Archive for January, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Respected Fellow Modelers..

January 21, 2009

So many people, good honest hardworking people, who were visionary in their creativeness in pursing this hobby have passed recently. Sure they may not be perfect citizens, who is? But we should always try to remember people for the good they have done. Certainly that’s how I’d like to be remembered.

I want to avoid making a list of all those who are no longer with us, it’s simply too depressing. However, I would like to note that one such person was Chris Chianelli.

Chris was inspirational to many modelers for many years in every facet of the hobby. His face could be seen on TV, in print at Airage, and in the last year, on the internet over at Airage.com A nice guy who loved the hobby. And a really memorable character.

Chris Chianelli

 

 

It reminds me that that like every human endeavor, even those for fun and leisure, the legacy of that endeavor must be passed on.

Today, I had a great email conversation with a respected fellow modeler and friend about this very topic. How do we get people like Chris and others to share their knowledge, wisdom, and passion, in a way that can be passed down? How do we nurture the “next generation”?

I don’t have an answer, but the question is a good one. In today’s world, the legacy of these great fellow modelers should not be lost, they should not be remembered just for the 3 paragraphs that were written about them online at the time of their passing.

In our hearts their spirit truly lives on, and no technology is needed for that. But wouldn’t it be great to have a way to pass down that modeling “know how” to the next generation, to people who are not their contemporaries?

As with all of us, I think this also reminds us that the time is NOW to do good, to enjoy life, and to find excitement in the hobby if that’s our passion! Live life to the fullest today.

It seems like everyone world-wide is “holding their breath” because of the economy or the conflicts between nations. I say DON’T! Let’s be active! Enjoy the day!

My best wishes go out to the friends and families of those we’ve lost, and let’s remember to enjoy the day, everyday.

Now, let’s go flying!

Mike

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Airtronics and Global at AMA Expo 2009

January 16, 2009

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The AMA Expo (formerly AMA Convention, formerly IMS/Pasadena Show) wrapped up another great event last weekend in Ontario California. There were LOTS of attendees, many standing in very long lines to get in as soon as the show opened both on Friday and Saturday.  It is always great to have so many hobbyists at one place. There really are a lot of modelers in So. CA!

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At Airtronics, we showed off the latest prototype of the SD-10G 10 channel 2.4GHz radio from Airtronics. This radio, now planned for an April release, attracted a HUGE amount of interest. Pilots collected as I walked through the features and as we discussed the radio’s features. As we get closer to April, we will be able to distribute more and more information, but here are the basics:

10 channels, 2.4GHz (full range of course!), backwards compatible with the RDS8000 receiver (as well as the 3 other 2.4GHz receivers in development for the RDS radio), and has advanced programming for Sailplanes, Aero, and Helicopters.

The initial negative feedback was that it is too shiny! This is not the final finish! The final finish will be more like the matte/textured chrome look on the Stylus. So, don’t worry, it will not blind you in the sun. So, while it might look a little bit like a Cylon from Battlestar Gallactica now, in production, it will be more “refined”.

What we like most about it is the ease of programming. The menu structure is easy to follow, the concepts behind how to setup the model are simple, yet powerful, and the list of features is LONG. From tons of curves, to triple rates, to assignable switches, to 5 flight modes, there’s a Lot to be happy about with this radio. 6 servo wings, twin engine aircraft, dual elevator servos, 4 servo ccpm swash plates, JR HELI 140 degree swash plates, 9 point throttle curves in all modes, name-able flight modes, etc will be no challenge for this radio as these things are all built in. And, you’ll even have the ability to share setups with other SD-10G users both at the field and even online at home!

I know I’m a tease because I’m not telling you more. I simply can’t just yet.  But truly, this porcupine with extra switches in places no other radio has, I think has the ability to satisify Many Many Many modelers in just about every facet of the hobby.

At the show over the weekend, we had Jack Albrecht, Craig Kaplan, Russ Greaves, and I all working our shifts at different times throughout the weekend. We all agree that this show was surprisingly well attended and that the overall excitement about the new 10channel was motivating and re-assuring. We’ve all put a lot of work into Airtronics and we’re glad to see the pilots respond so positively to our new “baby”! Truly we hope to have it out for Toledo and we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

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Global Hobby Distributors (the whole-sale division of Hobby Shack) distributes 10’s of thousands of products to dealers throughout the country including of course our star: “Airtronics”. Of course, we had many other items that we exhibited as well.

