Okay, I'm not going to condone Hobby King or talk about all my orders with them. I am going to give a bit of experience.
First and foremost I support all 3 of my local shops, always have and always will. However having been a fixed wing RC pilot for close to 30 years and a RW helicopter pilot I was bitten by the bug to try my hand at RC helicopters. Years ago I started off with the original little Blade full collective helicopter. What a nightmare and after blowing through over $600 trying to learn to fly I gave up. A few years pass and I was in the LHS, he had one of the Tandem Rescue helicopters out playing with it, I tried my hand and much to my surprise I flew it. It went home with me. Of course a week later I was back purchasing the SR120. As the weeks passed I was buying more and more of the e-flight/blade stuff. Then one day at our local flying field someone was out there with a T-Rex 450 and I was hooked......well till I walked into the local hobby shop and found a tiny little box of parts was over $400.00!!! And that was just the airframe. So I asked the LHS owner for a price for everything and promptly fainted.
Weeks pass, I'm now bored with my blade stuff and looking right here on RCU for a "real" helicopter. I keep coming across all these excellent priced "clones". So I looked up Hobby King and for just over $100.00 shipped from china to my house I had a complete T-Rex 450 clone with all the stuff to put it in the air including a battery pack. (That pack would have cost me more than this entire shipment from my LHS).
I assemble the little bugger and without any prompting I actually managed to hover it with a lot of help from several people right here on this forum. Now I have to add I still have this original helicopter and have replaced a few of the parts with genuine T-Rex parts to the tune of about $60 worth. It's been 3 years, I still fly that original one and have purchased a few more for other stuff like a 5 blade rotor head with a Hughes 500 body, a camera ship, a spare parts kit, one for each of my boys and a couple for a friend of mine. All total to date we have less wrapped up in all of these than a single T-Rex would have cost with high end radio equipment. Yes, they break, and yes we usually purchase genuine T-Rex replacement parts from the LHS. We have had a couple servos fail, 1 esc but that was due to human error and I have had 1 shipment where I had exceeded the lipo capacity get lost somewhere in Singapore.
Moving on I had a KMP reject 50cc Yak that had sat in the box in my shop for years. I was into this ARF for only $100 and it had never been out of the box. So one day I was browsing HK and decided what the heck, let's put this thing together 100% HK and see what happens. I purchased the 50cc engine from them which turned out to be 55cc when I measured it, servos, regulators, switches and even an Orange brand Futaba receiver. I put the plane together over a couple weeks and took it out, waaaaay out away from humanity for the maiden flight.
That was almost two years ago and just this past Sunday on its 101st full flight the engine finally quit for the very first time but it was on the ground doing a touch and go. Turns out the ignition module had failed do to the spring in the plug cap contacting the cap itself. A $30 part from HK is on its way. I have NEVER touched the needles since the first break in, have never had a dead stick, have yet to have a servo fail or any of the other associated electronics.
Now I have other planes, a 100cc Aeroworks Yak with a DLE, a Great Planes Waco with a OS GT30 as well as numerous other planes all purchased from my LHS's. all equipped with the best Hitech, Futaba, JR stuff, top of the line LHS hardware and so on. However I still have less money tied up in my KMP Reject/HK Yak than just the OS engine cost for the Waco and I fly it EVERY trip to the flying field. Sooner or later something will fail and it will go home in a garbage bag, I know it, I'm accepting of it but I have had well over $500 worth of fun flying it and taking chances close to the ground that I would NEVER have tried with the Aeroworks.
Do I purchase from Hobby King, yes but I purchase 10 times more in dollar value from my LHS. I just went back and looked and as far back as my account goes with Tower I have spent less than $300 total with them so I don't even order from stateside suppliers, I shop local. I had every intention of learning to fly the HK helicopter risking less than $125 then purchasing the real Align stuff but 3 years into it my HK junk is still flying good. When the original one finally goes in for the big crash I'll spend the money to go Align with my LHS but had I not tried getting my feet wet with the HK junk I would have never spent a penny on Align replacement parts from the LHS which has much better margins for the owner than the kit itself and I certainly would have never considered the real Align helicopter.
I would never send someone blindly into the sport with HK. They have a place in my RC budget and because of some of the new doors they have opened for me in trying new aspects of the hobby without risking a larger amount of money I would have never ventured into these new areas and never spent the money with my LHS supporting the new interests. Some people drive Chevy Aveo's and others drive Mercedes Benz, they both get you there.