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The State of Play

The Anomoly

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RICHARD WILLS06/05/2020 20:53:57
567 forum posts
86 photos

This is just musing here chaps so bear with me and humour the slightly unhinged , sitting in his balsa dust covered castle .

Let me first state , that I love this forum . It is a constant source of intrigue and I enjoy watching people going on a buildling experience that I can enjoy but without actually spending any of my own effort on it ,

For those that know me , I am the designer behind Warbirds Replicas , A company that has been around since 1995 but at present it is in a sort of hibernation (by choice ) .

I couldnt help having a look today at the impact my models had made on this forum and I shall explain why this was not a form of back patting (tricky at the best of times ) but rather a drilling down on facts rather than perception .

I made a note of the viewings of my individual designs threads . Here they are: BF110 95000

Spitfire 47000 + 12000

Bf109 52000

Hurricane 32000

La7 32000

Macchii 16000

These threads appear to be huge compared to the average on this forum but that would be expected when people are following a build perhaps for reference to their own progress . however there are other builds which dont tend to get above 25000 views . The other thing is the order of subjects , Why is the Bf110 such a big hit ? In fact the order is nothing like what you would guess .

There must be some other subjects with big viewing figures . and does all this musing have anything to do with where our beloved forum should be going ?

I have made some great friends on this forum and can honestly say that almost without exception , the people I deal with from here are the kind of chaps you'd like to live next door to . So the main thought i suppose is , do the figures deceive us into thinking all is well when we should be stoking the fire somewhere to keep the forum alive and well ?

Bruce Collinson06/05/2020 21:07:34
563 forum posts

Existential musings on this of all media!

I haven’t even got mine yet and have only built 1.5 planes from kits but I would say that the combination of a well sorted close scale Spit which flies without biting tender parts of the anatomy and should not need 4 years to complete seemed irresistible. With that comes enthusiasm and apparently a delight in shared experiences and from that flows a huge number of hits.

so the clear answer is, make some more, or get Sweep to do it.


Martian06/05/2020 21:09:37
2580 forum posts
1170 photos

Hi Richard for me my interest lies in active builds it,s always a pleasure to follow and learn a different way to do things I don,t always comment other than to commend lovely work ,mass builds are always great to follow . What I find depressing is an ofpiste thread such as politics etc which often cause contention with others forum members . In short i love building

Denis Watkins06/05/2020 21:13:03
4634 forum posts
129 photos

Many of us watch on the sidelines Richard, gleaming skills and admiring builds.

Recently the forum does appear quieter than normal, but has never been excessive.

I think due to the poor weather these last few years that flying at least has taken a hit.

Less flying, less fuel used, less equipment needed, and fewer broken models to replace.

Am watching with interest.

Bruce Collinson06/05/2020 21:13:26
563 forum posts

I agree Martian but I wasn’t going to say it. I’m glad the point was made.


RICHARD WILLS06/05/2020 22:37:18
567 forum posts
86 photos

Good points , all of them . But what do the numbers mean ?

If those threads really are that more popular ( and my end of the stick says that is not the case ) then what does it tell us about the health of the building part of our hobby ?

Like the dreaded Corona virus , shouldnt we try to understand what is really happening and process the facts in order to safeguard our interests in the future?

Jon - Laser Engines07/05/2020 08:40:51
5623 forum posts
271 photos

The thread i started on your Hurricane/Spit/Yaks that my club and i built was quite popular, my thread on my work to finish a DB Hurricane is, by comparison, pretty dead. The 1/4 Stampe thread is always alive though and new people are joining the Stampede with several new builds in recent times.

Perhaps its a bit of a herd mentality? We engage when lots of people are doing a similar thing and then it gains some sort of critical mass?

Not sure, but many ARTF's are really not cheap any more and from my customer base at Laser i do see a large number of people building kits again, more so than when i started here. I would probably say its a 50/50 split at the moment. Perhaps this will give us more to talk about as throwing an arf together does not make for a very long thread.

RICHARD WILLS07/05/2020 09:10:11
567 forum posts
86 photos

Good to make clear to everyone how it looks from the other side of the trade counter Jon , From your comments and Bruce's , maybe a reasonable price and a build that has an end in sight without huge and intricate issues is the sweet spot .

