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RC’s Biggest Trends

RC’s Biggest Trends


What’s hot and what’s not

By Matt Higgins

Trends come and go. It’s true in the mainstream world and just as true in RC. Some categories in our hobby have stood the proverbial test of time and transcended the “trend” designation. Two prime examples are monster trucks and 1/8-scale off-road racing. They might rise and fall in popularity, but they are here to stay and in even in their lowest dips make up a huge part of the hobby. What about all those other categories? Let’s check out some of RC’s past and current hot trends.

Touring cars
rc trends, radio control trends, touring cars, rcca, radio control, rc car action, touring cars, kyosho, photo 2



This segment was once simply huge and it was the biggest deal in RC for years. Then it virtually all but vanished. There are plenty of hot spots and some very active club racing going on. There are also some exceptional releases hitting the scene though the rate of new cars and the variety of manufacturers is nothing like what it was five years ago. What happened? The demise of touring cars is inarguably due to the technology and specialization of the segment making it far more complicated than the average hobbyist would tolerate. Case closed. Will touring cars and on-road in general make a comeback? It’s possible with the high-profile releases like Traxxas’ Rally VXL and new cars from popular companies such Associated with its new TC6.

rc trends, radio control trends, oval, rcca, radio control, rc car action, photo 3, oval



If you have been around RC for a long time, you might remember oval racing being as big, or even bigger, than touring cars. The story of oval racing is similar to touring cars, but has struggled more to maintain or regain popularity because pan cars used in oval can only be raced. For the most part, only racers have pan cars. It is unlikely someone would have an oval car and then progress into racing. This type of advancement feeds all the other forms of racing. Ironically, while oval remains miniscule in RC, it is huge in full-size racing thanks to NASCAR’s huge appeal. Soon, very soon, someone in RC will make an oval car that is just as at home on the typical uneven and dirty parking lot as it is on a prepped carpet track. Then oval will be bigger than ever.

rc trends, radio control trends, rcca, radio control, rc car action, photo 4, drifting



Few segments in RC make you think “I want to try that” like drifting does. Yet, drifting has gotten warm but never hot. Drifting has a lot going for it. It’s extremely inexpensive to get into as other than hard tires, it really requires no special equipment. Any old touring car with any old electronics setup will do. Drifting also has high scale appeal which has been a proven draw in this hobby. The problem—if you can even say it has a problem—with drifting is two-fold: first, the full-size motorsport it models never really took off in the U.S., and second, drifting is actually hard. Anyone who can drive RC can do it—but only with practice. Too many people want to just be able to instantly do something.

Rock crawling
rc trends, radio control trends, rock crawling, rcca, radio control, rc car action, photo 5



Want to make a diehard RC rock crawler mad enough to snap his upper links? Just call crawling a fad. I don’t know who ever called this segment a fad, but it clearly isn’t. Crawling has technically been around as long as there have been monster trucks and rocks to drive over, but true specialized rock crawling jumped on the scene a few years and quickly grabbed everyone’s attention. Just about every RC vehicle manufacturer was releasing a crawling or at least seriously considering it behind closed doors—trust me. Crawling’s popularity grew faster than anything the hobby had ever seen. Then two things happened almost simultaneously: short course was unleashed and absolutely blew up and competitive crawling got complicated and specialized and was more about performance than scale realism. The truth of matter is having the spotlight shift from crawling to short course didn’t really hurt crawling as much as people think and scale crawlers have more than taken up the slack of fewer people turning out for competitions. Overall, crawling is still huge; it just isn’t growing as fast as it once was; nothing could maintain that pace. Competitive crawling, however, would be wise to take note of the history lessons that oval and touring car racing provide.

Short course racing
rc trends, radio control trends, short course racing, rcca, radio control, rc car action, photo 6



Short course is simple the king of all trends. Crawling had an impressive rise to the top, but it’s hard to describe just how fast short course simply took over the hobby. At this point, no one is debating if they should have a short course truck. Short course is also one of the few categories that is just as popular with bashers as it is with racers. In fact, no segment has ever brought more people to the track than short course. In turn, no other category has had racers having fun again like short course. The best part about short course is that it is scale. The trucks look like something and people not in the hobby instantly identify with them. Short course helps grow the hobby. The only question with short course is how long will it absolutely dominate the hobby. What could possible come along that could knock short course off its throne? Got any predictions?

