By Muhammad Zulhilmi Daud
MELAKA (Bernama) – The remote-control (RC) four-wheel drive crawler may be one-tenth of the original size of a 4WD vehicle and can be passed off as a “toy” but then, looks can be deceiving.
A classic favourite of both young and old remote-control car hobbyists, their interest in the RC crawler – conspicuous by its large tyres and slow-moving style – is not a fad but has been around for some time now.
The off-road scaled models, that come fitted with fully functional accessories and able to navigate through various types of terrain, can provide their “drivers” with hours of fun and excitement.
Controlling an RC crawler may seem like child’s play but in reality, it requires plenty of skills and patience to manoeuvre the vehicle and prevent it from straying off the course.
And, to test their “driving” agility and ingenuity, RC crawler enthusiasts would deliberately look for challenging off-road tracks that would require their “little beasts” to traverse water puddles, climb uphill, descend steep slopes and take sharp bends
Ex-soldier Muhammaddin Zainuddin, 40, became a diehard fan of the RC crawler after he was introduced to it by his friends during the Movement Control Order period.
What got him hooked to this hobby was the thrill of controlling the scaled model as it negotiates and conquers difficult obstacles standing in the way, including hills, bridges, rocks and pits.
“When it comes to remote-control cars, I like the crawler model as it has large tyres and is hardier. It is also more challenging to ‘drive’ as it tests our skills in controlling the vehicle when it goes through an obstacle,” he told Bernama when met at the RC off-road track at the Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC) here recently.
Muhammaddin, who works at the Malaysian Flying Academy in Batu Berendam here, said many of his friends who enjoy participating in sports activities involving 4WD vehicles are also into RC crawlers because to them, controlling one of these “monster” vehicles is just as thrilling as driving one.
Muhammaddin, who owns three RC crawlers that cost him RM150 to RM2,000 each, can often be seen playing with his “toys” with his friends at the MITC off-road track during the weekends.
A typical RC crawler with a 1:10 scale (one-tenth the size of the real thing) measuring 47 centimetres in length and 20 cm wide and 23 cm high can move at a speed of between 10 and 60 kilometres per hour on a 200 square metre track.
With its frame built in accordance with the actual design of premium 4WD models such as Land Rover, Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Unimog Mercedes, Mitsubishi Pajero and Jeep Wrangler, the scaled crawler is fitted with an electric motor and rechargeable battery, and is controlled via radio frequencies emitted by the transmitter held by the “driver”.
University student Saiful Nizam Ahmad, 22, who was also present at the MITC off-road track, said it was the first time he was observing RC crawlers in action close up and found it exciting.
“I’ve seen remote-controlled cars whizzing at top speed but this (crawlers) is something else. The movements are slower but this activity is no less challenging than the actual 4WD adventures,” he said, adding that the hobby is also a good way to bond with like-minded individuals because team spirit and cooperation among the “drivers” are essential when it comes to overcoming obstacles along the track.
Melaka Crawler Club member Mohamad Ammar Abdul Rahim, 32, said his hobby has turned into a weekend activity for him and his family
“I also regard it as a healthy social activity for me and my friends… at least it distracts us from our smartphones,” he added.
The price of an RC crawler can range from as low as below RM100 to thousands of ringgit, depending on the type of model and components that come with it.
Beginners are usually advised to play with a basic RC crawler first in order to familiarise themselves with its operations before upgrading or modifying their models.
To make their model look more rugged and be able to withstand tougher terrain, the owner may consider upgrading its plastic parts to metal parts. And, among the components likely to be changed are the tyre rims, gear, drive shaft, body and chassis.
Modifying an RC crawler can be a costly affair but true-blue remote-control vehicle hobbyists are willing to dig deep into their pockets to indulge in their favourite pastime.
Remote-control toy technician Hafiez Kamal, 36, said some of his friends have spent thousands of ringgit to convert their basic RC crawlers into hardy “machines” capable of tackling challenges more easily.
“I have friends who bought a basic RC crawler for about RM150 and immediately sent it to me to be upgraded into a more expensive model. To date, I have upgraded over 20 crawlers and among the components that were replaced were the axle, motor, suspension, transmitter and receiver,” he said.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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