All of that makes sense but it doesnt it explain how 95000 viewings (which seems to be one of ,if not the most viewed thread ) resulted in twenty sales for those that crowd funded it , and no further enquires for the 110.

I dont say this because I want to sell 110s , I am baffled by how , what would seem a clear winner of a thread and subject , does absolutely zero to encourage the manufacturer to make any more .

That is the problem , initially for the trade , but very shortly after , for the other builders on this forum .

My partner in crime is cutting lots of foam veneer wings for ADH and their plan service , but there is no pattern to the requests and one offs like that is bit like living on crisps !

Im sure the remnants of the British Kit market would be keen to step into the breach , but the figures we see are very difficult to untangle and come to any sort of conclusion .

PeterF07/05/2020 09:17:26
574 forum posts
740 photos

The model that is the subject of the post has a huge bearing on attracting viewers to the thread even if they do not participate in the thread or even expect to build the model themselves, and John's reference to the Stampe thread is an example of this. I posted my 1/4 scale Tiger Moth build of an expensive kit that is no longer in production over a 4 year period and got over 70,000 views, and this was not a thread where lots of people contributed their builds, it was predominantly my build. Perhaps people view interesting planes, or they get some inspiration if the build shows them new things, or if well written it can be like a tutorial. I can not explain it, but long may people continue to take the time to put build logs up to share the inspiration around the community.

David Davis07/05/2020 09:47:18
3841 forum posts
741 photos

I feel that you have to be a pretty brave pilot to fly an i/c twin. Most of us wouldn't take the risk but we would be interested in following someone else's experience of building and flying one.

Perhaps that's why there was more interest in the Bf 110 thread than in those of the single engine fighters.

Bob Cotsford07/05/2020 10:28:17
8758 forum posts
489 photos

I think it could prove interesting if those views could be broken down by number of different IDs and views per ID per model. I know when building my La7 that I was constantly referring back to the threads and to the other WR threads for relevant info, ie brown paper covering, what paints were being used and the like.

Jon - Laser Engines07/05/2020 10:33:23
5623 forum posts
271 photos
Posted by David Davis on 07/05/2020 09:47:18:

I feel that you have to be a pretty brave pilot to fly an i/c twin. Most of us wouldn't take the risk but we would be interested in following someone else's experience of building and flying one.

I know this is off topic, but this seems to be a common feeling when it comes to i/c twins but i have never worked out why.

Over the years i have owned/currently own 5 twins (flown another 3 for others), a 4 engine Hercules and am considering another twin at the moment.

None met their end due to an engine failure crash and on the very rare occasions an engine stops its just a simple matter of flying round to land using the remaining engine. It requires some care for sure, but its not difficult

Looking at it first hand and watching youtube videos of twins spinning to their death there seems to be 3 common themes in each crash:

1. The engines didnt sound right from the get go so it was only a matter of time before one died
2. The aircraft rolls towards the dead engine due to the yaw set up by the asymmetric thrust. This roll is invariably countered with ailerons and not rudder so the model just lurches sideways through the sky.
3. They slow down. Once slow the thrust of the remaining engine overcomes the inherent stability of the model and then its all over.

With all that out of the way, i can see that perhaps this perceived jeopardy is part of the appeal of the model/thread.

Chris Walby07/05/2020 11:06:24
1326 forum posts
332 photos

How about looking at the demographic, older generation that now have the time and reignited interest to do something with the spare time they have. Perhaps a younger group that are gaining an interest in building. I think the problem is that there are just not that many people in the hobby and the crowd funding approach to the hurricane was an example of get one or miss out.

I appreciate you don't or can't afford to have loads of kits on the shelf and people will look/follow build threads out of interest and asperation. Martian has a very valid point (and one of my pet hates) is when people purposely take the thread off topic with pages and pages of miss information.

The world we live in has the ability to laser cut and 3D print things quite quickly and perhaps its just the a fact of life that if you want to supply kits either a stock or supply of one off kits to order is the only way.

