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08-24-2008 04:23 AM  12 years ago
RyeGuy83

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Crest Hill, IL - United States

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For me, I'd have to fly one before I made any decisions. As far as their popularity, more power to them. I'm glad to see that Align is allowing more people to enjoy the hobby, but at the same time, I sure did see a lot of them for re-sale at IRCHA. I'm totally unbiased atm for Align products, until I get more knowledge and possibly own one myself.AMA Member #914650
E-Flite Blade mCP x
Gaui Hurricane 425
HK600 GT FBL
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08-24-2008 04:24 AM  12 years ago
InvertedDude

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USA

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RyeGuy83
I'm not sure exactly how Align is going to market its heli's , but I'm completely content with my E-Flite B400. I was shocked and amazed to see so many T-Rex 450 / 600 / 700s at IRCHA. Some people, including some flying them said that they weren't all they were hiped up to be. Just out of curiousity..

1) Do you own an Align Heli? If so, do you like it? Does it perform well?

2) If not, would you want to buy one?
I flew my friend's 600N Pro a few weeks ago....It was nice and very precise machine. I didn't see any quality issues on it.
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08-24-2008 04:25 AM  12 years ago
mjy1288

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Mt Airy, MD USA

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I own a Miniature Aircraft Stratus 90, Century Predator 90, and an Align 700 Nitro 90 and the 700 is lighter, more nimble and the parts are 10 times more available.

I also own 2 Align 600N's and the parts are cheaper than a Raptor, and far more cheaper than the other competitors.

Competition is a good thing and IMHO competition usually ends up delivering higher quality, not less
"Big" Mike
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08-24-2008 05:23 AM  12 years ago
dkshema

rrMaster

Cedar Rapids, IA

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Once upon a time, people thought that Thunder Tiger had the heli market all sewed up. The R30 V1, R30 V2, R60 V1, R60 V2, then later the Titan, the 90 SE.

You couldn't attend a fun fly where the overwhelming majority of helis weren't Raptors of some ilk.

Today, at the Owatonna Rotary Ring Out, there are few Raptors seen, they have been overtaken by the Align 600 Nitro Pro, and even though it hasn't been out that long, a good number of 700s were seen. Trex 500's were scattered about, and then there was the everyone has at least 12 Trex 450s -- whether it's an old X or X-V2, XL, SA, SE, SE-V2.

Look at past posts here on RR -- responses to the never ending
"which helicopter should I buy"? Until the advent of the 600N (which initially wasn't all that well received, as it just didn't fly as well as the 600E) the standard response was "buy a Raptor 50, everything else is just plain junk". The Raptor vs whatever brand wars were never-ending.

Of course, it was thought that Thunder Tiger was going to dominate the heli world forever and reign supreme. But, the Raptor design, though pretty revolutionary for its day, failed to evolve.

Align, for what it's worth, broke into a niche market -- the 450 sized heli. Battery technology was undergoing a radical change, brushless motor technology likewise was going through a major improvement, and the technology to produce decent speed controllers to run it all evolved at a rapid pace.

With the 450, and later the 450X, Align unquestionably was producing junk for helis. Parts fit was horrible, quality of Align parts was simply a joke, but the darn 450 and 450X just continued to sell. Align was slow to learn about quality, slow to learn about using proper materials, but quick to understand that they had a winner on their hands.

It took quite a few years for the 450 heli to evolve into a reasonably good kit. The 450XL, available in "HDE" swash mix, or "CDE" finally indicated that Align had arrived as a producer of reasonably good quality, inexpensive, 450-class helis. Gone were the days of the "Doctor Dremel" lightening method, of homemade CCPM upgrades. This was the first heli that was actually cheap enough to start sawing huge chunks of material off from, to experiment with making it better, lighter, and more long-lived.

The 450SE finally arrived and with most of the major quality problems behind it, Align began to grow their market share.

The 450X also spawned a whole new industry -- aftermarket, third-party upgrades that were more than just "bling". The Raptor spawned the bling market, but most of the bling was there to take your hard-earned money, the heli was pretty good out of the box, requiring few of those upgrades.

But with the 450 and the after-market vendors, it didn't take long before you could build a "Trex 450" that contained absolutely no Align parts! That's the first time that I can recall in nearly 40 years of modeling where that has happened.

-----

Where has the competition been during this four or five year genesis period of the Align dynasty?

Only now is the venerable 450SE/SE-V2 starting to see some serious competition from the "big guys". The Mini-Titan has seen limited success, but hasn't really taken market share away from Align in the 450 market. The Beam 450 isn't making a lot of inroads. The Min Air Furion was only recently introduced, and the Rave is available in small quantities if you know where to look. Gaui has their 200, it's taken a year to get known, and they recently updated it with a torque tube. Align has reportedly set their sights upon the 200-class heli.

