Every year in April, Roger and I take a bus full of our customers down to Toledo, Ohio for the annual Weak Signals Club’s Toledo Expo. It’s a gathering of consumers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, all in one place, to promote radio control aircraft products. I’ve been going to the show now for about 15 years. Every year there’s something new and unexpected. Sometimes I leave bored. Sometimes I leave excited. I don’t honestly know what to expect this year, but these are the things I’d like to see.
1. Blade mCX3
Way back in October I wanted to see the next evolution of the mCX platform. I didn't see it then, and I’d still like to see it now. Given that it was at the Toledo 2010 show when the Blade mCX2 was first shown publicly, there is a chance that Horizon will again choose the Toledo Show to unveil their newest micro beginner helicopter. But with no indications that a new heli is coming, I don’t think I’ll see it until perhaps later this year, if at all.
Chance of Seeing at Toledo: 30%
2. Blade 120 SR w/ AS3X
This is another one I longed to see at iHobby in October. While not as old at the mCX2, the Blade 120 SR is still looking long in the tooth. With the addition of the AS3X system, and the removal of the flybar, would make the heli a much better flier outside in the wind. And that would make it a better seller than it already is. But as with the mCX2, I see no sign that an update to the 120 SR is forthcoming, so I have to assume this won’t be at Toledo.
Chance of Seeing at Toledo: 10%
3. A New 6-Channel Transmitter from Spektrum
Out of all the offerings that Spektrum has right now, the DX6i is my least favorite radio. It’s not comfortable to hold, the grips aren't rubberized, it doesn’t have Spektrum’s new “AirWare” operating system. Add in that it doesn't have an SD card slot and you have a perfectly mediocre radio, which is fine. But compared to the newer DX7S or the DX8, the DX6i is the redheaded stepchild of the group. But with the recent price drop, it looks like Spektrum is ready to revamp their 6-channel transmitter for the third time. A DX6S, perhaps? A transmitter only, around $160, with all the DX7S’ fixin’s? Sign me up please!
Change of Seeing at Toledo: 75%
4. Cheaper LiPo Batteries from the Big Boys
It’s frustrating as a hobby retailer to be constantly up against the Chinese factories that are pushing out batteries at ridiculously low prices. There isn’t much we can do about it; few, if any, of the domestic hobby suppliers are offering batteries that are even close to those bargain-basement deals from online merchants. But with Horizon releasing the Dynamite Reaction battery line in the near future, relief is on the way for dealers: these batteries are at respectable prices, yet still come with a one-year warranty. The problem is that the Reaction line is only for cars and/or boats; no airplane or heli batteries are being released in that line. So I’m hoping we see a continuation of this trend from Horizon, or competing prices from Great Planes.
Chance of Seeing at Toledo: 50%
5. Some Truly Interesting Bind-N-Fly Airplanes
Look, the P-51 Mustang and the F4U Corsair are great airplanes. But dear Lord, I’m bored to death of them. Yes, they’re popular, and yes, their iconic. But we need something unique. Something... different. Maybe a parkflyer version of the A10 Warthog? That’d be cool, especially if it came complete with dual ducted fans. Or how about an F4 Phantom? It would be a great follow-up to the MiG 15. Something with the AS3X in a sleek, 3D Edge 540 or a Sukhoi, with a 30-something-inch wingspan. Something to get our customers excited about the BNF stuff again. The last few releases haven’t garnered the reaction we’re used to seeing. It’s kind of like American Idol... once you’ve seen a few seasons, it kind of becomes a train wreck. You’re not in train wreck territory yet, Horizon... change things up so we don’t get there!
Chance of Seeing at Toledo: 40%
6. Dynamite Chargers that Make Sense
Though Dynamite is usually a car brand (at least here in the States), I think this year will see Dynamite attempt to become a more universal accessories brand. One thing I’d love to see Dynamite do is come out with a charger to compete with the Hitec X1 AC+, which made it to second on our Top 10 Products of 2012 list. Dynamite has a great history with chargers, but has fallen off the rails a bit recently. None of their chargers has been particularly competitive on price, and some come with features that no one is asking for. If they’d come out with a price-competitive charger to the X1 AC+, I think they’d get their game back. Let’s see... a Dynamite charger, equivalent to the X1, around the same price (or cheaper!), and all with Horizon’s fantastic customer service? I’d like a piece of that action!
Chance of Seeing at Toledo: 2%
There are my hopes and predictions for the Toledo Show next week. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or sound off on our Facebook Page!