Hobby Products International
The company, originally an export firm, was founded in 1986 by Tatsuro Watanabe and a partner, each with a total investment of US$100 each. Their original office in Costa Mesa, California measured only 300 square feet (28 m2). A line of electric R/C motors called the Uno series were among the first products offered by HPI. Buoyed by the success of the Uno, HPI opened a small office in Japan that same year.
By 1988, the burgeoning RC aftermarket proved to be a boon to HPI USA as they started exporting popular American-made R/C products to Japan, including such familiar brands as MIP, Peak Performance and Paragon.
One of HPI's perennial favorites was introduced in 1989 with the hiring of chief engineer Akira Kogawa from Kyosho; he was responsible for much of Kyosho's notable race winning cars such as the Optima and Ultima. His line of Super Star wheels remains popular today. Akira also designed the Rush, Micro and Baja kits that have remained popular with RC hobbyists.
HPI moved to a larger building in nearby El Toro, California in 1990. "Large" is a relative term, since the new office was only 700 sq ft (65 m²). A popular line of graphite parts for pan cars was released that year. Touring car motors and offroad truck parts followed suit in 1991.
HPI's second designer, Ito, was hired in 1992 to design pan car parts. Ito would later be responsible for the "Super F1," HPI's first-ever car kit, and was the lead designer for many of HPI's successes, such as the Savage. Continued growth that year literally doubled the size of the facility after their move into a second building unit.
The then-new touring car class was in full swing by 1993, with HPI introducing a full line of parts for both electric and nitro cars. A major Southern California win at the Thunderdrome soon followed as did a major shakeup, when Watanabe bought out his original partner to become sole proprietor of HPI. He retired from day-to-day operations of the company in 2004, making Shawn Ireland company president.
In 1994, HPI took on another notable figure in RC car racing, Kent Clausen, who was an IFMAR and ROAR winning driver. Clausen manages the advertising and graphic design department
In 1995 the RS4 touring car was released to wide acclaim, solidifying HPI as one of the early proponents of the touring car racing fraternity. A "Pro" model followed in 1997, then the "Pro 2" in 1999, "Pro 3" in 2001, and finally the "Pro 4" in 2004.
In 1998, the new RS4 Rally was introduced in May. It was the first sedan-chassis that took advantage of long-stroke shock, springs, and an interior polycarbonate underbody set that increased its utility on off-road surfaces.
Hobby Products International currently operates from a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) facility in Foothill Ranch, California and oversees manufacturing operations there as well as in Japan and Taiwan. HPI also maintains an office in England that provides distribution facilities and market feedback for Asia (including Australia) and Europe/Africa. The location in California sends products to distributors across North America and South America and is considered the headquarters of the HPI group.
In 2005 HPI merged with Hot Bodies, another company owned by Mr. Watanabe, which initially began manufacturing RC car bodies before being purchased by Mr. Watanabe. After its sale, Hot Bodies started producing upgrade parts for HPI models such as the RS4 Pro 3 and Nitro RS4 line of cars. Many of the plastic suspension pieces for the Hot Bodies Cyclone, their top-level electric touring car, come from HPI's Pro 4.
The Baja family of vehicles is HPI's series of Petrol 1/5 scale rear-wheel-drive R/C cars this family of vehicles consists of the HPI Baja 5B, a 1/5 scale 2-stroke petrol-powered R/C buggy; The 5T, a 1/5 scale R/C truck and the Baja 5SC which is a R/C Short Course Truck, and the SS tuned versions of these vehicles. All these models use the HPI "fuelie" line of 23 cc and 26 cc 2-stroke petrol engines.
The Baja 5B is a 1/5 scale rear-wheel-drive R/C buggy powered by a 2-stroke 23 cc HPI "fuelie" engine, it features an all-aluminium chassis using a monocoque design which houses the 700 cc fuel tank and receiver box. The buggy has an 8000 RPM centrifugal clutch, high-torque servos, a can exhaust, beadlock rims and an aluminium differential casing.
Baja 5B SS
The Baja 5B SS is an upgraded "build it yourself" kit version of the Baja 5B, it comes with a tuned aluminium pipe which replaces the stock exhaust that comes with the engine, the engine is also upgraded from the stock model, shipping with a 26 cc 2-stroke petrol HPI "fuelie" engine. The model however does not come with the required throttle servo, battery or radio equipment, requiring users to supply their own equipment.
