|This is a year-by-year accounting of the
history of one of the R/C car industry's fastest-growing
companies. It all started many years ago with a dream of
building the world's most exciting and innovative high-quality
R/C car products...
- Hobby Products International is started in Costa Mesa,
California by Tatsuro Watanabe and a partner. Investment: $100
each. Square footage of office: 300 square feet (28 square
A line of electric R/C motors called the "Uno"
series were among the first products from "HPI". Later that
year, HPI opened a small office in Japan.
1987 - Masami
Hirosaka uses an HPI Uno motor to win his first IFMAR World
Championship in England.
1988 - HPI USA
starts exporting popular products from the USA to Japan. We
introduced products like MIP, Peak Performance, Twister,
Paragon, LAVco and others to the Japanese market.
1989 - Akira
Kogawa is hired as Chief Engineer. His first project is to
design new truck wheels for the expanding stadium truck market.
The wheels, HPI's Super Star Truck Wheels, are still available
and even more popular than when they were introduced!
Number of employees: four.
1990 - HPI moved
to a larger building in El Toro, California. Square footage: 700
sq ft (65 sq m).
HPI also released graphite parts, wheels and
mounted foam tires for pan cars. The graphite Aero Lower Brace,
which provided "spur gear protection and ground effects", is a
popular hop-up item.
1991 - HPI starts
to manufacture option parts for touring cars, and releases
motors for off-road trucks.
1992 - HPI's
second designer, Ito, is hired to design pan car parts,
including chassis, rear pod parts, wing buttons and other parts.
HPI expands into another building unit, doubling size to 1400 sq
1993 - HPI gains
success and recognition selling hop-ups for 1/10 scale touring
cars and Nitro cars. Popular parts included front and rear
suspension pieces for F1 and lowering kits for Tamiya TA02
sedans. F1 parts are some of the most popular parts HPI
produces. Super Radial tires are introduced for touring cars, as
well as five- and six-spoke wheel designs.
HPI wins the Thunderdrome with Kisbey Modified
motors and Gary Hamilton driving.
1994 - Tatsuro
Watanabe buys out his partner and becomes the sole proprietor of
Hobby Products International.
The Super F1, designed by Ito and HPI's first
car kit, is released. It is Ito's first-ever R/C car design from
the ground up and is a critical and commercial success. At the
same time, the Road Star (a pan car in oval and road course
versions) and Street Machine (a pan car for beginners) are
released. Dave Potter (HPI's current General Manger) is hired to
help use his NORRCA Dirt Oval National Champion skills for the
development of new products. Kent Clausen, past IFMAR World
Champion, is hired to take over marketing and graphics duties,
just in time for the Chicago Hobby Show. His first project:
designing a new HPI logo and kit box for the Super F1.
More touring car wheels are introduced (new
five-spoke and three-spoke versions).
Number of employees: nine.
1995 - The RS4
electric touring sedan is released mid-year to wide acclaim for
its innovation. The RS4 was one of the original Touring Cars and
opened up a whole new market to HPI.
The 911 Turbo and F355 are the first HPI
bodies to be designed and produced in the US. The NSX is still
Past ROAR National Champion Shawn Ireland (HPI's
Vice President) is hired for customer service.
1996 - The Nitro
RS4 is released to eager hobbyists wanting to try something new.
The Nitro RS4 was one of the first competition-level Nitro
touring cars available.
More touring car bodies are released, such as
the Viper, Accord, Z3, A4 and others. Mini bodies, wheels, tires
and optional chassis are also introduced. A 2 speed transmission
for the both the electric and Nitro RS4 is released.
HPI expands expands again, doubling size to
2800 sq ft.
Number of employees: twenty.
1997 - HPI moves
from its small El Toro offices to the current building in
Irvine. Square footage: 14,000 sq ft (1,300 sq m).
Early in the year, the RS4 Pro and RS4 Sport
kits are shipped to distributors. This is the first update of
the RS4 chassis, and racers and hobbyists applaud the kit for
its ease of use and durability. The Nitro RS4 Mini and then the
RS4 MT (November) kits are released, opening up new niche
markets for the company.
The official HPI Racing web site is online
October 1, 1997.
