I have been building and flying model helicopters for over 15 years and almost every month I come across a new commer to the hobby who has purchased a helicopter from EBAY that simply is no longer fit for purpose. If like me you are experienced and know what you are buying then so be it. For the others please read on.
NOTE THIS IS AIMED 100% at the NEWBIE to this challenging yet rewarding hobby.
For new commers who enter the hobby with the "gee I have always wanted to do that" beware. Before buying please..please...please, contact a number of model shops and find out about current models and spares availability. I can guarantee with 300% certainty that you are going to crash your heli a number of times before you master the art. Crashes are costly at the best of times but if your model is no longer in production you can kiss the money you paid for it goodbye because all you will be left with is a pile of rubbish.
Occasionally you may well find a suitable donor machine for sale but you will be amongst the other 100 or so people also looking for spares and the one with the most cash is going to get them. Then you are faced with the prospect of negative returns, the longer this continues the greater the overall cost of the machine over the period you own it. At some point the smart ones are going to give up and move to something more readily available so whilst you may convince yourself that you will always get your money back by selling it for spares the fact is depending on how long you hang onto it you may not. Also consider that if the same critical part breaks on all machines then everyone is going to be buying that one part. Eventually that part even second hand will run out. At this point you won't be able to sell the remainder of your machine as the remaining parts will be irelevant and totally useless without that one critical component.
The Kyosho Nexus and Concepts are two models to be especially wary of. These have been out of production for some time and critical items such as the main gear and clutch are no longer available. Stripping a main gear on a Nexus is very easy with just one hard tail landing. If you are a beginner I can assure you that you will do this and then be left with something you can no longer fly. These main gears sell for anything between £15 - £30 but be advised they are availble in the USA for around $6. KingRC is one shop worth trying but shopping around will certainly save you money.
Others old helis such as Morley's, Kalts and GMP's are long gone and should be given a wide berth.
The intelligent among you will realise that the ability to walk into a shop and buy a part off the shelf at a fixed price is invaluable. Also the more common a machine the more competition there will be between shops to sell the part at a competitive price, hence you score from cheaper parts.
Also before entering the hobby visit the British Model Flying Association website at www.bmfa.org and get a list of model flying clubs in your area that welcome helicopters. Whilst there is nothing stopping you from flying a helicopter anywhere you MUST be COGNISANT that these machines can KILL and MAIM, not only bystanders but the flyer as well.....THESE ARE NOT TOYS. Through the BMFA you can and MUST get third party liability insurance that covers the third party in the unfortunate event of an accident. Flying at a registered club will also give you access to experienced flyers whose help and advice will enable you to enjoy your new hobby, learn much faster and keep your costs down.
Here is a list of model shops who are extremely helpful and from whom you will get valuable advice with respect to the purchase of new and second hand models as well as the availability of spares for any purchase you may be considering.
Midland Helicopters - www.modelhelicopters.co.uk
Skyline Models - www.skylinemodels.co.uk
Revolutionmodels - www.revolutionmodels.co.uk
Inwoodmodels - www.inwoodmodels.co.uk
Sussex Model Centre - www.sussex-model-centre.co.uk
Alans Model Shop - www.alansmodels.co.uk
Don't buy discontinued R/C helicopters
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8 October 2007
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