My RC is Better Than Yours! – What’s RC Brand Loyalty Doing to the Hobby?

RC Brand Loyalty

In all things in life, there’s things that I’m drawn to – brand of vehicle, brand of t-shirt and even brand of water. In RC, are you a brand loyalist? Do you favor a specific brand even if you haven’t tried others? Will you defend your brand to the death? Do you get in Facebook fights over your brand? In this article, I try to make sense of what RC brand loyalty is doing to/for the hobby – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Brand A vs. Brand B

I first experienced brand loyalty when I bought my first Ford F-150 – which brought every Chevy and Dodge owner out of the wood work to challenge my new purchase. I never saw this while owning a Toyota, just when my new Ford came into sight.

The RC world is no different. My first RC was a Traxxas Slash 4×4, mostly because as a new hobbyist, it was the one brand I could recognize from the main stream walking into my local hobby shop. A few days later, my good friend, a die hard Team Associated fan, says, “why the hell did you buy that thing??” My first response was “you have never owned a Traxxas Slash, why would you say that?”

Several years now in the hobby and I have owned almost every brand of hobby grade RC and have formed some opinions of each. I have decided on some favorites and even ones that I despise, but only after I have owned them. Experiences always vary from person to person based on use or misuse, breakages and ease of ownership (parts availability, etc.).

Social Distortion

With RC almost entirely fueled by social media these days (that goes for most things now), opinions and experiences get aired quite often. What’s so difficult about social media are the conversations and anonymity. Conversations can easily go sideways based on “I was just joking” or “I was being sarcastic”. So much so, that some individuals get in knock-down, drag-out fights about brands over a simple joking statement that was taken wrong by a brand loyalist. It’s difficult to “watch” these fights go down because most of the time, “friends” are involved and acting ridiculous. Social Media platforms seem to bring the worse out in people especially when the “keyboard commando” complex sets in.RC-brand-loyalty-fb-logo

Rivalries

Recently, I posted a video and blog in a fan page group on Facebook. It was showcasing a specific niche of RC that specifically showcased that fan pages products. I later found out that my posts were deleted because one/many of the page moderators disliked the brand of chassis the parts were shown on. This was mostly because the moderators were affiliated with a rival chassis maker. I even PM’d the moderator and was told I was showing bias toward one specific chassis, which is why he deleted the posts. In all fairness, this was his/their group and although I was a member, I did not have moderator privileges and my posts stayed deleted.

Really, It was just an easy 1ft jump

Almost everyday, I see a post on social media of brand X’s RC part/car with an obviously broken part. In many cases the caption reads “this just happened after a very easy 1ft jump.” Immediately, comments start flowing in regarding how this must be an engineering issue, parts quality issue or simply a plagued manufacturer. 99/100 times it’s typically user error, whether it be assembly issues, driving issues or just plain bad luck. The viewers never hear about just how “large” that jump was (reverse fish size issue), how over-powered the RC was (yeah, 8s in a Slash isn’t too much, come on!), or in some cases how inexperienced or intoxicated the driver was (wait, hold my beer…).

Rule Changes/Enforcements

In every sport, hobby, etc. when there is some type of competition, rule changes will happen. In the RC hobby, rule changes happen quite frequently when technology improves or as things get dangerous (think restrictor plate racing in NASCAR). The recent “wing-gate” that happened at the 2016 IFMAR Worlds for 1/8th buggy where a rule was enforced regarding wing sides. Some teams modified wings to comply with the rules and others opted to purchase the Kyosho wing, which at the time was the only legal wing.

In another niche of RC racing, U4RC, which is in its infancy, is going through rule changes as new chassis designs come available or invented in garages.  Changes to create equal classes for contestants to compete in based on chassis specs. Most of it has to do with size of wheel (1.9” vs 2.2”) and then type of axles (solid axle vs independent suspension). Most controversial is the 2.2″ Trophy Class which consists of many different axle configurations. Heated arguments have erupted between chassis designers and governing rule makers which has sent a cloud over the series.

For the good of the Hobby

As I finish this article, I am left with asking for your help. Can we all just get along? Sure the brand of vehicle you are driving is great…..and so is mine. If everything on social media is true….don’t take everything so seriously. Rule changes will happen, and it’s part of the hobby to keep an equal playing field for all racers.  And lastly, RC is a hobby.  Unless you’re Ryan Maifield, quit taking the hobby so seriously.  Grab your RC, go out and run it, race it and have fun!

Are you a brand loyalist?  Do you participate in social media debates?  Have you been effected by a rule change and how did you adapt?  Comment below!

