The Hobby Manufacturers Association has announced the impending release of their second report on the size of the U.S. hobby industry. And the numbers look to be decent and growing despite a weak economy. The report was assembled from survey responses taken during the Fall of 2009 and tracks actual sales for that year and estimated sales for 2010. The survey included only HMA member manufacturers and responses were collected anonymously by the University of Louisville School of Business.
Their findings suggest that 2010′s estimated sales were around $1.47 billion, about a 6.5% increase over 2009′s actual sales of roughly $1.38 billion. The report was broken down into various segments, including model railroading, radio control, and plastic & die cast models. What some may find surprising is that the model railroad hobby is larger, in terms of total manufacturer sales, than the r/c hobby, by about $60 million. This is how the breakdown looks compared to the last report which was put together in 2006-2007.
|Plastics & Die Cast
It’s important to keep in mind that these numbers are U.S. manufacturers only, when you add in distributor and retailer markup, the report suggests that total sales swell to about $2.5 – 3 billion. Without full access to the report, which will only be available to members of the HMA, it’s tough to say exactly how much the R/C industry is worth in terms of consumer spending, but just doing some quick math based on the numbers provided, R/C probably accounts for about 25% of that $2.5 – 3 billion, or about $615 – 750 million. It’s also unclear whether or not some of the larger names in the industry responded, though it’s likely that they did.
You can read the Hobby Manufacturers Association’s press release on this report, and if we can get our hands on a copy, we’ll bring you more info when the final report hits.
Great Planes is bringing back their America’s Best R/C Sale for 2011. Last year’s sale saw a ton of great deals on products all across the R/C spectrum, and this year is sure to be no different. Great Planes is promising savings of up to $50 on more than 100 products from their various brands, which includes DuraTrax, Tactic, Futaba, AquaCraft, and more. But that’s not all, if you pick up RealFlight G5.5 during the sale, you’ll get a $20 gift certificate for free stuff. Just like last year, the Best R/C Sale will be taking place through participating hobby shops all over the US. The sale starts on April 20th and will run until June 30th, so you’ll have just over two months to get as many deals as you can take.
Keep an eye on the Best R/C website for more info.
A reader tipped us off about this RC car running off of soda can rings or aluminum waste products! There’s even a video!
The car is called the dAlH2Orean, and is part of the ‘Aluminum’ project manufacturing rc cars using recycled aluminum as the main fuel.
Aleix Llovet and Xavier Salueña, respectively student and professor at ETSEIAT, have patented the dAlH2Orean, the first radio control car that runs with aluminium soda ring cans, or residual parts of aluminium mixed with hydroxide of sodium dissolved in water. The propulsion system is clean, it closes the cycle of aluminium and does not generate any C02 emissions.
It’s a cool concept if it actually works, and I’m always open to seeing some new technology brought to the RC world!
Check out Dalh2Orean.com for all the crazy science and details behind this new type of fuel system.
Word on the street is that the new rc company Firelands Group is about to start getting things into action. We have heard that their new 1/18th scale 4×4 Animus truck should start to hit shelves in mid May, and we should also start to see some hop-up parts from their Anza side company start to show up probably late June or early July. The first hop-up parts will be Traxxas Slash based, but it sounds like they will cover all sorts of vehicles.
We look forward to seeing what sort of new technologies they come up with because we have heard that it won’t just be similar parts in aluminum or a new plastic, but redesigned parts to be more functional or stronger. As bashers, we are all about better hopups!
Kershaw Designs has collected too much stuff over the last couple years and they’re tired of tripping over it every time they walk in the door. Well their frustration is your gain, they’ve taken a ton of that stuff and started putting it up on eBay to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Right now, at this very moment, one of their Grenadier 1/5 scale electric buggy rollers (no electronics) is up on eBay and bidding for it is at just about $300. That would be an incredible deal. But that’s not the only thing you’ll find as they are also selling off brushless motors, battery chargers, electronic speed controls and more, with the additional promise of adding more new stuff every day until they’re done.
Hit up the Kershaw Designs eBay store for all the details
Ok, put this in the ‘we didn’t see that coming’ category. But it looks like mega online retailer HobbyKing.com is going to be opening up stores! Here’s a quote from their head guy Anthony Hand:
“In an ever increasing effort to drive more value into the R/C market HobbyKing has begun piloting retail store franchises in select regions around the globe, underscoring HobbyKing’s commitment to the R/C industry.
Each store will retail both HobbyKing and other branded products and will also serve as a service center for warranty and technical support.
Products sold online can be serviced in-store as well as sent back to your local service center.
At a later stage ‘HobbyKing Store Front’s will be filling local internet orders and pre-ordering requested items from any one of HobbyKing’s warehouses locally and abroad.”
So I guess, watch for these places to start popping up all over the US! That can’t be a good thing for the mom & pop hobby stores that are already struggling to compete with online.
Model Retailer magazine has just published a report stating that former Horizon Hobby president and CEO, Mike Gillette, has teamed up with industry legend Gil Losi Jr., and former Team Associated engineer Jason Corl to launch a new company called Firelands Group. They intend to enter the market with cars and trucks of their own under the Helion brand name; electronics, motors, and other performance parts under the Radient label, and car and truck hop-ups under the Anza name. From the report it sounds like the Radient and Helion brands are going to be HobbyTown USA exclusive brands, while the Anza products will be available at many different hobby shops. Their first product is apparently going to be a 1/18 scale short course truck under the Helion name for HobbyTown.
