Performance: This high-caliber die-cast reproduction is as close to perfect as you'll find. The front nose wing (complete with radio transmitter antenna) pops off to reveal the radiators beneath, while the brakes and brake lines look just like the real thing, right down to their flexibility.

    The side pods include clear skirting around the bottom, as did the original, to help create more vacuum to hold the car down on the track, improving cornering speeds. Peel off the orange engine cover and there's the finely detailed Foyt engine, completely wired and plumbed with the header pipes leading back to the giant round turbocharger.

    Suspension parts, radiators and oil coolers are so well done that you'd expect a few pools of oil or coolant to dribble out on your desk.

    The car's markings are equally detailed and crisp in their execution. There are several Coyote stickers on the nose and just below the windscreen, plus the white Gilmore Racing Team decal along the side, with the white Texas cowboy hat under A.J.'s name.

    Marketing: Foyt was the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times and this bright orange 1:18 Gilmore Racing Team Coyote-Ford from Carousel 1 represents his final Indy win. Carousel 1 has come up with another stunning reproduction here and it completes the set of Foyt Indy winners. The company already has released Foyt's 1961 and '64 roadster winners and the orange 1967 Coyote that he won Indy with, using No. 14.

    Product: 1:18 No. 14 A.J. Foyt/Gilmore Racing 1977 Indy 500
    Maker: Carousel 1
    Stock number: 4951
    MSRP: $139.95
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    Kyosho Ferrari F40
    Kyosho's Super-sized Ferrari F40 a True Masterpiece
    Reviewed by Gregg Voss

    Product: Wow …That word best described Kyosho's bright yellow Ferrari F40 that I received one late fall day. But this was no ordinary model … this was the 1:12-scale monster that I had salivated over when I first learned about it months ago from distributor Great Planes.

    Performance: Most die-cast models start off as 1:10 resin models, so the F40 was like a die-cast version of such a larger piece. The two doors, hood and trunk all open, the latter revealing a spiffy V8 engine with two intercoolers that feed the turbochargers, air vents that are fed by ducts atop the rear quarter panels and a barrel-like muffler that's attached to the triple-pipe rear exhaust. A foldable support keeps the trunk open.

    The interior is nice, featuring two fighter-pilot bucket seats with seatbelts and photo-etched buckles. The seats are on rails and can slide back and forth, which is pretty cool. The stick shift is done in chrome, but the dashboard is rather pedestrian.

    Marketing: I really liked this piece, and though it's pricey, I suggest hooking up with a local Ferrari club to let its members know you have it. Also, get with your area Ferrari dealers and work a deal where they'll send customers over to your shop to purchase a model (for a percentage off) after buying the real McCoy.

    You'll want to tell customers to really handle the Ferrari with care, because this is not a light model. It weighs 4 pounds, 15 ounces, so be sure to pair it up with a classy clear plastic case, preferably one with wooden slats. You might even cut a deal with a local woodworking shop to create cases on demand, a great cross-marketing opportunity.

    Product: 1:12 Ferrari F40
    Maker: Kyosho
    Stock numbers and street pricing: KYOV0013, yellow, KYOV0012, red; $319.99
    Availability: Great Planes

  • Weighs almost 5 pounds

  • Tons of detail

  • Perfect product for cross-promotion

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    Roundhouse Products EMD Model 40
    HO EMD Model 40: Mini locomotive, mighty sales opportunity
    Reviewed by Hal Miller

    Product: Have a customer who says he'd like to have a railroad layout but he just doesn't have the space? Tell him you have just what he needs: Roundhouse Products' diminutive EMD Model 40.

    There were only 11 of the actual Model 40s built; most spent their early lives in military service, shuttling materiel around bases. Eventually the military discharged the 300-hp units, and they found new duties elsewhere with gravel companies, grain elevators, and other industries that needed economical motive power to shove a few cars around at a time.

    Performance: Here's the great thing about the Model 40: there's virtually no setup. Open the box, remove the pieces of foam that protect the handrails, put the locomotive on the track, and go! There are no details to add, and I think it might be the easiest locomotive to actually get on the track properly that I've ever handled, as it only has 4 wheels.

    When you put the juice to this little rascal it moves out smartly and remarkably smoothly. It has nice, bright directional lighting, and it is Digital Command Control ready, with an eight-pin decoder socket in the cab. Because of limited space and the motor's low current draw, I'd suggest an N-scale decoder.

    When I took off the body shell, I found out why the Model 40 runs so smoothly. The chassis is two pieces of cast metal with the motor sandwiched between, similar to many current N scale locomotives. Also, the motor has brass flywheels at each end, giving the locomotive excellent starting and stopping qualities.

    Outside, the detail is up to par with many of the other HO locomotives I've seen lately. The handrails have a fine cross-section and the painting is crisp.

