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

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Old 09-03-2013, 11:48 AM
  #1
GallopingGhostler
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Default Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore? Part II

Please, no flames or name calling, management reserves the right to close this thread as well for abuses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by softshell29

Good Point. Also your mention of youth. Maybe the secret is to go to the absolute edge or extreme and ask, WHY young people don't build? Not why they don't join clubs or fly ARFs, TOO EASY How could they ever put down the video games, facebook, texts, etc long enough to do what almost zero adults do any more? To build perchance to fly?
The proliferation of ARF's have made purchase cheaper than building. It was not always this way. Back in the 1960's, there were ARF's but they were expensive compared with kit building. Radio control was also expensive for multichannel. Single channel was cheaper but primitive. (However one certainly learned the art of trimming an aircraft and proper radio system maintenance for reliability.) Then, kits were even available in local department stores, mostly the rubber band powered stick and tissue kits such as Comet. After building a couple of those, one certainly learned the mechanics of building.

Control line (CL) was more popular because it was cheaper to do. There, there were many RTF's, but due to lack of durability, most flights were one shots. The plastic would shatter upon impact, which did not help continue the CL movement. I remember as a child looking at all the color eye candy in the toy catalogs. My first RTF was a Cox .049 Spitfire. I found later that balsa flew better and was more crash resistant, especially the .049 CL jobs with solid balsa wings and profile fuselages.

Quote:
Like making it in New York,. If you can solve this problem at the extreme, where it is most difficult, you can do it anywhere.
Secret to living in such a high cost area is downsizing. One lives within their means by living in a place smaller than they'd normally want, and learns to be content with it (BTDT). Also, one can fly within their means too. That may mean smaller planes, less channels, etc. One of the gottcha's is radio system reliability. It doesn't pay to buy cheap, some RTF's come with poor quality radio systems.

Quote:
Start with this, then rethink. WARNING: do not click on this model airplane maiden flight video unless you are ready to re-think. That means accepting the strange music of the youth who built the plane and made the video. Don't click until you're ready. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=wSuLzPsWQrk
Nice plane and ambitious build, kudos to the builder.

I think a major reason why people don't build from kits anymore is the proliferation of reasonably low cost ARF's, cheaper than building from a kit or scratch building. What are all you all's thoughts?

Last edited by GallopingGhostler; 09-03-2013 at 12:07 PM. Reason: Starting thread properly as new.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:01 PM
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I was the one who originally closed down your thread. But I've honestly slept since then, so I couldn't tell you why I closed it. But like you said, I'm sure it got out of control. If this new thread stays within the guidelines of RCU then I have no problems letting it run. It's all doing to depend on the members if the thread stays open or not.

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Old 09-03-2013, 12:11 PM
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No problem, RCKen, and I respect your decision for closing the original thread. Since somehow, the thread got unlocked (software / server glitch?), I've edited my first message to contain the content that inadvertently got posted after the fact it had been closed. This is so that hopefully, the discussion will provide modelers a thread to express their opinions in a civilized manner.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:16 PM
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A simple yet truthful answer from a lifetime builder. People just don't want to, plain and simple. And to be quite honest, I am about burnt out on building myself. So even I am considering, after finishing my 46% Pitts, just going with ARF's as well.

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Old 09-03-2013, 12:20 PM
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(I'm the guy who re-locked the other thread.. and totally agree with the original poster, and with Ken's response)
I really think it's a double edged sword... I'm a traditional kit builder from way back (back in THOSE days the big discussion was 'why doesn't anybody SCRATCH BUILD anymore....')
undoubtedly the fact that you can now buy a factory built arf for less than the price of an older kit + covering + glue has a HUGE impact.
IF your main passion for RC is flying and not building, then why wouldn't you buy an ARF vs a kit.
I know a lot of folks that can fly like nobody's business, but couldn't build a kite (not a KIT... a KITE ) if their lives depended on it.
I think the guys that get the short end of the stick are the ones who truly ENJOY Kit Building. (and of course the kit manufacturers here in the states)

The other side of that (ARF) coin of course is that although people new to the sport do not have to spend countless hours building a trainer (and very possibly turn it back into a kit on the first flight)
they also do not learn how to build (and repair)
some manufacturers build works of art, jig built and straight as an arrow.
others, well not so much.

at the end of the day I really do think it's simply a matter of convenience and of cost. if you were going to choose between two transmitters,
each with the same price, one ready to use and the other a box full of circuit boards, resistors, and a soldering iron... which would you choose?

