As soon as Horizon Hobby launched the all-new Vaterra brand (only about a year and a half ago) and the rock crawling community got a look at its Twin Hammers release, there has been a clamor for a traditional scale truck. As overall well received as the Twin Hammers has been, “Yeah, that’s cool, but how about a scale truck?” has been part of the conversation. Well, the wait is over and here it is, the Ascender. We’re sure there will be other Ascender offerings, but the first out of the gate is this 1986 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
The key points here are the Ascender is the name of the chassis platform and it’s being offered as a kit. The body is clear, so how it looks is up to you. Electronics are also up to you. The item number is VTR03023 and the current price is listed as $320. No official release date has been, well, released as of yet (we’ll keep you posted).
The Ascender chassis is a ladder frame made out of stamped steel. Stamped steel gives a much more realistic final product compared to chunky machined aluminum, so that’s good. The interesting part is that the chassis is adjustable to allow of four different wheelbase settings: 12.36 in (314mm), 11.9 in (302mm), 11.4 in (290mm) and 10.95 in (278mm).
So, instead of messing with different links to make the truck longer or short for different bodies, you adjust the chassis. The battery is positioned over the front axle, so the Ascender should have weight distribution optimized in such a way that it lives up to its name and can climb.
The rear suspension is a 4-link setup with aluminum links. The front suspension has a 3-link with panhard bar, which is also technically 4-link setup. The cool part here is the front has a chassis-mounted servo, which is more realistic than a servo mounted to the axle. The shocks feature plastic threaded bodies, so ride height is as easy as twisting a shock collar.
The transmission features all metal gears and is designed to be fitted with an optional 2-speed setup. The optional 2-speed is a big plus, but even better is that Vaterra includes CV-style front axles with the kit. The Ascender is also equipped with an adjustable slipper clutch. The final drive ratio is listed as 7.86:1.
The 1986 K-5 Blazer body is fully licensed and features some hard plastic details for the grille. The 1.9 Interco Super Swamper tires are also licensed.
So, it appears Vaterra may have nailed it. There’s a lot here to like. The adjustable chassis might first seem gimmicky, but the idea of adjusting the wheelbase without having to mess with links is really appealing. The chassis-mounted servo means the Ascender comes stock with one of the most popular modifications. Adding a chassis-mounted servo isn’t all that difficult, but getting the steering and suspension to work properly together if your vehicle is at all modified can require a lot of rather frustrating trial and error. The front CV-style axles are also all sorts of awesome. The body and the stance are spot on. The bottom line is Varerra and the folks at Horizon Hobby made us wait longer than we wanted to, but it appears the Ascender is worth the wait.
Learn more here.