For those who have been tinkering with WLToys RC buggies over the last few years, it has become pretty common knowledge that the now famous 144001, 124019 and 124018 are clones of the lesser-known LC Racing EMB series. So, who is LC Racing? They are an RC brand that has been around since 2012 when they launched their 1/14 scale EMB platform. In 2013, they began to sell in the USA under the Tacon brand, offering the product line in both brushed and brushless models. The Tacon and LC Racing product ranges consists of a short wheel-base buggy (the EMB-1), which the 144001 is a clone of and the short wheelbase monster truck (EMB-MT) which the 144002 is a clone of. They also have longer wheelbase 1/14 versions for their Truggy (EMB-TG), Desert Truck (EMB-DT), Short Course Truck (EMB-SC) and Rally Car (EMB-WRC) that the 124019 and 124018 are based on. They have since expanded to larger 1/10 scale RC’s, but their bread-and-butter products are still the 1/14 and 1/12 scale categories.
Looking at the two images of the LC Racing EMB1 and WLToys 144001, one would be very hard pressed to distinguish the differences on the surface. The EMB-T and 124019 visually look different mainly because of the body styles and wheels, but they share the same architecture underneath the covers. But still equally difficult to see in pictures is why an LC Racing model commands a 2x price premium compared to the WLToys model. As a point of reference for when this article was written (November 2021), a brushed 124019 with 3 batteries retailed for USD$139 and an LC Racing EMB-T with 3 batteries for USD$270 on Banggood.com.
LC Racing EMB1 vs WLToys 144001
LC Racing EMB-T vs. WLToys 124019
The objective in this article is to take you through my in-depth rebuild of a 124019 into an OEM+ spec and compare how it ends up beside an out of the box LC Racing EMB-T (Truggy) Ready-to-Run model. I will do my best to breakdown the key differences between the two brands and highlight where the extra money goes when you buy an LC Racing model and to offer better insight that is often not discussed or explained in detail on most reviews I’ve seen so far. I will also show what upgrades can be done on the 124019 (also applicable to the 144001 and 124018) to close some of the performance gaps when compared to the already brushless EMB-T.
To those who might ask, why didn’t I start with a 124017 brushless model instead? Simply because I had purchased a used 124019 from a community member and wanted to do a full teardown and rebuild. Starting with a 124017 would have eliminated the need to purchase some of the upgraded parts, but as QuadifyRC has already written extensively in his article here, the over gearing issue would still need to be addressed. I will include a review of what parts I would swap on a 124017 in the cost comparison to bring it more in line with my OEM+ 124019 build as a comparison.
For starters to clear up an area that is often confusing for those new to this model of RC, in the image below from left to right is the WLToys 144001, WLToys 124019 and LC Racing EMB-T. The 144001 is marketed as a 1/14 scale and the 124019 is a 1/12 scale. However, the LC EMB-T is marketed as a 1/14 scale despite being the same physical size as the 124019 and different scale spec on paper.
144001 vs. 124019 vs. EMB-T Chassis
To make things a bit extra confusing, LC Racing has their official 1/12 scale buggy that is the LC12B1. It is same size and length as the EMB-T except with a mid-motor layout. I cover in greater detail the LC12B1 in the build guide here in case you are curious to learn more about it. As you can see in the image of the models together, 124019, EMB-T and LC12B1 all share the same length.
144001 vs. 124019 vs. EMB-T vs. LC12B1
When looking at the core underpinnings between the WLToys 124019 and LC EMB-T, it is evident that there are visual differences. The 124019 has a brushed metallic finish whereas the EMB-T has an anodized finish. From a practicality perspective, there isn’t a major difference except the LC has a smoother feel to the touch due to the more expensive anodization process. In terms of materials, both are made of aluminum, but I have a strong feeling that the alloy used in the WLToys is of a softer grade and more prone to flexing and bending based on what I have seen in many of the Facebook groups in collision related posts. I’m not about to test which one can handle more pressure before it bends on itself. I am not THAT curious.
The weight is essentially equivalent between the two chassis.