    Marketing: This locomotive great for the experienced model railroader as well as one just starting out. It makes a perfect addition to an industry on a large pike, or can be used as the sole power on a short-line or diorama-type layout. It doesn't take up much space and requires little care and feeding. Be sure to remind the customer the Model 40 is DCC ready, and stock or install decoders for extra sales.

    Product: EMD Model 40
    Maker: Roundhouse Products
    Stock No.: 00114
    MSRP: $82.50
    Availability: Horizon Hobbies
    Also available: black unlettered (110); orange unlettered (111), EMD (112); Old Ben Coal (113); U.S. Army (115).

  • Nice level of detail

  • Pint-sized, perfect industrial engine

  • Excellent runner

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    Bachmann Class B Climax
    Bachmann's Climax Continues On30 Success
    Reviewed by Hal Miller

    Product: Late in the 19th century, some industries needed locomotives that didn't necessarily go fast, but could haul heavy tonnage reliably over rough track. Builders responded with a variety of geared locomotives, including the Climax, which fit the bill for many logging, mining and agricultural railroads. Bachmann's On30 Climax represents a narrow-gauge version of these hard-working locomotives. It features O scale proportions, but runs on HO scale track, which is 30 scale inches wide.

    Performance: As with the rest of Bachmann's On30 line, this locomotive is well done. The detail is good, and it runs as smoothly as a geared locomotive can. Bachmann has provided inserts for coal, wood, and oil-burning locomotives that fit in the fuel bunker to match your specific prototype.

    I was impressed with the level of detail on this locomotive. All the fine parts are already installed, including the accurately cast valve handle and pop-off valve atop the boiler. The plastic parts representing wood have a nice grain to them.

    Put it on the track, give it some power, and watch the rods fly on each side and the driveshafts turn underneath. Hook up a long string of flatcars or ore jennies, and the Climax will march away effortlessly. An eight-pin Digital Command Control socket is concealed in the fuel bunker, with plenty of room for a decoder.

    Marketing: Get this locomotive out of its box! Engines like this are a visual treat, with rods spinning to beat the band and the locomotive just cruising along at a leisurely pace. Geared locomotives are even better when you can hear them working, and Soundtraxx has a decoder-speaker combo designed specifically for this steam engine. Also, these locomotives featured various appliances installed by their owners; stocking detail parts can give you even more sales opportunities.

    Product: Spectrum 28-ton, two-truck Class B Climax
    Maker: Bachmann Trains
    Stock No.: 25799
    MSRP: $275
    Availability: Bachmann Trains
    Also available: Greenbrier & Big Run Lumber Co. No. 6 (25757), Pocahontas Lumber Co. No. 7 (25760), Midwest Quarry & Mining Co. No. 5 (25761), Colorado Mining Co. No. (25762), Little River Logging Co. No. 6 (25763).

  • Smooth running, good puller

  • Customizable "fuels"

  • Fun to watch motion

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    Multiplex LN-2010 Multi Charger
    Multiplex Has Singular Hit with Multi Charger LN-2010
    Reviewed by Dick Sanders, with Gregg Voss

    Product: There are so many more choices than there used to be when it comes to battery power … NiCd, NiMH and now lithium-ion and -polymer cells and packs. Thus, charger technology has had to evolve, and a great example of this is Multiplex's new Multi Charger LN-2010.
    It's a fully automatic DC charger, and can handle 1-10 NiCd or NiMH cells (1.2 to 12 volts) or 1-4 lithium-ion or -polymer cells (3.7 to 14.8 volts).

    Performance: This compact charger (5-1/4 x 4 x 1-1/4 inches) has a large dial offset left for current adjustment (from .2 to 2 amps), along with three LEDs to its right - the left to indicate a lithium-based cell/pack is being charged; the center to indicate a NiCd or NiMH cell/pack is being charged; and right to indicate charge status. To the right of the LEDs is a button that both selects battery type and commences charging. But beware - you have to hold the button down to start the charge process, Sanders says. Nearby are ports for the red and black alligator clips that charge the packs; there are separate ports for NiCd/NiMH and lithium-based batteries.

    Marketing: The LN-2010 has several handy features, one being the last battery type charged will be the same one that comes up when the charger is used next.

    The LN-2010's circuitry detects how many cells are in a pack, so the user doesn't have to enter that information before charging, and there is also an internal timer that automatically stops charging at 6 hours. It also charges lithium-polymer packs up to 100%, unlike other chargers.

    The LN-2010 detects a bad connection to an 11- to 15-volt DC power source; if the polarity is reversed or the battery post clips are not attached correctly, it won't charge.

    Put these features to use by demonstrating the charger to your customers.

