Nothing throws off the look of a moving scale crawler quite like an empty driver seat. The positive twist is nothing completes the look of scale crawler like a driver at the wheel. So, where do you get that personal pilot? The top place is the toy store, but there’s more to than just grabbing a biped you like and tossing him in the cab of your truck. This is what you need to know.
The average height of an adult male is about 6′. So, if your scale RC truck is 1/10 scale, the typical 7-inch action figure turned driver is perfect and the popular choice. Reverse engineering the math works like this: 7.2 inches in 1/10 scale would be 72 inches or 6′ in full size.
RC trucks–even the most detailed scale masterpieces–aren’t often perfectly scale. For optimized performance, designers take a few liberties with scale. So, while you could determine the actual scale of your RC scale crawler, it is unlikely to provide you with good results. For example, if the Axial SCX10 is a scale representative of a Land Rover Defender 90, it is actually closer to 1/8 scale than 1/10 scale (using wheelbase and width as the scale determiners). That would call for a 9-inch tall driver figure which would look significantly out of proportion since the 9-inch tall Axial SCX10 Dingo is closer to 1/9 scale (using height as a scale determiner).
The bottom line is the eye will always yield better results than the calculator, and it is also often better to err on the side of too small rather too large. A driver that looks like he had to be shoehorned into the interior of what would be a full-size truck doesn’t look too realistic.
There are a number of ways to secure your driver figure. One of the most popular choices is using simple silicone glue. This flexible glue can be removed if needed and yet is incredible strong.
If you’re the tinkering type, a fantastic way to secure a driver figure is will magnets. Stores like RadioShack sell magnet sets that can be secured in the seat and figure using two-part epoxy. The magnets work great and only cost a few dollars. The best way to use the magnets is to hollow out two indentations in your driver figure’s body with two matching indentations in the seat. As mentioned above, two-part epoxy should be used to secure the magnets.
Another option is to use cable ties (AKA zip ties). This may sound hack, but the right size cable ties make for scale looking seat belts. As an added bonus, a quick snip gets the driver out of the way if needed.
Scale seats are available from Axial, RC4WD and other RC-specific sources. A search on eBay will reveal cell phone holders that make perfect scale seats.
READY FOR ACTION
The number one question in regard to driver figures is where do I get one? Well, maybe that question is tied with who do you use as a driver figure? I have basically one answer for both questions. Since action figures are the top choice, the top locations are toy stores such as Toys”R”Us and the toy department at department stores such as Wal-Mart. Get out there and see what you can find.
A trip down an isle at one of the above mentioned locations will reveal many choices. Wrestlers from a variety of sources are great, but proceed with caution. Keep in mind that what looks like a fun choice while it’s still in the package will look like the same screaming ‘roid raging nut job driver hundreds of your fellow hobbyists have also snapped up. Unless you’re going for that “lost my mind coming back from the gym” look, avoid the wrestlers with snarled mouths and ridiculously gigantic biceps. Besides looking more silly than scale, many have such overgrown upper bodies that they do not readily fit in scale seats. Shop around before making a selection.
In addition to the wrestlers, there are a variety of action figures modeled from pop culture sources such as movies, TV shows and sports. The same rules apply. Don’t buy the first figure you see, go for a figure that looks real and too small is better than too big.
While there are plenty of 7-inch action figures available, if you have a larger scale model, check out a toy called Hunter Dan. Hunter Dan is a 8-inch tall sportsman action figure that can be found online and at outdoors stores at Cabela’s.
Target stores recently started offering a miniature skate boarder figure that is perfect for scale RC use. The figures are called Street League Flex Figures. The figures are well detailed, flexible and have realistic clothes.They’re permanently attached to the skate board, but with a little work, the board is easily removed. The Street League Flex Figures are made by Ronin Syndicate which also makes 1/12-scale Metal Mulisha figures with dirt bikes.
Tamiya’s Wild Willy drivers have been used in dozens of scale builds. The comically oversized helmet works for some builds, but is distracting in most. Tamiya’s Holiday Buggy (recently rereleased) has a driver that isn’t as complete of a figure as the Wild Willy, but has a very realistic head complete with cowboy hat. The downside of Tamiya drivers is that you’ll need to paint in detail them yourself unless you pickup a driver out of a RTR Wild Willy.
MAKING THE CUT
You just paid between $12 to $20 (maybe more) for a driver figure and I’m about to suggest you completely ruin it and cut it to pieces. Why? Well, none of the action figures I have ever seen–even if they have 20 movable joints and Kung Fu grip–are really made to sit in a driver’s seat. Add that to the fact that most RC truck interiors aren’t really made to hold passengers and you probably have some fitment issues to deal with.
If possible, remove the seat from the truck and test fit your driver. If you’re lucky, the driver will fit the seat and bend in the right places enough to actually sit in the seat. After you get over the disappointment that your wheelman doesn’t want to get behind the wheel, you’ll need to identify what the problem is. The deeper you can get your driver to sit in the seat, the more upright he’ll be behind the wheel and the more realistic he’ll look.
Some figures will need to be cut at the waist, repositioned and glued back together. Others will need to have their lower legs removed. Still others will need to have the unfortunate surgery to remove their entire lower half. For example, if your truck has a shallow interior such as in Axial Dingo shell.
READERS’ SCALE DRIVERS