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View Full Version : Life and times of a Mini-Z display/stall in a Sydney shopping centre...


Geo-Z
2013.04.28, 05:52 PM
G'day!

I'm a long time lurker on these forums who has recently been employed as a store hand/ consultant at my friend's Mini-Z exhibition stand at the local mall in Sydney. At the moment I've been working there for a few weeks and many things have happened so I'd like to write about my experiences in case anyone is thinking of doing the same. I'm also going to regularly post back here in a journalistic fashion so that more people would know that there have been enthusiastic Z'ers who've been actively promoting our passion to the public. Think of it as a bunch of memoirs if you will.

The Mini-Z craze has, sadly, yet to hit down under in a significant way and my friend has always had a passion for seeing it become a reality. He already manages and operates his own website on Mini-Z's in Sydney. He also regularly imports large quantities of X-power, Atomic and PN parts to feed our hunger.

At first, it started with an awesome guy who liked Mini-Z's with a passion. He was an international student from Guangzhou, China. The Mini-Z scene in neighboring Hong Kong is huge and since he started studies here in Sydney he started an online club dedicated to 1/28 scale. Last year he acquired lots of Kyosho chassis sets and autoscales through the right contacts and has always made sure he sold it to the members of our club for zero profit, or even at a reduced price. He is one of the most passionate, selfless Mini-Z fans I've ever seen and nothing delights him more than seeing people jumping on the bandwagon and having fun. Oftentimes when we were in need of a set of batteries, a new body, or a fresh set of wheels, he would take whatever we needed out of his RC bag and insist we hang onto it or keep it at no cost. He was also one of the few people in our community to own an RCP track complete with an IC lap counter. the club started small, but quickly grew in the coming months. When I saw his website I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was 2km from my place. No longer in need of selling off my MR02's and autoscales, I was back into Mini-Z's and racing at his home track. As word spread we won the hearts of some racers at the local 1/10 track at St Ives who, in turn, told their friends about the mini craze. More and more people came to look at the track and before long we'd won a few converts. :cool:.

Three weeks ago my friend saved up enough money to buy a small shipment of MR03's, x-power parts and Firelaps along with a few grand leftover for floor rent in a busy shopping mall. It was the first time we would unveil Mini-Z's to the Australian public in a large way and I was stoked. Us Aussies have hardly ever heard of RC cars being able to fit in the palm of your hand. RC cars? Aren't they in kmart for 20 bucks? Arent they loud and expensive? My friend wanted everyone to know (and want) a Mini-Z.
He packed up his RCP and bought some display tables. He drove almost cross-country to pickup a bunch of cheap crowd-control barriers. Another friend who ran a Hobby shop loaned out aprons, chargers and a large banner bearing the Mini-Z logo. A member who works in design made pamphlets advertising our club. And another member who works as a electrician brought along a small table+soldering gear to patch up any Z's. We were all set.

We rented a 6mx5m space close to the entrance at the local mall and did all the paperwork. Being an absolute newbie at this sort of thing, we were slightly taken back by all sorts of additional costs aside from the rent which was already not cheap. Promotional levies, storage fees and many more...altogether it came to a whopping amount but my friend still wanted to go forward. He told me he was prepared to lose some cash if that's what it took. Keep in mind that he definitely wasn't being too spur-of-the-moment, nor was he lacking in foresight. He had really thought about it for a long time and decided to take the plunge.

We set up our Mini-Z exhibition/store with a large table beside the RCP track containing a sample of our stock which was put into plastic tubs when not on display. I thought that we'd be likely standing around while driving our Z's. Well, either that or serving the customers/informing the people who are interested.

To tell the truth, though I wanted to see my friend's dream come true, I was a little skeptical that this approach would yield much results. Mini-Z's are a niche market (in oz anyway) within an already niche market itself (RC cars in general). It wasn't a cheapo toy. still, I threw myself into my role as a consultant and junior mechanic (techie-sounding, eh?)

An hour before we opened, my friend was taking out his own MR03's and lining them next to the track. He explained to me that these were for rental and letting the crowd 'try out' the mini-Z. A thought struck me: for what age? demographic? what if they broke it? My friend told me to just let things run for a few days and adjust our practices accordingly. The sh0pping centre was awash with mostly grey-haired mothers approaching forty and young kids, lots and lots of kids.

(to be continued)....

Cherub1m
2013.04.28, 06:31 PM
Nice read Geo, keep it coming.

Geo-Z
2013.04.28, 06:50 PM
As soon as the doors to mall opened a small stream of early birds starting trickling in and walking past our track. They would mostly walk at normal pace and slow down when they got to our track as soon as they saw our cars zipping around. They thought it was gimmicky and that's it.:rolleyes:

At this point my friend, his girlfriend, our electrician friend and I were clad in vests bearing the Mini-Z logo and smiling behind a display table containing boxed mr03's and a few printed signs. Now and then one of us would rotate between that and giving the cars a whizz 'round the track. It certainly drew a lot of stares.

Twenty minutes later we had our first customer:cool:.

A lady in her mid thirties asked if her daughter could use one of the rental cars and my friend let her inside while I explained how to use the KT-18. Right away the little girl went full on forward and slammed the car into the wall so we rushed over to correct her. She was having difficulty getting the proportional throttle/steering right and couldn't activate reverse because of the break. Soon her time was up and her mother smiled and thanked us. This didn't come as a surprise to me at all and I talked to my friend about it but he just said that it was all part of promoting awareness. Personally I would not let a youngster touch my Mini-Z unless I was sure he or she had previous experience in something similar and even then it had to be monitored.

Anyway, after that we managed to get lots of attention and more parents started unloading their kids at our stall while they went and got a few groceries. Pretty soon we had a line of kids stretching around five metres around our barrier at any given time.

At this point, my friend was advertising a 'go' at one of 4 rental cars for free as part of the opening day specials. It worried me a lot because our original plan was to use cheap Firelaps for exhibition instead - however our shipment of Firelaps was arrested in customs for random checking. So my friend used Mini-Z's instead.

Soon, I and all the staff available were kneeling down and instructing kids aged 3-13 about how to operate Z's and watching them crash into walls, bash the cars around and do donuts. It was distressing to watch because I knew that these cars were not being used in a proper way. Whenever they smashed the Z's we would gently inform them of how to do it correctly and they would more or less make the effort to do so. This stream of kids died down around noon and picked up again at 1:30 when everyone had finished lunch. It really was a kid-magnet:p! Some adults were interested too and went in for a go though it really was the kids who showed the most interest.

At the end of the day we had had one enquiry about the mini-z's and a lot of kids. No sales were made and if anything the price of the MR03's turned a lot of people off.

Make no mistake, I really liked working with kids. Most young children are naturally angels possessing a sort of innocence, free of judgement. Their hearts had not yet been hardened and they were naturally curious and really intent on having a go and I was always glad to help.

After cleaning the stall and packing up our track we got together and discussed putting a suitable rental price on our cars. We agreed to charge $3 for five minutes and $6 for ten minutes over the weekend before making a final call to customs to ask about the progress of our Firelap shipment which was still waiting to cleared. Aussie customs are known for their laidback attitude and our shipment was over three weeks overdue so our electrician friend said he would drive over there on saturday and pick up the boxes himself.

We examined the cars that the kids had used and, surprisingly, their bodies held up well. We used F355 bodies with coloured stickers to differentiate between them and they had only got a few scratches. Wings, lights and side mirrors were all smashed off but it was okay - as long as the cars worked. The firelap motors that we'd installed into them was slow enough for beginners but we thought it would be best to slow 'em down more so we dialled the throttle to 50% speed.

Though we made no money that day the weekend was coming up which would mark the first day of the Easter holidays. We were determined to see it done right.

Geo-Z
2013.04.28, 06:53 PM
" Nice read Geo, keep it coming.
__________________
Philip Vincent"

Cheers from down under Vincent. I really envy the sort of support the Z has in north america...You're from NJ? I'm a pizza addict, I heard the best NY style pizza is in Jersey is that right? Nothing like a good slice after a bout of mini-Z races.:)

kyoshosan
2013.04.28, 09:27 PM
What a nice story :-) Looking forward for more...

