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  1. #1

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    Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Maybe my view is a tad myoptic butit seems to me with the advent of ARFs and RTFs, people aren't building as many planes from kits as they used to. 20 years ago when I was last in the hobby, it seems that many more people built, and _enjoyed_ building, planes from kits. I posed this question to members of my flying club and the consensus seemed to be that either people don't have the time for kitsor they just want to fly and not be "bothered" building.I'm presently building a Great Planes J-3, 40, and I'm loving every minute!

  2. #2

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    i bought a couple ARF's when i came back to the hobby in 07 after a 15 year layoff.
    nothing wrong with them, but have been building kits since, and some scratch...............but one thing i see more and more is the ARF's are killing the kit industry, not to mention bringing in a lot of people who just can't build.

    there is good and bad to this, but the kit's are going away on a steady rate.
    the bad thing about ARF's is that we are supporting the hobby in the wrong way.
    AMA 70865
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  3. #3
    ChuckW's Avatar
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Building is another aspect to the hobby, almost a hobby by itself. There will always be some people doing it but most just do not have either the desire or the time or the ability.

    How many people build their own car or their own house? You'll find some talented people doing both but they are few.

    It isn't just airplanes either. Almost everything being marketed theses days touts "no assembly required" or "time saving". People just do not want to do anything or they do not know how. This is slightly off topic but you really see this when it comes to food. How many people now throw some stuff from a box into the microwave think they are cooking? How much prepared and instant stuff do you see in stores vs. real ingredients? Sad in my opinion.

    People also order something from a catalog now, stick it on their car and claim they have a "custom".

    Ipersonally like building an airplane. I just wish I had more time to do so. A few hours here or there after work and occasional small amounts of time on weekends are all Ihave. I have several ARF's in boxes or half assembled due to lack of time. Can't wait for retirement.
    Ultra Sport Brotherhood #13*

  4. #4
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    G'day

    I think there are many reasons but TIME is one of the big ones. Another is AVAILABILITY of ARFs.

    I build both but I prefer to build from kits or plans and short kits.

    My most recent builds have been a Sig Kadet Mk II (to complete my collection of Sig trainers), a Stevens Aero Squirt 700s (modified to use a brushless motor) and I have a Sig Astrohog and Sig Somethin' Extra in the wings waiting.

    The Kadet Mk II was an interesting kit. It is quite "old school" and very robust but has a higher wing loading than my favourite - the Kadet Senior. I made it a tail dragger which was a mistake. It is quite hard to stop ground looping as a result and yesterday I converted it back to a trike.

    The Stevens Aero Squirt is a delightful little plane. It is very easy to build, ends up quite light and as a result it will fly really well and very slowly. It would be very suitable for a beginner wanting a smaller electric plane.

    I was born in the first half of last century (just) so I am now retired and I guess I grew up building from piles of balsa and plans. People born more recently have more on their plates and the convenience of ARFs allow them to get into flying without needing to spend a lot of time building. But I just like to build.
    \"I just had no control. Must be the radio.\" Club Saito #597 Kadet Brotherhood #66

  5. #5

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?


    ORIGINAL: vger105

    Maybe my view is a tad myoptic butΒ*it seems to me with the advent of ARFs and RTFs, people aren't building as many planes from kits as they used to.Β* 20 years ago when I was last in the hobby, it seems that many more people built, and _enjoyed_ building, planes from kits.Β* I posed this question to members of my flying club and the consensus seemed to be that either people don't have the time for kitsΒ*or they just want to fly and not be ''bothered'' building.Β*Β*I'm presently building a Great Planes J-3, 40, and I'm loving every minute!Β*
    I don't see anything wrong with building and I built one plane when I was young. However, for me I would not touch buidling right now. I love to fly way too much and simply do not have time to build.

    The ARFs are the ticket for me. I work a lot of long hours and have limited time to get out, so when I do, it is flying all the way. Maybe when I retire I will build a couple. I have done some major repairs on planes that were crashed and the result were very good, but that was when I had the time to invest in building.

    I think anyone that enjoys the planes may even enjoy taking pride and building, but I know some just don't have the skills to build.

  6. #6
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    I was in this hobby in the 80's and built a kit.

    I am very glad we have all these arf's available. I live in a small apt so I dont have space to build, or the patience.

    Also I would hate to spend allot of time on a kit and then slap it into the ground.

    If I had more space and as long as I have other planes to fly I might do a kit.

    But for now Hooray ARF's and Hooray Beer!!!

    Jimmy
    Fuel Forever!!!

