The WL Toys 124019 is a 1/12 scale Ready To Run (RTR) radio controlled 4wd off road buggy which I will be reviewing in-depth for this article. It is an evolution of the hugely popular WL Toys 144001 1/14 scale which it shares over 95% of it's part with. It's also the same under the hood as the 124018 sand buggy. I have a lot of experience with these series of cars having written over a dozen guides which can be seen here so apologies in advance if I get a little technical (skip to the conclusions if needed!).
WL Toys scored massive success with the 1/14th scale 144001 which based heavily on the LC racing EMB-1 and released in early 2019 - it was well made with good components as well as being fast and durable. Perhaps more importantly it hit a great price point of $80-100 USD. With popularity came a large amount of upgrade parts and people like me have taken this further to adapt brushless systems to suit this car for off-road fun and even for speed run build capable of 80-100mph. The 124019 is the subject of this review though and in essence this is just the same as the 144001 except for a wheelbase that has been stretched by 45mm. This is at least how it looks on the surface but there are a number of key improvements that many have missed and these have addressed: motor overheating, differential durability, chassis stiffness and wheel security. I'll cover these all in detail here plus feedback on the cars performance, handling and durability as per a typical review.
What is included in the pack?
Pretty much everything you need to get running (and nothing else) is in the box except for the 4 x AA batteries you need to power the transmitter. Specifically you will find:
This is what is included with the basic 124019 package. You can get other packages with more batteries included like this one
Adjustments before running
The 144001 needed a few key adjustments before running which I covered in this article and this article. Thankfully WL toys has listened to a few of these issues (most notably the shock fluid level) and so only a few adjustments are needed. I've ranked in order of importance:
WL TOYS 144001 SETUP: 3 THINGS YOU MUST DO BEFORE YOU EVEN TURN IT ON
WL TOYS 144001: FREE OR BUDGET UPGRADES (PART 2)
Improvements over the 144001
On paper, the only benefit the 124019 offers over the similar but cheaper 144001 is a longer wheelbase and a larger battery (2200mah vs 1500mah). I've dug in a lot deeper though and have found more improvements that are not well know or haven't been mentioned in any of the reviews show here we go...
Upgraded Diffs. The listing for the 124019 and 124018 mentions upgraded diffs but what is the reality? At first glance the 124019 uses the same low quality aluminium diffs from the 144001 that many have complained about wearing down and stripping. But that isn't the whole story. I first noticed the diffs weren't as free spinning as those on the 144001 and when disassembling my diffs for greasing I noticed they have in fact been shimmed! Play between the spider and side gears has been greatly reduced by shims in the spider gears which have increased contact with the side (planet) gears. This is where the typical failure point was for the stock gears so I am very excited to see if this will indeed deliver on durability. This is really good news and even though the diffs use fairly low quality metal, this at least should make the most of them
Shock fluid level is correct. The early versions of the 144001 didn't have enough shock fluid. Worse for the later versions - they had too much. This meant if you ran as is you would have limited shock travel and would blow the seals and leak. That's why I wrote this important article about removing some of the fluid so they wouldn't get damaged. I'm pleased to say that on my car at least (ordered from Banggood) had exactly the right amount so offers very good dampening, full suspension travel and it should perform well long term.
Greatly reduced motor overheating. The 144001 follow the classic hot rod fundamentals - a large motor in small car. The 124019 is the same with a slightly longer chassis. Between the older brushed motor technology and large motor size (with tall gearing) this motor gets HOT. Great news is that WL toys have come up with a very clever fix - they have added a thermal heat transfer compound between the motor and a giant heatsink AKA the aluminium chassis. It works extremely well too. After a good 12 minute run in grass with a full battery, the motor was hot (not scorching hot) but you could feel the heat had spread to the entire chassis which is a much larger mass to act as a heat sink primarily and then secondarily a much larger exposed area for heat to be drawn off from. Simple, clever engineering with a solid practical outcome. This is a vastly better solution than having small aluminium heatsinks / fan setups on the motor.
Check out the thermal transfer compound the creates a conductive heat path between the motor and the chassis. Genius idea.
Stiffer chassis and better ESC mounting. Both the 144001 and 124019 share the same electronics, notably ESC/receiver unit and motor. Since there isn't much room in the 144001 to fit the large ESC/receiver unit and so it needs to go on the top deck. However, since the body has such a low profile, the deck has a kink in it to allow the ESC/receiver to sit lower. This caused 3 main issues:
Good news for the 124019 that this has been rectified - the extra length in the car means the ESC/receiver can now fit behind the servo on the lower deck and the top deck no longer has the kink so all the advantages now:
Wheels can be tightened correctly. The 144001 had an annoying combination of weak plastic hex adaptors for the wheels and low quality unflanged lock nuts. Using these was often a trade off of running nuts too loose and wheels falling off (plus losing drive pins) or tightening too much, damaging the plastic hex adaptor and having the wheel binding on the hub. The anodised aluminium hex adaptors did not help either, in fact their fit was even worse.
I was surprised to find that the 124019 comes stock with solid aluminum hex adaptors. Unlike the 144001 aluminium "upgrade" versions they have the correct insets for the standard pins meaning they fit snugly without binding on the stationary hub. Better still, locknuts are now flanged meaning they do a better job of spreading force across the wheel. End result? You can tighten the wheels right up so they don't fall out during operation without the risk of binding the wheels up. Small win but a win nonetheless.