Thanks for sharing it w/ us.

imxlr8ed
2013.04.28, 09:53 PM
Been there... though I never had the guts to take it to a shop level. I set up at a flea market last year and had my entire fleet available as rentals. My one big piece of advice for the cars?... Slow them down and toughen the weak points.

6 tooth pinions, very loose ball diffs and K40 front tires. Alloy knuckles are a must!

Some take to it right away, some don't. It's tough to get people to even drive them sometimes... even some of the kids were too timid to even touch the controller! But once I had 5 or 6 on the track, they all started to line up. I didn't make any money but I had fun watching my cars get blasted to bits all day long! :D

Geo-Z
2013.04.28, 11:04 PM
@Kyoshosan: Cheers Kyoshosan! We really appreciate your work on your website as well, it's ace for Kyosho-related news. :D

@Imxlr8d: that's nice to know mate. Yes, after a while we indeed put on 6t pinions, firelap motors, incredibly loose ball diffs and hard tires. Metal t-plates are also a must:P . You've just given me and my friend an idea: the flea market. The rent may be cheaper so I'll suggest it to him when our contract with the mall expires.

Geo-Z
2013.04.29, 09:31 PM
The following weekend we started to charge money for renting the cars. At $3 for five mins and $6 for 10 mins we opened our stall to a flood of Easter holiday families who were anxious to please their youngsters.

We were pulling in lots of smiles and laughs from the kids and learned that there is a certain minimum age that should generally be considered when deciding if they are up for the ride.

Usually, children below the age of 8 have the most difficulty in controlling the cars not only because of the sensitive nature of the steering/throttle, but also because some of their fingers are just too small to even reach the trigger. In such circumstances we sometimes had to manipulate the throttle ourselves while the kid just hacked away at the steering wheel. Some kids were thrilled, some were bored after a while but it seemed to take the pressure of most parents for a good five minutes. Thus, there weren't any complaints ;)

The process would go something like this: we'd let the kid in, jot their name, the current time, and amount of money paid onto a roster, and teach them how to control the cars for about 2 mins. Then we would move onto the next kid double-quick! If the cars ran out of batteries we would simply put in new ones and give 2mins extra time.

If you are considering opening a Mini-Z course at the local bazaar or fare, we recommend you have as many cars as you can with at least 5 sets of NIMH's per car and eight fast chargers. WE had 9 fast chargers and were running out of power fast! Because the kids tend to spam full throttle a LOT and that ate up power fast, even on 6t and 70t motors!

Also, plan ahead and open on the FIRST weekend of the school holidays if you are trying to make cash with rentals. We had a turnout of around 80 clients by the time we closed and raked in about 400-500 bucks on rentals alone.

Crack! Bump! "Um, my car isn't moving!"

Righto, so I zoomed over and picked the car up. Broken knuckles! My God it's only been three hours. 40 mins later another car was in the pits for broken steering - the servo gears were completely stripped - even though we had servo savers on our good ol' 03's. Okay, car no.3 is retired until our electrician friend could slap on a set of new gears. Another car slammed into the wall at full speed and snap! There goes the T-plate. I was literally cringing inside while wearing a big smile on the outside, even though these rental cars all belonged to my friend! Our electrician friend was going as fast as he could, repairing and swapping broken parts out with any spares we had. Meanwhile we would give the kid a reserve car and after a few days that too had broken almost every plastic part and had to be replaced with a lot of expensive X-power aluminium.

At 3:34pm a lady and her daughter asked to come in and I checked the lovely little girl's age: 7 years and not a day over. Her birthday! Well, let's give her an extra 2 mins to celebrate, why not?

A minute passed and one of the other kids pointed on track and said 'WHoa!' 'Cool!'. I was in the middle of teaching another kid and so was my friend until an anxious baby-boomer politely tapped me on the wrist.

'Mate, that car's got smoke on it. You right?'

Me and my friend exchanged grins and told the nice gentleman that the cafe nearby regularly sends a few wisps of smoke from their coffee machine every now and then. No cause for alarm right?

After all, the cars had been fetted with 8 mosfets and a firelap 70t motor they can't surely burn thru right? Wrong. More parents were pointing at the smoking car and sure enough the yellow F355 was frozen with white smoke billowing out of the wheel-wells. This wasn't the first time I'd seen fets blown but it was first to see so much white smoke - like dry ice had been shoved into the body! For the first time my friend's face turned a shade of green and he uttered his first swear word in front of a groupd of impressionable young minds.

"Sh-t."

We examined the car and, I kid you not, 4 fets dropped out of it. The solder on the board had been melted down and the heat burned a hole on the chassis big enough to stick your pinkie into. When we turned the car upside down to look at the gaping hole, the hole from the top plate gave way and the top fets fell out like hailstones. All 8 fets lay in a pile on our mat, some still smoking and all of them swollen and bubbled up. All this from a 6t, 70t motor that had been stressed to the max. My friend was quiet.

"Will it be ok?", asked the lady, slightly worried. SHe was the mother of the biirthday girl, a nice Chinese lady who was as concerned about our car as we were. My friend was incredibly generous about it and said that it could be fixed but I knew he had taken a hit to the gut. It would have been unreasonable of us to ask the lady to pay for damages. A little silent for the rest of the day, my friend seemed to be hit with the reality of loaning out 250 dollar cars to a bunch of kiddies.

We kept straight smiles throughout the rest of the day and from that point on, made it compulsory to inform the driver/parents of the driver that the car cannot be throttled into walls. What happened with the birthday girl was that she went into the wall and the car stopped. She gunned the throttle and the car didn't move so she held it down for about two minutes with more force until the current overloaded the fets and blew. It was a high price to pay but lesson learned.

At the end of the weekend we had barely pulled in enough to cover 2 days of rent. The mall rent was high - it cost a few hundred dollars for 1 day and even more on weekends and school holidays. We pulled in around 470 bucks for 2 days which was alright but not enough to cover the combined rent for 3 days.

On a more positive note, a good-natured council worker expressed interest in the MR03. He was a part-time 1/10 scale RC guy and self-professed fan of American muscle cars and immediately asked if we had Shelby cobras/ Mustangs/ TransAms! We didn't but instead showed him the catalog. The MR03 sets were still unsold...drat. But we had fun.

Soldiering on!

TheSteve
2013.04.29, 10:37 PM
Excellent read, thanks for sharing.

Do your cars still have the yellow PTC attached to the motor? If not its a must in your usage, I'd even consider ordering a custom one from an electronics shop with a lower value that will cut off power sooner.

I'd also recommend 50% throttle max for newbies.

unearthed name
2013.04.29, 11:36 PM
Geo, so you don't have any tracks to play the mini-z? in my place, we set-up an RCP track, and let the kids play with it. i won't worried so much regarding hitting a wall since RCP walls are soft.


and have you switched on the training mode in the kt-18 remote?

Geo-Z
2013.04.30, 12:53 AM
@TheSteve: How's it going Steve, we actually don't have Stock Kyosho motors with us (everyone in our club doesn't have spares of it either since we've long since run them out in stock class races) but we did order a large batch of Firelap stock motors (70turn and still slower than Kyosho stock). Unfortunately Firelap motors don't have that square yellow cap that cuts off power if it gets too hot. At the moment we are ordering a bunch of Stock Kyosho motors from overseas.
As per the speed issue, we have dialed it down to 50% but it seems it became too slow...the kids complained to have it done faster, especially after seeing my friend's exhibit-only PN 33t fly around the track. Should we only use slow motors for exhibition too? cuz at the moment we use slow motors for rentals, fast motors for exhibits. Thanks for your input mate.

