I’m a relative newcomer to RC, about 5 years of being really active. But, I’ve noticed some trends that have me alarmed. 1st is that WattFlyer has much less activity in general as compared to when I first joined and second that kit and scratch building of RC planes seems to be in a steep decline and taking out some companies along the way…
General Thoughts and musings….
Society in general seems to be shifting away from the skilled activities/hobbies to more of an instant gratification and/or things that everyone can do easily mentality. It seems that only the “old timers” still will take the time to create something over a long period of time. I think at 53 I’m on the tailing edge of those still willing to work on a project for longer than a week. Why? Maybe some of this is due to the rise of personal media, internet connectivity, “smarter” devices, better video games... And maybe it’s the “everyone gets a medal for participating” and not rewarding those that strive to do more and do it better than everyone else. Maybe it’s also the time crunch that everyone seems to have. Everyone, including kids, never seem to have (or make) the time to really learn something that takes time to master. Or if they do, it’s just one thing. Maybe a specific sport or a musical instrument. Usually something that mom and dad can see a potential career from, fame and fortune or as a way to get a college scholarship. In general, I see all of the “skilled” hobbies in trouble. How many people modify their own vehicles anymore, or build furniture, or create art? (Well maybe small art / jewelry is doing OK, but its things that can be made/created quickly and sold online or via art fairs.) If you can’t see a completed project within an hour to take a “selfie” with, it doesn’t happen. We are in an “I want it now” culture.
All of the “I want it now” syndrome is really impacting the RC kit world. Lots of kit companies are struggling and/or have closed. The kit selection at Tower Hobbies is very thin. Most major RC companies are no longer putting resources behind kit development. It’s all ARFs or RTFs. The creation of the foam ARF has meant that you no longer need to build or spend much money to get started in this hobby. Is that a good thing? Yes and no… I think the number of people into RC is more than ever. But now it’s more of the lone / informal club flyer at a park using a spare hour to fly. Not only are RC kits not getting built, but RC clubs are beginning to struggle with membership. So now the AMA and RC Clubs must change as well or they may perish like the RC kit. (Here’s another topic…)
The kit manufacturers that seem to be surviving are small “agile” companies creating products that aren’t found elsewhere. Stevens Aeromodel with their great Micro kits and Micro Builder program, Mountain Models with easy to build kits while still being relatively inexpensive, Manzano Laser Works with custom kits from many different designers....
You would think with the number of cheap components available now, kit building would be more popular.
I was also sad to hear of the demise of Flying Models Magazine.
I had just ordered and received some plans from the Carstens site a little while ago.
Probably none… I think building will continue to be a nitch market. I do really like the experimentation happening with different building materials. Maybe something like this will help kits/scratch building survive. (Maybe the future is more like what the Flite Test guys are doing with foam board??)
In my opinion, WattFlyer is the best of the online forums because of the helpful nature of the major contributors and moderators. This is the best place to learn and ask questions in. There are nowhere near the number of attacks and issues as the other on-line forums. But, with the explosion of electric RC Planes/Helicopters/Quadcopters, why isn’t this forum just going bananas?
In general, catering to the new style beginner may help. So maybe a SAFE technology form Horizon Hobbies discussion, more reviews and descriptions of the new beginners planes…. (I do not see how you stay current with all of the new planes coming to market so fast though.) Maybe a set of video tutorials to go with AEAJR’s beginner’s guide. Maybe see if Horizon Hobbies would sponsor a separate area for discussions and questions of their products?
All constructive opinions and thoughts are welcome! I want WattFlyer and RC kits around for a long time!