The Next Traxxas?

Many companies understandably won’t want to hear it, but these days there is a single dominate brand in RC. There are a lot of successful companies in RC, but when the dust settles, one is–at least for now–clearly breaking away from the pack. In the not-too-distant past, there were usually at least two companies on top. In the early days of RC, it was Tamiya with Kyosho in pursuit. Next, it was Associated and Losi in what eventually turned out to be a dead heat. Times and the hobby have changed. Today, the dominate brand in RC is–drumroll please–Traxxas. I didn’t shock or surprise you, I know.

Starting with the incredibly successful T-Maxx and then the rather innovative Revo, Traxxas became an undeniable major player in RC, but was still essentially disregarded (read: underestimated) by the racing-dedicated companies. Yes, many manufacturers offered their take on the big, 4WD nitro-powered monster truck platform and also started offering more ready-to-run vehicles, but even while branching out, the race companies distanced themselves, so to speak, from that side of the hobby. “Sure, they may sell a lot of those toys, but we’re a race company.” Then came the Slash. If the competition wasn’t paying attention before, they were now. Over the last four years, Traxxas has thrown its weight around with unmatched marketing and product development efforts. The result? Even during a down economy Traxxas has grown–a lot. It’s good to king. But, when you’re on top, the one thing you can count on is everyone is gunning for you. Everyone wants to be the one to unthrone the king.

So, who is going to be the next Traxxas? I put that very question to some popular voices in the RC community and, of course, weighed in myself. This isn’t about loving or hating any brand in RC, it’s about reflecting on who some different personalities in RC believe could be the next king.

KEVIN CRANDALL, RC SOUP
Nobody is really pounding the pavement to get their name out as hard as Traxxas. They are absolutely everywhere. They never let any of their line get stale with constant refreshes for old models (i.e. Monster Jam Stampede line) and are known for launching new vehicles that start whole segments of racing (the T-Maxx started the monster truck classes in the mid 2000’s, the Slash started the short course craze and now the Rally). If there is a “Next Traxxas,” they are still pretty far in second place. If we’re looking at the innovative things Traxxas does to set themselves apart from the rest of the class, then I would say Axial is gaining traction. They have had great success tapping into their market, and are branching out with every new release. They still very much cater to a certain type of enthusiast, but with cool cars like the EXO Terra Buggy, Wraith, and SCX10 under their belt, I can honestly say that I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. I’m sure it will be something amazing and original. In a world of copycats and Chinese knock-offs, I think that innovative and original concepts will help a company like Axial stand even higher above the rest.

JEREMY HAMBLY, RC NIGHTMARE
In terms of “who” will be the next Traxxas, my answer is nobody. Certainly companies like HPI are trying with their endless releases to grab up market share and be innovative, but the fact of the matter is unless Traxxas gets lazy, which isn’t outside the realm of possibility, there isn’t going to be another company doing more to bring new people to the hobby–not even close. Offshore companies certainly have the low prices and distribution to make a run at them, however, the problem is they rely on Traxxas to do all the R&D, and up to this point, have only proven capable of cheap knock off’s, and in some cases, outright stolen products. Call me a Traxxas “fanboy” if you want; I’ve owned literally every brand out there, spent more money on RC in a year than most will spend in a lifetime, and the fact of the matter is, there isn’t a single company out there bringing as much innovation, marketing, and excitement to the hobby as a whole, not even by a long shot. It’s theirs to lose.

