The 60th Annual Weak Signals RC Expo was held on April 4-6 2014 at the Seagate Convention Center in the lovely city of Toledo, Ohio.
Last year was my first year not only attending but also covering the event for RCUniverse. It was a pile of fun, but this year was even better! This year was a big anniversary for the Weak Signals' Toledo show!
Ken Isaac (RCKen), Geoff Barber (Gbarber) and yours truly Jim Buzzeo (AMA 74894) attended the three day show.
Geoff and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, narrowly missing some of the marvelous weather we've been 'blessed' with this year.
Ken was already at the show, and getting ready for the big weekend. I was simply excited to be at Toledo again, there's something about seeing ALL that wonderful 'stuff' that has a major effect on me!
The Convention center floor was a flurry of activity on Thursday afternoon. Vendors were milling about making sure their newest products were all displayed properly. Some were shooting the breeze, others were hitting it like they were getting ready for a parade. Everywhere I looked I saw something I hadn't seen before. Again I felt like a kid in a candy store. It's that time of year again, TOLEDO!
After getting some business taken care of, we walked around the Convention center floor, seeing friends old and new.
We took some photos, and got ready for what promised to be another great show.
Friday began with the three of us hurrying to talk with the folks at Hobbico before the doors were opened to the public.
There we met up with Art and Carol Pesch, Greg Meyer, Steve Kaluf and Frank Noll. The Hobbico booth has to be seen to be believed. It is absolutely crammed full of gorgous airplanes, heli's, engines (Gas, Glow and electric) boats, cars and more.
Hobbico's Heli-Max 230s1 Quadcopter is a larger quad, with 15 min run time and an onboard camera.
We saw the nitro powered Thunder Tiger Raptor G4.1 heli for big block nitro engines and
the Thunder Tiger Raptor E550 Flybarless ARF which is a great heli for the beginner or hardcore 3D flyer.
Greg Poppel showed us the new Futaba T-10J 2.4Ghz 10 Channel Radio.
We also had the opportunity to see the new Great Planes Curtis P-6E Hawk ARF, Great Planes Kunai 1.4m Sport Glider and the Great Planes Citabria 30cc ARF. I'm pretty sure Geoff is going to have that Citabria soon, we had to drag him away from that airplane more than once!
We also was the new Aquacraft P-27 Gunslinger Crackerbox RTR racing boat, which will be nice as soon as the ice on the lake melts.
Finally we were treated to a look at TopFlite's new A6M Zero 50-60cc ARF. Hobbico has been showing some nice airframes in this size lately, the Zero looks like a winner!
Hobbico is the American Standard of Customer Service and Product Support, and it shows in their people and their products.
Shortly after we wrapped up at the Hobbico booth, the doors were opened and the crowd flooded in.
It looked like a mall opening the doors on black Friday! Swarms of modelers poured in, filling the Convention Center floor.
NOW we were really at Toledo!
We stopped in for a chat with the nice folks at JR Americas, Byron Guss showed us JR's new Transmitters.
Jr is always near the leading edge of technology, and this year was no different. The new JR 28X Transmitter has an ANDROID OPERATING SYSTEM!
you read that right, Android is what is actually running in the background for non control items such as the programing menus, BROWSER,
and WIFI! With TWENTY EIGHT Channels (all full function proper proportional channels) I imagine we'll be seeing some pretty sophisticated airplanes at the field in the very near future. It's even got aux channel switches right on the sticks.
Barron also showed us the new JR XG-11 Radio, with some very impressive features. JR has been a leader in high end radio technology for decades, this year they did not disappoint!
Next we got a great rundown on JR's newest Forza helicopters.
JR is well known for producing some very very nice helicopters, but the new Forza 700 and 450 truly have to be seen to be believed.
Horizon Hobby's booth is also pretty impressive! David Payne showd us the new Hangar 9 F4U-D Corsair 60cc ARF. Horizon released it last year at Joe Nall and it is a beauty! Next we saw the latest gasoline engine,The Evolution 62cc Fuel Injection Engine with surefire EFI.
Ever had a tough time setting a needle valve? Not anymore!
The Hangar 9 P-51D 60cc ARF was absolutely fabulous! at 1/5 scale and 89" wingspan, this 'Gentleman Jim' replica will surely be a hit with the Warbird crowd!
The Seagull Extra 300L was on display, power with either a 10CC Gas engine or .46 electric.
Seth Arnold showed us the E-Flight UMX Pitts S-1 BNF. Bigger than the beast and Sbach and has the as3x Stabilization system.
Finally, a Micro Pitts that flies easily!