Performance - Power and Efficiency
You'll often hear people like me talk about brushless upgrades but don't underestimate how fast this brushed setup really is. The combination of a large, torquey brushed motor and tall gearing make for a very good top speed, even in off-road conditions. One benefit of the brushed motor (other than helping keeping the cost down) it that power comes on very smoothly and is very controllable as a result. Furthermore top speed can be limited electronically if needed by adjusting the throttle dual rate on the transmitter.
A common complaint of the 144001 was that the battery didn't last long and the motor especially overheated. These issues are greatly minimised now as a result of the improved motor cooling as mentioned above, more room inside to body for cooling and of course the larger 2200mah battery included with the car which is 50% larger than the one in the 144001. This allowed me a solid 12 minutes of running on and off-road, starting with a full charged battery and finishing on an acceptably safe 3.7v per cell.
Speaking of the battery, the 2s 2200mah lipo pack included is surprisingly good. It shipped at an acceptable storage charge of 3.85V per cell. Once charged and run for 12 minutes on the car, finishing at 3.7v per cell it took 2090mah power to charge suggesting capacity is legitimately 2200mah. Note: I could have run the battery down further to draw the full 2200mah but I don't like running below 3.7v per cell rested. Better yet, internal resistance of the cells was below 10milliohms. This tells me the battery is actually surprisingly good and should last well if treated well. Based on these stats I'd happily recommend these stock batteries if you need more batteries
Performance - Handling
With the toe and camber correctly dialed in, this car really does handle nicely indeed. The longer wheel base allows it to track really well in a straight line and I found I could control drifts and spins a lot better as well as a result.
Like the 144001, the suspension geometry is very well sorted, simply because it has been copied directly from the excellent LC racing EMB-1. The big, heavy brushed motor in the 144001 made the weight distribution very much rear biased though and this overloaded the rear suspension and caused balance issues through corners and obstacles that made it feel a little uncomfortable (although this was largely disguised by the quality suspension).
With the 124019, the extra length has been well utilised - particularly with the battery moving forward to offset the rear biased weight from the motor. Now weight split is close to 50/50 and this means it is much more balance on the straights, through corners, over jumps - everywhere. What this means in real life is that the car feels really predictable, even when grip is low.
Speaking of grip, stock tyres are still not the grippiest but are fine for a combination of short grass, dirt and tarmac. Wheels are strong and foam filled so you don't need to worry about them falling apart on you until they are well and truly bald. If you are looking for a good upgrade wheel and tyre combo for offroad, I found a really good set in this review.
No doubt this is a tough car and can handle most spills in an offroad environment. However simple physics tells us that there is a lot of force transferred when crashing into a hard object at the speed this car can reach, there is simply no avoiding it. Below is an example of when my son smacked into a fixed park bench when racing on the tarmac at a local school whilst at full throttle. There is no way the impact could have been anything less than a breakage but at least it was a minor sacrificial part that took the hit rather the something major - in this case the front left steering knuckle as you can see below. You can of course upgrade to the aluminium parts as I did on another car in this guide but then that force may then transfer to somewhere you really don't want it, such as the diff case or chassis which is more difficult and expensive to fix. In this case I was lucky to have the part on hand and it was a 5 minute change over.
As fast as this car is with the stock setup, the balance and handling tells us it is capable of more. Because of this there is a rapidly growing active community of modders who are further improving the performance for offroad play, racing and on road speed runs. It is these active communities that encourage manufacturers to add products to further upgrade and we have seen this apparent with the 144001. In fact since these cars share so many similar parts, pretty much everything bolts over other than chassis, driveshaft, top deck and shell. Potential is for further tinkering and modding is definitely a strong point of this car.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Quite simply the WL Toys 124019 is a very well designed car that has a number of subtle but crucial improvements over the hugely popular WL Toys 144001 that will make it more reliable with better handling and greater durability. Although it is better set up from the factory, there are still a few tweaks that need to be made on order to get it handling at its best but these do not take long and no special parts are needed - they are practically free. Although this car has impressive performance out of the box with its oversized brushed 550 motor, it also has a lot of potential to be upgraded, particularly a move to brushless power that can offer a more top speed, better acceleration and much better battery life.
Because of its speed and the inevitability that something may break in hard impacts, I do not recommend for the WL Toys 124019 for a complete novice. This car will however reward you with quality and design in that practically all of the suspension geometry can be adjusted to suit your style and it can be upgraded in practically any direction - off-road basher, track racer and 100mph+ on road speed runner. If upgrading is your thing, there are wonderful groups on Facebook that offer guidance and support for upgrades and repairs and are a valuable resource for those that like to dig deeper.
If you are wanting to upgrade or simply want to read about it, I have published over a dozen articles on 144001 upgrades which are relevant to the 124019 and will also be writing some 124019 specific articles shortly. For now, all of my 144001 articles are here:
144001/124018/124019 UPGRADES - EVERY ONE OF MY GUIDES HERE
To close this review I can wholeheartedly recommend this WL Toys 124019 RTR radio controlled car, there is very little that comes close to the performance or design quality at this price point. To go one step further you can use code BGAFF10OFF to get a further 10% off your total purchase on Banggood. Note, the 124018 as pictured beside the 124019 below is an identical car except for the body.
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