Review – Axial SCX10 II kit version

It has been 7 years since Axial released the SCX10 platform and it hasn’t really changed much since that time. But why mess with a good thing when you’re enjoying being top dog in the scaler scene? With minor updates here and there to try and keep things fresh the scale community could never seem to get enough of this truck. Hardcore scale builders based builds on it and casual weekend warriors preferred it as the weapon of choice when blazing trails in the back yard. The SCX10 enjoys huge aftermarket support, and to this day even with no major updates has still retained a firm foothold as king of the 1.9s.  When other Brands began to follow in Axial’s foot steps with updated designs the SCX10 did start to look a little long in the tooth, but even that didn’t shake Axial’s strangle hold on this segment. The writing however was on the proverbial wall that they were no longer alone in the market and it was time to up their game. The SCX10 II represents years of refinement on the truck that started this scale craze nearing a decade ago. So how does this new successor to the king of 1.9 scalers stack up to the tried and true? Read on and you shall have my humble opinion!

 


Whats needed to complete: This is a kit so you will need radio and receiver, motor and ESC, servo and supporting tools.

Setup notes: I outfitted my SCX with my Tekin FXR/Holmes 27 turn brushed motor and Castle Creations 20 amp BEC from my V1 SCX10. Steering duties were handed over to a high torque JR DS8711 servo controlled by a Spektrum DX4S radio and 4 channel receiver. The truck is powered by a 3 cell Lipo.


 

Build quality: Fit and finish of this kit is superb. Parts fitment is precise and lock together with amazing precision. Machined parts were free of burrs and shavings and tapped parts threaded in perfectly. I ran into absolutely no problems getting anything to fit together.

Building Experience: Building an Axial kit is very easy and should not be avoided just because you have never built a kit before. The instruction manual and diagrams are extremely detailed and easy to understand. Each section shows exactly what parts and hardware you need on the margins of the page. Simply compare bolts until you have the right one for the job.  Parts bags are laid out alphabetically to keep you from getting overwhelmed with too many loose parts at one time and parts trees are clearly labeled so there is no question as to whether you have the right part or not.

Axles: This is easily the part about this kit I was the most excited about. The AR44 brings with it all the innovations I have been looking forward to. The theme of the axle redesign? Beef meets elegance. All of the internal bearings retaining the spools have been up-sized to handle more horsepower. The axle housing itself was changed over to a one piece design for the same reason. The pinion gear position has been raised for increased driveshaft clearance and better pinion angle and the lockers themselves have been changed to a one piece design. The biggest improvement in my mind was the choice to move over from a sintered steel ring and pinion gear to a machined steel spiral cut gear set. So not only are these axles smaller and more scale realistic they are going to be way tougher than the previous stock units.

The smaller pumpkin design is achieved by reducing the overall size of the ring gear inside of it. There is usually a trade off in this department because while you get more clearance with a smaller pumpkin you are also more likely to get more torque twist reducing the overall performance of your rig. Axial has tried to address this by changing the gear ratio of the AR44 and largely I would say it worked because I never saw a hint of wheel lift under normal driving and it was minimal when I had the truck in an extreme jam.

Moving to the ends of the axle the new C-hubs have fully adjustable castor by increments of 10%. The retaining system to hold them on has been redesigned to eliminate the old stripped screws that I’m sure we all had to deal with at one time or another. Those days are gone for good. Also gone are the old top hat bushings that went between the C-hub and knuckle. Who hasn’t lost one of those in the weeds? The new versions have them integrated into the mounting hardware which makes that problem a thing of the past as well. Finally king pin angle or KPA/KPI has been changed to 8 degrees and the steering lock has been increased to 45 degrees for hugely improved steering performance. Universals are included as standard as they are on other kit version trucks to round out the steering package.

I’ve heard grumblings from more than a few people who don’t like the red diff covers and link mounts on the new axle. I’m on the other side of that fence because I usually run red trucks so it just kind of goes with my color scheme, but I can certainly see how that would not be everyone’s cup of tea. The more notable thing about the AR44 diff covers however is that they also have the bearing retainers built into them. Because of this they actually bolt on from the backside of the axle. This should keep your hardware in better condition because you will not be bashing the bolts into the rocks on every approach.

