Review – Axial SCX10 II Trail Honcho RTR

Whats up gang, Evol here with another scale truck review. This time an RTR version of the SCX10 II Trail Honcho. “Wait, Trail Honcho” you say? Welcome to 6 months ago right? Well, yea pretty much. The new Trail honcho has been on the scene since very early 2018, but I found myself in the market for an SCX10 II recently and I figured this was a good time to give it a full rundown to see what has changed.

I started into the scale scene with a Trail Honcho RTR back in 2011 to run after local Comp Crawling events. If you’re counting that is 7 years I’ve been running this truck and i’m still not tired of looking at it. While it’s true I have built and modded many different SCX10s over the years my personal rig has always been the Trail Honcho. My signature Red or “Old Red” as she has become known has been the subject of many videos on my YouTube channel and featured on many Vanquish Products instructional videos over the years. I have done tons of events all over the midwest and torn down and rebuilt the truck dozens of times in the name of customization and performance. When I heard Axial was revisiting the platform in the form of a second generation SCX I was instantly interested so I’d like to thank amainhobbies.com for sending me this unit over to review.

 

So will this new truck stack up to my tried and true V1 Honcho? How does it compare to the early V2 trucks because I’ve already noted several enhancements since I reviewed the first one, and lastly is this thing worth your hard earned cash? I’m going to address all of those questions and a lot more so read on!


What do you need to get this rolling?: It is a Ready to Run (RTR) so not much. Everything is in the box except for a 7.4 or 11.1 volt lipo (for the truck) and a charger to keep that battery full.

Is it waterproof? : According to the manufacturer yes. I say submerge at your own risk. Light splashing or shallow water crossing should be fine.

Price: 329.99

Where to buy: SCX10 II Trail Honcho


Build Quality: Axial does build a quality kit. You can expect everything to be in order when you take this out of the box. A full manual with exploded diagrams and critical operating instructions and parts lists are all included.  You will also find a bag of spare parts and a sticker sheet to go along with the actual truck and transmitter. There is a lot of value in this kit but I want to highlight some trade-offs when you get this RTR kit versus others. I can’t really bring any of that up without mentioning the price point. The Trail Honcho is 330 dollars ready to run. That is a pretty awesome price when comparing it with some of their other SCX10 offerings. For someone just getting started into trail trucks that makes this about the best option there is for an Axial kit. That being said there are some cost-cutting measures that were taken to reach that super low price tag. There are little things all over this kit that make it cheaper, but the good part about that is that they are all upgradeable to the spec of the higher end kits if you break or upgrade later, so to me none of these are a show stopper.

Axles: The axles are a revised AR44 design. Axial calls them the AR44 Single Piece Axle. They feature the same upsized bearings as the original AR44, but the design has been simplified as the lockouts and C-hubs are integrated into the axle housing. They have also molded in an axle truss/upper link mount as well as molded-in lower link and shock mounts. This design is cheaper to manufacture because there aren’t as many parts, but I think it looks better as well. The axle tubes appear smaller and less busy which really lends themselves to looking more scale realistic. The huge red shock/link mounts have been omitted moving to a molded-in link mount and divorced shock mount so they can be removed independently of each other.  I consider this new axle an upgrade over the earlier generation AR44 for many reasons, but whether they more durable remains to be seen. I do know that the castor adjustment feature on the first gen axle turned out to be a weak point which can cause problems if they came loose. This design will not suffer from that annoyance. The Trail Honcho also comes with front “dogbones” as opposed to universals on some of the other trucks. Again this is a cost saving measure that some will complain about. For me it is not a big deal at all. Dogbones are cheaper and just as tough if not tougher than the uni’s. I ran them for years in my personal RTR Honcho without a problem until I finally upgraded to Vanquish units for review purposes.

Moving to the center of the axle inside the pumpkin the Trail Honcho sports a locker/ring gear combo. These parts are usually manufactured separately but have been combined to reduce manufacturing costs. The locker/gear combo features a sintered steel composition, but the pinion gears are machined steel. This means if something fails in the pumpkin it will probably be the ring gear which also means your locker gets tossed out with it. Sintered steel is tough enough for general use, but if you drive your truck hard you’re going to want to opt for some CNC machined gears. The stock gears should suffice for general backyard driving though and all-in-all I really like the changes made to the AR44, this is a much-improved design.

