A Tale of Two RC’s – Real versus Fake RC’s

Are all RC Vehicles created equal?  If they both have a busy paint scheme, rubber tires and an included 2.4ghz remote, does that make them both on the same playing field?  If they cost around the same amount, does that make them equal?  They clearly are not. Real versus Fake RC’s – what’s the difference?

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Hobby Grade

The RCNetwork typically features hobby grade products from reputable vendors. What do I mean by ‘hobby grade?”  I mean an RC that has standard replaceable parts and electronics that can easily be removed and put back on or changed and upgraded.  I can easily find these parts and they fit and work with my RC.

The Death Adder

In January 2016, I was approached by a company called GearBest.  They offered to send me product for review and after about five to six declined offers (me declining), I accepted a product that they felt strongly about. The product looked decent, it seemed “hobby grade.”  It was the SST (Saisu Tech) Racing Death Adder 1/9th scale 4wd brushless Rally Car complete with Lipo and Charger!  Now, when I accepted the product for review, I noticed a price on their site (GearBest) of $249.99.

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The Death Adder Doesn’t Add Up

Upon unboxing the SST Death Adder on video, I noticed things that really bothered me as a reviewer and influencer.  The body was damaged upon inspection and was paper thin around the fenders.  Many of the electronics were cheap looking and unbranded with no markings.  The suspension was terrible.  If you pushed down on the rear suspension, it stayed down…..not returning to a resting position, meaning the shocks were assembled incorrectly.  Next, while pushing the Death Adder across my studio table, the drive-train stuck.  It was clicking on the rear differential and with even the heaviest force, would not rotate the drive-train.  I concluded the video and contacted GearBest via email with my findings.  They immediately defended the product claiming I must be mistaken and wanted video proof of the issues, so I posted the video.  Once they viewed the video, they wanted the video taken down…..which I did not oblige.  Since January 2016, GearBest discontinued the product and is available at other discounters for $227.06.

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ProRally Time

Fast forward 12 months and I have started on the Beginner Series featuring the
Team Associated ProRally, which at the time of the unboxing January 2017 was $229.99 for the 1/10th scale 4wd Rally Car and $259.99 with a  Lipo battery and balance charger.  It got me thinking, are these two Rally Cars that much different?

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Real vs. Fake RC’s

They both are made in China, both around the same pricing, they look similar, same size box.  The biggest difference is the governing brand, Team Associated.  Of course being a huge brand in the RC industry, Team Associated has the final call of what item gets their name and bottom line, their heritage attached to the box/vehicle.

The Two Rally Cars are Nothing Alike

First off, the SST Death Adder is not really a “Hobby Grade” RC. After a quick google search if parts are really available and searching “front A-Arms” on both. The SST product had one listing globally for a set of A-Arms via eBay for $27.87  USD.  The ProRally had listings at all the big online RC retailers including a Amain and Tower Hobbies for $5.39.

Electronics and Drive-Train

Now for the electronics – the SST product had no markings on the motor or servo at all.  The ESC did have a marking of the amperage rating but that’s it. The ProRally was badged with XP and Reedy electronics through out and badging with model numbers.

The SST product had all the above mentioned issues with the drive-train and the shocks.  The ProRally has a smooth drive-train and the suspension was very plush with a bit more travel than a Rally car should have.

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The Real RC

So, what do you get for maybe a few more bucks from a reputable RC vendor?  You get a quality product that they stand behind and has went through a system of quality control.  You get actual brand licensing like the “RockStar Energy Drink” logos on the ProRally.  You get post-sale help if the product isn’t 100% as you would expect.

So, have you seen some of these companies pop up and try to filter in sub-par product to the RC community?  Have you yourself been burned by a company that doesn’t stand behind their product (other than mis-use or user error….these are RC’s!)?  Have you seen blatantly copied products that have been sheltered by an ocean?  Have you seen licensing infringements?  Comment below!