Suspension: The SCX10 2 features all aluminum links with M4 hardware up from M3 on previous models. It has 4 link suspension in the rear and a 3 link with panhard in the front. A first for the SCX platform. Also new is a chassis mounted servo for scale appeal. Dampening is handled by Icon Vehicle Dynamics branded coil over shocks. The coated aluminum bodies are threaded with adjustable collars to adjust pre-load making ride height adjustments a breeze. The XJ kit shocks forgo the helper spring setups of previous generations as well as trades off the machined shock pistons for molded units. While the shock may not have all the premium features out of the box as before these can always be upgraded later. In the end the coated aluminum shock body performed fine. It’s my opinion that these changes were probably implemented to keep the price point low as this kit has quite a few premium features in more important areas.

Shock towers are an area where there has been a bit of a change. Earlier SCX10s had 3 upper shock positions front and rear allowing you to tweak a little to your liking, but the V2 truck has no optional mounting on the front and only 2 on the back. You do however have more options for moving the entire rear shock towers forward or aft to accommodate more wheelbase options which is awesome. Axial plans to offer several rear link kits to allow this. Out of the box the V2 is 313mm which is the longest on offer and exactly the same as the old Axial Honcho which works out perfectly for me. In the front of the truck there is a distinct lack of suspension adjustment (other than preload) . I think this is because Axial put a lot of work into making sure that the front end geometry of this truck has near zero bump steer and full front articulation under any steering input. It’s clear that they intend the front end of the truck to be largely left alone.

Transmission: The Transmission is the other big change to the SCX platform. The new layout is similar to the design that went into the Yeti and Bomber but not identical. Like those afore mentioned designs the new transmission can be upgraded to 2 speed if you wish to feed that inner speed demon. It also features an all new scale realistic housing that closely mimics the look of a full scale transmission and bell housing. It has been shifted down and aft to improve the overall balance of the truck. Its lower profile should make it more custom interior friendly and its transfer case centers the drive line in the truck improving pinion angle and driving characteristics. It does bring with it the double pad slipper clutch and 32 pitch gearing from the earlier mentioned Yeti transmission but the gearing has been changed to suit the new application. The internal gears have all also been changed over to sintered steel. Not the machined steel gears I hoped for, but I’ll take it over plastic any day. An integrated gear cover tidies it all up and keeps debris out of your spur and pinion which keeps you on the trail driving and not digging grit out of your gears.

Here is another cool thing about the transmission setup on this truck. Axial knows some of you out there have dropped hundreds of dollars into bomb proofing  your current tranny. With this truck you don’t have to ditch that bling’d out Super Shafty or VP equipped 6 mil output unit. On the same parts tree with the new skid plate is one that has the bolt pattern to fit the old transmission. Being the owner of a fancy red VP dig transmission I like the options they have given me here. Keep in mind the new axles rollout is nearly twice that of the old so you’ll need to adjust your spur and pinion accordingly.

Chassis: The new frame rails are almost exactly the same as the old. In fact with just the addition of a few more adjustments for wheelbase in the rear it is basically the same as the last generation. I guess they felt that part of the truck did not need updating. What has been updated is everything that goes in between the frame rails. All of the plastics have been beefed up and are more rigid than in the past. The new shock towers have less flex and the cross members are noticeably larger. With the addition of a chassis mounted servo the choice to run the battery in the front has it now laying on its side to accommodate the servo. A lot of thought went into the revision of the chassis layout of this truck. They include several cable management loops to wrangle in messy wiring and the new rock sliders have large open spaces to mount your ESC/BEC and a sealed receiver box for the non waterproof electronics. The sliders themselves are adjustable to maximize compatibility with many bodies or can be removed altogether while keeping all of that electronics real estate.

Handling: For my maiden run I was lucky enough to be on the trail with 3 other new owners and we were able to discuss its attributes for the whole run. Everyone was extremely impressed with the improved clearance the new axle offered and the additional steering travel available was a huge improvement. We were able to weave our way through obstacles that felt impossible using the older generation truck. I think the new front suspension geometry is a big improvement as well. There seemed to be much less front end scrub which leads to a truck that tracks better and being a more confident driver. The lower CG offered by the transmission and drive train is very noticeable as well. Off camber driving was no sweat but I do feel like the XJ body is a little more top heavy than what I am used to running. I can’t wait to run this truck with my own body shell on it. Also very apparent is the improved belly clearance of the skid. The new truck slithers its way over stuff that would have the older truck belly flopping. The high clearance output on the axles allows for improved pinion angle which equals less stuff to hang up under the truck.

You’re probably asking yourself at this point “Does it really handle that much better?” The answer is yeah it really does.

