It's my favorite time of year! It's always fun to go back and look at the products in the store that out-performed everything else, and this year is no different, though there does seem to be a theme to this year's list...
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. This year, however, had so many iterations of previous products release, that we felt it was fair to combine some products together, so long as one was a direct replacement of the other on our shelf — meaning that you'll see a few items get dual-billing. That having been said, let's get to our Top 10 Products of 2015 countdown!
10. Traxxas Stampede 2WD
Position last year: N/A
It's been three whole years since the Stampede made this list. In those three years, the Stampede has had some massive competition. The ECX and ARRMA brands came on strong, and it even faced off against itself in the form of the Traxxas Monster Jam trucks (and later, the Skully & Craniac) while the price on the Stampede just kept climbing. Until this year.
This year, the Stampede dropped in price, and that kicked off a popularity boom for the truck. The Stampede is truly a timeless vehicle, and this year's resurgence has shown that. For being around more than 25 years and continuing to impress, the Stampede more than deserves its 10th place finish on our list.
9. HobbyZone Faze
Position last year: N/A
Last year, the Estes Proto X changed the way we looked at inexpensive drones by climbing all the way to 1st place on our countdown. This year, the HobbyZone Faze took the ball from the Proto X and ran with it. While it tumbles down to 9th place this year, probably due to increased competition on our shelves, the Faze is still a staple in our quadcopter line. It offers the same great experience that the Proto X did, but also performs flips at the press of a button and even includes the AAA batteries!
We switched to the Faze halfway through the year, and even the reduced time frame wasn't an impediment to the Faze's popularity, performing particularly well during Christmas. There will always be a spot for an excellent micro-drone on our shelves, and the Faze is the best example of one to date, which is why it earns the 9th place on our list.
8. Reaction 5000mAh 2S 20C LiPo w/ Traxxas Connector
Position last year: 9th
LiPo batteries are becoming even more popular as time marches on. This particular battery continues to move up the list, one place at a time. There's not much to really say about this that I haven't said before; they are just solid batteries for the price tag, and with Horizon Hobby backing them up, it's an easy choice to move to LiPos.
As LiPos become the de facto standard, these batteries will continue to climb the ranks, but for now, they have certainly earned their 8th place spot.
7. Traxxas E-Revo Brushless
Position last year: N/A
This marks the first time the E-Revo has ever appeared on our Top Ten Countdown. While we've sold the truck in the past, 2015 was the first year we carried the E-Revo full-time, and until the release of the X-Maxx, it was the biggest, baddest truck in the Traxxas roster — and for all the right reasons.
Drive an E-Revo, and you'll know what we're talking about. The unique design of the truck makes for the sweetest-handling monster truck you've ever wheeled around, and its size allows it to handle pretty much any terrain. Top it off with the 6S-powerhouse built by Castle, and there's no wonder why the E-Revo Brushless is on the wish list of every monster truck fan out there. That what it takes to make 7th on 2015's top ten countdown.
6. Traxxas Slash 4x4
Position last year: 3rd
Tumbling down the list from last year's high, the Slash 4x4 has seen a lot more competition this year, predominantly from its own manufacturer. Still, the Slash 4x4 is a great vehicle — and a vehicle that got even better this year, when Traxxas added in their TSM technology, giving the truck a steering assist and traction control, helping to make the already great handling truck even easier to drive.
Last year, I said, "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," and while that's not exactly why the Slash 4x4 fell this year, it's not too far from the truth, either. The Slash 4x4 Ultimate could kind of be considered the 2.0 version of the truck, but even that couldn't knock the vanilla 4x4 off our list, where it hangs on in 6th.
5. Hitec X1 AC+ / Kinexsis KX80 Charger
Position last year: N/A
It finally happened — 2015 will be the year that the Hitec X1 AC+ lost its second place spot, which it maintained for three years! However, halfway through the year, we knew the Hitec wasn't going to be appearing on our list, because at that time, Horizon's Kinexsis brand released the KX80, a more powerful charger than the Hitec X1, yet costs the same.
Since then, the KX80 has sold remarkably well, fulfilling the role the Hitec X1 had before it, and doing so with panache. Since the KX80 replaced the X1 on our shelves, we decided to combine their numbers together for this list, but in truth, both could have independently made this list on their own. It's their combined might, however, that landed them in 5th place on this year's countdown.