Min Air has been selling its excellent quality kits at good prices, but availability has been spotty and prices have been historically high.

Hirobo has the Shuttle, and the Sceadu, the very successful EVO 50, and the Freya.

The EVO 50, though a nice heli, is heavy, and not as nimble as the 600N. Hirobo's response was to make the EVO 50 available in a fully blinged out, Hirobo Blue SWM and HPM versions that sell for --- $1300 a pop.

The Freya has undergone a few revisions to stay current -- the X-Spec was a "gotta-have heli", the Freya EVO 90 is the latest incarnation. It's not a bad flyer, but it's not a new design, just some warmed up stuff here and there.

Kyosho has the uber-expensive Caliber 90, an FAI machine, they HAD the uber-expensive M50 -- a 50-sized version of the Caliber 90, but never marketed it outside Japan, for the most part. They had a good start with the Concept series helis, dropped the ball with the follow-on Nexus, picked the ball up again with the Caliber 30, dropped it with the Caliber 4, and appear to have picked it up again with the Caliber 5, 5 Version M, Caliber 6, and most recently, Caliber 700 (a 30-sized electric heli). But they seem to be stuck in the idea that FAI is the place to be, and designing an affordable 60/90 sized 3D heli just never seems to have crossed anyone's mind over in Kyosho-land. And their marketing guys are just plain fools, it would appear and would have trouble convincing starving people of the need for food.

Schluter was absolute King of the Hill for years. Robbe Modelsport took over the brand in the late 1980s and as a result, the Schluter name is only a memory, and the once Number One manufacturer was relegated to a cult following keeping the Millenium line on life support. It took less than a year for Robbe to murder the Schluter line.

-----

Align has come a long way. I believe that the influence of Jason Krause and Alan Szabo is what it took to change Align from a company that sold schlock helis into a company that can now be poised to dominate the market.

As for me? I currently own a Hirobo Freya that just recently got an upgrade from an OS 70 to an OS C-Spec. I loved my EVO till it exploded a couple of weeks ago. I own a Caliber 5, a Caliber 4, and a 6 or 7 year-old Caliber 30. A couple of old Trex 450X and 450X-V2 helis, a 450SA, and a Kyosho EP400XP.

The Caliber 5 will soon have its electronics and motor removed and will find itself up for sale on Ebay.

The Caliber 4 -- well, the jury is out until I get an OS 37 back in it that runs as it should.

The caliber 30 -- will be around until I find a local newbie who is looking for an inexpensive "first heli" that I can sell to, and help get in the air.

The Freya -- may or may not stay. It MIGHT be replaced by an Align 700, very soon. The Freya may find itself - sans radio and motor, on the Ebay block, as well.

The EVO 50 died a horrible death, it now fits neatly in a quart-sized Ziploc baggie. It MIGHT be replaced by my second Align 600N Nitro Pro. (If anyone wants to buy an EVO 50 in a bag, including a really nice set of CNC delrin gears and hub -- for cheap -- PM me).

The Trex 450X and X-V2 will continue to fly until their next major crash. The 450SA will be around a while, I like it.

And there MIGHT be a new Align 500 in the stable soon.

-----

About two years ago, it could be longer, I stated here in a thread on RR that I would never own another Align heli as the 450X and 450X-V2 were of such poor quality and just didn't fly that well. More time was spend fiddling with them on the ground than I spent flying them. A handful of XL head parts, and the 450SA changed the way I looked at those two helis, and at Align.

But this spring, Wes Gray at Modefo's Heli did something unheard of. He let me "test drive" a new 600 Nitro Pro heli -- on him, for several months. If I liked it, he'd make me a good deal on the heli, if I didn't, I could just send it all back and not be out a nickel, other than shipping cost.

I was impressed with the 600 Nitro Pro. I bought it, and as a result of THAT FREE TEST DRIVE, I am now seriously considering adding a 500, a second 600 Nitro Pro, and a 700 to my fleet.

I was also impressed by the generous offer from Wes that got me to try the Nitro Pro. I can't let his offer go unrewarded, he's a stand-up kind of guy.

-----

Wal Mart? Maybe, but Align didn't get to the top of the pile right now by sitting on their hands. They have put together a great marketing plan, developed products that people WANT, and continue to show innovation. To top that off, their quality is now very very good. Not perfect, but VERY VERY good.

You can't argue with success. And I do shop at Wal Mart from time to time, I don't hate them for being successful.

-----

Wal Mart mentality or not, Align has managed to bootstrap itself from an unheard of Taiwan-based company that sold vacuum cleaners into a dominating force
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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08-24-2008 05:35 AM  12 years ago
InvertedDude

rrVeteran

USA

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dkshema
Thank you for adding to the post. I enjoy and listening to your rich experience of knowledge!

