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