  7. #7

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    I have built, several kits.....mostly SIG kits...have done mods to kits....but my love is flying....building takes away flying time.....
    There is nothing wrong with building and there is nothing wrong with flying ARF's.....
    Good Flying to all

  8. #8

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    i don't have the skills to build or the room
    Ray

  9. #9

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Time and money. Kits we need to buy a bunch of tools sandpaper, filler clamps cutting boards and etc. We buy a kit for some, we have to buy the covering, wheels, engine. By the time we're done- we invested more money and time than we would on a ARF.

    Now if you "Bash" a ARF like I did, it can take longer to build and more $$ to build it. But I've seen some ARF aircraft that were a "Builders ARF", and took forever to get them flight worthy and looking good.

    But at times I still get the urge to build a kit when I have nothing else to build or fix.


    Pete

  10. #10

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Have ARFed 3 times but will go back to kits soon. Have a Venture 60 kit.

    Tom

  11. #11

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    There really is no reason for people not to build. I did it as a kid on the living room floor while I was with the family watching TV. After I was married with a family I built on the kitchen table or living room table. I have had small shops and big shops, I am back in a small shop again. The I would rather be flying is crap, what do you do when you get home. After dinner you can be building while watching TV, most kits today don't require a lot of thinking, they come with instructions with photos and are step by step. A kit built plane will last me for decades, an ARF one season. Cost?? Yes you can ASSEMBLE an ARF cheaper but not all planes.
    I just started a plans build today, it's an 80 inch Sukhoi 29. The plans were $20.00 and the wood was right at $100.00. A canopy and LG are needed. I just happen to have them already. I will be glassing with Deft Sanding Lacquer and painting with Lowe's Latex House Paint. It's a gasser so I can get away with it. You will never find a kit of this plane. Chief now has a few ARFs of this plane, check out the price. I will have this plane up and flying for about $250.00 plus or minus a few bucks. If I see someone flying the Chief ARF mine will look a lot different, not a cookie cutter plane. If I don't do something really stupid mine will be with me for a very long time, if I bought the ARF I would wear out the air frame in a year or so. I use real wood and glue, no hot glue gun and low grade crap.
    I'm a builder, it's not for everyone but the one thing that fires me up is when one of the old retired guys at the field asks me to build there kit stating they don't have the time. Young people just starting a family don't have the time, old retired guys or people working but no little kids have the time. It only takes a hour or two in the evenings.
    What ever did we fly before ARFs?? I don't have the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!Lazyass!![:@]
    VGER, go hang in the kit building forum if you want to build. If you have the time of course!!
    Drinking and driving are illegal, why do bars have parking lots
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  12. #12

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    ORIGINAL: ChuckW

    Building is another aspect to the hobby, almost a hobby by itself. There will always be some people doing it but most just do not have either the desire or the time or the ability.

    How many people build their own car or their own house? You'll find some talented people doing both but they are few.

    It isn't just airplanes either. Almost everything being marketed theses days touts ''no assembly required'' or ''time saving''. People just do not want to do anything or they do not know how. This is slightly off topic but you really see this when it comes to food. How many people now throw some stuff from a box into the microwave think they are cooking? How much prepared and instant stuff do you see in stores vs. real ingredients? Sad in my opinion.

    People also order something from a catalog now, stick it on their car and claim they have a ''custom''.

    IΒ*personally like building an airplane. I just wish I had more time to do so. A few hours here or there after work and occasional small amounts of time on weekends are all IΒ*have. I have several ARF's in boxes or half assembled due to lack of time. Can't wait for retirement.
    but still the problem with all this buy n fly arf and foamies is bringing a lot of people into this hobby that are better off plying lazer tag.
    there is a guy right now wanting to jump from foamies straight into a Hangar 9 Jackal. thank god he has the sense to ask whether or not it's over his head, but how about the guys who don't?
    they get into something based on the fact that they can fly a Stryker, and don't feel anything for the model as they didn't build it and go out and destroy it and maybe someone in the process.
    at least when one starts out building a kit, he has some pride in what he flies and tries much harder to succeed.
    beginners are missing a lot by being able to buy n fly the junk that the LHS pushes.
    the guys who fly by my house on Behymer and Willow are a group that started that way. some good flyers, and some i wouldn't turn my back on.............one guy even decided it's ok to fly a big gasser there now..........comes right over my driveway too. if he crashes into my house is he covered?
    does he even care if he crashes? he didn't do more than just pop it together, so who knows.
    this hobby was about buying a kit and building.........then out to fly it.
    Free Flight was at one time a very respected part of the hobby as there is a builder of the model rule............no build it, no get to fly it in competition with the other modelers.
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    AMA 70865
    Team Satellite

