Top 10 Products of 2013

Top 10 Products of 2013

2013, for many, was a rocky year. There were many ups and downs. But for all the peaks and valleys, it's interesting to look back on the year and see what products remained popular while everything around them changed. As with every year, we look back on the previous 365 days and look at the most popular and profitable products in our store. For the second year now, we're sharing that information with our readers, along with some editorial on why we think that product made it on the list. As with last year's, this list isn't limited to products that came out in 2013. These are the top performing products in our store, by profit dollars, for this calendar year.

Because we devise this list by profit dollars, it does skew the list toward more expensive items - this way, the list isn't all CA glue, glow plugs, and shock fluid. This is about the marquee products in our line up. So let's get to our Top 10 Products of 2013 countdown!

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Top Hits & Misses of 2013

Top Hits & Misses of 2013

2013 was, in many ways, a boring year. The thrill of having survived the "Mayan Apocalypse" wanned quickly, and life went on as it always had. Suddenly, we're on the eve of the new year, wondering where the past 12 months has gone. It was harder to compile a list of the top hits and misses this year, because at first, it didn't seem like anything really happened this year. But as we thought about it, a few ideas sprang forth, and this year's Hits and Misses might just turn out to be as important as last years. So come along, then, and find out what I think the biggest successes and stinkers of 2013 are.

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Two Problems ECX Has to Fix... Now (Opinion)

Two Problems ECX Has to Fix... Now (Opinion)

ECX has had a tumultuous history. First introduced in 2010 (and called Electrix back then), they were the answer for dealers looking for a low-cost alternative to the toy industry cars like Nikko and Tyco. They were also aimed squarely at Duratrax, the low-cost R/C car line from their chief competitors, Hobbico; a suspicion that was later confirmed by ECX.

We carried their first batch of vehicles alongside their Traxxas counterparts during the Christmas season of 2010. When we started seeing customers having problems with the ECX radio systems, we dropped the line. I later confirmed there was a problem with the low-end radio systems ECX had used, and that they chased the problem for months and months before making the decision to drop the 27AM radios entirely.

In October of 2012, ECX made a comeback. They shed their problematic radios for 2.4GHz units, upgraded their electronics to be waterproof, and included a 2-Amp peak charger in the box. This drive up the price a bit, but they still maintained their sub $200 price points. We brought back the line and it sold well with few problems.

Since the epic return of ECX to our shelves, they have cemented themselves a position in our R/C car line up. Duratrax hasn’t responded to the increased competition in a meaningful way, meaning ECX has completed the mission they had at the outset. Now it seems they’ve set their sights on Traxxas. But if in fact they want to eat into Traxxas’ market share, they have missed the mark. Here are the two biggest problems (and solutions) for the ECX line.

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Horizon Academy Trip - Wrap Up

Horizon Academy Trip - Wrap Up

The third and final day at Horizon took place at their headquarters (pictured above). We met with CEO Joe Ambrose, who took a few minutes to address us. Following that, we were taken to the service center, where a surprisingly small service staff answered our questions and performed some demonstrations on how they repair their various wares. They answered all of our questions in great detail - it’s obvious these guys are very, very good at what they do.

After that, we discussed ways Horizon could be doing better in places like advertising, dealer support, and other housekeeping sorts of things. We were also afforded a look into the distribution center (or the “DC” to all Horizon staff). That was impressive as well, looking at all the technology in play at the warehouse.

Then it was time to say goodbye and start the trek back home.

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Horizon Academy Trip - Day Two

Horizon Academy Trip - Day Two

Today started at 7:45 AM. We started the day by learning about a new airplane that Horizon will reveal on Thursday (and depending on where you are, it's already Thursday), as well as an in-depth look at the SAFE technology, which is equipped on the new aircraft. It was interesting, enlightening, and left us all wanting to fly it.

Then they took us out to Eli Field (Horizon's flying field, named after the founder's father) and let us do just that.

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Horizon Academy Trip - Day One

Horizon Academy Trip - Day One

A few days ago, I mentioned that I was invited down to Champaign, IL for some quality time with Horizon Hobby employees and a small selection of other hobby shop owners and representatives. Today, I arrived at the hotel in which I'll be staying for the next two days. Tomorrow is the big day, with us spending all day at Horizon's airfield. We'll be seeing many products, we've been promised, including the much-anticipated Blade 350QX (but we won't get to fly it).

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Toledo Trip 2013 Wrap Up

Toledo Trip 2013 Wrap Up

This year’s Toledo Show Bus Trip started off great. Every one of our 47 passengers was at their pickup locations early, which set the tone for the day. Almost 1/3 of the attendees were first time passengers on the bus, and their enthusiasm was infectious. It was truly a great group of people, and I thank them for their participation in our trip.

But enough about the bus trip. Let’s talk about the show.

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6 Toledo Show Predictions for 2013

6 Toledo Show Predictions for 2013

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.

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