Laegendary Grando 1:10 Scale RC Rock Crawler Hands-On Review: Hobby-Quality At An Online Price

I have years of experience racing radio controlled cars, but my first time crawling blew me away by driving slow.

byMichael Febbo|
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Rock crawling is one of the most popular segments in RC cars. I’ll be honest, before testing this Laegendary Grando rock crawler, I didn’t understand the appeal of what is basically hiking, but with an RC car. It’s slow, tedious, frustrating at times, and can be ludicrously expensive. Luckily, the Grando mostly resolves the expensive part, at $319.19. After taking it out a few times, I found enjoyment in the relaxing, contemplative challenge.

I’ve written this before, but it might be worth repeating. I’ve been working as an automotive journalist for about 20 years. Before that, I worked for Shelby American in engineering and I’ve had a few other jobs in the car industry. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend most of my working life around cars, driving, and racing. I can trace it all back to my first RC car, a Tamiya Fast Attack Vehicle. It was the best Christmas present a third grader has ever received. I took a break from RC cars once I started driving and racing real cars. I’ve picked up the habit again now that my son is old enough to enjoy them. 

I’ve done a fair amount of real off-roading. Every SUV and crossover press launch has some amount of dirt. Years of doing Range Rover and Jeep events have given me some time on real trails. I was even a tech editor of a magazine that covered trucks and their trends. I bring this up merely to belabor the point that I have at least a cursory knowledge of what it is I need to know to review an expensive toy meant for a man-child.

The hows and whys of rock crawling

The most popular segment of RC trucks right now is “bashing.” It involves obscenely overpowered electronics stuffed into ruggedized buggy platforms with giant tires and bodies vaguely resembling a truck. Drivers launch vehicles dozens of feet in the air off jumps or at skate parks while doing flips, flat spins, and things normally associated with RC airplanes. It is thrilling to watch and generally results in piles of broken parts. This is not that. Rock crawling is slow and methodical. You need to think way ahead, like chess. Vehicles like this Grando have low gearing, for tons of torque; this even has a two-speed gearbox.

Instead of the usual independent A-arm suspension on most RC cars, rock crawlers use more realistic four-link solid axles. It still uses threaded-body oil-filled coilover shocks, but no anti-roll bars. The Grando rock crawler is capable of some pretty decent articulation. Both front and rear differentials are locked. This isn’t much of a handler on asphalt, but it works like a real truck when it has a tire off the ground. Some more expensive trucks have remote locking diffs.

The realistic ladder chassis under the Grando rock crawler is made from steel and the suspension and steering links are aluminum. The gears are all metal, but the driveshafts are plastic. The powertrain is a 550-sized motor. The electronic speed controller is rated for 60amps. It can handle a LiPo batteries, although a six-cell Nimh is included. A USB charger comes in the box as well, but that might be the first upgrade you want to make. The controller has five channels and controls the usual throttle and steering. It's also set up with lights, transmission, and a working winch.

One of the big complaints with RC cars bought online is that it's sometimes impossible to source replacement parts. Amazon lists parts for the Grando, but the secret is that this shares many mechanical components with the Axial SCX10. That means there’s a good chance you can find parts at your local hobby shop. While we’re talking about the Axial, its least expensive version is only slightly more than the Grando. That variant doesn’t include the two-speed trans, the metal parts, the winch, or a battery and charger. So the Grando is, in fact, a deal.

It’s like golf, but without having to deal with golfers

If you like hiking and you like cars, you’re probably going to like RC crawling. I was tempted to just throw a few big rocks and paint cans together in my backyard and call it a day. But, I am constantly on the lookout for an excuse to get my son’s face unstuck from a TV/computer/Switch/iPad screen for as long as possible. After some Googling, I found a local park with trails and plenty of exposed rock that RC crawling clubs use. If you’re ever in Las Vegas, look up Lone Mountain Park and Equestrian Trail. All the crawling photos in this article were shot there.

Being new at this, the first scaling attempts resulted in backflips and rollovers. It’s really easy to drop the hammer as soon as you start getting stuck. However, that generally ends in tire spin, sliding, rotating, and then tipping over. Be patient, be willing to back up and find a slightly different line. The Grando rock crawler is capable of climbing well over 45° but it requires meditative levels of attention on the throttle. It really does require you to push the seventeen unanswered emails, three editorial deadlines, the broken dishwasher, and what you’re making for dinner far, far out of your mind.

I didn’t remember the overcast sky, constant drizzle, and strong breeze until I started editing the photos and videos for this story. I recall my son and I being concerned about the conditions driving to the park, but once we were driving, that all seemed to go away. That says a lot.

Is the Grando upgradable and does it need them?

A couple of things occurred to me while driving the Grando rock crawler, even from a somewhat inexperienced crawling perspective. First, I know most enthusiasts will complain that this truck uses a brushed motor. I don’t think that’s a power issue as this seems to have plenty. There is a barely noticeable amount of notchiness in the drivetrain at very low throttle inputs. That may be as a result of the motor's brushes and it might clear up with a good brushless motor. 

My next observation may be more of a question of optimization vs realism. The truck would perform much better with a lower center of gravity. As I was looking at aftermarket parts for the Axial version of this truck, I found all sorts of brass parts, from diff covers to wheels that bring the CG way down. Adding any of these things would likely increase performance substantially, but would probably give it abilities way beyond what would be realistic in a real truck.

Laegendary Grando Rock Crawler Verdict

Just a few small issues keep the Grando from being the equal of hobby shop competitors. This isn’t a truck for someone brand new to the hobby or with no experience working with tools. To begin with, the wiring is a little bit of a mess straight out of the box. I used all of my self-restraint to test this exactly as it came. I was able to stop myself from doing anything more than adjusting the body mounts.

The wires for the lights on the roof rack hang down under the body on the inside, in a bundle up on the top of the body. This is a super quick fix. But, if you had this thing to a kid and say have fun, those wires are asking for trouble. The wheel well cutouts need enlarging, which is easy enough to do, but again is intimidating for a beginner.

Laegendary Grando Rock Crawler
Value10/10
Quality8/10
Ease Of Use8/10
Durability9/10
Overall9/10

Between RC cars, airplanes and 3D printing, I give my local hobby shop, Friendly Hobbies, a decent chunk of my income already. As a long time hobbyist, it pains me a little to recommend buying a truck from a faceless online retailer. But, as someone who does spend his own money on hobbies, I understand there’s a big difference between the roughly $330 for the Laegendary Grando and spending nearly twice that for a comparable name brand RC crawler. 

I’ve only driven the Grando a couple of times, and those were with my son. We are already in love with being in the outdoors, doing something together, and even getting a little bit of exercise from chasing the Grando up and down the rocks. It might start getting a little too hot here in Vegas to do this all the time, luckily a new indoor facility is about to open.

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