Every driver wheeling one with me at the time agreed that this new truck is a vast improvement over their old rides. Axial has done their homework for sure, and it’s apparent that they have taken quite a bit away from their relationships with their technical partners in the full size off-road world. There are a couple little things I’m going to try to make it even better though. When the truck (rarely) does hang up the rear axle housing on a snag it really feels stuck. I think the socket head hardware on the pinion side of the pumpkin protrudes a bit more than it would if button head screws were employed. Also the rear bumper is prone to catching rocks when coming off of something steep. Some creative trimming on the plastics will take care of this issue.

newSCX102g

 

Scale looks/cosmetics: Who can argue with how this thing looks? It’s beautiful. Licensed JRC Off-Road Vanguard bumpers with tow hook, JRC Off-Road roof rack, Injection molded grill with light buckets, textured headlight lenses, mirrors, door handles, the list goes on. The point is that Axial gets it. Scale is where it’s at and they know it. The detail included on the body is phenomenal.

With all this detail comes an investment of time. I spent nearly as much time on the body as I did building and outfitting the kit. In fact I ran so close to my finish deadline before this photo shoot that was not able to fully complete the body. You will notice my Jeep is sans door handles. The paint was barely dry before I headed out the door to go drive this thing!

Axial does do a good job of accurately marking body post holes and mounting points for the roof rack etc, that helps quite a lot. One point of difficulty for me was that Axial bodies always use a type of window mask that resembles masking tape which is extremely hard to re-position if you don’t get it on right the first time. I’d love to see them switch to a vinyl window mask that is much more user friendly.

When finishing out the body I installed the included window moulding decals which looked great in my shop. However when I took the truck out in the 100 degree heat I had a lot of bubbles come up under them. I can only assume that in my accelerated build timeline the adhesive did not have time to properly cure after application, or the difference in humidity caused it. I’m not sure which but I know as soon as I got the truck back home they went away.

Included with the kit are some licensed Method Racing plastic glue-on type wheels. While these will certainly serve to get the truck rolling if you don’t have anything else, I opted to install some aluminum bead lock units from Vanquish Products. I used the licensed Method Racing 101’s with SLW350 hubs to be close to stock track width. I stuck with the stock foams and tires for review purposes. Speaking of the rubber the BF Goodrich KO2 tires look extremely scale. They have a tight tread pattern that closely resembles the full size version, and it always helps to have the original manufacturer’s logo on there to help sell the realism. Traction was abundant and dry weather performance of the tire was fantastic. I cannot speak however on how the tire will do in wet or muddy situations because my test venue did not offer any of that terrain. The included foams do a nice job of keeping the tire from rolling over as well as the tire feels like it has a stiffer side wall. A really good tire overall. I think a lot of people will opt to keep them on their truck instead of replacing them which is usually what happens with a kit tire.

Durability: I experienced no durability issues during my testing. With machined steel ring and pinion, M4 hardware and all aluminum links, redesigned drive shafts, and one piece axle housings with beefed up bearings throughout the SCX10 II should go a lot longer between rebuilds than ever before. I expect this truck to have a long trouble free service life under normal driving conditions.

Overall opinion:  If it isn’t clear by now that I give this truck a resounding 2 thumbs up it never will be. Axial has more than responded to their competition with this release. Almost every complaint I have ever heard or had about the original SCX10 is addressed in this new version. Driving performance has been massively improved and the scale realism is fantastic. They could have included an interior to finish things off but I think they wisely chose to leave that up the customer. The SCX10 II is just enough of a blank slate to encourage the new comers to the scale scene to add a little of their own flavor to an already great platform.  At time of publishing all vendors are completely sold out of this kit and restocks look to be a month or more out. If that isn’t a testament to how good this kit I don’t know what is. It looks like Axial has another hit on their hands.

Thanks for hanging out with me today guys. Be sure to check back at ScaleandTrail.com for more scale goodness!

I’ll catch you on the next one,

-Evol


Details:
Manufacturer: Axial Racing.
Direct Link: Here.
Price: 349.99

Scale:
1/10
Length:
562mm
Width:
226mm
Wheelbase:
313mm
Shocks:
Icon branded aluminum bodies, oil filled
Screws:
Metric, hex
Bearings:
Yes
Part Number: 
ax90046


goathill16


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About Evol 33 Articles
I entered the hobby in the golden age of RC when race cars and bashers were the same thing. I have over 29 years of experience and have participated in almost every segment of RC there is. For the last 6 years I have immersed myself in the media side of RC in the efforts of converting my passion for RC into my job. From video editing and photography to writing about drift cars and scalers, RC continues to be my passion and probably will be for the foreseeable future.