  13. #13
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Back in the dark ages when I first started building kits, there were no ARFs. If you wanted to fly, you either built or bought a flying airplane that was built from a kit (or scratch built). We also didn't have dish washers or robot vacuum sweepers. Automatic dish wahser were just coming into their own. The point is, theoretically, we didn't have as much discretionary time then as we should have now. I believe people find the time to do what they want to do. And that is not bashing folks who prefer ARFs. Some guys just don't like to build and some really lack the ability to build, so they buy ARFs. No problem. But I truly believe that the folks who enjoy building are just as busy in their other life as anyone else, yet they find the time to build. I believe it is MinnFlyer who says that building is a hobby, flying is a sport. I like that.
    \"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is\"

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  14. #14
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?


    ORIGINAL: vger105

    Maybe my view is a tad myoptic butΒ*it seems to me with the advent of ARFs and RTFs, people aren't building as many planes from kits as they used to.Β* 20 years ago when I was last in the hobby, it seems that many more people built, and _enjoyed_ building, planes from kits.Β* I posed this question to members of my flying club and the consensus seemed to be that either people don't have the time for kitsΒ*or they just want to fly and not be ''bothered'' building.Β*Β*I'm presently building a Great Planes J-3, 40, and I'm loving every minute!Β*
    Right now the last post was Jolly Popper. In reading thru them, I find very good reasoning in each one. To answer your question requires a Doctorate on the subject and I still don't think that would do the topic justice.
    When I started building models back in the mid-late '40s, just cuttting wood and gluing things was a great joy for a kid. That first ignition Thor .29 almost sent me back to more fishing, but somehow I managed to do both all my life.

    Today life is different. So many things to make life easy also seems to complicate life even more. The average family does not have adequate room to build as the home must be kept pristine. Who today would ever think of having a big cardboard mat to slide under the bed in one's room, then slide out to cut balsa when time allowed. What kid today would take the craft into the kitchen and turn on a gas stove burner to heat a wire to burn holes for engine mounting and such? Yes, it is a different world.

    Of course the "Yankees" up NAWTH (I lived up there for18 years) have basements which allow more building room. Down here in the South, not many basements and most homes have small garages which house everything but an automobile. Far too many toys other than toy airplanes, so those toys demand time and in today's economy, two working parents have trouble getting kids to all the many things that schools dream up for keeping themselves in control to justify their positions, plus keeping kids busy with things not really needed.

    So when someone does get into model-aviation, why build a model if the object is to FLY. Get an ARF and FLY. Golfers seldom build their clubs, hunters seldom build their guns, I don't build my fishing equipment - do you? The ARF is just what today's society demands of us.

    Now I am long retired and I build, yet I find less and less time to do so. Family and grandkids are much more important today than just 15 years ago. In addition, I am much more critical and demanding of my own finished product than I was just 15 years ago. OTOH, ARFs really don't fit my interests, yet I have several. [sm=confused.gif]

    So with all that mish-mash, I have no answer to the OP's question. When someone says to me, "Have a good day" I reply, "You have a great whatever of YOUR choice."

    So Arf, Kit, Scratch, we are all model airplane folks so let us all enjoy model aviation in our individual selections and then tip a cold one together.
    Horrace Cain AMA L-93

    β€œPeace is the brief glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading.\" T. Jefferson

  15. #15

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Free flight is still a happening here. Building and flying is just a hobby, I have never thought of it as a sport. I have never thought of it as being separate, building and flying was always a hobby for me.
    Drinking and driving are illegal, why do bars have parking lots
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  16. #16

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    I wasn't around in the days when there were no ARF's, but from everything I've read and seen from the older flyers the hobby has simply changed. Like it or don't, people want their toys fast and cheap. Just look at how the bind n fly foamies have exploded in the market. It's easy to decry it as not serious enough, but the fact is that the easy airplanes are bringing people into the hobby/ sport who wouldn't have done it otherwise. That's a good thing for the hobby as a whole and may well be the key to its future.
    No kid, I said break ground and fly into the wind!

  17. #17

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Contrary to Gray Beard's opinion, everyone's situation is different. It just doesn't make sense for me to build from a kit. I don't have the room or the time to make it feasable. I build my ARFs on the living room floor or the kitchen table but I have to wait until after dinner and after my 3 kids are in bed. This gives me 3-4 hours a night but part of that time has to be spent pulling everything out and cleaning everything up before I go to bed. I don't dare leave anything out where it could get stepped on, spilled on, etc and my wife would not appreciate me comandeering the kitchen table for weeks at a time with airplane bits everywhere. Pulling everything out and packing everything back up each night gets to be a real pain in the arse and makes even an ARF build take much longer than it should.

