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The Icons of Monster Trucks

Electric monster trucks! They’re cool–that’s for sure. But when I say those words, what immediately pops into your head? Your answer most likely depends on what RC generation you’re from. It could be argued that the 80’s and early 90’s is the most significant era of this class. Back then, the two big name, Tamiya and Kyosho were the heavy hitters in the hobby as far as electric monster trucks. I’m talking about the Tamiya Clod Buster and Kyosho USA-1.

TAMIYA CLOD BUSTER
The Clod Buster was released September 21, 1987. It had four-wheel steering, twin 540 motors, along with the biggest monster tires for a 1/10-scale model. It quickly became one of Tamiya’s most popular and longest running kits. The Clod Buster and its related models kicked an entire aftermarket industry in full gear. Dozens of companies churned out modifications that improved performance and durability. The truck’s body was a highly detailed replica of the Chevrolet pickup truck. The current “Super Clod Buster” has a different grille and tailgate that makes no reference to Chevrolet due to expired licensing. The aftermarket world for the Clod Buster is so large that, even today, it is possible to build one entirely of aftermarket parts with no original Tamiya parts whatsoever. But, what’s the fun in that?

Tamiya Clod Buster

Scale: 1/10

Avg. price: $229

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 10.63 inches (280mm)

Weight:

8.60 lbs. (3,900g)

Chassis:

Type: Tub

Material:ABS

Drivetrain:

Type: Dual gearbox

Differentials: Bevel gear

Drive shafts: Metal dog bone

Bearings/Bushing: Bushings

Motors: Dual 540 27-turn Mabuchi

Suspension:

Solid Axle dual Linked with eight plastic coil-over friction shocks


KYOSHO USA-1
The main competitor to the Clod Buster was the Kyosho USA-1 which was released a few years later. It had some of the same design elements as Tamiya’s Clod Buster, but featured some modern improvements. It too sported a Chevrolet style body, but it was made from Lexan with plastic parts to add some realism.  The biggest difference was independent suspension–as apposed to the solid axle Clod Buster. Both trucks had 4x4x4 (4-wheel drive with 4-wheel steering). The USA-1 did not sell as well as its rival, but the introduction of a challenger to the Clod spurred the move to improve the technology of monster truck segment. Today, these trucks are regarded in the hobby as pioneers. Without the Clod and USA-1 we wouldn’t have the monster trucks of today. Aftermarket support for the USA-1 wasn’t as strong as the Clod, some had tried but didn’t make it. The longest running upgrade for the USA-1 was the “Sassy-Chassis” upgrade. Totally changed the stance and performance of the stock USA-1 and set the competitive bar a little more level to the clod with the ever popular ESP Racing chassis and parts available for the clod buster.  A lot of the upgrades died with the USA-1 disconnection.

On a non-electric related note, Kyosho did have one upper hand on Tamiya for many years in the nitro monster truck category. The Nitro Crusher USA-1. It was based off a 1/8scale buggy platform and, as such, didn’t have 4WS. It was 4×4 and had eight shocks. Back then, than was enough.

Kyohso USA-1

Scale: 1/10

Avg. price: $219

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 10.24 inches (260mm)

Weight:

9.8Lbs. (4,445g)

Chassis:

Type: Tub

Material: ABS

Drivetrain:

Type: Dual gear boxes

Differentials: Bevel Gear
Drive shafts: Plastic dog bone

Bearings/Bushing: Bushings

Motors: Duel Magnetic Mayhem 14-turn modified

Suspension:

