RC Brands: Traxxas – the Titan
Traxxas cut their teeth in the 1980’s by building a ready to run system of hobby grade RC. At the time, if you wanted to get into Remote Control cars, you bought a kit, you built it, and you fiddled with getting your persnickety Nitro motor tuned and running well. Often you had to modify parts, source things not included in the kit, and then fiddle non stop to get it all working. A huge commitment, and it meant that you had a lag between buying your kit, and being able to drive.
Traxxas delivered a car, complete, ready to hit the pavement. All you added were batteries for the transmitter, the pre-mixed nitromethanol fuel (back then electrics and battery tech were pretty pathetic), and you were racing. Today, we might not find this revolutionary, but at the time it was unheard-of, and it opened the hobby to the masses. And the masses rejoiced.
Today, without a doubt, Traxxas has the widest range of RC vehicles, including boats, and near toy-grade (Latrax brand) vehicles. They have street, rally cars, rock crawlers, dirt buggies, short course trucks, monster trucks, boats, quadcopter, and some of the best bashers on the planet. They have electric, they have Nitro, they make kits. They sell hop ups, and modification parts.
Their radios are “good”, their stability control (TSM) works well, they have brushed and NiMH powertrains for the new, and cost conscious, and they have decent brushless systems. They seem to wring out a lot of performance from their drivetrains (that is, the 4S cars seem as fast and responsive as other 6S comparable vehicles).
They are well built, from resilient materials, and they are pretty easy to work on. A few good quality metric hex drivers, and you are mostly good to go. As you got more involved, you could add to your toolbox, but to get started, you didn’t need much. Even some horrific damage can be repaired with a few dollars of parts. Check out Kevin Talbot’s YouTube page when he is repairing his Xmaxx after a bad landing (or 5) at the skate park.
Their batteries and chargers are not the cheapest, but they are good, and their battery warranty/service is unparalleled. If your battery dies within a year, they will replace it for free, no questions asked. After a year, and they will replace it with a new battery for 50% of the new cost. After the third replacement, you usually are ahead buying Traxxas batteries. Additionally, for those new to the hobby, or parents buying them for their children, Traxxas sells what they call a “Completer” pack. That includes batteries, and a charger. You can’t go wrong, and it will just work.
You can also buy 3rd party batteries, and the Traxxas high-current connectors will work, but if you have several brands, and desire to standardize on one connector, you can replace the connectors. Personally, I have converted mine to EC5 connectors, since my Losi and Arrma vehicles use them. No biggie.
And while we are talking support and warranty, Traxxas’ phone support is unparalleled. Pick up the phone and call them, and within a couple of minutes you had an honest to God, real person on the other end, and they had the authority to make you whole. Us experienced people might scoff at that, but for the dad who bought his kid a car for Christmas, and it breaks, being able to get on the horn and talk to someone knowledgeable is invaluable.
Their chargers (especially in the ID connector realm) are idiot proof. The charger detects whether it is a NiMH, or a LiPo, and knows the safest charge rate. Again, for a novice, it is a godsend to not have to worry about burning your house down because you accidentally charged a LiPo on the NiMH setting (yes, this is a real risk). Notice though that even using the “idiot proof” system, you need to buy LiPO charging bags, because charging a damaged battery is dangerous, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Many people complain that Traxxas is a sleazy company, that they sued Arrma over a “silly” patent dispute, and essentially put Arrma’s parent company, Hobbico, out of business. However, patents exist for a reason, infringement is real, and Traxxas was right to defend their IP. It is not as if Traxxas is a non-practicing entity, what is known as a patent troll.
People will also grumble that most of the Traxxas vehicles have weak points that if you use them to the limit, require upgraded parts that Traxxas will be happy to sell them. I sorta get this complaint, but keep in mind that most buyers are casual hobbyists, and don’t send their cars to the moon at Skate parks. They are perfectly happy with stock.
Because of its size and scale, Traxxas has the most stock in hobby shops, and when you break an upper A arm, you are likely to walk into your local store and find it hanging on a peg. Hell, if you break the main chassis of the X-Maxx, for $30 you can replace that. Dirt cheap.
Traxxas is also whom all the other makers compare themselves to. Both when they decide what to build, and how to price it. If you compare like to like, say the Kraton 6S from Arrma, versus the Traxxas eRevo 2.0, two comparable spec vehicles (yet with a lot of differences between them) you will find that the Arrma is about $30 cheaper. This gap in price is just one way that the others in the market price to “beat” Traxxas. I am sympathetic to those who just prefer to go with the other vendors, heck, I have 4 different brands in my garage right now, but on a “toy” that you are spending $500+ for, $30 isn’t a prime motivator for me to select one over the other.
Traxxas has some other inherent advantages. In the electric side, they have platforms, where several vehicles will share significant percentages of their components. That is a 2WD slash, and a 2WD stampede share many parts, as do the 4WD versions, and even between vehicles that look very different, there is plenty of commonality. This is a benefit for you. No, not that you are likely to have multiple similar cars, although you might, but for the local hobby shops. They can stock fewer parts, in greater quantities, and still have coverage that when you as a consumer need a part, you will find it hanging on the shelf. Because nothing sucks more than a $5 part that takes weeks to arrive keeping you from driving.
And, by being the biggest maker of RC cars by far, selling vastly more than all the other makers (one hobby shop owner I spoke to, an Arrma fan himself, said that while he prefers the Arrma offerings, he sells at least 7 Traxxas cars to each Arrma, and thus his stock is slanted to Traxxas) they attract a giant ecosystem of hop ups, accessories and 3rd party goodies. Go to a well known maker of aftermarket parts, RPM Products, and their list of parts for Traxxas is huge. And Traxxas themselves make a lot of option parts, to allow you to customize your ride. From aluminum castor blocks, to high end emulsion shocks, and even affordable upgrade paths from brushed to brushless electronics, Traxxas is there.
And, with this universe of option parts sold from both Traxxas and others, the amount of customization you can do is impressive. Just do a Google search for “Traxxas slash drag car” and you will see a whole subgenre where people take their Slashes and make them in to drag racers.
Or, the Spec Slash racing class, where you have to drive a box stock Traxxas 2WD Slash, a competitive and fun class of club racing where the cost of entry is a $189 base Slash.
Whether you are a beginner, a casual driver, or a serious basher, Traxxas has several vehicles that will fit the bill for you. Are there better cars out there? Yes. Are there lower cost cars out there? Again, yes. But dollar for dollar, fun for fun, Traxxas is hard to beat. Don’t feel bad about buying a Traxxas. I have three of them, and am thinking of adding a 4th (something powered by Nitro) to my growing collection.