ECX Smash 1/18 Monster Truck Review

Alright boys and girls. This is the ECX Smash. It’s ECX’s (formerly known as Electrix) newest model. It’s a 1/18 mini monster truck. The Smash is completely ready to run, with everything included in the box (even AA’s) for the insanely low price of around $80. ECX is owned by Horizon Hobby (same with Team Losi), so it makes sense that this truck shares a bunch of parts with the Losi Mini-T. That means there’s a pretty good selection of aftermarket parts readily available for it (shocks, turnbuckles, CVD’s, bearings, better servo, gears, etc). Before we get too far into this, I want to thank our LHS, Buddyboys R/C for letting us borrow this truck for our review.

It comes with a basic 27mhz AM radio. One nice thing is that it has two Radio Frequencies included. This way if you buy 2 of the same color model, you can readily swap crystals and run them side by side without interference. It’s not the most sophisticated radio, but it’s fairly comfortable and it even has steering dualrate adjustment.

Here’s a quick shot of it’s guts. The electronic speed control (ESC) and receiver are one unit. One thing I do like is that the servo is a standard 3 wire servo. On the old Mini-T’s they used a weird 4 wire servo, so if you replaced the ESC/RX unit for something nicer, you had to find a new servo too. At least now you can use the same servo. This is of course in the event you decide to tear out the ESC/RX unit and pop in some sort of mini brushless system. That would REALLY wake this truck up.

Chassis shot.

A gearbox cover protects the spur gear from debris.

The front end.

Closeup of the ESC/Receiver unit.

And now for some video. Read on afterwards to see our final thoughts. The video can be a little misleading if watched on it’s own.

Hopefully you enjoyed the video, still getting the hang of this editing thing. We used a different cameraman than the RJ Speed video. This one thinks he’s a funny guy based on the ending.

So, bottom line… what do we think? Well, it’s a tough one. Based on the success of the Mini-T and other Losi Mini’s we’ve had I can say this is probably a solid option for a mini truck if that’s what you’re in the market for. That said, I still wish it came with the 6 cell rechargeable nimh pack. The pack ECX recommends costs $30 and comes with a wall charger. If you already have a charger, you should be able to pick up a comparable 6 cell from any off the online retailers or your local hobbyshop for around $20. That’s not TOO much to ask. Running it on AA’s is actually semi-convenient because you can pick up new ones at any gas station (but pay an arm and a leg).

If you insist on running the AA’s, I suggest running a high quality set of rechargeables. The set I was running are Sanyo Eneloops. They are around $20 for 4 with a charger. Very nice batteries. If you decide to buy them, and then go with the 6 cell pack later on, you can always use the AA’s in your transmitter (which by the way, the ECX radio takes 8).

With everything else non-battery related.. the radio worked great, had decent range, good response. The truck never broke anything (although it’s not really fast enough to break). One performance thing you’ll notice in the video, the rear end seemed like it had no oil in the shocks. It was VERY bouncy and had almost no dampening. Other than that the truck handled decent (most things do going this slow).

It wasn’t a ton of fun for me, being used to much faster things, but then again, I’m not the target demographic. I think this is something I would totally give my daughter if she were old enough. It’s cheap, it’s slow and easy to learn on, and small enough to be run indoors. I could drop $20 into a new pack and she could have a blast with it in the driveway. I think that’s where this truck would truly shine, is in the hands of a beginner. With a brushless system it could also be a fun parking lot/driveway basher for the more experienced.

Value @ a street price of $80, with everything in the box, this is the definition of value. Granted it would be better if it came with the rechargeable 6 cell, so I’ll dock it one spoon for that. I’d rather pay $100 and have ECX include the 6 cell pack like most mini models.
Appearance The ECX Smash is a neat little truck. It’s got a boxy SUV style body, with huge tires and bumpers that makes you want to run it into and over things. You won’t be running over the neighborhood cat with it, but you’d probably give the chipmunk living in your garage a run for it’s money.
Performance This is probably the most disappointing category with the Smash. Using the AA holster, with the stock AA’s it is pretty slow. Quality rechargeable AA’s sped it up a little, but I know there is a lot more potential to unlock with a 6 cell pack. For this review’s purpose, we are grading ONLY on the use with AA’s. Score would likely increase with a Nimh pack.
Durability Nothing broke on our test model, even with jumping it. We were only using the AA holster though, so with a 6 cell pack, it may actually go fast enough to break something. Based on my experience with the Mini-T and other Losi branded mini models though, this should have very few issues.
Would I buy again? Would I buy one for myself? Probably not. I have plenty of other trucks that were more fun out of the box (faster). Would I buy it for my kid? Definitely! It’s small enough to be used indoors, yet big enough to run outside. With AA’s it’s slow enough to learn on, and the 6 cell would be a great hopup as they learned to control it. This would make a nice Christmas gift.

Overall, I give it a 4 out of 5.

It’s a nice little truck. Slow, but it has some potential. It would be a great option for a kid getting into r/c. It would also be a decent project truck if you wanted to go brushless with it or something crazy.




UPDATE: Check out THIS post to see how to make the ECX Smash, a lot more fun.

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2 Responses to “ECX Smash 1/18 Monster Truck Review”

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  2. David Massa says:

    I think your review was spot on. I got it for my 8 year old son and he loves it. Forget the AA batteries though, that’s the slow down on this rig. I switched the battery to a Dynamite 7.4v 20C 2000mAh Lipid and the truck screams with it: it fits in the battery bay as if it had been designed for it, and it is likely since the truck’s electrical components were made by Dynamite also. With this battery, it’s a 5 spoon.

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