Independent with eight plastic coil-over friction shocks

TAMIYA JUGGERNAUT
The rivalry continued throughout the late 90’s with the Tamiya Clod Buster leading the way in its own category. Tamiya fans were excited when The Tamiya Juggernaut was released in early 1999. The Juggernaut was built with a Ford license. The body was made of hard plastic just like the Clod Buster. Tamiya’s hard bodies have always been favored with the scale crowd for the attention to detail. The only draw backs to the hard bodies are weight and that they are more susceptible to damage.  The Juggernaut was an attempt to create a true monster truck and was bigger than any previously attempted. It too was 4WS, and 4×4. The body was cool, it was solid axle, and had cool drive shafts. For many hardcore enthusiasts, the Tamiya Juggernaut 1 remains as one of the biggest failures in Tamiya’s history. Many blame rushed production, and not enough product testing. I too truly believe this to be the case. The Juggernaut 1 featured two nicely designed rigid axles, but unlike the Clod Buster which had its motors mounted on the axles, two motors were located in the central gear box in tandem. More power and scale realism seemed to be the thought. The central gear box had weak idle shaft support dowels. Causing the gears to literally skip over each other under high load and make an infamously awful noise. There were two heavy duty universal shafts connected to front and rear axles. Its massive weight of 4.5 kg, combined with the incorrect low gear ratios destroyed the bevel gears in the upper section of the axles in just a few battery packs. Most owners like me were very disappointed and at that time Tamiya didn’t have a fix right away, so a lot of us had $600.00 paper weights to look at. A year later–which felt like an eternity–Tamiya revised many parts. The bevel gears in the axles received reinforcements and were larger. They offered more ball bearings and lower gear ratios. The center transmission had better case bracing and had better support for the internal gears. The Juggernaut 2 would be later born and update kits were shipped out via hobby stores to Juggernaut 1 owners for a limited time at no charge. I got my rebuild kit, and it was a lot better. Tamiya sent out a new set of axle housings with new upper drivetrain hardware as well as new bearings and a center transmission case housing. I thought it was pretty good from there. Tamiya sales of the Juggernaut 2 were slow and almost stopped, and Tamiya discontinued the Juggernaut 2 almost as fast as it was released.

The Juggernaut 2 has been gone for many years but with fan and enthusiast support some hope to see it back some day. To show your support for the epic model to return, check out the Facebook Fan Page.

Tamiya Juggernaut

Scale: 1/10

Avg. price: $339

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 11.02in (280mm)

Width: 14.75in (375mm)

Weight:

11.06lbs. (5,024g)

Chassis:

Type: Ladder

Material: Aluminum/ABS

Drivetrain:

Type: Shaft

Primary: Pinion/Spur

Driveshaft: Telescoping Universal Joint

Differentials: Metal Bevel Gear

Bearings/Bushing: Both

Motors: Dual 540 27-turn Mabuchi

Suspension:

Solid axle 4-link with Leaf Spring eight plastic coil-over friction shocks

TAMIYA TXT-1
What was next for Tamiya? The TXT-1 was released in 2002. The axles and transmission and gears are almost entirely identical to Juggernaut 2. With the TXT-1, Tamiya engineers shifted attention from simply building a massive monster truck to building a very capable truck. This truck was designed as a factory response to aftermarket Clod Buster upgrades. 4WD and cantilever multi-link suspension allowed for the axles to articulate and featured similar aspects as seen in third party kits such as the ESP Clodzilla series. The drive shafts were the biggest appealing feature to the Juggernaut and TXT-1 for realism. The TXT-1 did, however, have one servo to steer the front wheels only. As an option, the rear axle could also mount a servo allowing all four wheels to steer. Tamiya couldn’t sell you the name Juggernaut anyone. So with a few upgrades and chassis developments they gave us the Tamiya TXT-1. It has the DNA of a Juggernaut 2, but was certainly a whole new kit.

Tamiya TXT-1

Scale: 1/10

Avg. price: $354

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 11.02in (280mm)

Width: 14.75in (375mm)

Weight (Gross-stock):

11.06lbs. (5,024g)

Chassis

Type: Twin Vertical plates

Material: Aluminum

Drivetrain:

Type: Shaft

Primary: Pinion/Spur

Driveshaft: Telescoping Universal Joint

Differentials: Metal Bevel Gear

Bearings/Bushing: Both

Motors: Dual 540 27-turn Mabuchi

Suspension:

Solid Axle 4-link with Cantilevers and four fluid-filled shocks

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27 Comments

  1. Hi, great article I just met Matt this weekend at Bridgeport,CT. I have been building custom clods for 11 years starting at age 7. but the last 4 years I have gone all out, I now show and run the trucks at monsterjam shows and other local events in CT. All these trucks will be famous for decades too come. You can see my work on http://www.youtube.com type in MHB2EAGLE1

