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IMO it is the threat/potential of the wholesalers, publishers that is a real threat to the viability of our hobby. In the case of the UK there are circa 30,000 BMFA members which probably  is a reasonable reflection of the UK modeller base. For the sake of argument that is 40,000.

 

Why should this matter, it probably pretty much defines how many wholesalers and MS there can reasonably be in the UK. How many £400 models can be sold in any one year? It  might be 4,000 spread across maybe 4 or so wholesalers (the likes of Ripmax, Perkins McGregors). Even with a good margin that is probably not a lot of profit). With quite a small scratch builders pool, the scope for income is possibly not great, from the bits and pieces.

 

The likes of HK with their large world wide sales probably did a lot to keep modelling buoyant. Now from a UK perspective having disapeared, particularly with respect to personal imports (tax and handling charges being prohibitive).

 

The numbers of mass market IC manufacturers now appears to be at the point extinction. The products that are available seem ever more outstanding, in quality, although yet again at a price that causes me to a sudden intake of breath in shock. I get the impression that the clones have all but ceased in production.

 

Thankfully there are enthusiasts that are  cottage industry scale, probably moving towards the scale of production that optimised the late 50s and early 60s. 

 

I do think there is also a major difference in my youth, than today. That is I built and flew models with my mates, no adults, no club. Flying on any bit of unsuitable waste ground that then abounded.  Not an awful amount of success, lots of fun. Around October I would strap firework rockets to a collection of balsa bits, with often unpredictable results. A different world that much of officialdom, the BMFA etc. would deplore. Low cost, fun, outside of supervision, today, most would deplore such actions, freedom, attempted inventiveness.

Edited by Erfolg
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"RC is too expensive" ? but .......

 

Some of the best fun we had flying models was back in my early days on a very limited budget, but then it was a long time ago.

 

Chuck gliders, Jetex, rubber powered, tow line gliders etc. All free flight, no RC, but great comradery, and laughter . Control was my main interest, combat and stunt, until we came across single channel radio.

 

It all went down hill from there.

 

Unless the wind blew up the slope  ?

 

There are still alternatives to RC, but then ........ who wants a chuck glider when they see others with their ready made 'warbirds'.

 

Ray.

 

226126707_CL1956.jpg.9f2313ea0c27d25cafad6296f5901860.jpg

 

\a plane, a pushbike, and cycle clips ......  mid 50's

 

Edited by eflightray
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12 hours ago, Paul De Tourtoulon said:

Forget about your BMFA members? a drop in the ocean, I took statistics when I opened up my model shop and ( from memory )

BMFA members was less than 5% of my sales, as for the local club that I taught 90% of them to fly ( mode 2 ? ) came to around a weeks sales figures a year,,?

 

So if most of your customers were not BMFA members did they fly uninsured or were they involved in a different type of modeling, trains, cars, boats or doll's houses for example?

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Probably 70% did cars 5% boats, the other 25% were planes of which 90% of the planes sold were never finished or crashed in a long lost field,

the 10% of them left that actually finished their planes I gave them free flying lessons every Sunday morning, when they got into flying a low wing plane that was the last I saw of them,

other than when they would get together 'hiding' behind a van with a model mail order catalogue getting their order together,,, ?

 

 Some of them now all over their 60's are still flying in our club,,

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Of course there is another way of getting into the hobby..............second hand 35Mhz gear and the second hand market.!

 

Gear on 35 hasn't just stopped working, there is a mountain of second hand TX / RX out there, and complete "job lots" appear regularly on marketplace.

 

I know its yesterdays tech. but arguably safer now than it was due to hardly anybody using 35!.

 

As yet, we have not discussed this option with any of our newbies, but I think it is another option yet to be fully explored.

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1 hour ago, Paul De Tourtoulon said:

A new 2.4 tx and rx can be bought for less than £50 so why bother with a 35 set ?, second hand planes Ic or electric can be had cheap .

Like I said.................. its just another option fella!

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On 27/06/2022 at 07:00, GrumpyGnome said:

As ever, the hobby is evolving. Am I complacent? No. Am I alarmed? No. Just aware that we need to make sure that ANY & ALL contact with prospective new members is positive, and that the field is always a harmonious and welcoming place for our members. 

Couldn't have put it better myself!

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I have responded to recent price rises by going back to balsa.

 

I think the foam ARTF style models have sky rocketed in price recently, but not so, the balsa kit.

I have just built a Swizzle Stick from a short kit by Sarik Hobbies and I feel it was very good value for money.

I am working on a Mistubishi Zero kit (The Cambrian funfighter) and I think the kit was about £80 and I will raid my spares box for the electronics.

The Dammit wing from Angelwings Designs was only £50 and that flies brilliantly!

I have just bought the kit for the Limbo Dancer from SLEC and it was £82 a bargain!

I'm rteally enjoying balsa bashing again.

