Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux 4wd - RCGroups Review

Modeled after the 1980 Toyota Hilux, this 1:16th scale off-road truck has the looks, performance, and price-point to make it a top contender for your next vehicle!

Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux 4wd - RCGroups Review

Officially Licensed 1:12th Scale Fun!

Product:Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux
Retail price:$219.99
Construction:RTR, metal ladder-frame chassis, plastic
Motor:Brushed 380
ESC:Waterproof 40A w/ drag brake
Included battery:750mAh Li-Ion 2s 7.4v
Available from:Graupner USA

The Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux is one of those hidden gems in the rc world, offering up semi-scale looks and impressive off-road prowess at a reasonable price; and now that we have a solid North American distributor with Graupner USA, this little scaler can be wrung out in the dirt without worrying about parts availability if something goes wrong. As a die-hard Toyota fan and the proud owner of two Tacoma's over the years, I jumped at the opportunity to review the Hilux.

The Hilux was built to be a great crawler and general off-road truck right out the box. With locked front and rear axles and a linked suspension that articulates quite well, it can climb over obstacles and push through sticky mud effortlessly. But with an impressive checklist of features, the Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux does have a few shortcomings which we'll discuss in the review. Let's get started!

Having Toyota's blessing with licensing rights makes the Thunder Tiger Hilux complete; the TOYOTA lettering on the tailgate and quarter panel badges add to the realism, even with this semi-scale truck. The "pizza-cutter" tires and wheels are a nod to the stock setup on any early generation Toyota truck, although I would have preferred the steel-wheel look over the aftermarket American-Racing style chrome wheels that the Hilux came with.

Included with the Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux is a 2.4GHz transmitter, a 7.4 2s Li-Ion battery with a 850mAh "gas tank". A pair of decals in either grey or red/orange/yellow are also included, and you have the option of choosing between a red, blue, or black painted lexan body when purchasing the Hilux from Graupner USA.

With the decals applied, the Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux takes on a look of a heavily modified truck, complete with a front aftermarket rock bumper with d-rings, rock sliders to protect the sides of the body, and a bed-mounted roll bar with faux driving lights. The suspension is also heavily modified with a 4-link setup out back and up front. Beefy axles that resemble GM 14-bolt housings are found front and rear, and they feature locked differentials for maximum traction. As an added bonus, the Hilux is outfitted with ball bearings on both axles and the transmission. For those drivers wanting a slight more scale look, the friction dampers are adjustable to reduce ride height.

The chassis is a metal c-channel ladder frame with plastic cross members bolted on. The front and rear bumpers can be adjusted in or out, but I found their stock location to be a perfect fit for the body.

The electronics packages included with the Toyota Hilux is a good fit for this 1:12th scale truck. A 380-sized brushless motor and 40 amp waterproof esc provide reliable power to spin all four wheels, while the 850mAh Li-Ion battery serves up decent run times around 15 minutes with varying throttle usage. The steering servo is nothing special: plastic gears and somewhat lacking in the torque department. If I were to change anything about the electronics package, it would be to replace the steering servo with one featuring more torque. The receiver is not sealed in a plastic compartment; a feature that has almost become a standard on other crawlers. I did, however, put the Hilux in plenty of muddy water and hosed it down afterwards with no problems to note.

As I stated earlier, the Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux comes fully assembled and bound to the transmitter; your only task is to charge the battery with the included balancer and hit the dirt!

Driving Video

Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux 4wd - RCGroups (2 min 42 sec)

Driving Review

The Hilux has plenty of power from it's 380-sized brushed motor to keep the wheels spinning under any circumstance. Coupled with the aggressive tread pattern on the tires and the locked axles, there's very little terrain the Hilux can't conquer in its size range.

The 4-link suspension is one of the few non-scale aspects of the Hilux. There are a couple of leaf-sprung scale trucks out there, but their performance is somewhat limited. The Thunder Tiger development team wanted the Hilux to not only look great, but to also perform well, thus they opted for a 4-link suspension setup. The friction damper shocks don't come with oil, so the ride is a little bouncy if you're fire-walling the throttle over obstacles. Additionally, the long travel suspension, coupled with the relatively uninhibited movement of the friction dampers, makes for some excessive body roll in the turns. These are my only real negatives about the Toyota Hilux, and they only become apparent if you're expecting scale driving performance under the body. Otherwise, the Hilux has not disappointed!

