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Axial 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon SCX10 RTR Review

One of the most in-demand full-size off-road vehicles is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. They’re everywhere! Also known as the JK, this model may truly be the most popular and capable Jeep ever offered from the iconic brand. Who wouldn’t want one? Other than the two vehement Jeep haters out there grumpily saying no, everyone else is raising at least a metaphorical hand. Jeeps rock and they really rock on the rocks. The only problem is unless you have $30,000+, you may be out of luck. Where I’m going with this is pretty obvious. Axial’s latest scale creation makes getting a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon possible–for just about everyone. Heck, the reality is you probably don’t need me to sell you on the relevance of this release. If you like Jeeps, this one is for you. Check it out:

HIGHLIGHTS
> SCX10 platform
> Fully assembled ready-to-run
> $379.98
> Fully licensed Jeep body
> Steel frame rails
> 4-link rear suspension
> Poison Spyder fenders and bumpers
> Molded multi-piece plastic cage
> Maxxis Trepador scale tires
> 2.4GHz radio system

DID YOU KNOW?
There are technically no 1996 Jeep Wranglers. What?! Jeep skipped a year? Yes. Well, sorta. Production of the YJ model started in 1987 and ended with the 1995 model. The next model was the TJ which started with the 1997 model. 1997 TJs were available in 1996, but technically there are no 1996 Wranglers–YJs or TJs.

FEATURES
Chassis
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is built on Axial’s popular SCX10 scale truck platform. The main feature of the chassis is the use of actual steel frame rails. The frame rails have a C-channel design and mimic the shape and contours of a real ladder frame. The frame rails are connected via a series of molded composite plastic cross members. The chassis is flanked by the same plastic rock rails found on the Honcho RTR and the Dingo kit, but the ends of the frame is capped by new bumper mounts and bumpers.

The plastic bumpers are modeled after Poison Spyder Customs’ RockBrawler style. The front features a short, wide stinger, plastic D-shackles for recovery, LED light buckets and the Poison Spyder logo. The new rear bumper is one of the wow features of the Axial Jeep. The rear bumper has a fully functional swing-out spare tire mount. Besides looking extremely cool, Axial made the spare mount simple to use. Two small body clips with grab tabs make releasing the swing-out easy. Even better, the spin-off retainer is solid plastic and doesn’t have a lock-nut like the retainer used on the Honcho and Dingo. That seems like a small item, but if you’ve ever had a Honcho or Dingo, you’ll appreciate this nice touch.

DID YOU KNOW?
Axial was founded March 15, 2005 and had four employees (Yes, you read that correctly) at launch. Axial’s first product release was a .32-sized big block nitro engine that was made available later that year on December 27.

This is why you like RC Truck Stop reviews: I was thrilled to notice (others will miss it) that the new bumper mounts include provisions for sway bars (I’m going out on a limb and saying you can expect an SCX10 sway bar kit next year). In my opinion, linked suspensions with coil-over shocks go together with sway bars like peanut butter and jelly or bacon and eggs or Rosie O’Donnell and, well, any food.

  

Suspension
The SCX10 platform uses a 4-link rear setup and a 3-link front suspension arrangement. The links are plastic and feature snapped-in plastic rod end balls. The upper front link is a Y-shaped piece that mounts at a single point on the front axle and splits to mount to the chassis.

DID YOU KNOW?
The original Axial AX10 Scorpion was released in 2007. It was unveiled at the July 1 at 2007 Axial West Coast Championships. This happened to also be the inaugural running of this event which has been going strong and growing since. The first batch of AX10 shipped August 14, 2007. The SCX10 was released in 2009 and the first batch shipped on January 20.

Axial includes plastic bodied shocks, but they are threaded for easy preload adjustment of the springs. The plastic shock caps feature faux reservoirs. The springs are dual stage and Axial offers a number of optional springs rates. The main springs included are Axial’s 4.08 lbs/in medium (green) with two softer (down to 2.7 lbs/in) and two firmer (up to 6.81 lbs/in), and the short top springs are 3.6 lbs/in super soft (red) with four stiffer options (up to 7.95 lbs/in) available.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Rubicon edition of the Wrangler was introduced in 2003. Named after the famous Rubicon trail, this model is billed as Jeep’s most capable and heavy-duty Jeep model. The JK model that Axial’s SCX10 replicates was released in 2007.

