Who says bigger is better? These Albertans say tiny trucks offer 'full-sized' fun
Small radio-controlled trucks are exact replicas of the real thing
'Tis the season for giving! That's why we're bringing back some of our favourite stories from 2019. This story was originally published on April 24. Enjoy!
For many, it's the Alberta dream — off-roading a luxury, gas-guzzling truck through the mud.
A group of local hobbyists are living that dream, albeit in miniature.
On sunny afternoons, you'll find the off-roaders driving their souped-up four-by-fours and monster trucks through Edmonton's river valley.
But you'll have to look hard. These trucks are RC (radio-controlled) and they're tiny.
Zak Lesburg, a member of Scale Trucks on Scale Trails, got into small trucks when he found out he was going to be a dad.
"I was looking for a hobby that wasn't partying and going out with my friends and stuff, something to stay at home and still keep my hands busy," Lesburg said during a recent Friday afternoon meet-up in Edmonton's Whitemud Ravine.
"When I was younger I was into the big four-by-fours and you find out really fast they cost a lot of money," Lesburg said.
"The little ones, they don't cost any money and you can go to the river valley and drive one around. You don't have to go out of town somewhere to do it. And the little $5 part you break versus the $1,000 part you break makes a big difference."
They may be small, but the four-by-fours and monster trucks are no ordinary toys.
The trucks are precise reproductions of their full-sized counterparts, right down to the most intricate details, from tire treads to hydraulics.
Lesburg, for example, is building a miniature version of a black 2010 Silverado he once owned.
"There's a lot of custom work done to them and a lot of people put pride through their work," said Federico Buryniuk, a member of Tiny Trucks Canada, an RC club with 700 members across Canada.
Buryniuk has been a hobbyist for more than 10 years, building trucks and custom accessories, including the pint-sized trailer hauled by his tiny truck.
"It's for like trail pops, hot dogs, stuff like that. It keeps things nice and cool. It's made out of foam board and an RC trailer I had a buddy make for me," Buryniuk said.
"We take it on the trail and whenever anybody needs a pit stop or whatnot, I have stuff in it."
'Keep on trucking'
Attention to detail is important for the hobbyists. One truck has a canoe latched to the roof, others have action figures behind the wheel.
If they weren't so small, it would be easy to mistake the trucks for road-worthy vehicles. And that's the point. Owners will position their toys for scale photos to make them look full sized.
In competitions, participants get points based on how real the truck looks and works, said enthusiast Brandon Fancey.
"So I've got a few things on here, like a working winch that I can use to recover the vehicle from a sticky situation," Fancey said.
"I've also got sand ladders up here on the roof rack that I can use for recovery, along with a snatch block, a winch anchor and scale tow rope, in case I get into any trouble."
Fancey, a photographer who travelled from Hinton, Alta., to join the Friday night trail ride, specializes in posing the trucks to make them look like the real deal.
He even has his own YouTube channel dedicated to scale photography and videos.
"You've got to get down as low as you can, make yourself level with the truck like you'd be someone standing there and that's really the only key there is to it. And just have a really nice background. Be out in the mountains or wherever."
Fancey said RC vehicles are the perfect hobby for someone who longs for the thrill of the ride but is short on time and cash.
"When you roll it over, you're not injured and it's not a write-off, you just kick it back over with your foot and keep on trucking," he said.
"And it's not one-tenth the fun, it's the full-sized fun."