This article was originally published in RC Driver’s November 2015 issue.
This has to be one of the coolest points in our hobby. Never have we had so many scale offerings to choose from. Axial, Tamiya, Vaterra, HPI and many other companies are working with full-scale vehicle manufacturers on items ranging from bodies to accessories to bring realistic replicas of full-scale products to our scaled-down RC world. As I type this I’m in my workshop staring at a Dodge Ram body from Pro-Line, A Freightliner Cascadia Evo from Tamiya and a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon from Axial and that’s just what’s next to my computer. I’m simply loving the scale stuff, even down to the RC4WD Warn winch mounted on my Axial SCX10 with Pro-Line Ford F250 body.
When I was growing up and dreaming about taking my AMC Jeep Cherokee off-roading I’d look through catalogs and imagine slapping a Warn which to the front and pulling a buddy’s truck out of the mud. Sadly, the 2.8L V6 powered Cherokee with 170,000 plus miles never made it off-road because, for one thing it couldn’t get out of its own way and secondly, I feared if I did take it off-road it would never come out alive. So my dreams were shattered, but I still think of owning and off-road machine all winched up, lit up and ready to hit the terrain. With a young family those dreams are still far off, but again thanks to RC I can fill that need to have cool realistic products like that Warn winch or even the Jeep body without the high costs of buying and owning the full-scale version. I can live the dream through RC and its lower costs.
But not everyone views the cost of these realistic products as reasonable. In fact the reason why I switched gears on my computer from research to writing this editorial was after viewing a bunch of responses to Axial’s new Jeep body releases by posters saying the bodies were just to darn expensive. So I’m using this space to explain why they are so expensive and the reason is simple; licensing.
RC enthusiasts beg, plead for and demand realistic products, so manufacturers have been going out of their way to legally obtain the ability to replicate products by getting them licensed by the full-scale manufacturers. News flash―this isn’t cheap! Licensing products is big business and it doesn’t just happen in RC. You know that NY Jets hat you bought on a reputable website for $35? Well if you look up the cost of a similar unlogo’d FlexFit hat, you could probably buy it for $6. You’re not just paying for embroidery; you’re paying for licensing of the Jets logo.
So when an RC company offers a licensed product like a Jeep body, not only are you buying something that cost a lot to make a mold for, you’re paying for the time it took someone to form the body in a machine, someone to bag it, add in the decals, ship it to a distributor, ship it to a shop, and those guys making their money, and you will also have to incur some of the cost of the licensing. The companies and stores are not going to eat the cost. In fact the costs are massive and after hearing some numbers, I’m surprised more of the cost isn’t passed on.
What it comes down to is that if you want the cool stuff, the realistic stuff, the licensed stuff that replicates something from the real scale world, you’re going to have to pay up, there’s just no getting around it. To be honest I’m good with it because it also allows RC manufacturers to go back and get more licenses on more cool replica products.