The Aquacraft Mini Thunder is a 17-inch round-nose hydroplane RC boat with a shape that vaguely resembles a round sting ray. It features a brushed motor with a water cooling system. The overall performance was very disappointing, as was the handling and durability, as the rudder broke within five minutes on the water. However, it had one of the longest run times in our tests.
To test each RC boat in our review, we took them to a local reservoir and had a lot of fun stirring up the water. In this process, we evaluated its handling and performance. We used a radar gun to record the average top speed. We timed how long each boat was able to stay on the water before the battery was drained. And finally, we evaluated the durability – you don't want to spend over $100 on an RC boat that breaks down on the first run.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened with the Aquacraft Mini Thunder. Five minutes into our first run on the water, the rudder broke off. And as far as we could tell, we hadn't run it into any rocks yet. We weren't surprised, however, as the boat is made of a cheap plastic with clear holes in the seams where the plastic should be waterproof. When you take it out of the box, it feels cheaply made compared to the best RC boats we reviewed. Overall, this is the reason why it received a failing grade for durability. On a positive note, you can replace broken parts.
The handling was pretty good for a hydroplane, but it still received a C- grade because it spent most of the run with little control. For the first five minutes, before the rudder broke and before the hull started taking on water, it carved through the water with great ease. After that, it had very little control and listed heavily to one side and wouldn't turn at all.
While it handled right turns better than left turns (a common handling issue with hydroplane boats), the left turns were better than other hydroplane boats we tested. Unfortunately, the top speed it recorded was just 12 mph, which is more than twice as slow as the fastest boats in our review. On a positive note, with such slow top speeds, there's little risk of ever flipping it over.
The best feature of the Mini Thunder was the run time. It comes with a 6-cell, 1,100-mAh NiMH battery, which isn't as preferred as a Li-Po battery, but it still provided 13 minutes of run time. This long run time would have been a lot more enjoyable had the boat's handling and durability been better. However, the battery continued to work despite the hull being filled with a lot of water, so that's encouraging.
The Aquacraft Mini Thunder was disappointing in almost every aspect, except for the run time, which was 13 minutes. It failed our durability evaluation because the rudder broke within the first five minutes on the water. The handling was pretty good until the rudder broke and the hull took on water. It also failed to reach speeds greater than 12 mph, which makes it the slowest boat in our review.