thanks for your enlightening post. I personally appreciate your candor and am happy to see the resurgence of classic pattern not only from the hobbyist standpoint (of which I am member) but also from the manufacturing or manufacturers standpoint (of which I am also a budding member). When I returned to the hobby in '08, one of the things I wished for was the ability to buy, build and fly kits and models like we used to in the 70's and 80's. At the time, in '08, classic pattern was in a somewhat rarefied state but amazingly in the last five years we've had some great folks who are bringiing about excellent contributions from a "kit offering" standpoint. We have folks who are doing glass/foam basic kits and others who are bringing about either classic wood kits to be built per the original plans or modernized construction CAD laser cut kits allowing us to build the classics better, faster, stronger and lighter. I have been contributing in some way to this latter movement and I have been enjoying it immensely although I still don't have the time I wished being still in the work force with two young children.
That said, I'd like to comment briefly on how the resurgence of Hobby Barn and their classic pattern QL kits came about from the forum members perspective (there are 3-4 classic pattern forums with a similar membership pool). It was actually Chip Hyde who I believe informed us that Bill Hempel would be offering once again glass/foam kits from their QL lineup using the original molds and foam cores from a stockpile that existed when the business went on hiatus for some years. Needless to say all the folks here were very excited to hear this news and for a while (probably two years) Rob at HB was the one, to my understanding, who was doing the layups and selling these kits to the classic pattern community. Although I was unable to personally obtain one of these kits myself, there were threads here discussing Rob's great work including 2-3 threads of his own showing the build of a couple of kits he was undertaking himself. It all was great news and it was good to see the increasing "diversified pool" of kits being offered to us builders. Naturally, there was some tension which arose due to the "mixed situation" with other people's efforts to bring back the classics which is reasonable and expected. I won't comment on moral or legal issues as it is not my place nor am I qualified to do so.
Returning to HB and the QL kit lineup, and without any ill intention, my feeling was that there wasn't a serious effort or desire on HB's part to offer these kits in a way that was viable for both them and us. The communication channels were meagre at best and it was (is) hard, in this day and age, to get a hold of someone who could actually provide the information necessary and enable the purchase transaction to be trusted and concluded. What I suppose I'm getting at is that it was never clear whether HB wanted to reach out to the community of clients at large or just deal with them on a one to one basis if and when time and disposition was available on their part. I had a few conversations with Rob who was very kind and helpful but I felt that his time and activities were being split in a few too many directions. I have also had a number of exchanges with recent (and past) clients of HB as well as potential clients who never seemed to be able to get any traction with ordering a kit primarily due to lack of response and communication on HB's part.
In short, I believe that communication is paramount to bringing about the sale and purchase of these classics and without it, we, as clients, are left with thoughts such as those expressed in this thread. Indeed I believe it is unclear to most whether HB today is manufacturing and selling classics and if so, how would we go about knowing that, knowing which ones, at what price and in what time frame could we expect the model to be shipped. The telephone is a great means but I feel that a little more might be needed to offer clients a sense of purchase security and seriousness on HB's part. If HB is indeed manufacturing and selling classic kits, I, as one of several potential clients, would encourage them to maintain open communication paths via these online forums as well as via email and telephone with proactive response to inquires. A website (even a simple one) with kit related information is always helpful too but I do realize that these things take time and effort.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this given your proximity to the Hempel's as well as Tucson where I've spent many enjoyable times in years past.
Last edited by doxilia; 05-19-2015 at 09:30 AM.