  1. Absolutely love this post! There are many “clones” on the over seas market. One commonly copied vehicle that stands out in my mind is the HPI Savage Flux . It bothers me because. When someone purchases one of these piles of junk. They actually expect them to perform as advertised. They see “aluminum” parts and a flashy screen print body shell. Add to that, an attractive price and… Gocha! They drop the doh and don’t think twice. Then when they get to running it and oops the diff stripped out. Then uh oh the servo is glitching. And dam my body shell decintigrated and my alluminum shock towers are bent!! How could my alluminum shock towers bend??!!?? Well it’s cheap materials. Shoddy workmanship and little to no customer support. Then that person who was so excited for their first “hobby grade” RC is now abundantly frustrated by the whole experience that possibly that person gives up on it. That’s what really bugs me.
    Now there are a few decent enough “budget” off brand RCs out there . IE Hobby Kings Basher line. And even for myself , with 15 years + in the hobby. I like to be able to get a cheapo that I can just thrash and not worry about. So I do believe the cheapos have a place in the hobby for certain. However . It’s when the vehicles are over spec’d and hyped up by the manufacturer. Leading to a frustrated first timer that upsets me most.

    • Well said Dana! As a matter of fact I’ve got a budget build coming up where you get a good hobby grade RC for a great price. So hopefully a new hobbyist won’t sink their money into something that’s just not worth it. Stay tuned.

  2. I’m hearing you Rich!
    I got burnt bad by Gear Best with my first Quad build.
    After soldering all the wires to circuit boards, ta da! Finished I rewatched the YouTube made sure all the right wires were in the right place.
    Then hooked up a 2S Lipo to configure the the Quad on the PC. Zap and a puff of smoke! I quickly unplugged the Lipo, and started to retrace all the steps.
    Nope everything was as it should be. Blaming myself first for making some mistake I bought a volt meter and started digging deeper. But still everything came up trumps. So I sat there staring at my nearly $400 investment without the radio gear! I notice something shinny inside the copper windings of one of the motors, a piece of solder. So I try to spin the motor and it felt all gritty. With a set of fine nosed tweezers I pull out three large pieces of solder.
    So I contact GearBest and that’s were a six month battle begun.
    First it was my fault, then after photographic evidence it was not covered under warranty because.
    GearBest believes “anything” RC moves and therefore they void of warranty after you open the box, unless it is “dead on arrival”, which means opening the box and voiding your warranty.
    So you need XRay glasses to inspect your purchase before you open it, to make sure it is not “dead on arrival” before you open it to find it faulty.
    Then they offered me a voucher for I think $15, of course I refused and argued that Lipos have a habit of catching fire when short circuited and that the kit was not safe, and I was not willing to risk myself or household. This was not a concern to them at all.
    GearBest then began to send me to every department and in the end wanted me, at my cost to send them the kit for their inspection. By now, I’m ready to loose it.
    So I went social media, a means I have never used due to my occupation. I slagged them and their warranties, policies, quality control and customer service on every website, and social media outlet I could.
    Everyday I went to their website and warned other prospective customers of their rights according to GearBest. After a few months of spreading the word they agreed to refund the purchase price of the kit.
    On the proviso that I ceased my multi media campaign.
    I accepted the offer and have never bought through them again and will not ever buy through them again, and would not recommend anyone doing so themselves.
    They are a greedy, unscrupulous company who will not stand behind any of the products they sell.
    Being an offshore company they are not subject to any of the consumer rights laws that we have in Australia and will screw you for every cent, have a blatant disregard for the health and safety of their customers and no quality control. Tie this together with the fine print of their warranties and policies and you’ll find you’re on your own to fight them. A game of attrition.
    Check out any of the sites that rate companies and you’ll find figures like 75% of customers were satisfied and nothing in the middle ratings, then 25% of customers completely dissatisfied.
    Pretty concerning figures when 25% of your customers are rating you at the lowest possible rating.
    As you stated Rich, buy through reputable, well known and tried and tested companies, local hobby shops etc. because in the price of a product you purchase is an amount set aside for service.
    A word not in GearBest’s business plan.

  3. Very well put. Gearbest has the absolute worst customer service. Took me several emails to get anyone to reply to me. This is after taking a month to even pack my items that I paid extra for “express shipping” never did get an apology… Then half of my items were broken. Probably should have started a dispute with paypal, but I chalked it up to the price of learning not to buy from them again.

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