With all eyes on the sixth generation 2021 Ford Bronco, it’s refreshing to see a throwback release that celebrates the original, first generation model of the venerated SUV. Introduced in 1965, the original Ford Bronco was an instant hit and has gone on to become an icon in its own right. Axial proudly recreates the magic of the early Ford Bronco with its latest SCX10 III-based release.
For its newest ready to run (RTR) RC off roader, Axial went full bore in the scale detail department, not only in terms of looks, but with a mind on performance as well. While the SUV is based on Axial’s latest off road chassis, this SCX10 III isn’t your run of the mill release. There are plenty of differences that allow the Bronco to stand apart from its sister models. This first gen Bronco includes everything that has made the SCX10 III platform a success and adds new features that have not been previously offered in any Axial RTR, and we might add any other RTR as well.
If you’re a fan of scale builds, you’ll appreciate this one. As mentioned previously, Axial went all in on scale detail. By our observation, this is one of the most detailed vehicles Axial has ever produced. In fact, we figure that the realism found in it would probably impress even the staunchest of classic Ford enthusiasts.
Let’s examine just how many details this RTR boasts by starting with its body. The Bronco’s polycarbonate body has a molded tube frame cage with functional doors that swing open and securely snaps closed. We haven’t seen this feature on a RTR crawler before, kudos to Axial for making it happen. Proving that scale detail can be practical as well, the SUV’s fender flares and rock sliders that are designed to look period correct, also provide functional rock rash protection.
The Early Bronco’s proportions are just right because it uses the SCX10 III’s standard 12.3-inch wheelbase length. Other exterior details that Axial worked into the RC include recreations of the Bronco’s hood scoop, windshield wipers, license plates and functional front and rear plate bumpers. The bumpers not only look accurate, but they are placed at the optimal approach angle for unobstructed climbing and crawling. To further push the realism of the truck, its body mounts are hidden to preserve the vehicle’s scale lines. Rounding out the exterior are a full set of LED lights that bring the headlight and taillights to life. In case you want to install even more lights, the roll cage has mounting tabs for additional lights and also carries a spare tire.
With an open top and opening doors, Axial took a look at the interior and decided to go all in on it as well. The interior detail is as impressive as its exterior and some may even say a bit more impressive. Inside the SUV’s cab your action figure will find molded seats, dashboard, shifter, foot pedals, and a steering wheel with column. No, an action figure is not included, but we found our bare chested WWE John Cena figure to fit inside the Bronco pretty well.
A replica 5.0L V8 engine rests under the hood, while a transmission housing and transfer case conceal the scale Bronco’s powerful Axial 35T motor. These details provide added protection as well as a scale appearance.
Early Bronco rolls on retro-style 3-piece beadlock wheels that feature a classic “slot mag” design. The beadlock wheels allow tires to be mounted, removed, and replaced easily without gluing, which is a feature we really like. The wheels come with licensed 1.9 replica Falken Wildpeak M/T tires mounted to them. These scale Falken tires provide tenacious grip for crawling over rocks and cruising trails.
Ready To Crawl
Underneath the Early Bronco body is Axial’s proven SCX10 III chassis. Unlike Axial’s previous SXC10 III Jeep releases, which come with portal style axles, the Ford Bronco uses AR45 Straight Axles in the front and rear. This grants the Early Bronco a lower center of gravity in addition to an accurately classic stance. The chassis’ triangulated suspension geometry is tuned to work with the axles to reduce torque twist and further increase the SUV’s scale looks. In this case, function equals form.
For both a smooth ride and capable crawling, its included oil-filled shocks can be tuned for the best dampening rate for the terrain you are traversing. Its generously sized shock bodies offer increased bore size with more fluid volume for enhanced performance.
The SCX10 III’s transmission offers a third-channel DIG function that lets you lock the rear axle directly from the transmitter for front wheel drive motivation, which results in a tighter turning radius. If you’re looking to drive a clean line through a tight trail or make a U-turn in a near impossible angle, activating DIG will likely help you come through unscathed.
Axial points out that although it is locked out from the factory, you can set up the vehicle to have a 40% faster second gear instead of having the DIG feature if desired. If you want a faster second gear and want to also keep the DIG function, you can add another micro servo to the chassis and swap the radio to one with at least four channels to have simultaneous access to both the DIG and two-speed driving functions. That’s a tempting upgrade for us to do, perhaps sometime in the future.
The SCX10 III’s motor is located at the front of the chassis for forward weight bias, which improves an RC crawler’s crawling capabilities. The standard battery tray accepts full-size LiPo or NiMH packs and is positioned near the vehicle’s center for better balance. There are also locations in the chassis’ side pods for those who prefer using shorty LiPo packs.