Drivetrain
The SCX10’s drivetrain–based on the original AX10 Scorpion–has been updated since it was first released. While the key components and general design are the same, five improvements have been made that significantly improve durability. First, the WB8 (Wild Boar) driveshafts are far more reliable than the original design. They are a huge improvement over the original driveshafts. Second, the AX10 transmission now includes a spur and pinion gear cover to keep the plastic spur gear from getting chewed up. This is essential for scalers that see action on more than just rock. The third update, the slipper clutch, has been around the longest. The adjustable slipper protects the entire drivetrain and also spins true which helps prevent the spur gear from an early demise. The fourth change is with the transmission output shafts and the axle input shafts (pinion gear shaft). To take full advantage of the WB8 driveshafts’ use of pins that pass through the driveshaft ends and the shafts they attach to, the transmission output and axle input shafts are now drilled through. Lastly, the original lockers have been replaced with stronger sintered units.

The rest of the drivetrain is all familiar territory. AX10 axles with full ball bearings and a three gear transmission with no differential. The front axles a dog done style, but universal upgrade axles are available. Universals are stronger and offer more steering range.

 

Electronics
Axial offers a fairly typical electronics package with its RTRs. The radio is simple, but it’s 2.4GHz which is always an appreciated feature. The included AE-2 speed control is engineered by Castle Creations and is compatible with Castle’s Castle Link that allows programming and updates via a PC. The best part about the AE-2, other than it has smooth throttle control, is that it’s preprogrammed with drag brake. The only downside of the AE-2 is that it includes a Tamiya plug as opposed to something higher quality and more befitting the SCX10 such as a Deans Ultra Plug.

The AS-3 servo is a metal gear servo and is rated at 132 oz.-in. of torque–pretty impressive for a 1/10-scale RTR.

The stock sealed-can 27-turn brushed motor is a simple, no-frills design, but it offers a good blend of some speed cruising around or popping over obstacles and power for crawling.

DID YOU KNOW?
In 2008, Jeep unveiled an electric 4-door Wrangler (Yup, they did) that had a not-so-impressive 40-mile range. On onboard gas-powered engine would kick in and function as a generator to supply electricity for the electric drive. The project was scrapped in 2009 and a model was never made available.

Tires, Wheels & Body
Axial’s new Maxxis Trepador tires are a directional tread design and are fully licensed. Of more interest, the new tires are taller than previous Axial 1.9″ tires. To be specific, the Trepador is 4.6″ tall and 0.3″ taller than the 1.9 Ripsaw tires and 0.4″ taller than the Pro-Line Flat Iron 1.9 that Axial formerly included with its SCX10 vehicles. Same as in the full-size world, a taller tire increases ground clearance and, thus, improves off-road performance. The bigger benefit (no pun intended) is–at least arguably–that the slightly taller tire looks far more scale (i.e. more realistically proportioned). In addition to the tire being taller, the soft Axial R35 compound provides a good boost in traction.

The Trepador tires are glued to 1.9 Walker Evans Racing wheels. The black molded plastic rims feature a chrome faux beadlock ring. The hex area of the is substantially reenforced.

The body is the most significant part of this release. The molded Lexan shell is offered only in silver. The body is a two-piece design as the windshield frame is a separate piece that fits tight to the back edge of the hood area and actually screwed into the Rubicon’s aftermarket style molded plastic roll cage. In addition to the plastic cage, the body features molded plastic taillights, side mirrors, shifter lever, steering wheel and  Poison Spyder Crusher flares.

PERFORMANCE
People who are familiar with the performance of the SCX10–Dingo and Honcho–will find the performance the latest version to be essentially the same as the other versions. Big surprise, right? I will say, however, while it isn’t profoundly better, the Rubicon is the best performing SCX10 yet. The long wheelbase combined with taller tires give it an advantage. The Ripsaw (on the Honcho and Dingo) tires are slightly more aggressive, but the taller size of the Trepador makes it a draw since both tires are molded in Axial’s soft R35.

I tested the Rubicon with a thin (and very lightweight) MaxAmps.com 2S 3250mAh LiPo, so the stock mounting location–over the rear axle–didn’t seem to negatively impact performance. The spare tire does add some tail weight and, occasionally, the Rubicon would tip back when negotiating a steep climb and lift the front tires off the ground, but overall, the SCX10 Jeep crawled well for a stock scaler.

The 27-turn motor is a good match for the truck. It’s not terribly fast, but quick enough that people looking to bomb around the driveway won’t get bored. It’s also a high enough turn motor that run-time is excellent and there is enough low-end power for climbing over obstacles.