    As ChuckW mentioned, building from kits is almost another hobby. I think that if I had a workshop or a garage to build in I would enjoy building kits or ARFs more but, as it is, I really don't enjoy it. There is no point to having a hobby that you don't enjoy. The hobby that I enjoy is flying RC planes so I take a few hours every Saturday (when the kids don't have soccer or choir or birthday parties, etc, etc) to fly instead of build.

  18. #18
    frets24's Avatar
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    ORIGINAL: vger105

    Β*I'm presently building a Great Planes J-3, 40, and I'm loving every minute!Β*

    Nice plane, and a joy to fly! I built that one 10 or so years ago and am currently flying it on floats with a Saito .90 twin. Had to scratch build 1/2 of the wing after an incident of poor judgement trying to salvage a take-off I should have aborted. Ground loop into a cartwheel.... This plane will definitely hone your rudder skills!

    As far as builders, we're still out here. Some of us have expanded to arfs and stuff as well. I like it all.
    Like Gray Beard alluded to earlier, claiming "lack of time" is a cop out. One of those things that kind of gets under my skin.
    Also like GB I build alot at the kitchen table; it allows me to be present and coversational with family in both the "office" and the living room (as long as I'm not into something really intricate) or to catch up (with them) on the 2 or 3 serials that we do watch on TV. Our twins are just 17 (Jan) and we have a 20 yr old at home finishing school and working, also a 24 yr old living and working in England (near my wife's parents). All boys, so those at home take more of my time now than my wife's.

    In the past year:
    1) I've finished up on a Royal 64'' P-51 I started over 20 years ago,
    2) started and finished a scratch build replacement(battery/switch failure) of a Hobby Dynamics "Sportee Fortee" (very similar to a super sportster),
    3) started and finished another Sig "Bluehawk" (profile Ultimate bipe-dead sticked the old one into a pond and a colony of carpenter ants took up residence when I put it in the shop/shed to dry out),
    4) and I'm currently finalizing the deconstruction/reconstruction of a 71" KI-61 "TONY" ARF bash that I began last fall. Just a bit of paint and detailing yet to go. Almost more scratch building in that one than if I had just done it from plans[X(],

    Additionally I've lightened up/rebuilt the GP floats for the J3,
    caught up on all of my minor RC repairs and engine maintenence over the winter,
    spent numerous long weekends with my wife and kids visiting my parents at their beach home over the winter (Nov-Mar, while they are only a 3 hour instead of a 14 hour drive away),
    removed, rebuilt and replaced one son's jeep engine,
    same for the other twin's Ford Explorer transmission and transfercase (they both had this idea that they should buy otherwise great cars with one major problem-cause they could get 'em cheap and Dad can/will fix anything mechanical)
    been to every one of my kids' soccer and/or football games both near and far,
    built skateboard ramps for them and a couple science/physics projects,
    spend ALL day EVERY Saturday with the boys and their friends on the lake waterskiing/wakeboarding in warmer weather. (usually with my wife and some of our friends as well) I provide the boat and the driver (and gas)...the boys (now with girls too) provide endless entertainment and amusement!!
    maintained a quality relationship with my wife (so she doesn't complain too much on the hobby stuff),
    read over a dozen fiction novels, 1/2 dozen non-fiction books
    kept up with my business and finaled more large plumbing permits in the last 1/4 of 2010/first 1/3 of 2011 than we even opened, large and small, in all of '09 in my small plumbing contracting business/partnership. The economy here in Charlotte, NC did ok for us in 08/09 but nothing like 2000-2007; glad to see the work really cranking up again
    Oh, and keep up with RCU!!

    I only list all this to show what a relatively inwardly lazy guy can get done IF they want too. There IS plenty of "time" out there; for work, the relationships you value AND the stuff you really want to do as well as just relaxing /recharging. You just have to prioritize and cut out the crap; like 30+ hours of inane TV programming per week. Quit whinning about no time, make the time,,,love your family, build your kit, assemble your arf and go fly!!!.
    "The American taxpayer has always been politicaly deceived. It's their Birthright!"
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  19. #19
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Jinxx,

    You are right, everyone's situation is different. You then went on to prove GB 's (and my) point....you take the time to spend on family and the relationships that are important first, you work to support your family(assumed), AND you make the time to get set up, build or assemble for a while, and clean up (those of us married can REALLY appreciate the importance of that one!!) in order to enjoy your hobby. Kudos and compliments to you! Hopefully at least one of those three kids is a boy who will enjoy RC with you as they grow up.

