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Traxxas 1/16 Grave Digger Monster Jam Replica Review

All of the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam trucks and drivers have passionate followers, but the top truck–the mightiest of the monsters–is none other than the legendary Grave Digger. Everyone loves Grave Digger, so there are likely going to be quite a few stoked fans out there when they learn that the fun doesn’t have to end when the show is over. Traxxas–the official hobby-grade RC of Monster Jam–has the hook up for all of those potential RC’ers filling the stands in the form of a 1/16-scale version Dennis Anderson’s mean machine that is both potent and portable. If you’re already into RC, you’ll probably quickly recognize that the 1/16 Grave Digger Monster Jam Replica shares the same platform as Traxxas’ other 1/16-scale vehicles. This means it’s a proven platform and there are a lot of hop-ups already available. You may have also have heard that this version is 2WD. Keep reading to see if this truck lives up to the Grave Digger legend.

DID YOU KNOW?
Dennis Anderson’s Grave Digger was originally a mud racer. In 1982, the Grave Digger name came from Dennis stating the truck (then a primer red pickup) would dig the graves of his competitors after they joked about his mismatched creation. The now famous Grave Digger paint scheme debuted in 1985.

HIGHLIGHTS
> Fully licensed Grave Digger body

> 1/16-scale

> 2WD (upgradable to 4WD)

> 550-sized brushed motor

> Waterproof electronics

> AM radio system

> Fully assembled

> Independent suspension with cantilevers and inboard shocks

> Includes battery and wall charger

> Backpack carrying case

> $209.99 (price varies)

DID YOU KNOW?
Dennis Anderson’s sons, Adam and Ryan, also drive monster trucks. They pilot Grave Digger The Legend and Son-uva Digger, respectively. Adam won the Freestyle World Championship in 2008 at the age of 22. He is the youngest driver to ever win the award, and Ryan was Rookie of the Year in 2010.

FEATURES

 

Chassis
The Grave Digger uses a molded composite plastic chassis, and the design is noticeably sophisticated with side pods battery compartment and a center spine section with tabs on the end for the drivetrain and suspension to bolt to. It is essentially a 1/16-scale version of the E-Revo chassis design. The chassis is a modular design concept that is used by the whole Revo family. The drivetrain is well protected as is the battery (or batteries, but more on that later) and the inboard suspension system. The underside is smooth to allow bashing over all sorts of terrain.

DID YOU KNOW?
The real Grave Digger’s elaborate tube frame chassis is welded out of mild steel which is used because the material will have some flex or give and help preserve the equipment. The frame wasn’t painted in the trademark green until 1992. From start to finish, the Grave Digger team can make an entire truck in less than two weeks. 

Suspension
The suspension used on the Grave Digger is more like a F1 car than an Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam truck. That doesn’t mean it’s some low-slung track machine with no off-road capability. Just the opposite. The Grave Digger can go off-road and it has plenty of ground clearance. The suspension, however, features progressive cantilevers and inboard fluid-filled shocks. The shocks have plastic threaded bodies and all of the links (suspension push rods and steering links) are fixed length. Because the suspension arms feature pivot balls, camber is easily adjustable and track width can also be adjusted.

DID YOU KNOW?
Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is a product of Feld Motor Sports, and Feld Motor Sports is also the name behind the famous Monster Energy AMA Supercross series with top racers such as James “Bubba” Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed currently competing.

Drivetrain
Besides the whole Grave Digger scheme, the biggest departure this truck takes from the other Traxxas 1/16-scale machines is that it is 2WD. It is fully upgradeable to 4WD. The center transmission is the same as Traxxas’ 1/16-scale models and features a machined aluminum motor plate and a cast aluminum motor mount that is finned to help dissipate heat. The rear differential is of the gear variety (it can be tuned with silicone fluid) and gears are made out of hardened steel. The axles are Traxxas trademark plastic sliders, and the entire drivetrain spins on ball bearings.

