They say that people who live in places with famous landmarks often don't take the time to visit those same landmarks.
I'm originally from New York City and I must admit, I was in the 9th grade by the time I ever actually went up inside the Statue of Liberty.
When the opportunity arose for me to travel to Toledo Ohio for the WORLD famous Weak Signals RC Expo, I realized I'd fallen into the same trap!
I have been an avid RC Flyer since early childhood, and never once made it to 'THE Toledo show'
Don't make the same mistake I did, thinking 'Ah, heck that's just another trade show'
Toledo is NOT just another show!
The 59th Annual Weak Signals RC Expo was held on April 5-7 2013 at the Seagate Convention Center in beautiful downtown Toledo Ohio.
It was an interesting weekend to say the least. If you've been a member of RCUniverse for more than a year you'll likely remember my Brother Mike, (aka MinnFlyer)
who passed away shortly before last year's Expo. He is still sorely missed, but life is for the living and when asked if I would like to help cover this years' event
I was both flattered and scared 'shirtless'. For about 3 nanoseconds. Then I could not hit the reply button quickly enough.
OF COURSE I'll go!
Rounding out this years' event coverage were Geoff Barber (Gbarber) Ken Isaac (RCKen) and yours truly Jim Buzzeo (AMA 74894)
Geoff and I met up with Ken on Thursday afternoon while vendors were still setting up in prep for the big opening on Friday morning.
I was like a kid in a candy store... No, I was like THREE kids in a candy store.
I felt like I had backstage tickets to a rock concert. Everywhere I looked I saw RC Celebrity: Kings and Gods to a 50 year old 'kid from the Bronx'.
Vendors were scurrying about pushing wheeled carts piled high with the most jaw dropping, drool-worthy products I could imagine.
I wasn't prepared for the enormity of it all! This is a BIG venue, with many of the top names and brands displaying all their latest and greatest.
This was truly Christmas day, and I had a ticket to ride in Santa's Sleigh. In Toledo. In April. It doesn't get much better than this.
The next day was Friday, the opening day of the event. Although there were still a few vendors and competitors hurriedly running about, the Convention center felt much more calm and relaxed.
Then they opened the doors to the public. In streamed every age, gender, size and shape modeler you've ever imagined.
I've been told that attendance had been down the previous couple of years with the economy being not so great, but it certainly didn't look that way to me!
There was certainly no shortage of vendor offerings, and a large number of modelers of all ages.
We stopped in for a visit with the folks at Hobbico,
Their offerings this year included a new line of Electric Motors from our old friends at OS Engines, and some new Four Stroke GAS Engines.
Imagine, the sound of a four stroke combined with (relatively) inexpensive gasoline. Of course Electric models are popular these days, but don't let anyone lead you to believe that liquid fuel is dead.
Hobbico also unveiled Futaba's newest offering, the T14SG Radio system. Loaded with features and at a decent price, I think you'll be seeing a lot of these at the field this year.
We also saw a great new computer radio, The Tactic TTX650. A six channel full range 20 model full feature computer radio at a street price of 149.97!
In the videos below you can check out the other items from Hobbico and their affiliates including: the new line of Thunder Tiger Helicopters that Nick Maxwell has been flying,
the FlyZone AirCore line of park sized modular foamies and if you feel the need for speed, the new electric powered Hadron and the Eraze.
Hobbico also had some very nice Aquacraft boats, VS Tanks and of course Heli-Max Helicopters & Quadcopters.
Next on our tour we spoke with the folks at Horizon Hobby, where we were treated to a display of their new E-Flite Inverza, Blade's latest Electric helicopter kits and Hangar 9's BIG Yak 54 and Hangar 9 Carden Extra 300.
I had the opportunity to speak with Seth Arnold of Horizon about this gorgeous Extra, watch the video below. Saito had some 4 stroke gas engines that are absolutely beautiful.
The new Evolution 15CC gasser was also unveiled. This looks like a great little gas engine!
As I walked around the corner I noticed I'd lost sight of Geoff. Then I saw the Hangar 9 100CC Super Decathlon on display with Geoff looking at it like...
Well let's just say that Geoff likes Decathlons, and this one really did it for him.
We saw the ParkZone As3X Visionaire, the new ParkZone Ultra Micro P-40 with AS3X and the 4 Channel Park Zone Archer made from Zfoam (Zfoam does not require foam safe CA)
At Horizon's booth were also the new Hangar 9 P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang, the Hangar 9 Cirrus SR22T, E-Flite's new Splendor, E-Flite's Mystique Sailplane and the biggest offering from E-Flite I'd ever seen:
The HUGE E-Flite L-13 Blanik, 4.2 meter scale sailplane.
JRAmericas announced their newly created entity, which moving forward will be taking over marketing, promotion and advertising for the JR brand in the USA. Horizon of course will still be the primary distributor, but JRAmericas is taking a more active role in the management of their brand.