4. Traxxas Slash 4x4 Ultimate
Position last year: N/A
It's the best bang-for-your-buck value in our store. The Slash 4x4 Ultimate crams over $400 in upgrades in the box when compared to the vanilla Slash 4x4, but for only $140 more. That insane value is what allowed the Ultimate to make it's début on this list in a big way.
I don't think that any of us would have guessed that the Ultimate would have make this big of a splash when we opted to replace the Platinum edition Slash 4x4 with the Ultimate early this year. With a nearly $600 price tag, we never expected the Ultimate to be our second-highest placing truck of 2015, but once you think about it, and see the differences between the basic model and the Ultimate, the only reason not to get one is if your credit limit is maxxed. With so many people switching to the Ultimate from the vanilla experience, it's no surprise at all that the Ultimate landed at #4 on our countdown.
3. Blade 350QX3 AP / Chroma 1080P
Position last year: 7th (Blade 350QX2 AP)
"Every product is a statement." That's how I introduced last year's 7th place finisher, the Blade 350QX2 AP. If that opening statement is still true, then this statement is loud and clear: drones are here to stay. Between the Blade 350QX3 AP combo and the newest Blade camera drone, the Chroma, we've sold more than 35 camera drones in that class in 2015. That's freaking amazing.
And it's not hard to see why they are so appealing. Seeing the world from a point of view you've never been able to before is a rush, and the kind of images our customers have been able to capture and create is truly spectacular. I can't wait to see what our customers film, photograph, and record in 2016, but it's the popularity of the camera drone that propels the Chroma and its ilk into third place.
2. Traxxas Slash 2WD
Position last year: 8th
Don't call it a comeback.
While the Slash has placed on our list since the truck's inception, it had a rough few years. It was as high as fourth twice (once in 2009, and again in 2012). In 2013, it fell to 6th, and then fell back again to 8th last year. Things weren't looking good for the short course truck that single-handedly changed the R/C truck world, but this year would change all that.
When Traxxas slashed (get it?) the price, it awakened the sleeping giant, tearing through the competition to take it's place as the top R/C truck. It stormed past the Ultimate with three weeks to go; in the final week before Christmas, it blew past the Chroma like it was standing still. We sold more than 110 Slashes this year, more than doubling its closest competitor. While even that kind of power couldn't contend with our #1 product, the Slash 2WD is back on top as the King of R/C Trucks, and finishes 2015 in 2nd place.
1. Dromida Ominus / Vista
Position last year: 4th
We were all surprised when we saw the final list; I don't think any of us expected to see a quadcopter in first place, considering how well the R/C car department did in 2015, but the Ominus, and later the Vista, just kept quietly gaining ground, and even as the Slash 2WD was mounting it's charge on the top, the Vista continued to put distance between itself and second place.
Neither the Vista, nor the Ominus before it, were without their issues, but the sheer number of these that sold throughout 2015 is mind-boggling: more than 200! With that many sold, any small issues have worked their way out and are (mostly) distant memories, and while the Ominus FPV/Vista FPV are some of our biggest misses this year, the camera-less versions earned their way to the top spot for a reason: flying is fun, and any quadcopter that can stay in the air longer and keep flying after a rough landing keeps the fun going. That's why the Ominus and Vista make the top spot in 2015.
That concludes our look at the top ten products this year. There were certainly some fun stories that took shape; the comeback of the Slash 2WD, the slight faltering of the Slash 4x4, and did you notice that only three quadcopters made the list this year? That's down one from last year's list, while R/C trucks gained a total of three spots year-over-year. While this year's list was a bit lacking in diversity, the run-up to the end of the year was pretty fun to watch, as each product jockeyed for position in the top ten. Some that placed early on fell out entirely, and some caught up right at the end. The positions after 10th place got even tighter, with some products within sixty cents of another!
2015 is over, and our focus now is what 2016 will bring. Which of the products on this list will make it next year? We'll have to wait and see, but for now, it's certainly fun to speculate!
Questions? Comments? Sound off in the comments below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!
Miss our other year-end content? Links below!