We also saw the Parkzone Sport Cub, also with AS3X. It's a nice mid sized Cub, and looks great!
Next we met with Mitch Stott of Down and Locked. These folks are now producing an add-on Serial Bus radio system, called the 'Flight Commander System' which has the capability of powering all servos separately from the receiver, with each servo having it's own adjustable end points, travel limits, etc. it's the sort of thing you'd normally find only on very high end radio systems. Not only is their product very reasonably priced, it also works with 'normal' analog or digital servos! (No special $125 servos required!)
Down and Locked of course is also very well known for their retractable landing gear solutions.
Fai Chan, Distributor of The World Models and The Wing Maker was at Toledo showing off a great new scale sailplane, the 1/4 Scale Hall Cherokee II as well as a nice new .40 sized Zero (now with Servoless electronic retracts) and a great looking little nitro Sport plane, the Rambler 45.
The 120 MPH "Outrageous" EF-1 pylon racer is another new airplane, and looks to be blisteringly fast.
The SkyNova is an Entry level package including everything, ready to fly. Includes a long and a short wing, for 3 or 4 channels. Fai also showed us a neat new clip for disconnecting Lipo batteries. No more wrecking the inside of your airplane trying to unplug your batteries!
These are some of the nicest, best priced ARFs you're likely to find and Fai is one of the most personable people I have ever met.
He loves what he does and it shows!
DuBro of course was in their regular place on the floor. It seems their products just keep getting better. This year we spoke with Ed Bojan, who introduced a new way to handle an old problem: Brakes. (Or the lack of dependable inexpensive brakes) for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inch wheels, NO Soldering required! 100% made in the USA, (even their packaging!) DuBro's products are a log time favorite.
The guys at Sig were at Toledo in force this year as always.
Over the last few years, Sig has really stepped up their game re-releasing some old time favorite airplanes now as ARF's.
I had the pleasure of reviewing their Sbach recently, and was VERY impressed with it's performance.
Their venerable Kadet, Rascal and Four Star (both the 40 and 64) are all great airplanes. The Kadet Senior has been re-released, now as a taildragger. I've had the opportunity to fly one, and it is a blast!
Last year Sig released the 'TClips' a model of a highly modified Taylorcraft. THIS year they've made the design even better with a slightly larger airframe, clear canopy, glow or electric options and several other improvements which make this great little airplane even better.
the Sig Somethin' Extra has also been re-released (in two colors) and looks to be every bit the aerobatic performer the kit version was.
Sig even took the time to invite all members of RCUniverse's 'Sig Brotherhood' to their booth for a photo op. These guys have the best job in the world, and they know it!
It was good to see our friend Rocco at Aeroworks again at Toledo this year. Building on their highly successful QB (Quick Build) line of airplanes, Rocco now offers their Extra 260 in a 60CC, 91 inch span and in a 120CC, 110 inch span version, Complete with Side force generators.
They've been cutting costs but not corners at Aeroworks by listening to their customers requests.
With NO reduction in fit and finish, the QB line is lower in price, but higher in quality.
Rocco and crew deserve a standing ovation for the work they've put into their product line.
Cheryl, Jim, and company from Precision Aerobatics were out in force at Toledo.
Their very successful Addiction, and AddictionX 3D airplanes now have a big brother, the AddictionXL!
With a 69 Inch span, the AddictionXL weighs a mere 3.25 pounds, READY TO FLY! Available in Red, Purple or Green.
PA's line of 3D airplanes use a manufacturing system which combines intelligently placed Carbon Fiber with traditional balsa, ply and fiberglass construction methods. I purchased an AddictionX at Toledo, I can tell you this airplane IS VERY Appropriately named! It's also a 3D MONSTER!
Next we saw Rick Obenburger, of Tru-Turn Spinners. They have been attending Toledo Since 1986. Rick showed us his line of outrunner prop adapters, which include provisions to mount your spinner.
For 2MM to 8MM shaft sizes.
Rick also showed us the Turbo Cool line of Spinners, specially made for electric airplanes. These Spinners have holes to allow for airflow, and the backplate is designed for optimum cooling. Tru-Turn makes Military type spinners too, for Gas or Electric.
Hobby People is yet another company that just seems to get better every year. We spoke with Mike Greensheilds about some of their latest releases, including a georgeous Foam P-47, a sporty little pattern trainer called the Taipan
Hobby People has been distributing small to medium sized quads for years, now they are offering a very nicely sized QuadRotor, the IFLY-4S Quad complete with GPS. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them in the very near future.