I tested the Axial 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon on everything from pavement (who cares?) to rocks to dirt to sand (wrecks stuff worse than letting a 5-year-old drive). In fact, I did let a 5-year-old take the wheel. No matter how many times I say, “Slow and in control,” my young son always ends up driving like he’s piloting Grave Digger in the World Finals freestyle competition. Even I was amazed when he found the right pile of dirt to be able pull off some back to back slap wheelies. Needless to say, the Axial Jeep took a beating, but didn’t experience any failures are show any premature wear.

The pre-programmed drag brakes on AE-2 speed control and the smooth throttle of the brushed setups combine for excellent control. Driving up and down steep inclines was predictable thanks to the setup.

As far as using the Rubicon, the one flaw–more of an inconvenience–I found was the placement of the rear seat in relation to the rear body mounts. The bottom line is removing the small body clips can be a bit of a bear. The answer is to get some of the clip tabs (AXA80126) used on the swing-out spare tire carrier. I switched the swing-out tire carrier clips with the rear body clips and made my life a lot easier.

To get a different perspective, I picked the brain of my video test driver after our trip to Hammonasset State Park in Madison, CT. He believed the motor had plenty of power when crawling at low speed and explained that he felt never felt it lacked power–even when the Jeep was in a tight spot. He added that it still had good wheel speed. He was impressed with how far he could get through some of the boulder strewn areas before missing a tire placement and getting hung up. But, as much as he was awed by the stability, he stated the maneuverability left something to be desired.

RECOMMENDED HOP-UPS
The hop-ups listed below are Axial factory upgrades that I recommend. They aren’t essential, but prior extenisve use of the SCX10 platform has proven that they are money well spent. These parts will yield a truck that performs well and is highly reliable. The springs described are for the rear shocks, and while I do not believe aluminum links are needed (except for the steering links), the links and other parts below will allow upgrading the front suspension to 4-link setup.

  • 61-90mm Aluminum Shock Set >> AX30090 >> $36 (2)
  • Aluminum Knuckle >> AX30496 >> $36
  • Aluminum Servo Horn 25T >> AX30836 >> $15
  • AX10 Scorpion Universal Set >> AX30464 >> $32
  • Firm Spring (Yellow)(5.44 lbs./in.) >> AX30208 >> $5
  • SCX10 RTR Links Parts Tree >> AX80043 >> $12
  • SCX10 TR Links Set >> AX30550 >> $62
  • Soft Spring (White) (4.32 lbs./in.) >> AX30201 >> $5
  • Steering Upgrade Kit >> AX30426 >> $19

FINAL ASSESSMENT
It’s fairly undeniable that Axial has a winner on its hands here. Jeep enthusiasts will naturally love this version of the SCX10 and even non-dedicated Jeep aficionados will gravitate towards the Axial 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon just for the cool factor. It just looks like a real off-roader. That’s beauty of how iconic Jeeps are. As for Axial’s version, the body is well done and the added touches such as the fender flares and side mirrors really up the ante. The front bumper is good looking, but the rear bumper with swing-out tire carrier is extremely nice.

I would prefer aluminum knuckles and an aluminum servo horn over the plastic parts that, experience indicates, will break eventually. These parts, however, survived testing. The flexible steering main link functions like a servo saver, but at the same time, flexes at the wrong time. And, while I wouldn’t call it a flaw by any means, I’d love to see Axial offer more color options on its full licensed models.

Hot
> Awesome scale Jeep body
> Swing-out rear tire carrier
> Nice electronics (speed control, metal gear servo and 2.4GHz radio)
> WB8 drive shafts are an awesome upgrade

Not
> Plastic steering links
> Molded rear seat and body post placement makes rear body clip removal difficult
> Tamiya battery plug

PARTS FOR OTHER SCX10 OWNERS
Other SCX10 owners will want to pick up the parts below to upgrade their Honchos or Dingos. The new front and rear bumper mounts have provisions for sway bars. The good news is these parts trees also include the new Poison Spyder bumpers. Even better one of the parts trees includes the new spare tire retainer.
> AX80125
> AX80126 

CHECK OUT THIS ADDITIONAL ARTICLE ON THE AXIAL 2012 JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED RUBICON SCX10 HERE

Links
Axial Racing
MaxAmps.com 

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57 Comments

  1. “undeniable that Axial has a winner on its hands here” – couldn’t agree more. Plus, your right… Im not a Jeep fanatic, mostly General Motors (obviously) BUT I have gravitated to the Jeep side for the sole off road aspect, and while GM doesn’t have anything a Jeep can do, I respect that Jeep has done it right for years, and now has a great licensed RC product behind the name.