@unearthed name: Yes indeedy bro. We are doing this on an RCP track with IC lap counter from KYosho. Hitting the wall is the least of our worries it's mainly the throttling against it that has us biting our nails lol. We actually did activate beginners mode - the thing is so many kids complained that it was slow and so we turned it off and dialed the throttle to 70%. In the beginning we let all kids use max throttle but we now activate slow mode for younger kids while we let older ones use full settings.

arch2b
2013.04.30, 06:57 AM
great experience and thank you for sharing it with us :cool: sounds very similar to what many of us have done in an effort to grow the hobby and share in the fun :p

imxlr8ed, myself and some others ran similar exhibitions and rentals (free) at a large anime convention (http://mini-zracer.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=178) that got 2-3,000 attendance 3 years in a row. all the cars were personally owned. we had a similar format in which we had demonstrations with competitive race cars and open rentals that people had to signup for. toward the end of the day we took the results and asked rental period winners to come back to participate in finals races which they could win prizes. it was a LOT of work but also very fun. we ran many stock kyosho motors till they seized up. always keep them well lubricated. if you can find a good deal for cost, i would suggest the kyosho eco 80t motor. you could then keep the throttle setting higher with overall reduction in speed. when running faster cars always make sure to distinguish them as exhibition or demonstration cars. can't tell you how many times strangers would ask to drive ours or why the rentals did not go as fast. :rolleyes:

i've seen fets burn up more time than i care to count. while depressing to see a board go up in smoke, it actually looks cool doing so :cool: the most realistic experience i had was running an F1 that burnt fets pouring smoke out of the back till the car just stopped. the upside to fets is they are cheap to replace provided the board is not damaged. materials cost is not the issue, it's usually the expertise in installation.

good luck with your endeavor and keep up posted on the progress:D

imxlr8ed
2013.04.30, 09:44 AM
CP cup conversions would serve you well for the rental fleet. I'm sure someone makes a kit similar to what they were. It's a larger lexan Nascar body on a Mini-Z with carbon fiber mounting system and foam bumpers.

Personally, the servo gear issue with the 03 is something that would keep me from renting them out... I'd go with 02s. Lot's more parts and a bit cheaper too.

Too many fets... I would think just replacing the 3010s with an aftermarket fet would do it (no stacks). You don't want to give them too much speed, plus the heat doesn't dissipate too well from the lowest fet on the stack. For a ten minute race with a good driver behind the wheel, it's not an issue... with constant running, the heat just builds and builds and all it takes then is one decent amperage spike and poof!

80 turns would serve you well, ball bearing cans would help too. I don't trust Iwaver motors or armatures one bit. When they first came out they were all over the place as far as amp spikes on the dyno... I fried an 02 back in the day with one of their older motors. They were fast motors, but highly inconsistent.

I hope you're at least using racer type bodies, the kind with the most front protection.

Just trying to help, this thread is inspiring to say the least.

arch2b
2013.04.30, 12:06 PM
the cp cup cars are a niche product/look though. unless your setting up in nascar country, they aren't going to be popular. the draw to mini-z is the autoscale. to jump to a non nondescript lexan cup car really changes your marketability. i'm not knocking the cup cars... they aren't everyone's cup of tea so to speak and in a rental environment, aesthetics are key component to success.

DanDan
2013.04.30, 03:36 PM
Being in charge of a shop that offers Mini-Z rentals, I can sympathize with some of the plights you and your comrade face. Great reading, now I think I know what ladies feel like when they read romance novels :p lol

We started with 5 Mini-Z MR02 rentals in November and those 5 cars are still going strong. For tires, we used race-worn PN6 radials and Kyosho 40's up front. The K40's wear at a slow rate and make the cars more manageable for those who arn't very smooth on the controls. We also run the stock Kyosho motors. The standard Kyosho Mini-Z Racer motor is great for the rentals. To those new to driving RC cars, it's plenty of speed for them to have fun with, but not so much speed the cars are breaking. Speaking of breaking, within the first 2 weeks I had to replace all the plastic suspension plates with carbon fiber pieces because they had failed. We haven't had any knuckles/tierod breakages with the MR02 Readysets yet, but we've had a few of the standard Autoscale rims break.

Mini-Z isn't necessarily something anyone should do to make money from. Mini-Z tracks are typically opened by those who want to promote the hobby and/or want to provide the local racers a place to hang out and enjoy themselves at. If you're lucky and in the right situation, sometimes it will work out. Rental vehicles are the best way to support the endeavor. It seems like a lot of work everytime you get a car ready for what seems like a nominal fee, but it adds up. That is what will keep your venture going and R/C in the minds and hearts of the people who are lucky enough to be able to enjoy the fruits of your effort!

gctkaz
2013.05.01, 01:42 AM
Thanks for both an uplifting and depressing read. It really puts into perspective the cost needed to expose Mini-Z with/at a public event, and I can see how much passion and dedication (and not to mention independent wealth) it takes to put together and keep a rental fleet running, on top of getting floor space and crowd barriers AND new cars for sale? Wow. Cheers to your friend and your club, please don't lose heart!

outlaw-star
2013.05.01, 05:09 AM
Hi

Excellent read, we have wanted to do something similar in the UK so its really good to hear about your experiences. I am sure you have actioned this all ready but I would enable training mode on the KT-18 when giving this to kids. And perhaps a Oval shape track for younger kids might help?

Geo-Z
2013.05.01, 09:40 AM
@arch2b: Thanks a ton. I am surprised you picked an anime convention as a venue to promote the Mini-Z but just now I talked to my electrician friend and he said that it was a good idea based on the sort of ages you find there. We don't know of any anime conventions soon...we'll keep an eye out. As per the fet issue, I really wish someone would design an external plug-in turbo like the old ones for the original MR01. These had about 6 wires snaking off a plastic-stoppered chip....anyone remember those? Correct me if i'm wrong but in a fatal amperage spike, only the fets on the actual turbo would go blooey....all that has to be done is to buy a new turbo? No soldering, no shipping your precious Z off to god knows where for 3 weeks. Just unwrap the new turbo, snake the wires all over the chassis and voila. Ah the good ol days.

@imxlr8ed: We are actually doing someone similar (bumper-wise) to the CP conversions and have went ahead and attached some cut-up sponges to the front of our F355 rental cars.
Actually, we second the notion of getting MR02's! The one problem is, we mostly can't find many to race. I have only 1 MR02 (my baby. Letting kids have a go at it is like jumping into a sea full of sharks) from my AM27 days and the rest of the club have only 03's now. WE are, however, expecting a shipment of Firelap IW02's which are basically MR02's with downgraded electronics so here's hoping the 4 MR03's will get a rest soon.
The Eco motor is sadly not an option. We are thankful that you and many others have suggested it, however. Our contract will expire with the mall in 3 weeks and it takes almost two weeks for the motors to arrive and by then we'll only have a few days to use 'em....so thanks for the heads up anyway! Our electrician friend has actually changed the brushes in the firelap motors and they usually function a little better after that. But you're right: Kyosho all the way...we are still waiting for our Kyosho stock motors to arrive :(

@Dandan: Cheers for your perspective! We are actually in the process of putting on not only 50 degree tires all round but also upgrading to incredibly loose ball diffs. It's funny how these things used to make the car handle like poo-poo but now are being actively sought after for the fact that a pooey car means less stress on the motor. Looks like there is a use for the old autoscale tires after all.
My friend said that he doesn't want to make money, though he doesn't want to lose too much either; it's a balancing game. He says he is happy if the money made from rental cars cover the mall rent however it only covers half of it at best. We are considering upping the price of the rentals but not by much, say a dollar or two.

@gctkaz: Our exhibition stand is actually considered cheap. In Australia, weekly shop rent in a busy mall can go as high as a few grand a week. We are 'only' paying a a few hundred every day for 4 days a week with a higher rate on weekends and school holidays. Our rent goes only towards floor space (no walled shops, windows, facilities). On-site storage and promotional levies are an additional charge on top of that. The barriers we used were construction ones with the yellow plastic and nightglo stickers. I can say that the most expensive things were the rent and levies. We are losing money but our love for the Z fuels us. And of course, heaps of good-hearted wishes from you and the other awesome blokes on this forum. Thanks!!!!:D

@outlaw: Your suggestion to go with an oval is a good one. I will suggest it to my friend tomorrow when we open shop at 9AM...hmm, howbout a 'paper clip' layout? It's usually used for beginners too? And yep, we did indeed activate the beginners mode, only to have kids complain that it was too slow so we dialled the throttle to 75%...:)
(update: my friend did not agree with it, citing it was too plain but was grateful you suggested it. cheers)

:oThankyou all for your input - we still have a few weeks to go till our rent expires and I'll always check back to see whatever solutions are posted here. If ANY of you come to Sydney, please respond to this thread. I'll treat you to a drink and free track time. -GeoZ-.

arch2b
2013.05.01, 11:25 AM
skynet has released many anime related mini-z products so it was used as a gateway to get into the event and provide exposure to a lifestlye hobby common to jpn market as well. there was an anime and culture cross over we took advantage of. after 3 years, we just couldn't keep the momentum and they ceased which is very unfortunate as it's uncommon to find a captive audience of several thousand people. we even tried to get kyosho usa active as a retailer in the hall provided for marketplace use or exhibitor in the exhibition hall but they declined.

there is also cross over potential for car shows, auto events, races, etc. The Ann Arbor Dojo club attends create events like their local Maker's Fare.

i cannot speak to the effort regarding financial self support, all my venture so far have been for no cost, for cost and for a loss. i rarely break even and never made a profit.

imxlr8ed
2013.05.01, 12:37 PM
Profit is rare with any RC Race facility. I can't say I've ever heard of someone saying... "yeah, he made all his millions in RC racing." Most clubs I know of around here are started by people with disposable income and have a true love for the sport.

