Retrospective Review: Traxxas Bullet

Slash, Revo, T-Maxx, Stampede, E-Maxx, Rustler, Slayer, Summit, Jato and the list actually goes on. If you’re into RC, these are household names. And, of course, they’re also all trucks and trucks made by RC giant Traxxas. But, even if Traxxas is arguably currently the biggest name in RC trucks, the company out Texas didn’t start with trucks. It kicked things off with a few buggies (The CAT and Bullet) and an on-road pan car (the Fiero). To get a better perspective on where Traxxas is now, check out this look back at one of the first vehicles it released.

Back in 1986, Traxxas opened its doors so to speak and set out to provide what was then an essentially entirely new concept–a fully assembled, hobby-grade RC car. This new car or truck would have all the same benefits of the popular hobby-class build kits such as replaceable parts, hop-up potential and a high-quality component fully proportional radio system. The catch was  it would be fully assembled with a cool eye-catching  pre-painted colorful body–right out of the box. Hard to believe right? Well, back then it was. Traxxas launched the term “Ready-To-Run” (RTR) to describe their new breed of RC. Traxxas now dubs its vehicles as Ready-to-Race. Since a fully assembled ready-to-run car would cater to the entry-level beginner, Traxxas created a toll-free customer support line. This service was set up from day one to service an entirely new category of hobby consumer. That’s customer service–especially back then. At the beginning, acceptance on this service was slow to receive because other RC kits had always come  unassembled. After a while folks in the hobby came around and realized that a Traxxas RTR had the same great performance and quality as the traditional RC kits.

Around the  1988 mark, Traxxas released the Bullet. It was a very interesting competitive-looking design which was aimed at crowd. At the time, RC racing in the U.S. dominated by Associated and a few others.

 

The Bullet was a good competitor for the RC10, but was lacking in some areas. It could be said that it was a victim of “over-engineering.” But, that was often the case back then (Think: Tamiya Avante). The Bullet was far more complicated than it should have been for a purpose-built racer, but it was the start of the best Traxxas vehicles we have today.

 

The Aluminum chassis was a great design, but the double decker concept–while it was strong–added unnecessary weight. That is based on the power we had available to us at the time. These days, with brushless and LiPo, we’re adding weight.Another familiar vintage Traxxas weak link was the white plastic parts. The parts could be brittle and weak in some areas. A popular issue was with the use of that white plastic in the outdrives of the transmission. The design was there, but materials were substantially improved over time. Note the different style of spur gear design used. A far cry from what have today. I don’t see a slipper clutch do you?

 

Body off, it is a rolling work of art with the beautifully crafted gold aluminum chassis and shocks. The body itself has a great amount of detail for its time. The integrated wing and detailed driver and roll cage set it apart easily from the others. You knew it was a Traxxas Bullet on the track. The early bell-crank type steering setup worked quite well for the time period.

While some racers had a lot of success with this buggy, it did–like others–require a little more effort in the wrenching department. For me, that’s half the fun. We didn’t have brushless, no-maintenance rigs back then. You were wrenching more than driving. Back then, that was acceptable. Putting some of the Bullet’s design flaws aside, much has improved with 1/10-scale vehicles in the Traxxas lineup. A lot of what they designed and learned from the  Bullet is what we have now from Traxxas. Examples include some of our favorite Traxxas trucks such as the Rustler, Stampede and Slash series. The Traxxas Bullet was one of  Traxxas more popular RC’s back in the late 80’s. Other great vehicles would follow such as the TRX-1, Blue Eagle, Hawk and Sledge Hammer.

I was approached by a good friend of mine in the hobby and longtime racing buddy about this Bullet. He had brought to my attention that he had one of these Traxxas Bullets for sale. Because it holds such a large part of historical significance for Traxxas history, it had to be added to my RC garage. This buggy is in great condition–nearly mint.  The Traxxas Bullet is a great piece for nostalgic Traxxas RC ownership. I’ve been running Traxxas products since the Rustler and Stampede were first released. I am in the process of restoring an original Traxxas 89′ Blue Eagle LS I had purchases in the late 90’s. It’s been parted out here and there, but it’s slowing coming back together. Stay tuned for that build in a later article.

