One of the things that is so great about the NRHSA Show is getting with friends and sharing perspectives on hobbies in general.
To expound on this statement, even though Dennis Andreas and Keith Pruitt write monthly columns for Hobby Merchandiser, and we share e-mails regularly, we rarely have the chance to speak in person. As an example, the last time I had spoken with Dennis was at last year’s NRHSA Show and I hadn’t seen Keith in three years.
During dinner one evening we got on the topic of the shrinking enthusiasm for hobbies in general. Never one to shy away from the opportunity to express my opinion, I mentioned two important factors were playing a major role in radio control aviation. One was the lack of what I like to call gizmoness. Not that many years ago a large part of model aviation was learning how to tune a motor for different working environments. Everything from the propeller’s diameter and pitch to the fuel’s nitro content, even the muffler chosen had an effect. Today’s modeler slaps whatever propeller he has laying around on the shaft of his electric motor and goes flying. Sure, this doesn’t always work very well, but why take the time to learn about amps and watts?
The second factor is truly what I believe has had the most impact, and that is the sense of pride for being creative. I used three examples of my current air farce. One is a 1/3-scale Sopwith Pup of WWI vintage. The airplane was assembled from a box of sticks. The covering, paint and graphics were all applied separately. Working out the equipment installation involved fabricating the necessary mounts and was based on what I wanted to put where I wanted it. The second example involved a 1/4-scale de Havilland Tiger Moth. The kit is an ARF. It came pre-covered in plastic film with servo mounts built-in as part of the airframe. As with all kits of this nature, motor, servo and receiver selection are at the builder’s discretion. I did make some minor modifications and personalized the kit, changing part of the color scheme and adding graphics of my own choice. The third was the recently reviewed Valiant 1.3m molded foam airplane. All the radio equipment was pre-installed. With a total investment of $200 dollar bucks it takes less time to put the airplane together than it does to charge the battery.
As the conversation progressed, I mentioned crashing the Pup would be devastating. Even though experienced modelers regularly like to use the phrase, “It you’re not prepared to crash, you’re not prepared to fly” the time and personal commitment to the model would make its loss a tough pill to swallow. Next on the list was naturally the Tiger Moth. Although quite a bit of time was spent on the aircraft, it involved nothing of the commitment the Pup required. The Moth is easy to fly and easy to see. Along with this it is easy to transport, and it has presence on the ground and in the air. That said it is currently the aircraft most often taken to area events.
I could care less about the Valiant. Having flown it regularly for several months I’ve had more than my financial entertainment out of the thing. I have absolutely no emotional attachment to the aircraft and for $200 bucks if I ball it up who cares? We were in Vegas, dinner was over $100 and for some people $200 is won or lost on the pick of a card, or roll of the dice.
Cindy mentioned that when the inexpensive everything in one box foamy hit the shelves it was like driving business off a cliff. Sure they brought in a lot of new customers, but with no learning curve, therefore no personal commitment involved, there were few--very few--repeat customers and nurturing a repeat customer is what keeps any business thriving.
Until next month,