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.