WLtoys P949 1/10 Scale RTR Tractor from Tmart.com - RC Groups

WLtoys P949 1/10 Scale RTR Tractor from Tmart.com

Rollin' "old skool" with a hilariously insane, wheelie-popping farm tractor.

Splash

Introduction

WLtoys P949

Dimensions (LxWxH):18x9.73x6.7" (459x247x170mm)
Wheelbase:6.7" (170mm)
Approximate Weight:49.4 oz (1.4kg)
Construction:Composite chassis and wheelie bar; polycarbonate body; plastic driver figure; plastic wheels; vinyl tires
Final Drive Ratios:15.5:1 (15T pinion); 17.9:1 (13T pinion)
Claimed Speed Range:Up to 22 MPH (35km/h)
Servos:WLtoys standard sized five-wire digital steering servo
Transmitter:WLtoys 2.4GHz pistol grip surface with digital trims
Battery:2500mAh 7.4V 2S hard shell lithium polymer with Deans Ultra-Plug compatible connector and JST-XH balancing lpug
Motor:Brushed RS-540
ESC:WLtoys two-in-one combining the receiver with a reversible ESC with brake
Operator Skill Level/Age:Experienced beginner; 14+
Claimed Running Time:Up to 13 minutes
Manufacturer:Shantou Chenghai WL Toys Industrial Co., Ltd., Fengxin Industrial Park, Chenghai District, Shantou, Guangdong, China 515800
Available From:Tmart.com
Price (USD):$115.99 with worldwide free shipping; $100.99 with coupon code "tmartp949" at checkout until October 15, 2015

Ah, the 1980s. It was a period which introduced many of us to the fun of radio control, myself included. I started with an overly fragile, poor running, secondhand 1/10-scale RTR electric buggy with no parts support. I busted it up, patched it together and busted it up some more until there was almost nothing left to patch.

Quite honestly, I loved it. It fired up my interest in this wonderful hobby and I haven't looked back, at least until now.

Today, it's my pleasure to set the Wayback Machine to that same period with this review of the fun new WLtoys P949 tractor from my friends at Tmart.com.

It's obvious to many readers that I'll be talking about a clone or a near clone of an existing product based on a reissued chassis, circa 1988. However, clones are nothing new and this should make replacement parts quite easy to find. There's also the matter of price. The P949 comes as a complete package for all of US$115.99 ready to run.

Tmart.com is making that great deal even better. Enter coupon code tmartp949 at checkout between now and October 9, 2015 and they'll take off an additional $15.

Let's dig a bit deeper - or is that plow deeper? Either way, some fun is about to be had.

Contents

The fully assembled P949 comes complete with the following:

  • Two-channel 2.4GHz pistol grip radio with digital trims
  • 2500mAh 7.4V 25C hard-shelled lithium polymer battery
  • DC battery charger with 100-240V AC adapter - but it's an adapter equipped with 220V prongs
  • Illustrated manual
  • Four-way wrench

Needed to get rolling:

  • Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter

Tmart did a nice job of packing my sample and it arrived in fine condition. I had to pick it up at the post office on a Saturday morning since it was sent registered mail and I wasn't home to sign for it the day before. No matter.

The display box was nicely illustrated and printed. Even the card upon which the model was attached had a photo panorama of farmland. It wasn't without its issues, though. "Tow wheel drive?" And, what's a "professional large torsion propeller?"

The manual, not surprisingly, was the usual mishmash of machine translated English along with a few cutesy anime characters showing the proper operation of the model, doubtless cribbed from the model on which this is based. More than just an operating manual, it's a full-on assembly manual with top-quality engineering drawings, again clearly lifted from the original's manual. This is an absolute must for future repairs and maintenance; this is a complex piece of equipment and it's held together with a lot of screws.

As for the model itself, it is a lot heavier and beefier than I would have imagined. Gone is the ABS resin chassis of old. In its place is a composite chassis. Impressive to say the least; clones don't often exhibit improvements over their originals.

The polycarbonate body is nicely painted and detailed as is the plastic driver figure, although his eyes, mustache and eyebrows are painted flesh tone along with the rest of his face. The steering wheel was off center, but that was an easy fix, needing only to be turned back in place.