if, 'back in the day' you could purchase a brand new factory built Kaos for $99.00, they would have sold out in an hour.
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:27 PM
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Well sort of.... In my case I have built from a kit....don't like to and that won't change. HOWEVER, that said I would still build periodically except for a couple of things. I am allergic to CA and when I build that amount of exposure causes my eyes to swell almost shut. And balsa dust plays havoc with my lungs. I have tried a respirator, but just can't seem to get used to it.
Another, but less important issue is that the only hobby shop left is Hobby Town. I am 35 miles away and just dropping by to talk with other flyers doesn't happen, and the prices are inflated. And if that isn't enough try asking for advice or just a question.

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Old 09-03-2013, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMA 74894 View Post
I'm a traditional kit builder from way back (back in THOSE days the big discussion was 'why doesn't anybody SCRATCH BUILD anymore....') undoubtedly the fact that you can now buy a factory built arf for less than the price of an older kit + covering + glue has a HUGE impact. IF your main passion for RC is flying and not building, then why wouldn't you buy an ARF vs a kit. I know a lot of folks that can fly like nobody's business, but couldn't build a kite (not a KIT... a KITE ) if their lives depended on it.
Jim, I'm not too far behind you as my AMA# is 74677. I remember kits were so competitive that kits were sometimes cheaper than buying the wood. One might have to use the kit balsa stamped or die crunched pieces as templates to make a few parts from good balsa, but I didn't mind this as the kit prices were cheap.

Quote:
I think the guys that get the short end of the stick are the ones who truly ENJOY Kit Building. (and of course the kit manufacturers here in the states) The other side of that (ARF) coin of course is that although people new to the sport do not have to spend countless hours building a trainer (and very possibly turn it back into a kit on the first flight) they also do not learn how to build (and repair) some manufacturers build works of art, jig built and straight as an arrow. others, well not so much.
True, some suffer quality control issues, which turn into flight safety issues.

Quote:
at the end of the day I really do think it's simply a matter of convenience and of cost. if you were going to choose between two transmitters, each with the same price, one ready to use and the other a box full of circuit boards, resistors, and a soldering iron... which would you choose?
Back in the late 1970's, I assembled and soldered my own Charlie's R/C (Cannon 810) 4 channel mini-R/C system from a kit. Reason why I did this is because the kit was cheaper than the finished product and I had electronics assembly skills. Nowadays they are cheap. What you can now buy for 4 or 6 channels already assembled is cheaper than what I paid for an Ace R/C Pulse Commander single channel radio. Only reason why I have purchased any new ARF's is that I have older ones yet to fully assembles.

Quote:
if, 'back in the day' you could purchase a brand new factory built Kaos for $99.00, they would have sold out in an hour.
True. I remember buying a Lanier Pinto 3 channel ARF on sale at Tower Hobbies for $70 in the early 1980's.

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Originally Posted by hookedonrc View Post
Well sort of.... In my case I have built from a kit....don't like to and that won't change. HOWEVER, that said I would still build periodically except for a couple of things. I am allergic to CA and when I build that amount of exposure causes my eyes to swell almost shut. And balsa dust plays havoc with my kings. I have tried a respirator, but just can't seem to get used to it.
I don't use CA much; use Titebond Aliphatic Resin carpenter's glue. If you are allergic to balsa dust, that is a good reason to find a way to cope.

Quote:
Another, but less important issue is that the only hobby shop left is Hobby Town. I am 35 miles away and just dropping by to talk with other flyers doesn't happen, and the prices are inflated. And if that isn't enough try asking for advice or just a question.
The one in Kansas City, MO has good folks. Ditto for the two hobby shops in Amarillo, Texas. I guess it just depends on who and why.
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:02 PM
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Give people an easy way out that requires less energy and they will take it.
30 years ago I do not think even the most clever marketeers would have guessed that people would EVER pay extra for chopped lettuce in a bag..instead of chopping their own.
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Old 09-04-2013, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by combatpigg View Post
Give people an easy way out that requires less energy and they will take it. 30 years ago I do not think even the most clever marketeers would have guessed that people would EVER pay extra for chopped lettuce in a bag..instead of chopping their own.
Marketing has always been a gimmick. I've focused less on what others do, it has a sense of irrelevance to me.

