Why is it that RC crawlers have found their niche with those who enjoy building super-accurate scale replica trucks? There are plenty of RC vehicles out there, from racing buggies and dragsters to stadium and monster trucks, but it seems as if those who dabble with crawlers take scale realism to another level. Regardless of the reason, I count myself as one of those who have taken a deep dive into the genre and count myself as an avid scale builder.
Giving yourself a head start in creating a detailed rig means starting with a rig that already has plenty of realism built into it. For me, this means going with a truck made by RC4WD. The brand is known for scale realism and makes a good majority of the aftermarket parts that scalers use when building ultra-realistic RC crawlers.
A TOYOTA FAN
Being a fan of Toyota trucks, especially the ’80s-era models, I naturally gravitated toward RC4WD’s Trail Finder 2 1980 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55. The assembly kit features the long-wheelbase (LWB) version of the Trail Finder 2 chassis and comes with a detailed Lexan body of the 1980 model Land Cruiser FJ55. I’ve been using RC4WD scale parts since I started in the hobby back in 2008. The brand builds super-scale, crawler-specific parts out of metal components that work well with those looking for scale realism.
This Trail Finder 2 features a 1980 Toyota Land Cruiser body set. Even though it is a Lexan body, RC4WD added a lot of molded plastic pieces that are usually found on a hardbody for added detail. These extra parts add immensely to the overall look on a Lexan body.
I’m more on the builder side of the hobby, so this assembly kit scratches my itch to build. The Trail Finder 2 kit comes with Yota 2 Ultimate Scale cast axles, R3 single-speed transmission and center-mounted Hammer transfer case that are already pre-built and greased. The vintage Yota 6-lug stamped-steel 1.55” beadlock wheels fit the year of the Land Cruiser perfectly. How’s that pushing for period-correct realism?
The detailed instructions that RC4WD provides with the kit feature pictures that are super easy to follow. Just make sure to use the provided thread locker, because most of the RC4WD parts are made of steel and aluminum and screws will come lose with long-term usage. To keep the build all within RC4WD’s wheelhouse I also used RC4WD electronics, including a 540 brushed 45T motor, Outcry III waterproof ESC, Twister high-torque metal gear servo and XR3 3-channel transmitter and receiver.
The instructions for the detailed Lexan body recommend painting it from the inside, then drill all the required mounting holes. Using this method will give the body a glossy look, which was not my plan considering I intended to build it as a vintage Land Cruiser. I decided to paint the Lexan body’s outside to give it a more realistic look.
Since I was painting on the outside, I drilled all the holes and pre-installed all the body parts before painting so I didn’t mess up with the paint later. Since interiors are important to scale builds, RC4WD also includes a Lexan interior with dashboard, seats and steering wheel with the FJ55 body.
I have always had great results with Tamiya paints, but I was surprised at how limited the colors were for their Lexan-compatible polycarbonate PS line of paints. I wanted this build to have an OEM factory color—then I saw the mustard yellow Tamiya PS paint. I decided to do a period-correct ’80s two-tone scheme with white up top. I also tinted the rear windows and the rear glass using Rustoleum spray tint applied inside the Lexan Body. I used Tamiya TS semi-gloss black on all of the hard plastic body pieces including the grille, door handles, wipers, light buckets and license frame holder. I also custom-fabricated a spare tire carrier that attaches to the rear inside a plastic molded piece.
RC4WD provides super scale graphics and decals with the body. I added the front license plate and topographic hood decal. I didn’t use the supplied decals for the lights and instead painted them using Tamiya clear amber and clear red. I used RC4WD LED lights that I connected to the receiver. The body mount they used is really nice and hidden, an inverted body post that mounts at the front and rear bumpers. It also added a side plastic panel that attaches to the body using a patch of Velcro that would help eliminate the shaking of the Lexan body.
Overall, I’m really happy with the outcome of the build. My first run with the FJ55 on the trails was harrowing, but it’s always fun trying to avoid getting any scratches. This is built as a trail truck and not an all-out crawler. The truck did perform great and am really happy to add it to my ever-growing Toyota collection.
Text and Images by Neil Leyesa