Electronics
Traxxas’ blue electronics stand out, and they are said blue color to identify them as waterproof. This means wet grass, mud, snow, etc are no longer off limits. The AM receiver is protected in a sealed box, so you could even run your Traxxas vehicle completely underwater. Be warned that while Traxxas has solved the water and electronics don’t mix problem, metal still rusts, so any wet condition excursions will require post-run maintenance in the form of cleaning and drying. The speed control included is the XL-2.5 which can handle up to an 8-cell or 9.6V setup, but you’ll need to upgrade the power system if you want to take full advantage of the chassis’ ability to hold two batteries. One of the coolest features of speed control is the Training Mode that limits power for newer users. There’s also a Race Mode that eliminates reverse. The 2080 steering servo is plastic geared and puts out 41.7 oz.-in. of torque.

While the blue speed control and servo stand out, the big 12-turn Titan 550 motor is impossible to miss. Instead of going with a small 380-sized brushed motor, Traxxas went big-block. The 550 delivers the power of a 380 brushless motor but at a lower cost.

To control the Grave Digger, Traxxas includes its simple-but-reliable TQ AM transmitter. The TQ is a no-frills unit, but it is comfortable and reliable. Rounding out the package are the included 6-cell NiMH battery and wall charger.

DID YOU KNOW?
The latest Grave Digger truck built is Grave Digger XXV (25) driven by Gary Porter. Dennis Anderson currently drives Grave Digger XX (20) which was first raced in 2006. Grave Digger XVII (17) isn’t a monster truck at all. It’s a IHRA Pro Mod drag car campaigned by Alan Pittman. Grave Digger VI (6) was a street-legal Truck built on 44-inch tall TSL Super Swampers, and there was never a Grave Digger XIII (13).

 

Tires, Wheels & Body
The Lexan body comes pre-detailed and ready for action. It’s fully licensed and a spot-on replica. The look is achieved via a mix of screen-painted graphics and pre-applied stickers. The tires are all-new and molded to look like real monster truck racing tires. They are pre-glued to the rims, but foam inserts are not used. The rims are molded plastic and also realistic looking. 12mm hexes are used. As an added bonus Traxxas packages the 1/16 Grave Digger in a youth-sized backpack. The backpack can be used to transport the truck or as a school pack.

 

PERFORMANCE
While Traxxas doesn’t label its 1/16-scale fleet as minis, I’ll go on the record as saying the Grave Digger is the mini that doesn’t act like a mini. You see, while RC trucks can be scaled down, terrain can’t. Some minis struggle on the terrain we are accustomed to running bigger RC vehicles on. The Grave Digger doesn’t skip a beat and functions more like a 1/10-scale basher, so maybe this 1/16-scale truck isn’t a mini after all. How does it perform? Well, if you have any reservations because its 2WD and not 4WD, I wouldn’t worry one bit. The Grave Digger is fun. In 2WD, it’s fun. It may be even more fun. I’ll find out because I plan to convert mine to 4WD. I’m making the transformation because I can, not because I feel the 2WD drivetrain is holding the truck back.

The first place I ran the 1/16-scale Grave Digger was in my driveway and around my yard. I was pleased to see the truck had some scoot. I’d say it had more than enough power and speed for the area I was running it–exactly the type of space the vast majority of people will use the Grave Digger. Where there was enough traction, the Grave Digger pulled wheelies and often flipped over onto its roof. Tightening the slipper will increase the wheelie action, but be warned that doing so will subject the drivetrain to more abuse and potentially make the truck harder to drive. After tearing up some pavement, I ran the Grave Digger across some dirt, grass and uneven ground. This is where the Revo-style suspension absolutely shines. The Grave Digger stayed stable and controllable no matter how fast I went over the rough stuff.

Up next was a trip to the skate park for some fun and some durability testing. The fun part was easy. I’ve taken a number of RC vehicles to the skate park and I’ve had fun with everyone of them. I also eventually broke everyone of them. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t experienced failure on every trip to the park, but skate parks are exceptionally tough on equipment and each successful run on the concrete quarter pipe, steps and steel rails just leads to more recklessness on the next trip. To cut to the chase, the 1/16-scale Grave Digger survived the beating. And, it was a beating. More than once I missed a jump and had to watch the truck crash down onto unforgiving pavement from some unfortunate heights.