    1. Right on, Christopher. I would love to see GM come out with a mid-sized off-road capable rig. I am surprised GM and Ford don’t get in on the action as the Wrangler sells very well from what I understand.

  2. Axial need to come up with Their version of a Ford Raptor. if i had the funds i would add this one to my stables. i have beat my Truck Of the Week truck and it still come back for more. even with clodbuster tires on it . i can not ask for a better all around RC.

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  4. I have one of these jeeps when it was released and all I can say is it is awsome the tires are really grippy and taller then the honcho and dingo another excellent vehicle from axail

  5. I’m really happy with everything done to the body. I agree about the tires , they preform great. Nice article, a pleasure to read as always.

  6. love the article… just lookin’ forward in having one soon, when it is readily available at a nearby hobby store

    1. Check in with your local stores. I have seen guys with them a few weeks ago. They bought them locally, so hobby stores should be able to get them. They may be on backorder all ready since it came out right before Christmas. Good luck and I hope you get one soon.

  7. i like the article, i jst wnt to clarify something about transmission since u mention in ur article ” AX10 axles with full ball bearings and a three gear transmission with no differential. ” what do u mean by three gear transmission??is there hi-lo gears in the transmission? thanks a lot.

    1. That is a great question. The 3-gear statement refers to the type of transmission design that uses three internal gears. It is very different than a 3-speed transmission that can be shifted. The transmission in the SCX10 is a single speed transmission–no high or low speeds.

      1. thanks for the information. but can u make or is there an upgrade for the transmission? if u want to have like hi-low speeds?

  8. Hey Matt – great review, especially the detail around performance like’s and dislikes! I have been researching the SCX-10’s and would like to know what (if any) the performance differences are between the Rubicon and the Dingo. I’ve been around RC for quite some time however just now getting back into it and have an interest in scale 4×4. Thanks for your help!

    1. That is a great question. The Axial SCX10 is currently offered in two stock wheelbase configurations. The Rubicon, like the Honcho, is the longer of the two configurations. The Dingo, in contrast, uses the shorter wheelbase. The added length of the Rubicon and Honcho noticeably improves off-road stability when climbing. The shorter wheelbase should technically turn tighter, but I have never noticed that big of a difference. The extra stability is, however, readily apparent. The Honcho I use in competition is stretched even longer than stock. I hope this helps.

  9. i just bought the rubicon unlimted myself for my very first rc and i tell you. i couldnt be happier watching it crawl around the rocks all day is fun i never get tired of. 🙂 i looked around and besides the crawling aspect i wanted my rc to look as realistic as possible the plastic body looks real till it coes to the interior. i dont expect magic but i dont even see a seat i see a head rest :(besides that stock proformnce seems great i havent used any rc’s before but i have alot of friends who use them daily and they are a little jelly 😛 that my first rc is the jeep rubicon

    1. Love to hear about people enjoying the hobby. Glad you are digging your new Axial Rubicon. I will warn you: RC cars are like those potato chips–you can have just one!

    2. the jeeps interior aint all bad its way better than the dingos interior if you dont like it you could always bolt or glue a wraith interior in

  10. A recommended kit for I myself have owns the AX10 and the SCX10 Honcho. just my recommendations regarding the weight distribution on this kit, is there a way to change the battery position to the front ? this new setup kinda not befitting, well.. just my opinion though. Since after owning a variety of scale offroad kit’s brands, I found my honcho kit was the namero uno (standard factory setting)!

    1. Thanks for checking out the review and RC Truck Stop. And thanks for commenting with your insight. Moving the battery up front is definitely an option. All the parts needed are even included in the bag of “extras.”

          1. Yesterday when I switch on the ESC, it was flashing RED only…so I was thinking that this was the case (LVC)

  11. Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for. This is probably the best RC review i have ever read. What hopups do you recommend for the Axial?

  12. Matt,

    Thanks for the great review. Speaking of 5 years olds….is there any good way to governor the throttle on the Rubicon RTR?

    It would be great if the young kids could drive when us big kids are taking a break….

