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Old 2005.12.14, 10:49 AM   #1
bemoore
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Newbie Review of Mini-Z vs XMOD vs XMOD EVO

I recently discovered XMODs and thought that it would be great to find a series that races them. My research also uncovered another, more expensive car, the Mini-Z, which led to another discovery, the battle lines between the two camps. I read all the comparisons I could find, and most of the time I came away thinking "Well, that could be just a ___ owner defending his car choice", so I've been skeptical. So I went to my LHS to see what I could find. I found a couple of Iwavers and no information on any 1/28 racing. Back to the internet. I found a local enthusiast who is trying to get a club formed and was having a get together on the following Sunday, and he had a gen 1 XMOD, an XMOD EVO, and a Mini-Z that he could let me try out. Talk about timing! Especially with Christmas just around the corner. Let me say that I don't own anything yet, and have no vested interest in favoring one car over the other. I only offer to submit an unbiased review of the differences between the cars mentioned for someone else who's a newbie like me. I think I now have a pretty good impression of the cars. A little info on the track. The surface was anti-fatigue mats (not RCP), and it was about 14'-16' x 8' with one straight and one series of esses. Width was about 2.5'.

Appearance
The XMODs look good, and I wouldn't mind if all 1/28 scale cars looked this good. They're really not bad. But... the Mini-Z are just a lot better. The detail is on par with my 1/32 scale slot cars. Best detail I've seen on any scale RC.

Power
This one is hard for me to quantify since all of the cars had more power than I could control. I couldn't keep any of the cars off the walls at full punch. And, given that you could put more power into any of these cars, this became a non-issue.

Steering Control
Here is where the XMODs really lag. The gen 1 car and EVO seemed to be about the same in terms of difficulty, but the EVO was capable of turning much tighter, so overall, the EVO was significantly improved over the gen1. The Mini-Z, however, is in another class. Both XMODs had a delay to the steering input. I had to anticipate the delay entering each turn and try to time it right. The esses became an exercise in remembering the right input at the right time. Let's see, turn... here, and turn back... here, and... you get the idea. If you missed, there was no reacting. I generally found myself backing up off the wall I just hit. The Mini-Z, on the oher hand, had no delay. It just responded, whenever and wherever you wanted, instantly. The number of steps on the XMODs were quite noticable. Any steering change on the straight resulted in a wall hit. You had to line up the straight before punching the throttle. The steering on the Z seemed to be continuous, with no obvious steps. Steering changeso on the straights were much easier. I still hit the walls, but much less frequently. The stock Z radio also has a steering adjustment, so I was able to slow the steering to my skill level. A more expensive TX with progressive steering would probably be better yet, but for what they cost, the TX that comes with the Z is pretty good. Both the XMODs had the same TX and I couldn't find any steering adjustment, but it could have been there. All three cars were bone stock.

Throttle Control
Similar differences. Both XMODs lacked controllability at slow speeds. It seemed like at slow speeds you had about two speeds to select from. The Mini-Z again seemed continuous, with no obvious steps.

Handling
This one is a bit difficult for a newbie like me to evaluate since I'm not skilled enough to pilot any of the cars at their limit. My impression was that Mini-Z seemed to hold the track better, but of course a lot of that is dependent on how well each car is tuned to the track, and all of the cars were stock.

Overall Smoothness
Again, the Mini-Z wins hands down. The steps in the throttle control is finer, the steps in the steering is finer, the gear mesh is quieter, etc. Actually, I would prefer a quieter gear mesh in the Z, but the gears in the XMODs were like nails on a chalkboard. I'm probably a little sensitive in this area. On my slot cars, one of my favorite mods is to polish the gears to make them quiet.

Iwavers
A short mention of the Iwavers. I didn't get to try one out, but the owner of the above cars had two Iwavers that he returned due to steering problems (failure to center), cracked plastic on the TX's, and just low quality in general. His opinions of the Mini-Zs and XMODs pretty much match my own, so I have no reason to doubt his Iwaver comments. However, the fastest car there was an Iwaver, but it wasn't stock. It had several mods, and he had an better TX, so it's hard to make any judgement based on his car.

Result: My Christmas wish list now includes a Mini-Z. Now I know that the Mini-Z is much more expensive so I expected it to be better, but not that much better. I half expected the difference to be largely due to paying a premium for the name Kyosho, but in this case, I believe you definately get what you pay for, maybe even more. The XMODs are not bad cars, and if there were an XMOD only race series, I wouldn't hesitate to get one, but in stock trim they are no match for a Mini-Z on a closed course. Power is inconsequential if you can't control it, and I could control much more power from the Z than I could from the XMODs. Another indicator of this difference is the various 1/28 clubs I found on the internet. The XMOD clubs generally ban Mini-Zs while Mini-Z clubs have no problem allowing XMODs.

I've seen many complaints regarding the cost of Mini-Zs, but I have to say that I think you get a lot for your money. You can get a Ready Set for $140 which includes a nice TX, a finely detailed hard body, excellent steering and throttle control, independent front suspension, and a live axle rear suspension superior (for racing, anyway) to the independent rear of the XMODs. I'm surprised at how cheap they are. A TX for a "real" RC car costs more than an entire Ready Set, and with a Ready Set, you have everything you need (except batteries) to enter your first race. Well, maybe everything except skill.
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Old 2005.12.14, 11:58 AM   #2
saiyan
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Very nice review and assesment of the differnet chassis. Your conclusions are spot on. Welcome to the Mini-z scene, you won't be disapointed. Most of your R/C enthusiest are generally nice and don't mind sharing set-ups and tuning tricks and it's even more so of Z racers. I have a few Zs and i'm not disapointed with any of them, they're all great. I also agree that if there was an x-mod only club around were i live i would buy 1 too, though it would have to be a 2nd gen EVO.
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Old 2005.12.14, 12:09 PM   #3
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I had to rate this review five stars, very well thought out.
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Old 2005.12.14, 01:21 PM   #4
briankstan
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I agree. 5 stars

I have several mini-z's and several xmods including the EVO. I actually started out with the xmods.

Your review was well thought out and well presented. if you feel like it check out the salt lake mini-z website, link is in my signature. There are lots of pictures of both mini-z's and xmods along with lots of videos. track layouts and the works.

Welcome to the Mini-z addiction.

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Old 2005.12.14, 02:08 PM   #5
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Excellent review- I pretty much had the same experience when first getting started...except I initially invested in xmods.

It's kind of silly for people to complain about the cost difference between xmod and mini z- one is a consumer-oriented RC product from a general electronics company, while the other is a quality hobbiest-level RC product from one of the leading RC companies in the world. Not really the same product IMO.
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Old 2005.12.14, 02:36 PM   #6
bemoore
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Thanks to you all for the kind words. I have to agree that they seem to be different products. About the only thing in common is scale. I feel lucky that AtlRC held a get together when he did and allowed me to try out the various cars.

One correction to my review: The track was 12x20 with 3' lanes. Still seemed tight to me. Guess I shouldn't get a Mini 96.
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Old 2005.12.14, 02:48 PM   #7
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Well written!
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