Everyone loves lists, right? I'm pretty sure there are entire websites (cough cough Buzzfeed cough cough) built on that concept. Well, we love lists too, and so it's time to go over our Top Ten Products of 2018!
Like every year, the list is devised using margin (profit) dollars, so the list isn't all car parts, glue, and paint — and while the words accompanying the products are opinion, how they placed isn't something we change for editorial purposes or bias, so let’s dive into our top money-makers this year and see what our customers have been demanding throughout the year.
Spoiler: to the surprise of no one at all, this year’s list features Traxxas quite heavily, but there are a few items on the list we didn’t see coming.
#10: Traxxas 5000mAh 3S 25C iD LiPo Battery
Position Last Year: N/A
What a year for batteries! With three of them making the list, and even more placing in the Top 25 (see below), 2018 was truly the year of the LiPo. While these Traxxas-branded batteries only place 10th, it’s still an impressive feat, as we only started carrying them halfway through the year. With an uphill climb against the incumbent Dynamite Reaction LiPos, these batteries proved that when running a Traxxas truck, a Traxxas battery is the prefered choice.
A good price point, the easy-to-use iD technology, and solid performance lands this Traxxas LiPo in 10th place.
#9: Traxxas Stampede (2WD)
Position Last Year: 9th
With a late surge thanks to the Christmas season, the Stampede 2WD forces its way onto the list, capturing the same spot it held a year ago. This is thanks to its appealing price point, high ground clearance, and monster truck aesthetic. The Stampede has been a fan favorite for decades, and it continues to enjoy good sales even today.
With a bevy of upgrades and hop-ups, the Stampede is a great way for anyone, young or old, to break into the radio controlled hobby. It’s fun, durable, and performs some awesome wheelies. Charge up your battery and go for a fun drive with the Traxxas Stampede, which finishes the year in 9th position.
#8: Kinexsis KX80 Charger
Position Last Year: 7th
The Kinexsis KX80 takes everything you need in a charger and delivers it for a great price point. It's more flexible than the Traxxas EZ-Peak Plus, since it can charge more than two kinds of batteries, and it's more powerful too, delivering twice the wattage of its Texas-based competition. Still, that wasn't enough to overcome the popularity of the EZ-Peak, and the KX80 fell a spot.
While this will likely be the last year the KX80 appears on the list (a new, cheaper charger from Dynamite has stolen it’s spot on our shelves), chargers like the KX80 are a staple in our store. Whether you fly planes, run cars (non-Traxxas, of course), or float boats, the KX80 can be the charger for you.
#7: Reaction 5000mAh 2S 20C LiPo Battery
Position Last Year: 2nd
A holdover from success of years past. The Dynamite Reaction line was the bedrock of our R/C surface department — back when they had access to Traxxas connectors. Now that Traxxas has their connectors on lockdown, it’s inevitable these batteries will fade from the list, and eventually, maybe even our shelves.
Still, the EC3-equipped LiPos have held fairly strong, largely due to the adapters we were able to find, allowing us to continue to sell these for use in Traxxas vehicles. When Dynamite raised the prices on them at the same time Traxxas brought down the price of their batteries, though, that spelled doom for the Reaction line.
#6: Revolution Forge MT 1:12
Position Last Year: N/A
Last year, the Forge MT got an honorable mention for making it to 18th place. This year, it improved by quite a bit, which just goes to show how well this mini-monster sells — and why not? It comes with a lithium battery and charger, while similarly-priced trucks only come with NiMHs, and comes with a larger than average motor for its price point. The Forge may not be the best way to get into the hobby (a 1/10th scale Traxxas vehicle is still the hands-down best), but in the bang-for-your-buck department, the Forge won’t disappoint.
A great price-point, Horizon Hobby support, and reasonable durability certainly helped to get the Revolution Forge MT into the 6th spot this year.
#5: Traxxas E-Revo VXL
Position Last Year: 5th (Previous Model)
Traxxas' E-Revo has been in our top ten list for the last three years running, so it's no surprise Traxxas took a stab at making it even better, and, oh boy, did they! The new E-Revo isn't a complete redesign, but tiny improvements were made all over the truck to make it more durable, more sleek, and more bashable. The differentials were swapped out with X-Maxx-spec diffs. New steel driveshafts replace the old plastic ones, and a new, simpler transmission now includes a center differential and replaces the slipper clutch with the new cush-drive system also seen on the X-Maxx.
The E-Revo could have placed even better this year, but it was a victim of its own success — it was so popular that inventory was quite limited all year, and sales slumped because of that. However, now that supply has stabilized, look for the E-Revo to climb the list next year!
#4: Traxxas 2S 5000mAh 25C LiPo Battery
Position Last Year: N/A
It’s no surprise to see a Traxxas-branded battery make the list this year — with the lack of a quality alternative equipped with Traxxas’ patented connectors, it was a foregone conclusion a battery like this would place. We just didn’t expect it to place so high.
