THE Cub Report, Version- Hello There 2017!
With today being January 2, I hope all of you are fully recovered from your raucous New Year’s Eve celebration. Mine was spent with a bunch of kids running around my house, kids that were amped-up on fruit punch and candy bars. Yes, it was wild, but thankfully my house still stands.
After talking to a bunch of different people in the industry, I get the feeling they are all stoked that 2016 is behind us and they are really looking forward to a bright 2017. 2016 was a fantastic year for a few companies in the industry, but it seemed like most were “steady to slightly down” in sales, but most everyone seems to look at our new year with optimism. The hobby keeps getting wider in scope every single day, this offers the manufacturers a lot of options for putting out new products.
Two of the companies I talked to are going to be making really big pushes in 2017. No matter what the numbers or trends say, they are going for it in 2017, which is something that I can applaud. Expect a HUGE amount of product announcements at the Toy Fair in Nuremberg Germany next month, then expect a whole lot more in the spring for summer releases.
And no, I have no crystal ball, but here a few notes that I have jotted down while talking with industry friends. Here are some things that I expect to see in the coming year…
* 3D printing will really start taking off. Right now there are a few people here and there doing 3D printing, I expect that number to really start to rise in 2017. No, 3D printing isn’t going to take over this year, but I do think it will start working itself out. For example, now companies like JConcepts offer 3D printed parts from the Shapeways store, I expect to see a whole lot more companies jumping on that bandwagon. Then, in the coming years, I expect to see it worked out where you can start 3D printing the latest uber parts from big name companies right at home. This will take a while as many companies are having a hard time wrapping their heads around how to monetize home 3D printing, but it will happen, it is just a matter of time.
* Body clips are getting closer to extinction. Body clips have long been a part of the rc hobby, but they are slowly going away. I expect to see that trend accelerate in 2017. Body clips get lost too easily, they get mangled too easily, and they detract from a perfect scale appearance. For examples on cars right now you don’t have to look far, the Traxxas X-Maxx has a very nice body attachment system that doesn’t use body clips and the trucks from RC4WD have hidden body mounting systems as well. I for one will not miss body clips as I have lost more of them than I could ever remember and I get tired of ordering a huge bag at the beginning of every year, just to have them all gone (or permanently borrowed) by April.
* Those pesky drones will continue to pull attention away from surface. You would have to be living on Mars not to know that drones are not only going mainstream, but that they are also pulling resources away from the surface market. And you can’t blame the manufacturers, they exist to keep their lights on and their families fed, if drones are making a lot of money, then they are going to get the most money thrown at them. Yes, expect another banner year for quadcopters in 2017.
* Scale realism will keep expanding. It used to be that rock crawlers were the only segment where scale realism Really mattered, in 2017 we’ll be seeing realism more emphasized in other genres. With the car market being as cut throat as it is, small details like windshield wipers, rear view mirrors, and accurate grills can make the difference between a hot seller and a dud. Expect a lot of new releases this year to come with more scale detailing than ever before.
* Bashing keeps on truck’n. In recent years we’ve seen more pure bash vehicles released than ever before, expect that trend to continue in 2017. Bashing has been a constant since the beginning of our hobby, the industry experts that I talked to expect bashing to have yet another strong year in 2017.
* In the niche markets, expect even more “limited edition” models. Limited releases have been doing well among the collecting crowd, expect to see even more of these in the coming months.
* Racing stays on the decline. Until the powers that be make changes to fix local racing, you can expect to see less new models announced, as well as less R & D cash thrown at improving current product lines. It is sad but true, racing is a shell of what it was 15 years ago. Sales on the racing side of things are so low that some of my industry buddies talk about pulling completely out, and I think it isn’t hard to see how far racing budgets have been cut in recent years. Racing is a fantastic promotional tool to get people into the hobby, hopefully they get that side of our hobby fixed up.
All in all, 2017 is looking bright for our hobby. Of course you as an everyday consumer can help the hobby have a banner year by promoting it on your social media and by driving in areas that can be seen by the general population. You can also drop by your local hobby shops for a visit. Like I preach every week, even if you don’t like your LHS, drop by once in a while to see how they are doing. If you love your LHS, let the world know on your social media feed and by getting your cars & parts from them as often as you can.
So there ya have it folks, lets get this party started, I for one am breaking in the new year by gathering up the crew for an afternoon bash session, I hope you get in plenty of trigger time as well.
YOUR Cub Reporter