Having reviewed some of the most expensive and premium remote control models on the market, we decided to come back to earth, taking a look at the budget first cars, the sort that introduced us to a hobby that we now love. Absima and FTX supply us some great models but today we will be looking to BSD Racing for a solid starter car.
The Desert Assault Buggy at a glance
BSD Racing have put together a good specification for the price:
- 15T Brushed motor and water resistant ESC
- Mid-mounted motor, shaft driven 4WD
- Aluminium chassis plate and shock towers
- Tough plastic wishbones with adjustable steering and suspension geometry
- Twin sealed (open) differentials
- Oil-Filled Shocks
- Heavy-duty dogbones and sealed bearings
- Treaded off-road tyres with inserts
- 43cm long, 27cm wide and 14cm tall
Unboxing and charging : Batteries included
Shipping ready to run, the model includes an 1800mAh NiMH battery for the model, you need only to supply 4xAA batteries for the transmitter. Note that the car battery will arrive partially charged so if you are going to be gifting this model, open it up and charge it before wrapping. The supplied basic charger is a trickle ‘overnight’ type with a deans connector. Replacing this with a faster charger would likely require an adaptor cable as the majority of budget NiMH chargers are terminated with Tamiya plugs.
We’d recommend buying an extra battery at the same time as the buggy, one with the correct plug but with a little more capacity such as this 7.2v Overlander 3300 mAh NiMH.
BSD packaging is basic but largely recyclable. As with other BSD models, the Prime Desert Assault features a manual with exploded diagrams, ideal for instructing repairs or adjustments.
Rugged caged, hinged body
The hybrid shell/rollcage styled body has proved very popular, making this model a top seller over the summer. It is a unique style choice over the boring featureless vacuum-formed lexan shells that adorn other models at this price point.
Hinged at the back of the model, it is secured with a single body pin between the front wheels seen below. Pull this out before using your fingers to push up the two ‘split-end’ posts that stick into the chassis behind the front wheels, this will release the body allowing you to release and swing it back over the rear wheels. The roll cage extends under all of the bodywork so you can run the buggy ‘naked’ without the lexan body (and even the fron bumper) should you prefer a Mad Max aesthetic.
If you aren’t fond of the decals, the majority of the logo stickers can be removed leaving the bright vibrant orange and black graffiti spray styling underneath. We think the shape would look fantastic re-styled as a raw off-roader, re-covered in a rough matt finish paint, with a few accessories mounted on-top for good measure
Mid engine’d tough AWD chassis
Models at this price point are getting better and better every year. It used to be rare to see metal shock towers on a unit this cheap but BSD are now fitting them plus a metal chassis plate too, suggesting that this buggy will take a real beating!
The metal dog-bones, metal propshaft and steel bevelled drive gears should be pretty bombproof and offer some headroom should you want to upgrade that motor. The diffs and shaft are tucked away under plastic housings to keep dirt and debris from wrecking them. Whilst few are likely to take advantage of it, the shocks are ride-height adjustable as are the steering turnbuckles.
Budget motor and ESC
Fitted with a basic 15T brushed motor, this model is never going to set the earth on fire, however it provides enough power to learn the basics of RC car handling. The electronic speed controller is responsive and progressive, if a touch jerky off of the line.
We did not test the buggy on LiPo batteries but the ESC supports a 2S 7.4V LiPo (again with a deans plug) just make sure you move the jumper switch on it over to ‘LiPo’ mode before plugging in a battery of this type!
Basic RC transmitter
The bundled B7070 transmitter is part of the 2-channel 2.4Ghz radio set the comes pre-installed on this model. Steering is handled by the foam rimmed chrome wheel of the transmitter whilst pulling and pushing the trigger controls the throttle, with a large chrome power button the rear edge. Above that is a small switch that once pressed reveals the trim and reverse switches and the power LEDs. If you are new to RC transmitters, take a quick read of our beginners guide.
BSD branded, the controller runs off of four AA batteries fitted into the base. Unusually for the price, it has charge/discharge circuitry (but not a power adaptor) should you wish to use rechargables without removing them. Overall the very basic unit does the job, although we were not taken by the basic ergonomics, or cheap plastics and were certainly not fans of a the tacky chrome on the wheel.
Driving the Prime buggy
The power switch is located on the chassis deck, covered with rubber for water resistance. With the transmitter powered up, insert your finger into the front left wheel-arch and flick it on, it can be seen poking out under the shell in the photo above.
For the budget, this model is tough. Its metal chassis plate, thick plastic arms and metal driveshafts put up with some serious abuse whilst we employed our usual destructive test driving style. We ran multiple packs through the car on dirt, tarmac, concrete and even some dirt jumps and we failed to break even the servo; Pretty impressive!
AWD buggies are always a popular choice for first RC cars. The combination of grip with enough ground clearance to be used in parks or gardens makes them flexible first toys and this model is no exception.
With two open diffs there is a limit to that traction as you can see in the images above. With the opposite two wheels spinning up it is still possible to beach the buggy on uneven dirt climbs.
Instead, keep the speed up, allowing the buggy to skip across even loose surfaces, throttling through the turns in wide powerslides. With good weight balance the buggy will turn but sometimes will need a dab of brake to get the nose to bite first as the chassis is relatively light. The oil filled shocks do a solid job of damping and combined with the inserts the tyres offer great purchase on the terrain.
The desert assault isn’t the fastest buggy we’ve ever tested so predictably we tore around the park at pretty much full throttle the entire time. As such we depleted the small battery in around 15 minutes, our larger 3300mAh pack fared better. If this model is potentially your first step into an RC obsession then consider picking up a LiPo battery and basic (but still much faster than bundled) charger.
Who is this buggy for?
The Desert Assault is ideal for older children and potentially pre-teens when accompanied by an adult. Despite its low centre of gravity the buggy can drive on lawn or pebbles making it suitable for the garden.
With its brushed power-train, the standard buggy isn’t lightning quick and while this model has enough power for younger teens, older children may quickly get bored of its lack of pace. Our webstore has a whole load of upgrade parts that we could recommend, from swapping out to a bigger battery to replacing the motor and ESC for something substantially more powerful. Instead, we would recommend just buying one of BSD’s faster ‘Flux’ brushless models from the off.
What are the alternatives?
If you like the buggy but are looking for more power, BSD have you covered with a ‘flux’ brushless edition of the Desert Assault for around 30% more. This takes all of the features of the buggy reviewed here with a healthy serving of extra power thanks to a powerful 3421Kv brushless motor, but note that this model does not come with a charger.
We rate that particular budget motor/ESC combo highly as it fared well in our review on the Flux Storm truggy earlier this year, although we would advise avoiding fitting a 3S LiPo if you value your gearbox.
If you are on a budget, sticking to BSD Racing RC cars is a good idea with a truck, truggy and buggy available for similar money, each with differing handling/surface capabilities. With more money to spend, browse our off-road car selection where the sky is the limit in terms of performance!
Where can I buy it?
The BSD Racing Prime Desert Assault is available on our webstore today. As mentioned we stock a compatible battery, budget friendly just like the buggy. If you are looking for an inexpensive first remote control car, you could do a lot worse than this tough buggy.
If you have any questions regarding the Prime Desert Assault buggy, or would like advice on picking up a budget RC car, leave us a comment below.