No, it isn’t December 31st quite yet, but I decided to bust out my annual year end summary a couple of weeks early. Overall, 2014 will not go down as a banner year for rc sales, but it certainly saw a bunch of innovative products released. The whole 8th scale gasoline powered monster truck thing sounded great on paper but went over like a lead balloon in hobby shops. However… where gas faltered scale realism and monster/basher type trucks were flying out the door. And, more importantly for us bashers, 2014 proved to be a year when manufacturers put out more bashing product than “race” oriented vehicles, which is certainly awesome to see.
So here ya go folks, this is how I saw the year in rc for 2014…
Traxxas- 2014 was a quiet year for Traxxas but that didn’t deter them from still crushing it on the sales floor. Consumers still love those old platforms and all the replacement parts sitting on hobby shop pegs, so while the Texas Titan didn’t put out anything of note in ’14, they are still on top of the vehicle sales heap. Oh and, all those rumors of their impending demise were greatly exaggerated, they are still here with new rumors they are going to blow everyone’s mind with gnarly gear in ’15.
Pro-Line- Ya know, you would think that one of these years Pro-Line would make a misstep of some sort, but once again PL proved they are the top of the tire/body hill and they crushed it again in ’14. They won the only race really worth winning (the IFMAR 8th Scale Worlds) and put out a plethora of great products this year. And even better, they showed they aren’t just about winning world titles, they are cool with bashers too by putting out the PRO-MT, arguably the best 2wd bash truck on planet Earth. Where can I buy Pro-Line stock? I want in, they are are just super solid, year in and year out.
RC4WD- With the scale movement still going in full force the RC4WD crew had another great year. For sure, they are a different style of company, but seem to be a perfect fit for the genre. They put out insane amounts of uber-scale new gear in ’14, and despite the higher price points still managed to move a ton of product. Hooking up with Great Planes distribution was also a huge move for them, helping to move them from some little internet company to a certain amount of presence in local hobby shops coast to coast.
ECX- The ECX crew bought a new line of affordable 4wds to table in ’14, adding to an already solid line-up. For straight up bashing the ECX line is easy on the wallet and the trucks are solid, resulting in a whole lot of their products showing up at the bashes we attended this year.
Thunder Tiger- Ok, so what happened to TT? I have no idea, but ’14 was not a good year for TT and bashing. Their products were hard to get, nothing new was announced, and all the street cred that TT had built up did nothing but slip away in the last 12 months. Will we see a resurgence for TT in ’15? It doesn’t look like it, but who knows.
Carisma- Carisma brought a nice blend of scale looks and uber durability to the plate in ’14, a great combo for today’s basher. More importantly, they got picked up here in the states, making them mucho easier to lay hands on. The product is solid and their distribution is growing, Carisma could make some waves in ’15.
JConcepts- Ruona and his crew had a solid ’14. They put out a ton of new product, supported a bunch of events, and they are the only people remotely giving Pro-Line a run for their money.
ARRMA- 2014 was a big year for ARRMA, they released their 2wds in a lower price point line, the Mega series, and brought 2 new 8th scalers to the game. Their product is a dream for bashers, it is well designed and is built by arguably the best OEM out there, if they can just come up with a more solid marketing plan they could make a run at the top of the sales heap.
Team Durango- ARRMAs brother, Durango, had a transitional year. Durango is a racing company who ditched their racing factory team, certainly not a good move. Durango has a bunch of new gear on the way for ’15, it better be exceptional if they plan on gaining market share.
Axial- Hey, look who had a banner year, the Axial crew. Their marketing campaign for the Yeti was arguably one of the best of all time, and their scale based product continues to fly out of the door at hobby shops. Industry insiders continue to count the minutes until the scale movement dies off, but due a whole lot to how core the Axial guys are, it remains solid. Lets be honest here, there is no way Axial can top what they pulled off in ’14, but I have no doubt they have a few surprises left in their bag to turn heads in ’15. If there is a company that could actually make a run at Traxxas, right now IMO it would have to Axial.
Kyosho- Ya, normally I have fun ripping on Kyosho any chance I get, but I just can’t do that this year. They got back with America’s favorite hobby shop (Tower Hobbies) and they actually reached out to us at BSRC, showing that they truly do care about the basher market. They have loads of uber products, Kyosho is another company that is a great marketing department away from crushing it in ’15.
Losi- Ya… I haven’t heard how much longer this whole separate “TLR” & “Losi” thing is gonna continue, but it is a concept that has never went over well with general consumers. Besides the marketing snafu, their product was arguably better than ever, filled with uber performance at solid price points. AVC came standard on several of their RTRs, something that bashers loved and the racer types loved to hate on.
HPI- The gasoline powered Octane was supposed to come in and save the day for HPI, but it turned out to be a dud. It was wayyyy too late, too over-hyped, and over-priced. Consumers wanted Baja style performance in a Savage, what they got was an 8th scale truck that cost almost as much as a Baja but had none of its good attributes. Some industry insiders say HPI is in a world of hurt right now (as they have been for a couple of years), the people they have left are solid, here’s to hoping that ’15 is a turn-it-all-around year for HPI.
Associated- There are a lot of noobs in rc, people who have no clue that AE used to rule the world. When they look at AE now days all they see is a company that releases everything about 2 years (5?? 10??) late and one that looks like they are picking product right off the catalog of an Asian OEM (engine sound module anyone?) instead of designing it themselves. Also, noobs have no clue what kind of company AE is supposed to be, are they a high-tech racing company, or are they all about their low-end “qualifier series”? AE has fallen into the heap of mid-road “manufacturers”, a dreary place of lackluster product and hazy marketing. AE even managed to mess up their latest uber buggy release, the B5, releasing it as two separate buggies instead of just one with all the parts needed to convert it to the style desired. I ate, slept and sh!t AE for 2 decades, hence the reason I feel so ashamed of them now, hopefully they show new focus, clarity, and drive in ’15.
BigSquidRC- Hey, I work here, so of course anything I say about BSRC would be incredibly skewed. However, I can say our site traffic set all new records. The Axial Yeti released crushed all previous records for daily traffic, and our monthly traffic consistently broke records. Once again, when we thought we had gotten as big as we could ever get, we just kept growing, so once again we owe each and every one of you readers a HUGE THANK YOU for reading the little website that could.
That’s it ya maniacs, I have more Christmas shopping to bust out so I gotta wrap up this Cub Report. Ya, I know you already spent your wad on presents, but drop by your LHS just to say hello, and hit up a local bash spot to get in some trigger time if ya get a chance.
YOUR Cub Reporter