Radio control models from overseas

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The perils of buying radio control models from outside the UK!

I was prompted to write this after seeing one from someone who had bought from a German Seller, specifically HF Trade GmbH Hamburg.

As I am rapidly approaching my dotage, I thought it would be a good idea to indulge some of the "hobbies" that lack of money had prevented me from enjoying when I was young.

Amongst those hobbies was that of radio-control models - tanks, aircraft, helicopters and so on.

The first thing to remember is that sellers like HF Trade GmbH Hamburg are not an exception. Anytime you buy from outside the UK, you are taking a chance. Models I have bought from overseas have frequently either not worked properly or have had pieces missing.

For instance, I bought an AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter from HF Trade GmbH Hamburg. Everything was fine except that the instructions were in what the Chinese fondly believe is English. Still, there was the fun of finding out what the controls actually did. If you are considering buying one of these, it would be as well to consider buying a reasonable supply of super glue at the same time.

Heartened by my experience of this foreign seller, I then invested in a B-29 aircraft from the same seller. Another excellent purchase, except for the fact that it arrived without the nosewheel assembly. The B-29 model has a "tricycle" undercarriage and is unlikely to take off or land successfully without it! Unless you like seeing your model strewn across the landscape! Many emails and a PayPal claim later, a box arrived with a collection of spare bits inside. Alas, no nosewheel assembly! It was not until I achieved a relationship with a UK seller that I managed to obtain the missing part.

Another one to watch out for is Electronic Toys and More (fun-and-play) also based in Germany. I bought a Heng Long Pershing Snow Leopard tank from them, only to find it didn't work properly. Loads of emails and a PayPal claim later, they admitted that there had to be a problem and supplied a replacement. Total surprise - the replacement didn't work properly either! At least had the advantage that I got two tanks, that the seller didn't want back, for nothing (after the PayPal claims were settled).

Anyone would think that customers from outside the seller's home country are considered fair game!!!

So here's the advice. Ask questions!! Has the specific item you are considering bidding on been fully tested? Are there any apparent faults?  What's the seller's feedback like? And when it arrives, does the "box" contain everything you need? Does it do everything the seller says it capable of?

Remember that eBay and PayPal are most likely to be on the side of the Seller. If you have trouble communicating before you buy, think again! If there are problems when you are asking a question, think what it will be like when the item is not satisfactory. For overseas sellers, the ability to understand English degrades as soon as there is a problem. Whenever possible, use a UK Seller. One of the best was Sharons R/C Toys. Unfortunately, Sharon appears to have discontinued her business on eBay.

I must emphasise that my comments about overseas sellers relate solely to my experiences with radio control models. In other cases, items from as far away as Hong Kong have arrived with a speed that would put many a UK seller to shame and found to be exactly as described. Nor do I intend to recommend certain UK sellers. There are some good ones out there, and I recently achieved an excellent deal to buy three Panzerkampfwagen III tanks at a very creditable price. But it would not be fair to recommend individual UK sellers when I am not monitoring the activities of all of them. You must use your judgement.

One last thing if you are just starting out and the type of model you are contemplating flies or floats. If at all possible, buy cheap! This will avoid the pain you WILL feel as your new model plunges straight into the ground from about 100 feet or slowly disappears beneath the surface of the pond/lake you thought you'd try it out in (unless it's a submarine!). You are bound to have problems/accidents at the outset and there is no sense in making it more painful than it has to be.

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