We changed over to Traxxas packs once we were unable to get any of the Dynamite Reaction LiPos we had been carrying — at least, unable to get them with Traxxas connectors. As you’ve seen, two Reaction packs made the list, but the ease of the iD system, the guaranteed fit in Traxxas models, and the lack of a suitable alternative makes the Traxxas LiPos a hit this year… and Traxxas lowering the price of their batteries certainly didn’t hurt sales!
#3: Traxxas Ez-Peak Plus Charger
Position Last Year: 4th
It's tempting to place success of the Traxxas EZ-Peak Plus solely on the shoulders of Traxxas' innovative iD battery technology, but it's not that simple — we only started carrying Traxxas’ LiPos this year. So the popularity of this charger comes down to it's great price point and ease of use, even for non-iD batteries.
Though the Kinexsis KX-80 still placed this year, it’s time on our list is coming to an end, and that’s mainly due to Traxxas coming on strong. None are as good as Traxxas at making something highly technical easy to use, and therefore it's no surprise to see the EZ-Peak Plus gain a spot this year. Based on how well it did this year, I suspect it might climb even higher in 2019!
#2: Traxxas Slash 4x4 VXL
Position Last Year: 3rd
A mainstay on our Top Ten Lists every year since we started, the Slash 4x4 is a great truck for anyone, regardless of experience level. It's tough, agile, easy to work on, and upgrades are plentiful. There's just no questioning the popularity of the four-wheel-drive version of the Slash. Challengers are out there, but so far, none can contend with the Slash 4x4.
Though it received a new addition to the family this year with the release of the brushed Slash 4x4, I think the brushless version will continue to outsell as well as outrun its less-expensive sibling. Fact is, it's hard to imagine a Top Ten list without this venerable truck somewhere within. This year it climbed to second. Can it take the top spot next year?
#1: Traxxas Slash (2WD)
Position Last Year: 1st
To absolutely no one’s surprise, the Slash 2WD, the reigning champion on our list, claims the top spot for the third year in a row. It has placed every single year it's been on the market, and sales continue to be strong. While other manufacturers try to gimmick their way to success, the Slash sits quietly, largely unchanged since its original launch, destroying the competition. Traxxas has long understood the need to maintain a stable platform for their business to grow, and nothing underscores that more than the success the Slash 2WD has had since its release in 2008.
The Slash absolutely, undeniably deserves this spot on the list, both for its strong sales, but also as an everlasting reminder to all the R/C manufacturers out there: this is how you build a truck.
There you have it. Now that our Top Ten list is in the bag, let’s talk about the products that didn’t make the list this year — ones that deserve an honorable mention, some that stand-out as flops, and some that are simply notable because of their absence.
Position Last Year: 10th
The Rustler may have finished 10th in both 2016 and 2017, but it failed to make the list at all this year. It ended up a paltry 25th as a result of softer sales. As the least popular of our entry-level R/C trucks, it’s not surprising the Rustler dropped as much as it did, but it’s still a bummer to see it fall completely out of the top ten.
Maybe it can crawl back up the ranks next year. We’ll see.
Position Last Year: 6th
The X-Maxx almost made the list, but sales have slumped for the big behemoth this year. All signs are pointing to a sales decline for the pricey Traxxas truck as more consumers keep their spending on hobbies a little lower than past years. Will the X-Maxx make the list next year, or has it priced itself out of contention? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, the X-Maxx broke its two-year streak and ended up in 11th place.
Position Last Year: N/A
Though it only debuted late August or early September, the brushed Slash 4x4 made a big splash in our sales and finished an impressive 16th in the standings, which difficult to do even for products we’ve carried all year. I suspect with a full year of sales, it very well could earn a spot in the top ten at the end of 2019.
While the TRX-4 Ford Bronco did make it into the top twenty-five, none of the other models squeezed in. We’ve had trouble selling rock crawlers overall, but now that Traxxas makes so many accessories for their trucks, we might just be able to bring in enough of them to appease the rock crawling clientele. Worth noting, though, that if all of the Traxxas rock crawlers were counted as a single product, that product would have finished in the fifth spot. So maybe rock crawlers aren’t doing as poorly as it looks at first glance!
2018 was also notable for the sheer number of batteries that made it into the top 25. While three placed in the top ten, a full seven of the top twenty-five products were some type of battery. Both of our Traxxas NiMH made it, two of our Traxxas LiPos placed, and three of the Dynamite Reaction LiPos made it as well. It’s entirely unusual for that many batteries to crack the top 25.
The rising popularity of the brushless VXL lineup is another notable this year. All of the brushless 2WD trucks placed as well or better than they did the previous year. Maybe it’s the new looks, maybe it’s the growing awareness that brushless power is awesome, or maybe it’s a fluke. Whatever the case, the 2WD VXL trucks did pretty well in 2018, but not well enough to make the list. Maybe next year?
None of the top 25 products this year came from outside of our R/C car category. No drones, helicopters, or airplanes placed in the top fifty. This is due the tremendous downturn we’ve seen in R/C aviation interest, and, sadly, is likely to continue into 2019. I talked about this at length in A Critical Look: Not With a Bang, But a Whimper, so check that out if you want to learn more.