HPI Racing Update 4/27/2017
So, it’s been almost a year since I wrote the “The Big Fish in No More” story on HPI and Hot Bodies (May 9th, 2016). We all know that Hot Bodies was purchased by Neidhart Distributing company and was re-branded as “HB Racing”. Since the purchase, HB Racing’s biggest star driver, Ty Tessmann and his father, Gord Tessmann (Team Manager), left the brand to pursue Xray in the North American market.
So what happened to HPI? HPI was purchased by a company called Ripmax back in May of 2016, but since then, not much news has come. If you look at Ripmax’s website, there’s no mention of HPI or HPI Racing at all. Looking deeper specifically into the HPI Venture FJ Scaler Truck (one of the biggest debuts from HPI), photos were released in late 2015 with the debut at the Nurnberg Toy show in January 2016. The 2017 Nurnberg show happened again in January and HPI Racing released additional information, but still no truck for sale. Amain Hobbies states an April 30th, 2018 “available date” for the FJ Cruiser RTR Scale Crawler.
Traxxas plans to release the TRX-4 (couldn’t they come up with a better name??) scale and crawler truck in May of 2017. Clearly the scale/crawler genre is the ShortCourse truck genre of a few years ago….it’s hot!
HPI Racing or “Hobby Products International” has been dwindling the past few years and recently filed Chapter 11, Bankruptcy Protection. Is this the dawn of trouble in our hobby? Could this be a closed door for one and an open door for another?
HPI started off in 1986 in Southern California with a small investment to produce after market parts and motors to existing RC vehicle manufacturers. Then came the famous RS4, the Savage and in recent years the 5th Scale Baja 5B Buggy. HPI was unstoppable and invested in several branches of the family including Maverick, HPI Europe and the ever-popular HB or Hot Bodies Racing.
Fast-forward to February 2013 and rumors were flying when Hobbico purchased all existing HPI USA assets/stocks. This rounded out a huge merge of several RC manufacturers including Axial Racing, Team Durango/Arrma and now HPI would be under the Hobbico blanket.
Many hobby enthusiasts never realize the many dealings on a corporate level, but they do notice when parts aren’t available in their local hobby shop. Distribution and support hit its lowest in HPI’s 30-year existence.
The 2016 Nuremberg Toy Show in Germany proved to be very promising for HPI’s future. They had announced several new vehicle platforms including the “Jumpshot” which looks to be a family of vehicles including the SC (Shortcourse Truck) and the ST (Monster Truck). Most promising was the brand new “Venture” FJ Cruiser, which the Scale Market is dying for as a contender to the ever-popular Axial SCX10 platform.
Then the bomb dropped in March 2016 that Traxxas was potentially purchasing HPI. So two HUGE companies were going to merge together? What was to happen to HPI? What about parts for that old HPI Savage you have sitting on your workbench? What about the Hot Bodies Race Team? Will we ever see that Venture FJ? All of these are questions that many of us thought in our heads when reading the headlines. But just like Apple and Samsung, could two giants live together in harmony? In the past couple of years (2014-2015) Traxxas has filed several patent infringements against HPI/HPI Europe for a simple thing like a waterproof receiver box. Sounds just like Apple suing Samsung and winning and then hiring them to make OLED displays for the iPhone 7!!
Either way, the Hobby is changing everyday. Trends are changing and the people enjoying the Hobby are changing. It all boils down to business for these huge companies; hopefully they keep the hobbyist in mind when making decisions. After all, we have given them the success they are enjoying.