WLtoys 1/28 Scale 284131 RC Drift Truck Review: Fantastically fun

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot

WLtoys has seemingly come out of nowhere in the space of radio-controlled (RC) vehicles that the hobbyist community is excited about, and the company’s 1/28 scale 284131 Drift Truck is another example of one such genuinely interesting machine. This $69.99 proposition comes with four-wheel-drive (4WD), a claimed top speed of 30 KM/H (~19 MPH), and full LED lighting. Surely it has to be somewhat good for the money, right?

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

WLtoys is a name that gets thrown around a lot by the insider RC community but it doesn’t get the same recognition as the market-leading brands. That’s fair and all, but we evaluate these machines based on their own merit and in terms of how they fare as value propositions in the space, not necessarily against direct competitors. So for $70, the entry price of the WLtoys Drift Truck seems rather palatable; that’s even better when you consider it has a metal chassis, proportional steering, and independent suspension with working shocks at all four corners. For the price it has a lot going for it.

It looks great, too. The body, though very flimsy, has meaty fenders and a decent appearance that evokes images of what a real drift truck would look like. The LED lighting really sets off the vibe, egging you on to go full Tokyo Drift with your time running the 284131. Getting it going is easy: Simply unclip the body (it attaches to the frame via clips), charge the battery with the included charger, add four of your own AA batteries to the transmitter, and off you go.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

And go, this thing certainly does. It’s remarkably quick for something of this size and price, scooting across a living room floor well faster than we expected it to. The acceleration is truly rapid, and that it doesn’t lose the back end when flooring it from a stop is fairly remarkable. It’s no surprise that the at-speed handling is somewhat trying, but that’s the price you pay with so much speed matched to such a short wheelbase and narrow track. On the upside, that allows the Drift Truck to, well, drift with astonishing ease.

In that sense, calling the 284131 a Drift Truck is by no means a misnomer, which we’re very happy to report considering that many drift-able RCs are more in the camp of powerslide-happy than they are true drift missiles. The WLtoys rig happily throws its back end out in a flamboyant display of oversteer at any willing prod of the accelerator and, though we’d like the trigger to be a bit more sensitive even at its most reactive setting, does a fine job of it considering the buy-in price. There’s plenty of more expensive remote-controlled drift machines that would have a hard time matching the 284131’s prowess, and that value aspect makes it all the more fun.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Working turn signals and almost-too-bright bright LED lights add to the experience, though we caution of being wary of the near-nonexistent ground clearance should there be a run-in with something with even as little of a height delta as a hardwood floor and an area rug.

We have three gripes with the 284131 Drift Truck. First, the front splitter is misaligned with the lights and the ground. Nothing major, but worth noting. Also, the motor gets hot. Like, really hot. And considering that the bottom is exposed through the chassis itself, users must take care when handling the truck. Last, this is a loud RC. It really makes quite a racket for something so small.

Beached on the lip of an area rug. Photo Credit: Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

We also said we don’t like to compare RCs with one another seeing as one person’s fun can be another’s boredom and vice versa, but the quality hobby-grade options in the $50-100 range are so few that we can’t help but think about the other 1/28 scale RC trucks we just tested, the SC28 and MT28 from Team Associated. Right out of the box, the WLtoys model carried a significantly higher build and material quality. In fact, the packaging on both of our Team Associated test units was compromised in some way, while the WLtoys arrived perfectly intact. From opening the packaging to running through a battery, the WLtoys 284131 would get our money over the models from Team Associated every single time.

Is it worth the money? Yes, absolutely. It’s a bold proposition to offer something at this price point without the stigma of a big-name brand, and it’s a bolder move to have “Ready to Win” (a playful twist on the “Ready to Run” RC wording) emblazoned across the Drift Truck’s roof, but it’s fully substantiated. The WLToys 284131 Drift Truck is a winner, through and through.

Yay: Fast, fun, inexpensive, really can drift, great features for the price

Nay: Loud, motor gets hot, can be difficult to control in smaller spaces

Takeaway: The WLtoys 284131 1/28 scale radio-controlled drift truck isn’t only a fantastically fun thing to play with, but it’s a bona fide bargain for the purchase price.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and ATV.com, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast.

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