Axial Jeep Wrangler Wraith Poison Spyder Review

jeepwraith10

FAST FACTS
Price: $400
Top Speed: 12 mph
Hot
> Great scale realism and patterned after the full-size Poison Spyder racer

> 2.4 GHz radio system and metal-gear servo
> Wide AR60 axles
> Versatile design–slow on rocks or fast on dirt 
Not
> Battery connector access is a little tricky to change packs

> Slipper adjustment is not quick field maintenance friendly
> Front steering links a little sloppy after broken in on a few runs

The Wraith Gets a Hot New Look And All New Shoes

The Axial Jeep Wrangler Wraith Poison Spyder Rock Racer. That’s a mouthful. A lot of us, by now, have mostly started calling it the Jeep Wraith or Poison Spyder Wraith. Either way, it’s the “rock racer” part of the title–rather than “rock crawler”–that sets this and the traditional Wraith apart from most other scale RCs. The platform was built not just for slow and steady rock crawling, but high speed performance on a variety of terrain. Along with the cool looks, this versatility is often what draws people in who are on the fence about the whole crawling thing. Well, all of that may be old news if you’re one of the many people already familiar with the Wraith, so let me show you what is new (Hint: it’s the body, tires and wheels). And, if you do happen to not be in the know when it comes to this platform, I have a complete rundown of all of its features.

HIGHLIGHTS
> Fully assembled 1/10-scale ready-to-run
> Officially licensed Jeep Wrangler body
> AR60 OCP axles
> BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX Tires
> Three-piece Trail-R ady Beadlock wheels
> 13.98-inch wheelbase
> WB8 Wild Boar drive shafts
> 4-link suspension with double shear mounts
> AX-3 2.4 GHz radio system
> AE-2 speed control (Castle Creations built)
> 20-turn brushed motor
> Waterproof receiver box
> Slipper clutch
> Threaded plastic body shocks
> Licensed Jeep Wrangler body in Poison Spyder motif
> All hex hardware
> Full tube Frame composite plastic chassis
*New items in green

FEATURES
Chassis
The Wraith platform is a “scaler,” but instead of being modeled after a full-size production vehicle, it’s a scale representation of custom tube-framed off-roader. The multi-piece chassis is molded from composite plastic and, overall, is very rugged in its fully tubed frame design. The chassis consists of two main side pieces and a number of small sections that complete the frame work. Items like the front bumper and braces are relatively easy to replace. The layout of the chassis itself is exactly the same as on the traditional Wraith. The battery tray is located in the rear and the waterproof receiver box and speed control are up front. Despite the cramped space around the chassis, Axial has left a fair amount of room for additional accessories like light kits and even enough space for a winch if you have some fabrication (nothing too hardcore) skills. There is also enough room up under the hood to place a standard-sized battery pack. Incorporated into the tube frame are multiple points of mounting the shocks to change the angle and tune handling.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Wraith chassis is modeled after the Night Stalker II full-size chassis built by Jake Hallenbeck. Jake is the owner of CKRC Crawlers in Reno, NV. If you’re into RC rock crawling, you may have known all of that, but this is a Did You Know? two-for-one. The CK in CKRC stands for Canyon Krawlers, which is Jake’s full-size rock crawling company. Besides participating in many RC events, Jake has run in numerous full-size competitions.

front suspension

Suspension
The well designed triangulated 4-link design and its inherent flexibility enables the Wraith platform to climb and conquer some pretty serious terrain with relative ease. This design was found to have  controllable articulation. More to the point, there is a good amount of articulation, but it’s kept under control and not all loosey goosey. Bottom line is it’s much better in design than the 3-link design we’ve seen used. The axle mounted shock and lower link mounts are flipped on this version of the Wraith, which lowers it a few millimeters.

rear suspension

As is modus operandi on Axial’s RTR vehicles, the links are a solid one-piece molded plastic with the ball ends incorporated into the link itself. Plastic balls inserts are captured at the end of the links. The plastic threaded shocks are nice to find on a RTR and feature quick in-the-field tuning ability. Among plenty of other options, Axial offers aluminum links, aluminum lower link/shock mounts, aluminum shocks and sway bars.

front axle front drivetrain

Drivetrain
Starting from the middle and working our way out to the axles. The Jeep Wraith has an adjustable slipper clutch on the center 3-gear transmission. The transmission with its internal vertically stacked three gears is pretty the same thing you’ll find in a 1/10-scale 2WD buggy, 2WD stadium truck or 2WD short course truck. The only real difference is that the Wraith transmission has no center differential. Well, another point of difference is the Wraith case incorporates a modified housing to allow for an optional dig unit. In the rock crawling/off-roading segment, traction and torque are critical. Making a spur gear assembly fully adjustable is a great tuning feature. Unfortunately, because of the interior, it does make doing this out on the rocks a bit of a pain. Wrenching at home on the bench or in the pits is where this would likely be performed. Sending the power to the axles are the WB8 Wild Boar drive shafts. These shafts can take a real beating. At either end, you will find Axial AR60 axles which are used, not only on the Wraith platform, but with the Ridgecrest too. These are tough axles and very easy to perform regular maintance on.