    Building on the kitchen table is nice but it does have it's draw backs. I'm glad my wife doesn't mind it too much, especially in the cold part of the year. Even when it's warmer I like being in the house where we can all still be around each other, rather than out in the shed/shop.


    If I left the table like this my wife would shoot me..... then have the yard sale I can only dream of finding (selling everything for what I told her I paid for it to boot!!![X(])
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    "The American taxpayer has always been politicaly deceived. It's their Birthright!"
    Lord Mountjoy, 'The Mouse on the Moon'

  20. #20

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    Getting back to the original question why people don't build, there is a simple answer. Humans simply want quick gratification. Ever since someone was willing to do something or make something easier, humans are always willing to buy into it without fail. Just human nature it's that simple. We can make excuses until we're blue in the face, but we're all subject to it. From instant oatmeal to communication, as long as someone is willing to do it for us we want it. The more the better is the way people like it. (Just a personal observation).

  21. #21

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?


    ORIGINAL: TestPilot-101

    Getting back to the original question why people don't build, there is a simple answer. Humans simply want quick gratification. Ever since someone was willing to do something or make something easier, humans are always willing to buy into it without fail. Just human nature it's that simple. We can make excuses until we're blue in the face, but we're all subject to it. From instant oatmeal to communication, as long as someone is willing to do it for us we want it. The more the better is the way people like it. (Just a personal observation).
    nope, you hit the nail right on the head.
    as with anything else, newbies lack certain skills that they now call "a hobby of it's own" in regards to the building part?.........LMAO
    i do like newbies for one thing though, i get perfectly good engines for less the 1/4 the cost of new because they can't tune them...............of course this has nothing to do with the airplane/tank setup because the ARF instructions says so.
    AMA 70865
    Team Satellite

  22. #22

    Join Date
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    I can build but my covering sucks.
    The planes out at the field now look so much better.
    I don't get teased the way I use to when I showed up with my plane.
    I,ve got arf's that are 4 to 5 yrs old

  23. #23

    Join Date
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    ARF's are so much better now. And I've yet to assemble one that didn't require some "builder" experience to complete. Truth is I like both but am glad I started with the tissue paper doped rubber band powered Guillow's cubs because now I realize the improvement in the product.

    I believe the real driver in the US is the cost of materiels. A roll of covering is insufficient, adhesives, quality easy to find hardware, etc. Hobby shops just don't carry the inventory of the small independent inexpensive yet quality pieces; everything is "bundled". Sure the radios and engines have become inexpensive enough that many of us now in the hobby would not have been back in the Kraft days. I recall when R/C was for the well heeled and the rest of us did control line or free flight.

    Today I'm still thrilled to see one just fly. I still get a kick when a new engine is fueled and fired for the very first time. I enjoy watching an airframe slowly come together only to become impatient as the small final completion steps seem to take forever. I still get annoyed when manufacturers continue to issue the same wrong instructions year after year rather than continually tweak their kit packages and instructions to a flawless offering. You still see kits packaged with pictures of the plane posted all over the box only to find a pile of sticks, some wire and unfamiliar hardware tidbits inside when you open the box. When you open the box of an ARF you pretty well see what is pictured on the outside...true instant gratification.

    Lastly, kit builders of yesterday enjoy today's ARF. New modelers tend to follow the actions of their mentors. If everyone in the club builds and disdains ARF's the new folks they draw into the hobby will tend to follow suit. If everyone in the club assembles ARF's and disdains scratch/plan/kit built aircraft...what do the new folks they draw in tend to do?

    Regards,

    Clay

    If it ain\'\'\'\'t yours; don\'\'\'\'t touch it!

    Club Saito member #726

  24. #24

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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    When you crash your plane and it smashes into 1000 little pieces does that then count as being a kit???[:@]

  25. #25
    ArcticCatRider's Avatar
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    RE: Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

    I still build kits. And being as young as I am, I'm also the "exception to the rule"

    I enjoy building, covering, improving my skills, improving my level of patience. I have the tools, I have the space....I don't always have the time but so what?? So on a crappy day when there's nothing else to do I'll get into my kit.

    I know it costs me more to build and finish a kit than it does to purchase and assemble a ARF. But I don't care. I'll spend it anyway, since satisfaction is part of value, and for me cannot be found in assembling an ARF.

    I need something to do in my freetime....something that takes me away. I can pay for the kits, then the fuel....or I can pay for a shrink. I have a feeling the hobby's still cheaper
    Club Saito Member #657
    Carl Goldberg Ultimate 10-300 Brotherhood #52


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