I have lot's of the last part and none of the previous. :D

Geo-Z
2013.05.02, 08:09 PM
Arch2b mate, I am pleasantly surprised you managed to work your way into an anime based on skynet bodies! Sterling blokes like you are what we need.

xlr8ed you are right. Most of the RC clubs here are indeed spearheaded by those who are really into scale racing and are not afraid to splurge. I have since asked my friend if we can expand our product lines beyond Firelap and Mini-Z's and he seems pretty set on small scale at the moment (which is so far only picking up slowly) so I'm not sure whether our exhibition can be considered long-term for now.

Geo-Z
2013.05.03, 08:32 AM
G'day everyone!

Our stall had been going for just a little over three weeks now and we have so far managed so sell a little over ten MR03 sets during that time! Admittedly, these sets were mostly sold to new members of our club who just happened to be from RC groups that specialise in 1/10.

It started when a certain fellow and his young kid paid for a rental and politely informed us that he was the president of a 1/10 club. He said he'd give it a think - well the 'Z worked it's magic and by the afternoon he had searched the internet for Mini-Z info and requested an F430 chassis set. SAid something about starting his son on them - the next few days he not only bought another set for himself, he also bought a Firelap IW02 Enzo for his other kid. Pretty soon he'd become a regular!

Word spread quick inside his club and pretty soon almost half a dozen 1/10 enthusiasts showed up and bought trusty MR03's with a few autoscales/X-power upgrade parts for good measure. I was most surprised that most of them had never heard of Kyosho MIni-Z until then. One thing about selling to other RC/slot car fans is that they truly appreciate the performance and small (compared to their large scale cousins) cost of the Z. To encourage them and for monitoring faulty stock (not likely with Kyosho of course) I supplied all purchasers with a set of batteries and free track time to test out their new MR03's. They took to it in seconds and before long our membership had expanded by seven members!

The council worker I met before actually returned two weeks later and promptly bought a porsche GT3 chassis set with KT-18. He told me that he would likely only play around with the car in stock settings for a while but I knew that look on his face. He'd been bitten by the MIni-Z bug. A few days later he bought a Ferrari 599xx autoscale from us. Then a set of tools. Then some X-power knuckles. Then a MM motor mount. Then a set of batteries. Less than 6 days later he piled down a wad of cash and bought one of our 'so-far-never-sold' AWD DWS kits. I had not seen a member spend so much in just under one week! He now comes round in the evenings to race his two cars.

A bespectacled young kid with backpack had been hovering around our stand for the last week. No more than twelve years old and sporting a thoughtful look on his dark-haired head, this little fella was the spitting image of the boy wizard Harry Potter (before he lost his innocence in movie number 6). The magic of Hogwarts could not materialize a Mini-Z however, and he just kept standing there with his arms crossed while observing our cars/track for a few weekends. The bug had bitten him too and we continued to let him gaze from afar (a rare instance where stalking is completely ok) until his braveness got the better of him. He sauntered up to our muggle-operated stand on a Sunday afternoon and coughed.

'G'day little guy! What's going on?" I asked, not knowing if he was going to do the Hogwarts version of the Jedi mind trick. He pointed to our display of Mini-Z's.
"I'd like to get one of those."
"Sure. I mean, are you sure? They're hobby-grade and a bit expensive. But! We just got a shipment of Firelaps! Just $65 dollars, limited time only!"
The kid shook his head.
"I don't want a Firelap. I want Kyosho."
I blinked. The little guy smiled and looked at my friend's Mini-Z, currently on exhibition.
"Those look like they drive well. Will it bind to my Spektrum radio? I race Traxxas and Team Losi at a dirt track. Can I see one? (handles my MR02) The screws look really weak. I stripped a lot of screws before."

Crikey:eek:. This little Harry Potter must have crappy magic. Neville would have wiped the floor with him since he probably spent all his time on RC! I had no idea what a spectrum was and I had to Google it when I got home, lol. We chatted for a few minutes and just a few days ago he'd saved enough money to buy an MR03. Now he's the youngest racer in our league and, would you believe it...he doesn't want a faster motor than stock. This comes as a complete surprise as most males don't grow out of the need for speed until later. If I had a penny for how many times people would ask 'How fast can I make these go', I'd be rich. It really shook my perceptions of what to expect from a 12 year old:o.

Another customer, a witty fellow named Shannon and his nice partner Venus, immediately fell in love with the Z. On work-breaks I'd occasionally see him around the district riding his mountain bike with a small backpack. After a polite chat i found oiut that it contained his precious Z; whenever he had time in his schedule, he'd whip out his Mini-Z and practice driving it around. He didn't have much interest in racing but he liked the option of going there in the future. Being able to take it everywhere and zooming it on the floor seemed to calm him. In a matter of days he'd reached a high degree of maneuverablilty - he could pretty much criss-cross his way through chair legs and other tiny spaces on low speeds. ;)

All in all, we'd sold a few sets...nowhere near enough to recuperate our losses of course but at least it's better than nothing.

It was hunky-dory except for a very public show of entertainment that happened just last Saturday.

Every retail shop has at least a few difficult customers who just demand unrealistic returns for their cash or even total refunds for blunders that were evidently their fault. This happens just as often as customers who encounter rude or deceitful salesmen although the former is a lot harder to rectify.

Well, picture that scenario the two main characters being a busy mom and a bunch of innocent Mini-Z's.

A bunch of 4 kids showed up - one boy and three girls. There was no guardian or parent around. The boy shoved a twenty-dollar bill at my friend.

'Would you like to rent a car for 5 minutes? or 10?' asked my friend. At the time our pricing policy for weekends was five dollars per car for six minutes but a little over-time was no big deal.
'6 minutes.'
'How many cars would you like?' asked my friend.
'We all wanna car.'
One of the little girls raised her hand.
'I don't have any money.' she said.
'Oh I'll pay for you. i got money.' chimed the young boy, handing over the twenty bucks. We prepped four rental cars for all of them and took the money. Four cars for five minutes would be $20 - which he gave us.

ARound 2 minutes into their play time the battery on two of the cars ran out so we swapped in new ones and extended their time by another 5 mins. I kid you not, we really slapped on another 5 mins because it was a lazy sunday afternoon and no other customers were waiting. We thought it was a generous gesture.

Well, in the end we turned on the lap counter and they all had a race although only the boy could do laps. The girls were struggling (nothing against women of course) and were having difficulty getting the steering right. Not long after we let the kids go their mother strode in and began shouting at me and the other staff. It was an unusual thing to have a guardian or parent not present until way after the kids had finished their races. Usually the parent of the kid was watching from behind the barrier or on one of our guest seats. Hmm.

"What a disgusting business you have. You had the nerve to charge us twenty dollars for this rubbish? The cars were all broken! You should be arrested! Twenty dollars!"

I was stunned.

"Excuse me? What do you mean? We gave them extra time!"
"And you gave them broken cars! You're a disgrace, you and your shop!"
"Ma'am, the cars work fine. We changed the battery in the middle and gave them extra time."
"No-one can control these things, and you charge twenty for them! I know these things are not the best toys but you should re-think your strategy! It's (the cars) junk! And you pocketed 20 dollars from us! You're a thief!"