 

If you want a free plane and have a 3D printer; go to 3DLab print they currently have a 41inch piper cub for free.

 

I think we have to realise the shipping costs from China and the costs of raw materials is having a serious impact on our hobby but if you are willing to do some building (which can be really enjoyable) you feel more invested in each model and it works out brilliant value.

 

Just my thoughts

 

Keith B

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Also the SLEC Funfly seems really good value (£90 for the E version or £97 IC). Should still be flying long after the foam model has been scrapped, with a bit of luck.

if you want to build inexpensive models buy a big 8 x 4ft sheet of polystyrene and fashion a hot wire cutter. Brown paper and PVA is cheap too, so with a bit of creativity and patience the world is your oyster!

Edited by Piers Bowlan
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Yet another option is build something from the Flite-Test website. I built four models during lockdown and they have all been excellent. (F22, Vulcan, Viggen  and Versa wing).

 

Two sheets of 6mm foamboard each (£4.00 a sheet).

 

They are a bit agricultural but the plans and build videos are easy to follow and free.

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My biggest bug bear from a building perspective, and something that does make a substantive difference to the overall cost of a build is those "bits and bobs" which one tends to forget. Threaded rod, hinges, screws, horns, a single sheet of wood etc which are fairly cheap but come with a minimum shipping charge that is often double the item cost. Petrol prices now have a significant impact too, a round trip to my local model shop uses a gallon of unleaded at getting on for £10, which is doubly annoying if they don't have the right thing. 

 

I realise that there are a lot of forum users with apparently inexhaustible wealth, but for those on a tight budget, these things have an impact on the choices made and for a lot of people, an rtf with everything in the box avoids those issues. 

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I totally agree about the little bits I have forgotten and then the extra shipping charge. Also things being out of stock, so having to order from several different places each with separate shipping.

 

In the opposite direction, I ordered several non-modelling electronic components from the same big supplier. One order, but came shipped from three warehouses, two in Leeds, one in Belgium. At least three packages arrived together with only one driver.

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14 hours ago, Matt Carlton said:

My biggest bug bear from a building perspective, and something that does make a substantive difference to the overall cost of a build is those "bits and bobs" which one tends to forget. Threaded rod, hinges, screws, horns, a single sheet of wood etc which are fairly cheap but come with a minimum shipping charge that is often double the item cost. Petrol prices now have a significant impact too, a round trip to my local model shop uses a gallon of unleaded at getting on for £10, which is doubly annoying if they don't have the right thing. 

 

I realise that there are a lot of forum users with apparently inexhaustible wealth, but for those on a tight budget, these things have an impact on the choices made and for a lot of people, an rtf with everything in the box avoids those issues. 

Those bits and bobs are the things that traditionally would have been picked up on a visit to the local model shop and I've always tried to hold them in stock. Unless bought in a job lot they are expensive to buy in small, bespoke orders for one model at a time once the postage and packing is taken into account. The joy of a visit to "the boards" in a well stocked model shop is that these items are easy to select exactly the fittings you want and the individual small packets then have a modest cost. My belief has been that, if you can help it,  you shouldn't leave a model shop empty handed, even if there isn't a bigger purchase to make then buying  a couple of bags of fittings is a good way to offset those transport costs you speak of.

 

It means you have to be fairly organised, so as not to end up making an emergency dash for that one vital missing part, only to get home and find you actually already had one, it was just stored in the wrong box, or underneath something else on the bench. ?

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15 minutes ago, leccyflyer said:

a visit to "the boards" in a well stocked model shop

 

Thing is, you still had to get there, and unless you walked, that didn't come for free.

 

One thing mail order does, is make it obvious and apparent what the costs of moving things around are. Instead of dropping a few extra pounds into the car when you fill it up at the weekend, which you wouldn't notice, you get £5 p&p on the bill, which you do notice.

 

Swings and roundabouts.

 

Edited by Nigel R
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As much as I really do want to be able to support my local model shop, it can be a very frustrating experience to go in with a list of items and only find one or none of them. It is ultimately far more logical and efficient for me to find an online vendor who has everything I need in stock. That £5 p&p is not such a sting when a package of £50 of everything I need arrives at the door. 

We hear a lot about how we should support our local shops and of course it would be great to do so, but ultimately, spending petrol money to get to a shop which has nothing I need doesn't help either them or me, nor can I realistically afford to buy things I don't need just to put some cash in the till. Of course, I can ask for the shop to order things in, but ultimately, as much as "browsing the boards" is an absolute joy and chewing the fat with the staff is lovely, leaving empty handed feels awful, so I suspect that people just avoid it. 

Again, another nail in the coffin, especially for those (unlike me) for whom building is a means to an end, rather than an intrinsic part of the hobby, and a big driver in making the choice between ARTF and plan/scratch/kit. 

