Axial Fest 2017
It’s that time of year again, Axial Fest or #AF17. People from all across the United States and abroad are headed to Cisco Grove Campground near Lake Tahoe, California to celebrate one brand, Axial Racing. Each year, Axial Racing puts on a customer appreciation event and invites anyone that shares the love of the RC hobby and drives an Axial vehicle to Axial Fest. These events are a huge success and each year, the crowd gets larger and larger. Axial Racing recently boasted a 38% increase in pre-registration sign ups (you sign up as a driver to receive a “swag bag” of cool Axial related items like t-shirts, hats, etc.).
Got Axial Racing Products?
What’s strangely different this year is the actual availability of Axial Racing products. This includes everything from KITs and RTRs to basic parts, bodies, etc. with the Axial Racing name. I myself have been on the hunt for an Axial Bomber Interior to ride inside my SCX10ii body for about 5 months. There was one on the planet in Australia, but with a retail price of $15.99, the seller wanted $75 to send it my way. It’s now gone to a new home that had a more desperate buyer than me. Axial KITs and RTRs were selling on eBay for nearly double the price earlier this year and the smell of blood was in the water. Most likely greedy individuals suspected the law of supply and demand and snatched them up from unsuspecting local hobby shops to make a profit on eBay (much like Nintendo Switch’s in June of 2017).
Other RC Options?
I don’t want to speculate on why Axial Racing is having supplier / manufacturing issues, but clearly it’s a long process to get resolved and I’m sure the team at Axial is hard at work for the resolution. As the waters are getting blood filled, other manufactures are seeing an opportunity in the fastest growing segment in surface RC – that is scaling and trailing. There have been an avalanche of RC companies either getting into the scaling and trailing market or adding new vehicles to compete with Axial Racing. Here’s some of the ones that are most notable in the recent months:
This was one of the most highly anticipated new trail rigs on the market hitting hobby shops in May of 2017. Traxxas, mostly known for primarily plastic, futuristic type designed RTR RC’s released a pretty well designed and over-the-top-featured scale rig. The officially licensed Land Rover Defender body was unexpected along with all the working features like 2 speed transmission, locking differentials and high clearance portal axles. Traxxas seemed to really gather in the, at times snobbish, trailing / scaling community and it has been getting rave reviews. Current pricing on the TRX-4 is about $449.
Losi Rock Rey/Baja Rey
Losi had two releases late in 2016 that really added to the go-fast market amongst the scaling type rigs. The Baja Rey, which is based on an IFS/Solid Axle Rear Trophy Truck and the Rock Rey which shares most of the same under chassis, but adds an open-wheeled desert buggy design. These both have been power-houses out of the box and have gathered some aftermarket support on some of the suspension parts. The Baja Rey just got a $50 price reduction to $399 and the Rock Rey hits in at $449.
HPI Venture FJ
Alright I know this has yet to see the pubic and has been dangled for years now…..but this has a release date of Mid July 2017. Based on a scaler platform, the Venture RTR has a straight forward chassis design complete with a licensed Toyota FJ Cruiser body. One of the lowest mounted transmissions coupled with a front mounted motor, the Venture should have great handling and performance. The Venture should be hitting the streets soon for $369.
MST or Max Speed Technology released the CFX-W (I had to look up the letters…) about six months ago now with another couple of smaller sized scalers. The CFX-W is dubbed an 1/8th scale, yet it comes in with a smaller wheelbase than most 1/10th scale trail rigs. Traditional ladder framed design adds a front mounted motor and a rear-ish mounted battery. MST incorporated “Portal-type axles to increase the car highness.” Yes, I took that straight from their page! The CFX-W chassis kit sells for $299.
GMade GOM GR-1
The Korean maker announced the GOM (I still don’t understand this name) just a few days ago at the end of June 2017. Based on a very Bomber-like chassis, it has front 4 link and rear trailing arm suspension all with front and rear solid axles. Speaking of solid axles, they appear to be very “Currie-like” Maybe GMade will call them the “Gurrie’s” On looks alone, this looks like a winner, but there’s always usually something hiding in the darkness, which is the forward mounted transmission and motor (it looks very forward heavy…nothing in the rear), which does allow for a full scale interior. Pricing for the “GOM” has not been released yet, but based on the Komodo, we should see a low to mid $400 price tag for the RTR.
Team Associated “Limited Edition” Nomad DB8
The racing giant released this Qualifier Series RTR about a week ago now (July 2017) and it has people talking. Based on the SC8e and RC8.2e 1/8th scale platforms, this go fast desert buggy has some serious speed and durability. It’s full independent suspension, 1/8th scale buggy drivetrain is all about going fast and having fun on 4s! The “limited edition” portion does have some people worried about the longevity of parts, but it does have good following of SC8/RC8.2 parts on the market. General Grabber officially licensed tires and a decent looking, easy to remove cage tops the scale features. The Nomad was released for $519 as an RTR.
Cal RC SC01 Trail Chassis
The former owner of HPI, Tatsuro Watanabe designed a new semi-custom trail chassis dubbed the SC01 – made completely of aluminum and other steels/metals, the chassis has a center mounted transmission and motor, chassis mounted servo and rear mounted battery all with a traditional 4 link suspension. This will be released in Mid July and will have an estimated price of $590 for the chassis kit only.
Axial Racing or Survival of the Fittest
I’m sure I missed a few and of course there’s the less than hobby grade versions out there too. The grand tally is 8 new models from 7 different RC manufactures trying to crack the scale giant, Axial Racing. So, what are your thoughts? Can Axial Racing weather the storm of having very little product to sell and distribute? Will one of these new models take away Axial’s huge market share of the scaling and trailing world? Please comment below and regardless of what you’re driving, have fun RCing!