I just been through the process of looking for a kit to build this winter. Its just hard to believe how little choice there is in the market for kits these days. I have been away from the hobby for 12 years. Back then few airplanes were ARF’s, now few airplanes are kits. Its an understandable transition, people don’t have time/space/expertise to build a model. Still I think that perhaps 10%-20% of the total market would like to build kits. For us its not about the convenience of the ARF. We are makers, we enjoy creating things.
So in the hope that there will be more kits on the market in the future and more people building kits I put together some suggestions for the people who make the kits to help them sell a few more. This isn’t meant to get down on anyone or get negative. I’m sure anyone still making kits is in it for the love of the hobby. I know there cant be a lot of money in it.
5 Ways to Sell More Kits
- Offer kits that people want to FLY and build. This should be the obvious part but its not happening. Example: Yak’s are hugely popular but there isn’t a single 50cc Yak kit on the market this winter. Update your kits with interlocking parts and prefabrication. Its not enough that you convert and old design to laser cutting, the parts need to interlock to make building easier. Doing menial tasks like beveling hinge lines are boring and take a lot of time. Prefabrication by machine saves build time and gets better results than many can archive on their own.
- Offer complete kits. Or offer a complete, super high quality hardware package to complement a builders kit. Complete kits included EVERYTHING an ARF airplane would have had. This helps with estimating costs for the builder. A complete kit with hardware shouldn’t cost any more than a similar ARF (why should it?). With an ARF the costs are clear; with a Kit its hard to estimate what the project will ultimately cost. A key kit selling point is that you can get higher quality hardware than an ARF. Offer what you would want on your personal airplane.
- Provide manuals online. Preferable in HTML with high resolution photos. This lets the builder see what they are in for before they buy the kit. It helps them feel confident that they can complete the project. Update the manuals as needed, HTML is easy to update. HTML manuals can be linked to in a build thread and the images can be more detailed and helpful than the smaller images in a PDF.
- Provide help with Finishing. For the new generation of ARF buyers that have never built a kit the most difficult part is finishing. Have an ‘official’ color scheme and publish templates for cutting the covering. Provide some Vinyl Graphics (great free advertising!) with every kit. There is general lack of good covering and painting information out there right now that needs to be addressed.
- Leverage the community. Encourage builders with a variety of skill levels to build your kits and post build threads online. If someone wants to do a build thread get involved and support their efforts. Accept constructive criticism and learn from their mistakes to improve your product. A good build thread can be better than the manual that came with the kit. Link to good build threads from your website.
I wish I was building an MX2 this winter but I may have to wait a few more years before kits of that airplane get produced.