BREAKING NEWS: Horizon Hobby Buys Hobbico

BREAKING NEWS: Horizon Hobby Buys Hobbico

In the biggest RC industry buyout in recent history, Horizon Hobby is buying all of Hobbico’s RC-related brands. Here’s the scoop from the Champaign-based newspaper, the News Gazette:

“A bankruptcy court judge approved Horizon Hobby’s $18.8 million purchase of Hobbico’s remote-control business Monday, which means Hobbico employees must reapply for their jobs at Horizon before the purchase is completed Friday.

Hobbico’s more than 300 employees were made aware of this possibility last week, after Horizon was the lone bidder in a bankruptcy auction for Hobbico, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in January with the goal of finding a new buyer.

“As mentioned in yesterday’s Town Hall Meetings, Hobbico employees who are interested in being considered to work at Horizon Hobby are required to apply online,” Hobbico human resources manager Megan Huppert wrote Friday in an email obtained by The News-Gazette.

It’s not clear how many of the employees will be hired at Horizon, especially since the two Champaign-based hobby-product distributors perform similar tasks.

“Horizon and Hobbico have served many of the same retailers and customers for years,” Horizon CEO Joe Ambrose said when his company announced it would try to buy Hobbico’s RC units.

Horizon is buying Hobbico’s Great Planes and Tower Hobbies divisions, along with its Axial and Arrma brands.

Also on Monday, a bankruptcy judge approved a separate $7 million sale of Hobbico’s Colorado-based model-rocket subsidiary, Estes, to an organization called The Langford Group.

An auction for Hobbico’s remaining assets — including United Model, Revell US and Revell Germany — was temporarily suspended last week.

Hobbico employees will be applying for jobs in departments at Horizon rather than specific positions, and a temp agency is helping Horizon process the applications.

“Due to time constraints with hiring/reviewing/interviewing 300+ employees, Express Employment is assisting Horizon with the recruitment process,” Huppert wrote. “Employees who are selected to work in the Distribution Center could start on Saturday, April 7th through Express Employment.”

If employees apply by Friday, their seniority with Hobbico will be used to determine when they’re eligible for benefits.

However, “If you apply after the close of the transaction (April 6th), you would be considered a new applicant and treated like any other external candidate,” according to a document attached to Huppert’s email.

“We will review the applications and get in touch with candidates with whom we are interested in moving forward,” the document said, later saying: “We plan to interview as many people as we can, but given the short time frame prior to closing, we will not likely be able to interview everyone.”

A representative for Hobbico could not be reached for comment Monday, and a representative for Horizon said the company would issue a statement after the sale closes.

The two companies were both formed in 1985 and are among the top 25 employers in the county, according to the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

Last year, Hobbico said it employs 415 people in the county, and Horizon Hobby reported 341 employees.”


Subscribe today with a Digital Edition subscription or Print + Digital combo!

Never miss an issue of RC Car Action!

Subscribe today with a Digital Edition subscription or Print + Digital combo!

Updated: April 8, 2018 — 4:13 PM


  1. Horizon change there stuff 2 much.. I got a helicopter. Then 2 year’s later they dont sell it no more..

  2. I used to buy a lot from Tower Hobbies. Not so much from Horizon because of the poor covering on all the Hanger 9 airplanes plus having to charge sales tax in CA. I will not be buying product from Tower because they now charge sales tax.. I have found other on line companies and Ebay and get free shipping and no sales tax. It will be very good for the smaller on line companies.

  3. I nave a lot of Horizon Hobby products had GOOD luck with them. Robert.

  4. Well, Hobbico had to see this situation coming and should have tried to keep the company from going under. Sounds like poor management to me, I believe they could have done better. Tower Hobby started going down when Bruce Holecek sold out, I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. My 1989 Tower catalog had 320 pages in it and my 2018 catalog has 192 pages! I always loved the discount coupon codes that Tower has and they are more than likely going away, I am a Tower Club member and I bet that is going away too. I started flying in 1971, the same year Tower started and have been buying from Tower ever since and I really hate that this happened, but, nothing stays the same. I WILL keep on flying as long as I can physically hold a radio. I am a AMA Life Member and will get over this bump in the road. FLY RC

  5. I’ve used both Horizon and Tower products and was never disappointed with either quality or customer service. Sad day for employees.

  6. Hopefully we can keep these brands alive. Tower Hobbies was definetly pivotal in makeing RC cars accessible outside of CA.

  7. First off i want to say its sad for any person that loses their job in any of the hobbico companies. Second i want to remind the people that commented that hobbico brands like arrma and axial might not have the racing pedigree of losi but they make good product and tower hobbies is awesome. I still want to add a kraton to my rc collection. I just hope these brands and tower hobbies keep making and selling rc cars

  8. Both of these two radio control giants have some weak brands and many strong ones and the main thing I am glad about is that Horizon is well run enough to buy out Hobbico and keep all these great brands alive. I have been purchasing from Horizon hobbies since I bought my Team Losi GTX truck and I think they are a great company.

    1. Tower ain’t going out of business

    2. I’d agree. Low times in the RC industry right now. I don’t like Horizon Hobbies either but they are holding up the industry right now. Look in every magazine they are spending money. I’m an IRCHA guy and every year they show up. They’ve come up with some really good training planes for beginners. I just don’t like them, if you buy something of their’s and there really is something wrong with it, it was still your fault. I just spent $70 on retracts to fix a brand new plane. If I had bothered to wrangle with them, it would have been boxing it up and shipping it to them, and the time back. And then them still charging me for it. They are not like vendors.

  9. Tower hobbies was the best!! Ez pay, the speed of their shipping,excellent customer service and best of all the coupon codes!!!I bought 5000$ worth of RC cars from them in 2017.Horizon is good but and I bought a few things from them but expect to pay full retail

    1. People not paying full retail was probably why hobbico went bust!!!!

    2. The ez pay is one reason they got in trouble though not a smart business tactic with RC products

    3. And coupon codes are a way to drive a business in to the ground also I loved hobbico but they did this to themselves unfortunately

  10. Robert, Hard to agree with your statement when they are doing well enough to buy Hobbico and hopefully keep a good portion of employees get to keep their jobs.
    Who you should really feel sad for is all the employees who retired and lost all of their retirement money.

    1. Let’s not butter this up too much. Horizon isn’t keeping a “good portion” and is forcing employees to use a temp service d to get rehired. And only in the warehouse.

  11. Sad day for the rc hobby. Other than losi horizon hobby products are not very good.

Comments are closed.

Air Age Media © 2022