The WL Toys 144002 1/14 scale RC Monster Truck is a recent release from WL Toys setup as a monster truck and based on the hugely popular 144001 buggy which I have extensively reviewed, modified and tuned in over 40 guides here. This newest version looks to be better suited off-road with the larger wheels and has a number of improvements that are not noticed at first glance. Here I'll review the car in full and let you know what I like about it and what I don't like about it (+how to fix it)
The 144002 is now the 7th time the original 144001 platform and gear have been recycled by WL toys and I've reviewed them and modified every step of the way. In case you are wondering:
This summary is simplified but all along the way WL toys have been making evolutionary improvements to poorly setup or weak points of this car meaning that this latest truck is very much improved over the original 144001. I will of course detail these in the review. Sadly there are still some fundamental flaws too which I will also outline. Let's have a closer look at the car before we take it for a drive so we know what we are dealing with. I'll break this down into sections of power train, driveline, suspension, steering, body and chassis to give it a bit of structure. Then, I'll follow up with a full review of the performance in all areas (including GPS-measured top speed) and my conclusions and recommendations.
A Closer Look
Power Train. This is the same motor and ESC that has been used in all of the brushed releases since the 144001 was launched about 2 years ago. A non-adjustable 60A ESC/receiver combo and a very torquey 550 17t brushed motor set with 0° timing. In my opinion this motor is too large for cars of this scale but it helps these cars to a pretty decent top speed albeit at the cost of weight, battery life and heat. At least with the heat management they have used the excellent passive solution that I have detailed more here. It is a predictable and low cost setup though if you ever need to replace a component.
Suspension. The strong point of this style of car has always been the suspension which is modelled after the fantastic LC EMB series. Many revision have been made since the initial launch of the 144001, and this 144002 truck includes all of these improvements. If it's anything like the other cars this should handle beautifully
Drivetrain. Like all of the other WL toys car of this type, the 27t metal pinion drives a 44t plastic spur gear. This sends powder back and forward to the rear and front differentials via a solid aluminium drive shaft. The driveshaft transfers power to the metal diffs via metal bevel pinions. All of the internal gears inside the diffs are metal as well. Since the 124019 release these have been shimmed which have greatly improved diff service life. Metal diff cups transfer power to wheel hubs with metal dogbones on the rear and metal CVDs on the front. Wheels are driven by a plastic 12mm hex drive.
Overall a well proven drive train but I still dislike the gear ratio that they continue to stick with that is likely made worse with these bigger wheels. I would have preferred a smaller pinion and larger spur to focus on torque / acceleration and battery life rather than focusing purely on top speed.
Steering. Steering is powered by a 17g sized servo but using the outboard PWM control on the ESC meaning it is a 5 wire setup. This make upgrade tricky but otherwise it is a good servo that is fast and reliable - well suited to this task. Steering geometry is good with little to no bump steer and an acceptable level of play.
Chassis. The chassis is well proven and tough. In addition this is the first WL toys release to now include metal front and rear hubs and hub carriers - a very welcome addition especially since I recently recognised the front hub carriers as the most likely part to brake. There are lots of variations and the ones on this car look to be different again but seemingly well enough made with very little play. Front and rear bumpers are new and look the be fairly useful particularly with the shock absorption pieces built in which are design to better take impact.
Body. The body is a new design based loosely on the 104009 in style. It is fairly intricate with the additional moulded parts and is wired pretty extensively for lights. It seems to fit well but I'm not sure about long term durability. It seems ok so far.
Wheels. At first glance these look like a directly copy of the EMB-MT wheels but on closer look they are not. Offset is big like the EMB-MT wheels (which I like) but the rim diameter is larger. A lower profile tyre means the outside diameter is the same. Speaking of the tyre, the tread pattern is similarly shallow to the EMB-MT but has a different pattern. Rubber compound is quite hard, almost identical to the EMB MT. Overall the wheels are light which T feel is important and perform very similarly to the EMB-MT wheels.
Performance. Top speed feels pretty good and during some GPS run I was able to get 45km/h which is actually quite respectable and faster than I was expecting for two reasons: The gearbox and drivetrain is extremely quiet so you don't get a lot of sound feedback; and acceleration is very weak. This is because WL Toys have stuck with the large 550 brushed motor and 27t pinion as the 144001 and 124019 but they have also gone with larger diameter wheels making the effective gearing even taller - much too tall in my opinion.
Gearing that is too tall with large wheels results in poor acceleration as mentioned above but also poor battery life: about 6-8 minutes with the stock 1500mah battery. This is really not great. It also means that the motor and ESC get unnecessarily hot. At least they have taken the learning from the 124019 about how to cool the engine using the chassis as a heatsink which should at least improve motor life.
Handling. The handling is excellent. Suspension is very well refined and has the staggered length shocks that better suit this cars geometry that was first released on the 124019. Furthermore shocks were filled with the perfect amount of shock fluid which was an issue that plagued earlier models like the 144001 - in fact I had to make this guide to help people fix the issue.
In addition to the well tuned suspension the tyres and wheels are a big improvement over the buggy wheels we are used to with these cars. They offer a much bigger contact patch and more ground clearance meaning they are more capable off road and add to shock absorption with better grip yet the shallower tread pattern means they are not too noisy on road. This is one of the few times the hard tyre compound works in this cars favour - they should wear well whilst the bigger contact still manages decent grip. The smaller sidewall of these tyres compared to the LC Racing EMB-MT tyres which offers comparatively sharper turn in.
Durability. So far this has been a tough truck. This is not a fair comparison to the earlier model WL Toys product because there are so many evolutionary improvements that have been made to address durability. These include:
Furthermore the style of a monster truck body compared to a buggy means that shock towers and suspension components are better protected in crashes and tumbles. For a low cost truck this is really durable, especially for the kind of driving I do. In my experience it is pretty much just Youtube reviewers trying to prove a point that run at skate parts and if you repeatably launch it then you will break something in the same way that you would break a Traxxas or Arrma car. In short it's very tough for the money and you could do much worse.
Conclusions and Improvements I recommend
In summary this is a tough, great handling monster truck that uses a proven chassis meaning that you can leverage off multiple upgrade guides from the community with many parts available. I've written over 40 articles on this car already. Unfortunately they have let it down with the same tall gearing from earlier models made worse with the large diameter wheels which means a very decent top speed is offset by poor acceleration, poor battery life and a hot motor. Overall I would still recommend it because there is a lot more upside than downside to this car, especially if you are willing to tinker. If not though it is still a good car as long as you understand limitations
My recommendations for upgrading... If you are willing to tinker though this car would really come alive with a better power system and I know precisely what would suit this truck: My recommendation would be a budget brushless system along the lines of the one I used in my Drop In Brushless Upgrade with the 3600kv 2445 motor. Alongside the smaller 15t pinion gear this should improve every measurable performance aspect of this car - a top speed bump to around 55 km/h, an increase in acceleration that would barely be recognisable, a motor and ESC that runs ice cold and a battery life that would double or triple the stock one. In order to keep costs downs I have made some minor updates with parts I have used and trust to be a good mix of low cost and reliable performance:
All of this should cost between $50 and $70 depending on sales and coupons (use code BGRCParts8 for 8% off if nothing else). Don't forget you can probably get $20-30 for your old ESC, motor and servo if you really need as well).
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.