I had an interesting scenerio unfold this year. A friend of a friend (easiest way to describe it) wanted to get his son a hobby-grade RC vehicle as a birthday present. They were starting from scratch, so they needed everything. With my friend acting as a mediator or middleman, I quizzed the father to find out what would suit them best. An RTR was a no brainer, but I wanted to know if the lucky recipient would be most thrilled by a monster truck or something like a short course truck. I won’t bore you with all the details of the back and forth, but as I learned more about what they wanted in an RC, the clear choice was the Axial Wraith–looked scale but could still go fast. As it turned out, the RTR Wraith was a hot seller and we couldn’t find one on short notice. That led to more talk and the possibility of maybe getting a kit and building it as a father and son team. That idea was a hit and that got me even more evolved. I got enlisted to hand pick the vehicle and the components and that led to an epithany of sorts.
So, armed with someone else’s credit card (I behaved) and a tight deadline, I went shopping. I’ll cut right to the chase. As it all added up, it didn’t take long for me to get some serious sticker shock. The cost of the kit didn’t get me, and individually, all of the components were all fairly priced. And, it’s not that I’m in the dark about what certain items cost, it’s just I have done this excerise–so to speak–of buying it all at once in years. What’s shocking is how much it adds up when the consumer has nothing in their RC arsenal. I had to buy a kit, a radio system with servo, a speed control and motor, a battery and a charger. I picked good gear–not the cheapest but certainly not the most expensive–and it added up.
When I got started in RC there were no RTR RC cars–none. You had to piece it all together. Now, when someone gets started in RC, they go RTR. And yet, there are still people who champion kits over RTRs, and the main reason they spew is you’ll learn by building. While you will learn, I’ve never bought into that philosophy as a selling point and have even thought the argument was a little ridiculous. If that was really such a valid point, everything in life would arrive as a kit, so you could learn how it works for when you need to work on it. You have fun with that kit toaster oven or kit 51″ plasma TV.
This isn’t about kit vs. RTR. That argument is officially over. RTRs have to be here to stay and every manufacturer should have them. Heck, I’d like to see every model offered as a kit and RTR. The reason is RTRs are such a great value–that’s the whole point here. I was convinced of RTRs’ amazing value when I bought everything needed to complete a kit. New enthusiasts simply have to go with the RTR option; they simply have to start with a RTR or they are going to go to a toy store and buy a $100 1/10-scale kinda-sorta made to look like hobby-grade model (the worse RC purchase you can make).
I’ve said many times this hobby isn’t cheap, but people who aren’t familiar with the variety of the hobby can easily get the wrong idea and think it’s unaffordable or too expensive. In contrast, RTR models make RC a great value. You simply get a lot for your money when you start with a RTR.
Bottom line? This hobby is expensive, or it can be if we let it. RC is also a great value. RTRs aren’t expensive and when you choose wisely, it’s amazing how much you get for your money.