 

Fore more great history on Traxxas and what made them what they are today, click HERE.

 

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Filed Under: General RCReviews

Christopher Oswald About the Author: Christopher is our Senior Editor and a professional automotive technician by trade, he has been a RC enthusiast for over 20 years and has hobby store experience under his belt. He has closed off many racing seasons with top podium finishes. His favorite is the Canadian National Championship series. He resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Good old fashioned competitive racing, scale crawling and some Sunday afternoon parking lot bashing is just some of his favorite ways to enjoy RC. When he isn’t writing, racing or bashing, Christopher spends his time with his wife and kids. Christopher also finds time to contribute other articles and RC tech on a variety of topics around the web. Christopher has his own personal RC project showcase website “R/C Modz Full Throttle” where you can find some of his own personal custom rigs. You can also follow Christopher on Twitter for up-to-date project's and review notifications at @RCTrkStp_Chris If you ever have any questions or comments, email Christopher at rctruckstopchris@gmail.com

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  1. Chris says:

    I Just aquired a Bullet from my brother and want to get it back to 100% again its steering servo bracket broke and the entire front end is loose is there anywhere i can get parts for it.

  2. Well Chris i would still try to find what you can on Towerhobbies.com, they have a large amount of old traxxas parts. Not always listed under “bullet” of course. For what they don’t have ebay will be the next best option. If you need more help, I have the original manual with parts list and part numbers. Just send me an email @ rctruckstopchris@gmail.com with a list of parts you need, and i’ll send you the part numbers from the manual.

    Hope this helps, and good luck bud! These buggies are rare and fun to drive. Brings me back…… :) :)

  3. tee says:

    trying to sell a trx1 still in box. I also have a fully assembled traxxas bullet that im willing to part with.

  4. Pete Van says:

    Can you send me a manual

  5. Hey Tee, if you want to get rid of those vintage rigs you can try using our classified section.

  6. DarrelW says:

    I haven’t seen one of these in a long time!! It must have been sitting around for years untouched until you had it Chris. Are you running it or is it still a shelf queen? Seeing that vintage white plastic makes me smile in envy. Great score Chris! Nice to see such historic RC in a good home and online. So many vintage rigs that are worth a pretty penny are shamelessly thrown out or parted out. Nice to see one together and in great shape. I see you have a few other vintage rides Chris, on your modz site. Pretty cool. I also had a USA-1 back in the day, I have nothing right now. Have any suggestions on something 2wd, but not this old?? lol.

  7. Thank you very much, Darrel! Yes, it’s a runner, but only once in a while. As you mentioned, the white plastic is nice and nostalgic, but that comes with being brittle and old, so I take it easy on this buggy. My other vintage rides I also take care of, but because Tamiya has some nice re-release kits, getting parts is easier than it was years ago when they were obsolete.
    If you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive 2WD vehicle, and you like the Traxxas line, they have the Slash and Rustler to choose from. There are other brands that still have 2WD to choose from. If you have questions about any model you’re looking at let me know, I’ll answer any questions you have the best I can.
    Thanks for checking out the article.

  8. Darren Kirkman says:

    Hey Chris I just finished my vintage 88 Bullet…too bad I cant post pics.. they sure look pretty when done.. Now I know why I bought one and raced it back in 88..

    • Aren’t vintage cars fun Darren? I know we have come a long way in the hobby but anyone who has been into it for years knows what I’m talking about. There is just something about owning a classic RC. Runner or shelf queen. Pics, we’d love to see it. If you are around social media and have Facebook, you can find us here: https://www.facebook.com/RCTruckStop

      If not, snap some pics and send them to: rctruckstopchris@gmail.com and we’ll post them for you. Not many of those Bullets around anymore, i’d hang on to it 😉
      Thanks Darren for sharing and checking out the article.

  9. like says:

    Hey i have a vintage bullet in mint condition.. what would something like that be worth?

    • Darren Kirkman says:

      Hey Chris I’ll like your page on facebook maybe I can post pics.. O BTW I’m currently working on a rtr with the manual speed control.. My 1st one was the kit version.. I also recently finished a Rad 2..

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