If you’ve ever been curious about the minds behind the design and innovation of your favorite radio-controlled vehicles and their accessories, you’re in for a treat. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ian Roberts, a seasoned product engineer at Pro-Line Racing, to discuss his journey into the world of RC, his expertise in the field, and some exciting insights into the future of RC.
RCCA: How and when did you begin in RC?
IR: I have been around RC my entire life, even before I could read or write I had been working on RC cars. My first memory of RC was being told I could play with my dad’s RC10 gold-pan only after I finished my writing sheet homework in kindergarten.
RCCA: Sounds like you’ve got RC in your DNA. What RC do you specialize in?
IR: I specialize in the RC crawler segment, and more specifically the Axial Adventure brand. I have over 12 years of experience in the segment building crawlers and have attended countless events and group crawls. In the past five years I have been working at both Pro-Line by the Fire and Axial Fest events.
RCCA: That’s a lot of RC events to go to. What types of RC do you enjoy the most?
IR: My go-to RCs are 1/10-scale monster trucks for beach or dunes and 1.9” crawlers for anything scale.
RCCA: Which is your favorite RC vehicle and why?
IR: The Arrma Kraton 6s is the most fun I’ve ever had with any RC car. They can tackle any terrain and are tough as nails. Driving this car in the Dumont paddle tire video shoot blew my mind on what the car was capable of.
RCCA: What was your first RC vehicle?
IR: My first RC that I called my own was a Tamiya Blackfoot Extreme kit that my dad helped me assemble… and the rest was history after that point.
RCCA: What are two must-have upgrades you’d recommend for any RC?
IR: Firstly, I’d suggest getting an aggressive set of Pro-Line Racing pre-mounted tires tailored to your terrain for maximum traction. Secondly, a custom-painted body can set your RC apart from the rest.
RCCA: What future projects can you tell us about?
IR: While I can’t reveal specifics, I can hint at an upcoming body for the SCX24 and an exciting new 1.9” performance crawler tire. I’m personally eager to see these released.
RCCA: As a plastics expert, can you elaborate on why polycarbonate is a better choice for RC bodies compared to materials like fiberglass?
IR: When it comes to weight, durability and ease of use, polycarbonate (PC) is the best of all worlds. It’s lightweight, will flex and bounce back after impacts, making it extremely durable, and is the easiest to paint and mount to your chassis, as it only requires 1-2 coats of paint on the inside then a couple of holes drilled for the body posts. You can get more detail out of an injection-molded ABS body; however, it requires significantly more effort to achieve the same results as PC while being noticeably heavier. When comparedto fiberglass, PC is going to be significantly more durable on heavy impacts while also being lighter. Finally, PC is the most cost-effective solution in raw materials, tooling (body mold) and processing labor.
RCCA: What is the project you’re proudest to have worked on?
IR: Pulling from many years of both RC and full-sized off-roading experience and multiple months of development for the project that almost never got approved initially, the Cliffhanger body line was a game changer for the crawling segment and one I am proud to have led the development on with the help of our team. The design was a mix of hand-sculpting and CAD design, pulling inspiration from custom full-sized rock crawlers with maximum performance in mind.
RCCA: Is there anything else you want to let our readers know?
IR: You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your RC to have a good time! The most smiles I’ve had with RC have usually been with inexpensive, unmodified vehicles. Get out with your friends and family, bring whatever car that runs, and have a great time!
Ian Roberts’ journey through the world of RC is a testament to passion, innovation, and a love for the hobby. His insights into the finer details are educational and eye-opening. As he continues to shape the future of RC, we can only anticipate the exciting advancements that lie ahead. To learn more about Ian and check out cool stuff he’s created, check out his Thingiverse webpage at thingiverse.com/robskii/designs.
Text by Jerry Tsai and Leigh Guarnieri
Images courtesy of Ian Roberts