And on it went. This woman was fully screaming in my face and also to my friend. Okay, so her kids could not control the cars well - so it was the car's fault? And the cars were not broken, they were fully functioning if being driven a little too clumsily. Two of the cars ran out of batteries which we promptly changed and added an additional five minutes. I really could not see where we went wrong. Finally, the price. She was quite obviously not aware of it until her kid had finished...but was it our fault for not knowing that she set a limit on the money she'd given to her kid to use????

Well well well! Pardon me, you daft old cow. Were you too negligent to the point of cramming money into your kid's hands and pushing them off without a word?:mad: You didn't read our pricing list which was displayed at our booth? I don't think she did...and I think she didn't tell her kid about how much of this cash was to be used. Remember, this woman did not show up at all until minutes after he kids had left. So she shouldn't be surprised if the children end up spending it all. My word.

Furthermore, is it really our cars's fault - and by shorthand, our fault - that those youngsters couldn't control the cars properly??? Almost 90 percent of all young children who tried the rentals were happy, despite not being capable of controlling the cars properly.

She just couldn't accept the fact that her children couldn't control the cars and that these cars eventually run out of battery. Conclusion : The car is just broken and it's all our fault. Convenient, no?

This lady was judging the whole thing from an ignorant point of view - that the cars were cheap ones from Kmart and that me and my friend were offering rentals on a realistic looking track, all the while taking money from star-eyed youngsters. We tried explaining that these cars were top of the line, hobby grade machines....but really, she had no interest and to most people who don't bother, Mini-Z's would always look like a cheap toy car. Our explanations were falling on deaf ears. The added-time we gave to her children was seen as careless time management...and not taken in to consideration. It was all very uncalled for....

Here's the thing: Though she was ignorant and perhaps inattentive on small details, I can see where she's coming from. In her mind, we were marked as a bunch of con-artists, making money by loaning out cruddy toys to gullible families. All for an exhorbitant price. She couldn't see past it.

Man, if she only knew how much money and time we were losing, along with how many Mini-Z's were getting wrecked and maintained on a daily basis. She supposed that we were making a quick, lousy buck from all this. In truth we were being hit hard every freaking day - and her twenty dollars did not even cover a fifteenth of our daily rent...My friend was still neck-deep in debt and I was working for little if not none somedays.

Thank goodness she stormed out with her shocked kids in tow, all the while complaining loudly until she reached the mall exit.

Consider it like receiving a vaccination; now I know what to say if another difficult customer comes at us. It was a bitter pill to swallow but in the days proceeding this incident I've since come to understand that her complaints were not personal in nature and probably reflected her flaws more than ours. The rest of our customers have been nothing but gold.;)

Time to get ready for sleep. I am managing the shop on weekends as well :cool: Eat, Sleep and Work Mini-Z's.

To any of the readers, thanks for reading this rather long entry. The worst is behind us I hope! :)

Time for sleep now...I'll post back later.
-George 'Geo-Z'
http://www.sydneymini-z.com/

imxlr8ed
2013.05.03, 09:01 AM
Hopefully the other "scalers" wil be your saviours here. I would recommend trying to set up an actual race date and time for only the experienced racers so they can gather to put on a good show and see first hand what these cars are capable of in a clean traffic scenario.

As far as the hater goes:

"Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace." -Dalai Lama

Got any pics of all these happenings? Curious to see your setup.

*scratch that request... just saw your link* :)

herman
2013.05.04, 11:09 AM
Pretty interesting read, thanks for sharing. It might help if you have this particular rule included: children under 8 (up to you to set age) MUST be accompanied by their parents/guardian.*

Best wishes in all of your endeavors :D

Geo-Z
2013.05.06, 07:36 PM
@imxlr8ed: We have gone along with that and are now offering full races for all our current members starting from 4pm-5:30pm on certain saturdays. Indeed, our page has the next race (includes for show and actual races) scheduled around 16th of this month. It get's a bit squishy due to our limited space and all the racers needing their own booth/whatnot but it does draw a larger crowd :D

@herman: Thanks brutha. :D We have not done that yet, it sounds like a swell idea. The signs we display also have a set of rules that pretty much no-one obeys (listen to the track marshal,no walking on the track, respect other drivers, handle the cars with care). Most of the kids don't obey these rules or quickly forget about 'em and my friend told me that if we denied them their play-time because of this, we would not pull in enough money to keep afloat. So though we are keen on having people try the Mini-Z, we have to not place too many regulations since it reduces the number of clients.
Dandan said it right that there is not too much profit to be made by soley selling Mini-Z's and my friend knows this, bless his soul ;) but we need to keep the rentals going to at least pay off some of the rent. And the most customers who line up are going to be...very young toddlers, who we generally find unsuitable for this sort of thing :rolleyes: What a pickle, huh?:o
On a more positive note we've added another worker to our roster named Joey. He is mainly into drifting and 1/16 but he seems to like the good ol' Z.

Geo-Z
2013.05.06, 11:20 PM
Ohaiyou gozaimasu, everyone.

Well, the last few days we made so many sales of our MR03 sets that we are down to just 1 chassis set! The 1/10 club converts came in and basically bought the lot. This is good news for now and my friend is ordering a new batch of MR03's to fill the void.

What I'm a little concerned about is the fact that the 1/10'ers are a small group and the recent sales are mostly due to their participation - what'll we do after they've all gotten a Z? The rate of sales would likely go back to the way they were a few weeks ago - almost zero. We are working with the 1/10 club's president to contact all 1/10 groups across sydney and rural areas to come down to our little stand. Some RC brotherhood right there!

At the moment we are shifting a LOT of firelap units, almost 3-5 a day. These sets come with everything that's needed except perhaps a backup T-plate. We ordered the sets that come with the new tgo05 controller and so far it is more rugged than the tiny but precise kt 18 with the trigger being located too far forward being my only gripe. I have since had a go and could confirm a few things

1: If you're doing rentals it's a lot better to hire out these. They are a lot cheaper to replace and parents are less likely to frown when they hear how much it costs. We are selling them at 65 bucks a set (should be 89 to make a reasonable profit) and it's best to tell them it's halfway between a cheap toy and a quality Z.

2: The stock firelap motor is fast enough. Keep in mind that even though all recent firelaps run on 2.4ghz and are proportional (loosely so,) their max speed cannot be adjusted as per the kt-18. We had to keep stressing that Firelaps dont' go as fast as a Z. FETS in a firelap are also not as strong as the 4x 3010 in an MR03.

3: Tires are very grippy though it might help to slip on very worn, hard tires cuz the kids tend to spam full forward a bit. Great tires, yes and the suspension's not bad. For whatever reason the kit only includes 2 pinions - 6t and 9t. Gear diff is not the best (easily replaced with any Mini-z aftermarket ball diff :p)

4: Be sure to inform the buyer that these are not as good, electronics, speed, range, handling, and looks-wise, as a Mini-Z.

5: Offer out-of-the-box refund/replacement and let as many buyers try it out first on the track.

6: The newer AWD firelap, the IW04M, is a mix between an MA010 and an Xmods Evo. It's actually not bad and comes with a strong underplate, normal+drift tires and steel dogbones. The gear diff in it, however, gets shredded easily by youngsters so we eventually only hired out the 2wd model for renting.

7: Overall the bang for buck with the newer Firelaps is pretty darn good for a 2.4ghz MR02 wannabe priced under 100 bucks. Those who already own Kyosho should expect steering lag and a throttle that jumps to 70% almost instantly but it's already great to give to 8years and up.

Whew. Shortly after we recieved our shipment of Firelaps we immediately put two of them up for rental and to tell the truth most of the kids preferred the Firelap since it had no electronic brake. Reverse was instant and that meant more time to drive around. So we eventually put 3 Firelaps on the track and everyone would be happy. Older kids were able to spot the speed/performance difference between a firelap and a Z very quickly and it guess the firelap was now a 'stepping stone' towards deciding if the person controlling it was worthy of a Z or not :)

Speaking of electronic braking one of our KT-18's bit the dust yesterday. The kids just kept fiddling to go to neutral and double-flicking to activate reverser, they would grab the trigger with their free hand, and vigorously wiggle it back and forth. It eventually snapped off and the young boy who was playing with it asked if he could have another controller.
In all fairness, he wasn't wiggling it too hard and it was most likely the accumalative effect of 50 children a day doing the same so we stuffed another Kt-18 into his mitts.

