I'm not a big fan of winter and for most of the country, this was one of the worst in a long time. So this year I was really looking forward to spring! The Weak Signal's Expo, commonly known as The Toledo Show, is to me as much a sign that spring has arrived as any "robin-red-breast" I have ever seen!
The show sort of sneaked up on me this year since I was so busy with other travel obligations. Then the day before we left, I got a call from Ken Isaac, "Hey Mike" he said, "It just hit me... We're going to Toledo tomorrow!" I replied, "I know... It still hasn't sunk in yet!" But the next day Geoff Barber and I were heading for the airport.
Despite the fact that both our flight and Ken's were delayed, we all landed within 10 minutes of each other and after we had arrived at our hotel and got settled, we were planning our assault on the show over dinner. We all expressed the same hope that this year's show would be better than last year's. Not that last year's show was bad, there just didn't seem to be a lot of anything really new or innovative.
Our fears were put to rest the next morning when we walked out onto the show floor. WOW! Lot's of new stuff! Lot's of new vendors! A virtual cornucopia of R/C goodies! I just wanted to take my shoes off and run around through it bare-footed!
Our first stop was at the Horizon Hobbies booth. Horizon and its affiliates had so many new offerings it was hard to keep track of them all. There were several new electric models including an updated version of the Striker that features a break-away nose and 4-channel control and a small, electric Pattern-type plane called the Leader 480.
E-Flite displayed several new micro fliers like the Corsair and a twin engine Mosquito! Larger offerings included a beautiful new Hawker Hurricane 25e that comes in both a BNF and PNP version.
But the real show-stopper was the BIG stuff! A new 35% Extra 300 was there, but it was dwarfed by Mike McConville's new 122" Sukhoi SU-26MM powered by a DA170! Mike will tell you more about it in the video below.
Another real jaw-dropper was the 130" 80cc Piper Pawnee. This massive crop duster is Hangar 9's first giant-scale plane that is outside of the Aerobatic or Warbird category (although if you've ever seen a Pawnee dusting crops you'll know that they are quite aerobatic) and they are very excited about it!
Several manufacturers, like Evolution and O.S. were displaying a variety of new radial 4-stroke engines, but the most impressive had to be the twin-bank, 14-cylindar from Authentic Scale Engines!
Hobbico also had a full range of new products from indoor Micro-Fliers, like the new Fokker DR-1 up to the new Giant Scale Top Flite P-40 which was voted "Best in Class" by Model Airplane News. I really liked the new Great Planes 46-size Christen Eagle, while Geoff was drooling over a newly released, 46-size version of the classic "Stinger". They have also released new foam versions of the classic "Super Sportster" and "Falcon" as well as a new micro DR-1 (Or as we liked to call it, the "Little Fokker")
Aeroworks also had several new giants on display including a 100cc Super Cub that was amazing! And one piece of news that I'm sure most modelers will be glad to hear is that SIG is back! We had a great conversation with the new owners who seen sincerely dedicated to the principles that SIG was founded on and they are working diligently to nurse the company back to health (and it seems like they are on the right track). Good luck fellas!
All of the big radio manufacturers had new items to display Futaba showed us their updated version of the 8FG and the new 6J, which is a FHSS system that can be ideal for the entry-level flyer who wants room to grow. Spektrum displayed several new receivers, which are specifically designed for carbon fiber fuselages and a new company called Xtreme Power Systems, based in Arizona has a radio to be announced this year that might really turn some heads!
There was also a ton of new stuff for the electric crowd. Tru-Turn displayed a new spinner specifically designed to blow air over the motor for cooling and there were more batteries, ESCs, and regulators than you could count.
After the past few years of a woeful economy, it really seems like the show is coming back in full force. New companies are growing while the time-honored veterans are reestablishing themselves. I hope that this is an indication of a brighter future for our hobby!
If you couldn't make it to the show this year or if you just care to reminisce, please feel free to enjoy the sights and sounds that we present below! - Mike Buzzeo (for the RCU Staff)