Suspension: The Trail Honcho features the same great suspension geometry as the earlier SCX10 II. It features a zero bump-steer design that will track around turns with minimal steering scrub. 45 degrees of steering lock gives you plenty of throw to navigate it through technical crawling sections and the well designed front end will stay on track no matter the state of flex in the suspension. With a 3-link with panhard up front to control bump-steer and a 4 -link in the rear to control torque-twist, this truck is setup out of the box in the configuration that we all used to have to modify to achieve. On the subject of modification, the SCX10 II Trail Honcho wheelbase is adjustable to your liking. In stock form, the truck has a long 12.3 inches wheel to wheel but you can modify that to 12 or 11.4 inches with optional link kits available from Axial.

Speaking of the links this truck ships with fully plastic suspension links so upgrading may not be a bad idea anyway in the future. No area on the truck gets more criticism than the links because after a few hours of driving they start to get really flexible. However Axial has beefed up the plastic in this generation and they seem a bit stiffer than trucks in the past. They also get some mechanical advantage of a redesign that makes them more rigid along the vertical plane so the truck is less likely to fold them up when it gets into a bind (a comical and common problem in the past). The steering linkage is really where we see problems with the use of plastic. In the past versions of the RTR the steering linkage were very anemic and that prevented you from having any real authority over which way the wheels were pointed despite the steering servos best efforts. Both the drag link and panhard are made of the this more rigid plastic and I didn’t notice much if any flex while testing.

Another cost-cutting area is in the shocks.

You won’t find titanium nitride coated shock shafts, hard anodized shock bodies, machined shock pistons and dual spring setups on this truck. No Icon Vehicle Dynamics licensing to drive the cost up either. No, the Trail Honcho II is all business and includes some nice design updates instead. One of the BIGGEST annoyances when out on the trail with one of these trucks is losing the bottom spring cup off of the shock. Nothing bums you out like watching your awesome looking scale truck sag at one corner while you limp it back to camp. To address that issue Axial has incorporated a clamping lower shock cup to prevent that from ever happening again….if you put the screws in them. For whatever reason, the hardware is not installed or included for that matter. You’ll need to provide your own m3x10mm hardware to install.

The Trail Honcho’s shocks feature plastic bodies that are threaded with an adjustable pre-load collar. This will allow you to tune your ride height. The truck does seem a little bit oversprung for its weight because even with no preload the shocks sit at near full extension. I like to run a little bit of sag in my suspension setups and I could not find a stance I was happy with. That being said most of my other Axial trucks tended to be sprung little on the soft side and adding any weight at all had the truck practically sitting on the bump-stops. I think Axial have planned for you to be adding some weight to the truck and opted for a spring that will support that. For all of the cost-cutting measures going on here the shocks still perform reasonably well. I had no complaints with them when out on the trail, however, I did notice a slight seeping of oil after my run. I did not disassemble the shocks to see if there has been a change in the o-rings used but most scale shocks leak sooner or later. That being said when targeting my first upgrades for the truck, shocks would be where I would start.

Transmission: The SCX10 II Trail Honcho sports a 3rd generation Axial transmission named the “AX10” which is kinda weird since the AX10 rock crawler is a long gone design and this wasn’t the transmission that was in it. Weird name choices aside, the design is fairly recognizable. A familiar 3 gear setup like to the original Axial transmission but Final Drive has been changed from 33.06 to 42.00. A new silver colored case also omits the aluminum motor plate of past designs for a plastic one and adds an integral spur gear cover. Improved mounting points on the bottom of the case address a design flaw with the 1st generation case and internal power is transferred to the driveshafts with plastic gears. Fear not for the plastic drivetrain because the AX10 transmission also features a built-in slipper clutch to help make those gears go the distance. I’ve successfully run plastic gears in many Axial transmissions for years without issue.

I should also note that this transmission is completely different than the laydown design that came in the original SCX10 II. I don’t know why they went away from that design in the later generation trucks but I’m glad they did. This one isn’t convertible to 2 speed like the laydown unit, but 2 speeds became obsolete the moment brushless motors hit the RC scene; good residence. The motor transfers power to the drivetrain via a 32 pitch spur and pinion that are interchangeable to tune the gear ratio to your liking. This transmission is also lacking the transfer case that was a signature part for the laydown version, so we lose the centered driveline, but gain simplicity and durability making this is a much better design in my opinion. Outputting power to the axles are the newest generation WB8 HD WildBoar driveshafts. This driveshaft has gone through many revisions over the years and the latest version will hold quite a lot of horsepower and last a long time.