Number of employees: thirty.
1998 - The
electric RS4 Mini (February) is released, using mostly parts
from the existing RS4 Pro and Nitro RS4 Mini kits.
The Nitro RS4 Racer (February) is released
early in the year, responding to customer's requests for an
upgraded Nitro car kit. This is HPI's first Nitro kit to be
released without an engine.
The electric RS4 Rally (May) is released, the
first sedan chassis to take advantage of long-stroke shocks and
an inner body set to increase its utility off-road.
HPI Europe is begun in England to manage
distribution to all of Europe, Russia, the Middle East and other
Late in the year, two totally new kits are
released: the Super Nitro RS4 (December) and the RTR Nitro RS4
(December), HPI's first ready to run kit. The RS4 Pro 2
(December) is released as an evolutionary design of the
successful RS4 Pro.
HPI expands to take over the entire building.
Total square footage: 25,000 sq ft (2323 sq m). Previously, half
of the building was occupied by Airtronics.
Number of employees: forty-five.
1999 - The Nitro
RS4 2 (July) is released. Updates include an improved suspension
design, full ball bearings, countersunk anodized chassis, and
many other improvements.
The Proceed 1/8th scale race car (August) is
released, surprising many HPI fans and other hobbyists with the
"no holds barred" approach of releasing a top-level competitive
The official HPI R/C Forum is launched on the
web site in April, and web site traffic almost immediately jumps
The first full year for the HPI Challenge
Europe series. World Finals are held in Torrance, California in
November. Total number of entries is 248, and some racers have
to be turned away.
The Buy HPI site is launched, offering
discontinued and specialty items directly to consumers.
Number of employees: seventy..
2000 - The Nitro
MT (February) is released, HPI's first shaft-drive project and
also our first Nitro truck.
The Nitro Racer 2 (March) replaces the Nitro
RS4 Racer in the product line, while the RS4 Sport 2 is released
at the same time to fill the need for budget hobbyists.
More RTR kits like the Nitro Rush kits (April)
and Nitro MT RTR (June) are released to satisfy demand for
durable, ready to run kits.
The Nitro MT Racer (August) is released to
satisfy demand for a hopped-up version of the popular Nitro MT.
The first full year of the HPI Challenge USA
is begun. World Finals are held in Irvine, California in
November. In an attempt to make the races easier to manage,
entries are limited to 200. Total number of entries reaches 215
The Super Nitro Rally is announced in
December, amid high anticipation from Rally enthusiasts and
hobbyists looking for a "go-anywhere" type car.
20011 - The Pro 3
is released in April, IFMAR World Champion Atsushi Hara is hired
to drive the Pro 3 at races around the world.
The innovative Micro RS4 was released to the
delight of garage racers everywhere. An RTR version of the Super
Nitro RS4 was also introduced.
The HPI Challenge USA series was very
successful again, with as many as 200 people attending events
around the USA using HPI cars, the winners were flown to Europe
for to attend the 2001 World Finals.
20022 - HPI
expands again, moving into a brand new 45,000 sp ft building in
Foothill Ranch, CA. The Sprint RTR electric touring car is
brought to US shores, after a great debut in Japan and Europe!
The shaft drive RTR 3 car is released, along with a RTR version
of the popular Micro RS4. The HPI web site reaches the 10
million hit mark, making it one of the most popular R/C web
sites on the internet. The Savage 21 is released to rave reviews
and exciting owners!
The Micro RS4 won not just R/C Car Action's
2002 Car of the Year, but also ranked in Xtreme R/C's X-Best for
2002 and Hobbytown USA's Car of the Year!
In November, we sent 5 HPI Challenge racers
from around the nation to Japan for free, to race in our HPI
Challenge World Finals!
HPI releases the pro-level R40 Nitro racing sedan, which takes
1st place at the prestigious 2003 ROAR Fuel Sedan On-Road
Nationals. The Savage SS is released, a much-requested kit
version of the popular RTR Savage truck. A flurry of new cars
and trucks are released for the Christmas season:
Savage 25, Pro 4, Nitro RS4 3 Evo, Rush Evo, Nitro MT 2, and
HPI's owner, Tatsuro Watanabe, retires from the daily operations
of HPI USA, Shawn Ireland is promoted to President of HPI.