The driver's head is a separate part, which means those so inclined can have a blast transplanting all sorts of doll or action figure heads to the body. While the big RS-540 motor hearkens back to an earlier era, one thing that is definitely different is the fact that the P949 is factory equipped with bearings! Sealed bearings! No white plastic bushings to wear out after a couple of runs! There's even a composite version of the familiar four-way wrench of the period which I used to remove a front wheel in order to get at a bearing. Users should note that a loose-fitting pin goes through the axle and helps to secure the hub to the axle. I almost lost mine when I removed the wheel for the photo.

Under the body is a combination ESC and receiver with braking and reverse. Brushed though the motor may be, the 2.4GHz radio and li-po battery with its Deans Ultra-Plug compatible connector bring the P949 squarely into the 21st Century.

As for the battery, it comes shipped inside the model and is secured at the rear of the chassis with a simulated pair of exhaust pipes and large body clips. The body itself is held with four smaller body clips and the front mounts are adjustable. Oh, the possibilities...

Still, I like the body. It has a sort of rounded, modernistic Art Deco look to it, like a modern update to an old Fordson tractor.

The shocks are simple coilover units which can be upgraded to oil-filled. Wonderfully retro. On a more serious note, the P949 has four-wheel independent suspension with a four-link setup at the rear and metal dogbone axles and axle shafts. Up front are adjustable tie rods activated by a full-sized servo with a servo saver.

An unusual touch is that of the servo's operation. WLtoys opted for a five-wire proprietary servo, meaning all of the control electronics are in the ESC/receiver unit. It works well, but if one were to choose to upgrade the electronics, the servo must be updated as well. Not a problem given the low cost of a standard servo nowadays.

I have to admit that I was becoming more impressed by the P949's pedigree with each passing minute.

Guidance comes from the included two-channel pistol grip transmitter with digital trims. While it certainly doesn't look or feel like a high end unit, it isn't bad at all. It's downright wonderful in the regard that it operates on 2.4GHz as opposed to the old 27MHz and 75MHz bands. So, there's virtually no chance of interference...and that fragile telescoping antenna is a thing of the past. So too is an antenna wire and tube protruding from some part of the model.

It may be priced like a high end toy R/C model, but this thing is anything but. This is full hobby grade all the way.

Beginners, please note: Unless one already has a suitable lithium polymer battery charger on hand, a 220V to 117V travel adapter will be necessary here in North America. The charger's AC adapter has 220V prongs, although it will operate on 100 - 240VAC.

This is the third model I've reviewed with such an adapter and while it's an easily solved problem - assuming one is fortunate enough to either have an adapter or find one outside of a travel kit - it shouldn't have to be a problem at all. Manufacturers which are serious about competing in this market really need to wake up and supply their products with the proper adapter. The good news is that the charger is basically foolproof. Once powered up, all one has to do is to plug the battery's balancing tap into the charger. Once the red light goes out, the battery is charged. Mine was ready in about 90 minutes.

Rant over - time to drive.

Wheelie Time!

Summer in the Coachella Valley is, to put it mildly, hot. To really test the P949 in extreme conditions, I brought it to a spot where I often fly electric aircraft. The place is the shared parade grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells.

Installing and removing the battery is a chore; this is where the design really shows its age. Four small body clips holding the body must first be removed along with the two larger clips holding the retainer panel at the rear. Six clips in all just for the battery.

At first, the model didn't want to bind to the radio and the manual is utterly useless in that regard. Flipping the power switch on the ESC off then on again did the trick; a few beeps from the motor alerted me to the bind and the P949 was ready after I shot a few pictures. Later runs didn't give me the problem.

Lots of past experience told me that the studs on the rear tires weren't going to last long on pavement (remember this model?) and a grassy area in hot weather might have proved to be rough on the motor and drivetrain. The grass was practically scalped, so I chose the latter to begin the test drive.

Not only is the throttle response incredibly smooth, so are the drivetrain and suspension. No weird noises, just plenty of power. While this model is unlikely to successfully run a road course, the suspension was remarkably stable, even with friction coilover shocks.

And was it ever fun.

The P949 is unquestionably quick. It's also as entertaining as any surface model has a right to be. Wheelies really are this model's stock in trade and were as close as a bit of extra throttle depending on speed. In fact, the trick was to try and keep the front end planted on the ground.

