Hobby Products International or HPI of Foothill Ranch, California, USA is a manufacturer of on- and offroad R/C vehicles, both electric and nitro.
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, or 28 square meters. 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 R/C 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. His line of Super Star wheels reamins popular today.
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 sq m). 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. 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.
Hobby Products International currently operates out a 45,000 square foot facility in Foothill Ranch, California and oversees manufacturing operations there as well as in Japan and Taiwan
Their latest products are the HPI Savage 4.6 SS truck as well as the Nitro RS4 3 18SS and Nitro MT 2 18SS cars. The three-speed transmission found in the Savage 4.6 SS was released as an upgrade for the entire Savage line. It retails for US$55 and is a direct replacement for the previous models' two-speed.