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Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

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Old 12-02-2008, 06:38 AM
  #51  
KenVW
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Let's not overlook Paul Swanson Kits:

http://www.swanyshouse.com
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:51 AM
  #52  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Here's one for smaller scale electrics:

http://www.patscustom-models.com/
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:08 AM
  #53  
Clay Walters
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

I suppose I enjoy kits although like so many here; I've just reentered the hobby after many years away. My memories of building model airplanes from balsa kits goes back to when I was in elementary school. Rubber band powered piper cubs skinned with tissue paper, later to profile balsa control line and then balsa sheeted Ranger 30 freeflights and many years later my first monokote covered Midwest Aerostar RC airplane. Thru it all I've had some kits with instructions barely legible, vague in direction to others like the Aerostar that actually taught me new methods such as drilling and tapping for bolt-on wings, etc. This year I'm on my 2nd ARF and completed one kit (Lanier Indicator) between these ARF's.

What strikes me as a great dissappointment is how no one seems to offer inexpensive, quality kits with thorough and clear illustrated instructions, properly sequenced with detail step-by-step procedures that lead to a flawless properly constructed model in the most simple efficient manner. Ever single one I read about (and there is no end) on these bulletin boards has builders correcting the deficiencies, making needed improvements, suffering from following instructions only to learn it dead-ended them down the line.

After all these years there simply is no excuse for it. Once a model is documented, published, distributed, and sold for a few years the manufacturer has ample time to seek feedback and make corrections. Once done they can replicate them at will at no additional cost. Why this isn't done by each and every one of them is beyond me.

Simply put, a "builder's kit" is a ripoff. The fact that those of you very talented and experienced can work around them unimpeded is no excuse. These folks probably can scratch build well too.

But for a person that just wishes to sit down, follow directions and enjoy the assembly process, gaining insight as to the inner workings and design as they go without having to shape the parts, jury rig and finagle at every turn...a kit should be the solution.

And I'm talking about good kits for .25-.60 size models that can use standard glow engines, inexpensive servos and no more than a 6 channel radio to be fully functional. And they should cost less than an ARF, much less.

Instead a newcomer getting a kit is well advised to first research for bulletin boards with threads detailing every step of constructing a model before acquiring a kit so that true hands-on builders explaining their encounters and what solutions they employed can be pondered before diving in. Even then one can anticipate dissappointment and frustration.

While I'm aware that these challenges will necessitate a builder arriving at solutions that will utimately create a more skilled modeler I have to wonder just how many more folks have abandoned the hobby early on as a result. While those of us that stick with it may appreciate and even admire seasoned modelers among us the industy is shooting itself in the foot in the meantime.

I've read great things about the Bruce Tharpe kits and the only one that truly interested me he discontinued before I learned of it. And the high quality and expensive giant scale offerings listed above are not anything I'm interested in.

Once I've assembled the two ARF's I have in possession I'm going to try a Sig Mid-Star. I've heard great things about SIG kits for years but have never built one. And I've already discovered a thread or two I'll consult in anticipation the plans and instructions are still deficient after all this time.

Regards,

Clay
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:31 AM
  #54  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

<<snip>>After all these years there simply is no excuse for it. Once a model is documented, published, distributed, and sold for a few years the manufacturer has ample time to seek feedback and make corrections. Once done they can replicate them at will at no additional cost. Why this isn't done by each and every one of them is beyond me. <<snip>>
Clay,

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, and had a similar conversation with a colleague yesterday. He's getting back into the hobby after years of career and child-raising that precluded building. Now he's looking for a good kit, to build with the pre-teen son. I suggested Sig and Herr kits.

However, I'm replying to comment on the quote above. For manufacturers of commodities (light bulbs, lawn mowers, lawn chairs), the kind of response to customer input you describe is imperative. To a cottage industry, maybe not so much.

My take on the kit industry is, it's reverting to cottage industry status. There's just not enough volume (money) in it to keep people like Bruce Tharpe and Adrian Page interested.