The second part of the Firelands venture is hop-up parts for cars and trucks under the Anza brand name. These will be available to all hobby stores and have been developed by Losi and Corl. Gillette says they are aimed at the mid-priced market, primarily geared toward high-end bashers.
Check out the whole article at the Model Retailer website for the details.
Those cool cats at Traxxas and TORC are preparing to step off on a new mission. They’re packing up a bunch of Slash 4x4s and the well traveled Traxxas Try-Me track and heading off to the desert. Together they will be bringing some hot R/C action to the men and women of our armed forces. The Traxxas TROOP vs PRO Challenge presented by Amsoil will pit our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen against some of the biggest names in the TORC series in fender to fender racing at bases all over the Middle East. Downtime for some R&R is important for a successful mission, and it’s cool to see Traxxas doing their part to help out with that.
I know we have quite a few readers that are over in that part of the world right now, so make sure you’re on the lookout for this.
For the full press release, click on over to the TORC website.
Since Cubby mentioned this, I figured you might as well hear about the follow-up. The Burger King is apparently racing for Team Associated now… wait… no… BK means Brian Kinwald, as in multi world champion, highly influential racer and designer Brian Kinwald. That makes more sense. As Cubby noted, he was “released” from X-Factory last week. But now he’s signed up with AE to help with product development and race on the factory team.
As is to be expected, everybody is happy now, with people saying stuff like
I am so excited to be back home. Cliff Lett has always been my hero. He’s the one who made me who I am and I can’t wait to work with him and the Team again… and
Brian Kinwald is a class act. He works hard, races clean and provides our team with experience and immediate A-main finishes. Brian will have a unique role with Associated and we all look forward to working with him for years to come.
For more info, check out Team Associated’s website.
Tech website Ars Technica has a great article about the offshoring of manufacturing. The article, titled Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend, is specifically about tech companies, but can certainly apply to any company (e.g. pretty much every R/C company on the planet) that has sent their manufacturing to China and other nations over the last couple of decades. The article delves into why some companies are starting to consider the cheap labor costs overseas as a liability rather than a benefit and what they’re doing about it. For some that means bringing manufacturing back to their homeland and taking a cut in their profits, while others are looking to more automation and robotics as the answer, to remove human fallibility from the equation. Here’s a snip from the opening:
As he whiled away the airborne hours, Krywko made a mental list of all the manufacturing glitches that had nearly wrecked his company. There was the entire shipment of 10,000 earphones that Sleek Audio had to discard because they were improperly welded, a mistake that cost the company millions. Then there were the delivery delays caused by the factory’s lackadaisical approach to deadlines, which forced the Krywkos to spend a fortune air-freighting products to the US. Even when orders were produced on schedule, Krywko wasn’t too pleased with the situation: The company always had precious cash tied up in inventory that took months to arrive after the prototypes had been approved.
The headaches had finally become too exasperating to bear. And so, on that flight, he turned to Jason and said that he was done with Dongguan. “I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “Let’s bring it home.”
It is a well researched and documented article that deserves to be read in it’s entirety.
While the following news is more pertinent to flyboys rather than us drivers, it’s important to pay attention to government regulations being imposed on any part of the hobby. The FAA, over the past few years, has been coming up with rules and regulations related to small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (abbreviated sUAS). Those sUAS’ also happen to include the r/c model aircraft being flown by thousands upon thousands of r/c enthusiasts all over the United States. Some of the regulations that have been proposed over the last couple years include a FAA mandated safety program which appears to suggest things such as checks for flight worthiness of models, requiring accident and incident reporting; restricting size, type, propulsion, and performance depending on the location of the flight area, among others. There also appear to be proposals relating to limiting the hours of field operations, field locations, and traffic pattern and flight operations. Though the regulations are still being debated and nothing is set in stone yet. At this point it’s looking like r/c model aircraft could get an exemption from the rules when the final restrictions are published this summer.
To sum up what is going on, the FAA wants to step in and start regulating an activity (flying model aircraft) that has done a pretty good job of self-regulation (via the AMA and other groups) over the past 75 years. Whether or not you believe that is necessary is completely up to you, but don’t think that just because this is happening to flyboys right now, that similar calls for regulations can’t come to our part of the hobby in the future. The important thing is to be a part of the discussion. The AMA (which, as you might expect, is against many of the proposed regulations) has a lot of information about this on the Government Relations section of their website.
If there’s one thing in this world that says romance, it’s tires. And if there’s one company that knows tires, it’s Pro-Line. Pro-Line is keenly aware of the romantic implications of a gift of tires so they are offering you a chance to get the love of your life the tires that she desires with a special deal going from now until February 15th. Anything you order direct from Pro-Line’s web site will be 15% cheaper when you use the code LOVE15 at checkout.
Hurry on over to the Pro-Line website to ensure a successful Valentine’s night.
Savox USA has a special deal for you when you order stuff directly from them via their web site. If you put down $50 or more on an order you’ll get free shipping AND a free T-shirt. If it weren’t for free t-shirts, I’d spend most of my time walking around shirtless… and that’s not something you want to see. Anyway, to take advantage of this offer use the coupon code SAVOXUSA during the checkout process.
Get all the info and fine print at the Savox USA web site. And just for the record, Andy is an alright guy, it’s nice to see him finally happy.