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The Great Debate: Kits vs. RTRs

The Great Debate: Kits vs. RTRs

The vast majority of RC vehicles offered are pre-built RTRs. This makes sense since when most people buy something, they want to be able to use it right away. Seems reasonable. If you had the choice between two computers–same price, one pre-built and ready to plug in vs. an unassembled box of parts–you’d probably go with the pre-built one. Oh, but think about how much you’d learn about computers as you assembled yours. That “added bonus” seems silly in this context, but it’s one of the prevailing arguments of the pro-kit crowd. The other prevailing argument (the only other argument, really) is that someone taking their time building their own kit will be able to do a better job than a factory focused on mass production. Seems reasonable. In fact, this very notion kept me away from RTRs for years. The big assumption here, however, is that the end user at home will actually assemble the kit correctly. Case in point: I recently got my hands on two old school gold tub Team Associated RC10 buggies. What’s interesting about these two buggies from the days of kits and only kits is that they were both assembled incorrectly in different ways. I’m not talking little mistakes; I’m talking “How the heck did you not notice that?” Both of these buggies were raced and I can assure you that both of these racers would have benefited from running a RTR. So, am I pro-RTR and anti-kit? No, I still enjoy building kits just for the fun of it and, as a racer, there’s still part of me that thinks I can do it better. I do, however, love the convenience of RTRs. So, I’m split. I don’t believe one is better than the other. How about you?



> Learning experience

> Potential for precise, quality build


> Time consuming

> Potential for error in assembly



> Instant gratification

> Properly assembled


> Price includes electronics user may not want

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Updated: July 21, 2015 — 5:09 PM


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  1. I am strictly an RTR man and I will tell you why. I simply don’t enjoy working with my hands, period. If I have to fix something around my home, I call a contractor. If I need to have some maintenance done on my car, I take it to the dealer or repair shop. When I buy an RC car, I want to fill ‘er up or charge the battery and run. I don’t buy that building a kit makes you competent to work on a broken RC vehicle. I have NEVER built a kit and don’t EVER plan to, yet, I have changed out motors, ESCs, rebuilt nitro engines and basically fixed EVERY RC vehicle I have ever owned, although I didn’t like to and considered it a chore, unlike running the darn things which I love. Yes, I could have easily taken my broken RC vehicle to the hobby shop and had it fixed for me, but usually the repairs only took a few minutes. Give me an RTR from any good firm, Traxxas, Losi, AE, etc. Building a kit = BORING and LABORIOUS!!!!

  2. My first hobby grade RC was a 1:10 scale 2wd Kyosho Mantis Series. The kit was 80% built, but it included a HiTec Radio, and servos. I got it when I was in middle school. It was a nice balance between a Kit and RTR. It allowed me to know how to install the servos and motor etc. It had a Mechanical Speed control orginally, which I later replaced with a Tekin ESC. I also later upgraded the motor. My second RC was a Yokomo MR-4 TC. This was a pure kit, no electronics. I liked the included hop-ups that came with the kit, and being able to build it from the ground up. To be honest I had parts of the build I just got aggervated (like building the ball diffs), however it was a good exercise because I would have to do it again later for maintence. I took a good 8 year break from the hobby due to no where to run a TC locally. and got into SCTs in 2010 with an SC10 RTR 2.4 Ghz model, which has been torn down, cleaned and motor, esc and servo all upgraded.

    I really think in hindsight that a 80% kit (Roller) with electronics and radio is the best thing for beginners. if not that then an Roller with an electronics/motor/radio guide for the buyer. an RTR is not a fix-all, because by the end of it all you’ll have disassembled the whole kit, and saying an RTR prevents that I disagree. an RTR may come properly assembled, but soon as something is disassembled you’re back at the owners ability.

