ANN: Bit Charge OEM Smart-Car
May 8, 2002 at 5:25 pm #8882
Well, someone pointed them out on the weekend – so I pointed my trusty credit card at them! Two and a half days later, the friendly chap from FedEx arrived at my work with the much-anticipated parcel from Japan.
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the Bit Charge Smart-Car.
Now – before anyone loads a gun sticks it under my nose for typing “Charge” instead of “Char-G”, please toddle off and take a squiz at the picture set accompanying this mini-review. It’s not a typo…hehehehe.
Yep – those zany Chinese boffinsin Tangshan, China (the home of the TOMY Bit Char-G factory) have churned out another ‘interesting’ set of OEM cars. And,in a move that would surely piss TOMY right off, have delightfully called them Bit Charge (hmmm…. wonder how they came up with that name?!) Smart-Cars.
Rather than doing a full, in-depth review of these cars (which are based on the TOMY Bit Char-G anyway…and you know all about them!, I’ll just do a quick summary. “Yeah…yeah… laziness…..”
Key feature list
- Shortest G-series car ever, at just 54mm (a full 5mm shorter than most of the Bit Char-G cars)
- Car lights up using an on-board LED when receiving forward or reverse signals
- Controller/charger has selectable “sound” (motor noises whe sending forward or reverse signals) / “lights” (controller flashes with inbuilt disco lights) / “passive” (no lights or sounds) switch
- Controller/charger doubles as a flip-top carrycase for the car and also includes a metal clip for a neck-chain (how…errmmmm…. stylish)
- Includes: Micro B 2.2 Motor, 2 x traffic cones, English instructions, body, chassis and controller/charger.
- Packaging – ignoring the cheesy “man on the moon” artwork and “Engrish” wording, the display packaging is quite nice and is much more rigid than standard Char-G boxes.
- English manual with clear diagrams – almost a straight copy of the fantastic line drawings provided by TOMY.
- Size – You don’t realise just how mall these are until you put one next to a normal Char-G. Of course, that makes mixing and matching bodies very difficult due to the shorter chassis (lug to lug)
- Traffic Cones – Only a little thing, but a nice touch all the same. Would be great to be able to buy a bag or box of those suckers on their own.
- High profile tyres – first look and you’re sure to say “How big are the bloody wheels?!” But, on closer examination, you’ll see that they have used a thicker (higher profile) tyre on standard-size wheels. Whip out your magnifying glass and you’ll even see a raised “Z” (z-rated?) on the tyre wall! Unlike 1:1 scale cars, the thicker tyres seem to give Char-Gs alittle more control on slippery surfaces.
- Performance – the standard Micro-B 2.2 and 9.86:1 gearing makes a formidable team for most table-top racing. The steering is verytight and the car responds well with the supplied controller which has a good quality telescoping antenna. Best range achieved with a 27MHz car was approx 3m (10′)
- Will be simple to hack the light – expect to see some people get creative with the leads used by the LED in these cars.
- Cheap – In an order of ten or so cars, they should be able to get to Sydney for about $44.00ea (inc airfreight, bank charges, customs brokerage, GST etc) If anyone wants to order a single car or two themselves, check out ToyEast (they seem to have a pretty good reputation these days. FWIW – the two samples I purchased cost me almost AUD75.00ea (USD37.00ea) due to the bloody FedEx bill (JPY5890 = ~AUD86.00 = ~USD43.00).
- The light on the car – seriously. THE most-heralded feature is a complete and utter joke. Far from lighting up the whole car, including the headlights, it simply makes the roof glow a little and you can see the bright red LED inside the shell. The clear chassis design simply DOES NOT take the right around to the extremities of the car.
- The sound – sucks. If my car sounded like what comes out of the remote I’d take it to the scrap metal dealers. It’s arguably the most annoying sound sinceVanilla Ice. I suspect 95% of Smart-Car owners will keep this switched OFF.
- The lights on the controller – WTF were they thinking. Just one word for these – “CHEESEY”
- Gear Noise – Now I know why they put sound FX in the controller – to drown out the sound of the chattery gears!
- Remote uses AAA-size batteries – which really sucked for Derek who picked up a 10pk of AAs on the way home in preparation for testing. LOL! And what’s with the ultra-fine thread on the battery compartment cover screw? I can see that causing grief for frequent battery-changing-people.
- Normal Bit Char-G bodies not interchangeable – because of the size difference. But it does open up a couple of fun possibilities. For the Knight Rider mod, a Char-G body on a Charge chassis leaves 3mm at the front (inside the car) which could be enough room to mount some bumper LEDs. Of course, this would be subject to some mild grinding of the wheel arches. If the wheel arches are not ground to the correct position, the Char-G body can be mounted on a 10degree decline (high at back – low at front) for that dragster/”funny car” look (started playing with this as you can see in the image set)
- Way too much cross-frequency chatter – the Bit Charge was promising as it offered a new “49MHz” frequency of the standard “45MHz”. Unfortunately, standard 45MHz cars still pick up the slutty signal from the 49MHz controller, which seems to want to molest anything from 44MHz to 52MHz. That’s a bastard.
Hope you find some/all of this information helpful. As always – corrections/additions/suggestions etc are most welcome…. over to you guys!
May 8, 2002 at 7:21 pm #13426
But looks to be more of a novelty than anything else.
(I love the funny car look!)
Are the internals the same as regular Bit Char G’s?
(You say it’s shorter…where did they shorten it?) I bet that it effects it’s propensity to flip over on sharp turns, doesn’t it?
May 9, 2002 at 8:56 pm #13454
Excellent summary Derek!
And now for the 64.00 dollar (Australian dollar? ) question.
Can the multi-band controller be used to control these? Or is it pretty much the same as the OEM cars?
May 10, 2002 at 2:42 am #13473
A two-for-the price-of-one reply
> But looks to be more of a novelty than anything else.
Absolutely. Good for kids though, if you want to keen them away from your real Char-Gs!
> Are the internals the same as regular Bit Char G’s?
Aye. Same size, anyway. Only visible differenceare the steering coils, which have been dyed RED for God-only-know what reason.
> (You say it’s shorter…where did they shorten it?)
Length – mainly front axle to bumper and rear axle to bumper (a couple of mm off each)
> I bet that it effects it’s propensity to flip over on sharp turns, doesn’t it?
Not really. Actually – it looks a couple of mm WIDER, too (just took a closer look). Stability might actually be a little better….
> Excellent summary Derek!
> And now for the 64.00 dollar (Australian dollar? ) question.
LOL…. the USD33.00 dollar equivalent question
> Can the multi-band controller be used to control these? Or
> is it pretty much the same as the OEM cars?
Yep – once again they’ve put a code change in. This time they operate on the “B” channel, however, the throttle signals are reversed! If you use a multi-controller FWD=REV. But they keep LEFT=LEFT and RIGHT=RIGHT, which means you can’t turn the remote upside down to use, either. Bum!
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