I've got sufficient unbuilt kits over the years, that I'm building those instead of ARF's. What ARF's I have (mostly foamies), been keeping them repaired, sometimes upgrading the engines in them. Thus, I haven't picked up any ARF's recently although the prices have been tempting. Basically been making the best of what I already have, to keep within a budget than I plan to not exceed, live within my means.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:02 PM
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I am a kit builder and have a pile of them in my garage to build when I retire. For me there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to complete a model and fly it. I have put together some ARF's and while most of them flew well, they are just not the same as one that I built. I have also had issue's with ARF's as far as glue joints being non existent causing damage to the plane and the engines and radios. I had one ARF, that on the second flight taxied out to the runway turned it into the wind, applied power and the firewall fell out with the motor at full power. The engine was well within the specified range and an inspection revealed that the firewall was glued in with 4 little dabs of hot glue. Not saying that over the years they have improved and I will admit that one of my favorite planes is my Twinstar, however I will always build kits. Good Luck, Dave
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:37 AM
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Why don't many people build RC airplane kits anymore?

ADD???

Dan
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:42 AM
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Most don't build kits for the same reasons they don't build boats, make knives, bows and arrows, and thousands of other things they had to make, and now don't.
And for the same reasons some do still build boats, knives etc.,
there will always be folks who do build kits.

I think there are as many reasons as there are people. Trying to simplify it into laziness, marketing, lack of skills and whatever
is in itself lazy thinking. This topic re-surfaces fairly often, and my observation is that many of the same guys try
project their own "model airplane morality" onto what others are doing.
Model airplane building or flying may be second, third or more on someone's list of hobbies or other endeavors.
For myself, I simply don't want to build a kit, and the idea just has no appeal to me.
Now, helicopter kits is another story
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:50 AM
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It's hard to find kits any more. The sellers on ebay want an arm and a leg for their's. Aerodromerc has short kits and I have purchased one of these and their very,very good. So other that the foamie I have, I will continue to find short kits and build them.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:11 AM
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I think the short kit idea is a good way to go. The most difficult pieces are already replicated (ribs, in some cases fuselage formers) and one only need to obtain and replicate the rest.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 804 View Post
I think there are as many reasons as there are people. Trying to simplify it into laziness, marketing, lack of skills and whatever is in itself lazy thinking. This topic re-surfaces fairly often, and my observation is that many of the same guys try project their own "model airplane morality" onto what others are doing.
I don't think opinions of marketing or lack of skills are lazy thinking. Modeling is an individualized sport, and as such there are myriad reasons that lead people to do what they do. Of course, the end result we see is that ARF's have very well dominated the modeling market with only few manufactured kits left. One is left to form their own opinions and impressions on what they think causes this trend.

Just as much as there are many different styles, sizes and performance factors for available aircraft that appeal to different individuals, so there are many reasons.

Some of the competitive crowd into speed flying or pattern may not like to be around those who enjoy sport aircraft that simply putter around the sky and vice versa. A few died-in-wool scale buff may hold aversion to a sport flyer's definitely non-scale looking simplistic quick build. The larger plane builder may hold a disdain for the microflight builder. Some have an easy-go-lucky attitude and welcome all types. All of these people make up the general modeling community, with variety of reasons and tastes to go with it. It's also a reason why we have special interest groups within the modeling community, such as VR/CS (Vintage R/C Society).
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GallopingGhostler View Post
Please, no flames or name calling, management reserves the right to close this thread as well for abuses.
Flames! You mean like this? (you may have to click the pictures to see them better)



Or this?


Or this?


Maybe this?
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:49 PM
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I'm still a firm believer that in general ( and there are some exceptions ) kits fly better. I've flown a number of ARF's over the years and while they go up in the air and move around in response to your control inputs.. they are missing a certain "je ne sais quoi". I've just never found one that I truly loved how they have flown once up in the air. My brother seems to love them. For me I don't get it. Probably just silly bias on my end.
[h=3][/h]- ARF's hurt less when you crash them, its just your wallet, not so much your time. Which encourages you to push the envelope, and can help to make you a better pilot....
- I think the hobbies main focus has shifted a bit. It used to be primarily about the build, the flying was a bonus, now its about the flying and the building can be a nuisance. For those that just want to fly, ARF's provide this.

