Ordering Via Mail Order:
Here's my advice from someone who has bought from both mail order and retail hobby outlets:
Shop your local retail store first. I still think it is better to buy from these people as they support the hobby and can answer questions
much more readily than calling one of those 'order lines'. Also, if there's a problem with a kit or radio, you can usually get better
response in getting the problem fixed. Some local retail stores will not only help you get your plane (or other R/C model) together, but
also help you learn to fly (they want you to come back). If they don't carry what you want, ask 'em. The good ones will get you what you
If you can't find what you want locally, then the next step is to find a mail order house that carries what you [think] you want. Some of
the mail order companies are very small (1 or 2 person operation) to large (50 or more employees). The larger outfits can carry larger
discounts, but sometimes send you the wrong stuff and it can be very difficult getting that stuff returned. I also prefer the smaller
outfits as they usually give you great personal service and don't mind answering stupid questions. Most of the smaller guys are hobbyists themselves
and they branched out to make a full or part-time business out of it.
When ordering via mail order, always specify 'no substitutions' when ordering. Some of the larger mail order companies have a tendency to
ship you something other that what you ordered because they had it in stock and [I guess] thought that you wouldn't mind the substitution. I don't
usually appreciate that at all.
If you're ordering a custom built sailplane, with your special color scheme, etc., be patient. Some of these orders can take a while,
especially if the mail order house that you're ordering through is actually not the builder, just the order-taker. Remember that the U.S. market
for sailplane enthusiasts is fairly small, probably less than 30 thousand people total, nationwide. This is not a mass-market hobby, at least
not in the sailplane area.
- If going to order some common parts, parts like razor blades or clevises, and you've decided to get them via mail order, order them from a place out of state as you won't have to pay sales tax (if your state has that) for the order. Remember that these places to have shipping and handling to deal with, so don't make a single order for $2.39 as you'll probably have to pay an additional $5 just in shipping and handling. Go to your local hobby store instead.
Click the links page for a list of links of websites that specialize in products the R/C modeler needs (and where you can order via mail.)