  2. Good article I bid on a Juggernaut body on ebay the other day even came with decals still in the bag got it for 100.00 dollars some of the chrome is peeling off of it other than that its in good shape the reason I’m here is I wanted to know what era it was built in I’ve mounted it on a high-lift F350 frame from 2006 so needless to say it’s an old body its a shelf queen as I type It’s the only Tamiya I have so unless the they come with a reproduction it’s staying on the self

  3. I’d like to add that Tamiya did not give out the parts to fix the Juggernaut design flaws. Instead they wanted $35.00 to fix your $600.00 paperweight. I was furious and traded off my Jugg. I also did not buy another Tamiya model for 5 years. I refused to give them another dime for a long while.

  4. Its odd that some hobby stores and Tamiya charged for the upgrades, because many of us in Canada did receive them at no cost, but that may have been for a limited time. I too wish I still had my Juggernaut. It was a kick ass truck.

    1. The Jugg to Jugg2 upgrade kits could be received free of cost during a certain time period. After the time was up and they had given out more upgrade kits than Jugg’s were sold, they offered them for sale to anyone else. It was advertised at the time the Jugg 1 was discontinued and Jugg 2 was released. All you had to do was call Tamiya’s 800# in the USA.

  5. Im sure we would all like to see a Brand New Model from Tamiya but as long as they keep making parts for it the Clod will live on…I wish Tamiya would make parts for the TXT again, axles, gearcases…etc

  6. Hey Chris!

    Great article! From my stance, this article fills me in on what I am missing as I had a CLODBUSTER, and now a SUPERCLODBUSTER and none of the others. The only modification Tamiya made on the truck (although now they come with elec-speed controls), is that they re-enforced the frame where four main mounts are for the axles.

    The two I really wanted were the JUGGERNAUT and the TXT-1. The TXT-1 is expensive; especially if you want to run dual servos for the steering. The Juggernaut was a disappointment…with some more research and development, that thing could have really been a great machine.

    After all is said and done, I think a CLODBUSTER with bearings and an electric speed control is the way to go… charge it up and run through the yard and have fun… and when your done, it goes on the shelf and waits patiently for another run.

    Now, Tamiya re-released the BULLHEAD. Yeah, it is practically a CLODBUSTER; but as a truck-driver, I think I just might have to save-up and get one!

  7. A mint USA-1 is worth a pretty penny to the right collector. Happy to hear that there are sill some out there in great factory shape. Chris, you should post up a photo of it on our facebook wall. https://www.facebook.com/RCTruckStop or by all means, you can shoot us an email. id love to see it, and thank you for checking out the site. We hope you like it.

    1. i have a usa-1 monster truck i would like to sell would you or anybody be interested in it it needs a few small parts but it all there. it is all stock

  8. I have started building the Tamiya Juggernaut 2. To my disappointment, some parts were missing, like the thinner plastic piece that holds the ball on and connects to the damper. is there anyway to get parts for this anymore?

    1. Hello Casey, thanks for checking out the article.
      As I’m sure you are well aware, The Juggernaut 2 has been disconnected for some time. Parts are indeed hard to come by. The TXT-1 shares some parts, but not the damper part your referring to. I might suggest taking the part number from the manual and searching online hobby outlets, they may have old stock. Online auction websites are also an option and last but not least, you can try contacting Tamiya direct. You may have better luck with word of mouth with forums and selling/buying pages groups on social media. Once you put out a request in one of these types of groups, you might be surprised how many people maybe able to assist in the search for you.

      Hope this helps, please send us picture when it’s finished, we always like seeing readers builds.

  9. Great article! I bought a USA-1 NIB and built it in the mid 90’s instead of the Clod based on the comparison article in RCCA bitd the day that favored the USA-1 because it was quicker and more nimble than the Clod. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with it’s weak stock steering so eventually sold it in 2007 in favor of the TXT-1 which is an awesome truck that I still have and will never get rid of. That said, I recently started missing my USA-1 so I picked one up from Ebay in very good condition that I’ll use as a runner.

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