    I don’t understand how an RTR is only $50 more than the kits… I saw it posted several times before, RTRs need to come with quality equipment. at this stage in RC I don’t see how it’s a benefit to buy a RTR with a brushed motor and AM Radio… I would take that a step further and say kits of the same type should come factory with the same spec motor turn (ie 17.5 or 13.5) and size. It’s crazy going to a Stock SCT race and the kits have all kinds of motors, some 550 12T, others 540 15T or a 540 17T…. how is that a good way to introduce new people into a ‘fair’ racing class? even if you made it a 17.5T brushlesss class, then everyone would be spending a minimum of $100-$200 so the power outputs are even. so that $250 RTR just turned into a $350-$450, RTR.

    Just a feel from the other posts, Kits and Rollers should be available for experienced hobbiests. Some perfer a Roller, and others (myself included) Kits. However RTRs who are catered to the new entrants into the hobby, should have the same turn motor for it’s class, and a 2.4 ghz radio. The arguement for RTR is for ease of the consumer, well live up to it and give them a kit that they can use with ease.

  3. In my case RTRs were stepping stones to kits I’m 48 & got in to RC about 1.5 years ago with a summit & if it wasn’t RTR I would have never got in to RC since then I also got a 1/16 e-revo ,1/10 e-revo , 2wd slash ,and a 1/16 summit . I would have stayed loyal to traxxas but I wanted 2 things thay did not offer ,a kit & a 1/5 scale gas vehicle so I got a Baja 5b ss . I enjoyed the build so much that I will only buy kits from now on . So unless traxxas releases a kit I will porbably never buy anuther vehicle from them but I would still highly recommend them for someone’s frist RC & I will still use their waterproof electronics . ” There is pride & enjoyment you get from a kit that a RTR doesn’t have” I’ve read that statement quite a bit but until I built a kit I never really believed or understood it . My last kit was a tamiya Dark Impact , the next one will probably be a venom creeper . Bottom line = A traxxas RTR got me into RC & thay have the best costomer support but they are regretfully losing my business becouse thay don’t have kit’s . Any company that doesn’t offer kit’s is losing business to the one’s that do . If you want my business sell kit’s . A race roller is the same as a RTR to me .

  4. kits are always great, it gives you the feel of the car and its functions, unlike a rtr, when somethings wrong, you often don’t know what it is.

  5. Quiet honestly, so far the debate between KITS and RTR’s is that KITS are comming out on to as prefered with room for RTR’s (including prebuilts) for entry level, basic stuff.
    I would also like to add to the debate of “RTR’s being built properly” by letting you all know of my last prebuilt vehicle purchase. It is a Losi Comp Crawler. I have had it for a year and a half and have not ran it yet. Why? Lets see, So far I have had to replace approx 30% of the parts as they have stripped holes, I have had to replace about 50% of the hardware as the heads are stripped out, I had to replace all the aluminum linkages as PERMANENT threadlock was used during assembly, I have had to replace the driveshafts as PERMANENT threadlock was used on the retention set-screws and I had to drill them ALL out to remove the shafts, the seals in the shock cartridges are torn (one cartridge was even missing one o-ring). Every time I think about getting it ready to go, I end up sinking a lot of money into a truck that I shouldn’t have to. None of this would have been this way if it were offered as a kit and I built it.
    So, the argument of prebuilts & RTR’s being made better is so incorrect, it’s not even funny.

  6. For me personally, I would like to see them go in a direction to make a RTR that is truly ROAR legal out of the box. By that I mean, all the stuff included is decent race legal stuff that is also ROAR legal including the motor, battery, etc.

    With the whole push for non-boosting ESCs, seems you could do that. Maybe even include in the box a voucher for 1 free year of ROAR membership.

    I know the manufacturers state they support ROAR racing, seems a great way to actually show it would be for them to all make a ROAR RTR.

    Sorry if this is not on the topic of RTR versus kit, but, seems most of the complaints about the RTR stuff is the non-raceable electronics. Could be a way to solve that issue, and increase ROAR membership and race participation.