Edited by Matt Carlton
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Not having a pop Matt but maybe phoning the shop would help. My local shop has a website which indicates what items are in stock. If they are down to one I will ring and ask them to put it to aside. I certainly understand the frustration of a wasted journey, more so given the rising fuel prices. Being armed with a list is certainly a must, having got home only to find I have forgotten something!!!!

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1 hour ago, Matt Carlton said:

We hear a lot about how we should support our local shops

 

The current reality is that hobby shops are niche players and that kind of outfit must survive online, or die. A number of the old local shops transitioned quite well to do business via mail order. I'm happy to continue supporting them (and also a number of ebay sellers who I imagine are operating from their garage or spare bedroom).

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58 minutes ago, Matt Carlton said:

As much as I really do want to be able to support my local model shop, it can be a very frustrating experience to go in with a list of items and only find one or none of them. It is ultimately far more logical and efficient for me to find an online vendor who has everything I need in stock. That £5 p&p is not such a sting when a package of £50 of everything I need arrives at the door. 

We hear a lot about how we should support our local shops and of course it would be great to do so, but ultimately, spending petrol money to get to a shop which has nothing I need doesn't help either them or me, nor can I realistically afford to buy things I don't need just to put some cash in the till. Of course, I can ask for the shop to order things in, but ultimately, as much as "browsing the boards" is an absolute joy and chewing the fat with the staff is lovely, leaving empty handed feels awful, so I suspect that people just avoid it. 

Again, another nail in the coffin, especially for those (unlike me) for whom building is a means to an end, rather than an intrinsic part of the hobby, and a big driver in making the choice between ARTF and plan/scratch/kit. 

Oh, don't get me wrong - I don't really have a local model shop as such, and haven't for a decade, though there is a shop that does RC cars 14 minutes away - had a RX battery from there on Saturday - and there is a small shop, which does do aeroplane bits about 45 minutes away. I did used to be very blessed by living within walking distance of Webbies, which I very much miss, but do continue to support by mail order. As I said though, IMO there is nothing to beat perusing the boards of a well stocked model shop, whilst recognising that is an option which is open to much fewer of us than when I used to take my wee shopping list down to the shop many years ago.

 

These days though I'm 95% mail order and, as you say, that means combining a package of multiple items to make the most of that P & P cost. I always try to add something else to a small order to get the benefit.

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Times have certainly changed.

 

Particularly with respect to deliveries. The PO 1st class is close to £1. Yet much of Amazon offers come at zero postage cost, more often than not at a price that is very attractive..

 

I do agree that small item purchases typically used in models are typically quite high, particularly when compared with HK (when viable as a source). Perhaps an opportunity for an entrepreneur? Will not make a fortune, maybe a vehicle to greater things.

 

The price of Balsa may be very high, although many built up ARTF models seem to made from Light Ply and a light wood similar to Chewing Gum. Is it time for us to amend what we use?

With respect to Balsa, I am surprised it is used to any extent for Wind Turbines blades, due to the variability of wood in general. I would have thought a polymer type foam would be more consistent. I seem to remember that when LPG bulk Carriers were built in the UK, using Balsa as a insulation material, that much of it was rejected for some reason and ended up as baulks that fell into the hands of young men who would endeavour to cut it up into useful sizes.

 

Perhaps one of the signs that alarms me is the low number of sizable adverts in the mag. 

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43 minutes ago, Erfolg said:

much of Amazon offers come at zero postage cost,

 

It very much is not.

 

But they (successfully, it would seem) fool you by saying "free postage".

 

43 minutes ago, Erfolg said:

I am surprised it is used to any extent for Wind Turbines blades

 

It grows fast, and is light, and is easy to cut, and does not easily rot. Variability of weight can be compensated inside the blades, most likely, if it is significant.

 

I suspect few other woods make such ideal core material.

 

Foams may not be on-point for 'green' technology such as wind turbines.

 

43 minutes ago, Erfolg said:

made from Light Ply and a light wood similar to Chewing Gum. Is it time for us to amend what we use?

 

Lite ply works very well for flat areas. It is seemingly ideal for ARTF. Consistent, good for laser cutting, cyano works perfectly with it.  Perhaps not the best choice for scratch builders without a laser cutting facility. I have used it for fuselage sides and formers. Lipo and radio trays etc. Cutting the requisite holes to get weight down is a pain.

 

I think more mileage is to be found in cheap foamboard for scratch builders, foamboard is a natural for fuselage formers, ribs, flat sheet tails (particularly when edged with balsa). Quick to cut out, does not need holes cut in it to be acceptable weight.

 

Edited by Nigel R
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Currently wind turbine manufacturers are looking for places to dispose of the blades. They are now starting to crack and stress. The balsa cannot be reclaimed as the assemby coats and bonds the balsa in a resin. This has carcinogenic effect when burnt. So looks like burial is the preferred option. The joys of a green future.

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