The Baja 5T is a 1/5 scale R/C Car built with a truck-style design, which is wider and taller than the Baja 5B as well as having extended side "nerf" bars. It has the same central chassis as the Baja 5B. It is powered by a 2-stroke 26 cc HPI "fuelie" engine; it features an all-aluminium chassis using a monocoque design which houses the 700 cc fuel tank and receiver box. The truck has an 8000 RPM centrifugal clutch, high-torque servos, a "high-flow" can exhaust, beadlock rims and an aluminium differential casing.
The Baja 5SC is a 1/5 scale R/C Car built with a short-course truck-style chassis, which is wider and taller than the Baja 5B, it is also wider than the 5T but shorter than it. It also has extended side "nerf" bars such as the 5T attached to the sides of a Baja 5B chassis. It is powered by a 2-stroke 26 cc HPI "fuelie" engine, it features an all-aluminium chassis using a monocoque design which houses the 700 cc fuel tank and receiver box. The buggy has an 8000 RPM centrifugal clutch, high-torque servos, a "high-flow" can exhaust, beadlock rims and an aluminium differential casing. The revised 2013 version comes with upgraded "heavy-duty" drive shafts with 9 mm dog bones, differential shafts, and "heavy-duty" drive axles.
Baja 5SC SS
Like the Baja 5B SS the 5SC SS is a "build it yourself" kit version of the Baja 5SC it comes with aluminium upgrade parts as standard and an aluminium tuned pipe as opposed to the standard can exhaust supplied with the ready-to-run version of the Baja 5SC; it also does not come with a receiver, throttle servo or receiver battery, like the Baja 5B SS kit.
HPI Baja Flux Series
The HPI Baja Flux series consists of the electric versions of the rear-wheel-drive 5SC and 5B; these are only available as "ready-to-run" models, and there aren't any upgraded SS versions of the vehicles available. These vehicles are heavier but also more powerful than their Petrol counterparts.
HPI Baja 5B Flux
The HPI Baja 5B Flux is a "ready-to-run" electric version of the Baja 5B; it has a 780 Kv motor; the motor is the 2028-780 Kv made by Castle Creations; the ESC included is a Mamba XL2, also by Castle Creations, which is capable of handling an 8-cell Li-Po battery and up to 34 V. The car with this set up and using an 8-cell Li-Po battery has a claimed power output of just under 10 hp and a top speed of 60 mph (97 km/h).
HPI Baja Super 5SC Flux
The HPI Baja Super 5SC Flux is a "ready-to-run" electric version of the Baja 5SC, it has 2200 Kv Flux Tork brushless motor made by HPI racing, and the Flux Blur ESC, these parts are interchangeable with HPI Savage Flux HP Monster Truck. This set-up is only capable of handling a 6-cell Li-Po battery as opposed to the 8-cells which are supported by the 5B flux. HPI does not provide any information regarding the top speed and power output of the truck.
HPI Fuelie Engines
The HPI "Fuelie" brand is a name given to its line of 2-stroke Petrol engines, they are currently available in both 23 cc and 26 cc configurations. The engines are made by Chungyang Industries of Taiwan. The engines have Walbro WT-668 carburettors fitted as standard. The K23 (23 cc engine) has a power output of 2.3 hp and the K26 (26 cc engine) has a power output of 2.7 hp.
