Johnson City

High Dollar Hobby

Johnson City, Tenn. - If you've been out shopping for Christmas this season you know what's hot, something with a screen and lots of technology.

That same technology is driving the hobby market too. Remote control cars, trucks, and airplanes are getting more and more sophisticated.

A look around your local hobby shop will tell you things have changed. Sure, the slots cars and trains are still there, but with some high tech upgrades.

"Trains are digital now where you can control multiple trains with one controller all doing different functions. Slot cars, you can run six slot cars on two lanes and independently control each car," Bob Barrett, owner of Hobbytown USA says.

But when it comes to remote-controlled vehicles and devices that fly, technology has taken control. "When brushless motors hit the market it changed electric as we know it. The standard cars would only go 30 miles per hour and now brushless cars can get up to 75 to 80 miles per hour. Trax has made one that does 120," Steve Barrett said.

Thankfully there are those who still go for building models from a kit. It's been a lifetime hobby for one man.

"I can't visit many of the museums but I can buy a model and its more than a museum. When you finish with the model you have not only learned a great deal but you had sort of a vicarious experience of actually having been part of the crew," lifelong model builder Bob Surber said.

With this new age, there's no need to live vicariously; you can do it all remotely. "You can really fine tune helicopters, RC cars, anything with these controllers. They're just getting more and more channels so you can do more and more things," Steve Barrett says.

"Everything is evolving as the technology evolves just like computers had their big boom, now it's into the hobbies. We have radio control devices turning over to 2.4 gigahertz, which is basically cell phone technology," his dad adds.

But just remember as you shop -- technology doesn't come cheap.

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