A Critical Look: Toledo Show Comeback

A Critical Look: Toledo Show Comeback

When we took our annual bus trip down to the Toledo Weak Signals Expo this year, I was pretty critical of the show overall, and said I would detail my thoughts on how the show's organizers could best revamp the experience and return the show to its days of former glory. What follows are those thoughts.

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A Critical Look: Yet Another Toledo Show

A Critical Look: Yet Another Toledo Show

With last year's disappointing trip attendance, Roger and I felt we needed to be transparent about how many people we required to make the trip break even this year. We usually price the trip with an attendance of thirty people in mind; any more than that, the trip turns a profit. Less, and we can't afford the bus rental. With that in mind, we alerted potential attendees we needed thirty people to green light the trip, fully expecting a marked uptick in registrations.

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A Critical Look: Horizon Bought Hobbico... Now What?

A Critical Look: Horizon Bought Hobbico... Now What?

It's official: Horizon Hobby placed the winning — and as far as I can tell, only — bid for Hobbico's radio control assets, including Axial, ARRMA, Dromida, Top Flite, Great Planes, Carl Goldberg, and more. The hobby world has been in a state of flux since the announcement Hobbico was entering bankruptcy, and this new development doesn't make things any clearer. Let's break down what we know, what we don't, and what we hope to see going forward.

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A Critical Look: How Horizon Could Take on Traxxas (And Win)

A Critical Look: How Horizon Could Take on Traxxas (And Win)

In the battle for shelf space in hobby shops around the country, Traxxas seems to be the clear victor. It’s main competitors, ARRMA and ECX, owned by Hobbico and Horizon respectively, have a long way to go to catch up. However, I think Horizon Hobby has a dark horse capable of not only catching up to Traxxas, but surpassing them in popularity among hobby shops, and perhaps even consumers. That contender is Losi, and here’s how I would restructure Losi to take on Traxxas.

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A Critical Look: 2018 is Make or Break For Hobbies

A Critical Look: 2018 is Make or Break For Hobbies

2018 has arrived, and with it a fresh start to a new year — but 2018 will be a tremendously important 365 days for our industry, and like Forrest's box of chocolates, there's no way to know what's in store until we experience it first hand. Plenty of stories will continue into the new year, but here is my personal list of stories from around the hobby industry that I'll be keeping an eye on throughout 2018.

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Top Ten Products of 2017

Top Ten Products of 2017

Everyone loves lists, right? I'm pretty sure there are entire websites built on that concept. Well, we love lists too, and so it's time to go over our Top Ten Products of 2016! Like every year, the list is devised using margin dollars, so the list isn't all car parts, glue, and paint — and while the words accompanying the products are opinion, how they placed isn't something we change. What follows are the Top Ten Products we sold this year.

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6 Terrible Things that Happened in 2017 (In the Hobby Industry)

6 Terrible Things that Happened in 2017 (In the Hobby Industry)

Well, thankfully that's over with. 2017's in the books, and, well, there's no mincing words here: it was a God-awful year. In fact, it was so bad that we couldn't think of a single stand-out hit this year - so we settled on six misses instead. Make no mistake, 2017 will go down as one of the worst years for the hobby industry in decades — and particularly so for small hobby shops like ours.

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A Critical Look: Vanishing Margins

A Critical Look: Vanishing Margins

If you've ever seen Pawn Stars, you basically know how retail works: a retailer purchases a product from someone, usually a distributor or manufacturer, and resells it to you, the consumer, for a higher price. The retailer uses that money to pay his supplier for the product, and takes what is left over and uses it to pay his staff, the electric bill, or any other such necessities. Anything left over after that is usually reinvested into the business or invested elsewhere.

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TRX-4 Impressions From a Crawling Enthusiast

TRX-4 Impressions From a Crawling Enthusiast

Over Memorial Day weekend, we lent out our demo TRX-4 to Matt Bedtelyon of RC4X4, a manufacturer of crawler links here in Mid-Michigan. As we don't have anyone on staff that is into crawling, getting Matt's perspective was crucial to understanding Traxxas' new platform well enough to sell it. What follows are Matt's thoughts and words after his extended weekend with Traxxas' new TRX-4 crawler.

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A Critical Look: Traxxas' Connector Crisis

A Critical Look: Traxxas' Connector Crisis

For the last thirty plus years, the hobby industry has been largely built around the concept of openness — that any, say, speed control, from any manufacturer, can work with any motor, or receiver, or vehicle that the user wants. This has lead to a lot of hodge-podging, but it also fostered competition and drove down prices, because no single company cornered the market on anything.

Today, I want to talk about how that foundation for our industry is being jeopardized. It will likely start the hobby industry down the road leading to higher prices, fewer choices, and, eventually, a series of "walled gardens" between which nothing can be interchanged. This future is now, and the first shot fired in the revolution centers around a surprising and seemingly innocuous component: the humble battery connector.

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A Critical Look: Toledo Fails to Impress

A Critical Look: Toledo Fails to Impress

When I walked into the SeaGate Center in downtown Toledo, the first thing I noticed was the lack of elbows in my ribs. The entire convention center had fewer people than I’ve ever seen at a Toledo show. A few people commented to us that the aisles were wider, but that turned out to be false; the aisles appeared wider because there weren’t enough people to fill them.

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A Critical Look: End of an Era?

A Critical Look: End of an Era?

It's been awhile since I talked about the state of the industry as I see it here, in Saginaw. Much has changed since that last blog post many years ago, and unfortunately, not all of those changes were for the better. While there were some positive changes in the industry (more like a lot, actually), I find it more helpful to discuss those things that require change to better the hobby world. Talking about success isn't without merit, but talk of failure is crucial to prevent past mistakes repeated.

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Top Ten Products of 2016

Top Ten Products of 2016

Everyone loves lists, right? I'm pretty sure there are entire websites built on that concept. Well, we love lists too, and so it's time to go over our Top Ten Products of 2016! Like every year, the list is devised using margin dollars, so the list isn't all car parts, glue, and paint — and while the words accompanying the products are opinion, how they placed isn't something we change. What follows are the Top Ten Products we sold this year.

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RealFlight X PC Build

RealFlight X PC Build

With the release of the next generation of RealFlight R/C Flight Simulator, RF-X, the minimum and optimal computer requirements have been dramatically increased. Like many that want to run this new version of RealFlight, we needed to upgrade our computer and keep those costs low, which meant building our own computer.

I've upgraded the graphics cards on my own computers before, but this would mark the first time I've ever built a computer from the ground up. It was certainly a learning experience, but was far easier that I thought it would be going in.

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