JEREMY FLINT, RC INSIDER
RC Insider is mainly a RC racing news site focused on U.S. coverage. At this time, we see a couple of companies becoming the next Traxxas. Unfortunately, we don’t see any, at this point, stepping up and going head to head with Traxxas. What we are seeing is that 2012 is the year of the accessory companies. I see JConcepts and Pro-Line as the top two companies that are in a heated battle. This year, we have watched JConcepts and Pro-Line dominate the RC racing market via products, marketing and promotions. These three elements position them as the front runners in becoming the next Traxxas. I realize that is a vague statement, so I’ll expand a bit. JConcepts and Pro-Line manufacture bodies, tires and accessory parts that fit Traxxas trucks. As Traxxas grows, they stand to grow. In addition, JConcepts and Pro-Line have spent this year being the title sponsor of many RC race events. JConcepts holds its Indoor National Series as well as several one-off National events throughout the U.S. Pro-Line went above and beyond and brought the international media to two pretty big and prestigious RC races here in the U.S.–“The Dirt” Nitro Challenge and Pro-Line Cactus Classic. From the media standpoint, when you see companies such as JConcepts and Pro-Line stepping up their media exposure and working with not only with the print, but most of the online news sites, it shows their dedication to their products, their company as a whole and gives the consumer the impression they are making bold moves to stay in the spotlight! We predict these companies will continue to make even bolder moves with the media heading into 2013. Both companies understand the importance of what we in the media do and they have given the impression, especially to this website, that they want the coverage!  We still we feel both companies have a long way to go in their quest for complete market dominance, but it has made for a good year here in the U.S. watching the body and tire war unfold.


MATT HIGGINS, RC TRUCK STOP

For me, this question is really about potential. Who has the potential to be the next Traxxas? Some obvious answers quickly come to mind–HPI and Losi. HPI was neck and neck with Traxxas when it was Savage vs. T-Maxx. HPI has the engineers and a solid reputation to build on. Losi’s strongest asset used to be the biggest criticism of the brand–Horizon. With RC giant Horizon behind the Losi brand, the reality is anything is possible. The dark horse in the race is Axial. Axial used to be the biggest little company in RC, but now Axial is backed by Hobbico (talk about a giant). Axial has proven to be dialed in with what enthusiasts are looking for, and–mark my words–one breakout mass-appeal release could change Axial’s position in the industry and the hobby as a whole. HobbyKing, a company that is still new to the RC car scene, has insiders in the industry wondering (and a little worried about) how big they will get. HobbyKing, with its surprisingly affordable LiPo batteries, has quickly moved from unknown to well known. HobbyKing has potential, but would essentially need to reinvent its vehicle lineup. The company, however, that I could really see becoming the next Traxxas isn’t a vehicle manufacturer at all. It’s Pro-Line Racing. Pro-Line isn’t a tire and body company only anymore. Pro-Line has offered other accessories for years and have seriously ramped up its efforts lately. Think about its Traxxas Slash accessories. With Pro-Line’s suspension kit, shocks, transmission, steering kit, chassis conversion and additional parts, you basically replace every piece on the Slash. If Pro-Line wanted to, it could make one sick RC car.

 

EDITORIAL NOTE:
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions individual, designated authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of RC Truck Stop.

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Matt Higgins About the Author: Matt has over 25 years of experience in RC and has worked professionally in media for over a decade. Matt enjoys everything from racing to rock crawling to bashing, and he believes RC should be all about having fun. Matt is as at home covering a world championship in an exotic country as he is showing a new hobbyist how to set gear mesh. His desire to share the hobby with as many people as possible inspired him to create RC Truck Stop and RCTruckStop.com.

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  1. James Mikoliczyk says:

    The short answer. No one, at least no one currently heading in that direction, publically.

    This is not to say that any Mfg. could or couldn’t take the stpes to one up Traxxas. It’ll be a pretty tall order for most of the more known Mfg.s I think. It’s not am impossible task, but one that I think would require a total rethink of the current business models that most major Mfg.’s have in place. In this day and age, that change of focus or direction if you will, could be more damaging to the public reputation and/or perception. It’s real hard these days to keep things under wraps for too long, though some Mfg.’s have found ways to do that.

    This is where I think Traxxas (love them or hate them)got ahead of their competition. When Traxxas left the competive racing side many years ago, they fell out of the public spot light. Fell out of favor, wrote off, gone the way of the Dodo bird. That became a blessing and a curse for them. While they were out of the spot light and thus out from under the public microscope. They had the ability to totally rebuild the Company and business model with out many people even knowing what they were up to. Having the ability to do that, while a huge gamble, has shown to have been a very smart move.