This was really starting to get to me. The kids, though most were nice and well behaved, just aren't treating these things the right way, and even if we did tell them to behave, they had difficulty sticking to it.

This wasn't school and I couldn't do more than remind them of the way they were smashing into other cars and rubbing against the barriers, not when the parent was nearby. They all thought our stand was the equivalent of a pony-ride at a festival and some were slightly taken aback to hear of all the rules on the track.

As I've written earlier, we quickly found out that kids below 7years of age were probably not suitable for this but therein lies the dilemma: On weekdays, most of our rental-clients are 2-5 year olds anyway, accompanying their moms on shopping sprees. Other kids, adults, teenagers were in school, university or work at those times. Eventually, my friend was forced to lift this ban on age with extra guidelines put in place to smooth things out. We began telling the kid's guardian that these cars were worth 200 bucks a piece and couldn't be smashed around and managed to scare 2 families off becuz their children were only 2-3 years old.

Many of these kids had lovely smiles and equally charming parents. Whenever they'd finished their parents would remind 'em to say 'thankyou' and 'goodbye'. I tell ya, hearing those words from a young child really lifts my day like nothing else. :D Letting underage kids in was, in a sense, like opening the gates to heaven.

And sometimes a bit of hell. Well hey, you can't expect there to be no balance to the force, right? ;)

Last thursday we had one of those kids who reminded me of Bam-bam on the flintstones. He wanted to drive the Mini-Z (I only want fastest, he said) and sped around with the sole aim of smashing the other cars as hard as he could until they flipped over. And another time I instructed a young boy who probably had some sort of attention disorder or something (not to insult those who do, sorry). He wouldn't focus on my instructions, he kept getting distracted by the cars zipping around the track. Ok, youngsters are easily distracted I know. Then he snatched the controller away and wanted to pick the car up and throw it; when he finally sat down long enough without running all over the place, he rammed the car fast into the wall, and rammed it again and again, and when we tried to take the controller away he screamed and snatched it back.

Other kids sometimes thought the sensitive nature of the Z's was because of the controller and sometimes ended up wrenching the wheel so hard, and applying a lot of strength, I thought it would break. One kid kept shaking the trigger of the kt-18 sideways until it was almost hanging by a thread. And so many of them like to press the other buttons on the KT-18, like the trim buttons and power switch. Consequently we have had to re-trim and re-bind the cars so many times - all the while stuffing another car into their hands and telling them not to touch the buttons. In all fairness, sometimes they don't mean to and it's just an accident that they ended up pressing all parts of the controller. And just the other day a man pressed the release button and out dropped the battery tray, plunking AAA eneloops over the floor. The batteries rolled under the crowd barrier and into open shopping floor - uh oh. By the time we went had gone out to find them, we could only find 3. One of them had been kicked out the entrance into the drain.

I waited until there were less customers around 4pm in the afternoon and decided to tell my friend about what sort of demographic we were attracting, and also our target demographic. I also wanted to suggest to him perhaps a different venue (like the ones utilized by arch2b and suggested by many) and more different opening hours. The resultant discussion was a little awkward.

to be continued....

unearthed name
2013.05.07, 02:17 AM
i wish i was still in sydney, the mini-z craze only happen 2 years ago in indonesia, and then they are usually people with 1:background looking for practice during off-day racing.

if you want to entice the 1:10 crowd, you can try some of the following steps:

1. tell them that mini-z is a good way to practice. it's small and fast, so it'll be harder to control.

2. it can be run indoor, so rain or snow, bring it on.

3. compared to 1:10 vehicle parts, mini-z parts are usually cheaper except for some parts (i'm looking at you PN ball and gear diffs).

herman
2013.05.07, 05:07 AM
congrats on your sales....

hmm... another tip/suggestion... install a cctv? might not be possible if you're trying to work within a budget.... at least you get to show something to the guardian/parent if something goes awry...

how about visiting a local 1/10 scale track and give out free track time coupons to interested drivers to at least spark their interest?

once everybody has one, hold regular races... so they'll be coming right back... :D

Draconious
2013.05.07, 05:39 PM
I started off, attempting to rent out Mini-Z cars... but due to the difficulty with new drivers getting them around the track in the first 3 or 4 minutes, I wound up adapting to slot cars. Slot cars are MUCH easier for kids to mash the throttle and still be happy to have a car race around the track... the rising cost of a Mini-Z also played a part...

I started off paying for space at a local flea market space on the weekends, mostly to see if I could make a buck or two doing this... After paying for space in a location were there where so few people due to economy... I just barely did better then breaking even.

I then experimented with a place called Jeepers, which is sort of like chucky cheese or a younger version of Dave and Busters. Jeepers is PRIVATELY owned, and they already have deals with other vendors that own some of the video and game machines and split the coinage take at the end of the week. So they were already eager to let me pay for space to setup a slot car track, and for a LOT less then the $3000 or so they would have charged me for a Kiosk space in the attached mall. It was only costing me about $50 a day... unless I only made $50 in which they usually said just keep it.

Since it was winter, and around the holidays, this place was packed quite often... so more than not, I made a lot more than $50, even though I was only charging $1 to $3 per 30 lap race. One day I made about $450... another day was so packed they had to have violated some fire code for head count, it was literally elbow to elbow... so many people they could not even see my track unless they bumped into it.

Anyway long story short, I now do a few corporate events each year, $1000 - $4000 per event! One of which is the Detroit Grand Prix! Last year, and again at the end of May. Since my track is often setup publicly I am also of one of the product demonstrator ambassadors for SCX Digital, although this is voluntary and I only get discounted refurbished replacement parts once in a while. And after doing it a few years I am making enough now, that I actually consider myself employed again. kind of.

Anyway, my point is try to find one of the places with kids games and rides that is privately owned in your area... the corporate ones will not even think about it. There is cheaper space out there, just need to find it.

I also limit the slot cars to 7 and up, however the 3 year olds still find their way to my track... sometimes they just press the button and do not really pay attention to the car, so if it is a birthday I often give them a fake controller that doesn't do anything... they have no clue, and just follow whatever car they want, still results in a happy kid.




http://www.SlotCarRental.com

DanDan
2013.05.07, 06:26 PM
One thing we tried at my track recently is flipping the RCP to the smooth side. This really helps tame down the sensitive nature of the Mini-Z and makes it easier for the younger racers to drive the vehicles. I'd say it's worth a try to flip your tiles over for one day and see how it works out ;)

Geo-Z
2013.05.10, 07:49 PM
@Herman and Unearthed, we are now holding races every saturday for both new members (1/10 ers) and old. There is always quite a crowd by the time we finish a race!

@Draconius: I've seen lots of your posts from back in 2003 mate...and I still remember your design for an AWD mini-z. Good on you for wanting to take it to the next level! Actually, I comte from an HO slot car background. It's a lot cheaper and more wizzy than the 1/32's but the latter now has digital and they've always had more realistic bodies. In Oz, my friend and I live within distance of 3 Slot car shops who do pretty good business with their assortment of ninco/carrera tracks and catering for businesses and kids. My friend is still only set on Mini-Z's but who knows?Perhaps things will change in the future.
As for opening in Chuckie cheez, if i'm not mistaken that is a game centre? For amusement arcades, unfortunately the arcade scene has died in sydney. I was once a regular arcade goer as well...online gaming from pcs and consoles has almost made it redundant, sadly. In places like Japan arcades are still huge, though. The only thing close to an amusement centre/bowling alley/etc near our whereabouts is the ticket area in the cinema (Has a Dance dance revolution machine ). I will suggest it to him, though! Cheers!!!!

We are still selling mostly Firelaps these days as our next Z shipment has come in and sold out immediately (again due to the 1/10'ers demand lol). Mini-Z's have not been officially supplied to Aussie shores since the Overland days in 2003.

Acquiring Mini-Z stock in Australia after that was mostly done through unofficial means. Since Kyosho has not opened a branch down under their products are handled by a local distributor. The Australian distributor for all things Kyosho simply didn't believe it would sell and declined to import it post-2003, citing poor sales.