We stopped in for a visit with the good folks at Balsa USA. They had a 1/4 Scale Fokker Triplane on display that was just beautiful.
Last year BUSA released their newest kit The Albatross, a very nicely detailed WWI German fighter. BUSA has been in the kit manufacturing business for decades and it shows in the quality of their kits. The Mercedes D3 Engine kit for the Albatross was on display and I can tell you it is a work of art!
Mark Enderby also showed us a new bomb release mechanism, and reminded us that their NEW 1/4 Scale Sopwith Camel will be available soon!
Hanson Hobbies is not as well known as they should be in my view. These guys specialize in creating economically priced electronics KITS that are simple to put together and are very easy on the wallet. Everything from DIY servo extensions, Y cords, Servo power boards are all very reasonably priced and don't require surgical experience. If you can solder a wire, you can put their kits together.
Being USA owned and operated certainly makes them stand out from the electronic crowd.
We chatted with Jim Suter, the Canadian distributor for Deluxe Materials Company. Their revolutionary products are designed to be much more earth and human friendly than many of the caustic chemicals we in the modeling community have learned to love AND hate. "Smart plastic" is a reusable moldable plastic material for molding and 1000 other uses. Brush magic, is a low odor, non flammable, water wash away brush cleaner. It removes enamel paint and even epoxy.
Walking the Convention center floor for 8 hours can certainly take it's toll on me. By the time the first day ended I was ready for Dinner in a famous restaurant. Famous if you're name is Klinger that is! We stopped at Tony Paco's for their FAMOUS hot dogs.
after a day like we had, a couple dogs and an ice cold beer were exactly what I needed.
The Weak Signals club has been putting this show on for the last 60 years and they surely do know how to run a trade show.
The Starbucks coffee house in the convention center was a welcome break from all the 'work' we had to do.
(That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
There was a generous amount of seating available in the Lobby area, as well as snacks, light lunch type food and more.
Saturday morning and we were off and running again!
There are so many exhibitors it was hard to fit everyone in, but it sure was fun trying!
We met many more wonderful people, bought all sorts of goodies and had an all around good time.
We spoke with Noel Harvey, who showed us the Gyro Cut rotating steel blade system for cutting thin material like covering. This is one tool I need to have in my building arsenal.
Steve and Julie Thomas, Owners of Bob's hangar and hobby center in Orlando Florida were at Toldeo, once again they impressed us with their line of Falcon propellers (both Carbon Fiber and Beechwood) I've been flying falcon and I just love em.
Steve is a Top Gun competitor but is also one of the nicest people you'd ever meet.
Steve also showed us Falcon's new line of Civilian scale props pre painted with simulated rivets and simulated brass laminate.
These Props are top notch!
We saw Gary Mount, of Buddy RC (formerly EP buddy). Gary showed us his line of Glacier Lipo batterys, "I chargers" and the 406 Duo Charger, which can charge two batteries at once, at up to 40 AMPs! 40 Amp per side charger.
New at Toledo this year was Cole Dewoody's Limitless Aero/ GP Engines. Made in Taiwan. Cole handles all service and sales in Texas.
With single and two cylinder 61cc at 3.5 pounds and almost 7 HP, a 123CC twin putting out 12-14 HP, and the
huge 176 EVO twin 18 HP.
GP engines use the same prop and mounting configuration as the higher price tag gassers.
Next on our Tour we saw Bill Stevens, owner of Stevens Aero.
Stevens aero is farily well known for their laser cut parkflyer and micro balsa kits.
Nothing is left to chance, and you'll never buy a box full of warped sticks from Stevens Aero.
Even square stock is laser cut from sheet, and their instructions are simply perfect.
the kits are designed around the readily available indoor micro and park flyer electronics that most of us already have.
The kits are great fun airplanes, and reasonably priced.
We also stopped for a visit with David McCormick Dave's RC Electonics, who showed us his Safe Start system.
If you've ever accidentally bumped a throttle stick on an electric powered airplane, you need a safe start.
On Sunday the winners of the static show were announced.
The craftsmanship of these airplanes truly must be seen to be believed, some of the most talented modlers in the world bring their airplanes to Toledo.
Sunday afternoon came quickly. Although the three of us were exhausted, I didn't want the show to end.
It takes a lot of dedication and talented people to produce a show like Toledo.
The members of the Toledo Weak Signals RC Club have done an amazing job of running this show for the past 60 years.
I truly appreciate the hard work they do every year to make the show a success for everyone.
I'm sure I'll be back again in April of NEXT year for another fun filled weekend at the Toledo Show.
Hope to see you there!
-Jim Buzzeo (for the RCU staff)