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Scale Points Are Pointless

scale comp 14

This isn’t the first time I’ve jumped on my soapbox to rant a little about scale points. I’m not anti-scale. Just the opposite. I love scale. That said and while scale points have evolved significantly, scale points still have a long ways to go. Better said, scale points need to go away.


I’m lucky enough to live near a club that has weekly scale comps. At the local level, scale points take (read: waste) time and are often the burden of the same person at every gathering. The same poor guy gets to (often thanklessly) inspect every vehicle, count and record points and field the numerous questions (read: complaints) about scoring and the rules—oh joy! And since everyone usually just bolts or glues enough crap on until they reach the maximum points, there’s no real point. What I mean, is the point tally system neither rewards creativity or workmanship. Am I wrong? At the local level, I suggest just skipping scale points and seeing how it goes. Keep all of the other scale rules, but forget adding up how many widgets each contestant has adorned on his scale replica of a real vehicle that would most likely not a have a bunch of stuff flopping around. I have news: Shannon Campbell doesn’t run the King of the Hammers with a loose ax and his pet dog next to him. Just sayin’.


Now, I fully realize that scale comps don’t mimic an Ultra4 race, but they aren’t a trail ride either. I know when I go out in the woods in my real Jeep there are no cones and there isn’t some guy screeching “Rah-verse!” every time I back up. So, scale comp rigs are modeled after some sort of competition prepped off-road vehicle and, believe me, they don’t run the course with a cooler, welder, length of steel chain, etc.


Anyway, in scale RC rock crawling we have essentially defined how scale a entry is by the number of accessories. As I suggested above, we should just skip scale points at local events. But, what about the big events? And, how do we keep the scale in scale? At big events, I firmly believe “scaleness” should be awarded. The only catch is my suggestion isn’t a handicapping system. Meaning it is completely separate from the on-course competition. I think it’s very important to point out that being able to receive the maximum allowable scale points doesn’t really mean that vehicle is all that realistic. And, I have seen plenty of spot-on replicas that barely scored half the available points. Again, it’s all kind of pointless. What I suggest is to award trophies or plaques for: Most Realistic, Best Paint and Most Original. The vehicles to be considered would have to compete and would be voted on by the participants. This for big events. For smaller events, you can keep it simpler and have a single “Best if Show” trophy. Again, voted on by the competitors and only for vehicles entered in competition. That is my suggestion on keeping scale scale without having it be a pointless bolt-on contest.

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  1. I’m with ya Matt. Some times all this competition steals away from the reason most of got into this in the first place, it’s just plain FUN!! When I see all the rigs with tons of plastic accessories glued in place, I cringe. I hate to say it turns into a fad, but it does appear that way sometimes. Remember the days of the TLT kits, and having to make your own frames and parts! Now, a person with deep pockets can buy all the rc4wd goodies and make an all metal kit. Those are neat to see and I’m glad the market is flourishing, but it is also diluted a bit. It was bound to happen, so as long as it stays FUN, then I’ll stick around. There, that’s my rant.

  2. Hi our scale group is trying to make new rules in out series “mostly about tires and which category and class they fall in” I’m pushing for the new XL Swampers to be in the SCALE 1.9 class with all other 1.9 1.7 1.55 tires. Any 2.2 OVERSIZED tires “cut or not” should be separate as a truck with tires that big or wide wouldn’t be street legal. There’s talk of larger 1.9 like the Proline XL Swampers, IROKS and others being classed with 2.2. Any thoughts?

    1. I too would put the XL tires in with the rest of the current 1.9 tires. For 2014, I’d cap the overall height, so that you wouldn’t have to worry about a new taller tire coming along and giving someone an instant advantage. Right now, the XLs have been out long enough for everyone to be able to get them.