The Hilux had no problems powering through some pretty sticky mud. Even with the tires caked with sticky clay, the Hilux just kept clawing its way forward. I really liked the Li-Ion battery included with the Toyota Hilux. At 7.4v, it supplies enough voltage to keep the motor spinning happily, and the 850mAh size is a great compromise between run time and weight. However, if 30+ minute runs are what you're after, there's room on the battery deck for a longer pack.


The Available from Graupner USA, the 1:12th scale Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux is a stout little off-road truck that can crawl over the rocks and blast through the mud with ease. Priced under $220, the Hilux is easy on the wallet for the beginner to advanced driver, and requires nothing except charging the included Li-Ion battery. The 4-link suspension conforms well to the roughest terrain, and even though the included friction shocks contain no oil for dampening, it doesn't affect performance as they soak up the bumps and allow the axles to flex quite well.

The market is saturated with rc crawlers right now, most of which will punish your checkbook with extreme prejudice. The Thunder Tiger Toyota Hilux is a nice departure from that crowd, offering up great performance at a fraction of the cost.

Thank you for reading my review, and a big thanks goes out to Graupner USA for supplying the Toyota Hilux for review. I'd also like to thank Preston, my 4-year old son, for driving the Hilux during the photo and video shoot. He's impressing me every day with his rc driving skills! Review Policies

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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Nov 13, 2017 at 03:07 PM..
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Nov 13, 2017, 05:50 PM
KE Spins make me dizzy.
I absolutely love these little trail trucks that are coming out to market. It's scratching that little mini/micro itch that got me started in RC back in the day.
Nov 13, 2017, 07:17 PM
Registered User
A nice little rig for sure!
Nov 14, 2017, 01:54 AM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
Vapor Trails's Avatar
Go Preston!!
Nov 15, 2017, 07:35 PM
Tip Stall
DENSRC63's Avatar

Great LiL Rig

Love the scale looks and wheels with center caps.
Any suggestions for oil filled shocks to fit 1/12 scale?
Last edited by DENSRC63; Nov 15, 2017 at 09:48 PM.
Nov 16, 2017, 02:13 AM
Registered User
Brake Weight's Avatar
Love the looks of this RC. Would you mind measuring the axles hex to hex for me?
Nov 16, 2017, 10:20 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
This looks fantastic! Now to decide which of some of these new products I must have first, and which ones can wait until after the first of the year.
Nov 24, 2017, 03:02 PM
Tip Stall
DENSRC63's Avatar
Originally Posted by brake weight
love the looks of this rc. Would you mind measuring the axles hex to hex for me?
12mm hex nuts

1 : 12

Wheel Base(mm)
225 mm

1,110 g (Battery included)

372 mm

177.8 mm

186.5 mm

380 Brushed Motor

850mah Li-Ion
Last edited by DENSRC63; Nov 24, 2017 at 03:40 PM.
Nov 24, 2017, 03:05 PM
Tip Stall
DENSRC63's Avatar
Originally Posted by fastmax
This looks fantastic! Now to decide which of some of these new products I must have first, and which ones can wait until after the first of the year.
Black Friday sale at Graupner today $174.99
Jan 04, 2019, 07:56 AM
Registered User
I realise its over a year since the last post, but I got one of these for xmas, and was wondering if anybody on here still runs one? Or even if anybody other than the OP ever got themselves one?
Jan 04, 2019, 09:19 AM
Joker, smoker, midnight talker
naDah's Avatar
At 220 dollars, this looks like quite the bargain. Sadly, it will probable be like 320 in Europe.
Jan 04, 2019, 12:42 PM
Registered User
I picked mine up from ebay for 110 gbp, after using a voucher code. Thats about 122 euros, so not bad really. My only issue is that when I go to full right lock the front right corner of the truck lifts up in the air by about 10mm! Seems to be connected to the angle/position of the steering link/turnbuckle, but as this is my first 4-link car, I'm not too sure... Further investigation required.
Jan 05, 2019, 05:16 AM
Joker, smoker, midnight talker
naDah's Avatar
Oh, I always forget about eBay.
Jan 07, 2019, 08:54 AM
Registered User
Brake Weight's Avatar
This is supposed to be the same RC, just rebranded/bought by Team Associated recently.

Nice upgrade to the tranny here.
EXTREME RC 4X4 CR12 High Clearance Transmission Kit Install (26 min 33 sec)
Feb 25, 2019, 01:55 PM
Registered User
Has anyone tried this with a LiPo 2cell instead of Li-ion? Got a few of 1500mAh lying around from race quads but don't want to blow the ESC.

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