There isn't a lot of steering throw - again, the design is showing its age - so it understeers something awful at speed, even off pavement. The wide front tires certainly contributed, but given the short wheelbase, the understeer is actually a welcome phenomenon. R/C Car Driving 101 states that reducing throttle reduces understeer and so it did. Even so, it was incredible fun to see such a comical model sling dead grass in turns.

The ESC/receiver combo is equipped with both brake and reverse. The brake doesn't seem to be entirely proportional and the short rearward throw of the trigger didn't help. The P949 came to some really dramatic, drivetrain-torturing stops as a result. Reverse was proportional, but touchy, again due to the trigger.

Despite the heat, the RS-540 motor wasn't much hotter than an RS-540 usually gets in almost any conditions. Since the lithium polymer battery still seemed to have plenty of punch (a nickel cadmium pack would have been drained by this time), I tried a few moves on pavement.

It was, naturally, faster and if anything, it handled even better. Wheelies were still available almost on command and with gentle use of the throttle, the P949 did some remarkably scale looking wheelies.

By now, the ambient temperature was really starting to climb, so I undid all those clips, unplugged the battery and set the model aside (reluctantly so) in anticipation of the video shoot.

That would come a couple of weeks later at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club model aviation field with the help of my friend and club historian George Muir. After George snapped a few "beauty shots," it was fun time once more on the club's paved pad which serves triple duty for helicopters, small park flyers and U-control.

If the P949 seemed fast on grass, it seemed positively ballistic on asphalt. True, it isn't a 100 MPH (160km/h) speed demon, but between wheelies, drifting skids, reversing and full throttle blasts up, down and around the pad, I didn't care. It was simply fun to drive.

Since the club is in a rural part of the Colorado Desert, finding some dirt wasn't a problem. I simply drove the P949 from the pavement to the unpaved shoulder for a dirt slinging good time.

The P949 was so much fun that I found myself wondering yet again why I'd dropped out of surface models. I'm pleased to say that I'm back in the fun of four-wheeled action and I have this wonderful little model to thank for it.

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely! There's no assembly required and the P949 is easy to drive at any speed. What's more, it's likely to shrug off all but the most spectacular crashes.

It's literally as easy as installing batteries in the transmitter and charging up the onboard battery.

Video and Photo Gallery

Tmart was kind enough to provide links to a couple of really well done videos. The first is an FPV retrofit. Cats, beware:

WLTOYS P949 RC TRACTOR CAR REFIT FPV (2 min 27 sec)

This is the WLtoys factory video:

WLtoys P949 1:10 2.4G 4CH 2WD RTR RC Tractor Car toy (1 min 50 sec)

Here's yours truly giving the P949 a whirl across the dance floor:

WLtoys P949 1/10 Scale RTR Tractor from Tmart.com (3 min 13 sec)

George was kind enough to snap a few beauty shots as well and I added some fun screen captures:

Conclusion

I can't think of any recently driven electric surface vehicle I've enjoyed more than the WLtoys P949. They took a timeless design and, unlike virtually any clone on the market, managed to improve on the original. Perhaps best of all, it manages to do so at a price which rivals "crash and trash" toy R/C.

Two thumbs up just as high as I can give them.

I'd like to thank Stefan at Tmart.com for offering this fun, fantastic little model for review. George Muir of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club has shot countless raw videos for me over the last few years and believe me, I appreciate his efforts on my behalf. Angela Haglund and Jim T. Graham man the administrators' desk on behalf of RCGroups and you, our audience of hobby enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting and enjoy your stay on the biggest hobby site on the Internet!

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses are many and include:

  • Fun factor is simply off the charts
  • Excellent quality
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Good parts availability
  • Reversing ESC with brake is a huge improvement over the original's mechanical unit
  • The manual will greatly aid with repairs and maintenance; it's a virtual reprint of the original's
  • When was the last time an RTR model with a composite chassis and full ball bearings sold for so little money?
  • So much fun to drive that it's worth repeating

