2012 didn’t take too long to provide some big surprises. Hobbico (think DuraTrax, Great Planes and Tower Hobbies) has acquired Axial, Durango and ARRMA. For those who don’t know, the common tie between these three companies is Kingstar–an RC manufacturer in Taiwan who owned all three companies, but set them up to run independently.
When we heard the big news, we put our reporter hat (ours is a worn out trucker cap, of course) on and picked up the phone to get the real scoop behind the prepared press release. First, we spoke with Axial’s head honcho (best pun of the year) Jeff Johns. The bottom line there is we couldn’t help but sense the excitement in his voice. This move will allow Axial to do big things. Previously, Axial was the biggest small company in RC. Most people never realized that a such a small group of guys and gals was behind the company. Up next, Axial’s marketing master Rodney Wills consented to tell us what this news really means to them and the customer. Check it out:
RC Truck Stop:
A lot of Axial customers will be surprised and maybe even concerned by this news. What does this really mean?
It means that Axial is solid and business as ususal! We will still be the same cool Axial located in Southern California! We will continue with the plans we have in place–the path we have been building over the past couple of years. We are not getting watered down or homogenized. We just have a little bit more artillery in the bunker now! We can’t turn out backs on our customers now! We are stoked and thankful of the Axial fans that we have and the fact that these people are spreading the word about the amount of fun they have with our products–we only wish to continue and further that passion and support through the natural growth of the Axial brand! The big news is: MORE FUN AHEAD!
RC Truck Stop:
Will any current Axial operations or aspects of the business move from California to Illinois?
Honestly, we actually do not know yet, but the cool part of this whole deal is that Hobbico likes what we have going on so far, so they are letting us keep doing what we have been doing–the way we have been doing it. Our business is solid, so we like the fact that Hobbico’s attitude is why fix something that is not broken. Automotive, RC and action sports are very strategically and strongly based in southern California, so us staying here is just a natural. It’s like the California milk commercials, “Everyone knows happy cows come from California!”
RC TRuck Stop:
Will the Axial products continue to be manufactured by Kingstar?
RC Truck Stop:
Will you guys have enough independence to continue making the products Axial is known for?
Yes! We have the right amount of business and creative insight along with R&D talent and structure. With this, Hobbico values the “magic” that is Axial and they wish to preserve that. It’s like when Nike bought Quicksilver, while the circumstances are vastly different, the main point here is that they did not move the Southern California based Quicksilver to the Oregon based Nike HQ. Hobbico is allowing us the freedom to be creative and productive as we have already proven to be in our “natural environment.” I know things will change down the road, that too is the nature of the business, but it will be through observation and evaluation. Strategically, we are located in the right GPS coordinants, and now we have the right vertical partners. The mixture of independence and guidance is going to make for a great working relationship that will lend to natural growth! And, while a few folks may be saying who are these new Axial guys coming on the scene so strong, we have been around for six years now. We are maturing as a company and we will continue building the Axial brand with our ears pointed towards the jungle!
Hobbico’s press release is below:
Champaign, Illinois, January 9, 2012 – Hobbico, Inc. announced today that it has acquired several R/C car
product lines: Axial, Team Durango and ARRMA.
Founded in 2005, Axial offers industry-leading R/C vehicles, focused on rock crawling and rock racing
products. With excellent design features and a high level of detail, Axial specializes in highly realistic
Established in 2009, Team Durango is known for state-of-the-art race vehicles in 1/10 and 1/8 scale.
Team Durango holds world and national championship titles around the globe.
ARRMA is a new product line introduced in 2011, offering a selection of vehicles with advanced
features, unique designs and parts compatibility. Using a common chassis platform, ARRMA vehicles
allow retailers to give consumers a choice while maintaining a simplified parts inventory. The acquisition
also includes the dBoots brand of R/C tires which specializes in off-road tires for multi-surface indoor and
Hobbico is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of model hobby products, including radio
controlled models, plastic model kits, rockets and other hobby products. The employee-owned company
manufactures and distributes many famous hobby brands such as Duratrax, TrakPower, O’Donnell
Racing Fuel, Revell, Estes, Great Planes, Flyzone, HeliMax, MonoKote, RealFlight, Top Flite,
SuperTigre, AquaCraft, and others. Hobbico also represents Futaba, O.S. Engines, ThunderTiger and
other product lines in the U.S. and other parts of America.
Axial will continue to operate as a Hobbico subsidiary from its facility in Irvine, California. Team
Durango and ARRMA will also continue from their current offices in Ashby, Leicestershire, UK as a
Hobbico subsidiary. The product lines will continue to be available through a worldwide network of
“We’re proud to bring these strong product lines into the Hobbico family,” said Wayne Hemming,
President of Hobbico. “I’m particularly happy to welcome the teams of talented professionals at Axial,
Team Durango and ARRMA and look forward to the innovative products that they are developing.”
“I’m excited about this new affiliation with Hobbico,” said Jeff Johns, General Manager of Axial R/C
Inc. “This will give Axial additional resources to continue our rapid growth.”
“I look forward to working with Durango and ARRMA staff as well as those within Hobbico to continue
to introduce innovative and successful products. This is an exciting step which we are sure will help take
us to the next level,” said Jason Dearden, Managing Director of ARRMA Durango, Ltd