Another year has come to a close. 2015 is a welcome sight for us weary of the past year. But 2015 can't come to pass without a look back at our top products of the year.
As always, we devise this list by profit dollars, so it does skew the list toward more expensive items - this way, the list isn't all glue, glow plugs, and paint brushes. However, that doesn't mean we take liberties with the placement of the products on the list; the words are opinion, but the placing is stone-cold fact. So let's get to our Top 10 Products of 2014 countdown.
10. Blade mCX2 RTF
Position last year: 3rd
The King is (nearly) dead. Long live the King!
The Blade mCX2 was the last living relative of the venerable CX line of helicopters. And while it isn't, in fact, dead... it's at least on life support. The CX line was our go to chopper for years for anyone looking to start flying R/C helicopters. But the rise of quadcopters and drones, not to mention the cost-differential between quads and traditional helicopters, made the mCX2 a harder sell to the masses looking to save a buck when taking to the skies.
Last year, the mCX2 fell from first place to third. And now it's down to tenth. Where will it end up next year? Will it make the list? Tune in next December to find out.
9. Dynamite Reaction 5000mAh 2S 20C LiPo w/ Traxxas Connector
Position last year: 10th
I called it. Last year, I said of this battery, "...the Dynamite Reaction batteries managed to make our list at number 10; an impressive debut that, I'm sure, will be improved upon in the new year." And you know what? They improved.
Well over 100 of these batteries have gone out this year. And with LiPo batteries becoming more and more accepted by even the most basic users, that number is sure to continue climbing. And why not? This battery can deliver runtimes in excess of 30 minutes for most vehicles, and can charge in just 20 minutes with a powerful enough charger. And when you add in the one-year warranty and Horizon Hobby customer support behind these batteries, the $40 price tag seems suspiciously low.
But fear not - these batteries are all they seem to be and more. If we feel confident enough to sell them, then we're sure you're going to like them too.
8. Traxxas Slash 2WD
Position last year: 6th
I really thought the Slash 2WD would climb the ranks this year. With ECX being a distant memory in our store, the Slash has almost a full year with no other short course competition in the store. But I didn't count on the sheer number of quadcopters that would make this list. The popularity of multi-rotor helis might have dropped the Slash down the list a bit, but that does nothing to diminish the value of the Slash.
The 2WD Slash is still one of the best R/C trucks money can buy. Durable, stylish, and fast, the Slash 2WD is truly all things to all people. The popularity of the short course truck aesthetic shows no sign of waning.
So yes, the Slash has tumbled down the list a bit. But when the quadcopters aren't as hot as they are now, the Slash will still be standing when the dust settles, waiting patiently for its next turn in the spotlight.
7. Blade 350QX2 AP Combo
Position last year: N/A
Every product is a statement. The Blade 350QX2 AP Combo's release was an emphatic announcement that Blade has well and truly entered into the aerial photography market and intended to compete, and exceed the expectations of, the existing players. And it did just that.
The 350QX2 AP was a great turn-key solution for any hobby-photography enthusiast. The one-box purchase, the customer support after the sale, and the attention to detail that went into designing and building the 350QX AP made it the best choice in a crowded market.
The short era of the 350QX2 AP is now over, as the QX3 has taken the reins. It promises to be every bit as good, and in many ways better, than its predecessor. But it was the QX2 AP that started it all.
6. Dynamite Tazer 3300Kv Motor/ESC Combo
Position last year: N/A
We've sold a lot of R/C cars over the years. And many of the owners of said cars are looking to go faster. And the Dynamite Tazer Brushless combo is a great way to do that. It has some great programming features, is on par with any of the popular options in the power department, and at only $120, sits well below Traxxas' Velineon system in the price category.
When someone wants to go faster, this motor system is the first thing we turn to. As such, it's been a staple in our accessories line up for the last few years, and is just starting to reach its potential now. Good things are in the future for this motor system - and for anyone that purchases it.
5. Blade Nano QX RTF
Position last year: 7th
The Nano QX is possibly the most-demoed product we have in the store. It gets flown alot... which is why it's not a surprise to see it so high on this list. With a great sub-$100 price point and the level of polish we'd expect out of a Blade product, the Nano QX has started so any pilots on their journey into the skies that they are too numerous to count.