On a trip to the track to enjoy a little sunny-day racing practice, I busted out the Grave Digger for some extra action video footage. I also let some fellow racers take the wheel to get let them have some fun and get their opinions. Everyone was amazed by the truck’s performance and agreed it was the most fun they had in a while. Out on the track, the 1/16 Grave Digger is about as fast as the average non-boosted 17.5 short course truck. It can clear all the jumps the 17.5 race trucks can and can even keep up with them. That’s just more of a fun fact since this truck isn’t intended for competitive racing.

DID YOU KNOW?
There are sometimes as many as eight Grave Diggers in competition at the same time at different venues around the United States and the world. In addition to Dennis Anderson the following drivers are active on the Grave Digger team: Randy Brown, Pablo Huffaker, Charlie Pauken, Gary Porter, Chad Tingler, Rod Schmidt and Carl Van Horn. 

FINAL ASSESSMENT
I love this truck. Okay, there, I said it. Traxxas has a hit on its hands with this one–especially with the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam fans. I understand that RC enthusiasts will immediately question the lack of 4WD. Trust me, as soon as you actually drive the truck, I highly doubt you’ll care. If you do care, it’s fully upgradable to 4WD. Moving on, the fact that Traxxas speed controls have a Training Mode makes them truly viable for beginners, and the fact that the 550-sized motor gives this truck some real power means the 1/16 Grave Digger will satisfy experienced RC’ers too. I know because I put the truck in my 4-year-old son’s hands, I’ve driven it a lot, my not-so-into-RC wife has piloted the rig and a few of the always-jaded racer types have also had a shot. All drivers have had the same “Wow, that’s fun!” reaction. I do wish it had a 2.4GHz radio system, but only because the long AM antennas are a nuisance compared to the barely-there 2.4GHz antennas. I also don’t have the patience for wall chargers, so I don’t bother with them. It is nice that Traxxas includes one, however. By including the simple charger, someone completely new to RC will only have to buy eight AA batteries to get the Grave Digger up and running–everything else is included.

Hot
> It’s Grave Digger!

> Training Mode is a huge plus for new or young drivers

> The backpack is brilliant

> The big Titan 12-turn 550 motor

Not
> AM radio system means huge metal antenna

 

 

WIN YOUR OWN 1/16 TRAXXAS GRAVE DIGGER

To win simply leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random. A winner will be selected and announced April 2.

 

To learn more about Grave Digger, click here.

 

Links

Traxxas

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam

Grave Digger Official Site

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136 Comments

        1. No, just front steering on the Traxxas models. They are made for speed and four-wheel steering (4WS) doesn’t work well at high speeds. Even the vast majority guys who race monster trucks such as the Tamiya Clod Buster and Tamiya TXT-1 lock out the rear steering.

  1. This is a truck that I am looking forward to picking up soon! Since my oldest son, Alex, and I run the No Limit R/C of PA races, we have all large (1/10+ scale) R/C’s – but my youngest son, Gabe, who has Down Syndrome would LOVE this – it is his size, can be dialed back for his ability, and still be just like his big brother (he calls anything Grave Digger as “Alex Digger Digger” lol). The backpack, while somewhat cheesy for “grown” kids, would be PERFECT for Gabe – as a transport for his truck as well as him representing Monster Jam at school!!!

    While the purist in me always has gone “Hunh?” at making Monster Jam replicas on 2WD chassis (I know, keep the market price down), this is a way to give owners the best of both worlds – low entry price into the hobby, as well as the ability to grow in performance and complexity as appropriate… Good call on Traxxas’ part!

