By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
Last week I asked you, the viewers, for topics that you want to see discussed. I received an overwhelming amount of great ideas and topics, many of which I hope to discuss in the coming weeks. This week I have chosen one of the more popular topics in the off-road R/C industry at the moment; 1/10-scale 4wd stadium truck/truggy class.
Most would agree that the release of the Tekno RC ET410 is the driving force behind the recent interest in a 4wd 1/10-scale truck class, but the question is whether this is just a passing craze?
For the record, Tekno is not the first to release a 1/10-scale 4wd stadium truck/truggy, however, they are the first to do so and create the tidal wave of excitement towards a new class by doing so.
So, will this class ever take off and be successful, or will it simply be a fad? I can see both sides of this “argument”, and here are a few reasons I believe this class is likely and unlikely to succeed…
Reasons This Class is Likely to be Successful:
#1: In a nutshell what Tekno RC has done is taken their EB410 4wd buggy, thrown on stadium truck arms, shock towers, body mounts, misc. small changes, and released the ET410 4wd truggy. This means that any company that offers a 4wd buggy and a stadium truck has majority of a 4wd stadium truck already available – just not as one kit. There will need to be some obvious modifications, engineering, and development work done, but if you look at the manufacturers who could do what Tekno RC has done to join the class by basically combining two existing cars into one – the list includes Team Associated, TLR, XRAY, Serpent, Kyosho, Yokomo, and more. Having major manufacturers joining in a new class is the biggest struggle to making it work, but in this case, it may be one of the “easier” platforms for manufacturers to create and join in.
#2: We’ve already seen more and more homemade 4wd stadium truck conversions for the TLR 22-4/22T and AE B64/T6.1. The electric 1/8 scale buggy class was born when a few lone rangers in the industry began making their own "home-made" conversion kits for nitro buggies on the market. That grew to aftermarket companies creating conversion kits, which has led to nearly every 1/8 buggy manufacturer offering their own complete nitro and electric buggy kits. If homemade conversions continue and become popular enough, its likely more manufacturers will begin producing their own kit.
- CLICK HERE to see the TLR 22-4 / 22T 4wd Stadium Truck Conversion
- CLICK HERE to see the Team Associated B64 / T6.1 4wd Stadium Truck Conversion
#3: While I agree there is too many classes in 1/10-scale off-road racing, there is a major lack in 4wd classes. At most major events there is 10-12+ classes offered, and only two of them are 4wd (13.5 4wd buggy and Mod 4wd buggy). We’ve seen an increase in popularity with the 13.5 and Mod 4wd buggy classes over the past few years, and a decrease in 2wd stadium truck classes. This is also the trend we saw when 1/8-scale truggy was born. Gas truck began to die off, 1/8 buggy racers wanted another 4wd class to race, and the truggy was born.
#4: I don’t have access to the sales reports from the major manufacturers, but my guess is that the current 2wd stadium truck platforms aren’t exactly flying off the hobby shop shelves. A new 4wd stadium truck platform using many of the same components may not keep the dust from collecting on the 2wd kits in inventory, but it is an option to keep the parts moving.
(Ryan Lutz behind the wheel of the ET410)
Reasons This Class is Unlikely to be Successful:
#1: Tekno RC is a very popular brand and the ET410’s are definitely selling, but as the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango”. In this case it will take at least two, if not three or four, major manufacturers to join Tekno by releasing their own 4wd stadium truck kit to really make this new class work. While creating a 4wd stadium truck/truggy kit for many of the major manufacturer’s may not seem too far out of reach, no one else has shown any signs of doing so yet.
#2: As with any new class no one wants to be the first one to buy a kit (I’m guilty of that myself in this situation). I would love to race 4wd stadium truck, but I also don’t want to be the guy to buy one and no one else does…therefore I’m stuck with a kit I have no use for. The problem is if we all think this way, no one will ever buy a kit and the class will for sure fail. Convincing racers to buy into a class that doesn’t exist yet is a difficult task.
#3: There is already too many classes in 1/10-scale off-road racing (a topic I will discuss another day). It will take a lot for promotors to eliminate an existing “proven” class to make room and gamble on a new one, and/or make their race day even longer by adding another class – especially if the class takes more time than the few entries are worth.
#4: I mentioned the lack of sales in the 2wd stadium truck department above as a reason this class is likely to work, but I also believe it is a reason this class is unlikely to work. The last thing manufacturers want is a stock room full of 2wd AND 4wd stadium trucks that won’t sell, so is creating a new platform worth the risk? Depending on the manufacturer, it might be hard to convince them that creating a 4wd stadium truck kit will be a profitable investment.
My Personal Opinion of 4wd Stadium Truck / Truggy
My three favorite classes in 1/10-scale off-road racing over the years have been Mod 2wd Stadium Truck, Mod 4wd Short Course Truck, and Mod 4wd Buggy. I am all for a new class to bring back the days of stadium truck racing with a modern-day twist of high-flying 4wd power. There is nothing more boring for me as a racer than sitting for hours through a day’s worth of 2wd buggy classes waiting for my one lonely 4wd race.
In my opinion, the destiny of this class all depends on who joins the party. 4wd short course saw its peak when 3-4 major brands offered a kit, but now is dwindling away as only 1-2 major brands offer and support one. The same will go for 4wd stadium truck. If 3-4 major brands offer up kits, put a top driver or two behind the wheel at major races, and help build the presence of the class - it will take off and be successful. If no one else joins the party, it will be a shame, but I believe this will a passing fad that is only seen as an exhibition class periodically offered here and there if enough show up to race.