Why are R/C plane kits made so poorly? - RC Groups
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Jun 08, 2010, 01:10 PM
Avoid The Ground!
Flexserve's Avatar

Why are R/C plane kits made so poorly?

I've owned several kits from several different companies and always wondered: Why the heck are these kits made so poorly? Missing parts, bad paint jobs, poorly fitting parts, bad designs, wrong measurements, bad or confusing instructions, just to name a few.

Mind you, I do not purchase all China models either.. Seems like for our hard earned cash most companies really are not making any effort.

Then when you go for support you are stuck waiting for an hour to reach someone who doesn't really help beyond sending another copy of the defective part, or missing piece that should have been there to begin with.

Some companies handle issues immediately, and some utterly ignore their customer base. No one is checking to ensure they are sending a completed, quality product to the consumer.

I for one am shocked that I have to modify a $300+ dollar model to make it fly as an RTF. (pick a model really)

Anyone else wondering where their $$$ is going? and why the quality control of foamies and balsa aircraft is deteriorating, but the prices keep rising?
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Jun 08, 2010, 01:28 PM
Registered User



If you are into balsa kits and/or full assy, here are a few that are pretty good. Hope this helps.

Jun 08, 2010, 01:33 PM
Xpress..'s Avatar
Depends on where you get them from.

Also, some companies know that modelers have a preference for kits, so they sometimes will only include the balsa, and let you use your own hardware.
Jun 08, 2010, 06:53 PM
Gravity sucks.
mrittinger's Avatar
The fact that you mention "bad paint jobs" indicates you are talking more of ARF or RTF stuff.
I do not fly those very often. I enjoy building from scratch or a true "kit" (individual parts glued together, rather than large assemblies ) much more than I could ever enjoy an ARF or RTF model.

One reason there is a proliferation of junk on the market is that RC is becoming accessable to a larger mass of people and prices have come down from years ago.
If you look at an RC system in the 70's, a 4 channel setup was around $300. In 1970's dollars. That was a lot.
With modern technology, the costs of these have really come down.

I think RC is like Golf. There are those that are into Golf this year, and next year sell the clubs and try something else. Then there are those that will pick up RC and never get away from it for the rest of thier lives. RC seems the same way as golf, and it seems to me that a lot of the junk on the market is directed at theose short timers that just want to fly a "P51" or a "Jet", and next year, they will be moving onto some other hobby like Golf, fishing, or whatever.

You can sell a guy a $300 piece of foam garbage (and there is a LOT of it out there!) if you know he isn't going to buy much else anyhow....

Now, if you think things are bad these days, you shoud have tried to put together a "die-crushed", true balsa kit from back in the day! The plans rarely matched the parts, and the engineering was often questionable .At least these days we have computer drawn plans, lazer cut parts the match perfect, and cheap reliable radios.

I for one, will never sell a plan for one of my designs unless it has been built, tested, flown, tweaked, the plans corrected for mods and parts fit . But, that's me, my name is on the plan and I try to keep a good reputation.....

Typically, if you stick with companies that have been around a long time like Sig, Goldberg, Balsa USA, House of Balsa, Lanier, etc, you have a better chance of getting a nice thorough kit than the one from the company that is here today to make a few $, then gone tomorrow.

My opinion anyhow...

Jun 08, 2010, 08:20 PM
Visitor from Reality
Mark's pretty much got it down right.

Once, it was called 'aeromodelling'. People tried to improve over their last model, in whatever field they prefered. The most highly regarded were those designers who came up with unique and distinct models, of high standard in design and construction. Designers also proudly put their names on plans and even kits - longtime US kit manufacturer Sig are happy to credit designers, for one.

Now, the 'best' are those who buy the latest big shiny box first. Magazines have shifted from showcasing those pinnacles of our hobby's art to whatever is on sale that's New! Exciting! - unless you're of cynical nature, when what's being sold are 'products'.

The skill and knowledge that made this such a great hobby is, literally, dying off. The UK recently lost Phil Smith, designer of Veron's kits and many others, and David Boddington, who's writing on the hobby dates back to the first issues of the first UK based RC magazine, besides many other contributions to the hobby.

The biggest aim of those ready-made product manufacturers is to sell them. Few will buy another, bad publicity is unlikely to make it into print or online forums like this. If someone browsing a store or online buys one, end of maker's interest.

That's life.