    I also agree on the lack of 2.4 radio, for two reasons – first of all, it increases the likelihood of interference which would not make for a happy beginner – especially considering the low cost of 2.4 radios these days… Secondly, the long antenna on a radio that will be very attractive to younger hobbyists is a recipe for disaster – antennas being put up and down by small, excited hands will more than likely bend\break on a regular basis, and broken antennas mean no running… and from a personal observation, radio antennas make very tempting light sabers or dueling swords with other in the vicinity 🙂

    Hopefully the MINOR things can be addressed in future releases, but it won’t stop me from picking one up for my son, I’ll just throw an inexpensive 2.4 radio in it (actually, it will be the one from my Savage XS, since all my vehicles are combined on DX3 radios…)

  2. This little truck is amazing ! Love the realistic looks and awesome durability. My family loves RC for many reasons, but the main reason is we can do it as a family. At my Brother and sisters we have a Short Course track as well as a Scale/Crawler course. If I could be lucky enough to win this truck, My 4 yr old niece Alayna will be the new proud owner. Dont let the age fool you she can bash with the best of us! My entire family loves RC, and loves making new friends who feel the same, we also love introducing friends and strangers in our favorite hobby. Thank you RC Truck Stop for all your support to the RC Community.Keep up the great work and proud to say Im an RC Addict !Thanks

  3. I have all 1/10 scale r/c trucks including Grave Digger and would love to drive the 1/16 scale. My whole family is into r/c cars, including my wife. The Grave Digger is actually hers

  4. i was just at Anderson RC Saturday, My 7 Yr old had an absolute fit to have it. i told him to keep his grades up , clean his room, and he had to ask Santa 🙂

    from what i could gather by messing with the display truck, it would be neat to have , looks like it will go MOST of the places he takes my scx10

  5. This is one way cool little truck and simply because i love all my traxxas rc i would greatly enjoy this one. I race a slash, bash a slash and stampede, as well as my t-maxx. Traxxas rules and will always be my favorite of all rc’s. just sayin. thank yall and this is awsome to be sure.

  6. nice but if it came in dennis andersons green and silver colors, for the 30th anv. also can the springs be replaced if needed to be.. its nice to be made on the e revo style…. go monster trucks

  7. Hey Matt, nice write up as usual! Aren’t these trucks the reason so many of us got into the hobby in the first place? Now they just drive better, go faster and are more portable. Shouldn’t we all have one in our arsenal of fun!

  8. What’s not to like. IT IS GRAVE DIGGER!!! haha True Monster Jam fans like me just cannot get enough of these Traxxas MJ replicas….too awesome.

    I love the backpack included, how cool is it to have a transport sack come with the truck. Any kid would be the hit of the playground or track strolling in sporting one of these on there back. haha Go from Zero to Hero in minutes..LOL!

    The Michigan MONSTERS of RC loves Monster Jam!!!

  9. Thanks for the write up Matt! I am with most everyone else in that there should be a 2.4 control system in this rig. While I know it is to keep the cost down; think of a new driver messing with that 3 foot long metal antenna…bent or broken if they run with it to flip the truck back over…same with the model; roll it or run it under enough things; the wire will be short in no time. I didn’t realize this came as a 2wd until i read your atricle. WOW that was a shock. But so is there Monster Jam line up on the 2wd Stampede platform. That being said; after watching your video; looks like the truck rocks!! Can take a licking and keep on coming back for more. Sure to bring back smiles to the seasoned R/Cer as well as create some memories for the newest which gets their hands on it for the first time.

  10. Matt,another great review and video on one of the coolest trucks to recently hit the market. Especially liked the Did You Know facts!

  11. I love that you did this Matt. I want this to take parts off and put on my Summit then I could use the rest to make a Super Girly 1/16. Its way cool that Jessica is helping out, she looks great and you a lucky guy. I always love her photo’s. I just got my wife the Purple Armma Fury. She love’s that its purple… :> This will make 3 for her. Mini Quake, Rage and now Fury. I sure Traxxas will later come out with the VXL GraveDigger 4×4 1/16 but I want it now… Thanks Matt Good Day Free Water Ice today… :>

  12. Great article about what seems to be a great truck. I was surprised the ability of the 2wd. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Before 2.4GHz came along, we ALL used long collapsible antennas, beginners and pro’s alike! And we all bent our fair share too. 🙂

    There may well be a day when all Traxxas transmitters are 2.4GHz, but right now going AM does take a big junk out of this model’s price. We use high-quality stuff in our 2.4GHz radios (gotta have long range in our fast models), so they don’t come cheap.