Also at the JRAmericas booth: servos with removable wiring, the new JR Forza Helicopters and the JR XG14 transmitter.
The Toledo show is not only for big corporations.
Aeroworks had a new 30CC Ultimate 20-300: a smaller version of their 150CC Ultimate. Also in their booth was a 76 inch span Laser 200 and their new trainer aptly named the Aeroworks GT Trainer. (complete with candy drop option) Designed around the DLE 20CC gas engine. Their new Yak 55M for 50CC gassers was a sight to behold.
Some of the ever present companies at Toledo included Sig Manufacturing. Mike Gretz showed us some of the new airplanes Sig is offering, including the newly re-released Four Star line of airplanes.
One of my favorites, the Four Star Forty is now called the Four Star 64, and the Four Star 54, with the name change indicating wingspan instead of Glow Engine size. Makes sense since now both airplanes can use either electric or glow engines. Sig also had a beautiful new Sbach ARF and a Taylorcraft look-alike, the Hal DeBolt inspired Tclips EP and of course the Rascal and Kadet.
DuBro was at Toledo too, with a new line of heavy duty dual control horns and dual servo arms for your latest giant, and every type of accessory imaginable. 100% made in the USA, (even their packaging!) DuBro's products are a log time favorite.
Hobby Lobby's Jason Cole showed us the new Tech Drones Q4 Quad copter, they also had a huge 12 foot span Telemaster on display... even for a Telemaster this one was just plain HUGE.
They also had some great micro sized helicopters and an absolute pile of new offerings.
HobbyPeople was there in force with an enormous display of airplanes, Helicopters, motors and assorted goodies of all shapes and sizes.
We were fortunate to meet Cheryl, the new Manager of Precision Aerobatics. PA was there in force with some of their latest Electric powered 3D aerobats, including the Katana MX, and their well-known 'Addiction'
GMP (Giant Model Products) had some old favorites but sporting new colors, they now support the JCEngines line of gassers including the JC60 and the JC120 twin cylinder.
Maxford USA had a great looking Airco DH.2 WW1 Pusher, and a neat little Antonov AN-2. Maxford puts out some of the more unique looking airplanes which never fail to turn heads at the field.
Think kit building is a lost art? Think again, or just visit the guys at Balsa USA.
They displayed their brand new Albatross and a 'Student trainer' a kit designed to teach you how to become a Model Builder!
Steve Thomas and his lovely wife Julie made the journey from Orland Florida and had some great Falcon Propellers on display.
Check the video for an amazing display of the strength of their Carbon Fiber props.
We met with Kathy, Micro Fasteners' new owner who had a very nice selection of hard to find nuts, bolts, screws and hardware at very reasonable pricing.
New at Toledo was UK based Deluxe Materials offering a line of adhesives and building supplies, including aptly named products such as Liquid Gravity, and Eze-Kote. The Modeler owned, UK based company has been around for 14 years and are proud to offer products formulated to be safer for the user and for the planet.
Fai Chan, Owner of Airborne Models and designer for The World Model Products showed us their new FC-1 Xiaolong 90MM EDF, their updated DF-032 Panther, an electric powered Commander and a huge, 85 inch wingspan aerobatic 'Practice' airplane: The 50CC Commander.
Returning to Toledo this year was Ohio Model Products, with some of the largest airplanes on display, as well as a new Sbach Electric powered airplane.
Among the radio manufactures present was Airtronics, who showed us their updated SD10 Transmitter: a hand made one of a kind demo to be released later this year.
FPV (first person view) was probably the most talked about technology this year and we had the pleasure of speaking with Dave Mattheson from the AMA who let us know about some upcoming news from the FAA.
Troy Built Models had a fabulous Fiberglass Skyraider but also Gene Payson, President of Troy Built is leveraging some forward thinking and is now offering a UAS Training Course, as well as a big UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)
The Toledo Expo is not just a place for manufacturers! Another staple of this event each year is the cherished static display.
The level of craftsmanship at this event is second to none. Rick Hammel, last year's Best of Show winner returned with a JetCat turbine powered Batwing, which truly had to be seen to be believed.
The Batwing however was to be denied the title of Best of Show by the TBM3E Avenger Torpedo bomber by Peter Howe.
The amount of detail on this Avenger was absolutely mind boggling.
Boats, cars, quads, airplanes of every size and type were represented at Toledo's static display.
The carnival like atmosphere went on until we were exhausted and ready for home.
Sunday afternoon after all the prizes had been handed out and all the 'work' done, it was time to say farewell to all the old (and new) friends we made at Toledo.
I would like to thank each and every member of the Toledo Weak Signals RC Club, without their blood, sweat and tears an event of this magnitude would not be possible!
Although the 59th Annual Toledo Expo will be a tough act to follow, I'm already looking forward to the 60th next year!
And I hope to see YOU there!
Till next time, I thank the wonderful people who made the 59th Toledo Expo one I will remember for many years to come.
-Jim Buzzeo (for the RCU staff)