What is notable are the differences in the hole placements in the chassis. The images shown is the EMB-T chassis on top of the 124019. The holes where the differential housings mount line up and for the most part the outer holes for the side guards. Everything else in between is offset quite a bit between the two brands. Namely, the holes for the steering columns, servo mount, motor mount, spur cover and battery tray do not line up directly. The outer edge where the chassis bends on the 124019 is also slightly wider by 1-2mm, so any LC racing side guards you mount will require a bit of manipulation for the screws to bite into the plastic.
The driveline of the 124019 and EMB-T is really where we start to see the big differences in sophistication, durability, and cost. However, this is also an area that requires dismantling half of the car to access to analyze and understand. I will do a breakdown of the three main areas of the driveline components: central driveshaft, the spur gear assembly, and the differentials.
Starting with what is the most obvious difference is the 124019 uses a basic solid driveshaft that connects the front and rear differentials. The advantage to this design is obviously its simplicity, but also its reduced cost to manufacture. However, what you give up when going to a solid driveshaft design is the ability to absorb flex in the chassis. The floating dog bone design in the EMB-T allows for some give in the chassis on an impact so it doesn’t damage the differentials when there is a compressing force. With the WLToys design, chassis flex will likely result in a bent driveshaft and in more severe cases, chipped diff pinion gears or diff bevel gears. I should note that two of our more proactive members in the QuadifyRC Facebook group did come up with a modification for the WLToys platform to adopt LC Racing’s dog bone in this article here to help resolve this problem if you already own one of these cars.
The next major area of difference is the spur assembly between the two brands. WLToys is a basic plastic spur in a M0.7 pitch that mounts directly to the driveshaft. The larger pitch helps in the durability department as it has proven to be quite robust even when large amounts of power are put through it and in my opinion not considered the weakest link in the drivetrain. The downside with the M0.7 pitch is the lack of pinion options that are readily available in the market to make fine tune adjustments.
124019 Spur and Upgraded Diff Pinion on Left / EMB-T Slipper Spur Assembly on Right
The EMB-T utilizes a more sophisticated slipper clutch assembly. A slipper clutch is as the name implies a mechanism that allows for some slip in the drivetrain. It consists of a 0.5M pitch spur that is sandwiched between a clutch pad material and two machined aluminum plates that are held in place through spring tension. The level of tightness of the slipper can be tuned depending on the traction level of the surface being driven on. So, for a high traction surface, you may run it a bit looser, but on a loose surface, you may tighten it more. It serves as both a traction management device as well as a protection mechanism by absorbing sharp and sudden forces applied to the driveline. Situations when sudden throttle inputs are applied, the slipper will take the edge off the shock being transferred to the differentials. It will also help reduce the initial force sent to the wheels to prevent a traction loss due to the tires being overpowered. Additionally, when the car is in the air and landing a jump, the higher rotational wheel speed and inertia created while in the air will abruptly slow down on a high traction surface, which will send a shock through the driveline. The slipper will absorb this sudden impact to protect the differentials and motor. This is a feature on higher end RC’s and commonly used on cars built for off-road carpet tracks due to the high grip nature of the surface.
A part of the driveline that is quite different in terms of materials used between WLToys and LC Racing is in the CVDs and dog bones used to send power between the differentials to the wheels. Visually, they look the same in pictures, but it is the composition of the metal used and manufacturing process that is the differentiator. LC Racing uses a hardened metal in the manufacturing of the CVDs, resulting in higher strength that is less prone to bending. Similarly, this applies to the dog bones and the drive cups sometimes used in the rear wheels. With enough force or impact, either of these will bend or break, but LC Racing ones have proven to be more durable in my own experience, requiring less frequent replacement.
LC Racing on the right / WLToys on the left
WLToys (left) Drive-cup vs. LC Racing (right)
The differential is another area that is designed very differently. For those who have followed QuadifyRC’s articles on the first maintenance steps for when you take ownership of a WLToys car, you would have become quite familiar with this part. The fact that a budget RC like the 124019 comes with all around metal differentials is amazing to start with. It is a basic open differential design that requires proper greasing to lubricate the gears and to add some resistance to aid traction. From the factory, the amount of grease applied is inconsistent and always needs to be dismantled to ensure there is enough to prevent premature wear. The diffs come shimmed and for the most part, the tension is set nicely and will bed in after one or two packs for a smoother feel. The metal is a cast zinc alloy and is on the softer side, so will require more regular servicing or replacement. There are no seals on these differentials, which eliminates the option of using a lighter weight RC differential silicone oil to tune with.