    Product: Multi Charger LN-2010
    Maker: Multiplex
    Stock number: M92523
    Street price: $79.99
    Availability: Hitec RCD

  • ery high-quality components

  • Charges li-poly packs up to 100%

  • Auto-detects number of cells in pack

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    RC2 Flintmobile
    Meet the Flintstones with RC2's Flintmobile
    Reviewed by Gregg Voss

    Product: The Flintstones may be the modern Stone Age family, but their allure, especially with big kids like me, is definitely old school. That's why I was excited to get a sample of Fred's Flintmobile from RC2's Joyride line.

    Performance: The car looks exactly like its small-screen counterpart, and although I wasn't certain of the scale, it measures roughly 71/4 x 4 x 4 inches, perfect for a desk or shelf. But be forewarned - the steamroller front and rear wheels ride perfectly, so if it's on an angle, it might slide. It's also got some heft.

    But it's really neat, and its construction shows how the real vehicle would have been built. Two log frames comprise the side and support the wheels. The roof and its supports are made up of several beams and the seats are "stone," as is the dashboard. A cloth piece is held tenuously in place on the roof by a nub, where the included Bam-Bam figure sitting among five pieces of luggage is affixed.

    Fred is stocky and at the wheel of the Flintmobile, with Wilma sitting next to him and an inquisitive Pebbles peaking over the dash. Betty and Barney are in the backseat. A figure of Dino with a suitcase in his mouth is also included but doesn't fit in the car.

    The only issue I had with the Flintmobile is the fact that there are floorboards. Recall the Flintstones got around Bedrock "courtesy of Fred's two feet." A picky point, but one to mention.

    Marketing: This is a fun piece that will appeal to after-school cartoon fanatics everywhere, which means you can market to kids and their parents who grew up watching. It will also take folks back to the "good old days," one of the draws of hobby products.

    Product: Flintmobile
    Maker: RC2, as part of its Joyride line
    Stock number: 33735
    MSRP: $37.99

  • Extremely detailed

  • A fun piece for all cartoon fans

  • Piece has heft and rolls nicely

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    Tamiya Raising Storm 4WD RC car
    Raise a Storm with Tamiya's new R/C buggy
    reviewed by Bill & Jim Haught

    Product: This ready-to-run off-road buggy was originally released by Tamiya as an assembly kit (no. 58334), and is now available as part of its Expert Built series. The motor is a Type-540, with preinstalled electronic speed controller, and an Expec radio is mounted on the DF-02 chassis. Batteries for the transmitter (eight AA) and receiver (six-cell 7.2V) are not included.

    Performance: Setup took only a few minutes, and consisted of installing the batteries, threading the antenna into its tube, and checking the motor and steering trims. Then it was off to the driveway for a quick test-drive.

    The Storm's impressive acceleration and handling were immediately evident; it's quick but easy to control. The double-wishbone suspension and low center of gravity work with a wide stance to make a vehicle that handles power well, is maneuverable, and gets from point to point in a hurry.

    After a thorough test session, I handed the transmitter to our 11-year-old son, Bill, for his first RC car experience. After minimal instruction, and a couple of reminders that this was "not the same as a video game," he adapted quickly to the control setup. In a matter of minutes, he had the Storm racing from snow to grass to gravel to concrete without missing a beat. The knobby tires handled all but the deepest snow with no problems or loss of traction.

    After 15 minutes or so, it was time for a fresh battery pack, and Bill was able to accomplish the change with no problem. Then it was back for more cross-country racing and a few ramp jumps ("my favorite part," he said). With a minimal runup, the Storm tracked straight, leaped off the end of our plywood ramp [photo] - and just as impressively, it landed softly on all fours and kept going.

    Bill and I had a great time tooling the Storm around our neighborhood. We pushed it hard, inventing a few maneuvers along the way, and the Storm always responded. It never broke traction, and the only time it got on its lid was when Bill oversteered and hit the ramp with only two wheels. We flipped it over, with barely a mark on it, and went back for more.

    We thoroughly enjoyed testing the Rising Storm, and look forward to many more hours of racing fun.

    Marketing: Bill was only mildly interested in the Storm until I took it out of the box; as packaged, its attractive multicolor paint scheme is hidden in a blue-and-white box that offers limited visibility through clear panels.

    Take the car out of the box and let your customers see the bright colors and a stance that makes the Storm look fast even while it's sitting still.

    If the looks appeal to youngsters, and the performance potential appeals to adults, you have a winning sales combination.
    Add Tamiya's reputation for quality, and you have a product with plenty of potential.

    Product: Rising Storm 4WD RC car
    Maker: Tamiya
    Scale: 1:10
    Stock number: 57731
    MSRP: $265

  • Easy to set up and operate

  • Attractive paint scheme

  • Smooth, responsive control

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