After owning, collecting, building and modifying many makes and models of RC kits, RCCA Associate Publisher Leigh Guarnieri decided he wanted to take on a project that he has never tackled before. He’s well-versed in kits from Traxxas, Axial, Tamiya, Arrma, Losi, Kyosho, Associated, the list goes on and on… but there has been a kit that he always admired but hadn’t yet had the pleasure of building. We’re talking about the Vanquish Products VS4-10 Phoenix.
Leigh collaborated with Broc LaRouche of Broc’s RC and Robert “Scale Rat” Pezza to build his VS4-10 Phoenix. This new build was featured in a video on Broc’s YouTube channel, and it was quite the project to watch come to life. Along with Scale Rat’s magic touch, the Phoenix is a stunner. Vanquish’s VS4-10 is a crawler kit that includes a metal motor plate with metal transmission standoffs, new Vanquish F10 metal axles in black, and many other great off-roading features.
BRING IN BROC
Broc began the build with the F10 axles, which went together smoothly. He then moved onto the chassis rail assembly and servo install, which were easy as well. The transmission, on the other hand, was more complex and required considerable attention to detail. Broc recommends using a one-to-one reference for the pin sizes, or calipers, to ensure everything lines up perfectly. After the transmission was installed, he moved onto the shocks, links, bumpers and sliders, which also went together quickly. The final step was installation of the electronics and wiring setup.
The electronics installed in this truck were impressive, including a Castle Creations Mamba X ESC, a Castle Slate 1900kV motor, a host of Reefs RC servos including Smart 900, 800 IS, and two 299:LP models for shifting. All of these components were controlled by a five-channel Spektrum DX5C, which is a great entry-level remote with enough channels to handle all the features in this build.
When it came to installing the electronics, Broc spared no effort. He shortened the ESC wires significantly to reduce clutter and installed the 299:LP servos for the truck’s overdrive and dig functions. He cycled the tie rod to ensure the horn lined up correctly, adjusted the endpoints, and made sure it engaged without skipping or stressing the servo. Precision steering requires precision work, after all.
After calibrating the DX5 transmitter to the Mamba X ESC and programming the ESC with Castle Creations’ Castle Link software, Broc ensured that all the wires were routed cleanly and nothing was binding in the truck. The final result was a beautiful truck with matching servo washers and an impressive layout.
WELL CRAFTED CHASSIS
As you can see, the results of Broc’s efforts are incredible. He crafted a cleanly laid out and capable crawler that Leigh’s excited to take on the trail. For those who want to try their hand at their own VS4-10 build, we can tell you that, overall, the Vanquish Phoenix is a great kit for anyone looking to build a custom RC truck packed with impressive features and a beautiful layout. With Broc’s chassis build complete, the project was handed over to the capable hands of Robert “Scale Rat” Pezza to help add some color and patina.
Scale Rat’s Magic Touch
When it comes to customizing remote control vehicles, the possibilities are endless. Robert Pezza, a dedicated enthusiast and respected RC customizer, recently took on the challenge of creating a custom body for Leigh’s Phoenix. The goal was to give it a tough, weathered look that would befit a hardworking farmer’s truck.
Pezza teamed up with RC4WD to acquire a full lineup of CCHand accessories. This included the Ranch Front Steel Bumper, Rear Steel Tube Bumper, Warn 9.5cti-s winch, a wireless winch remote/receiver, Aluminum Roof Rack, Ranch Rear Bed Rack, Rear Inner Fenders, Door Handles, Door Mirror Set, Hood Hold Down, Bed Tire Carrier, Rear Servo Cover Plate, Aluminum Side Sliders, FJ40 White Grille, and Steel Transfer Case Guard. These accessories were carefully mapped out and installed, making sure they fit perfectly onto the VS4-10’s body.
To give the body a rougher, abused look, Pezza carefully heated a few spots with a narrow heat gun, and then used the butt end of a screwdriver to make an impression in the Lexan. He also used a sharp blade to cut carefully around the door trim, and then heated it to warp the cut area to make it look corroded. These imperfections would give the body a more weathered look after painting.
For the paint, Pezza chose a color scheme of Tamiya Coral Blue, Tamiya Dull Red, Vallejo Beastly Brown, Vallejo Gun Metal, and a mixture of Tamiya flat clear and Tamiya semi-gloss for the clear coats. He strategically sprayed the base colors in certain areas for the desired effects. After the clear coats were dried, he used oil paint colors and painted over the entire body.
Once the body was covered, he used a warm, damp rag to carefully remove some of the oil paint. After the paint dried, he hit the body again with semi-gloss clear coat. Finally, he used a real rust mixture made from steel wool, white vinegar and pink sea salt, which was applied like a thick paint to give the body a realistic corroded look.
To complement the rugged exterior, Pezza designed a two-piece, 3D-printed, drop-in interior with the help of Orin Camp Digit LCD Screens. These screens were programmed to work with throttle response, and the center screens scroll through vendor branding involvement in the build. The files for the 3D-printed interior are available on ScaleRat.com. The interior also features CCHand dashboard instrument panels complete with realistic details.
After mounting the body onto the clean chassis, Pezza continued his airbrush work. He installed Vanquish F10 Yota axles in black, which provided the perfect base for weathering and patina. He then carefully applied two separate browns on the axles and chassis to blend the colors from dark to light, imparting a natural weathered look. For the wheels, Pezza went with 1.9 Vanquish Incision KMC Roswells in black, while the tires are Pit Bull Rock Beats 1.9 at 4.45 inches tall.
The patina on this custom Vanquish Phoenix VS4-10 is a testament to Pezza’s skill as an RC customizer. With the help of RC4WD and Orin Camp Digit LCD Screens, he was able to create a tough, weathered work horse that looks like it has endured years of hard work. The attention to detail in the painting, airbrushing, and other detail work is impressive to say the least.
Combining the talents of two respected RC builders into a well-loved kit such as the Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix was a dream-team collaboration. Leigh’s chomping at the bit to hit the trails with this beauty and we’re betting it’ll turn some heads. The Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix is a highly capable crawler that is well-respected with competitive drivers and scale builders alike, and it’s an excellent kit that provides a challenge for experienced builders while also being accessible to beginners as well. The kit can be complex in some areas, but the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Broc’s build video covering this project provides a helpful visual aid for those interested in building their own kit.
For more on Broc and Scale Rat, check out their social accounts at:
Instagram: @brocs_rc / YouTube: @BROCSRC
Scale Rat—Instagram: @scalerat20
Text by Broc LaRouche, Robert Pezza and Jerry Tsai
Images by Jerry Tsai