Who has seven or so plans already to build from, when he gets his shop back together...
Jun 08, 2010, 08:32 PM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
Brads Anniversary Cub was far from perfect. Parts were missing.
Parts were wrong. Parts were broken. A lot of the laser
cutting was not all the way through.

None of the tail parts fit the plans, he had to shim every

The wing sheeting was much too hard to be bent. Even when
wetted out.

The instructions were so badly printed he had to use the on line set and print it our self.

The dowels for the top of the fuselage were missing.
Both trailing edge pieces were broken, rubber bands
holding them in a bundle were too strong.
One sheet of wing sheeting was missing.

And the ailerons were much shorter than the plans showed.

We got a $20 credit through Tower Hobbies for the problems. I guess we came out OK?
Jun 09, 2010, 03:37 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Kimber
... We got a $20 credit through Tower Hobbies for the problems. I guess we came out OK?
Only because you have the ability, and are willing to put things right. What you describe is completely unacceptable, for the kit could have been bought by someone with less experience and ability, and would therefore have been a disaster.

But, to answer the original question, I believe the reason kits, ARTFs, etc. are made so badly these days is simply the pressure to keep the price down. As mrittinger has pointed out, prices these days are, in real terms, much lower than they were when many of us started.
Jun 09, 2010, 03:58 AM
Registered User
MS_in_NY's Avatar
Originally Posted by Kimber
Brads Anniversary Cub was far from perfect.
Tell me you're not talking about the $185 Sig 1/5 Anniversary Cub kit.

Jun 09, 2010, 04:06 AM
Registered User
Threshold's Avatar
I have been modeling for 63 years. I have never had kits as good as they are now. They are built better than I could, covered better than I could and designed better than I could. And they are ARTF but cost less than it would if I designed and built them myself. On top of that the people I buy from have been improving their models year on year. I could not think of any way to improve the last 3 or 4 planes I have bought. Having said that I have to admit the next plane I am going to buy will need a few improvements but then that plane is not from my top suppliers.
Jun 09, 2010, 05:30 AM
Registered User
Dan Parson's Avatar
RC planes are no different than buying anything else, there are good ones, and there are junk.

All you can do is ask around, and see what other people have had good luck with, and you should be able to avoid the junk.
Jun 09, 2010, 06:02 AM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
Originally Posted by MS_in_NY
Tell me you're not talking about the $185 Sig 1/5 Anniversary Cub kit.

Jun 09, 2010, 07:06 AM
Registered User
RyanPSU21's Avatar
Originally Posted by MS_in_NY
Tell me you're not talking about the $185 Sig 1/5 Anniversary Cub kit.

Although the parts fit isn't great on Sig's kit either. For the most part it was good on the one I built. The fuselage side slots were not cut wide enough to for the wood thickness used.

Goldberg's kit used to be diecut. The parts fit wasn't spectacular then either. However Great Planes doesn't even understand the concept of lightweight. I built an Ultrasport40+ a few years ago. There was balsa in that kit that was rock hard and easily more dense then plywood plus some really warped aileron stock. I built a Goldberg Anniversary Cub many many years ago back in the diecut days. You could pretty much count on the wing ribs being cut decently but the tab lock fuselage always required a bit of futzing to get aligned well. I doubt they improved it any just by switching the parts to lasercut. Anything you built in the die-cut days you expected to have to do some trimming and sanding of the parts. I still pretty much expect it to some degree with laser cutting since there is still variation in the thickness and density of the wood and thermal expansion still exists as well. All these things combine to make parts either a fairly sloppy fit or not quite fit without a little trimming.
Jun 09, 2010, 09:09 AM
Registered User
No such problems with kits from Mountain Models or Stevens Aero. That much I know.
Jun 09, 2010, 09:39 AM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
Brad said, and I quote,,,,

The fuselage parts, sides, top and bottom appear to be cut
with a CNC machine and all that was needed was to square
the corners of the notches and the fit was near perfect.

The doublers for the cabin area required a lot of sanding
to get the windows to fit properly.

He also enlarged all the openings in the fuselage sides,
top and bottom because the engine we have is very
light weight. Less than 10oz less muffler.
Jun 09, 2010, 12:25 PM
DreamArcher's Avatar
Originally Posted by mrittinger
Now, if you think things are bad these days, you shoud have tried to put together a "die-crushed", true balsa kit from back in the day! The plans rarely matched the parts, and the engineering was often questionable.
hahaha. I learned to build with those die-crushed kits.

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