    Nice writeup Matt. Please post a photo of yourself wearing that awesome backpack–PERFECT size for a guy like you.

    1. “Nice writeup Matt. Please post a photo of yourself wearing that awesome backpack–PERFECT size for a guy like you.”

      Haha. Reminds me of that famous scene…”Fat guy in a little suit.”

  14. I got this Digger for my 6 yr old and he LOVES it!!! Now I need one for my daughter. We are upgrading to 4wd this weekend and the first thing he wants to do is go mudbogging.

  15. I just recently purchased my first rc which was a 2wd traxxas slash vxl and the one thing i was considering over that was this vehicle, right now reading the review and everything im kinda regretting getting that big truck instead of this!!! Traxxas just has so many great vehicles to begin with, and with excellent support for both warranty and parts how could you go wrong?

  16. Tenho um Revo 3.3 que é fantástico, gostaria também de ter em minha oficina este lindo e fantástico modelo 1/16 Grave Digger. Obrigado.

  17. Great article. Been looking into getting one of these for friends/kids to play with. Think this help me make up my mind!.

  18. i’m thinking this 1/16 scale monster would be perfect for my 7 year old autistic son. he’s a monster jam fan and his favorites are grave digger and maximum destruction. cant wait to see the look on his face when he opens this box!

  19. I have really been looking at the Grave Digger to be my first RC. I was looking at the 1/10th till this 1/16th came out so I may have changed my mind. I just wonder about battery time>

  20. My Son would LOVE to win this!!! We just went to Monster Jam here in Idaho, last weekend and we had a BLAST!! Yesterday we went to our local Hobbytown and he spotted the 1/16th Grave Digger…I’m sure the entire store knew what he had just found from his ecstatic screams lol!

  21. since it shares the same chassis and components with the 1/16 e revo, do you think it would handle the vilineon brushless upgrades that are available for the e revo?

  22. the grave digger is awsome and i would love to win this it would be awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. this thing is awesome and looks like a super awesome basher car!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be super awesome if i could win and awesome to the winner GOOD LUCK!!!!!

  24. im 12 and iv just gotten into the rc world its my birth day on the 31 of march and my parents do not have much money 2 buy me a rc car i would love this for a present traxxas rules!!!!

  25. This is most likely my next buy. All the reviews are great! Price is great, and who doesn’t love the digger 🙂

  26. I could see local hobby shops having monster truck races with them. Setting up old or unwanted RC bodies attached to plywood. Then having like a monster jam race course set up.

  27. The Grave Digger is a legend in itself. To see Traxxas produce this rig in this scale will bring great fun to all who own one. Whether it be some back yard runnings for the kids or bashing in the fields….the Grave Digger series will be a HOOT for all ages!

  28. My nephew has been wanting to get into RC for awhile. This looks like it would be the perfect vehicle for him to start with. And it’s cool too!

  29. Great article on this mini! Im a big fan of the /16th traxxas’s i had to sell my mini revo when my son was born. Money got tight so did time to play! I look forward to reading more articles like this!

  30. i want to get one for my son he is 4.5 and will be 5 on april 16th and i think this would be a great starter rc for him.

  31. Its not a bad little truck have seen them in person.its just based on a platform that works. my kid told me he wants one last week. told him i would post here to try and win one for him. he said if he gets it i can have his grasshopper lol i said ok thanks son. he is 9 and learning to drive them.i think its a very good start for younger kids ,durable and easy to fix if broken. It should have came with a 2.4 considering you can get aftermarket 2.4 radios for less then 40 bucks some places. hope this is good for a submission my kid would love it

  32. Hey ive been looking at getting on of these things for my 5 year old brother to get him into the hobby…

  33. i’m hoping to pick one of these up pretty soon. i’m loving how it’s got a 550 sized motor and would love to get one upgrade it to a 4×4 and throw in a flysky 2.4 rx/tx, a velineon brushless system, and see what it’ll do with lipo power.