DID YOU KNOW?
Axial once offered a Baja Buzzard version of the AX10 Scorpion. It had an open from differential, 27-turn motor (at the time everyone was running 55-turn motors) and Axial’s Baja Buzzard body. The open diff, peppy motor and race-inspired body showed that Axial knew people wanted more than just go-slow crawling. It was a full RTR. Besides interesting, it’s relevant because it’s with this vehicle that the seeds for a Wraith were being planted. Axial also offered an ARTR (Almost Ready To Run) AX10 Scorpion XC-1 that was geared more towards the crowd interested in technical rock crawling and comps. The first AX10 Scorpion was a kit that had a generic pickup body that was reminiscent of an old Dodge Power Wagon.

radio

Electronics
The Jeep Wraith is equipped with Axial’s 2.4 GHz AX-3 radio transmitter and the AR-3 receiver. If you are unaware, 2.4 GHz is the latest technology used for RC radio systems. Besides not needing long antennas (that often bend or break), 2.4 GHz eliminates the concern about sharing channels and interference. The inclusion of 2.4 GHz may be becoming more and more of the standard, but we are still very happy to see it. While the transmitter is a 2-channel unit, the receiver has three channels.

The power to the wheels is controlled by the AE-2 brushed speed control that is manufactured by Castle Creations. The speed control features programmable drag brakes, which are nice on steep uphills and downhills as the drag brakes help keep the vehicle from rolling on its own. The speed control has a LiPo cutoff as well and is programmable with the Castle Link, which is sold separately.

The included motor is a simple sealed brushed motor. Axial specs a 20-turn for the Wraith which gives it some solid pep. Axial points out that going to a bigger 550sized motor is doable. There are also, of course, a huge variety of 540-sized motors to choose from.

The steering servo is Axial’s As-2 metal gear model that is rated at 130 oz-in of torque.

DID YOU KNOW?
The original Axial Wraith was released in 2011. The movie The Wraith was released in 1986 and stars Charlie Sheen and a Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor concept car. The old flick is worth watching if you missed it and, well, the rest of the ’80s.

axial jeep wraith 1

 

tire back of wheel back 2

Tires, Wheels & Body
The Jeep Wraith comes with licensed BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX tires. Similar to the real tires (really similar, in fact), these tires are aggressive in looks and performance. The tires come stock in Axial’s S40 compound. However, Axial does offer these tires in its softer and stickier R35 compound. In the center of it all are Trail Ready HD Series beadlock wheels, and this setup is pretty cool. The wheels are easy to work with and they will accommodate most 2.2 tires. The really cool IFD (Interchangeable Face Design) wheel system makes it easy to change things up for different preferences and upgrades later on. The wheels also allow you to choose how much wheel venting you want by rotating the inner bead lock ring. The interchangeable hub adapter hub is licensed from Vanquish. Axial offers different width spacers. The narrow spacers are included, but you can easily widen the stance of the Wraith with wider spacers that bolt right on. Also a very nice touch and attention to detail are the serrated wheel nuts that help provide plenty of assurance to your rig and helps keep your wheel nuts secured while on the trails and mounds of rocks. Anodized blue they help tie in the whole look of the new poison spider Wraith.

The two-piece body design features pretty easy body removal. In many cases you really only need to remove the main body section for maintenance. The roof panel doesn’t need to be removed all the time. Six hex screws secure the main body section and five screws secure the roof section. Axial has had licensing on the Jeep nameplate before and resumes on this Wraith platform with officially licensed Poison Spyder graphics.

jeepwraith1

PERFORMANCE
Taking this rig out on the rocks–and whatever else I could find–was something I was really looking forward to. Can you blame me? I have a lot of wheel time with the Ridgecrest and the SCX10 Jeep Wrangler, but I was interested to see how the rock racer would perform–especially with the new tires and wheels. While it’s a bit of a spoiler, this Wraith did perform how I expected it to. This setup from Axial yet again delivers. It handled itself quite well.

DID YOU KNOW?
Poison Spyder was originally founded by Clifton Slay who built the business up to be one of the best known and well respected “mom and pop” rock crawling businesses, but eventually closed up shop in 2008. Larry McRae bought business in 2009. You may have noticed that Larry is the driver of the full-size racer that the Axial model is a replica of. He isn’t behind the wheel just because he owns the business. Larry is one of the winningest rock crawlers of all time.

