radio control car test -
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IF YOU'RE THE SORT WHO CAN BREAK ANYTHING, YOU NEED TOUGH TOYS. THEY DON'T COME MUCH MORE RUGGED THAN THE HPI SAVAGE 25 R/C CAR. ANDY ENRIGHT GETS HAM FISTED.
Looking back, it's odd the things we get obsessed by when we were kids. I can recall my whole life revolving around Figurine Panini sticker books, marbles, BMX bikes, dual screen Nintendo hand held games and, for a short while, radio controlled cars. A friend of mine had bought one and I just had to have one too, so I set about devising schemes to get hold of the necessary money. When I got this electric car, it was a huge disappointment. It was slow, silent and broke every time it nerfed a kerb. I think I would have been the happiest kid in the world if I'd have had an HPI Savage 25 instead.
This is a radio controlled (R/C) car with serious attitude. It's described in the promotional literature as a granny-frightener and that's not too far off the mark. It's big, fast, tough and enormous fun. It's also a complete contrast to those anodyne R/C experiences I had as a kid. I had cause to consider this as I saw a kid and his father noodling one of those flimsy electric cars around the airfield I was driving the Savage on. I figured I'd do a fast fly-by and show the little 'un what he was missing out on and inspire dad to bigger and better things. Unfortunately he zigged when he should have zagged and I t-boned him. The Savage shrugged off the impact and barely deviated from its course. The kid's 'Rough Rider' had been reduced to its constituent parts. I didn't count any section larger than the back wheel left attached to any other. The Savage had a small ding to the front bumper but was eager to ruin the weekends of more children. It was time to rein it in a bit and seek out a quieter locale.
As much fun as the Savage is on tarmac, it's even better fun when you get it off road. You'll soon be building enormous ramps off which you can launch the vehicle, scouting suspiciously for plywood and seeing who can set a distance record. You'd think this sort of action would destroy anything with electronic parts in a matter of minutes but the Savage is heavy duty. The only terrain where these vehicles struggle is in long grass, which can get wrapped around revolving parts.
The controls are relatively straightforward although if you're learning the ropes, make sure you've got a lot of room. Something around half the size of a football pitch is good as a tennis court-sized area is nowhere near big enough to give the Savage its head. The controller takes a little getting used to, with a direction control that's shaped like a wheel and tyre combination with a two-way throttle on a trigger beneath. Squeeze for power and push back the other way to apply the disc brakes. It's a far cry from the rather simple arrangement I used as a kid with two joysticks! There's also a myriad of other minor controls to trim the throttle and a few other switches, the functions of which I don't profess to understand. At the top, there's a slot into which you pop a crystal that dictates the sending unit's frequency. Get two the same and they'll clash with potentially expensive consequences. A limited edition Savage RTR is also offered that includes a three-speed gearbox, a freer-breathing exhaust pipe and dual stainless steel drilled disc brakes. These changes mirror the upgrades most Savage owners opt for as they get more skilled.
Mere novices will need to realign your perspective on just what is meant by 'fast' if they've never driven this sort of nitro powered R/C car before. If, like me, you were brought up with battery powered R/C buggies from hobby shops, then you're in for a bit of a shock. Whereas at full chat, these inexpensive buggies would maybe top out at 15mph, the nitro powered models will double and, in some cases, treble that sort of speed. With carefully considered gearing and 40,000rpm to play with, the Savage is quick off the mark but also features a high top end. In addition, there's a full four-wheel drive system for added grip. On dry tarmac there can occasionally be a little too much grip, sending the vehicle into a barrel roll if you really lean on the steering!
The 20 per cent nitro fuel it runs on is available from many model shops. Using a bottle to squirt the fuel into the tank keeps things clean and the Savage only requires a couple of slugs to give ten or fifteen minutes of fun before it will require another refuel. 2.6bhp may not sound particularly exciting but when you stop to calculate the power to weight ratio, you'll soon realise why this car can achieve a scale speed of over 400mph.
Get hold of the Savage and take a good look at the engineering that goes into a product like this and you'll appreciate that it's not built down to a price. In fact, the price tag of around £400 will preclude it from most kids' Christmas lists but bear in mind that this is a toy that gets kids out of the house, as well as that running an R/C car is a surprisingly physical activity. You'll be chasing after it when you send it into a bush, you'll want to manoeuvre to the best spot for jumps and so on. Bear in mind that an XBOX with a few games will easily top this amount and you'll start to see why sales of nitro-powered R/C cars are booming and why the Savage is the top selling example. To find out more, check out your local R/C retailer or log on to http://www.mirageracing.com