The LC EMB-T differentials are of a similar design but utilize a hardened metal will be more durable and are fully sealed with a silicone o-ring. The sealing enables the use of differential oil is a major benefit for tuning as well as service life. On the tuning aspect, different weights of oils are available to manage how much slip the differential has, which will impact traction on different surface types. For example, it is possible to use thicker oil in front compared to the rear which will give the car a better feel while cornering when power is applied to the wheels. All great features if you’re the type that likes to fine-tune your RC to get the most out of its performance. The seal also keeps dirt and moisture out of the gears, which helps with prolonging service intervals.
Seals on upper and lower cups of the LC Racing differentials with hardened gears
Many have asked, is it possible to swap over the in part or in full of LC Racing driveline to a WLToys to get these added advantages? Unfortunately, the two are not compatible in anyway due to different gear pitch and sizing. The WLToys uses a larger pitch 12t diff pinion gear and 30t outer diff bevel compared to LC’s 15t diff pinion and 37t outer diff bevel. The differential size in the WLToys is slightly larger than the LC due to larger gear pitch. The slipper clutch is also not compatible due to the different sized bearings used to stabilize the diff pinion assembly, the differential housing size and motor mount placement on the chassis. However, there is an upgrade available for the WLToys differentials in the form of hardened metal gears that are not made of the soft zinc-based blend the stock gears come in to help make the drivetrain more durable.
I opted to replace the original gears with the hardened metal kit that is sold with all the metal gears needed to reinforce the diffs. What needs to be retained for this upgrade is the original screws, outdrive cups, plastic diff housing and the shims.
The darker bronze colored metal are the hardened gears compared the original WLToys
Everything fits in easily enough when reusing the original shims provided in the diffs. I would still suggest getting some extra shims when rebuilding the diffs just in case there’s still excess play. It allows for the tension to be set to avoid excessive play and premature wear. As you can see in the images, everything fits in nicely and the gears themselves have a nicer bronzish finish. The kit also includes the diff pinion gears to ensure all metal-to-metal contact uses the same type of metal. I have also experimented with filling my diffs with a heavy 15000wt silicone oil. This oil is thick enough to stay inside without leaking out too quickly. The result is a nice smooth feel with a some of resistance. Depending on how much and how hard you drive your cars, you may need to check and refill more often as there will eventually be leakage, much like using grease due to the unsealed design.
With the upgraded metal, it should be able to withstand the more demanding stress and pressures from a brushless motor system. I can say that after a few battery packs to let the gears break in, the drivetrain is quite smooth, but with a bit more resistance than the stock diffs. Time will tell how these hold up, but those who have been using this upgrade in the community have had mostly positive feedback. Although not quite as good as the fully sealed LC Racing differentials, this is a relatively inexpensive upgrade to help get your WLToys to 60% of the way there to be more durable and reliable.
As a comparison, below are two videos of the 124019 and the EMB-T rolling for fun. (Video to follow)
The suspension system of the 124019 is a direct copy of LC Racing. The geometry and overall design are pretty much one-to-one, but with a focus on cost reduction with materials used. When you see the front and rear swing arm assemblies’ side by side, it is hard to differentiate one for the other. The plastic quality is probably quite similar. The RTR EMB-T uses the standard swing arms instead of the upgraded “hard” arms that are an option part. A small, but nice detail is that the LC Racing RTR models come equipped with a grub screw in the arms to adjust the ride height or droop. Not a big issue if you have some M3 sized screws or grub screws, but it is something you need to add for yourself on the WLToys. Here is the article that shows you how to install on the WL Toys range
There aren’t any major differences in quality in this aspect except for the materials used for the shock towers. The 124019 uses a stamped steel alloy and the EMB-T uses lighter weight aluminum with an anodized finish. Visually they are quite similar, but there is a slight difference in the angle of the bend in the towers that doesn’t make them an exact match between the two. Something to keep in mind if you were thinking of using the LC Racing units on a WLToys or vice versa.
