PHOTOS JOEL NAVARRO
1/10-SCALE ELECTRIC 4WD TRUCK | RTR
A high-voltage package ideal for new monster truckers
The great thing about monster trucks is that they can be used on any surface — dirt, rocks, sand, or asphalt. Combine any two or more of them in one trucking session and you're almost guaranteed to have a good time — as long as the vehicle can handle the task.
The new Helion Invictus promises to do just that. This ready-to-run 1/10-scale 4×4 is fitted with big chevron-tread tires, has a tough shaft-driven drivetrain, steel-geared differentials at both ends, and 9.6V of brushless motor power pushing it along. Oh yeah, then there's the tough-looking monster truck body, proudly decorated with flags in the bed. Parts support can often be a sore spot for new brands, but since Helion is an exclusive line for HobbyTown USA, you can count on plenty of spare parts to be on the pegboard at your local HTU. Helion promises a lot with the Invictus 10MT, so let's dive in and see if it has what it takes to earn your dollar.
Item no.: HLNA0248
Weight, as tested: 5.8 lb. (2644g)
Length: 16.61 in. (422mm)
Width: 13.27 in. (337mm)
Height: 7.72 in. (196mm)
Wheelbase: 10.83 in. (275mm)
Molded plastic tub
Type F/R: Upper and lower wishbone with pivot-ball carriers / lower H-arm with turnbuckle camber link
Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 1/1
Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 1/3
Shock positions, towers (F/R): 2/2
Shock positions, arms (F/R): 2/3
Oil-filled plastic with dual O-ring bottom seals
Type/ratio: Shaft drive/8.58:1
Spur gear/pinion: 54T/14T 32-pitch
Differential: Bevel gear, oil filled
Driveshafts: Steel dogbone
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: Satin-finish with 12mm hex
Tires: Helion V-tread Swampers
Inserts: Open-cell foam
Transmitter: Helion RC HRS-3.1 3-channel 2.4GHz
Receiver: Helion RC HRS-3.1 3-channel 2.4GHz micro receiver
Speed Control: Radient Reaktor sensorless brushless 45A WP-P with cooling fan
Motor: Radient Reaktor 3500Kv 2-pole sensorless brushless
Battery: 1800mAh 8-cell NiMH pack
Steering servo: Helion RC 6KG-WP waterproof
RADIENT REAKTOR BRUSHLESS SYSTEM WITH 8-CELL NIMH POWER
The electronics package that comes in the Invictus 10MT gives us a few pleasant surprises in this level of car. While the 3-channel 2.4GHz radio set is fairly basic, it does have all the basics necessary needed to control the Invictus reliably — steering and throttle trims, a steering dual-rate setting, and even a fail-safe mode. Things get better, as the steering servo is a strong, waterproof 6kg unit; it's torquey enough to turn the meaty 5-inch tires with authority. And instead of skimping of the powertrain, Helion spec'd the truck with their Radient Reaktor system that uses a 3500Kv 540-size sensorless motor. The speed control is equipped with a fan for cool running and can handle up to a 220A burst of current. An optional programming box is available for the speed control that lets you adjust additional settings like the low-voltage cutoff when installing a LiPo pack. Lastly, a 9.6V 8-cell NiMH battery pack is included, along with a trickle-style overnight wall charger. If you find the Invictus longing for more power, the 8-cell pack can easily be replaced with up to 3S LiPo pack for seriously explosive power.
THE FRONT END FEATURES A PIVOT-BALL SUSPENSION, WHICH HAS A LARGE RANGE OF SMOOTH MOTION AND IS INFINITELY ADJUSTABLE
PLUSH ADJUSTABLE SUSPENSION
Large oil-filled composite shocks with red-anodized aluminum caps can be found at each corner. The are multiple upper and lower shock mounting points on each end for fine-tuning the suspension. The front and rear lower inner hingepins are supported by steel braces for durability and consistent performance. The front end features a pivot-ball suspension, which has a large range of smooth motion and is infinitely adjustable. On the rear end is a more hassle-free carrier and camber-link setup. All tie rods are easily adjust able turnbuckles for fast tweaks.
MODULAR MOLDED-TUB CHASSIS
The chassis is molded from strong composite plastic with double-wall construction along the outer edges. For easy maintenance, it was designed so that the front and rear modules can come off pretty much intact so work on those subsystems is easier. The aluminum skidplates act as suspension mounting points and server to protect the chassis from damage. And here is something we don't often see even in hobby-grade RC — a clear plastic cover for the spur/pinion area. All this is wrapped in a beefy-looking, pre-painted polycarbonate monster truck body.