Me? I'm 35, I love to build, always have, like flying too... If there was a way I could skip the covering part I'd be happiest. let me glue it together, someone else covers it, and I'll go fly. j/k
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:53 PM
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not to mention where do we get kits from....

great planes and top flite are owned by the same company, after building two recent great planes kits and seeing the wood I've gotten, I'm loathe to buy another. That leaves.....not a whole lot of other kit providers out there. there are a couple others, lots of short kit providers like precision cut kits etc... but its getting harder to track down quality kits from reliable vendors.
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Old 09-05-2013, 03:19 PM
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Why don't people build anymore? Because they don't have to!

It used to be that if you wanted to fly model airplanes, you had to build model airplanes. Most all fliers were people who enjoyed building. But today there are options. It brought many people into the flying hobby but it also sucked many people out of the building hobby. So now the only people who build are the oddballs like me who enjoy building.

Dave

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Old 09-05-2013, 04:45 PM
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I built kits before I had a family. Now there is barely enough time to fly, so ARF's allow me to have beautiful airplanes with not a lot of hours invested. I'm going to maiden my Hangar 9 100cc Decathlon this weekend, without an ARF I wouldn't be able to have such a beautiful large aircraft to fly.
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:51 PM
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I have not built a kit in a long time. Even longer since I built an ARF. ARFs seem to be cheaper to build than a kit these days. I looked at a couple but I am not going to pull the triger on one. I would rather build from plans. And I think even more than plans I would prefer to just roll my own design. I just end up bashing every build, be it a kit or ARF. Kits are much easier to bash. Maybe that is why I mostly roll my own now. I really enjoy the conception process. Then sitting at the computer and punching out some parameters. The fun is then turning those raw numbers into something that flies and reflects the original concept I had floating around in my brain. Sometimes the match is good, sometimes not. But that is how I got started. My first several planes were my own designs.I bought my first kit several years after I built my first plane. That is how I discovered math could be fun. I hated it till then. Then I needed a slide rule.

I sort of cheated recently and bought 2 sets of laser cut wing ribs. Even this one is getting bashed very seriously.

Ken

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Old 09-05-2013, 04:59 PM
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I can build an ARF in a day or two and my wife stays happy. Too much time building and the mess it creates for a month or more is just not worth it. I love building, but I have to be fair with my time. That's why I don't build anymore. I admire the folks who do though.
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:17 PM
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An ARF needs me plunk down all the $ at once. With what I do I can stretch it out over a long period of time. In the long run when the bird is finished I am sure it is no cheaper than an ARF.

Ken
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:23 PM
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This is almost too easy! Cost, Time, and skill level. Let's look at each.
Cost: For a starter plane for years I recommended the Sig LT-40. I even built 17 of them. Cost of the kit was $95. 3 rolls of Monokote: $36. Add $5 for misc supplies and glue and the cost was $136. I charged $150 to deliver the plane RTF. The buyer supplied the radio and engine of his choice or I would buy them and add to the total. You can now buy the plane, ready for radio and engine for @ $150. Just one esample of cost.
Time: Again using the LT-40 as an example. It takes me about 20 hours to build and cover the kit. Another 3 to 4 for radio and engine installation. A first timer would probably take 8 to 10 hours to install the radio and engine in a new ARF kit, and 40, or more, hours to build the original kit.....if it is still available!
Skill level: I have built over 300 R/C planes. I have the skill level to build fast and accurately. But....it has been developed over nearly 60 years of model building, 43 in R/C. The bad news is that the new comer will not get the opportunity to develop the skills because of the first 2 reasons. It is a self defeating circle.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:34 PM
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All of the above reasons for not building kits anymore are spot on. However, there is one additional reason that I can't seem to complete any kits these days. I am trying, I have had a little cub kit in progress for about 9 months now, but it sits in the corner of my shop in the bones, collecting dust. That reason is, all the ARFers that can't glue two matchsticks together keep bringing me their "slightly damaged", oil soaked, in need of total restoration, "just needs recovering", and other under stated projects. Like a fool, I take pity on these fellow club members, and try to teach them how to to build and repair in order to make them independent. It seems that most but not all, don't really want to try to learn to fix them their self, but rather want some one else to do it for them. Sort of like model airplane welfare!!! OK, I have vented now and tomorrow I will go to the field with one of my dependent ARFers to test fly his cub (that I rebuilt for him) and give him another flying lesson on his trainer (that I also rebuilt for him)! I am hoping to get him soloed soon so I can "cut the apron strings". Maybe I can finish my little cub this fall.....but I guess only if I learn to say "NO, I don't know how to fix that!"

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