From Ultrafly we showed of the Cirrus SR-22 and the Speark. Both are truly beautiful aircraft, the detail work is amazing, especially for aircraft in this more affordable electric category!

From Phase 3 we showed the Little Spitfire ParkFlyer and the new (on their way, we’ll have them by the end of the month!) P-40. The P-40 is the latest aircraft and it features some awesome accessories already built into the plane! It has mechanical retracts installed, a brushless motor, and a 3 cell lipo. All of the electronics are installed and ready to use. All the pilot ads is his transmitter and receiver. If you have an RDs8000 or plane on getting the new 10 channel, note that planes like this will be perfect for our new, very affordable 6 channel park flyer receiver or 7 channel economy receiver. You will soon  have more options for Airtronics which will be perfect for applications like these!

From Wattage we showed off the new Sea Vixen Ready to Fly. This plane is a nice stand-off-scale version of the British Sea Vixen Jet. This version is a pusher jet with a brushless motor and 3 cell lipo. It even includes a balancing DC charger. The plane bolts together in just a few hours and flies quite well with its brushless power system.

Kinda hidden in this picture, we also had on display a selection of KMS from the BIG motors that can replace a 45cc gas engine to the tiny little guys for the park flyers along with Impulse batteries. From EF Heli, we has the Cypher and the MASH. Both great helicopters in their class, the Cypher is simply the best 450 heli out of the box (I know, I’m opinionated).  Cyclic and pitch response is outstanding.

The show really blew some air up my skirt, I must say! I’m motivated in my job by the positive effects our products have on Modelers. And when I talk to so many who are so excited about the hobby, it simply spurs us on to work harder and to give you new, great products.

There’s a Ton of great stuff coming this year, I’m glad we were able to show some of it at AMA. But mostly, I was simply glad to see all of you there. Thank you all for coming by!

Mike

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2009

 

Happy 2009

 

Thank you to everyone for an exciting 2008. Professionally and personally there were huge changes made, huge challenges overcome, and great friends and acquaintances made.

 

To each of my friends and acquaintances and readers of my blog I want to explain the delays in responses and posts. In case you haven’t noticed, most of the time my responses have been slow and typically short. Since October, we have been making huge changes at Hobby People to better serve our customers. This has simply occupied a LOT of my time. Of course, at home there’s been a lot of time consuming activities too. My olded boy started college, my 16 year old has become increasingly active in sports and school, and my girl seems like she lives at the dance studio these days and that has been quite a challenge since she is so active at school now that she started middle school ( the kids sure don’t stay little for long, do they?)

 

For many of you, I’ve pointed out that we’re reworking our entire marketing campaign (at Hobby People, I’m directly involved with this aspect of our company on a daily basis). However, before we could make that happen, we needed to first change some infrastructure. I’m excited to say that most of those changes have been made and we have an AMAZING team with a more dynamic structure.

 

That’s a lot of hoopla for something that I think is very cool….

  1. Customer service has consolidated and our core staff now handles, among other things, Mail Order Toll Free Line, Global Services Phone Calls, Dealer Service Phone Calls, and Service and Mail Order Emails.

  2. Each person on that staff is a modeler of one sort or another.

  3. Our R&D staff is now directly involved in customer service which means many times, when customers call in, they talk to the staff that test flew or drove the very products they’re inquiring about.

  4. Simply put, it’s modelers serving modelers.

 

Check out this list of our core Hobby People Service Team Members:

Minh P. – Airtronics Lead Technician. Minh has been with Airtronics for 17 years and pretty much knows in his head everything there is to know about every Airtronics item every made.

 

Jack Albrecht – Airtronics Technical Advisor (operates the Airtronics 800 tech-line). Jack, like Minh, has seemingly been with Airtronics “forever” and yet has been in the industry far longer as he was part of the leadership of Kraft Radios. Jack’s an AMA hall-of-famer who simply is an amazing modeler. (A Hall-of-Fame member on our staff!?!?!?! How lucky am I! Pretty cool, isn’t it!)