I think that means the future is in scratchbuilding, and that's fun too. Not much incentive for the inexperienced, who can go buy an arf for half the price and a tenth of the effort. Still, I figure the interested ones cans still find a building project, and the Web will provide the help you describe.

Just my 2¢ worth,
Dave Olson
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:11 AM
  #55  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Clay, I agree in total with you. I have been in this hobby for 37 pus years and have, like you, built everything from early Comet and Guillows stick and tissue to my latest project, a Mosquitobite Tri-Pacer. It is a shame that this company seems not to be continuing with their production of this . I have to tell you that it meets all the criteria you mention in your post above. Fully detailed instructions with photos. A builders kit for sure but one that if you have a couple of builds under your built could handle. I was lucky enough to have found my kit is Canada from a fellow flier and am grateful he did not build it. If you go to their website, http://www.mosquitobiteplanes.com , they did just what you and Scar recommended. Took feedback and improved on the kit.

Let's hope that in these hard economic times, kit manufactures will reevaluate their position and look at bringing out kits from the past that will keep the hobby industry in business.

Course I still believe in Santa Claus


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Old 12-04-2008, 11:52 AM
  #56  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Post removed. Let's focus on links to kits.
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:54 AM
  #57  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Post removed. Let's focus on links to kits.
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:32 PM
  #58  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?


ORIGINAL: abufletcher
ORIGINAL: Clay Walters
...without having to shape the parts, jury rig and finagle at every turn...
Clay
Where's the fun in that! I've never met a kit I couldn't bash and don't expect I ever will. But to be honest, it's come to the point that I bash so extensively that I'm really just scratch-building with kit-provided balsa.
A friendly question: Your contribution to this thread will be read by novices and more experienced people; what do you expect the effect would be on the novice?

My opinion is, new/inexperienced builders look for encouragement to buy and build kits in this forum, and they are entitled to see posts that provide that encouragement.

Best wishes,
Dave Olson
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:35 PM
  #59  
Clay Walters
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Fletch;

I could probably direct you to a young huisache tree, two cinderblocks, and a discarded pair women's nylons and you would merrily set about constructing your own DC9. Since no expectations were set you wouldn't be dissappointed either.

But hand you box with "Can be completed in 6-8 hours total time. You will need a bottle of wood glue, some 30min epoxy, a hot sock, a #1 phillips, some straight pins, and a roll of masking tape to complete. "

What the odds then? ... for a first timer?

Regards,

Clay
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:43 PM
  #60  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Post removed. Let's focus on links to kits.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:02 PM
  #61  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?


ORIGINAL: abufletcher

The other thing I'd like to say to "first-timers" is that building a kit isn't brain surgery. All you have to do is get is "almost right" and it will probably fly just fine.
If that weren't true I would have never made it. Still, the point is what is reasonable to expect from a kit (or an ARF) based upon advertised specs, contents, and hype. And if a kit has been around for 40 years and still in production - there just is no excuse for sloppy materiels, hardware, and anything less than a pristine well illustrated set of plans and instructions. Only a new kit still in the "beta" phase would be lacking as the manufacturer obtains first hand feed back and makes adjustments.

If a person is just lazy or impatient and doesn't care to take or make the time to construct a kit they shouldn't start one. But struggling with poor materials or vague incomplete instructions is just plain wrong. It shouldn't even be sold as a kit, just sell the plans and and leave the rest up to the builder.

Clay
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:44 PM
  #62  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

You guys just reminded me of something from my first days of building models, I can remember holding on to the model while sanding it, and trying to do finish work with the sander in my right hand, while my left hand keeps crushing or breaking something ! I had forgotten how bad that is when half of you is finishing and the other half making more work !
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:00 AM
  #63  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

High quality 3D profile kits http://www.ohiomodelplanes.com/
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:07 AM
  #64  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

ORIGINAL: Scar


ORIGINAL: abufletcher
ORIGINAL: Clay Walters
...without having to shape the parts, jury rig and finagle at every turn...
Dave and Clay,
Where's the fun in that! I've never met a kit I couldn't bash and don't expect I ever will. But to be honest, it's come to the point that I bash so extensively that I'm really just scratch-building with kit-provided balsa.
A friendly question: Your contribution to this thread will be read by novices and more experienced people; what do you expect the effect would be on the novice?

