Sage Cattabriga-Alosa is well-known as a skier, but that's not important today. Today, we're going to introduce you to his alter-ego: @crawlboss420. The Crawlboss is tactical, tenacious, bold, and artistic, with a single-minded devotion to driving RC trucks up and over big rocks. Without further ado, let's hear from the Boss himself:
First of all, what exactly is scale crawling?
CB420: Haha, exactly… well, scale crawlers are a branch of RC that are in the direction of high-end rock crawler trucks. These trucks focus more on realism, both in the mechanics of the truck as well as the look of the body, and have incredible attention to detail and realism. Other popular types of RC trucks are Bashers (fast, trophy truck-style) and Comp Crawlers (less realism, more buggy-style), but I really like the scale looking stuff. It's like a fusion of a model train enthusiast and a 4x4 lover.
When did you start? What got you into it?
CB420: I've had a long love affair with RC. I had a Basher back in the day, lots of micro RC helicopters, and a filming drone, so it's not too big of a surprise to get into this particular niche. It all started about 18 months ago when Tower Hobby sponsored the TGR premier in Jackson Hole and I was given a crawler. I didn't even know what it was, and upon first drive was a bit disappointed. Crawlers are not fast, but once I saw what they could do on the rocks I was intrigued. Then soon obsessed.
Do you have more than one crawler? What makes a good crawler?
CB420: I've got seven now, hahaha! There are a bunch of good crawlers out there and what makes a good one is the driver! Tires and some weight mods are probably the biggest upgrades you can make. I like a good combination of a realistic “scale” look, but also good at performing on the trail. The more scale details and things you add to your truck usually the less of a performer it is because of weight distribution, etc. Body-wise I'm rocking a Toyota LC70, a Jeep Cherokee, Defender Wagon, Defender/ halfback, Jeep Wrangler/ halfback, Classic Jeep Wrangler, and unbranded version of the Mercedes G-Wagon in truck form.
What are the specs of your favorite rig?
CB420: I like them all! They all drive and excel in different ways. Pretty much all are set up the same with some variation in the tire choice. Mostly running 1.9“ rims, and the equivalent of 38” tires, 90mm shocks, and of course 4x4. A couple of the rigs even have locking/unlocking front and rear differentials. I run brushed motors, and a high torque servos; there are brushless options for faster speeds but those are seen more in the buggy and rock racer-style trucks more often. I like to drive as slow as possible over the rough terrain, to be more realistic in terms of how you would drive in real life, so the cheaper brushed-motor setups work well for me.
Can you explain what makes crawling rewarding and/or tough?
CB420: RC crawling is kinda like outdoor video games: You've got a truck, controller, and levels, i.e. challenges in the trail, maybe its a rope bridge, maybe it's a steep rock slab, or technical rocks to get through. You try and eventually figure out a way to complete the “level,” getting that same dopamine hit as when you complete a level in a video game.
It’s obvious that you’ve put a lot of effort into customizing your rigs in terms of aesthetics, and they look great. Could you speak to that a little bit?
CB420: I didn't see the hobby side of things as that big of a draw at first, but the combination of mechanical tinkering, repairing, problem solving, designing, and building all have a huge appeal and are something I connect with as much as the driving.
I especially like the custom body work. Most cars come with lightweight lexan plastic (thin and flexible) that are fairly cheap and durable. There are also hard bodies (ABS plastic, think classic scale model) versions too, and these are able to have a much more realistic look. I really like the building, chopping, painting, construction of these hard body versions. It's totally my most recent artistic outlet.
I heard that you once had a crawler mailed to you. What’s the story there?
CB420: Last year on our trip to Norway we arrived at our hotel and right out the front door there were all these massive rock slabs with amazing crawling potential. The idea of being there for three weeks and not being able to sample the terrain was more than I could handle! I had been wanting a new rig anyway, so I found a local hobby shop in Norway that was about 70 kilometers away, and got one sent from there. It was money well spent. The crawling was A++, scenery even better, and I got to share the experience, and get the whole crew to take a turn checking out the driving fun.
With the rapid spread of drones, it seems like RC has in many ways entered the mainstream. Has that impacted the scale crawling scene at all?
CB420:I don't know really, I think the scale crawl scene has been getting bigger over the last 10 years or so. As with drones, things are pretty easy to learn, relatively durable, and battery tech has progressed to make driving, flying, etc. more efficient and reliable. I think all these factors make RC a little easier to get into but crawling is still a pretty niche side of it all.
What would you tell someone interested in getting started?
CB420: I'd start with a moderately priced rig. There are some real nice price points out there, but I found after buying the low end ones I ended up spending the same cash in the long run upgrading them to perform better. I also would recommend “pumping the brakes” on buying too many accessories… I have a box of wheels, bumpers, lights, tires, that I thought I “needed” while on the internet, and then either never installed, didn't like the look of, or realized that spending $70 on that custom metal bumper ended up making the truck perform worse but looked awesome. So take some time and figure out what you really need/like before vaporizing your cash.
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