Believe me, I don't know how many times 'they' have ignored my requests in the past to promote the Z. My guess is because Australia is not as cold in the winter months as, say, North America or Asia where the need to stay indoors is pretty much the norm. Thus indoor racing was percieved as non-existant, leading them to only distribute Kyosho's larger scales. Another thing is the fact that there was no advertising at all of the Mini-Z coupled with the public's perception of them. Many people to this day still think any rc car smaller than 1/10 is a kindergarten toy.

Small Mini-Z communities in Oz were forced to do their own 'selling'. They'd typically order large boxes of Chassis kits, upgrade parts and autoscales from egrracing, kenon, ebay stores or even here. The best way was to pester friends who lived in japan/hongkong to go out on a limb since it was usually cheaper. You name it, we all tried it. It was like a small inside-group market :rolleyes:

Opening the Mini-Z kiosk at the mall, my friend had to order official stock from the local distributor REALLY soon or we would be in trouble for a slew of allegations ranging from illegal distribution to unapproved use of the Kyosho trademark:eek:.
What happened next came out of the blue.

My friend logged on to a social networking site (need i say?) and actually had a chat with none other than Hiroyoshi Ishikawa, who as you know is the polite fellow in Kyosho's MR03VE introduction movies on Youtube. He's apparently the lead designer(?) or project manager of the Mini-Z in Kyosho's headquarters in Japan. Contrary to his youtube vids, he does speak English and can be very coy about revealing upcoming products lol. Anyway, he was moved to see our shop become a reality, all paid for out of my friend's savings. He chatted for a very long time and wished us the best.

The next week we got a call from the distributor. It seems Mr. Ishikawa had taken the time to personally pressure them towards importing a fresh batch of Mini-Z's right to our door! And not just MR03's either, it would contain buggies, kt-18s and the latest Ex-5URs and perhaps a few dnanos. After a decade of nagging from throngs of Mini-Z groups in Australia, it took only one phonecall from Kyosho Japan to break a 10 year drought :o. They would recommence importing mini-z's back into oz starting June this year.

All is good! We are still barely breaking even but for now we have off-shore support from Ishikawa-san and our Firelap sales are pretty steady at the moment.

Geo-Z
2013.05.10, 08:00 PM
@Draconius: Your suggestion to use a fake controller for the toddlers made us (the staff at Sydney Mini-Z) all laugh. Pure genius.

@unearthed: Yep. The 1/10'ers are pretty surprised to at see how fast the Z's are, scale-wise. They all said it requires quicker reflexes, as you mentioned. The price of a box-stock Z with KT18 is still a bit higher than a 1/10 readyset, methinks? The upgrade parts are yes way cheaper.

@ Dandan : hey mate! that is a good idea.

kyoshosan
2013.05.24, 10:24 AM
My friend logged on to a social networking site (need i say?) and actually had a chat with none other than Hiroyoshi Ishikawa, who as you know is the polite fellow in Kyosho's MR03VE introduction movies on Youtube. He's apparently the lead designer(?) or project manager of the Mini-Z in Kyosho's headquarters in Japan. Contrary to his youtube vids, he does speak English and can be very coy about revealing upcoming products lol. Anyway, he was moved to see our shop become a reality, all paid for out of my friend's savings. He chatted for a very long time and wished us the best.

The next week we got a call from Dawn Trading. It seems Mr. Ishikawa had taken the time to personally pressure them towards importing a fresh batch of Mini-Z's right to our door! And not just MR03's either, it would contain buggies, moto racers and the latest Ex-5URs and perhaps a few dnanos. After a decade of nagging from throngs of Mini-Z groups in Australia, it took only one phonecall from Kyosho Japan to break a 10 year drought :o. They would recommence importing mini-z's back into oz starting June this year.


I just caught up reading this thread today, I guess my work has been taking the best out of me these days :) I'm glad to hear that Mr. Ishikawa has come forward to help you guys, believe me, I was about to write him myself to ask him to read this thread. I almost did, before I read the last comment :)

Did you guys considered buying some MR-02EX, the cheaper MR-02 model?

Thanks again for all your reports, It is quite pleasing to read someone else's adventures promoting the hobby on their own, just like many of us have already done in past. It is pure déjà vu! :D

I've posted about you guys on my blog, hopefully this will bring more potential clients towards you guys!

http://kyoshosan.blogspot.ca/2013/05/sydney-mini-z-track.html

Cheers!

arch2b
2013.05.24, 10:36 AM
it has been noted elsewhere the EX kits are discontinued. I assume this to mean the MR-02 will no longer be offered anymore as i don't recall MR-02 chassis kits being restocked. i don't recall ever seeing clarification on the future availability of the MR-02.

Geo-Z
2013.05.25, 09:14 PM
G'day fellow Z'ers!

I have been a bit busy with the shop and my personal projects over the last few weeks and I've lots of time to chat with my friend (the owner and boss along with his girlfriend).

Firstly, I hope everyone who has been reading this thread is still happy, healthy and content with their lives.:)

Well, I had a chat with my friend about only opening the shop on weekends and maybe only making it an online shop for the rest of the week. The reason I proposed this was because as of now our income from the shop is in a slump; our first shipment of Firelaps have not completely sold out, less customers are coming for rentals than before, and everytime we import an MR03 it gets snapped up by the 1/10 converts. And we make tiny profits on the 03's anyway.

The autoscales are shifting slowly too, mainly the newer bodies that usually command higher prices like the R8's and F458's. Our older autoscale bodies (the cheaper ones) had pretty much sold out.

Spare parts from Kyosho, PN, Atomic and X-power are also getting snapped up at a ferocious rate by the 1/10'ers:cool:. MR03 kits are also selling out quickly. AGain, this is all mainly due to them converting to Mini-Z from a month ago. I really wonder if this rate will continue once every 1/10 scale guy from the St Ives onroad club has bought every part they need. I predict that sales rate would likely go down again once this happens.

In short, we aren't getting much rentals on weekdays as before and our firelaps (which we have in abundance) aren't selling as much and while the scarcely imported MR03 is selling out fast:confused: for the moment.

So I talked to him about only opening on weekends and he did not share this point of view. He wanted to go full out, saying that if it was forced to be an occasional thing he would not consider it altogether. I told him that the amount of rental customers on weekdays is rather low anyway and even on the weekends it is dropping almost every week. The talk became very awkward after that.

The truth is, we experienced a lot of rentals, yes, as well as moderate Firelap sales in the first month of business. I think that this had a lot to do with it being 'new' and faddish for the first few weeks - and also because it was the easter holidays. Lately, this has gone down a lot and the 1/10 scale racers from the nearby club are at the moment, our saving grace over the last few weeks. Most of our income is now from their purchases as of late. Many of the shoppers in our district now know about us and our initial charm is seemingly wearing off.

The consumers for our area have been exposed enough to our product and it would perhaps be fresher to spread awareness in a different area. So I suggested that we take this shop on the road and open it at different suburbs on the second and forth weekend of every month which didn't go thru.

Meanwhile our rental fleet is taking a lot of damage and on several occasions we have had to retire some rental cars for a day or two until they got fixed. We charge a few dollars for rentals; the thing is, the replacement parts are worth a lot more than that and our rental customers are declining. I like working with children (good ones) and they form our main rental demographic but really, the Mini-Z just isn't for them.

I know this, my friend and his girlfriend know this, but for the average shopper it will always look like a 20 dollar cheap toy. Only young kids and mothers are around the mall on weekdays, which means that, well, most of our target demographic (adult men/teenage guys) are pretty much elsewhere until the weekend.

My gut feeling was that my friend's shop wasn't pitching this to the right group of people. The kids are coming in, paying a few bucks and end up wrecking the Mini-Z. Just yesterday I almost lost it when a certain young girl paid five dollars for a rental and broke the t-plate on one car, then went on to break the same part on two more. I was fixing rentals all day yesterday and keeping a smile on my face. By the time she finished she had broken 3 FRP plates which were worth a lot more than just the five buck rental fee in the first place.

I suggested many of the things the people here have suggested; only doing festivals/car shows/arcades/flea markets and occasionally demo'ing it in other suburbs but he wants to keep it centered around this place for now so I don't know how else I can approach him with it. Regular shop or not at all.

