The Undercover Beast a.k.a Landspeed Ninja
I had been wanting to get back into the RC hobby for quite a few years but money was always the thing holding me back. Even RTR cars like the ARRMA Typhon were out of my reach. I figured I wouldn’t be able to find a truly quality, hobby-grade RTR for less than $200 USD which was already past my realistic budget. Then I discovered the WL Toys line of vehicles. The WL Toys 124019 had just hit the market when I got to the “Fuck It” point and, after researching the 12th scale buggy, I knew it’d be the perfect vehicle to get my restart in the hobby. I wanted something simple and budget-friendly but, at the same time, be fun to run and upgrade. The 124019, and it’s upgrades from the amazing 144001, was just what I was looking for.
Fast forward one month and I’m the proud owner of a WL Toys 124019 buggy and I’m about to begin my first RC project in over 10 years. After some initial hands-on time with the car and running some battery packs through it just before a Nor’easter hit Massachusetts, I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on the car. Spoiler Alert!
I freaking Love this little buggy!
Anyway, on to the WL Toys 124019 Review. I hope you enjoy the review and, please, share your thoughts in the comments at the end of the article.
What’s Included In The Box?
Pretty much everything you need to get up and running is in the box, except for the 4 x AA batteries you need to power the transmitter. Upon opening the rather cool box the buggy is packaged in, you’ll find the following;
1. The car itself, with all electronics, including combination receiver-ESC and a massive 550 brushed motor to power it
2. The 2 channel 2.4GHz transmitter with adjustable steering trim, throttle trim, and throttle dual-rate
3. A surprisingly good 2s 2200mah battery pack (see more below)
4. A USB charger for the battery. Note: If you have more than a passing interest in RC, I’d consider buying a better charger. I’m using this model and I don’t believe you can find a better charger for the price. (I have a review planned that’s set to go live in a few days.)
5. A mini hex tool for undoing wheel and other nuts
Instruction manual. It’s made of plastic and you won’t want to use it for much. (If you don’t already have some tools, these Hex Nut and Hex Screwdrivers have served me very well and they’re a great value at only $20 for both sets.)
The packaging itself is sturdy, well designed, and actually quite stylish in my opinion. Seeing as how most people order their WL Toys vehicles from Banggood, and they’re a good distance away in China, it’s understandable some may worry if the car they order will survive the trip. Rest easy, even if the package is abused during transit, I’m confident that the car and everything else inside, would arrive in great condition.
The combination of tall gearing and a large, torquey, brushed motor makes for very good top speed, even driving off-road. One benefit of the brushed motor (other than helping to keep the cost down where we like it) is that power comes on very smoothly and is very controllable as a result. As a bonus, top speed can be limited electronically, if needed, by adjusting the throttle dual-rate on the included transmitter.
The battery included with the buggy is a 2s 2200mah lipo pack and it’s surprisingly good quality. When mine arrived, it was shipped at an acceptable storage charge of 3.80v per cell. Once fully charged, I ran the car for a solid 12 minutes and the pack finished at a safe 3.7v per cell. Afterward, It took 2090mah of power to fully charge, suggesting the capacity is a legitimate 2200mah. (Very nice!) Note: I could have run the battery down further, to draw the full 2200mah, but I personally don’t like running my packs below 3.7v per cell. Even better, the internal resistance of the cells was below 10milliohms. This tells me the battery is pretty high quality and should last quite a while if treated well. Based on all of this, I’d confidently recommend these stock batteries if you’re in need of a couple more packs. The quality of these battery packs is way higher than the price Banggood is asking – (purchase the 2s 2200mah battery pack at Banggood)
Once you dial in both the toe-in and camber correctly, (to be detailed in an upcoming project Mauve Marauder update), this car really does handle quite nicely. I’ve seen and heard people complaining about how the steering feels “loose” and “sloppy”. Personally, I haven’t noticed any more slop in the steering than other entry-level RTRs I’ve seen. The longer wheelbase of the 124019 allows it to track very well in a straight line and I found I could control drifts, spins, and donuts with confidence and a huge smile on my face.
The buggy also handles jumps beautifully! Thanks to the near-perfect weight distribution and the longer wheelbase, the 124019 launches off of jumps nicely balanced and level. Sending my buggy off any little incline I can find has been a complete blast. The car responds instantly to any controller input, as it flies through the air and there’s no denying that any crash landings I had during my initial runs were my fault. In short, the buggy has been a total blast to drive and I can’t wait to do some upgrades to see what this thing is really capable of!
Like the 144001, the suspension geometry of the 124019 is designed and set up very nicely, mainly because it has been copied directly from the excellent, and more expensive, LC racing EMB-1. The big, heavy, brushed motor in the 144001 made the weight distribution massively rear-biased. This tended to overload the rear suspension and caused balance issues through corners, and hitting obstacles at speed felt uncomfortable and borderline out-of-control.