  7. I thin rtr and kits r both good rtr are great for beginers my first truck was a slayer and then a slash 4×4 they both taught me a lot. And they both harldy break or fail , but after just a year I’m now buying rtr parts and building my own that are a originaly sold as a rtr

  8. James I agree 100%

  9. Ah, the age old debate,

    After being the hobby most of my life, I’m a bigger fan of Kits over RTR’s. Both have their place in the market. The main issue in the beginning of the RTR craze were the lack of good running gear (servos, radios, and such) and the less than steller quality of the parts used to make the RTR. Sure, they looked the same as the “Kit” parts, but more often than not they sub par. To that end the RTR’s now have come along way and usually are much better equipped and have better parts. There is still the issue of people not knowing their rides. Many people that get a RTR don’t know much about what part(s) they need to fix it or how to even fix it. In part because they didn’t bother to read the manuel and is usually their first buy in the hobby. That is where I think if they had to build their own “kit” they would have a better understanding of their ride. That is not to say they would have it built correctly, more so if it’s their first time building one, but they should have a better idea of what is what.

    I admit that the RTR’s have helped, to some extent, to get more people in the hobby. That is a good thing. Keeping them in the hobby from that point is another topic all together. I suppose that some shops rely on the lack of knowledge from the RTR buyers to make an extra sale or two on items that maybe they don’t need. That is not a good thing, but is what it is I guess.

    I do like the BND’s that have come about from a few Mfg.’s. Usually a little cheaper to buy and you don’t have extra gear just sitting right away. The Race Rollers that are out there do offer that plug and play feel while letting the end user decide what running gear that want to put in. I’ll still double check things on a Race Roller and make some other things the way I want/need them to be. Not exactly perfect, but can help get you out and running/playing/racing faster than building the whole kit, for those that just can’t wait.

    I’d like to see more kits offered and would like to see the top of the line “Factory Team”, “Pro”, “World Champion”, or what ever that Mfg. wants to call the flagship kit come with all of the option parts for that car/truck. For example the RC8T CE kit comes with parts that are based off the ROAR winning truck, but not the parts used on that truck. People are already going to pay more for the top of the line kit, why not have the option parts that were used in that “CE” kit? Marketing I suppose and maybe better suited for another topic.

  10. I m with SeanNJ,they should be both,These company’s that produce
    RTR’s should also produce a kit,These company’s are only out to
    make a buck.RTR’s are massed produced for one purpose,an thats
    for money.This is ok for kids,Then they can decide whether or not
    if this hobby is right for them.The manufactures that produce these
    RTR’s are catching all the blame,You canot force people to stay in
    the Rc hobby,people lose intrest,With todays economy people just
    cant afford these types of toy’s or continue in this hobby.
    Also we are dealing with newer generations of people an kids,
    todays kids like video games,sports,or some other type of
    Im just a basher,I been into the hobby off an on for 15 yrs,
    I buy RTR’s because of that,if I was a racer,I will build a kit,
    That doesnt mean that I dont know my way around an Rc,
    an thats why they still run.
    I alway’s buy from a leading company that has a good warranty,
    an back their product with good service..

  11. I believe there is a place in the industry for both. I’ve built kits and bashed with ready to run and raced them as well. Its all about what grows the sport. More kits would be awesome but I think a more profitable and less annoying alternatives would be rolling chassis without electrics.

  12. I prefer kits. I’m running an RC8 right now. I bought the Factory Team Kit so I would know it inside and out, but also wanted all the other components to be ‘right’ for me. Sure, they fit the car, and I had plenty of options, but I got what I wanted and my car runs great. I don’t race it, though I’ve been told I should. Maybe there is an internet market for a company to take and order for your kit car, the ‘stuff’ you want in it and make it an RTR. You might not instantly know the ins and outs, but you would have instant gratification, at a price. Parents be warned, it may be on the way!

    1. Better yet, maybe there should be a company that takes RTRs apart, sells the electronics on eBay and resells the RTRs as kits.