Sponsorship of a full-sized monster truck called the "Savage
Ride Truck" begins, the giant truck is painted exactly like the
R/C Savage and tours the United States promoting the Savage and
R/C monster trucks. For touring cars, HPI announces sponsorship
of a Subaru Impreza in the Super Taikyu endurance series. HPI
team driver Atsushi Hara wins ROAR National Championship titles
in electric touring with the Pro 4 and nitro touring driving the
2005 - The potent HPI
Savage 4.6 SS truck is released, along with the high
performance Nitro RS4 3 18SS and Nitro MT 2 18SS, and the Stage
D drift conversion set for the Nitro RS4 3 line of cars. In
commemoration of Atsushi Hara's National Championship titles,
special "Hara Edition" versions of the Pro 4 and R40 are
released. Exact replicas of the HPI Racing Subaru are released
for the Micro RS4 and Nitro RS4 3 1/10th scale touring car. The
famous line of ready-to-run nitro touring cars is further
enhanced with the release of the RTR nitro RS4 3 Evo that
features more powerful T-15 engine and a 2 speed tranny as
standard equipment. Carrying on the HPI tradition of innovative
products, a 3 speed transmission is released for the Savage line
of trucks, and included in the
Savage Limited Edition truck. Also released was the KFX 700
ATV, a unique variant of the Savage truck that captures the
spirit of ATV action with realistic looks and a fully
articulated rider. HotBodies merges with HPI (April 1st, 2005).
2006 was our busiest and most productive year to date at HPI! A
huge list of exciting new products were introduced, including
RTR Hellfire truck,
RTR Savage X, RTR Sprint 2 electric touring car,
Baja 5B gas buggy, high performance Hellfire SS kit version,
three different E-Savage electric trucks, Micro Sport, Micro
Savage X SS 4.6 kit version, 8 different 1/43rd scale die
cast models, the
RTR Firestorm 2WD truck, Sprint 2 Drift, and the fun Wheely
King electric monster truck.
HPI celebrates its 20 year anniversary!!
Another super busy year for HPI. The year fired off with a bang
with the launch of the screaming Nitro RS4 3 18SS+
1/10th scale nitro touring car kit, followed by the Ready-to-Run
Nitro RS4 3 Evo+, both available with our line
of realistic "Vintage" muscle car bodies. The popular
Wheely King 4X4 launched in March, fearing true four
wheel drive performance that made it an instant hit with the
rock crawling crowd. Next up was the 1/10th scale Nitro
RS4 MT 2 18+ four wheel drive stadium truck in kit
form, packing the powerful 18SS engine and a host of go-fast
upgrades. In May the "Toughest, Strongest, Fastest"
Savage X 4.6 Ready-to-Run truck was released,
featuring the incredible 4.6 Big Block engine for massive torque
and blistering top speed, wrapped around an updated chassis that
was designed to handle the increased power. The Sprint 2
Drift came out in June, quickly becoming the go-to
platform for the electric drift scene, complete with scale
replicas of Volk TE37 wheels and a choice of two "JDM" bodies.
The Nitro RS4 MT 2 G3.0 was next on the list to
receive a dose of extra power, making it one of the most
powerful 1/10th scale Ready-to-Run trucks on the market.
Swinging over to our entry level customers, we released the E10
Touring and E10 Drift electric cars in September, 1/10th scale
electric cars that are available completely Ready-to-Run or
"Assembled" with no electronics, both at prices that make
getting into R/C easy on the wallet. Kit builders rejoiced with
the release of the Baja 5B SS in September, a
high performance "build-it-yourself" version of our
class-leading 1/5th scale gas buggy, loaded with hop-up parts
and a powerful new engine. September also saw the release of the
E-Firestorm 1/10th scale 2WD electric truck,
bringing the unbeatable toughness of our nitro Firestorm to the
world of electric stadium trucks. And to cap off a very busy
year, the Nitro RS4 3 Driftft was released just
in time for the Holiday season. The Nitro RS4 3 Drift is a
completely Ready-to-Run 1/10th scale touring car that adds the
sound and fury of nitro engines to the drift scene.