In the early months of 1987 my parents bought a vehicle that would unknowingly shape my tastes in trucks for decades to come. That truck was a brand new 1987 Toyota SR5 4×4 with the bulletproof 22R four-banger, 5-speed manual transmission and a single stick shifted transfer case. Over the years my parents added numerous modifications to the truck including a lift kit, brush guard, roll bar with KC Daylighters, custom wheels and huge tires. As a kid I saw it as my Dad’s monster truck, a vehicle that could do anything and go anywhere. Looking back I overlook the fact that the truck was underpowered, didn’t fit the family very well, and, like all Toyota’s of that time in our region, was a rust magnet (salty roads for the better part of 5 months out of the year will do that). None of that mattered to a young, impressionable car guy, and frankly, it still doesn’t. That truck will always hold a special place in my heart.
Fast forward a quarter century and that truck is long gone. Re-watching Back to the Future for the thousandth time had me feeling nostalgic for that old ‘Yota. Marty’s truck was an Xtra Cab instead of Dad’s singe cab model but the itch was still there.
Pro-Line Racing had released an SR5 body a few years back and I had never had a project to put it on. The body is available in both a cab and bed version as well as a cab-only for use with a rear cage section. Of course, I wanted to use the full body version, but I still needed a chassis to put it on. This is where the Gen8 PACK (Pre Assembled Chassis Kit) came into play. It was affordable, came with metal links out of the box, has a forward mounted transmission that would free up room for an interior, and didn’t include anything that I wouldn’t be using on the final build. Sold!
UNBOXING AND INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
Upon opening the box I was impressed with the look of the truck. The parts have a beefy, industrial appearance and the contrast of the polished links with the black plastics and chassis rails is a nice touch. The portal boxes look quite robust and are the truck’s stand-out feature. The inclusion of an alloy servo horn and wheel hex adapters was a nice surprise as most kits make do with plastic in these areas. Absent from the spare parts bag were any LED retainers for the bumpers or body. I was surprised by this as the RTR comes with pre-installed LED’s and I would have expected that the PACK would at least include the retainer pieces as they would have been on a parts tree anyway.
FROM BOX TO BACKYARD
Assembly only requires the installation of the electronics of your choice and mounting the body, wheels and tires. For electronics I chose a GoolRC 35t brushed motor paired to an Axial AE-2 speed control, a generic Amazon 25kg servo powered by a Castle Creations 10a BEC and a Radiolink R6F receiver (to bind to my RC4G radio). I chose these components to 1. provide the most performance-per-dollar for this inexpensive chassis and 2. Use some of the extra electronics gear I had lying around. For lighting I am using the Yeah Racing Dark Drifter light kit that includes white, blue, red and amber LED’s and affords the ability to switch between different flashing modes. To retain those LED’s I used a bit of hot glue; not the most scale way of doing it but it keeps them in place while still being removable in case I want to change things up down the road.
Before running the truck I took off the diff and portal covers, disassembled the transfer case and transmission to apply a light coating of waterproof grease before reassembly. The stock gears had some lubricant on them but I prefer to use my own grease just to be sure. I use Lucas Oil Red-N-Tacky for all of my vehicles, in case you were wondering.
To make the truck a representation of Dad’s full scale SR5 I chose the aforementioned Pro-Line Toyota SR5, the Classic interior set, Pro-Line’s 1.9” BFGoodrich All Terrain KO2 tires wrapped around the 1.9” Denali beadlock wheels. Before mounting the tires I painted the wheels a brushed aluminum color that is buried under five coats of matte clear for protection. Mounting a 12.3” body to the PACK requires setting the links to their shortest setting. This is the first hurdle that I came across as the links fit extremely tight in the center skid. I had to clearance this area slightly to get the links to slide into their home. The second hurdle was to get the body sitting correctly. Mounting a pickup body to the Gen8 requires a few modifications to the rear shock tower to prevent it (and the shocks themselves) from poking through the bed. This is fine if you are building a truggy or if you like the look of the shocks being on display but Dad’s truck didn’t have shocks in the bed and neither would this one. I have a second article outlining how I did this but the quick version is that the shocks were lowered by .5” and the shock tower was cut down and moved forward by 1.5”. This kept the same amount of rear travel but keeps the shocks lower and out of the way.
FIRST DRIVE AND TESTING
For the first outing I wanted to take things easy and drove the truck around the yard. My yard is large and has quite a few obstacles to play on so it wasn’t a boring drive but I still didn’t want to risk scratching the fresh Pearl Black paint just yet. The amount of torque the Gen8 has is impressive. I geared the truck with a 20t pinion and didn’t find a situation where I needed more torque or low-end control. With the front mounted motor and servo the truck climbs very well and as long as the center of the axle doesn’t get caught on anything the truck will pull itself of up most terrain. I did notice a little axle movement when the front end articulated over larger rocks; the pan hard isn’t on the exact plane as the steering link so it is expected that things will move around slightly. The stock aluminum shocks are nice, they are easy to adjust, perform quite well out of the box and have not leaked a drop. For this build I am using a Turnigy 2200mAh 2s pack for its small size and light weight and from fully charged to LVC I had logged 32 minutes of crawl time. The drivetrain is stout yet efficient and I didn’t notice any binding, clicking or signs of slipping during any of my tests. Overall the truck did everything I asked of it and that was a good starting point for me.