      1. Hi Matt, There already is an eBay company that sort of does this for Jammin SCrRT0’s, located in Cape Coral. They go by the name of Heartland RC. This is where I bought most of my “KIT” parts from.

      2. that could work as long as the screw holes were not stripped out! 😉

  13. Great debate & great points! Room for both kit & RTR, great job Kevin!

  14. Back in the 80’s I got a Tamiya Hornet for my B-day. At 13 years old I said wow, cool! I opened the box and there was a lot of parts everywhere. What? I have to put it together? Yes! My Dad said. He set me up with a few tools and a table and left me alone to build. I was intimidated at first, but I opened the instructions and did step one, screwed two plastic parts together. Then two more, next thing I knew I was busting out gears, screw bags, shock parts and driving it was the last thing on my mind. It was a challenge and It took all weekend, but I did it all myself. I remember the great feeling of accomplishment I had. A kit was a great way to teach kids basic mechanical skills. It is one of the best memory’s from my childhood.

    It’s sad the RTR kids of today won’t get that memory.

    That’s why we need more kits.

    There are many things I don’t care for about RTR’s. I only have two RTR’s Wheely King and Traxxas Bandit. My Bandit came with flat spots on every tire from sitting in the box for so long. The argument about getting a better build from a RTR doesn’t hold water.

  15. If it wasn’t for RTR I probably wouldn’t be so involved in the sport. I purchased a Hong Nor SCRT10 RTR initially for my daughter. She ran it competitively at a local raceway in stock RTR form and achieved a few podium finishes. Being her father I became her pit monkey, and in doing so I learn’t how to repair her truck, from the manual. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make my own truck. I trawled the auction sites and over 20 odd auctions I was able to buy all the individual parts to make a full truck. Essentially I made my own kit. I enjoyed putting it together and I know what each bit does and where it goes.

    In a nut shell, I think that RTR and kit form complement each other and in my case I’ve enjoyed both.

    Cheers 🙂 Mario

  16. i have never bought a kit, due to the fact my LHS only carries RTR’s. BUT, i still tear the cars all the way down between races to check everything. I mean, dont you want the best performance possible? Id sure think so. So im all for kits, it teaches a lot more that a RTR

  17. When I got into R/C, I cut my teeth on a Tamiya Sand Scorcher. I did not have my driver’s license yet so I learned to drive and work on “cars” at the same time. I now have a collection of over 20 R/C cars and all but ONE was a kit. Now my son wants to get into the sport but ever vehicle he was is an RTR and he wants to actually build the vehicle. I feel ALL vehicles should be available in both RTR and kit form, with the same upgrades and options. Do not sell an RTR with aluminum shocks and sell the kit with plastic shocks!

  18. I prefer Kits. As far as assembled correctly. No RTR I have owned has been. Especially Traxxas. When a suslension arm does not move when a shock is not even attached — or screws holes are stripped shocks leak beacuse of poor assemble etc ,that IS incorrect assembly of which I have found COMMON in RTRs. Well at least traxxas. I did have a Losi RTR based off a Losi LXT 1/10 gas truck years ago that seemed very well built. Every Traxxas I had needed to be torn down and FIXED to work properly. A basher would never know but you want to race– no way.

  19. I have had both kits and RTR’s, so do not bug about either. I think the best thing to ever happen to the RTR’s though is the 2.4g radio’s and brushless. While i do like the convienence of a built rig, i also like to build . To those who want to build, take it apart and reassemble. Sometimes its like watching movies, you find tech goofs or mistakes from the factory.

  20. I own two kits, an 80% roller, and a RTR. I would perfer the kits any day!

    My first car was a touring car kit. I had experience putting things together with plastic models before, so following directions was fairly easy for me. I had a ton of satisfaction with seeing how all the parts went together and applying my knowledge onto my dads cars on our garage lift. I was fascinated at how similar the two were, and I could gather knowledge from either. This also gave me great troubleshooting skills. When I first set my car down, the pinion screw came loose, and I knew exactly how to fix it, and what went wrong. I had a great time and a special feeling after finishing the kits.