For those that don't want to dig through forum posts or ask the question, an association with Peter Miller/Tony Nijhuis designs (others designers are available) and 4-max seems to appeal to people that want a recommended set-up to ease them into building.

RICHARD WILLS07/05/2020 11:42:56
567 forum posts
86 photos

There are some very good points coming up here . As suggested the subject is a factor . It doesnt have to be a warbird for example , Peter Millers 30's style models appeal to a relaxed builder and flyer . No retracts etc to think about and cover in film . But for the good of the forum we need to be transparent from the trade side .

Surely you were all surprised when I said that the 110 , with all of its viewings amassed just 20 sales ? It would be easy to assume it was a scorcher . The thread was fun and Paul Johnson was infinitely patient and inventive . Which probably helped . His model looked fab too and as you say , a twin was unusual .

Chis above quite rightly pointed out that modern facilities do make one offs possible , but not at the "regular " prices .

If you can imagine a trader with perhaps 12- 20 designs in house, somebody wants a model that has not been made for six months . The jigs are elsewhere , there is one obscure piece of wood or hardware not in stock and you cant remember if you have the latest manual on file .

Simply not what happens . We will all generally make at least six or twelve of one type . So if they dont get sold for a year , you get double stuffed .

Transparency between the end users and the trade is essential to survival for both parties . It is the devil of a job making from scratch with just a plan if you cant even get hold of a canopy and cowl . Thank goodness for Tony Nijhuis .

Richard Ashworth07/05/2020 12:31:38
107 forum posts
70 photos

Hi Richard.

So far I think you have had contributions from experienced modellers and to in part balance that this is my ‘story’ in modelling having been an aviation enthusiast in various forms starting with plane spotting at Ringway in 1962.

1964-67 5 wood kits, FF, C/L Gliders and 1cc diesels.

1984 2 Precedent wood kits, High Boy and Hi Fly. Only flew Hi Fly due to work / family commitments.

2015 early retirement at 63, hobby time available, RC planes obviously! (Electric route only)

2015 RT Discovery Foam ( Realflight Sim)

2015 Ripmax Wot4 Foam (2, one short lived, second retired worn out, 2019)

2016 Radian Pro Foam

2016 Ripmax Acro Wot ARTF Wood

2016 Max Thrust Lightning Foam

2017 Ripmax Wot 4 ARTF Wood

2018 Pegasus, Galaxy Hornet kit Wood

2019 SLEC Fun Fly kit Wood

2020 Chris Foss Wot 4 kit Wood.

I did 6 months of research, a lot of it reading articles on this site, local club visits as recommended etc, before I dipped my toes in 2015, with the first objective of learning to fly and foamies being recommended as more survive-able for novices. Secondly I tried to standardise on 3S 2200s. The only ‘wrong’ move I have made is moving to the Acro Wot too early in my learning curve.i It’s now making appearances at the field but for 18 months it was a hanger queen, mentally too big a jump from a foamie 4.

After 5 years of flying my views on where I will go are

Limitations - No workshop, the garage becomes a temporary not ideal workshop each summer and with 8 planes stored amongst the rafters there is no more storage space available. Car rear load space only 170cm long (2m single piece wing not transportable)

Future - More build and fly, wood kit or plan, ARTF possibly if desire / price strong enough. Enough building technique seen from articles on this site, some already used in leccy conversions, to give me confidence to tackle most builds, BUT - 1. No Retracts (rip out and do damage too often!) 2. Multi engine - not yet, 3. Proper scale detail - space not available to do it properly, plus I’m not positive that my skill level is yet up to the planes that need such detail.

As things stand (sorry Richard) I don't see warbirds as my way forward, I love seeing the detail people manage to put in and the way they fly, look and sound (4S Laser of course). If I was 20 years younger maybe.

Im not sure what, and apologies to Mr Foss, there has to be a product, 160cm wing 80-4S / 60 electric, not too difficult to fly, more difficult to build than a kit W4, some detail but not competition level, aerobatic / pattern ship (NO retracts) that would find a 200 kit market (i would be up for one!) not the 20 of the Me110.

Musings over, this isn’t intended to upset anyone merely add to the discussion from my experience and flying skill level.