Just remember to add some inverted pictures to your gallery once you have the opportunity!
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08-24-2008 05:50 AM  12 years ago
"Cam"

rrKey Veteran

UK

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Good post ^

Align Sells Rice cookers, microwave ovens, hair dryers, electric pianos, pressure washers, kettles, electric fans, vacuum cleaners, telephones, stereo systems and DVD players!

So it wasn't difficult or much of a gamble for Align to develope a new product.

Recently they have started selling Eagle Tree products like the Seagull Wireless Dashboard! (I wants one).

The problem with Align for small hobby shops is they package and distribute their parts in such a way that you are left with inventory you can’t sell – unpopular parts. On one hand they're a tight-ar$$ed supplier and on the other hand people manage to get hold of them and under-cut the hobby shops on eBay. Maybe all this is intentional?
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08-24-2008 06:04 AM  12 years ago
SuperSixTwo

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Virginia City, NV ---USA

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The problem with Align for small hobby shops is they package and distribute their parts in such a way that you are left with inventory you can’t sell – unpopular parts
This is more on the LHS than Align. There always will be parts that are more popular than not. It's up to the ordering person what to stock and what to have only one of. I have the task of ordering for my job, and it works for police radios to. I have more knobs and antennas than case screws or battery contact gaskets.
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08-24-2008 07:36 AM  12 years ago
InvertedDude

rrVeteran

USA

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Keep things in focus
Regardless what people's opinion of Jason Krause or other top pilots involved in the Align designs. The facts remain....they have contributed tons of hours and sweat for little pay to make Align products to where they are today. If it wasn't for these gentlemen, we would not have a light 3D 50 machine that performs excellent.

Take a look at the recent 3D masters championship...the Trex 700. I personally think it is the best design from the experience of JK involved in this latest project.

Hands off to the man. If he located somewhere in phoenix...He deserves a plate of food and beer.

The realities are business is business and you can't argue with capitalism.
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08-24-2008 07:48 AM  12 years ago
shawmcky

rrElite Veteran

Isle of Wight,United Kingdom

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Market tactics
You have to be ultra competetive in the world today,only the best survive.Will chinese take over as the principal language of commerce. Outsourcing costs more jobs in the west because people want the cheaper goods,How many US jobs are now done in China.I am as guilty as anyone on this subject,i like cheap goods,but it does make you think who is the winner in all this.
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08-24-2008 08:00 AM  12 years ago
leftyatm

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Elkton, MD, USA

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If Align can do it why not. They are smart enough and have the resources to prosper. Wouldn't you take advantage of that as well. I know I would if I could. It is unfortunate for the rest of the LHS and smaller businesses but such is life.
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08-24-2008 08:01 AM  12 years ago
"Cam"

rrKey Veteran

UK

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I just spent 4000 USD on Japanese and English heli parts because I don't like Chinese crap exploding in my face. - It's happened 3 times in the last year. (Yes I do balance everything, do pre and post flights checks, know my headspeed and check all the bolts).

Read about the guy who's heli threw a blade and took-out 2 cars, then got his heli driven over then a broken nose?
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08-24-2008 08:10 AM  12 years ago
InvertedDude

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USA

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"Cam"
Most of products sold to customers are either made in Taiwan, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Malaysia and UK. American made products are becoming rare these days. Getting angry or frustrated over it does you no good.
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08-24-2008 08:15 AM  12 years ago
leftyatm

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Elkton, MD, USA

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+1 for Cam. Just go with it....
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08-24-2008 08:15 AM  12 years ago
shawmcky

rrElite Veteran

Isle of Wight,United Kingdom

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Cam
You are right there are some inferior products coming out of China but also some very good too.If i turn over my Sony Laptop where is it made,China.A lot of people still think that the Chinese are incapable of making High Tech products,we shall see.A lot of Uk companies are having goods made in China for peanuts and shipping them back to be sold at top dollar here.
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08-24-2008 10:20 AM  12 years ago
charliedoane

rrApprentice

Branford, CT USA

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As my new job I want to be a Walmart / Align greeter.

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08-24-2008 12:13 PM  12 years ago
Mutt

rrKey Veteran

M ca usa

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align is not going to take over. There are way to many that dont like the prices or the quality of align products.
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08-24-2008 04:15 PM  12 years ago
BooYa

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Nashville, TN

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Taking over the market.....just how many helicopters are manufactured and sold each year?

Anybody have any idea?
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08-24-2008 04:23 PM  12 years ago
devious17

rrApprentice

Malaysia

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I never believed that anything cheap can be any good until Align proved me wrong, my hard earned money goes to whoever can give top dollar value for the least money spent and Align is currently doing it.
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