ASK Cubby, Your Week In Questions, My Week In Daydreaming
“Associated and TLR
Hey Cubby, Whats up? So earlier this week, the TLR 22 3.0 was “leaked” with an expected official release today 11-5. And so it was. Then, out of nowhere, Associated releases a B5M CE. Pricing is within $5, from what I can find online, so basically it comes down to if you like Losi or AE. Did AE know the 3.0 was coming out? Reading TLR info, they say it’s a no compromise mid motor car and that they knew they wanted a mid motor car the day the 2.0 was released. On a different marketing scheme, AE released both a rear motor, and mid motor car almost 2 years ago. I remember you saying that was a poor idea. Do you still think that? I still have yet to see a rear motor B5 at the track! Anyway, the 3.0 looks very similar to the B5M, but has a swing up/adjustable battery holder. Thats is cool, but from what I see most of the pros, don’t even use it as they tape the battery in. While I am sticking with AE (I just bought a SC5M for bashing and some track use- note: it handles really well and jumps curbs better than the slash 4×4-and no breakage yet), what is you take on the marketing decisions of these huge RC players?
Cubby- Yo Stevie, long time no squeeze, but good to hear from ya again. You know the drill, shoot us your snail mail to get a sticker pack to uber-out your rig with.
What’s up? I am pretty torqued off that it looks like the USA is going to lose their F1 round at COTA. I have had so many good times there, not just watching the elite F1 cars run, but rubbing elbows with the guys working in that industry. They always have the best stories to tell and they typically have quite generous food/drink (and I stress DRINK) allowances, meaning the Dom is always on them.
Anywhos, to get to your question…
Did AE know the 3.0 was coming out? Yes and no. Every manufacturer has a “new one” coming down the pike, so yes, they had to have known. Also, factory racers are a tight knit group (for the most part) and when the spirits are flowing at the big after race dinners, secrets do get exchanged. The racers know who they can tell, and who they can’t, but at the very upper levels that sort of info does get passed around. To get to the no part, while I have no first hand knowledge of this, they probably didn’t know the exact release date, so my guess is that it was purely co-incidental that the B5M CE was announced the following day.
Do I still think it was a bad idea for AE to release the B5 in two different forms? Like you said above, when was the last time you saw someone running the rear motor configuration? Heck, I drive almost exclusively on slick outdoor tracks and all I ever see is B5Ms. So yes, I still believe AE was wasting a bunch of resources putting out the rear motor unit. One or the other was clearly going to be superior, in this case its been proven that the MM config works much better on high-bite and can be tuned to work very well on looser surfaces as well.
My take on TLR’s and AE’s marketing on their latest releases… my first thought is THANK GOODNESS they actually did it during prime time. By that I mean they announced their new buggies at the height of guys getting ready for indoor season, which is perfect. It is poor marketing when you announce a new boat in December, or a 2wd race buggy in March when everyone is grabbing an 8th scale and headed to their nearest outdoor track. So props to TLR and AE for using an optimal announcement window.
My second thought was… sadly both releases just help cement non-scale looking racing (ya I know, I rant about that all the time). That’s not really the fault of AE or TLR as they are just playing by the rules set in front of them (and both have put out scale type racing buggies), but every year we keep on racing these non-scale looking buggies it just hurts the overall health of the hobby. The fault lies with the sanctioning bodies here, instead of doing their job, making rules to help the hobby, they make rules catering to the same old school racing farts that can’t seem to pull their heads out of 1991.
“Our Dying Hobby
First off thank you Cubby for all your awesome cub reports. Ive read every one you’ve wrote for the past 4 years.
Second I hope you like poorly written rants, because below is one I wrote special just for you hehe.
Now for my question… Ive been in the hobby for almost 7 years now, and in doing so have seen many vehicles, parts, and unfortunately brands, come and go. There is no doubt that change is a big part of our hobby, but to me any ways, it seems in recent times alot of negative changes have been happening. Back when I was newb, short course trucks where just starting to take off, and brushless systems and lipos were hitting mainstream. Barrack Obamba had just been elected… Just to give a time line here… There was also a ton of diversity in the hobby. There were so many new and current kits from every company, aftermarket companies like proline, rpm, jconcepts, HR, ect could fill a small school with all of there products. But lately the change that seems to be happening is these companies are discontinuing and getting rid of a ton of product, with out replacing them with new stuff. Proline doesn’t even make a 1/5 body any more, and they have 2, TWO, dose, tire options left for the 1/5 scalers. Sct truck parts are ever so slightly starting to go the way of old stadium trucks (read dieing off), every week I see a few more tires, or wheels, or bodies discontinued. Horizon hobby has been slashing cars left and right. Every company is trimming their lines so much, and only keeping one maybe two kit specific accessories.
I just want to know why our hobby seems to be dying as a whole. We don’t even have enough momentum to keep entire classes from disappearing anymore. Touring cars, stadium trucks, truggys, minis. It seems we have axial, aarma, traxxas, and maybe ecx left as hard running companies and all the rest are shrinking and slowly dieing. Im very worried about HPI as whole, as well as Losi which hasn’t had a brand new car in over three years. They just refresh a current car and discontinue a few others. We recently lost thunder tiger and duratrax in the vehicle segment. When are we going to get back to where we once were? The good old days of rc where you could buy almost anything you can imagine, the days of thousands of different tires, bodies, wheels, the days of having a huge choice of customization, with new cars popping up like berries on a bush. Scalers and the axial yeti are all I hear about any more, I wish I could hear a little more about the other great segments of our hobby.
Cubby- Hey ya Spencer, thanks for the lengthy rant, it was certainly a good read.
To get to the core of your letter, why is the hobby dying? That is something that I actually study quite heavily. But even though that is something that I track closely, and something that I can actually get inside information on, my answer may, or may not, be remotely correct. From all the input data that I have acquired, I would put the number one fault on… wait for it… simply the economy. Now, I know that is a pretty “easy out” that is overused, but in this case, I think it is correct. For the past several years consumers just weren’t cutting the check like they used to on toys that they didn’t really “need”. Not only did you see it in hobby grade rc, but you could also see it in motorcycles and dozens of other leisure type sports/activities. So… when sales are down 20-50%, companies have to keep turning a profit, so they do what they have to. That’s why you haven’t seen nearly as many new items and that’s why you see products getting disco’ed so quickly.
Btw… you imply above that Thunder Tiger isn’t making surface product anymore, but that is incorrect. They certainly still are, their line-up is about the same size as it has been for the last 5 years or so, but now instead of being distributed/sold by Hobbico, they are distributed by HRP. HRP is quite a bit smaller than Hobbico, hence the reason you may not see as much TT product in your local hobby shops.
So… is there any hope in our hobby? Hell yes there is. From the sources I’ve talked to (no, not the Schmoe working behind the counter at an LHS, but people who have access to the numbers at the large distributors) sales are up this year, plus our hobby has one ace in the hole, the Traxxas X-Maxx. This is a bit pre your time in the hobby, but one vehicle, the Traxxas T-Maxx, helped turn our entire hobby around a decade and a half ago, the Traxxas X-Maxx just might be able to do the same thing again. So don’t fret Spencer, 2016 just might be a return the glory years for hobby grade rc cars.
Whoa, it’s over, turn the lights off time to go home. If you have the stones you can shoot me an email at thecubreportrc at gmail dot com. I’ll gladly accept your questions, answers, and meltdowns. If, and the chances are very, VERY slim, if your letter hits the big time you can get a free BSRC sticker pack or t-shirt.
YOUR Cub Reporter