One area that is often overlooked are the turnbuckles. The WLToys turnbuckles have a tendency of popping off on a hard hit. The LC Racing uses an enclosed ball cup design that stays in place very well. A small detail that isn’t paid attention to until they pop off often enough that it becomes bothersome. The WLToys turnbuckles and ball screws can be upgraded to the LC Racing parts, but the LC Racing ball screws and turnbuckles must be used together as they are not compatible between the two brands.
LC Racing Turnbuckle
The 124019 and EMB-T use the same sized shocks, with slightly shorter shock bodies for the front compared to the rear. On the outside, they appear the same, but it is on the inside where you see the differences. The piston design in the 124019 is a basic one that is held in place with a single pin, whereas the EMB-T has a c-clip that more evenly distributes weight on the piston itself. But what is most notable about the piston is the tolerances. In my experience, I normally use 40wt silicone shock oil in my WLToys builds. With LC Racing, I can use a lighter 20wt oil to get the same dampening feel. LC Racing also uses silicone O-rings on the lower seals, which eliminate any oil leaks and air getting inside the shock body.
Spring stiffness is another key area of difference between the two brands. LC Racing springs are stiffer and require less preload for a firmer feel. What really can’t be seen in pictures or videos is the overall feel of the shocks on compression. The LC Racing units are smooth in comparison to the WLToys. Even when the 124019 shocks are new and rebuilt with fresh oil, there is a feeling of friction in the movement that you can feel as you squeeze the shocks. This is likely due to the finish of the shock shafts, the O-rings, and the inside of the shock body where the piston makes contact when it slides up and down inside. If a set of 124019 shock replacements are needed, I would highly recommend getting the LC Racing units as an upgrade as they cost about the same price, but the quality difference is night and day and are a direct drop-in replacement.
I tried to record a video of the shocks to try to show an aspect of the smoothness differences. You may need to raise the volume, but on the 124019, you can hear and feel the friction when compressing the shock. The EMB-T is quiet in comparison.
No surprises here, the LC Racing drivetrain in RTR format is a fantastic setup with a powerful 2850 4500KV brushless motor and a 35A Hobbywing Quicrun ESC that is superior out of the box to the 124019’s 550 brushed motor and combined ESC/receiver combo. As the LC Racing car is already brushless, there isn’t much required in terms of upgrading if you plan on sticking to running a 2S lipo battery. The system works remarkably well and the 50mm can length offers plenty of torque to turn the larger diameter truggy wheels.
To bring the OEM+ 124019 up to a comparable performance level as a light basher/racer, I have upgraded to a Surpass Hobby KK 2845 3800KV brushless motor along with a Hobbywing Quicrun 16BL30 to match up to what the EMB-T is equipped with. The Quicrun 16BL30 is effectively the same ESC that comes with all the LC Racing RTR models, but with an on-paper rating that is 5A lower. In the real world, I couldn’t tell a difference between the two. One question that you may have is why have I decided to use a lower 3800KV motor when the LC Racing is using a 4500KV? The answer is because of the gearing used and wanting to balance the setup that runs cool in almost any condition with responsiveness. The steps I followed to make the upgrade are documented in the Easy No-Cut Option that QuadifyRC has outlined.
Let’s dive into the topic of gearing for a moment, as this is an important area of difference between the two brands and models. The 124019 comes with a fixed motor mount that supports only two different pinion sizes, the stock 27t and a 15t to work with the M0.7 44t spur. For this build, I have used the 15t pinion as it offers the best possible responsiveness for the WLToys platform without the need to modify the motor mount. We have already seen how bad the cogging can be when pairing a 2845 sized motor with a 27t pinion on the 124017, 124016 and EAT14 brushless RC’s. The slow response for me was not an option and I would gladly sacrifice some top end speed for better low-end acceleration.
The LC Racing EMB-T comes with an adjustable motor mount that can accommodate between the 16t all the up to a 22t 0.5M pinion, which gives more fine-tuning options for track and intended use. The ability to adjust gearing should not be overlooked as you can tune the car for quicker acceleration for coming out of turns or setting up for jumps or you can tune it for higher top-end if the track has longer sections where top speed is prioritized. All important aspects in a racing or track application, but equally important for general bashing because this will impact how the car feels. Added bonus is that the motor can be removed on the LC Racing without dismantling half the car it is a two-piece design over the single piece design on the WLToys.