Chassis: There isn’t much to mention here compared to the other SCX10 II trucks. It features the same steel twin c-channel frame rails but some of the cross-bracing has been modified to accommodate some pieces specific to the Honcho. Which leads me to one of my favorite features of this truck; the iconic Honcho front bumper. This thing is completely unchanged from the days of the gen1 Honcho because you really can’t improve on what is near perfection in my opinion. The bumper along with the injection molded rear cage of this truck are what drew me in the first time I laid eyes on one of these trucks. It pulls off looking very much like a scale accessory but remains extremely functional as well. The metal plates in the bumper allow the truck to take approach angles that would be impossible with other trucks in this class. In function, it acts as a perfect ramp to lift the front wheels into contact with whatever obstacle you are trying to traverse. Behind those metal plates lays a perfect spot to mount a scale winch and 2 large PIAA LED headlamps sit perched on top if you end up driving in the dark.

On the downside, Axial also decided to not include rock sliders for the sides of the chassis. These help protect the body and aid the truck to slide along if it happens to rub against a rock or some other obstacle along the rocker panel section. Plenty of aftermarket options out there to be had but these would have been really nice to have out of the box.

Electronics: Since this is an RTR it is ready to go out of the box; no setup necessary. All the electronics are either water resistant or housed in a waterproof box so there is no worry about operating in rain or wet conditions. This truck really is ready for whatever you throw at it. Install some batteries and you are ready to hit the trail.

Radio: The included 2 channel 2.4 ghz Tactic transmitter while not the most attractive device seems to work just fine. Its ergonomics do not lend themselves to small hands as the distance from the back of the grip to the throttle trigger seems excessive. It is very light which gives a bit of a cheap feel but could be an advantage if driving for long stints. It features digital trims, steering dual rates along with reversing on both channels. These functions are achieved by different button combinations according to the sticker on the transmitter. While I’m glad the radio includes this functionality I have to say I prefer the older Axial RTR radios that had all of these functions on a dial or switch out in plain view where you could see them and easily access them if needed. That being said I didn’t have to adjust anything out of the box so if you are buying one of these for a child it is probably less likely that they will accidentally adjust something they are not supposed to.

Electronic Speed Controller (ESC): The Trail Honcho II features Axials newest version of the 3S capable AE-5L brushed speed controller; The “L” being for lighting. While the AE-5s had some issues when they first started including them in their kits this latest generation ESC is very much geared for scale trucks and crawling specifically, and I find that pretty cool. The LED controller for the onboard lighting is built into the ESC so you don’t have to mess with an external light control board to get your truck lit up. Drag-brake strength is adjustable via a jumper which makes it very easy to tune to your liking. I left mine in the default position and it was perfect for general scale and trail driving. Just enough brake to ease you down a steep incline, but not enough to send you tumbling end over end. The AE-5L features a second jumper to allow you change between Lipo and NiMH battery modes so you don’t destroy your expensive batteries (and possibly truck) if you lose track of time while driving. Top it off with being waterproof and you have yourself a pretty nice trail setup by anybody’s standards.

Motor: A standard 35 turn closed-bell brushed motor is included with this RTR. There isn’t much to say in this department except that it is a perfect low-cost solution for what this truck is built for. 35 turns will get you decent wheel speed (especially on 3S) and yet have plenty of low-end torque to power through those low-speed technical sections. It has a built-in fan to keep things cool at low speeds and quick connectors to easily swap it out when you wear it out.

Servo: The included Tactic TSX45 servo features metal gears and a hefty 151oz of torque. Pretty beefy for an RTR servo. It had no issues bullying the front wheels into submission when placed in a bind. I was fairly impressed with this servo. Axial lists it as “Water Resistant” which means splashing is ok, but submerge at your own risk.

Handling: This is the part where I was the most impressed with this little rig. The new axles have what seems like miles of clearance between the wheels. Belly clearance is also extremely generous. The SCX10 II just makes its way over rough terrain with little to no drama. You can pick your lines a little more carefree with this truck because it just does not run into hang-ups as often as other trucks in its class. Turning performance is also phenomenal. Extreme steering angle and great steering geometry keep this trucks turning radius tight and its low scrub characteristics help keep you on-line when working in technical, or off camber situations. Performance could be improved with stickier tires, but the included Falken WildPeak M/Ts do an admirable job and should last a good long while. Tire foams are also worth mentioning. You won’t find dual stage or closed cell foams in these tires, and the licensed Method Hole wheels are vented and glued to them anyway. If you make your way into the water you’ll quickly be driving on water balloons because the stock open cell foams will eagerly drink up the water entering the wheel through the vent and since the tires are glued to the wheels there is no easy way to dry them out either. I don’t know why Axial went to a glue-on wheel/tire combo a few years ago but I feel like it was a mistake. I guess they figure that wheels and tires are the first thing people change out so why add the additional cost to the kit. As long as you keep them dry I think the foams will perform pretty well, they are stiff enough to keep the tires from rolling under and add just enough low pressure feel to make them useable.

The one place this trucks handling falls down out of the box is side-hilling.

