A complete timeline of Horizon Hobby from founding to present including key milestones and major events. From upstart hobby distributor to the leader in radio control, the Horizon story marks more than 35 years in business.
In July 1985, Rick Stephens decided to leverage his RC hobby industry experience and start a business. Rick has a vision for a hobby company focused on serving the customer and positively impacting the world.
In 1988, Dynamite became the first proprietary product brand leading to the many Horizon Hobby brands to come.
In 1992, Hobby Dynamics became part of Horizon Hobby, ushering in direct-to-customer sales.
In 2000, Team Losi merged with Horizon. Losi had long been the innovation leader when it came to engineering high-performance RC racing vehicles. With this expertise now a part of our product development team, the Losi Mini-T was announced in 2003. This wildly popular 1/18-scale Ready-to-Run truck appealed to both beginners and experienced RC drivers alike.
In 2009, we began distributing our proprietary brands into Europe with the purchase of Helger Racing in the UK in 2004, followed by JSB in Germany in 2009. Today, Horizon Hobby is widely regarded as one of the most respected and well-known RC companies in Europe.
In 1986, Fast Serve was created to help hobby retailers place orders for their businesses and is still going strong after 35-plus years.
In 1986, a second distribution center was opened in Paso Robles, California, allowing Horizon to service retailers west of the Rockies more quickly and efficiently.
In 1988, A third distribution center was opened in Ashland, Virginia, allowing Horizon to service retailers on the east coast faster.
Horizon Hobby’s web presence, horizonhobby.com, was launched in 1998. The early site featured the latest products, links to tech articles, a dealer locator, and more.
In 2004, we acquired Athearn Trains, which includes a full line of model railroad products, such as train sets, locomotives, cars, controllers, tracks, and accessories. This addition expanded Horizon’s reach beyond radio control into the model train segment.
In 2000, we introduced the HobbyZone Firebird: the world’s first Teach-Yourself-to-Fly RC airplane. Everything the beginner needed – aircraft, battery, charger, and radio – came in one box for the then-unheard-of price of only $99.99. This one product alone would go on to introduce thousands to the fun of RC.
In 2004, we made a revolutionary leap in radio control connectivity. Introduced at the 2004 iHobby Expo, the first Spektrum DSM radio system used a unique 2.4GHz technology like the technology used by cell phones and WiFi routers. Within five years, the entire industry had switched over to this new technology.
In 2005, we introduced ParkZone, ushering in a revolution in ready-to-fly freedom that combined innovative RC technology, like plug-n-play accessories and multiple flight modes, with hobby-quality park flyer aircraft.
In 2005, we introduced the Blade CX line of Teach-Yourself-to-Fly RC helicopters, introducing thousands to the fun of RC helis, most of whom might never have tried the hobby before.
In 2009, The first Airmeet kicked off a fantastic string of annual events. Once a year, Horizon turns the airfield in Donauwörth, Bavaria, into the epicenter of the European radio control scene. The show combines spectacular RC displays with breathtaking full-size acts.
In 2015, we continued pursuing technological innovations with the introduction of SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) flight envelope protection.
In 2015, the Blade Inductrix ultra micro drone’s introduction offered innovative Electric Ducted Fans (EDF) technology, making it easy to be flown by anyone, just about anywhere. Innovative SAFE technology with self-leveling made staying in control easily, even if the consumer had never flown an RC aircraft before.
In 2016, the Spektrum AVC (Active Vehicle Control) system was invented. Now surface consumers could dial in extra stability as needed so they could carve corners or nail jumps without having to back off the throttle.
In 2017, the all-new versatile iX12 Intelligent transmitter with combined universal Android platform connectivity with advanced yet familiar state-of-the-art touchscreen technology.
Since launching in 2017, Horizon RC Fest is the largest gathering of radio-controlled cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, and drones in the Midwest. The three-day event has grown to be a premier destination for us to bring thousands of people together to enjoy everything radio control, including demo stations, “Try Me” tents, air and racing shows, and much more.
In 2018, then CEO Joe Ambrose led the efforts to purchase industry stalwart Hobbico. After the largest acquisition of its kind in the industry, Horizon features several of the most exciting radio control brands, such as ARRMA, Axial, and RealFlight. Additionally, the direct-to-consumer online retailer Tower Hobbies also came under the ownership of Horizon.
Launched in 2019, Spektrum Smart technology offers a higher connection to the hobby. It’s a connection that puts the customer in complete control, making them more aware and more confident about their equipment’s capability—all the while making vital components of their model more accessible to use than ever before.
In 2020, Horizon Hobby announced the acquisition of Pro-Line, the leading innovator in the RC performance and customization accessory market, and PROTOform&, the world’s premier RC racing body manufacturer delivering the most innovative, functional, and attractive on-road RC race bodies on the market.
In 2021, Horizon Hobby announced the acquisition of AKA products, broadening AKA's distribution network and other resources. AKA tires are all proudly made in the USA to ensure the best quality, consistency, and value for our customers.
In 2021, Horizon Hobby announced the acquisition of RealFlight, the #1 RC flight simulator in the world, from Knife Edge Software.
Today, we are the global leader in radio control products and accessories. Our success is built on years of state-of-the-art and creative products, a commitment to our customers, and through the efforts and skills of our employees. Today’s mission is the same as when we opened, providing our customers with quality products and services unparalleled by anyone else in the hobby industry. Pushing the boundaries of radio control enjoyment, we continue to make products accessible and affordable to more people.