List of RC Kit Releases
This is a list of HPI kit releases, in approximate chronological order:
- Super F1
- Road Star 10 (1/10 scale racing pan car)
- Street Machine (1/10 scale 'road' pan car)
- RS4 (touring car)
- Nitro RS4
- RS4 Pro
- RS4 Sport
- Nitro RS4 Mini
- RS4 MT (4WD truck)
- RS4 Mini
- RS4 Mini Pro
- Nitro RS4 Racer (a version of the Nitro RS4 with upgraded racing parts)
- RS4 Rally (RS4 Sport with off-road suspension and tires)
- RTR Nitro RS4
- Super Nitro RS4 (essentially a larger scale Nitro RS4)
- RS4 Pro 2
- RTR Nitro RS4 2
- Proceed (1/8 scale race car)
- Nitro RS4 MT
- Nitro RS4 Racer 2
- RS4 Sport 2
- Nitro Rush (an all-new 2WD truck design)
- RTR Nitro RS4 MT
- Nitro RS4 MT Racer
- RTR Nitro Rush
- Super Nitro RS4 Rally
- RS4 Pro 3
- RS4 Pro 3 Spec S
- RS4 Pro 3 Spec V
- Micro RS4 (a 1/18th scale, single-belt drive car)
- RTR Super Nitro RS4
- RTR Nitro RS4 3
- Dash (toy-level RC car)
- Savage 21 (RTR monster truck)
- R40 (on-road Nitro touring car)
- Savage SS (a kit version of the Savage, but with option parts)
- Savage 25
- Pro 4
- RTR Nitro RS4 3 Evo
- RTR Rush Evo
- RTR Nitro MT 2
- Sprint (replaced the RS4 Sport 2)
- Super RS4 (same size as Super Nitro RS4, essentially a larger scale Sport 2)
- Savage 4.6 SS
- Nitro RS4 3 18SS (a kit version of the RTR Nitro RS4 3, but with upgraded parts)
- Nitro RS4 MT 2 18SS (a kit version of the Nitro RS4 MT 2, but with upgraded parts)
- Pro 4 Atsushi Hara Edition
- R40 Hara Edition
- Sprint Drift
- Savage Limited Edition
- KFX 700 (Savage chassis with quad bike body and rider figure)
- Sprint 2
- Hellfire (an all-new 'truggy' design, in RTR format)
- Savage X
- Baja 5B
- Hellfire SS (a kit version of the Hellfire)
- Savage X SS K4.6 (a kit version of the Savage X)
- E-Savage (a 1/10 scale dual electric motor/battery Savage)
- Wheely King
- Firestorm 10T (1/10 scale 2WD truck)
- RTR Nitro MT2 G3.0
- Nitro RS4 MT 2 18SS+
- Wheely King 4X4
- Savage X 4.6 big block
- E10 Touring/Drift
- Baja SS (a kit version of the Baja 5B with upgraded parts)
- Savage X 4.6 (Big Block RTR w/reverse)
- E-Firestorm Flux (Brushless)
- Savage XL K5.9 (.36)
- Trophy 3.5 (1/8 scale nitro buggy)
- Baja 5T RTR (a new Baja Truck)
- Brama 10B (beginner-level RTR electric 4WD buggy)
- Savage Flux HP (Savage monster truck with very large brushless motor)
- Cyber 10B (electric 4WD buggy for sport-level off-road racers)
- Trophy Truggy 4.6 (Trophy buggy-based truck with larger engine)
- E10 Ford GT (an E10 chassis with Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo 4 replica Ford GT)
- Cup Racer (a 'True Ten' size meant to replicate a closely as possible vintage sports cars)
- HPI Racing Baja 5B 2.0 RTR 1/5 Scale Buggy (revised version of the Baja 5B RTR)
- HPI Racing 32 (RTR 1/32 Scale Car)
Diecast Car Models
In 2006, HPI released high-specification die-cast car models in 1:43 scale. The first line of models featured the 2004 Subaru Impreza in various models, including official replicas of the World Rally Championship Subaru Impreza WRX, an HPI-sponsored Subaru WRX endurance race car based in Japan, and two very limited (less than 50 worldwide) Impreza models, one white and one blue. Subsequent releases included 2006 versions of the Subaru Impreza, plus classic race cars including the Mazda 787B, Porsche 962, Lancia Stratos and Lancia 037.
The line was vastly expanded in 2007 and 2008 to include more endurance racing sports cars such as the Porsche 962, Sauber Mercedes C9 and the Jaguar XJR-9, all Le Mans-winning prototypes. The rally car line was extended with several more variations of the Lancia Stratos, the Lancia Delta S4 and Lancia Delta HF Integrale. New production lines included supercars such as the Orochi Mitsuoka and the Nissan GT-R.
The supercar line was the first to feature resin-molded models, featuring increased detail around the body panel lines and authentic body paint from the full-scale manufacturers
- ::Hpi Racing::
- Innovator at work: Kent Clausen | Radio Control Car Action | Find Articles at BNET.com
- Official HPI main website (links to sites below)
- Official HPI USA website
- Official HPI Europe website
- Official HPI History
- HPI Pulse 4.6 Buggy Review
- Unofficial HPI Baja Wiki
- Official HPI Indonesia website
- UK forum for HPI Baja owners www.baja-forum.co.uk
- Greek forum devoted to baja RC cars
- Replacement parts for HPI models