My opinion is, new/inexperienced builders look for encouragement to buy and build kits in this forum, and they are entitled to see posts that provide that encouragement.

Best wishes,
Dave Olson
Clay and Dave,

I just wonder how many would spend the time that we had to in cutting all the blue lines on the stamped balsa sheets to be able to build a simple rubber powered Comet kit? Or how many today would be willing to cut out the parts templates, and copy them onto a balsa sheet as we had to do with many other brands of kit?

I know, you will tell me that kids today don't have the time that I had way back when, but did they change the rule that there was only 24 hours in the day? If you are motivated, and really want to, then you will, by patience, and discipline finish the model, and move on to a more complex model.

Today, I cut my own kits from plans, and build them, or scratch build my own. I'm not a better model builder than anyone else, but I have learned to have the patience and discipline that this hobby requires. I don't expect everyone to want to build their own model airplane. That didn't happen in the late 40's and 50's either. I was a member of a small minority of kids who built and flew model planes. In my town, there were less than 1000 residents. Only 3 or 4 of us were into model planes.

It's never been an easy hobby, but it has been a rewarding one. Not every boy who built model planes became an engineer, but most engineers built model planes. It teaches you things that nothing else does.

I don't like ARF's (big surprise). I personally feel that the rise of the ARF has been responsible for the demise of the kit industry, and that this lack of buildable kits has helped to ruin the hobby. There is a great call for instant gratification today, and it is getting worse. Perhaps the downturn of the economy will slow down the availability of these ARFs and some of the guys will begin to build their own from scratch or from plans again. The price of the ARF models has been increasing at a high rate in recent months, and I don't think that it's a bad thing.

Those who really want to have flying models will find a way to do so, and those who are only in it for the short term will probably move along to some other interest.

How many people do you know that have only done ARF's, have been in the hobby for more than 5 years? How many do you know who will be in the hobby for that amount of time. The hobby/sport has changed, and the membership is very flexible at the present time. It looks like fun, and lots of people get into the sport of flying, and lose interest quickly and move on. Look at how many nice and nearly new pieces of radio equipment are currently for sale cheap. These are the guys who will be doing something else next summer.

It's always been an expensive hobby, and a small one. The big distributors have been trying to generate a demand, rather than filling a need. They are hurting too. The companies that will survive are probably the ones who will be able to fill a demand rather than creating one.

That's just my opinion, and is probably worth exactly what it cost you. I'll still be cutting and building after the importers of ARF's are long gone.

Bill, AMA 4720
WACO Brotherhood #1
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:23 AM
  #65  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Original: Stickbuilder <<snip>>I personally feel that the rise of the ARF has been responsible for the demise of the kit industry, and that this lack of buildable kits has helped to ruin the hobby. There is a great call for instant gratification today, and it is getting worse. <<snip>>
I don't look at it that way at all. I don't think the hobby's ruined, and the opportunities for scratchbuilding are greater than ever. Demise of the kit industry? The kits that are being laser cut are tops, and we can still buy plans (or SAM kits) and build 'most any model ever designed.

Instant gratification? I suppose you don't have a bandsaw, or a set of clamps, or other timesavers. Not to mention radios, we don't have to build a Heathkit...

It's a great hobby, participation is up, and the tools just keep getting better and better.