Minuses included

  • The design shows its age with its need to remove six body clips just to change the battery
  • It also shows its age with its tendency to understeer
  • Too easy to lock up the brakes
  • Way too much mangled English in the manual
  • The charger's AC adapter came with 220V prongs, requiring a travel adapter
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Sep 08, 2015 at 10:34 AM..
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Sep 11, 2015, 09:53 AM
DFS#000178
Rampage's Avatar
Does it share parts compatibility with the Tamiya kits?
Sep 11, 2015, 10:15 AM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rampage
Does it share parts compatibility with the Tamiya kits?
From what I can see, it's a 1:1 copy, especially based on the drawings in the manual. About the only difference I noticed was the front bumper.
Sep 11, 2015, 10:48 AM
Registered User
mike_o's Avatar
Nice review, thank you. I checked out the pricing of the original Tamiya Tumbling Bull, and it has gone down quite a lot. Currently avaliable in Europe for 130-140EUR in kit version. Without ball bearings, though.

Still, I'd probably get the original and then fork out an additional 20-25EUR for a set of ball bearings and oil shocks. Yeah Racing has some decent low friction alu shocks that would work well.

The WR-01 gearbox also works well with a 3530 outrunner, if you can find a 4mm pinion, or drill out the 3.17mm one. The 540 silver can is a lot longer, and the outrunner doesn't stick out the same way.
Sep 11, 2015, 11:56 AM
Registered User
skytek's Avatar
Did they base the driver on Sam Spruell from The Last Ship?

Sep 11, 2015, 03:34 PM
Registered User
I think the driver looks a little like Charles Bronson.
Sep 12, 2015, 12:10 AM
Registered User
Glad to see a real review finally! I want this thing for a Walking Dead Mod. Will paint the body black and I have Hershel for the driver! If I were not saving for a full scale Mustang right now I would order it right away!
Sep 12, 2015, 12:57 AM
Registered User
mhills51's Avatar
Nice reveiw! My first was the Hornet about two months after it came out. I was asking for the Grasshopper and made a bet with my dad that if we won are next basket ball game he would get it for me. Well the team we played against only showed with four players and had to forfeit.

Mom said no RC. Dad felt bad, went to the lhs and found the Hornet and got it for me.
Sep 12, 2015, 09:05 PM
Registered User
Just saw the coupon code, and made my order. Also had 200 Tmart points so I paid $98.99! Can't wait! Will have Hershel as the driver and I have a disemboweled zombie to strap to the front. Gonna spray it in plastidip on the outside. I will need some zombie and/or biohazard decals for it. Are the decals pre-applied? Would be nice to be able to reuse the grille and other detail. With plastidip, maybe I can cut around those and peel it off!
Sep 17, 2015, 07:09 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahram72
Just saw the coupon code, and made my order. Also had 200 Tmart points so I paid $98.99! Can't wait! Will have Hershel as the driver and I have a disemboweled zombie to strap to the front. Gonna spray it in plastidip on the outside. I will need some zombie and/or biohazard decals for it. Are the decals pre-applied? Would be nice to be able to reuse the grille and other detail. With plastidip, maybe I can cut around those and peel it off!
Might not happen, I'm afraid. The decals appear to have been applied from the inside before painting and are sandwiched in with a backing coat of white paint.

You might want to get a hold of Callie Soden at www.callie-graphics.com. She can easily whip up some sort of crazy custom grille decal and other weird decals on your behalf.

Can't wait to see what you do with your tractor! I might have to start watching the series via my new Roku after this.
Sep 17, 2015, 10:46 PM
Registered User
Yeah, you have to watch from season 1. Just get the tissues out for S2E7! I'm just going to see if I can weather it somehow from the outside. It has to look like it's done zombie battle!
Sep 18, 2015, 12:27 AM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by skytek
Did they base the driver on Sam Spruell from The Last Ship?

Whoa...separated at birth!
Sep 18, 2015, 12:28 AM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahram72
Yeah, you have to watch from season 1. Just get the tissues out for S2E7! I'm just going to see if I can weather it somehow from the outside. It has to look like it's done zombie battle!
Gotcha. If I have any questions about the show, heck, I know whom I'll need to ask.

Looking forward to your Zombie Apocalypse Tractor of Ultimate Doom!
Sep 19, 2015, 02:49 PM
Registered User
Whoa! I like that title! And you will enjoy this show more than you do movies. Start watching.
Sep 20, 2015, 04:14 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahram72
Whoa! I like that title! And you will enjoy this show more than you do movies. Start watching.
Absolutely! No charge for the inspiration for your title, by the way. This'll be great!


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