    Zach

    1. With the stock radio and speed control there is a way to electronically limit top speed. You put a small piece of foam behind the trigger. Since the trigger is a pivoting lever, the higher you put it up the sooner it will interfere with the driver’s ability to squeeze full throttle. You can probably find a piece of dense self adhesive foam from something that can be shaped to work perfectly. Buying a Traxxas XL-5 speed control to run temporarily (has no drag brakes, so it’s less than ideal for crawling control) maybe a good idea. I wouldn’t buy a new one unless you found a really good price. Finding a used one that the owner replaced with something faster is the better way to go. Just buy from someone you can trust. Another option is a high turn motor to really slow it down. A 60-turn motor would work and I have even put a 70-turn motor in a crawler.

  13. Im looking to buy this for my first time rc crawler and was wondering if you had any suggestions on batteries and chargers that would work best with the scx10?

    1. I personally prefer MaxAmps.com batteries because they are waterproof. They are on the higher end of the cost range, but I’ve always had good luck with them. MaxAmps.com sells Hyperion chargers, but almost any LiPo balance charger will work. Check out Hitec’s line of chargers and the Duratrax Onyx 235. I hope that helps and please feel free to ask away if you have more questions

  14. what is the best batteries to run Axial Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. i’m running the 7.2v 4200 nimh battery and i get about 6 minutes out of it i think the battery fuc# ?

    1. The best batteries to run in any RC are LiPo. If you’re rig is a stock RTR with the Axial AE-2 speed control, it can only run up to 2S in the stock configuration. You should be able to easily fit a Maxamps.com 6500 mAh pack in your truck. I don’t exclusively run Maxamps.com packs, but I like them for my crawlers and bashers because they are waterproof. You’ll need to get a LiPo charger to charge that pack, but the investment is well worth it. I like the Duratrax Onyx chargers because they are simple to use. The Dynamite RC chargers are also inexpensive and simple.

        1. With the RTR, use 7.4V? If you upgrade the motor and speed control, go with 11.1V and get the smallest pinion and spur combo you can get (listed in back of manual). Also, go with a higher turn rating when going 11.1V. Hope that helps.

          1. My pleasure, Matty. More importantly thank you for visiting RC Truck Stop and commenting. I personally thank you for visiting RC Truck Stop, of course, but also thank you for commenting because when someone steps up and asks a question, many people benefit.

  15. Hi there again I just bought upgrade axial 55t motor just wondering if I have to upgrade ae-2 esc I have installed it and it seems to run a bit slower than the other 22t motor

  16. Hi

    I hope someone will answer this request it’s a little long but I need to explain my situation.
    -Looking for and all around RC vehicle that can run on grass/pavement/trails/very little rock crawling.
    -Maintenance/LOW
    -protected from elements
    -Good speed
    -Good battery life
    -$500 Canadian tops
    I’ve been told that brush less/4wd are very important
    I’m not rough on my stuff and I take care of it.
    These are my choices.,
    Traxxas Slash Mike Jenkins edition(brushless/4wd/speed/All around vehicle $489 Canada
    Traxxas Telluride/Axial Jeep wranger wraith poison spyder/Axial Jeep Wrangler Ribicon/
    From what I know these are all 4wd and brushed motors and that brushless last longer and I understand these are not fast. I have been told that the best above choice for me is the Traxxas Slash Mike Jenkins edition. It has speed good parts/good on and off road and can be used on rocks but is not a MONSTER CRAWLER which I do not want.
    If I’m going to spend $500 I want this to be a one time purchase.
    Look forward to your opinions.

    Thanks

    Greg Joplin

    1. The grass is the only terrain I’m getting hung up on. Grass, believe it or not, can be tough on a vehicle and really cause it to bog down and heat up the electronics. Unless the grass is alway cut, and cut fairly low, I may lean towards a monster truck over a short course truck. As a counter point to that just mentioned leaning, do you have an RC track near you and/or any desire at all to race?

  17. Hi. I just ordered the scx10 Rubicon kit. I ordered the u-joints, axle adapters and knuckles. I plan to put a FUZE 4800kv motor with a sensored FUZE ESC. I’ll be running a 3s LIPO battery. Do you think I’ll still have the ability to “crawl” with this set-up?

  18. The 27-turn motor is a good match for the truck. It’s not terribly fast, but quick enough that people looking to bomb around the driveway won’t get bored. It’s also a high enough turn motor that run-time is excellent and there is enough low-end power for climbing over obstacles.

    _______

    And that’s what I wanted to know. Rock climbers are always slower, but some are painfully slow. As in, if I just want to drive around on some very small rocks, dirt and grass, it’s incredibly boring. Granted, I want to be scaling stuff left and right, but when I get from one area to the next, I still need some speed. I heard this can still grab around 15mph., so that’s good news.

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