 

Todd Nicholson – Technical Writer. Todd is a professional builder who simply has decades of achievement and experience. What’s better is that he’s worked at Hobby People in several positions so he truly understands the needs of our customers. Todd not only writes many of our manuals but now troubleshoots samples and even helps monitor our forums and emails.

 

Kyle Gittins – Mail Order Manager. Kyle, a “sport modeler” has 1st hand experience in most aspects of the hobby and has a mind for the technical. Like Todd, Kyle has been active at Hobby People for a long time and is dedicated to providing great customer service.

 

Craig Kaplan – Product Manager and Airtronics Team Manager. Craig is our “car guy”. If there’s anything you want to know about cars, Craig’s our guy. He’s excelled at everything he’s done at Hobby People from Store Manager to Race Director, from Product Manager to Team Manager, Craig truly loves the hobby, truly cares about our customers, and enjoys working with “the Team”.

 

Tiffany K – Service Phone Operator. You might say “what, a girl? What does she know about the hobby?!?!?!” Tiffany has cars and helicopters and simply gets a kick out of the hobby. What’s better is that she’s so dedicated to helping customers. Tiffany may not be with us as a career (she’s studying to have a career in medicine) but she brings a nurturing and caring side to our staff that’s special and unique. No one is more level-headed or cares more about taking care of customers, day in and day out. She, like so many women before her, points out that the hobby is truly a family activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old, men and women.

 

Farrell F. – Customer Service Assistant Manager. Farrell is knowledgeable in many areas of the hobby. However, I like to think of him as our resident heli-expert. He’s flown many of the 450 heli’s on the market and is our go-to guy for heli setup questions. Farrell is continuing his education right now in electronics as well making him a great help in Airtronics Service when he’s not on the phone helping customers with their helis!

 

John Greenshields – Engine Technician. John is my father (I’m a 2nd generation modeler and Hobby People employee…) and was Hobby People’s 1st employee when it was opened in 1972. John’s retired but helps us with Engine service. Why? He’s still very active in the hobby and has 40 years of engine experience! And, engine service is at most a part time job (we simply don’t get that many repairs!) so it fits his lifestyle.

 

Russ Greaves – Aircraft Technician. Russ came to us through the Fountain Valley retail store. Russ is an active modeler who simply does a GREAT job helping Todd and I sort out prototypes, test samples, building displays, and working at trade-shows! Russ is really active with electric aircraft and has a TON of modeling experience. Most weekends you can find Russ at the flying field or occasionally at Disneyland with his girlfriend. When it comes to electrics, Russ is our go-to guy!

 

You can imagine my excitement when I presented with a way to have this staff working directly with customers! And now that idea is a reality!

 

Marketing restructure. For those of you who shop with us, I’ll bet you noticed some aggressive sales and promotions since Christmas. We had over 100 items on sale on our website and in our stores, we are now able to offer the same low prices we offer in our stores on-line, and our dealers can participate in these promotions too! Right now we’ve got a coupon AND free shipping online. That coupon is good in the store too and can be applied to items already on sale!

 

In the world of business this is a volatile time when we find many companies raising prices. We think this is the wrong thing to do in the hobby industry. We’ve gone back to our partners in the hobby industry and tried to find ways to reduce prices, have sales with deeper discounts, and to simply make the hobby more affordable with lower prices and, more fun because you can trust that what you purchase is backed by a customer service dept that cares.

 

As far as advertising, watch ONLINE. Our ads are going all online, our promotions will be delivered to our customers mainly via email, and you can bet this type of advertising is dynamic, fun, and faster paced. I’ve always hated magazine advertising because you have to make the ads 3 or 4 months in advance! Online, you will see we can act FAST. It’s exciting.

 

2009 at Hobby People is going to be an amazing and exciting year. The hobby is promising to be exciting and interesting, filled with some really cool and innovative products. Personally, I’ll say that I’m sorry for my lack of responses some days, but rest assured, that will change for the better too!

 

I wish you all a very Happy NEW YEAR. Let’s make 2009 memorable, exciting, and fun.

 

Mike Greenshields