The fully assembled RTR vehicle comes with a Spektrum DX3 radio featuring Spektrum’s DSMR technology for fantastic range, quick response, and rugged interference resistance. It’s also compatible with the Smart telemetry potential provided by the installed Spektrum Firma Smart 40A ESC/receiver. Those drivers who use a Spektrum Smart LiPo pack, are able to keep tabs on battery capacity on the transmitter’s voltage level indicator while driving. For all-weather performance, the classic crawler’s electronics are protected by a waterproof design.
On The Trail
After we charged up a Spektrum 11.1V 1300mAh 3S LiPo G2 battery pack, we headed out to a nearby park to see what the straight axle equipped Early Bronco could do. As expected, the retro crawler performed admirably over the loose dirt trail, small and medium sized gravel roads and a rocky dry creek bed that we drove it over.
We were interested in trying out the DIG function in a particularly tight area. With the Spektrum radio in hand, we flipped the third channel switch to activate the DIG function and it did its thing by locking the rear wheels, allowing only the front wheels to actively drive. What resulted was the front of the truck drove and the rear pivoted so that its rear wheels dragged in one place, This allowed the Bronco to make the tight turn without any need to back up and try again. We quite enjoy
Developing the Axial SCX10 III Early Ford Bronco
We got the inside scoop about the Early Bronco from Randall Davis, Product Developer at Horizon Hobby. He was involved with all aspects of this Bronco’s development so he knows a thing or two about it. Davis tells us what the first steps were to get the ultra-detailed project off the ground, “If we were going to pull it off, we had to capture many of the key features of the iconic 1:1 original Bronco if we were going to capture the eyes and hearts of the consumer. I studied the body design to find all the little things, the lines in the body, the patterns on the grille, the headlight and tail light placement, the shape of the fenders wells, the location of the windshield wipers, and so on. There is a lot of research and studying that takes place before we begin to design the body so we can capture as much detail as we can. We even went as far as making a replica 5.0 Coyote motor because there was no way we were going to put an LS under the hood.
“Once we have a good idea of the original details, we start looking at ways to take it a step further, we added opening doors, we even decided that the Bronco should have a manual shift transmission and added a clutch pedal along with the brake and ‘barefoot’ gas pedal.
“We made sure to include the windshield wipers and the motor bod behind the windshield. We designed custom front and rear bumpers that match the bodylines at the front and rear of the body, even included removable license plates. The front bumper even has a winch fairlead opening.
“We replaced the portal axles with standard axles, after all, have you ever seen a Bronco on portals before? We also decided that we needed a set of wheels that were era specific so we created an Axial beadlock version of the slotted mag wheel with knock-offs found on the legendary Big Oly.
“The other feature that we wanted to capture was a race version (White) and a stock retro version (Turquoise Blue) of the kit. We actually had plans to make the retro version come with doors and a tailgate but couldn’t pull it off. We were also stoked to have Falken Tire and Icon Vehicle Dynamics jump on-board for this project. We put a lot of thought into making the vehicle versatile for the consumer to add their own specific touch to it by creating a completely removable spare tire and carrier, auxiliary light mounts, and plenty of open space behind the seats.
“The Bronco came out a little heavier on top than I planned but it turns out that it really wheels close to the real deal. Sure, the consumer will fine-tune it to their driving style but that is what we really enjoy seeing. I don’t want to make the “perfect” vehicle, and then there is nothing left for the consumer to personalize. I want to make a strong, reliable, and capable vehicle, and then watch how the consumers build and change it.
“In the end, I really like the way the Bronco turned out and I look forward to raising the bar again on scale details in future projects. I feel we hit a homerun with this truck and I think the consumers do too.”
A WEATHERED LOOK
Buck Val of Buck’s Unique Customs added a weathered look to the featured Early Bronco. He used Tamiya’s Weathering Master A Set paint to give it a realistic worn-in look with the help of simulated mud and sand textures. For more, check out Buck’s Instagram:
It’s worth noting that Axial’s SCX10 series of RC crawlers have served as the base of an incalculable number of special project builds. The reason is that Axial designed the platform to be modified and the Early Bronco is no different. Just about any part of this truck can be swapped out for another. We can’t wait to see how enthusiasts modify theirs.
Made for any RC enthusiast skill level, the Early Bronco is a perfect choice for brand new scalers, experienced rock crawling enthusiasts, and everyone in-between. The fit, finish and overall quality of the SCX10 III Early Bronco RTR are what we have come to expect from Axial. But it is the Bronco’s over the top scale details that help it further surpass our expectations. If you’re shopping for another crawler to add to your ever-growing fleet, you’ll want to know that the SCX10 III, like its predecessors, has unlimited modification potential. If you are considering this vehicle for your first foray into RC crawler, you’d be hard-pressed to do