10 Things I Want to See at iHobby 2012

As I have previously announced, Roger and I will be travelling to Cleveland, Ohio for the iHobby Expo next week. I always love going to these events. The last time we were there, we got to see the unveiling of the Stampede 4x4 by Traxxas, which has since proven to be a staple in our R/C car line up.

So this will be a list of things I’d like to see at this year’s iHobby. It will be a bit of conjecture, rumor, and confirmed products, but all should be interesting!

Traxxas Radio Controlled Helicopters

About a month ago, I wrote about the rumor that Traxxas would be breaking into the R/C heli market. It seems like a credible rumor, but remains a rumor still. I’d like to see some Traxxas branded helicopters at iHobby – mostly to see just what a Traxxas helicopter would look like. There would also be some greater implications for Traxxas getting into the R/C heli market as well – and competition is good for consumers and pushes innovation forward. So I hope this rumor works out to be true.

The Blade mCX3

It’s been over two years since the Blade mCX2 began its reign as the top micro-size beginner helicopter. The mCX2 has been a great heli for us here, but I feel like it’s time to reboot it. The transition from the mCX to the mCX2 was to fix a couple of problems the mCX had. But this transition would be to breathe some new life into a somewhat stagnant helicopter. And if Traxxas does indeed start making helicopters, it would be nice to see Blade come out swinging with a brand-new take on a venerable favorite.

The Blade CX4

In the same way that the mCX2 needs a facelift, the CX2 needs to be replaced as well. The CX2 has been going for longer than any other helicopter Blade has put out, and was the helicopter that I cut my teeth on almost six years ago. The Blade CX3 was a disaster, and was discontinued quickly, but the CX2 lives on. I’d love to see a new heading-lock gyro on the CX4 to put it on par with the mCX2. A new, sleeker body style is a must, and maybe an aluminum swashplate to make the price tag justifiable. Oh, and please, Horizon, make a Bind-N-Fly model! I’d much rather fly it with a DX7s or DX8 than the mediocre radio shipped with the CX2. Lighten up the helicopter and make the Blade CX line relevant again.

AS3X on the Blade 120 SR

The Blade 120 SR is a fantastic helicopter (easily one of my favorite to fly). It’s calm and stable, but can move around at a quick pace if you let it. But the one thing it’s not particularly good at is flying outside, at least compared to something like the mQX or other fixed-pitch helicopters. The addition of AS3X (and also making it flybarless, as is required by the AS3X system) would go a long way to making the helicopter more attractive to potential buyers. It would also make it more docile, and that would be great as well. We need a reboot of the 120 SR, stat!

Paint, Bind, and Fly Airplanes

Bind-N-Fly (BNF) has been a major selling point to many of the airplanes we sell ever since the concept was introduced. But now the idea isn’t novel; it’s simply part of the mainstream aeronautical hobby. Furthermore, there are plenty of people that are backing away from the Bind-N-Fly concept, because all of the airplanes of any particular model look the same. To combat this problem, I’d love to see Horizon come out with a “PBnF” version of future airplanes. This “Paint, Bind, and Fly” would be identical to the regular BNF airplane, but be completely white – no paint or decals. Now the pilot could simply paint any design or scheme desired on the airplane. In the balsa plane market, this was billed as Ready-to-Cover, and the concept never took off. But I think a “PBnF” on future airplanes would re-ignite the fire that has been smoldering for some time, and get pilots back on the Bind-N-Fly wagon.

A Traxxas 1/8th Scale Buggy

Traxxas is the king of bashers, and there’s no better vehicle to prove that with than a 1/8th scale buggy. The buggy market is sorely lacking in a beginner friendly model, and Traxxas would be the perfect company to make that happen. I’d love to see a new take on the 1/8th scale design as well, maybe incorporation the Revo’s cantilever suspension into the buggy. It needs to be durable, fast, and waterproof. C’mon, Traxxas – you can make this buggy! Please?

The ECX Revenge 1/8th Scale Buggies

Unlike everything else up to this point, this is a real product. It was announced last week, and is the next-best-thing to a Traxxas-made buggy. It has everything I’d like to see: waterproof, name-brand electronics, durability, speed and it’s completely beginner friendly. Even the price tag isn’t bad: $399.99 gets you everything except your choice of battery and charger. I’ll get to test drive this buggy in a week, and I can’t wait!

Mainstream Adoption of FPV (First-Person-View) Systems

The new craze now is the adoption of the First Person Viewing systems for airplanes. We’ve been seeing more and more people getting into the FPV gear here at the store. Problem is, they’re not buying it from us. There aren’t many places we can (or want to) source this stuff from. So to hear that Horizon or Great Planes is picking up a line that makes this gear, or making that either place is producing a new line of gear themselves, would be a great thing for the hobby. FPV is going to be a growing market – one of the big players in the hobby world getting into FPV gear would go a long way toward making hobby shops the destination for said gear.

Team Associated, Venom, and Other Industry Giants

The last time Roger and I went to iHobby, we got to hang out with Horizon, Traxxas, Great Planes, and many more. But noticeably missing from the event was heavy-hitters like Team Associated and Venom. I'd like to think that this event is important enough to them - it's the last dealer show before Christmas. The last dealer show to come out and give hobby shops a reason to carry your products. They can't sell me on something if they don't show up. Especially with Team Associated just announcing a new SC10B short course buggy, you'd think they'd like to show it off before it ships.

An iPhone-Enabled Spektrum Radio

This is something I've wanted for a while. I'm very big on making the more complicated concepts and abilities of the hobby easily accessible to the masses. Spektrum's current "AirWare" programming interface is very good; probably the best on the market as far as user friendly design goes. But I think it doesn't go far enough. I'd like to see a touch screen with large icons. Something that can bring up a YouTube video on the screen to explain how dual rates and exponential works. Something that is intuitive. And merging the iPhone with a Spektrum radio is the ideal way to do that.

The problem with building a touch screen into a radio is that it is very expensive, driving up the cost of the radio. But by writing an app that controls the various functions of the radio, and allowing that app to be run on an existing platform would make the radio less expensive, because the touch screen is on your iPhone, not built into the radio. It has the capabilities to launch videos from the radio, using the 3G/4G cell signal (not WiFi, because WiFi is also 2.4GHz, and why ask for trouble). This could be a great innovation for radios.

And for you Android people out there? Well, there is a very good reason that Android doesn't make sense to support. There are a bazillion Android phones out there, and each one has a different dock connector and different location for that dock connector. Making an adapter for each phone would be next to impossible on a logistics and cost-analysis level. And with Apple having just changed the dock connector for the iPhone 5, I doubt that I'll see this particular Spektrum radio concept at iHobby. But I'd like to!

So that's my list. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below, or head to our Facebook Page and let us know what you think!