Thursday 28 February 2013

Modelspot closes its doors, and a new web site for Multiplex fans

Last week the unthinkable happened: the once-mighty Graupner went into administration. And today, one of our best loved retailers, Punctilio Modelspot, closed its doors for the last time, after 41 years. Their tales are told on their home pages:

Graupner 404'd

RIP Modelspot

A farewell message on the Modelspot web site explains:
"It is with great regret that Punctilio Modelspot Ltd has ceased trading and the shop is now closed. A combination of extremely poor local and national trading conditions, general austerity, coupled with competition from overseas dealers actively engaged in exploiting VAT avoidance loopholes, make it impossible for us to continue in the current trading environment as a high street shop. We would like to thank those who supported us over our previous 41 years of trading."
Punctilio was one of the two main outlets in the UK for Multiplex gear, so for Multiplex users as well as those who worked there it's a particularly sad loss. There is, however, at least some good news: Gordon Upton, ex UK sales agent for Multiplex, will continue to sell Multiplex R/C systems through a brand new web site Do show your support by visiting.

The one bit of good news

The closure of Modelspot and Graupner are symptoms of the changes and challenges facing the European RC industry. Consider some of the trends in recent years:
  • The rise of aggressive on-line retailers like HobbyKing
  • The appearance of low-cost Far East manufacturers like FrSky, FlySky (Turnigy, iMax etc.), Orange
  • The growth of niche interests e.g. FPV, DLG, Quadcopters etc.
  • The bundling of low-cost R/C systems with the cheaper kits
  • The rise of the build and support threads on RC Groups
  • The decline in disposable incomes
The face of R/C modelling is changing faster than I can remember. On the positive side, lower price points and more choice are making the hobby a lot more accessible for newcomers. But there are some negatives - price pressures, especially at the low and mid range of the market, have reduced people's expectations in terms of quality and documentation.

Let's hope that the last remaining European operations can ride the Eastern storm and come out of it fighting.

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