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8 Comments:

  1. Good article Rich,

    What i have is exactly what you have. A Traxxas Slash 4×4 Ultimate for racing. And i want to keep it low budget the hobby is expensive enough. And i have fun with my son and his slash. Sure i want to go for other type of vehicles, but in The Netherlands you have the same people apparently. Why don’t you buy a Tekin this or a Orca that. As a parent i have enough other costs. The hobby is great, but when you take your first step in to the hobby you get comments from the more experienced guys. Plus what i think is that when you really find out what the possibilities of your vehicle then you can have a lot of fun with the truck or whatever you running. Only you have to take the time and what i see is that people quickly get influenced over what you should get. Social media can make and brake this beautiful hobby.

    Greetings Ismaël,

    From The Netherlands

  2. Something I genuinely believe separates some brands (both in value and how people perceive those brands) is the media they use to promote their brands. Things like TLR and Team Associated having top drivers winning huge races, Traxxas having their stunt drivers at local events and their sizeable library of cool videos on YouTube, Axial having huge trail rides, and the list goes on. It’s not always that the brand loyalty is misplaced but that the support is there for it. If you get a TLR 22 4.0 and you want to know whats the go to setup for winning the Nationals? It’s online. Just down load it and change it up. If you want a car that you can replace every single nut and bolt so everything is aftermarket? Go team associated. Want a perfect starter car that you can record telemetry on your phone and recreate your favorite YouTube video? Go Traxxas. Cool scale crawlers with lots of local events? Axial.
    My point is that people tend to find the car that does exactly what they want buuuut then they tend to think everyone else has the exact same needs as they do. So anyone who doesn’t get what they got is a moron… I feel that that kind of mentality extends to other types of brand loyalty as well. But is it the consumers fault or the brands fault? Each of these brands spends huge amounts of money to give their brand those particular associations. TLR doesn’t makes $$ off of winning races, Traxxas doesn’t make money off of it’s YouTube royalties, and axial doesn’t make money off of those trail rides. They all make money selling cars and accessories. So I’m not sure that it’s 100% the consumers fault for the loyalty. Just find something that works for you and help people new to the hobby understand that there are advantages and disadvantages for each brand and model. Have fun guys!

    • Hey Dan,

      Thanks for the comments and reading the article. I agree, some brands are good at what they do, like Axial with trail adventures and local events. Funny thing, I got to watch Jake Thayer’s 4.0 right before stock Nats and did see his set up sheet displayed.

      My whole point of the article was get people to stop the bickering and just go out and have fun RCing!

  3. Pål Normann Myrseth

    Not very loyal at all. Counted 13 different brands of cars at home. May have to get a new brand in house as 13 is unlucky. But you’re abolutely right. Brand loyalty exists. Is it social media, championship results or friends influence that decides on purchases. Don’t know, maybe a bit of everything. Every brand have both good and bad products and good and bad users. I try to stay out of debates especially the big Traxxas VS HPI “war”. These days is mostly about scale/crawling and my Axials doesn’t need much attention apart from new bodies or tires depending which class i’m competing in. Slow runners don’t break, fast runners do. Though I’m surprised everytime my E-revo doesn’t break after some crashes that should be on Youtube. In the racing scene here in Norway there are zero to none serious bickering about brands, more a friendly bullying i think. I have my favourites and my opinion can’t be changed by other peoples meanings. Now, what will be my brand nr 14? Vaterra or Redcat?

    • Great comments, Pal (I couldn’t type the cool circle thing above the a!) 😃. I’m in the same boat as you – I give all brands a chance and yes, some have greats and duds. Happy RCing!

  4. Rich,
    I agree and can confirm the above attitudes. I started racing in 86 with a Tamiya Hornet, best car ever not because of the car, but because I had the most fun win or lose.
    Then it was AE, Kyosho, Losi now TLR.
    I’m still a TLR fan because it is familiar and I like the support.
    But if someone ask which car to buy I don’t say TLR. I ask questions first are they new, money, what track, what kind of support from the LHS.
    I was out of the hobby for 25 years now I race just for fun, sometimes I’m last sometimes I place but I am happy to finish.
    It’s amazing how much respect I get being 65 and having a “just have fun” attitude. Sometimes teams will watch me and see my car not handing right and even though they support another chassis they want me to have fun with a well handling car.
    The internet basing is crap and the reason I don’t have Facebook friends, don’t need the drama .
    Bottom line if not having fun with what you have maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself not your equipment.
    Good article sorry for babbling.
    Just have fun!

    • Thanks Gene, for the comment. It’s great to see people actually having fun in RC, like yourself. It is a hobby and that’s how I approach it, too

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