FMS 1/18 Atlas 6x6 Ready to Run Crawler

atlas-crawler-barnes
Small and mighty with a bit of old-school cool
Written by Jon R. Barnes
Pilot’s Choice Product Review
As seen in the Winter 2021 issue of Park Pilot

Bonus Video

SPECIFICATIONS:
Type: Electric brushed-motor-powered, micro-size crawler
Skill level: Beginner
Wheelbase: 6.1 inches
Length: 11.7 inches
Width: 4.5 inches
Height: 5.1 inches
Ground clearance: 1.2 inches
Weight: 16 ounces
Battery: Two-cell 7.4-volt 600 mAh LiPo with JST DS connector
Run duration: 25 to 30 minutes
Price: $136.99
Info: fmsmodel.com; horizonhobby.com

FEATURES:
>> Waterproof electronics allow this model to play in all types of weather and trail conditions
>> Six-wheel-drive powertrain and aggressively treaded beadlock-style rubber tires provide terrific traction
>> Amazing level of scale detail considering the diminutive 1/18 scale of this crawler
>> Included LED headlights and taillights are satisfyingly bright
>> Spare two-cell 7.4-volt 600 mAh LiPo batteries can cleverly be stored in the behind-the-cab toolbox
>> The included rear-mounted spare tire is no dummy; it is a fully functional spare tire
>> Two-piece, two-channel pistol grip transmitter breaks down for compact packing
>> Run durations of 35 to 45 minutes and longer on a two-cell 600 mAh LiPo

give the Atlas plenty of grip

The six-pack of aggressively treaded, beadlock-style rubber tires are all driven and give the Atlas plenty of grip on a variety of surfaces.

>> For pilots who might still be scratching their heads as to why reviews of surface models are now appearing in a magazine hitherto reserved for air-based models, a recent bit of news that first dropped in the 2020 Fall issue is that Park Pilot insurance now covers surface vehicles too! In a somewhat equally disorienting turn of events, FMS Model, a company long known for designing and manufacturing a rich variety of foam-based electric aircraft models, surprisingly enough released several surface vehicles in 2020. This review takes a close look at the second surface model released by this veteran player in the RC model airplane industry, the 1/18-scale Atlas 6x6 Ready to Run crawler. There are two color schemes from which to choose. It arrives packaged in a two-piece, rigid foam, clamshell case that will assuredly be used by most drivers as a storage and transport case. As a Ready to Run model, the only items not included in the box (but required to get this truck out on the trail) are four AAA dry cells for the transmitter. Speaking of the transmitter, the Atlas comes equipped with a unique, two-channel 2.4 GHz pistol-grip radio transmitter that can be broken down into two pieces. This allows it to be packed into a much smaller space than the almost ubiquitous and somewhat unwieldy one-piece pistol-grip transmitters. Items that come with the Atlas include a set of six firmer springs, a lug wrench to remove the tires, a small screwdriver, a USB-style charger, a bind plug, and a single sheet of instructions (also available online). The included large instruction sheet features English on one side and what appears to be Chinese on the other side. The instructions cover all of the necessary basics, including binding instructions, radio transmitter trim, channel reversing information, and the charging and installation of the two-cell LiPo battery. A six-pack of exploded-view drawings is also included. These extremely detailed drawings should allow drivers to easily disassemble and reassemble their Atlas should any repairs become necessary. A spare parts matrix, complete with part numbers, rounds out the provided documentation. This small, scale crawler is packed with some big truck features! I really liked the look of the beadlock-style rubber tires, the use of ring and pinion axles, the aluminum ladder-style frame rails, and the cool-looking and impressively bright LED headlights and taillights.
Ready to Run kit

The compact, hard-foam shipping case in which FMS delivers this Ready to Run kit is also perfectly suited for storage and transport purposes.


Atlas kit includes

The Atlas kit includes a second full set of suspension springs, a few basic tools, a bind plug, a two-piece two-channel transmitter, and a USB battery charger.


