A Critical Look: More Industry Turbulence as Horizon Drops Traxxas

A Critical Look: More Industry Turbulence as Horizon Drops Traxxas

This past Friday, Horizon Hobby informed retailers they will no longer be offering Traxxas products, starting the beginning of 2019. Was this Traxxas improving their profit margins by cutting off their last major distribution partner, or was this Horizon ratcheting up the tension between the two companies, between whom there appears to be little love lost?

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A Critical Look: Tariffs Exacerbate A Slowing Industry

A Critical Look: Tariffs Exacerbate A Slowing Industry

When the White House announced it would go around the World Trade Organization and levy tariffs on other countries, it was only a matter of time before the hobby industry was caught in the crossfire. With the Chinese “trade war” ongoing with no end in sight, those tariffs have finally caught up with us, affecting radio systems and related equipment.

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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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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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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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