WLToys one piece mount vs. LC Racing adjustable two-piece mount
Going back to gearing, another consideration for me using a 2845 3800KV motor with a 15t pinion combination in the 124019 is to target a very similar wheel RPM speed as the EMB-T using a 2850 4500KV motor and the RTR 17t pinion. The RPM to transmission speed is a required data point to understand the impact of gearing in combination with motor output and is needed to calculate wheel RPM. The two setups are very evenly match up based on the below calculations:
(Motor KV x Battery Voltage) / (Spur Gear / Pinion Gear) = RPM to Transmission
The final drive ratio of the diff pinion and bevel between the LC (37t/15t) at 2.46 and WLToys (30t/12t) at 2.5 is also similar. The resulting RPM to the wheels is nearly identical with our targeted setup, which means we should expect similar top speed regardless of the wheel size used on both cars.
RPM to wheels is calculated below:
Having had experience running the 15t pinion in several different motors on the WLToys platform as well as running the 17t pinion on the LC EMB-T in various conditions with 85mm wheels, I can say that both will be very quick (almost equal) and still run cool.
With the motors mounted in the car, you can clearly see how different the driveline is and the added sophistication of the LC Racing assembly compared to WLToys. You can also see that the slipper assembly sits a few millimeters further back on the chassis compared to the spur assembly of the 124019.
The Steering Assembly
The steering assembly between the WLToys and LC Racing are almost identifical, however the stack height of the WLToys is a few millimeters taller than LC Racing. This is due to the larger sized differentials, which increases the differential housing height and as a result the servo saver and steering columns need to be taller on WLToys. So take note that these parts are not interchangeable between the two brands despite how similar they look. One thing I noticed is that the plastics used on the 124019 servo saver seem to be quite soft and flimsy. They should do fine in absorbing an impact as it will flex, but it is noticeably softer compared to the LC Racing.
An extension of the steering assembly are the hubs and hub carrier. In the image below, you can see how closely WLToys cloned LC Racing’s design. The hub carriers can be interchanged, but will require some adjustments on the turnbuckles to reset the alignment. The most appreciable difference is the bearings used in the hubs on the LC Racing compared to WLToys. The 124019 employs a partially shielded 4x7x1.8mm sized bearing compared to the EMB-T uses a fully sealed 4x8x3mm bearing. Not only are the sealed bearings better at keeping dirt out, the larger size makes them more robust and virtually remove excessive play in wheels without the need for shimming or using thicker than specified bearings. The LC Racing hubs can easily be used on the WLToys as long as the LC bearings are used together.
WLToys Left / LC Racing Right
The EMB-T comes with the standard plastic geared Batan servo that comes with all RTR LC Racing RC’s. It does the job well enough, but in my experince has been a bit inconsistent from one car to another. With the brushless upgrade, I’ve had to replace the stock 5-wire WLToys servo with the trusty metal geared Surpass Hobby S0017M that is my personal favorite for this platform. I had initially installed an EMAX servo that may be seen in some pictures, but I couldn’t get used to the slow response rate. One thing to note is the Batan servo is of a larger size compared to the micro servo used in the WLToys. These parts are not drop in replacements for each other without modifying either the servo mount or the chassis mounting holes.
Batan: 32.2x15x28.1mm vs. Surpass Hobby: 28x13.2x29.6mm
Other Key Differences
I’ve gone through the most significant differences between the two platforms, but there are still some things that are worth a mention that highlight the price gap between the two brands. One aspect is the hardware used on the LC Racing rigs is of much better quality. The stainless hex screws are much more durable and less prone to stripping. I did use some of the LC screws on the 124019 where I could. Mainly in areas that are using M2.5 screws as well as screws that go into metal such as the bottom and top of the motor mount and the screws that attach to the steering columns. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but good hardware goes a long way in ease of service for the car. I would also say that it is not an understatement how much easier it is to not have to melt super glue off screws when dismantling an LC Racing rig. We’ve all experienced some level of frustration with this as if it is a rite of passage when you join the community of WLToys ownership.