    When I got the roller I had to assemble a few things and put in all the electronics. And when problems arose, it was much harder trying to decifer where the problems were. I had to look through entire chassis blow ups to figure out how the universal shaft went together. I’ve built them before on numerous cars, but Team Magic had to be different. I’m not stupid, it stumped 3 pro adults at the track! Along with some problems on the car, it still doesn’t handle nearly as well as my kits even with the same set-up.

    My RTR was fun in that it was completely ready to drive as soon as I got it, but thats where my joy ends. I don’t have as much interest in it because I didn’t have the time to sentimentally attach to it while building it on the bench. Plus when problems arose I had to take out just about every screw on the car to get into the gearbox! I think its a little obsurd the lengths some companys go to save money by having fewer parts.

    Overall I would say I definitely perfer kits, on the knowledge standpoint, and handling. I don’t think its a coincidence my kits handle better than the RTRs.

  21. I like roller, I like kits, I don’t like buying ready to run with cheap electrics. Just seems wasteful to me. But for someone just starting, not a bad deal. Would be nice if you had the option of how to buy everything but that would not be too practical for most companies. If I want something bad enough I will buy it now matter how it is packaged.

  22. I find that if you are really wanting a RTR-only vehicle but don’t want all the crap that comes with it, try Ebay. I find that you can find nearly ANY Traxxas model, lots of HPI vehicles, and Associated and even Losi’s as stripped brand-new chassis/rollers, to which you can add high end electronics. I just built my first kit though, and will never buy a RTR again. It was so coll to finally build something with high-end stuff in it, it looks like all the cars I used to stare at in RCA and wish I could afford. That said I could never afford a kit until now, so I think it depends on who is buying. Im a tech-oriented person, so I never had issues fixing my own RTR.

  23. I’ve always enjoyed the build of a good kit. That is satisfying to me. Their is a sense of pride after building a quality complex kit. Using it afterwards not so much because then it’s been “ruined”. I’m a shelf queen kit guy. The latest offerings of RTR’s ae capable and can quickly satisfy my running needs. I’ve the slash 4×4 and it’s a good bit of a basher.

    Cheap electronics ? Not anymore. Plus, they can quickly get those people interested that would otherwise skip out on the hobby. If they don’t stick around a kit wouldn’t have made the difference I’m sure. I would prefer if some of the RTR were ofered as kits, certainly. I’ve skipped out on many because they weren’t offered as kits. So put me down for a kit !

  24. I have to say, there’s a market for both kits and RTR’s, I don’t think they’re “killing” the hobby, but I personally love to build my own vehicles, tear down my own shocks, make little tweaks as I can. For me, a kit is a much better fit.

    For me, kits go back to the days of Tamiya, which were fastidiously kitted and the instructions left little to be desired. The M03 I assembled from Tamiya was just as phenomenally packaged as the TA01/2 I assembled 20 years ago.

    What I thought was also great, was assembling the AX-10 kit, which much like Tamiya, Axial handled their business very well. If a small, bright company like Axial can do it like (if not better) why not some of the bigger companies do it?

    When I bought my Robitronics Protos, my only option was RTR. I ran it, broke parts, and then cracked open the manual to start tearing things down. The buggy started as an RTR, and through dedicated driving, I broke all the parts that needed replacement. =) When I bought my Robitronics Mantis, my only option was RTR, and the same happened. In that case, the same manufacturer, the Protos wasn’t assembled as well as the Mantis out of the box.

    I think the electrics, engines, motors, component choices, etc. can’t be the only thing to look at. Yes, race rollers are nice, but I don’t race, so they’re not on my radar. Would I buy a SC unassembled? Probably more so than if it were assembled. I just need the choice. With a nitro vehicle, I’m going to run the motor ‘til it pops, just a waste to not run it. With servos, I’m going to use them ‘til they break, because they will. If they don’t, bonus for me.