The BFGoodrich meats performed as well as can be expected for stock tires. Getting into a softer compound would be better, of course, but the stock tires really only start spinning and slipping on tough vertical rock climbs. They’re firm, but not hard. Terrain and demand on the open rocks can differ from area to area and finding a good all around compound that works for you is part of the game. For a RTR, these tires are pretty good. Working the truck over tough obstacles challenged my driving and the Wraith. Meaning I was having some fun. Often, just when I thought I’d lose it, the rig always seems to be well planted and ready to keep rolling over the rocks. At full throttle cruising or on a slow side hill, it’s wide stance was helpful in keeping it on all four wheels. The rather long wheelbase was also found to be beneficial because it’s less likely to tip over backwards and the stretched out stance helps it reach for traction.

jeepwraith7

Off the rocks and on the trails, the Wraith Jeep had some decent top end speed for a vehicle that still technically falls in the crawler segment. I had just as much fun off the rocks as I did on. I was juggling between running a few sport 2000 mAh packs and  a 3500 mAh battery. Even without a high capacity LiPo, the run time was satisfactory.

During all of my testing, thus far nothing has broken, but it’s fair to mention that the front steering link is a little loose. This doesn’t seem to impact performance or show in use, but you can see the difference on the bench.

front

FINAL ASSESSMENT
I’ve heard a lot of feedback on this RTR release ever since was first announced. Some might think it’s just another Wraith, and on some levels I agree, but more so, I like that Axial is offering more variety. I say bring it on! Let’s see some more Wraiths. How about a southern rock bouncer? On this one, the licensed body and realistic (and functional ) design of wheel and tire package, make the vehicle a real solid addition to the platform. On a different note, the value of this RTR is hard to beat, and it’s no wonder, as when it comes to crawlers, Axial has, once again, done its homework, listened to their audience and given them a lot of bang for the buck. The options for this version of the Wraith are the same as is its stablemate and many aftermarket companies offer up a wide variety of different upgrades for the Wraith, so it’s pretty easy to make your rig more one of a kind. To sum it all up, this is one of those vehicles that is eye-cathcing cool (You had me at hello, bright blue Poison Spyder Wraith) and it only gets better when you run it.

Links
Axial Racing
Castle Creations 

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Filed Under: FeaturedReviewsRock Crawlers and Scale

Christopher Oswald About the Author:

Christopher is our Senior Editor and a professional automotive technician by trade, he has been a RC enthusiast for over 20 years and has hobby store experience under his belt. He has closed off many racing seasons with top podium finishes. His favorite is the Canadian National Championship series. He resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Good old fashioned competitive racing, scale crawling and some Sunday afternoon parking lot bashing is just some of his favorite ways to enjoy RC. When he isn’t writing, racing or bashing, Christopher spends his time with his wife and kids. Christopher also finds time to contribute other articles and RC tech on a variety of topics around the web. Christopher has his own personal RC project showcase website “R/C Modz Full Throttle” where you can find some of his own personal custom rigs.

You can also follow Christopher on Twitter for up-to-date project’s and review notifications at @RCTrkStp_Chris If you ever have any questions or comments, email Christopher at rctruckstopchris@gmail.com

RSSComments (8)

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  1. Chris Marsh says:

    Great Job Chris!!!!

  2. Thanks Chris, Its a real team effort to bring a review like this to the table. I enjoyed the latest platform of the Wraith and I know others in the Wraith type market will too.

  3. JatoTheRipper says:

    Nice review! I’m really on the fence about getting a Wraith kit or RTR. I wish the kit included these cool and unique beadlock wheels. Either a Wraith or GMade Sawback will be my next RC. I know they’re completely different, but they’ll both compliment my SCX10.

    • Matt Higgins Matt Higgins says:

      I’d go Wraith as it will give a better variety in your stable as the Sawback isn’t all that different than the SCX10

      • I agree with Matt, the Sawback is cool and Gmade did a great job. I got the Ridgecrest first, first Axial rig I’ve ever owned. Drove it and fell in love. Im a hardcore Tamiya guy but appreciate a good thing when I see it. Then when I got the SCX10. Thats a cool and versitile rig …. then came the Poison Spider Wraith. I didn’t mind the Ridgecrest, it is fun to bash with all around. Its good and universal that way…… after driving my SCX10 for a while, once I got behind the Wrait, the driving experience was so different and so much fun. The SCX10 and a wraith in anyone’s RC collection makes for the best of both worlds. Not to mention Axial has the leading edge in parts support and stock manufacture durability.

  4. Sara Church says:

    Is there someone that can help with the programming for the Wraith Wrangler? I bought it for my husband and he hasn’t even been able to use it yet because he can’t figure out how to program it??

    Sara

  5. Rod says:

    Hey Chris,

    What a great write up! Thank you for giving us your insights, and observations. As I am thinking of getting either the Wraith or this PS, this review definitely helps on my decision to obtain the PS.

    cheers!
    Rod

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