As an RC enthusiast, there’s little doubt that you are aware of or even own some of the many influential radio controlled vehicles that our special guest has worked on, overseen and managed into reality. Richard Trujillo has been in the industry for the better part of a quarter of a century now and it’s safe to say that he’s pretty much seen and done it all.
The Senior Product Developer for Horizon Hobby got his start from an early age first as a young RC buff, then on to a hobby shop where he became an awesome manager (I know this, because he was this writer’s manager at that hobby shop), eventually finding his way into a position at Team Losi, and then even bigger and better things at Horizon Hobby. Let’s sit down with Trujillo to pick his brain about all things RC as he sees it.
RCCA: Can you tell our readers a little about your background?
Richard Tujillo: I’m a Senior Product Developer for Horizon Hobby. I’ve been with Team Losi/Horizon for 25 years now. I started out in the shipping department and did everything from team management for Losi, to running the Losi website, working on the instruction manuals, sticker sheets…you name it, I probably did it. About 12 years or so ago, I became a product developer. I’ve worked on TLR, Losi, ECX, Vaterra and more recently Axial. I think I’ve developed over 35 vehicles, maybe more, I can’t remember them all, haha. Recently, I worked on the SCX10 III and Capra platforms for the Axial brand.
RCCA: What kind of work does the Senior Product Developer for Horizon Hobby do?
Richard Tujillo: Basically I work with our team on what type of vehicle or product we want to bring to market. From that point, I will put a proposal together that discusses everything from what it is, why we should make it, what the features are and the costs involved. Once I get approval to move forward, I work with a designer to create the product design.
From there, I will work with our factory and negotiate costs and timelines. Once all that is done, the fun part of testing the vehicles to confirm the design comes. That is about 10% of the job. The rest involves creating samples, liveries, working with our licensing, creating replacement parts, photo samples, work with quality on our expectations, etc. It’s funny, everyone thinks I just play with RC cars for a living, when the reality is only about 10% of the job is playing with RC cars. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but the perception of what we do as a developer is a bit different from reality, haha.
RCCA What is your favorite category of RC?
Richard Tujillo: I’m a big fan of all RC surface categories minus nitro, LOL… I can’t stand nitro! Something about the fumes and tuning that is just not for me. Never has been. That being said, I would have to say RC rock crawlers has always been my thing. I started playing with RC in 1982 with the Tamiya Subaru Brat but at the time I always wanted the Toyota Hilux 4×4.
I eventually owned one for several years but it wasn’t until about 1999 that I started messing around with crawler stuff, taking my Tamiya Bruiser out on trails and setting up trail runs. Fortunately, once Horizon acquired Team Losi, I was able to switch up to crawler projects. I worked on the Mini Rock Crawler, Losi Comp Crawler, Losi Micro Crawler, Vaterra Ascender and eventually the Capra and SCX10-III’s. I also worked on the old Vaterra Touring cars. I produced all those releases.
RCCA Which is your favorite RC Car?
Richard Tujillo For me it would have to be the Shinsei Mountain Man Chevy Blazer 4×4 from 1980. This was a “Toys R Us” RC car that had selectable 2WD and 4WD. It ran on eight “C” size batteries and was pretty scale looking. I would actually build little dirt trails in my back yard to drive it on. I think it’s the reason I’ve been so passionate about RC Crawlers throughout my career.
RCCA What future Projects can you tell us about?
Richard Tujillo: Oh, well the next one… oh wait, I can’t… I’d like to keep my job, LOL. I will say that we have some amazing stuff coming in 2021 and 2022. Our team has been doing some killer stuff and can’t wait for them to be released.
RCCA: Do you have any other hobbies?
Richard Tujillo: Since I’ve been fortunate to turn my hobby into my career, it has allowed me to pick up other hobbies. I randomly collect Hot Wheels. I’m not one of those guys waiting at the front door for the store to open but I do like to pick up castings I like from time to time. I also enjoy riding my mountain bike and just started cheating with my Norco Sight “E” Mountain bike and I love it, LOL. My main passion right now is old imports. Over the last two years I’ve managed to pick up a 1974 Datsun 620 and recently a pair of 1971 and 1979 Toyota Corollas. I’ve been having a blast doing light restoration on the Corollas and have all three running pretty solid. These cars are keeping me busy on the weekends for sure.
RCCA: Is there anything else you want to let our readers know?
Richard Tujillo: Just want to thank all the readers and supporters of our products. Our team takes pride in what we do and work hard at providing the best products we can. It’s funny; I read comments on social media platforms and appreciate all from good to bad. Feedback helps, but I got to admit, I do have to laugh at some of the theories I read out there. Either way, I really enjoy what I do and I enjoy interacting with our consumers. If you ever see me at an event, please come up and say hi…share your feedback…good or bad…I want to hear it.
To learn more and stay up to date, follow Richard Trujillo on his
IG at @oldrc_rich and Horizon Hobby at @horizon_hobby.
Text by Jerry Tsai & Leigh Guarnieri
Images courtesy of Richard Trujillo