  3. Makes perfect sence to me Matt ; thank you for your opinion! We are have a meeting soon to discuss more about it and I will be proud to bring up your point

  4. I agree with you Matt. Is all the scale stuff in the vehicle a real world need and found on a 1:1? My Buddy Pete and I have graduated to scalers and really set up ours for functionality over “how much we can stuff in the bed or behind the seat.” We have scale pull pals, winches, shovels, tool boxes and the like. The real reason behind the vehicle is the being able to crawl suitably over the terrain. About the only rig we really setup with multiple items is our 1/6th scale Jeeps. I really don’t see a lot of WWF guys or Marvel Superheroes driving off-road vehicles in my area. When I do I will take pics and post them immediately, but don’t hold your breath. Functionality over scale items in my book. By the way, thanks for using my Jeep pic, yellow Gelande, in your article. I love it.

  5. Hi Matt,

    I dont believe that scale points are worthless. In our experience, they’ve actually done a nice job balancing the performance-oriented trucks and the ‘Display’ trucks in the final standings of most comps. Keep in mind that scale points are not just coolers, welders and bolt on pieces, but encompass a much deeper construction approach to the vehicle. This is just one approach to scale comps, and I’m not saying it’s great, but remember that it’s not just ‘who can put the most crap in their bed,’ it’s an attempt to reward serious modeling that -can- hamper performance. You’re always going to get the competitive guys that would show up to a scale-pointless comp with a simple lexan body-equipped SCX10 and dominate against heavy, full-tube realistic trucks…

  6. So, things like this frustrate me especially when they come from a respected guy like you, Matt. First of all, scale points aren’t a burden. In our club we have this thing called honesty. We keep track of the scale points our rigs have and we fill them in on the day of the comp. Second, bolting and gluing on a bunch of crap won’t get you more than 14 scale points, and that includes winches, spare tires and working lights…..all truly functional scale items. Most scale points come from things like a chassis mounted servo, full interior, metal bumpers, transfer cases, full roll cages and other truly “scale” things……things that effect the performance of your truck. Sure we can eliminate all scale points (hello 2008) but everyone will have a lexan bodied scale “comp” rig. Why would you want to penalize the true builders? That’s what you’re doing if you eliminate them. I’d love to show you a picture of my Class 2 D90. It blends scale and competition quite nicely….in fact, I did the 2 day 3 stage 6-7 mile long Axialfest G6 (my first) with a 50 point scale rig and finished 2nd. I’d like to invite you to the 2014 RC4WD Southwest Scale Championship April 25-27, I think you’d get a better feel of how scale points work if you see them first hand at a large nation scale comp. BTW, I’ve been running the scale comps in our club most of the last 5 years and everyone has always had fun, and the best drivers and most scale rigs usually win.

    Thanks for listening, Tim.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Tim, and thank you for the kind words. I appreciate your opinion and I love that you are passionate about the hobby. Believe me, my intention isn’t to frustrate anyone.

      Keep in mind that your club is just your club. Your club has addressed the “burden” of counting points by implementing a self-scored system. Judging the scale point totals for each truck a time suck for everyone and a task that falls on the same shoulders every time. That’s the club 80/20 rule, where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. I imagine if scoring scale points on each truck didn’t take a chunk of time, you wouldn’t have the system you do. We’re kind of on the same page here. You came up with a solution that works for you. The club at RC Madness I often scale comp with (they meet weekly) basically does the same thing. They score you once and then ask you if anything changed at each regular comp. Honesty is required and expected. On that subject, I appreciate and highly value honesty, but competition and cheating go hand in hand. What may work 100% at your club, may get abused at many others.

      My opinions aren’t based a single experience. I have been lucky to have crawled with numerous clubs and have attended many national level events both as a participant and to cover them–this includes an Axialfest (where there happened to be zero emphasis on scale points).

      I’d love to get to the RC4WD Southwest Scale Challenge, but that’s a haul for me.

      Ultimately, I am very glad to hear that your club is doing well and, most of all, having fun!

  7. Hi,
    In Austria we simplified thing for 2014.

    Our observation in 2013 – the best drivers will also have maximum scale points – which is very frustrating for beginners.