    The other aspect of the market also lives in my house; my 11 year old. He’s a new/novice RC enthusiast. His interest, and coordination, isn’t such that he’s going to jump right into a kit. He’s been drawn in by the speed, not by the kit. He’d sooner build a 200-piece Lego kit than an RC kit.

    Looking at the different scales, there’s little to no chance I would’ve bought my Traxxas micro SCT if had to assemble it myself. It’s like buying your own watch and assembling it, just as small. I had torn it down as required, added things, etc., but I may not have purchased it in kit form.

    I think the underlying theme here is choice. If I want a racer, fine, I’ve got my own poison for motor/servo/radio/tires already, and I may not want to assemble all of it. Having raced in the past, I can’t imagine any racer worth his/her salt wouldn’t strip down a race roller either. As a basher, I still like assembly. I just like the option to build or not to build.

  25. Kit building isn’t for everyone, but your analogy of the computer thing leaves a bit to be desired, since I actually spent MORE money to buy individual components, figure out what would work together, then assemble everything into a desktop PC, which has worked out for me MUCH better than buying a pre-assembled one. I also have to disagree with your ‘pros’ that an RTR is guaranteed assembled correctly. While the chance of it being wrong is less than if a mechanically-handicapped person were to have put it together, one of the reasons I don’t like “race rollers” is because I don’t trust the factory. They screw it up too often to overlook.

    Given a choice, I’ll almost 100% choose the ‘some assembly required’ route. I have a deep fascination with knowing how things work, why they work, how it’s put together… etc. Granted, we have a LOT of people in the hobby right now who can’t change the spur gear on a Stampede, let alone assemble an entire truck from parts out of a cardboard box; and that’s OK I guess. It keeps HobbyTown in business around here… I think we almost fix as many vehicles as we sell parts for (not literally, but it’s frighteningly close).

    For me, it’s a hobby and part of the hobby is screwing around with stuff. I’m also the type of person who will probably buy a kit-car or build a race car from steel tubing after I have the facilities and tools for such a task. Maybe I’m the exception, but R/C used to be for people like me who were the ‘exception.’ And now that it’s becoming mainstream, those of us who kept the hobby alive while it was small are being pushed aside to cater to the people who just want instant gratification and couldn’t care less about what the hell PWM stands for…

    Just my opinion. 🙂

  26. Kits may not solve the “dumb” thing but it does help people understand there truck/buggy/cars better ,from set up to repair.RTR have there place in RC but companies have gone over board with them.If they really want to help the hobby and hobby shops out ,make more roller chassie’s .This will help out hobby shop by selling more radio’s,servos,ESC,motors and batteries.This would be the best alternative to so many RTR.This way future RCers will have the choice of electronics and get better quality components.Lets face some RTR and there electronics are so cheap that it can some times turn people away from the hobby .

  27. I really enjoy kits. By assembling out my own car, I know how to fix it or upgrade it, and I can drop in some of the custom components I want as I assemble. Truthfully, I did start with a 1/10 scale RTR nitro truck, and an RTR is probably best for beginners or parents buying one for kids. But once you’re into the hobby a bit, a kit is the only way to go. By the way, I’m a 43 year old woman, I just want you to imagine me building little tiny diffs and learning to solder. But if I can do it, anyone can. I wish more manufacturers would at least offer a kit option on their popular models.

  28. There aren’t many cons if they would make them all Race Rollers, not RTR. That way you can still add your own radio of choice and still get a professionally built kit.

  29. @TechEE01 as someone new to the hobby (3 years in), I’ve enjoyed buying 8 RTRs to get a R/C club going and I can say that these trucks get driven a ton by young drivers. The build on them was never a problem and they have endure a ton of abuse. I never took them in to a hobbyshop for repair, but had to search forums and google looking for answers as manuals offer little to no help. Sure the local hobbyshops would fix them for a hefty price tag to earn more money.

