Monday, April 07, 2008

Product Review : NINCO Schlesser FOX Buggy

First Impressions
I have always been intrigued by the looks of the RAID truck, however running all my other fast road cars on road courses, I never had the need for a truck. Let me just say that the NINCO Schlesser FOX buggy was an absolute surprise. It's fast, responsive and incredibly nimble.

Below you can see some of the excellent detail on the Schlesser FOX buggy body. All the details are well done from the external tampos, the navigator's sheet is complete with turn by turn directions (of what track I dont know though). You can see the headlights planted safely between the fenders, with 4 reproduction HID off-road lights on the front bar.

NINCO did an excellent job with this livery. The one thing they could do however is to bring this one out in the 2008 no. 331 Petersen Motorsports / MMPIE / PAWS / White Lightning livery (and while they are at it, give us the White Lightining version of the GT2 Ferrari 360 GTC as well).

One of the details on the Schlesser that you can just make out on the side of the buggy where the "drich" of the BF Goodrich tampo is located, is a round door. On the NINCO, this door does not open like it does on the real buggy, but NINCO didn't leave out whats below the door...a set of spare tires! One on the drivers and one on the passenger side. Lets pop the body off and see whats under the covers, before we check out its nimble moves!

Under the Covers

As you can tell by the chassis shot, there are only 2 screws that hold the body to the chassis tht are located at the front of the chassis. With the body off, you can also see the spare tires that are hidden under the body where the doors are marked on the body. Inside the chassis, we the NINCO NC-7 RAIDER motor (19,300 RPM at 14.8 volts) putting out of torque with a 9t pinion installed. For those of you following specs, thats just a only 700 RPM less and less torque than the NC-5. Bottom line, a smooth motor, with good pull. For those of you missing the NC-2 motor that don't mind trimming the motor shaft down just a hair, this could be an excellent alternative for you.

The part that did surprise me about this vehicle the most, was that it was only rear wheel drive. I always thought taht these being trucks, that they were band based AWD systems. If you look at the chassis well, there's not enough room to add pulleys and a band to it without some body and chassis re-work to relocate the front body mount holes. Move those, and you would have enough room to drop a band system in there. Between the motor and pinion, you can just makeout the silver colored lines. Thats where the magnet in these sit. You look at the photos below, you can makeout what looks like a black rectangular shape below the chassis, thats the compartment where the magnet sits.

The back of the body is held on with a plastic tab that fits rather tightly inside a slot on the rear of the body. If you look at the rear of the buggy below, you can see the smile shaped tab between the "X824" and "203" tampo markings. We will be talking about the suspension later, but you can tell that its fairly nimble.Despite the Schlesser Buggy being what it is, it does sit fairly low to the track, and the pull of the magnet is noticeable when you get it near the rails on the track. Granted, these don't sit as close to the track as say the Mosler, Ascari or Supra's, but check out the photo below and I think you will be surprised.
Now that you have seen how tall the body isn't and how low the chassis really is, its time to talk about how well the NINCO Schlesser FOX buggy can rise to the occation when needed. The FOX is equipped with the RED NINCO ProShock 2 coil-over shocks. The RED ProShock 2 shocks are the soft ones that NINCO makes. NINCO also makes the 80209 Medium (Blue) and 80210 Hard (Yellow) shocks, if you want to upgrade the suspension for whatever reason. I found this suspension extremely nice to use the NINCO off-road surface, but was way too soft for consistent cornering on the high speed corners of a technical, asphalt surface.

Now then lets see how far this thing can go in the other direction. I will let the picures speak for themselves, and let you do the mental math in your head. Each of the white, foam discs that you see under the tires below are 13.5mm tall. Keep in mind that in the photos below, the guide is IN the slot AND the braids are firmly in contact with the surface of either the power rails or setup block.

The front suspension is fully compressed in these photos, however the drop arm is not fully suspended. Yes, if you did the math, thats a 27mm lift in the front with the guide still in the slot. Now then while the Schlesser buggy can go up and over a 27mm rise, it will hang on the front and rear mud flaps as well as the sides of the chassis if you make obstacles that tall on your off-road track. On another interesting note, if you run this on a home made track and have a 27mm high rise in the track with a fairly short, steep entry/exit grade, the front guide (because of where the braids are mounted) can get into a position where the leading edge of the braid doesn't make contact with the track, because the plastic front edge hits it first. If you want to see how long the drop arm and guide assembly extend, then check out the below. The guide is 2mm off the surface.

One of the things that I think makes the suspension in the trucks move more freely than the suspensions say in the Porsche 911 or Mitsubishi Lancer EVO that NINCO also make, is that the brass bushings in the Schlesser buggy are all single width bushings, not the double bushings that are used in the other cars. With the double bushings, you have the shock mounting point and the axle guide for the chassis in the same place. In the Schlesser, the chassis guides are near the centerline of the chassis, with the shock mount points outside near the wheels, allowing for good axle float, while still keeping the axles snugly mounted.

Track Time

On the track, the Schlesser buggy was an excellent performer. I got to run the buggy on a NINCO track equipped with some NINCO off-road sections as well as a snow-drift corner and it handled the track extremely well. I was running it against a NINCO Porsche 911 and Peugeot 306, and the truck handled the bumps in the track much better than the cars with suspension.

I had the opportunity to take it with me on a recent trip to Shanghai and while there, a friend of mine located a commercial track there, so we went down to run some cars. They primarily ran 1/24th scale wings, but there were a few 1/32 hard bodies running around or should I say screaming around the track. I dropped the Schlesser FOX on the track there and hit the trigger. The buggy got a few looks when it hit the track, but it wasn't till I hit the trigger and the tires started singing down the front straight of the track, much like monster mudders do on a 4x4 cruising down your local highway. After turning some laps with the buggy, I changed slot cars, and it wasn't long before my friend was having to translate for me in answering questions about where I got the car. I let a few of the interested parties drive it and they were all surprised at how well it ran on the track, including the acceleration. Now then, its not a Deathstar screamer, but they all though it was going to run much slower than it did as well as react slower to braking. Bottom line, they loved it, especially the sound it made when zipping down the straight and in the long sweepers.

I personally love this photo, it shows off the unique body in a rather unorthodox manner.

There were a few quality control issues with the buggy when it was first removed from the case. The front chassis axle bearings were dislodged and sitting in the space between the walls of the chassis. The motor lead wires were also routed funny (one over the front axle, one under). Other than that, all was perfectly fine. The wheels were all round and true, as were the off-road treaded tires.All in all, the NINCO Schlesser FOX is a really nice product that you will enjoy running for a while. The part that I cant figure out though is why NINCO continue to bring out the RAID line of trucks and other rally cars with suspensions, however has dropped their lineup of off-road tracks.

The Finish Line

Final Rank: : 4 Controllers.

Livery: Very well done. Clean tampo work, nice gloss. Give us the White Lightning versions listed above!

Performance: Miss your NC2 powered rides, then this one is for you! Get some RAID truck racing going, get up off the braids a little and test your cornering skills.

Price: 64.98 MSRP

Comments: NINCO has a really cool addition to its lineup that needs a home in your pitbox and it's perfect for a change of pace on your track.

Special thanks to Scale Auto Racing, Inc. for providing off hours access to the Cypress Point Raceway and the NINCO test track.

If you have questions or need any help please feel free to e-mail me at

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