Honorable mentions:



Large Scale


Truck Pulling

Drag Racing

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Updated: July 21, 2015 — 4:52 PM


Add a Comment
  1. RE: RC Oval, NASCAR style… here in the UK we’re trying to form a series based on just that. The cars are basic in design and beautifully low tech compared to some of the RC cars on the market today. We’re also incorporating brushless technology on to the scene, something which has been slow to catch on in our forms of oval racing.
    Find out more at

  2. Actually I convert my Slash 2wd to a On Road 1/8 Gt. Its not a true scale car, but its a lot of fun and cheap at all.
    I guess Traxxas and Other Brands that have 1/16 could convert her 1/16 bodys to a 1/8. Should be nice a Mustang Boss or Camaro over 1/8 Gt.

  3. What is hot is controlled by magazines, manufacturer releases., and hobby shops. If RC action puts a stadium truck on the front cover those sales will go up. I put on a racing series last year that covered 3 race tracks. When I said I was going to run a 2wd buggy class I was told that buggies were dead, it was the biggest class.

  4. I think region plays a lot into what works and what doesn’t. I live in the NW and here offroad racing is the go to. We have a large segment of onroad as well, both outdoor and carpet.

    One thing that never really took off was oval. But in the South, and mid-west its huge. Recently dirt oval has sparked interest and many have started to try dirt oval.

    I think the SC class hurt ST class because of the fender to fender rubbing. In ST locking wheels generally meant one or both truck would crash. I kinda feel like early ST tried to be what SC is now.

    Electric rally cars had a huge following here for a while too. Nice to see those starting to be popular again. Kyosho, HPI, Tamiya, Venom all have rally cars in addition to the rally legends. Not to mention Proline making a rally shell for the SC platform. ( I was saying that years ago that a rally car shell was needed for SC).

  5. Short course is the current trend. What will kill SC? The same thing that killed turring cars. To specialized and moving away from realism. A lot ot the SC paint have been going the Touring Car scheme. Day glow window trim and psychodelic graphics.
    The saving grace is that even painted in this garish look the SC still look cool. However if the becomes so specialized rnew racers will get frustrated and the increasing cost will drive away current sc racers. So far SC has gone to level 2 with the FT sc10 4×4, Losi scte, Durango and now Mugen.

    In the mean time F1 rc has seen an renewed interest. With UF1 which requres realistic livery and a spec 21.5 motor. More interest in Texas and east coast is growing following the UF1 guidelines. Hard to drive? at first maybe but with a little practice most can master it. Fun to drive factor is high as is the realistic look of a full field of f1s Still a nich but growing.

    Traxxas could develop an entry level NASCAR racer for pariking lot. Maybe a 1/10th dumbed down version of the 1/8th x01. with several popular team paint jobs. Bush, Earnhard, Johnson, Waltrip etc.This would certainly appeal to NASCAR FANS. with a demo track NASCAR events. with free renta rides?

  6. If you are wanting an oval racer that is at home on the track and parking lot, Associated had one years ago. Anyone remember the RC10 DS? I think it was ahead if it’s time, but was something that the basher and Racer alike could run and have fun with. Much like the Losi XX-4 SCT that never really got off on the right foot.

    Crawling? Fad? I don’t know? I think at first many people looked at it as a fad mainly because they didn’t remember that crawling had been around before the Comp Crawlers we have now. It is very popular, which isn’t a bad thing, I think the main thing going for it is that lack of a designated place to do it. Crawling can be done anywhere there are rocks or something to crawl over, full Comp or Scale style. Hard to beat that.

    I remember the Drag Racing and Truck Pulling too. Man I’m old.

  7. I remember Losi tried to start an SC class over 10 years ago. They offered a “heavy metal” full fender body kit for the xx-4. Looked like a ford SCT. Don’t know why it didn’t take off then……

    1. I remember that class well.

  8. I agree about Stadium trucks; they were a blast to drive. Their demise was due to a combination of things, primarily a shift back to scale vehicles along with greater accesibility to 1/8 scale vehicles.

    I would like to see a shift back to on-road, but in a less technical format than touring cars. I’m thinking of something like Matt described for oval, but with the ability to run road courses as well. The personality of the Slash, but in touring clothing.

  9. Not scale enough. SC has all the traits of stadium trucks, WITH scale realism. Also, all the RTR versions make getting in one very easy.

  10. Agreed^^^ stadium trucks were enexpensive, you could race and bash, and fairly simple, plus good racing. i miss em too. What happened?

  11. I sure do miss good old stadium trucks!

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