My V1 SCX10 is more low slung due to suspension tuning and tire/foam choice. The V2 truck In stock form has springs that are a bit too stiff or o-rings that are a bit too sticky and that doesn’t allow the shocks to settle very easily, and the higher profile tires and stiffer foams while helping its forward progression, hinder it when the truck is side-hilling. The Trail Honcho II wanted to roll a little too readily for my taste. Again easily tuned out by adding some unsprung weight or possibly shock limiters, but that is how it performs out of the box.

Durability: I did not experience any breakage while testing with the new Trail Honcho. That being said this truck is not “built” to withstand the harshest drivers. I kept that in mind while driving and didn’t intentionally abuse the truck, but I did not hold back and put it through the normal driving paces that I would my personal rig. Plastic links, plastic transmission gears and sintered as opposed to machined ring gears add up to a truck that is ready for standard-duty, but will need some beefing up for the most demanding of drivers. Luckily this platform enjoys major aftermarket support so upgrades are as close as your local hobby shop or at your favorite online retailer.

Scale looks/cosmetics: This is my favorite part about scale trucks in general. The Trail Honcho has always been a great looking truck, and the SCX10 II version looks even better. This is partly thanks to the chassis mounted servo and panhard setup. With the servo tucked up in the chassis out of sight it really helps sell the overall realistic look. It also features that iconic scale front bumper with built-in trail lighting. Having those lights be functional front and rear doesn’t hurt matters either. The bed is made of lexan but it is molded to look like diamond plate and painted black from the factory. This accents the tube rear section that so clearly identifies the truck as a Trail Honcho. One place the new Honcho body differs from old is the deletion of the spare tire which was a major part of the appeal of the original truck. Another choice influenced by cost control no doubt,  but it does put more focus on the bright red fuel cell and helps set the truck apart from its predecessor. Though the truck is clearly modeled after a Toyota Tacoma we still don’t get licensed emblems and such, but the choice for the desert paint scheme looks great and is a throwback to the last Honcho RTR that only came in Olive Drab.

The tires are another high point in the looks department. The fully licensed Falken WildPeak M/T is a great looking scale tire. When you see one of these trucks in real life your eyes are always drawn to the aggressive offroad tires, and when your scale truck has tires that look as real as these right down the logos on the sidewall you know it only adds to the realism. The new AR44 axle housings really up the realism factor as well. Their dimensions are much closer to their 1:1 counterparts due to the downsized pumpkins and new understated link and shock mounting points. Pair this with great looking licensed Method Racing wheels and you get a pretty convincing looking truck.

The major thing that the Honcho has going over other scale trucks is that it is modeled after a pretty extremely modded real-life trail truck. This gives it in inherent performance advantage over some of the Jeep branded trucks that resemble their street-going counterparts with their huge bumpers that can snag on every rock. In short with this truck you get performance and good looks.

Overall opinion: Admittedly I am predisposed to like this truck. It is still one of the best looking SCX10s ever produced and this latest version also makes it the best performing. Yes the Trail Honcho RTR lacks some durability upgrades of some of the other kits, but adding that stuff later is half the fun. Its truggy style body doesn’t get hung up on outcroppings, can navigate steeper obstacles without body interference and it still looks great doing it. I am impressed at how capable this truck is right out of the box and will be an amazing performer with a few simple upgrades. Axial vehicles enjoy tremendous aftermarket support so there are tons of option parts, spares and upgrades readily available if you want to change it up, and at 329 bucks I think this truck is a steal all day long. You really can’t go wrong with any Axial SCX10 scale truck, but this by far is the most economical. If you are new to the game this is a great way to get your feet wet (figuratively) and start your journey into the addiction we call “scaling”.

I would like to thank you guys for stopping by to check out my review. Be sure to check back to ScaleandTrail.com for more scale related content. A big thank you to Amain Hobbies for making this review possible and I’ll catch you guy on the trail

-Evol

 

The TLDR:


Likes: Good value, great looks, working lights, modern chassis and suspension layout.

Dislikes: Glue on wheels, plastic links, sintered steel locker/ring gear combo. No rock sliders!

Recommended first upgrades:

Alloy shocks such as Incision scale shocks.

Upgraded Suspension links.

CNC machined ring gears and separate lockers.


Details:
Manufacturer: Axial Racing
Direct Link: Here
Price: 329.99

Scale: 1/10
Length:
489 mm
Width: 
226 mm
Wheelbase: 
312 mm adjustable
Shocks:
 Plastic threaded bodies, oil filled, adjustable preload
Screws: 
Metric, hex
Bearings: 
Yes
Part Number: 
ax90059


 

 

 

 

 

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About Evol 40 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.