For the next few runs I chose to try a multitude of different obstacles; water, loose dirt, mud, and smooth rock were all at my disposal so why not? Running through the stream on my property was no challenge for the PACK and after pulling the diff covers there were no signs of water intrusion. At no point did I get in water over the frame rails so I didn’t pull the transfer case or transmission apart to check them. The bank around the creek was a muddy mess creating a unique challenge for the PACK. The Pro-Line BFG’s don’t clean out as quickly as a tire with larger lug spacing but would still allow the truck to pull itself up the smooth side of the incline with little issue. It was a little heart-breaking to see the body that dirty knowing that it was going to scratch once cleaned but I knew this going into testing; the truck wasn’t built as a shelf queen after all! As for the loose dirt and smooth rock, the truck wasn’t fazed at all. Up and into the wife’s flower beds the truck went, across the soft potting soil and back over the landscape timbers, all with no discernable wheel spin. A quick brushing of the dirt removed the tire tracks and it was as if I had never been there (hopefully she doesn’t read this part).
For the second outing I took the truck to a (somewhat) local park that has some beautiful scenery as well as a lot of random rock formations to play on. The park being located next to a creek set the stage for a picturesque afternoon of small scale shenanigans. The PACK is competent when tasked with navigating tight situations. The truck has impressive steering angle and can be squeezed through some very tight gates. The Pro-Line BFG’s gripped tenaciously on the textured rock and at no point did they slip, even when side-hilling at steeper angles. The only negative I experienced during my testing was with the “belly bump” that hangs below the transfer case. Raising the transfer case by a few millimeters would eliminate the need for the bump without sacrificing much in the way of center-of-gravity. The bump is minimal but does seem to catch on rocks and roots with alarming regularity. The new AXE version of the Gen8 solves this issue with a new center skid so that is on the short list of upgrades for me in the near future.
The suspension has an copious amount of travel without getting itself in a bind. The total amount of articulation is the same as the height of one tire (at least on my setup with 4.19” tires) so the truck can handle larger rocks without becoming unsettled. The PACK impressed me the most with its break-over ability. One particularly large rock required the truck to go over one wheel at a time, at a 45 degree angle. For most vehicles this would cause the nose to drop suddenly when the second front tire reached the apex of the climb but the PACK settled quickly and allowed the first tire to begin to drop as soon as it had cleared the top edge of the rock. Each tire made its way up and over the “ridge” and, much to my surprise, did so with no effort on my part. Having a slightly wider track thanks to the portal boxes, the Gen8 is very stable in off-camber situations and didn’t do anything unexpected during the entire run. As the sun was setting for the day I turned on the light kit and ran out the last of the battery lit by the glow of the six bright LED’s.
-Includes many upgrades not seen on other trucks at this price point
-Portals are holding up well after 20+ hours of use
-Adjustable wheelbase is a nice feature
-Climbs and side-hills like a champ
-Receiver box could use some work. It is difficult to bundle the wires and then install the lid. Current design isn’t the most water resistant either.
-The “belly bump”
-Steering link and pan hard rod need to be on the same plane to eliminate bump steer
-Wish it included the LED retainers in the box
-Center skid needed a little filing before moving lower links into shorter wheelbase configuration.
-May require modifications to mount pickup-style bodies
Overall, I really enjoy driving this truck. It performs quite well, not just for an inexpensive entry into the world of scaling, but as a competitor for anything in its class. It has more steering than most of the competition and enough suspension to get you over most any obstacle without getting you into trouble in the process. The final assembly is simple and straightforward and the inclusion of upgraded alloy parts was a nice surprise. The truck has very few shortcomings, each of which are fairly simple fixes, but those issues are far outweighed by the performance and quality of this rig. I have to admit, my experience with some of the other offerings from Redcat Racing in the past were not great and I wasn’t expecting much from this truck. They have had a reputation of being lower-priced-but-lower-quality than their competitors in the past but the Gen8 is a turning point for the company in my opinion. If Redcat can build their future releases to the level of the Gen8 they will be a major player in the RC industry. I would recommend the Gen8 PACK to anyone looking to try scale RC crawling for the first time or that is looking for a new ride to customize and make their own, it is a solid machine and well worth the price of admission.
Redcat Racing Gen8 PACK https://www.redcatracing.com/products/gen8-pack?variant=30993847189594
Pro-Line Toyota SR5 Body https://www.prolineracing.com/bodies/1985-toyota-hilux-sr5-clear-body-cab-bed.asp
Pro-Line BFGoodrich 1.9″ All Terrain KO2 Tires https://www.prolineracing.com/tires/bfgoodrich-all-terrain-ko2-1-9-g8-rock-terrain-truck-tires.asp
Pro-Line Denali 1.9″ Beadlock Wheels https://www.prolineracing.com/wheels/denali-1.9-black-black-bead-loc-8-spoke-front-or-rear-wheels.asp
Pro-Line Classic Interior https://www.prolineracing.com/bodies/classic-interior-clear.asp