With the 124019, the extra length compared to the 144001 has been well utilized – particularly with the battery moving forward to offset the rear-biased weight from the motor. The weight ratio is now as close to 50/50 as you can possibly get. This means it is much more balanced on the straights, through corners, over jumps – everywhere. What this means in real life is that the car feels very predictable, even when grip is low and it seems like you’re about to lose control. It’s actually kind of blissful to drive if you ask me.
Moving on to the tread, the stock tires (stock tire combo at Banggood) are not the softest or grippiest available but they’re fine for driving on any combination of short grass, dirt, gravel, or tarmac. They’re a basic, all-purpose tire that serve their purpose well without adding anything to the cost of the car. Plus, they’re extremely cheap to buy if you want a decent set of backups or replacements. The wheels themselves are strong and foam-filled, so there’s no need to worry about them falling apart on you prematurely. (You’ll see countless bald sets on the various Facebook groups that are casualties of speedruns.) Note! : If you are looking to upgrade, and want a good wheel and tire combo for offroad bashing, this Remo combo comes highly recommended from a few WLToys owners I’ve talked to. (I have a set on order myself and I’ll be sharing my thoughts and opinions in an upcoming review.)
The WLToys 124019 is a tough car. Plain and simple. This buggy can handle the typical driver mistakes that result in wrecks and crashes with no problem. However, simple physics tells us that there is a lot of force transferred throughout the vehicle when crashing into a hard object at the speeds this car can reach on upgraded Brushless systems. So, it’s a matter of fact that there is simply no way to completely avoid the occasional bent shock or broken ball cup. You can, of course, upgrade to aluminum parts as I plan to, but be careful when choosing which parts you upgrade to metal. Upon impact, the force may transfer through that shiny new A-arm to somewhere you really don’t want it, such as the differential case or driveshaft, which are more difficult and expensive to fix. These simple facts hold true for all RC vehicles so they’re good things to keep in mind for any project you’re working on.
As fast as this car is out of the box, how well the car is balanced and how it handles can really tell us how much potential there is to get even more performance out of it. It’s one of the big things that drew me to purchase one for myself. Because of this, there’s a rapidly growing, and very active community of hobbyists who are constantly experimenting, tinkering, and improving performance.
There are folks out there building some incredible buggies that specialize in off-road bashing, on-road speed runs and I’ve even seen a few racing tuned buggies. It’s active communities like those found on Facebook, that encourage RC-focused businesses and manufacturers to develop products that allow even further upgrades, higher speeds, and ultimately, more fans and customers. We’ve already seen this happen with the 144001, and I expect we’ll see even more excitement surrounding the newly revealed 104001 10th scale buggy from WL Toys. One huge bonus these vehicles have going for them is that they share so many similar parts. Pretty much every part is interchangeable other than the chassis, driveshaft, top deck, and body shell. The potential is there for an almost unlimited amount of tinkering. Customizing and modding are definitely two additional strong points for this car.
The WL Toys 124019 (13% Off) is a very well designed car that has a number of subtle but crucial improvements over its hugely popular predecessor, the WL Toys 144001 (15% Off), that makes it more reliable, durable, and handle even better. Although it is set up really well straight from the factory, there are still a few tweaks that need to be made in order to get it handling at its best. None of them take very long to perform and no special parts are needed. In fact, they’re practically free! And the car does have impressive performance out of the box thanks to its oversized brushed 550 motor, it also has a lot of room to be upgraded and improved., (The end-goal with Project Mauve Marauder is to do a full brushless build that can offer quicker acceleration, higher top speed, added durability, and much better battery life and heat management. I have big plans for my 124019 and I’m very excited to see where it takes me.)
Because of its speed and the inevitability that something will eventually break from multiple hard impacts, I do not recommend the WL Toys 124019 for someone who is a complete RC novice. This car will, however, reward an even moderately experienced hobbyist with quality and design in nearly the entire car. Practically all of the suspension geometry can be adjusted to suit your style of driving, and it can be upgraded in practically any direction – off-road basher, track racer, and 100mph+ on-road speedrunner. If tinkering is your thing, there are wonderful groups on Facebook that offer guidance and support for repairs and upgrades. And the friendly members are an invaluable resource for those of us that like to dig even deeper into their projects.
I’m planning to document all my changes and upgrades as I build my own project, the Mauve Marauder. I’m very excited by this buggy’s potential and can’t wait to start wrenching!
To close this review, I can wholeheartedly recommend the WL Toys 124019 RTR radio-controlled car. There are very few RTR vehicles that come close to the performance, setup, and design quality that the 124019 offers. Especially at this price point. And, as a small bonus for anyone reading this, you can use this link to get a further 13% off the WL Toys 124019, if you’re looking to buy one (or two) for you and your family.
I’d love to hear what you think of the WL Toys 124019 buggy and whether or not you plan to buy one. Or, maybe you’re one of the many people who already own one. In that case, I’d really like to hear what you’ve done to yours. Please leave your thoughts, and any pics you have, in the comments below. I love hearing what other folks are up to. Take care and be safe out there!