Or so it seems to me,
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:50 AM
  #66  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Dave I have to agree with you-the arf's are here to stay-I do not know where all my time went-three high school kids(band, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, ROTC, Abandon Animal Rescue) I am thankful we have arfs or I would have one model instead of ten. I have built since I was 10 years old and besides the time constraints, economic factors as well-ie I never have been able to cover with the suggested amount of monocoat-if a 60 size model states 2.5 rolls it would take 3.5 for me-I just purchased a Dragon Lady ARF-a 60 size low wing bump around for $150.00 from LHS-there is no way I could cover this and build it for that price-let alone the hardware, wheels and gear and fuel tank-

Arf's have improved this hobby and kept more people in it. We have now some ARF's that have exceeded most people's build skills as well for alot less time and money than one could produce. Sure there is the pride of knowing you scratch built a fine model and you have the only one-I am not trying to tear anyone down but ARF's are here to stay and I think we will be moving to PLUG and PLAY and CRASH where alot of fine ARF's will be truly RTF's and we will fuel them or charge them (because the electrics are here to stay as well) and fly them with in twenty minutes of pulling a 60 size model out of the box.

People have chosen and market reflects this.
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Old 12-06-2008, 02:43 PM
  #67  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

In answer to Clay Walters thoughtful post about correcting the mistakes of older kits:
There are egregious exceptions but I think many of the "legacy kits" will build adequately using the plans and instructions provided with the materials alone. I think a real innovation in the last ten years has been the Build Forum concept and it's immediate access to and dispersal of innovation and improvement. Once average builders worked in isolation but can now tart up their projects with little risk of failure after having seen it done successfully at least once. Every tinkerer longs to innovate and leave his signature on something he puts so much work into. Carbon this, pull-pull that, are now like rights of passage into the domain of the advanced craftsman.

The next stage will be CAD file sharing and consumer-oriented laser cutters! Now if we could find a really cheap substitute for balsa wood.....
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:13 PM
  #68  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

I'll answer the original question "where have all the kits gone?" Go to your local swap meet!
While many were walking out with used arfs, I was scouring around for kits. I took two home
for less than $50. If I had more to spend, I could have gotten several.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:12 PM
  #69  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

The latest fad is short kitting. I laser cut a couple old time favorites, a twin by Dick Sarpolus 1995, the Hooker by Chuck Cunningham 1981 and now I work with Flying models Magazine developing short kits for some of their popular plan models. A short kit provides all the ribs and fuse formers for a set of plans. The builder only has to supply the sticks and planks of balsa, all the hard work is done and very accurately I might add.
These are not generally kits for new builders, they do need building skills to decifer the plans which usually have a lot to be desired and there are no manuals. Sometimes you can get a copy of the build article when you buy the plans.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:52 PM
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Guys, I do find you conversation interesting, but when I see there has been traffic in this topic I hope to find new information about a kit manufacturer I didn't know about. This discussion really needs to be under a separate topic. A person now has to wade through your posts if a new post comes up about an actual kit manufacturer. How about leaving this one for only posts about kit manufacturers or suppliers?

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Old 12-07-2008, 09:34 PM
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Sorry, I see what you mean. Good luck finding kits.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:27 PM
  #72  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Balsawings has a point and I guess I'm an accessory after the fact. Sorry 'bout that.

Maybe if we're real nice Santa will list all the links at the front of this thread.

Here's a neat kit manufacturer in Germany no one has mentioned.
[link=http://www.fmbb.de/Englischhome/Englischhome.htm]Barth Flying Models[/link]
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:49 AM
  #73  
Clay Walters
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

The opening post started this "discussion". MinnFlyer decided he'd like to confine it to a resource list - I suppose in affirmation of the opening post's 2nd paragraph query.

I like this website: http://www.airfieldmodels.com/inform...htm#Home_Pages

Regards,

Clay
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:42 AM
  #74  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Carden Aircraft. Makers of kits for giants cale aerobatics. Very popular kits in that area of 35-43% Edges/Caps/Extras/Yaks and an 80" Cuda. Some of the best quality kits out there in my opinion. Caroline and Dennis (Carden ....) are great to talk to and answer any questions.

http://www.carden-aircraft.com/


Dalton Aviation. Kits of 35% and 42% Extras. Very good quality and great customer service. Several build threads around on them.

http://www.daltonaviation.com/
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:35 AM
  #75  
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Default RE: Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Look here for unique, extemely well engineered kits

http://www.vanvan.us
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