    I see the frustration of how parents don’t want to pay for repairs and these models go unused and it hasn’t help the hobby. However, one thing this hobby is missing that almost all hobbies I’ve seen, is teaching. Compare R/C hobby to say “Scrapbooking” hobby. (My wife loves this) Every scrapbooking/crafty store that I’ve had to go into offers one thing…. classes. They teach and train people to encourage growth and knowledge in the hobby. I don’t see this happening at my LHS. The only way to get “trained” would be the become a racer and goto club races and learn from the vets, that is if they are willing to help.
    Hobbyshops like you worked in could have easily taught all those young people and thereby grown the hobby much quicker.

    It is this very reason that I seek to train young people about fixing and repair and just how things work on their R/Cs. I hope other LHS will pickup on this.

  30. I think Kits are better overall. There’s just no better “satisfaction” of completing a kit. At the same time, all the manufacture’s that have RTR’s should have a Bind and Drive option like Losi. I own 7 R/C’s with 7 radios, but only use one radio for all of them. So what do I do with all the extra radios? Give them t friend’s? Give them away on Craigslist? Can’t ever seem to get rid of them. I think Losi hit it on the head though with the Ten-T and the DX3S radio combo. For 500 bucks you get a radio that has 10 model memory and a sweet ride. If you buy another Losi product, you can just get one of their Bind and Drive ready trucks. The only thing that sucks is the fact that they are already built. If they knock 50 bucks off the price tag, but include all the electronics in a kit model, that would be sweet. I think you would have more people that already own R/C’s get into building their own vehicles.

    I personally prefer kits over RTR’s any day of the week. I just bought a Savage X SS, and thouroughly enjoyed building it myself. There’s just that feeling that you get when you finish a kit. You also have a better understanding of the vehicle and how to troubleshoot when somethinng goes wrong. You will also know more on how to take the vehicle apart and put it back together with a kit.

    So I say, make more kits available to the people. At least have an option for all the RTR’s out there. There are some really good RTR’s that need to be made into a kit form, to allow the more experienced enthusiats to build their car the way they want to instead of having to take an RTR apart to build it the way they want to.

  31. In my opinion, RTR’s have really degraded our hobby. We have created a group of so called RC’ers that many times can’t even fix a broken suspension arm. During the Traxxas T-Maxx boom, I was working in a local hobby shop and every morning when I walked in there would be a dozen of them waiting for me. Broken bulkheads, shock towers, diffs, drive shafts and slipper pegs were the usual suspects along with retuning the engine or replacing it’s glow plug. Most belonged to younger people and the parents were willing, at first, to pay the $20 per hour repair fee that the hobby shop charged. This got old very quickly for the parents and the kids and soon the truck was sold or collecting dust in a garage. Some people were willing to learn how to do this stuff, but the majority didn’t care and it was just a passing fad. The hobby shop made some money on the kit sale and the repair costs, but it did not gain a new customer and the hobby did not grow.

    There are a couple of reasons that RTR’s are to blame for this. 1. Most of the early RTR’s were JUNK! The early versions of the T-Maxx, Stampede, Rustler and Bandit were worthless. Heck, before they put a somewhat descent servo in the Stampede, it would fail in less than 1 batteries worth of driving on a paved surface. I even helped one customer unpack a new Stampede and the servo broke sitting on the work bench! So what does the hobby shop do? Tell them that they need to buy a new servo for their brand new truck?

    #2 Almost all of the RTR’s used the 27MHz band for their radios. This was a huge mistake and made for a terrible day at any local track as 27 people with RTR’s tried to go out and get some laps in while only being able to use 6 frequencies.

    #3 The two above problems made new comers very weary of buying a kit let alone buying anything RC related. Most of them would get it in their heads that the Traxxas 4-tec was the best thing on the planet and they already had that so why on earth would someone want something better?

    I also agree with what has been said above about not wanting more junk electronics. We don’t need to be throwing this stuff into a landfill just because that is the only want to get a certain car or truck.

