THE Cub Report- The Year That Was 2016
So here we are folks, another year is in the books. I guess if you are a young fella, the year went by slowly, but for us old farts, it seemed to blow right by. Here is my look back on 2016, yet another wild year in the rc hobby.
In industry news…
Drones, drones, and more drones. These 4 rotored hornets made the news not only about government intervention, but also for the insane money being spent on, and handed out, for FPV drone racing. Pilots were winning hundreds of thousands of dollars by racing drones, something that is unheard of in the surface world. Even more importantly to me, some of the larger companies are throwing big cash at the drone market, while throwing less at traditional markets like surface. That is great news for drones, not so for us hardcore surface guys.
HPI Racing and HB Racing got new owners in 2016. HPI ended up going to Ripmax while HB ended up with Neidhart S.A.. Both companies seem to be doing better now, we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in 2017. Will we see a bunch of all new HPI vehicles? Will parts support continue to improve for both companies? Time will tell…
Novak went out of business in 2016 which goes to show just how tough the marketplace is. Today’s rc world is all about brushless and LiPo, meaning that a brushless company should have no problem staying afloat, but with Novak stepping out of the industry, it shows that even a good company with solid products had it tough against the throngs of brushless competitors.
Hobbico launched the “Keep It RC” website in 2016, and yes, that was big news. To us it signaled that the Champaign behemoth was turning up their marketing plan a notch by devoting an entire website to showing off their latest product videos. Hobbico can do a lot with the “Keep It RC” website, we have the feeling they have only scratched the surface so far.
In product news…
While Traxxas had a relatively quiet 2016, they turned things up a couple notches with the announcement of their 8S powered X-Maxx monster truck. The effects of this remain to be seen, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see companies like ARRMA and Losi launching their own ultra-high cell count bashing machines in 2017.
Also on the Traxxas note, they released a more scale realistic Ford Raptor at the end of the year. While many Joe Blow key mashers proclaimed it just another Slash, I would like to think it is just the tip of the iceberg for what Traxxas has planned for scale realism in the future. Scale crawling is really big right now, if Traxxas were to put out an uber unit, it just might rocket the category to T-Maxx levels of sales.
Pro-Line shocked everyone in the rc world by releasing a small scale crawler named the Ambush. While small in size, it made huge news and goes to show that Pro-Line is willing to take chances and lead the marketplace.
Also huge was the Nero monster truck line-up by ARRMA. They started out with one unit, now it has evolved into three, all of which are big, mean, bashing beasts. ARRMA started with a clean slate and added in some high tech with their smart remote activated diffs- it was new, it was bold, and it was a hit with the bashing crowd.
In Big Squid news…
With a lot of hard work and long hours, we were able to add a couple of huge industry sponsors in 2016 (Traxxas & RC4WD). Our site numbers also did quite well, with a couple of ridiculous days that broke all our previous records. While some website are struggling or simply closing shop, we made 2016 yet another record year. Now we have to work even longer and harder in 2017 to keep this ball rolling.
Our homeskillet Paul Bludgen had been putting in some serious hours getting his Losi buggies dialed for a serious long jump attempt and it all paid off with a leap of 262 feet. Doing what we do, we go huge on a daily basis, we wouldn’t have any street cred if we didn’t, but it was nice to see one of our guys lay down a huge number for others to shoot at. Yes, we’ll be long jumping again in 2017 with 300 feet as the target.
In the random thoughts department…
The manufacturers are finally catching on to the whole “shoot out a press release so get our new products noticed” concept. That hadn’t truly been the case in years past, but in 2016 some companies actually went overboard. Now you see a pre-teaser to a car teaser, then a post teaser to the teaser, then the official product announcement, then an announcement when it will start to ship, then a few product videos, then an announcement that the product is sitting in hobby shops. Yes, that is a bit much so hopefully some of the worst offenders will work on the quality of their marketing instead of the quantity for 2017.
More hobby shops went out of business in 2016, with not many new stores opening to replace them. Yes, local hobby shops are becoming far and few between. On-line sales have picked up much of the slack, but without a strong base of local hobby shops, I have to wonder how hard it will be to keep noobies in our hobby. It was hard enough to keep them before when they could walk into a shop and get help figuring out how to rebuild a diff or keep a nitro engine running. Take away a lot of those valuable people on the ground and it will be even harder.
The scale crawling scene continued to expand in 2016 with brands like RC4WD, Vaterra, Pro-Line, and Axial leading the charge. More local hobby shops are stocking crawling parts and Facebook crawling groups are a busy place to be now days.
Which brings me to forums. Nobody starts a new forum now days and for good reason, Facebook groups have completely taken off. Some older, long established forums still see good numbers, but every day that goes by means more defectors over to FB and Reddit.
Dinosaur media had a challenging year in 2016 and word is that some big names are pulling clean out for 2017. Monetizing the web is more difficult than having an army of sales staff bugging manufacturers every day to buy yet another page, so it will be interesting who survives and who does not by this time next year.
Good old fashioned backyard bashing continues to show that’s where the money is at. Some companies have cut back race spending tremendously thanks to slow sales in the category, and while racing still gets a ton of media coverage, that just isn’t translating to sales at the local level. There will come a point when something drastic has to happen to keep racing alive, hopefully something is done before it gets so bad it can never be saved (sadly, that point may have already been reached).
2016 was a great year to be in rc. There were tons of new products, most of which offered great performance at a decent price point. The manufacturers are putting out more good stuff than ever before with a lot of Average Joe consumers soaking up all the cool goodies. Despite some issues that our industry had this year, it can still be looked upon as a solid one, a year that brought a whole lot of rc happiness to thousands of consumers.
Until next week, get out and support your local hobby shops and bash spots when ya can…
YOUR Cub Reporter
PS- Keep an eye on our front page for our “2016 Bash Vehicle Of The Year” announcement!
PPS- Next week’s Cub Report will be a look forward to 2017, you won’t want to miss that one, I promise. 🙂