  34. oh man that looks sooo cool!! traxxas just keep putting new stuff on that chassis..wish they would do a 1/8 scale buggy but sized down!!!

  35. That looks like a blast to drive, I have been racing 1/8 scale monster trucks for so time and it looks like a dying breed, now to find something that cools just rocks!
    Ship that truck my way for some fun!

  36. Really neat review, as for the 2wd platform I’m a little dissapointed, but it seems like a fun truck nonetheless.

  37. My son has really made the whole family fans of monster jam. My wife and i would like nother more than to get this truck for him. he is 5yrs. old and drives better than most people twice his age it is tryly amazing to watch him do his thing. Grave digger happens to be his favorite driver i guess because they both drive the same..lol! but just wanted to leave a reply.

    Thanks!

  38. I would like to drive a rc grave digger. I would even like to own one I all ready have an nitro rc buggy but I’m a BIG fan of the grave digger. I have been going to shows since I was 3years old. thank you

    1. Traxxas suspensions tend to be on the soft side, but there is no problem. I see no reason to worry at all about the suspension being too soft. It is soft and plush, but not overly so.

  39. is it good for a second car? i have a losi 1/24 Micro Trail Trekker, its not fast, so im wondering if the grave digger is a good start for speed…

  40. I read a review and it said: [Dirt Track] Going around the track at my local hobby shop was a chore. The big tires often catch on jumps and the poor springs prevent the suspension from soaking up bumps. What you get in the end is a truck that flips, rolls over and lands really rough. It took forever to do one lap since I had to go and keep flipping it over!

    SHOULD I BE WORRIED ? ? ?

          1. i got one, it gives extra protection…
            it wont grind on the ground like the normal bar behind the motor…

  41. I like your review format. fun to read. detailed enough for experienced hobbyists and short and to the point for newbs. Thank you for the review

  42. i have a 1 10 grave digger, and the remote works, but the RC itself doesn’t work…
    -i can change the settings-mode with the “e-z” part, but then the light turns off, and it doesn’t respond…
    I’ve only had it for 3-4 weeks,(dont know thaat much about it) haven’t done major bashing, so i thought it was because of the heat…

    plz help…

    1. First, double check that the battery is fully charged. Check that the throttle trim is at neutral. Now, just follow the instructions on returning the speed control to Profile 1. If you need help, let me know.

          1. Did into the manual and look for the steps to calibrate the radio and program the speed control. Also, when turning on the speed control, do not hold the button too long or you’ll go into program mode.

          2. i went to a hobby shop, and i got it checked, and apparently its the speed control that just died… So we’ll get traxxas to get it fixed, since i ‘ve only got it for 2 months…

            note to grave digger fans:

            the 1 10 grave digger is good, but the revo is 25$ more and is 4w drive and brushless…

          1. There are a number of companies offering LED lights, so ,yes, you can easily find separate headlights. many will be ready to plug right into your receiver. Let us know if you need any help. Good luck.

  43. i was wondering if a 2 wd stampede body would fit on a 1 10 grave digger..
    if not, is it possible to drill new holes, and how ?

  44. itried my grave digger in the snow, and with hi speed, it wouldn,t stop spinning I NEED 4 WHEEL DRIVE !!!

    whats the ebst site to buy it, and how ? ?

        1. You’re better off enjoying the 2WD action than trying to convert a 2WD Stampede to 4WD. Another option is to get the 4WD Stampede and make new body mounts to attach the Grave Digger body

  45. well i can tell y’all this much, my son is having an BLAST with this back flipping machine, this is a SCORE !! havent taken him on the crawler track yet but if he dont run me over cause ” Daddy your truck is slow , TACO is too slow” .

    Thanks for doing the review and videos Matt!

      1. LOL yeah, the shoe will be on the other foot when i get my 2.2 monster done, decided on Tekin rx8 esc and a Trinity ReVtech 4XS 3800k.. LOL

          1. yeah, been reading all your articles on your 2.2 and the bomb proof axial trans.also been lurking on RC Crawler…going all in for 2014 no limit worlds

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