FULL-TIME SHAFT-DRIVEN 4WD
Each end of the Invictus has a steel bevel-gear differential with steel ring and pinion gears, joined by a lightweight aluminum driveshaft that spans the center of the chassis. Steel dogbone driveshafts spin the wheels. Every rotating point is supported by rubber-sealed ball bearings for smooth, slop-free action. The stock gearing is a low 8.58:1 final drive ratio — low enough to crawl over most obstacles but still tall enough to get the Invictus up to about 30mph right out of the box.
The Invictus' 3-channel radio uses a 2.4GHz signal — no crystals, no frequency flags, and no worries about sharing a signal with a CB radio. It has steering and throttle trims, a steering dual-rate setting, adjustable steering endpoints, and a fail-safe mode to shut down power if the Invictus goes out of radio range or otherwise loses the control signal.
The Invictus uses two different styles of axle carriers for the front and rear of the vehicle — a pivot-ball setup up front and a hinged hub carrier in the rear. A pivot-ball setup (or pillow-ball, as they're sometimes called) is basically is a set of upper and lower ball joints in one housing. Its advantages include a large range of motion (up/down, left/right), means to adjust camber and width settings, and a way to compensate for wear with threaded adjusters. Pivot-ball suspensions are often seen on full race-bred vehicles. In contrast, a hinged hub carrier is great for the rear end, as the assembly only needs to move up and down. The advantages of this setup are its simplicity (a single steel rod acts as the hinge), and its durability. A single camber-link between the top of the carrier and the shock tower area lets you set the wheel angle through its range of travel.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
THE INVICTUS RESISTS TIPPING OVER UNTIL PUSHED WELL PAST ITS LIMIT, A WELCOME TRAIT ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE LEARNING TO DRIVE
The Invictus 10MT may not win any drag races, but the Radient Reaktor brushless system has enough grunt to get those big chevron-style treads churning and make the rear end of the truck squat just like a full-size monster truck. What those large monster truck meats do, however, is raise the truck's overall gearing for an impressive top speed that's a fitting balance of entertaining and controllable. There's enough power on tap to climb large hills and huck the little truck off of natural or man-made ramps, and while the freely spinning gear differentials don't add to the climbing prowess of the Invictus they do help it track straight through soft and unforgiving terrain. The suspension soaks up ruts and keeps the truck straight when bobbing and bouncing through the open field, and once the truck is airborne the heavy tires and short wheelbase make it easy to correct the truck's attitude with proper throttle and brake modulation to prepare for a plush landing. Even when launched well overhead, the Invictus touches down with composure and gets ready for what's next.
Despite the truck's tall ride height and soft, squishy tires, the Invictus 10MT stays rather flat during hard cornering. Its stability is a welcome trait for all drivers but especially those who are learning to drive, as the truck resists tipping over until pushed well past its limit. The truck's breaking point is easily predictable, and when you jump on the binders it comes to a halt in a hurry — sometimes quickly enough to get it to flip over forward. With the trigger clamped the truck reacts well to steering input without getting unsettled, but a poke of the brakes to get the weight transferred to the front tires is all it takes to set the truck for tight corners. Of course, that's not to say the Invictus transitions like a race truck by any means — it shifts its weight and bobs around just like a full-size monster truck, but it only serves to slow the truck's reactions and make it more controllable rather than topple over. The truck is easy to drive when tooling around at a leisurely pace, but reacts eagerly when you're ready to drive hard. For new drivers, the mellow demeanor of the Invictus 10MT inspires confidence. For experienced hobbyists, however, it inspires bravery.
Excellent all-purpose tires
Great motor/speed control setup
Excellent speed for a small monster truck
No wheelie bar
There are lots of companies vying for your attention, especially in the monster truck category. The Invictus 10MT is a great all-around first truck package — it's got a good balance of climbing and speed, good looks, and available replacement parts. The included speed control/motor combo really is the gem in this package; it's a great combo that should last a long time. Its performance, notably its top speed, is certainly admirable. Even though it's a bit loud, it sounds powerful tooling over rocks and roots and the hum the chevron-style tires makes on the road just sounds cool. Whether this is a first RC truck or another addition to an RC fleet, the Invictus satisfies the need to stomp over dirt, rocks, or whatever gets in its way.