    In very short:

    In Class 1 a Harbody, Mirrors, Windscreen, Bumpers, numberplates are mandatory
    tire diameter limit (from vendor specification) 105 mm – no 2.2 wheels

    In Class 2 you get a 5 Minute Bonus for a Hardbody – touching one gate will set you 10 Minutes back.
    Tire diameter Limit 120mm


    1. I like these ideas, Daniel. I am a huge fan of simple–especially for regular events. There is no reason a big event with more on the line, so to speak, can’t have more complicated rules.

  8. I have been scalen for a few yes now and I have seen the scale points get out of control. Like others I haven seen people go out and over load their rigs with everything and anything scale looking or not. I for one bud my own rigs to look as realistic and you would see one driven down the road. So my opion yes scale points are point less. And some comps some guys have some scale point and some don’t so that’s puts people in a dis advantage or advantage we all should be on the same playing field so when it comes to comp it’s all about driven and skill and foremost haven fun

  9. So I noticed that you didn’t comment on scale points and how useful they can actually be. From what I read in your article, you believe that scale points are just a bunch of junk hot glued to your rig, when actually 80% of them are useful, scale, and performance effecting mods. Any thoughts?
    Do you really think a stock honcho should compete heads up against a hard body with full cage, full interior, metal bumpers, chassis mounted servo etc?

    1. Tim, I am not really 100% against scale points and, yes, they can be useful. I would never skip a scale event because of scale points. The vast majority of clubs use scale points. I also want to keep scale very, well, scale. I remember when rock crawling first took off all of the rigs had scale appeal. The 2.2 class eventually dominated mainly because they had better scale proportions and looked more realistic (there were other reasons too, of course). I’m flat out bummed with the way the 2.2 comp class evolved.

      I do believe that sometimes scale points are a bunch of junk hot glued to a body. I see it a lot. Not all scale points, of course, but many are doodads added simply to reach the max point allotment and do not really add any scale realism. I do like chassis mounted servos, working lights, working winches, hard bodies, etc. How much these should be compensated for as an equalizer, I’m 100% sure. Until recently, I had a RC4WD Trail Finder with hard plastic Tamiya Jeep body, chassis-mounted servo and leaf springs. The suspension travel, suspension firmness and overall scale off-road capabilities were pretty spot-on in comparison to a full-size YJ with a store bought over-the-counter lift kit. Should I get a bunch of points to equalize my very scale rig with others? Many people would say yes, but I’m not really all that convinced. In your similar example, of the stock Honcho vs. the decked out scaler, I am willing to bet there is an experienced guy behind the wheel of the latter and that he’ll win anyways.

      My goal, with an editorial style article like this, is to promote conversation. Anyway, thanks for sharing your opinion, asking questions and please feel free to keep at it.

      1. I have seen from the club I belong to 2 sides the the scale points.The club does monthly events free of charge and the winner gets bragging rights. That is it.. The guys that have the hard bodies winches metal work and so on are not rookie drivers and have here rigs set up. With the scale points where they are the rookie or newbie to the club would not be able to ever win if he had say a honcho with a winch because there is so many points between the 2 rigs. A guy that builds a true scale rc does it for the passion not the points.Whats wrong with a guy bringing a lean bodied honcho with a winch and out driving the guy with 50 scale point rig if it’s all for fun anyways.. Nothing …The other side to this is there is alot of national level drivers that want a challenge and practice for the big events so these guys want national rules at local events. This is where the G6 has got so popular. Nobody has to count points or wait a hour to drive a 5-10 minute course.What this tells me is there is still a lot of room for more events locally and nationally for the people that like one more than another.I prefer a mixture of fun and competition.Tim said it best when he said he finished second with his full pointed out scaler.Im sure he wasn’t beat by a stock axial scx10 with a proline pack of goodies strapped to it..