What is also obvious are the body differences between the two models. The 124019 comes with a lexan wing, whereas the EMB-T uses a more robust composite wing which is transferrable to the WLToys. Between the two bodies, the material on the WLToys is a bit thinner and less rigid compared to what LC uses. A thick qualitiy lexan will be more durable against hits and crashes. Styling comes down to personal taste, but I like the truggy look over the elongated buggy appearance of the 124019. Not to mention the mandatory Chinglish that is plastered over the car…
OEM+ 124019 Left / EMB-T Right
The other area that can’t be seen in pictures or videos is the tolerances in the metal and plastics used. Everything fits together with minimal play between parts without being excessively tight. Dissassembly and reassembly is much easier when you don’t need to shim areas to remove excessive play. This is something that can’t be understated as a you need to see it, feel it to understand it. Pictures and videos can’t translate how all the combined factors feels when you have the car in your hands and you’re working on the two cars side-by-side like I have done here.
For fun, I decided to weigh the two assembled cars with the same wheelset, but no battery. They both weigh nearly the same weight, which I found to be quite interesting. Talk about an even match up!
Cost Breakdown Comparison
The breakdown of all the parts used in my OEM+ 124019 build versus buying a 124017 and making mods versus buying an LC Racing EMB-T RTR are outlined below:
All pricing based on timing of when the article was written – November 2021
Cost of LC Racing EMB-T RTR with 3 Batteries - $271 USD
Cost breakdown of the OEM+ 124019
*I added the cost of larger diameter tires to be in line with the 85mm truggy wheels with the EMB-T. This will have a direct impact on handling and top speed in a head-to-head comparison so I felt it can’t be omitted
**I used a Spectrum Transmitter/Receiver that I had taken off another project car for this build, but it would be very comparable to the DumboRC in terms of quality and range. The DumboRC is also comparable with the Flysky transmitter receiver combo included with the EMB-T RTR cars.
Cost breakdown of the 124017
Interestingly enough, buyinig a 124019 and modifying it comes out being slightly more expensive than buying an EMB-T. Using a 124017 as a base and modifying will save about $50 USD over the price of the LC Racing. For the $50 price difference, there is a whole ton of added features that the LC Racing model offers that you would not be able to add with any reasonable level of modification on a WLToys. Even if the difference were $100, I personally consider the added durability, tighter tolerances and better quality materials to be worth the premium.
That being said, depending on the promotions for the cars or parts, these price points will vary and you could get the WLToys or upgrade parts for less. You can also get a faster and cheaper setup with some of the 3650 motor and ESC combos on the market, but unless you’re building something for a speed run car, a 3650 motor will negatively affect handling, relabiity as that much power will just eat away at the driveline parts more quickly. My experience with my 2845 sized setup is that it has proven to be very reliable and very well balanced and is my mind the sweetspot for the 1/12 scale WLToys.
OEM+ 124019 on the Left / EMB-T on the Right
When placed side-by-side without wheels and the body shells on, the 124019 and the EMB-T could easily be mistaken for the same car at a casual glance. WLToys certainly chose a solid design to clone and as a result have created a fantastic low-cost of entry RC that is in my mind one of the leading smiles per dollar platform on the market in stock form. But to simply say that the 124019 is half the price and is a better deal is only looking at these two cars at a superficial level. The LC Racing EMB-T RTR being 2x the price of a stock WLToys 124019 in my opinion is perfectly justifiable when you sum up all the below improvements and added features:
To wrap things up, my goal is to provide a more detailed comparison between the platforms and to help you decide what makes more sense for you based on where you might be in this hobby, your intended use and budget. I look at the couple of scenarios below:
No matter where you are in the hobby, or which option you choose, the amazing thing is that these cars even exist to start with and that we have these options. I have gone through the process and built up several WLToys and LC Racing cars and there really is no wrong path in any of these choices. I’ve enjoyed different aspects of both brands and what they bring to the market and I’m hoping my experience shared here will help someone in the community find something they will enjoy too.
In Part 2 of this project series, I will go through some real-world driving impressions to compare the OEM+124019 and LC Racing EMB-T and to see how my modifications translate when the tires hit the ground. Stay tuned for that!
If you are looking for a discount on this car, I will post any coupon codes or flash sales for it over here on my coupons and discounts page. Remember buying from any of these links supports my page without any cost to you and is appreciated especially since I don't ask for money via patreon and the like. If you want to get involved in this discussion, feel free to join the QuadifyRC Facebook Group Here or like my page below.