    The curse from that was that they would basically have to start over in the image department. Being MIA from the public spot light for as long as they were meant that no one would really remember who they were. That was a challenge that Traxxas proved to be willing to take. I’m guessing in their stint of being MIA, they had looked at that and knew what they were in for. Thay had a plan and stuck to it. Which again proved to be a very smart move.

    I truely believe that without the introduction of their T-Maxx, Traxxas as we now know it, would not exist at the level they currently are. One could argue that the Slash would or could have got them to that level or very close to, but I believe that they used one to get to the other and without the first, you wouldn’t have the second. At least not with the same type of success. The way that they were able to reinvent themselves was such that I think was a little bit of right place, right time. I’m not sure if even Traxxas could pull off what they did then, now.

    So, which Mfg. could stand to try and do something like they did? I’m not seeing any Mfg. willing to take that chance. At least not a major Mfg. willing to do so in the exact same way that Traxxas did. Yet I remain hopeful that a few Mfg.’s can reinvent themselves in a simular fashion.

    Perhaps:

    Novak. Yes I know they are still around and do pretty well. Yet they aren’t exactly at the forefront like they once were. I for one would love to see that reinvention take place and have them be back at the top in what they do where everyone else is trying to keep up with them. A pipe dream perhaps, but Traxxas did prove many people wrong with how they did it.

    I don’t see any major car/truck Mfg.’s going the route that Traxxas has taken, but I’m not saying that they aren’t either. Durango comes to mind. With the backing of Hobbieco, They stand a good chance to making a run for the top. I agree that HPI can as well, more so now with the their recent additions. Some new oppratunities are there. Axial too. Those guys have proven to have the right thinking with their crawlers and the crawling market. There’s little doubt that they have help the crawling world in ways that do seem to have that Traxxas feel.

    In the non car/truck realm I can think of a few, most are known for their accesories than car/truck kits, but have the abiltiy to make a good case for themselves to make a run for the top if they so choose to. RPM and MIP are two that I can think of right off the bat. Both are well estabolished in what they do and have some of the best products you can get. Yet both could easily come up with the next big thing to reinvent themselves in a way that would make two already great Mfg.’s even bigger and better.

    Pro Line is for sure a contender. I’ll add in Jconcepts and AKA as well. While PL is the old guard so to say, AKA are the new kids with Jconcepts being in the middle. I wouldn’t count any one of those three out. Just in tires alone, they are pushing each other very hard and keep each other on their toes. It’s always good to see what’s coming next, or fun at least. The dark horse here to me might be AKA. They have all the right talent and have proven that being small doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact on the market with your products. If that sounds just a little bit like deja vu. Traxxas and Axial used that to their advantage in their history.

    I’m sure there are any number of other Mfg.’s that could also try and be the next top dog. The debates are bound to be nearly endless.

  2. James Mikoliczyk says:

    Thanks Matt,

    I do have my moments. Though to be fair, I was shooting from the hip a bit. Now that I have reread the comment, I see some errors (grammar and spelling) and omitions A few other things that could have also been added) that could have made the comment better, albeit longer.

    How long was Traxxas MIA for? I’m thinking it was like 10 years or something close to it. At least in the public eye. I do wish they would make a slight return to their racing side, even if just a little. When they feilded a race team, they had some very good racing platforms. I’d say that missing step between a RTR and a full blown race kit. Perhaps simular to the Race Spec that AE has, but done in their way. Another pipe dream maybe? We can still wish.

  3. Daddy says:

    I think axial will be BLOWING up in the near future … The scale seen is only just starting to boom .. My opinion is invest your money in axial they will be HUGE in a cpl years..!!

    • Matt Higgins Matt Higgins says:

      You may very well be right on the money. Axial has made a lot of smart moves, hasn’t had too many stumbles and, as a result, has had tremendous growth for a comparatively small and young RC company

  4. Daniel Siegl says:

    Hi,

    and one year lather – pro-line is a competitor
    http://prolineracing.com/pro-2
    Cheers
    Daniel

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