  10. Hi Matt, I enjoy your posts, but I have say Im a really lost on this one. The scale points system makes perfect sense to me. It encourages a guy to bring a scale looking RC to the event when a much less scale build would otherwise outperform it. Incentivizing a driver to bring a more scale rig to a scale oriented comp seems to me right in line with the spirit of of hobby to me.

    Specifically to the recurring point of “hot-gluing a ton a gizmos,” Id like to add, that accounts for 6 (max) out a a possible 60 scale points, most of which are awarded for things like hard bodies, transfer cases, metal roll cages.

    Lastly, I am sure it differs from club to club, but we actually enjoy teching and discussing all the custom rigs that our members build for our comps. We see it as part of the hobby and it’s all fun. If we didnt like the scale portion, we could enjoy rock racing or even short course or any of the other cool facets of this little pass time.

    Anyway, i do like the suggestion of awards for “best in show” or something like that. At our club (in addition to the SORCA scale rules) the sponsors provide prizes and tee shirts for things like best paint, most original, most detail. It’s a great way to win a set of tires or a lipo charger, and have a blast doing it!

    1. Awesome post, Kris. Thank you for posting and sharing your perspective.

      I am essentially in agreement with you. For example, I agree that hard bodies and driver figures should be rewarded far more than an accessory. My point is real comp vehicles, as in full-size, usually don’t all that many–if any–accessories visible other than a spare tire and a Hi-Lift jack. And to tell you the truth, vehicles participating in a closed-course type competition navigating cones won’t have a spare or jack mounted.

      Another interesting aspect of the scale points used by many clubs is awarding scale points for non-scale aspects. An example would be leaf springs on a vehicle that wouldn’t have leaf springs. I’ve seen people do solid axle swaps on real vehicles and go from coils to leaf springs, but no one in their right mind is putting leaf springs under a late model Jeep being used for comp crawling. But, technically doing that would increase your scale points at many clubs.

      My point–no pun intended–is I’d like the focus to always be on workmanship, not chasing scale point. Keep in mind I am not trying to be negative. I am certainly not trying to insult anyone’s system. If they love it and it works for them, they should by all means use it. I am just trying to get people to think.

  11. My problem with what is happening to the scale seen is the fact people are forgetting what scale is.

    When you are out on the trail and you come upon a 3 foot rock which in 1:1 would be a 30 foot boulder and then think that a 1/10th scale course should be made up of all rocks the same size. I don’t know many 1:1 trails if any that are like this but yet everyone thinks that this is scaling.

    In my opinion when I bring a scale truck somewhere it should look like a truck that would be sitting in their driveway. I have built my trucks to look as such. They would look even more scale with 1.55″ tires and wheels.

    Where you mentioned tires size this needs to be looked at also, where as a 4.75″ tall tire would be a 47.5″ tall tire on a 19″ wheel. I do think see many trucks like this.
    The average truck I see running around town has 15″ wheels with 35″ tires on them.

    Please remember the size of scale as for all the do dad’s glued to a rig to each their own if they want all that cap on their truck let them have it.

    On my real truck I keep a spare, a jack, a lug wrench, a tow strap, basic tools, and a flashlight. Camping is a different story because that requires a different type of packing.
    I enjoy the scale seen either way and hope that everyone does the same.

    Thanks for a great article.

  12. these things are also happening here in Indonesia, where the National Race Rules has four classes:
    Independent Front Suspension (IFS) – alike the vaterra twin hammers and such
    Extreme – lexan body, brushless sistem
    Scale – a hardbody is a must (no lexan)
    Free For All – mostly for all that does not belong to the above three categories

    the scale class as you said has than one person who scrutenized the entire participant in counting and adding the scale points, then those points are added with the time needed to complete the course

    well I myself not much of a competition person when it comes to R/C.. I bought my rig for the FUN of it, going where other on-road RC cannot

    the RC off road scene here are growing slowly but surely, such caused by the price of the KIT / RTR rig when it comes into our market..

    thank you for the post, especially it comes from you Matt

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