    I disagree with Mr. Higgins statement about getting a better built model when you buy an RTR. Again, from my days in the hobby shop I know that many pre-assembled cars have plenty of mistakes and usually lack proper lubrication and thread locking. RC manuals are not hard to follow for building kits and these days the manufacturers do a good job of indication where grease and thread lock should be applied.

    I say, leave RTR’s for Radio Shack and bring back the kits!

  32. I honestly believe the majority of R/C’s should be available in kit form as well as RTR. When I’m forced to buy a RTR I’m forced to remove the cheap kit electronics, as well as ditch the nimh battery and wallwort charger many come with. Including these electrical items only increases initial cost for me since I never use them. The stuff isn’t even able to be sold since nobody needs it with everything RTR. What are we supposed to do w/ 7 or 8 radios, esc’s and cheap servos? Landfill’s fill up everytime I buy a RTR.

    1. Ah, in a perfect world that would be the solution that would make us all happy. Imagine every vehcile offered as a kit, a RTR and as a roller without electronics or a engine for the nitro stuff

      1. In the airplane world that is currently being done already. Nitroplanes (aka Nitro RCX) sells their models as kit, ARF, and RTF.
        I personally love the convenience of RTR. I cannot fault the build quality either of my Traxxas vehicles. However I also enjoy building from a kit. When I built my Tamiya TXT-1, I enjoyed it so much I was actually sad when it was completed! I wanted to keep building!

  33. Quite honestly, I HATE RTR’s. I got into RC back in the ’80’s with a Hornet. Building the car was half the fun! It was a small learning curve….I went together like a big model….but with scres instead of glue. I have purchased several RTR’s over the years (reluctantly) and every one had to be completely rebuilt to correct build issues or replace damaged parts. I am to the point now that if I want a vehicle, I download the instructions and buy the parts seperately and built it that way. There is NO reason NOT to offer a KIT version of EVERY RTR out there. After sinking way to much money into RTR’s and being stuck with junk electronics that I cannot get rid of, I am through with RTR’s BND’s adn ARTR’s. Kits only.

    1. Ken has got to feel better after getting that off his chest.

      1. YUP! I do! Oh….I also build my owm desktop computers too….hate all the garbageware that is on “made” computers. 🙂

  34. I like building kits: it’s in my blood I guess. That said I don’t despise RTR’s either however, what I can not stand is the fact that with RTR’s, I’m paying for a load of electronics I do not want 99% of the time. I do not want to pay for things that sit on my shelf. If I pay for something it should work hard since I worked hard to pay for it.
    Assemble the kits at the factory, I don’t mind, since it creates jobs; just leave the electronics out. If a good selection of kits continues to be a pipe dream then my solution to the Manufacturers would be to offer RTR’s, but pull a few off the line for the rest of us before they get the electronics.
    To my knowledge, only OFNA currently does this with their 80% ARR kits (I appreciated LOSI offering Bind’N’Drives and purchased one for that reason though I still replaced most of the electronics).

    1. A few companies have had “rollers” or prebuilts minus electronics. I like the rollers for bashing and racing. I do have to admit that the stuff included with many RTRs is getting pretty good. It’s not hard to find RTRs with brushless and 2.4GHz at all.

  35. I believe that RTR should be limited to the basher vehicles.The racing vehicles should be kit only.Thats not to say some basher stuff should be offered in kit form such as Blitz,slash,revo etc.
    I think that more people should have to build kits,we as consumers are getting LAZY,we want the instant gratification .
    but in turn RTR make the owners “dumb” on how things like slipper and diffs work,how shocks are built and affect handling.Most RTR owners have a hard time replacing a simple part,because they have no idea how things come a part.
    That said there will always be a market for RTR and companies should offer some things in RTR and kit.

    1. I’ve heard the lazy justification often. I understand where you’re coming from, but why doesn’t this logic apply to everything from mountain bikes to lawn mowers to full-size cars. Kits also don’t seen to cure dumb by any means.

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