Last year, I was surprised to see the Nano QX reach the 7th spot in such a short period of time. This year, it's almost a surprise it's not higher.
The Nano QX is going to hold the top spot for Blade products until the Nano QX2 comes out. Until then, we'll continue to sell these, confident in the knowledge that anyone starting out with the Nano QX is getting a top-notch education in flight.
4. Dromida Ominus
Position last year: N/A
It came down to the wire, but the Dromida Ominus topped the blade Nano QX this year. And that's all the more impressive when you realize that this list is weighted toward products we've had and sold all year. We began stocking the Ominus in early October. That we managed to sell over 90 of these capable quadcopters is really something - but not surprising.
As we said in our review, "the Ominus is one of the best first-entries into the aircraft market from any company I've ever seen". It's durable, offers great flight times, and comes in four colors. The Ominus helped Dromida become one of our biggest hits of the year. If there was a breakout product this year, the Ominus would have to be it.
Nothing could contend with our top spot product this year, but the Ominus might give it a run for its money next year. After all, "...it's going to make the other manufacturers sit up and take notice: the Ominus is here to stay."
3. Traxxas Slash 4x4 VXL
Position last year: 1st
For the third year running, the Slash 4x4 is our top surface vehicle of the year. It did lose a little ground this year, falling from first back to third (where it placed back in 2012). I suspect this to be due to us acquisition of the Slash 4x4 Platinum for the shelf. Undoubtedly, the Platinum stole some sales from the Slash 4x4 proper, but not enough to dethrone it as the dominant vehicle.
Every time Traxxas tweaks something on this truck, it just gets better and better. This year saw the transformation of the VXL motor to a 4-pole design, increasing the torque and performance of the motor - without a price increase. I'd ask how it could get any better, but Traxxas would simply prove, yet again, that it's possible to improve on perfection.
I can't imagine a year when the Slash 4x4 isn't at or near the top of our list. If such a thing should ever happen, I suspect it would be only because the Slash 4x4 version 2 had been released.
2. Hitec X1 AC+ Charger
Position last year: 2nd
I think the Hitec X1 AC+ charger can now be considered the undisputed king of 2nd Place. It has placed 2nd for the third year in a row, and would have come in first if not for the awesome selling power of the quadcopter.
What else can I say about the X1 that I haven't already said? It's still one of the best values in chargers on the market, with its wide variety of applications, great manufacturer support, and sheer ubiquity. In an industry where change is the only constant, it's really impressive that Hitec managed to make a charger so good and so price-competitive that no one has done it better and cheaper yet. If you'd asked me two years ago if the Hitec X1 AC+ would be in our Top 10 in 2014, I'd have said there wasn't a chance - something else would have taken its spot by then.
And I would have been wrong.
1. Estes Proto X Quadcopter
Position last year: 8th
For a product that we nearly didn't pick up, the Proto X has been an exceptional seller. Utterly mind-blowing, actually. When it only had two months to make last year's Top 10, placing 8th, we were impressed. But to climb from 8th on the list to 1st... And it's not like it didn't have stiff competition. The Slash 4x4 and Hitec X1 charger have both been in the top 3 for the last couple years. To usurp even them? Unheard of.
The Proto X was great when it was $39.99. Then they released six colors and it sold even better. Then Estes dropped the price down to $29.99, and... just wow.
The Proto X will forever live in the annals of our history as one of the most successful products we've ever carried. And when you look at the pantheon of hobby-grade superstars we've stocked over the years, it's simply amazing that it would get a footnote, let alone a starring role. That's the miracle of the Proto X.
That closes out our 2014 Top Ten list. Where did the airplanes go? Not a single fixed-wing aircraft landed in the top ten. As unsurprising as many of these were, it's almost more meaningful to examine what wasn't on the list. Traditional helicopters only had a single entry. R/C cars and trucks only claimed two spots, whereas four different vehicles placed on last year's list. This year saw R/C accessories gain a position on the list, from two spots to three. And quadcopters had the best year yet, claiming a full four spots. Love it or hate it, 2014 was an interesting year.
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