Stay safe everyone and fingers crossed that this weekends announcement gets us nearer to returning to the flying fields.

Richard A

Edited By Richard Ashworth on 07/05/2020 12:34:03

Graham R07/05/2020 12:37:22
372 forum posts
28 photos

I must admit I had never heard of Warbird Replicas until 2 or 3 years ago when browsing this site and came across one of your postings regarding closing down due to poor sales. That’s when I took the plunge and bought my 1st (a Spit). I am not a beginner, starting building in the early ‘70s and was involved with a kit manufacturer for a number of years flying and selling at all the old shows during the 90’s. Your kits are my 1st venture into warbirds. I have always been under the impression that warbirds have the flying characteristics of a brick. Seeing the various videos of your designs have changed my mind. My 109 and Spitfire are still being completed and the 110 is awaiting a maiden hopefully sometime this year.

Edited By Graham R on 07/05/2020 12:38:03

RICHARD WILLS07/05/2020 13:31:43
567 forum posts
86 photos

Thanks for your kind words Graham . This has certainly got us talking ,which is a good thing .

This is about kit building in general . not my designs . So we are trying assess the big picture to see if there is anything we can do to ensure kits continue to be there for our pleasure .

Now , I think Richard A (above ) has raised some interesting points . Convenience is definitely a factor . Both in operating and building . I have just finished a couple of pre production metre long locomotive kits that can be built on a coffee table with some glue , pegs and three elastic bands ! Everything jigs together and if that sound too simple , well it isn't , because doing a couple of hours a night , it will still take you a week to complete .

So as Richard says , we dont all have workshops , building boards etc , so the models do need to be self jigging to hit a larger market . Also to fit in the car , so it becomes the go to model .If Richard or anyone else can come up with a subject that will definitely generate even 100 modellers , then I would be more than happy to design it and manufacture it .

And lets face it , there must be such a thing , its merely a case of communication .

Bruce Collinson07/05/2020 14:17:48
563 forum posts

Box arrived whilst I was out Richard. Thanks.BTC

Chris Walby07/05/2020 15:08:18
1326 forum posts
332 photos

Richard, I truly admire your faith, however if you look at the MB threads each year there a twice as many proposals as there are builders, a great example of how you can't please anyone any of the time! Looks like after voting and some disagreements a model is selected.

My club picked Peter's Ohmen as their own mass build and out of 10 ish models not two are the same, one is IC, another over size and some that hardly resemble the plans (each to their own). Some built off plan, some kits and some using the recommended powertrain.

IMHO I think the way to go is to publish a model or a subject you intend to design, I hate to say this but predominantly for electric, but with an IC option (please) and then people put a deposit/payment up front. That way builders know what and when they will get the model and you know you have cleared x number to make it worth while.

How about an F82, if people run out of time they can do a P51 and have some spares?

PS A DH Hornet....see one builder and two suggestions already

Lone_Wolf07/05/2020 16:25:42
46 forum posts
1 photos

It might interest you to know Richard that it was an eBay item back in 2010 / 11 that set me back on the road to model flying. I was a teenager in the late 70’s and I bought a trainer with a GRP fuse and foam cored wings. I never got to finish building it and of course never flew it as it was sold to part fund my first car. And that eBay item was a Warbirds Spitfire and it became an aspirational model for me which fuelled me to get a model, join a club and learn to fly. Sadly, I still don’t have a Warbirds Spitfire, but I do have a Warbirds LA7 waiting for the time, when I have the time to build it.

I have built two models from kits and I prefer that to ARTF’s of which I have built many however being in full time employment means ARTF’s are more likely to actually get built and flown than a kit.

One of my goals in model flying now is to build an IC twin and my plan is the Grumpy Tiger Cub first then the Dave Platt Duallist. Both only available from plan I think.

I think the main problem facing kit manufacturers (the whole model industry for that matter) is the diversity of the modelling public itself. I would imagine it’s very difficult to hit the sweet spot where a model appeals to lots of different modelers to the point where they are happy to part with cash for one.

In my experience as a committee member of my club getting modelers to agree on anything is a bit like trying to herd cats.

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