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Know your Brand - HPI Racing - Hobby Letter #23/21

11.8.2021

Heyy Folks how is that mud flying! Heikki here again, I hope you've had good summer. It is time again to educate ourselves with some RC knowledge. Today we take legendary brand of HPI Racing to table. Let's cruise down the memory lane so grab your seat! 

Reading time 10 minutes

International Hobby Point

Older hobbyists definitely remember HPI. In its days of glory it was once one of the biggest players in both competitive and recreational areas of RC. Then something happened and HPI almost vanished out of existence few years back.

Found already back in 1986 by Tatsuro Watanabe and his partner in California, HPI was originally a export company that started to export popular RC aftermarket parts (MIP, Peak Performance etc) to Japan with great success. In 1989 they snatched lead designer of Kyosho, Akira Kogava in their team and things started to happen. Mr. Kogava had previously designed the RC icons Optima and Ultima for Kyosho. For HPI he draw the plans of legendary HPI Baja, Rush and Micro. Famous set of Super Star wheels were also a big hit back in the days when there was not so many wheel options available.

Another big recruit for them was Hidekazu “Ito” Nishine. From his pen the world has seen HPI's first kit Super F1 along the immortal Savage Monster Truck, Nitro MT, Wheely King and also the HPI Mini Trophy 4x4 to mention some!

Hot Bodies (HB) was originally a independent RC body manufacturer that was acquired to HPI in 2005. After that the Hot Bodies brand was used also for upgrade parts for HPI cars and there was few full RTR's and Buggies released under the name of HB.

Legacy of RS4

HPI can rightfully claim that they have been shaping out the modern Touring Class in to form what it is today. Their RS4 with it's belt-driven powertrain was a pioneer that helped to populate the touring class that had evolved from shaft driven offroad buggies. Ever since the touring cars have been very important to HPI and RS4 has been evolved to many version from nitro to rally chassis. If the car that is almost 30 years old but is still in production (and popular!) there must have been some things made right!

In it's days of shine, HPI acquired official licenses from real sized car manufacturers and their line of realistic RC bodies stays famous even today. When HPI went belly up for a moment the main concern of many hobbyist was that will their bodies be still available?

Savage Monsters in Desert of Baja

Pioneer in the monster truck business, HPI's Savage along the T-Maxx from Traxxas can be seen as predecessors and "grand old ones" of the modern day bashing culture. Things have gotten more fast and aggressive since those days but it all had to start somewhere!

Back in the day it was all nitro. Batteries were for flashlights and real cars were powered by combustion engines. First Savage made no exemption and was equipped with .21 cubic inch pull-start engine. It had twin vertical plates (TVP) chassis that made it more appealing for monster crowd than T-Maxx featuring "bath tub"-type of platform. We could argue to the end of the world about which one is better so let's just say that both of these rock!

Popularity of monster trucks proved that people are getting interested more and more of the fun side of RC - not only serious competition that happens in the track. Massive 1/5 scale gasoline powered Baja can be seen as some kind of prove of this. RC crowd was demanding (and still is!) things that go faster and look good.

Petrol powered engines were very important for HPI. They went even to the point that they released a petrol powered Savage XL Octane in a wish that people would get interested of sniffing the fumes again. We'll - nobody really liked them, they were loud but slow and at the same time battery technology had made electric trucks go faster and safer than any petrol ever! It is a bit sad indeed, I love to smell gasoline but you know.. kids these days..!

Another trucks to remember are my own personal favorite, well designed 2WD Short-Course truck Blitz and Mini-Trophy 4x4 what was too much ahead of its time. The rise and shine of Pre-runner type of desert racing trucks came much later and when that happened, the scale realistic and innovative Mini-Trophy 4x4 was already in the grave. It would be also very interesting to see what kind of reception would their larger scale desert truck Apache have it it would be released today!

Near-death Experience

Many still today think that HPI did not make it. Popular image unfortunately still is at status "RIP HPI". Business is business and always it's not enough if your products are good and even if you have large customer base. I do not know why HPI went to bankrupt 2016 at round age of 30 years. What I personally see here that they were going too fast forward developing hot new gasoline powered trucks while everyone else was going electric. Ball was dropped somewhere between the R&D and production and they were killing their trucks one by one every time they were catching some drift.

One kind of drama is the case of their scale crawler truck HPI Venture. When first teasers came out it created amazing buzz. It looked good, it had new innovations and overall design was well balanced. Everyone was talking about it and everyone wanted it. Then there was nothing heard of it for more than two years and finally when it was released the market was saturated with competitors. Traxxas had released TRX-4 with portals and Axial had reneved their SCX-10 platform to the next level of performance. Very unfortunate as Venture still is very well made scale truck that performs excellent. I have one and I know its good!

After few years of being passed around from shareholder to another, HPI today is in good hands of Vestergaard Group from Denmark and is slowly getting back to its feet! Their excellent bodies are available again and it warms my heart to read the print "Made in Denmark" from their labels.

We here at EuroRC have been a bit surprised of the popularity that our selection of HPI Racing has gained - it appears that there is still demand for their quality and legacy. We have been slowly expanding our selection and today we have a wide selection of their famous bodies but also some very nice cars and kits. HPI Jumpshot Family is a perfect choice for beginners and RS4 Sport 3 -line of Touring and Drift cars seem to be very popular. Check out some HPI goodness from the block below!

To keep up whats happening at our store remember to follow our Facebook, Instagram (dont forget our popular EuroRC Warehouse Instagram to catch up the latest arrivals and inshots of daily RC shop life!) and of course our official EuroRC YouTube Channel.

Follow also our magnificent Halko RC Instagram! Halko is our in-house brand that combines high quality to reasonable prices. Follow us up!

Thanks for reading our Hobby Letter! See you at the shop and hey send me some feedback or ideas. Maybe even a photo of your truck. It would be nice!

Greetings from Tervakoski!

Heikki / EuroRC

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12400 Tervakoski
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