The spare tire mounted on the rear of the frame is a 100% functional clone of the other six tires. The toolbox behind the cab is functional in that it can be used to house a spare 600 mAh battery. Drivers who are interested in adding lights, or perhaps even an FPV camera system, will like the receiver’s auxiliary power port/pigtail. For a small model, the Atlas scores big in scale appearance. The retro-looking Lexan cab is prepainted and available in either a deep red or dusky blue scheme. Clear windows, wee windshield wipers, black fenders, grill and door handles, and twin chrome exhaust baffles all combine to make this model look respectably real in the variety of media that was shot for this review. Lifting pressure applied under the running boards releases the cab from a pair of notably strong magnets and allows it to pivot upward on forward-mounted hinges. This permits relatively easy access to the battery and the 2-in-1 receiver/ESC. This approach to mounting the small Lexan-composite cockpit to the frame frees this model from the more commonly used body post and clip retention system used on surface models, with the added bonus of eliminating the scale appearance spoiling effect created by such posts. After charging the small two-cell LiPo using the included USB charger plugged into an iPhone wall plug, I slid the transmitter handle onto the upper steering and servo controls module and powered it up. Although more experienced surface driving enthusiasts will likely not have the same experience, I found myself wondering if I was smarter than a fifth grader when it came time to power up the vehicle. Expecting to see the Atlas come to life when connecting the battery to the receiver (as 100% of our electric-powered RC aircraft typically do), I was a bit stymied when it remained dark and unresponsive. A quick reread of the instructional sheet offered no clues. After a bit of head-scratching, I finally noticed the wee, slightly opaque, silicon rubber rectangular boot that encases and protects the sliding on/off switch mounted to the side of the receiver box. With a gentle nudge in the right direction, the Atlas was alive! Although this 1/18-scale model might not possess the extreme clearance and suspension travel of some of its larger-scale siblings, this little truck, nonetheless, shines as an eminently affordable, entry-level introduction to the genre. Drivers will just need to seek out appropriately smaller rock piles and trails to attack with it.


an extra battery

Although sourcing an extra battery was not quite as easy as expected, the behind-the-cab toolbox is a great place to stow a charged second pack when heading out on the trails.


The Atlas is equipped with an inexpensive brushed motor, but the transmission is wholesale geared to give this tiny truck tons of torque. With six aggressively treaded rubber paws pounding the pavement, the Atlas excels at getting a grip and maintaining forward momentum over most terrain. I found its Kryptonite to be excessively steep inclines composed of mainly loose soil or sand. Atlas drivers need not avoid inclement weather or watery trailways, thanks to the waterproof onboard electronics. One of the best features of this cool-looking model is its usually long run durations. Although the manufacturer’s specifications suggest typical run durations of 30 minutes, I routinely went on excursions of 45 to 60 minutes on a two-cell 600 mAh LiPo battery! Each driver’s mileage will vary, with his or her throttle use and driving style ultimately factoring into the formula. One of the first items that drivers typically like to obtain for their new models is a spare battery or two. Alhough a small variety of spare parts is available online from several of the vendors currently distributing this product, I was somewhat surprised to find that none of them listed the battery. After a little more web sleuthing, I found that the CrossRC (crossrc.us) CR-18 crawler is reported to use the same JST DS connector-equipped two-cell 7.4-volt 600 mAh LiPo as the Atlas. With the CrossRC webstore showing them in stock, I ordered an extra and had it in my hand a few days later. Although this is merely the second surface model to emerge from RC airplane industry juggernaut FMS Model, it offers drivers an impressive scale rock crawling and trail tackling experience, and does it at a price point that is hard to beat.

Atlas outside on sunny days

The included LED headlights and taillights are surprisingly bright, even when running the Atlas outside on sunny days.

By Jon R. Barnes | barnesjonr@yahoo.com
Photos by the author

 

 

 

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