My first experience with ABC Hobby and the “Genetic” Mini was about 3 or 4 years ago. I had attended a 1:1 scale import car show for, of course, the cars, but also because HPI was putting on a drift demo there. While cruising the pits, I came across a small booth with a gorgeous M-scale BRE Datsun 510 kit. ABC Hobby was the company name, and they were bringing these little gems over to the US for sale. I ordered my 510 and when I received it, I painted the body with the nostalgic BRE red-white-and blue paint scheme and set it on the shelf.
ABC Hobby recently sent RC Driver a M-scale Genetic Toyota Corolla Levin TE27 for review. I was lucky enough to get my hands on it and, after some inspection, realized this mini-sized basher includes a lot of racer-ready features! How did I miss all that on my 510 shelf queen?? Well, I won’t miss it this time as I take the Levin out for some serious road testing.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT ABC Hobby
WHO IT’S FOR Everyone
HOW FAST 21.3mph
PART NO. 24009
HOW MUCH $299.99
• The chassis is made from a thick 3mm black fiberglass. Both the top deck and battery strap are made of the same black fiberglass, but reduced to 2mm in thickness.
• The suspension is a dual-pillow ball design; rather unconventional for small scale applications. It works great and makes adjusting the camber a breeze. Simply insert your allen wrench through the wheel spokes (into the pillow ball) and adjust. Front and rear toe are adjusted using a short threaded link.
• Another standard suspension adjustment is droop. Short setscrews in the arms allow you to adjust this, but the ‘cool’ feature is the small plastic ‘stopper’ that attaches to the bottom of the setscrew. This stopper hits the chassis before the metal setscrew. This keeps the droop settings more consistent as it leaves your chassis unmarked and undamaged after numerous adjustments.
• The Mini includes a full set of super-smooth, pre-built shocks. The shock bodies are made of a clear plastic and are topped off with gunmetal anodized aluminum caps. One great feature is that they already come filled with oil! One less messy job to do during a build!
• The drive train is also impressive. A high-quality ball-diff resides in each gearbox. The diff halves are plastic for less weight, but include aluminum diff saver rings to help prevent them from breaking. A full set of CVDs transfers power to all four ball-bearing supported wheels. In fact, the entire drivetrain rolls on a set of high-quality, shielded ball bearings! An aluminum spur gear mount attaches to a shiny aluminum driveshaft that runs down the spine of the Mini.
• The motor attaches to a cam-style machined aluminum motor mount. This system works great and is easy to adjust when you change the gearing on the car.
• There are quite a few old school bodies to choose from for the ABC Mini. These include this Corolla Levin, a Celica 1600GT, a Suzuki Swift, a Mitsubishi Colt and my two favorites, a BRE Datsun 510 and 240Z! All have incredible detail and look fantastic!
NEEDED TO COMPLETE
– Transmitter and receiver
– Steering servo
– Electronic Speed Control
– Battery pack
– Paint for body
WHAT WE USED
+ Futaba T2PH radio w/receiver & S3003 servo—Item no. FUTJ13
+ LRP Ai digital speed control—TT1093
+ Peak Racing Power Plant 5000—PEK00503
WHAT WE LIKED
• It’s assembled
• Body, decals and wheels look amazing!
• Many race features
• Attention to detail in every area
• Parts quality
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
• Hex screws would be nice
Test Venue: Secret test location, codename “Topaz”
Conditions: Freshly paved, slightly dusty parking lot
For a 4WD car, the Genetic Mini has surprisingly good steering. At low and high speeds, I could put it anywhere I wanted to on the test track. It was quick in the chicane section of the track, and held its ground well on the sweeper. To confirm my assessment, I handed the controls to my dad. He took a couple of laps and mentioned that not only did the Mini steer really well, but it was also very quick when changing directions. Both are assets on the track and when racing your friends in the street.
The LRP Ai Super Reverse ESC has a supersmooth, proportional braking profile programmed in. Unfortunately, with the MJGTC motor, the brakes were not strong enough. I would have liked to try a faster, rebuildable motor as these have extremely strong magnets in them that really affect braking and acceleration. Because the MJGTC magnets aren’t as strong, the brakes always felt a little soft.
4WD vehicles really excel in this area. With the LRP Ai Super Reverse ESC, Team Orion Rocket Pack and MJGTC motor, this Mini got up and going in no time. Although it isn’t mind-blowing, the MJGTC motor has pretty good pop off the line. Top speeds were decent, too, but the run times stole the show. With the 4000mAh Rocket Pack fully charged, I shut the Mini down after about 25 minutes of blasting around the track, and I bet it still had 5 or so minutes left in it.
I have to admit that I didn’t think the ABC Mini would have a stellar suspension setup; in fact, I didn’t think it would be very good at all. I was wrong. Even on the dusty parking lot, the suspension was excellent. The steering was fantastic without a hint of understeer or oversteer. I flung the car around and it stayed composed. As hard as I tried, I could not get it to slide or get out of shape. Even my dad was amazed by how easy it was to drive (and has now commandeered the ABC Mini as his!). I think the suspension is a bit soft for high-bite tracks, but that’s solved with a simple oil change or spring change. In stock form, the suspension is spot-on!
After a couple of battery packs, the only signs of wear were a few scratches on the bottom of the chassis, a little road rash on the body and a lot of dust inside the car! It isn’t sealed, so there are plenty of chances for debris to jam the spur and pinion gears, but apart from the dirt, the gears looked great. The tires were a little worn, but that could have been the result of my constant J-turns (Google is your friend here), which, by the way, the Mini does great!
• Use a very small amount of spray adhesive to glue the strip-style tire inserts together. This will prevent them from bunching up while driving.
• Since the spur and pinion gears are exposed, be mindful of the terrain you drive on. Debris can easily get stuck in the gears and ruin them.
LENGTH: 11.6in (294mm)
WIDTH: 6.2in (157mm)
WHEELBASE: 8.2in (208mm)
• Camber—F&R pivot-ball
• Toe (F&R)—adjustable link
• Springs (F&R)—standard
• Bump-steer—add or subtract shims under steering ball stud
• Droop—droop screws in suspension arms
• Gear Ratio-replaceable spur and pinion gears
• Main carbon-fiber Chassis—24187
• Carbon-fiber top plate—US24804
• Threaded-aluminum shocks—24100
• Adjustable turnbuckles—24119
• Shock-spring set—24171
• Anti-roll bar set—24167
• Front spool (locked diff)—24177
• Front one-way diff—24121
THE LAST WORD
When I received the ABC Mini, I figured it would be a decent entry-level car with a cool-looking body. After all, there are quite a few awesome old-school bodies mounted on the same chassis available. But ABC has included quite a few features that will attract racers, too. Ball differentials, CVDs and a full set of ball-bearings are standard equipment. Drop in some good electronics, and you have yourself a pretty impressive performance machine. So check out ABC’s website and all the memorable cars from the past. You just might end up buying two or three of them!