I think what really cemented my affinity towards Tamiya was that I had the 1985 RC catalogue of theirs at the time and I would drool over just about every one. When I did eventually purchase one as a kid, it was a Marui Galaxy though. I would have wanted the Frog at the time, but it was too much for me and this looked better than the Grasshopper or Hornet. While it wasn't the best design, as I would have to replace the chassis a few times, but I did have a lot of fun. I would go on to get a second hand hornet (now that one I had a lot of fun with!) and LB Celica Turbo and a Renault MKII Martini. The last two I never drove that much as I was too impatient with the throttle and not control them properly plus I had limited areas to run them. What I did like about them though was the detailing about them (I did like building model kits too). I don't think I really ever saw any other brand apart from Tamiya in and Marui was short lived.
It wasn't until I came back into the hobby, looking for the cars I wanted as a kid, that I truely discovered other brands. Coming back what I did notice then was the complete change, Tamiya RC was in the minority and there were lots of other brands and cars I'd never heard of at hobby stores. With the re-re's I have noticed that reverse a bit, but still Tamiya don't dominate RC here like they did in the 80s. I probably fit squarely into the target market for the Re-Res, I want most of them, I'll drive them, but not drive too much so I don't see all the short comings as if I drove them as a kid.
While I do like the M-series cars, having a few now, (from M01s to M06s) I must admit the TT series doesn't really excite me, although I have a couple of cars now. It seems to be the go to platform for Tamiya though.
However with the recent announcement of the Ford Escort, the MF-01X has me excited enough to start getting the cars in the series (I have the Merc and just ordered the beetle so just need the Jimny, oh and the Escort when it comes out , not many for sure, but best to start early I say!). For me, the casual driver, the platform looks good enough for most surfaces (any beetle video I've seen looks to run really well on dirt). Plus while I wasn't keen on the Merc body, I was really impressed with the detailing and that it came with the lighting kit (yet no bearings still, just not getting that one Tamiya). And on this platform its been interesting body choices so far, so I am hopeful Tamiya keep that up.
I guess all this rambling says I don't see a lot of stigma for me with Tamiya, but I know they have lost their edge and there is a lot more RC to discover out there. I do have my eye on some of the Kyosho re-re's, mainly a Javelin or Scorpion, but they are really pricy here down under. Schumacher and the like sound like exotic brands from far away lands, not really investigated or heard too much apart from what is said in this forum. Traxxas is the only other brand I recognise and based on not much at all, they seem like a cheap entry level car, but based on reading this thread that would not be an entirely correct opinion. I'd recently gotten one as part of an auction and was going to get rid of it, but I am now tempted to investigate it further.