Finally, I suggested to him to only focus on our online shop, which we already have going at the moment. It has not sold as much as our mall setup but I felt that if we redesigned the website and added more news updates it may end up getting more sales. Plus, there would be no mall rent to worry about and our target audience would find us. The reply was surprising to me.

He said that it cost more in manpower to manage an online shop - updating photos, product stock, mail orders and etc. He told me that if that were to happen he would need to hire at least 6 fulltime staff and it was still cheaper to stick to our kiosk at the mall with around 2-3 staff.

To be honest, I'm not sure what else to suggest. Having a better online store was my ace in the hole.

Many of you probably know of another bloke in Thailand who operates a dnano track in Pattaya. His retail shop was awesome and he put lots of heart into promoting the dnano there. Despite the fact that his actual shop was in Thailand, his online shop/forum had great support worldwide and I recall that he was able to get through tough times with online sales.

Hmm. Soldiering on!

Geo-Z
2013.05.25, 09:23 PM
@ Kyoshosan: Thanks for considering putting a word through to Ishikawa-san! That was very ace of you. Yes, we did indeed import a few MR02EX sets. They were sold out in under a week to our 1/10 club clients and I me as well. I have a soft spot for the ol' 02. At the moment there aren't any more EX sets available for importing...I think arch2b is indeed right. Next month's body-less MR03 readyset which includes the kt-18 may be in response to that. :D

herman
2013.06.25, 06:18 AM
hi... any updates? :D

kyoshosan
2013.06.25, 09:18 AM
Yes, we did indeed import a few MR02EX sets. They were sold out in under a week to our 1/10 club clients and I me as well.

Glad to hear that. It kinds of prove what I've been ranting for years that Kyosho needs to offer an Entry Level Mini-Z. Something like they did with the MR-02 EX but even cheaper. In my mind the killer price would be $99.

Next month's body-less MR03 readyset which includes the kt-18 may be in response to that. :D

I wish that would be the answer but looking at the listed price at Kyosho's website (19,740 Yen) for the chassis and Tx, and considering that you still need to get an Autoscale Body, reality is that is not cheap at all to get into this category that as you've pointed out, looks like cheap $20 cars at first sight for the newcomers.

Future is not looking bright....

danjoyy25
2013.06.26, 06:27 PM
Nice read George and I have also tried talking sense to our friend but I guess his all set doing it his way.:eek: It will be interesting to see when you guys start charging for track use how many people would still turn up to race.

I am still doing my bit promoting mini-z as I have a car show this weekend lined up were I am setting a track with timing and hiring out a few of my cars in abit to get some interest happening.

danjoyy25
2013.06.26, 06:50 PM
@ Kyoshosan: Thanks for considering putting a word through to Ishikawa-san! D

Please tell him the only thing that has happened now is the Australian distributor is making money importing the kits that they didn't want to touch before :mad: Last I heard, its costing you guys $185 wholesale, but you can get kits thru banzai or ebay for $170 landed or sometimes less. You guys should be dealing direct with Kyosho Japan as you are doing all the work promoting mini-z.

Geo-Z
2013.06.29, 11:50 AM
@Herman: Yes there are actually quite a few updates that i've been itching to post however I've been warned by certain people over the past month (mall management, my friend and those linked to our distributor) to refrain from doing so. Some of them were really PO'ed when they read this thread.

In the beginning, I listed the amount of rent we were paying as well as the different levies our mall demanded. It was typed somewhere in my first few posts on this thread. Later, I named the aussie distributor of Kyosho merchandise along with a not-too-glowing opinion of the way they handled the Mini-Z. Let's just say that I've come under fire for posting all of these things in a public forum. Apparently, there are some things in the retail industry that should never be made public, no matter what. I was forced to edit those details out of my previous posts.

It's left me confused as to whether I should continue posting about our ordeals or not. :(

arch2b
2013.06.29, 02:13 PM
it's really unfortunate that some parties do not like real information being posted divulged and prefer the fake smile. i face this from time to time here as well. you just have to find the right balance of being vague while truthful. at some point you're going to upset someone, it's a public forum (fuzzy interpretation of 'public') afterall and everyone has differing sensibilities. i would read over any non disclosure agreements or clauses that may be in place and be sure to remain in compliance. otherwise, please continue with your story, albeit with more care to the details. kinda sounds like someone got rebuked for poor performance and well, sh*& rolls down hill so it gets passed down the chain and ends up in your lap. companies love 'yes' men/women.

FYI, kyosho america isn't so draconian as to force us to remove unappealing reviews. i'll tell everyone there are times they really just don't make any logical sense but the people involved are genuinely nice people. i've met a few and enjoyed the experience. it doesn't mean i don't find times where i'm scratching my head thinking, what they hell are they thinking, or what are they doing... there was no shortage of vitriol for the previous distributor great planes. they flat out sucked.

it gets a bit more touchy when it comes to the aftermarket manufacturers. lets just say there are plenty of sponsored members and fanboys if you will, that take unfavorable reviews personally. that and there is no shortage friction between them (manufacturers) at times as well. we are very lucky that the average member is much more mature and reasonable here than you'll find on some other RC forums the devolve into senseless bickering, etc. generally even unfavorable reviews end up providing opportunities to learn something new.

please continue with the story of your adventure, maybe in a more moderated tone. :p i say that more for your well being than others.

herman
2013.07.05, 02:23 AM
hmm… just write about your experience… experiences are neither wrong or right… it is what it is… an experience… after all, that is what the title of the thread is about right? i feel that life and times… should be an experience… and that is what i believe you are trying to share here… an experience… :D

people often do have their own opinions… they are usually formed by people based on the way they understand things… and again, opinions can neither be wrong or right, since basically… that’s the way they understand it…

luckily, i don’t believe that i’ve made any enemies, or have had a serious confrontation regarding differences in opinions during my last 8,000 or so posts… so i guess / or feel that i’m doing something right… it also does help that majority of members on these forums are more mature, open and generally helpful compared to the other forums that i’ve read about…

while posting on these forums i usually adheared to the usual norms of stating just the fact and stating the 5w‘s and 1h - who/what/where/when/why/how… i tried to be objective.... then i’d add my opinion on things, and state it as such (since others may have a different opinion)… respecting each others opinion is one thing i learned… and learning to agree to disagree is another… lol

writing and posting your opinions, what ever and when ever you want will definitely have some consequences… especially if you or someone you work for has a non-disclosure agreement (as arch2b pointed out)... so i try to post as responsibly as i can…

so with that in mind… i sure hope that you can continue keeping those posts... i mean experiences coming… :D

Geo-Z
2013.07.07, 10:54 AM
@danjoy: Thanks dan bro, you are 100% right. I have told Darko about promoting the Z at motor shows; he stressed that the charge for those venues is way too high. Did you manage to convert a few revheads? I hope you had a great time :). Actually the 185 dollar price is very close to the wholesale price (i suspect it's been marked up due to gst/import fees or the recently weaker aussie dollar) and we make VERY little profit on it. Say, enough to buy a bottle of your fav soft drink :P. Hope we can see you soon! -george-

arch2b
2013.07.07, 02:36 PM
it sucks getting caught in the crosshairs for what was meant as an honest opinion on your journey. i hope it all settles down and you can get back to the heart of the story, the life and time of promoting mini-z racing:p

skhadka17
2013.07.09, 02:25 AM
@danjoy: Thanks dan bro, you are 100% right. I have told Darko about promoting the Z at motor shows; he stressed that the charge for those venues is way too high. Did you manage to convert a few revheads? I hope you had a great time :). Actually the 185 dollar price is very close to the wholesale price (i suspect it's been marked up due to gst/import fees or the recently weaker aussie dollar) and we make VERY little profit on it. Say, enough to buy a bottle of your fav soft drink :P. Hope we can see you soon! -george-

Hey George, its Sam, have you guys considered selling xmods, they have the performance inbetween Firelaps and the Z's and I seen them on the net for 80-100 dollars

arch2b
2013.07.09, 06:32 AM
are they discontinued over there? if so, i would not recommend selling something that has since been discontinued unless to experienced RC enthusiast. that crowd however would likely not be satisfied with the quality of xmods.

Geo-Z
2013.08.10, 10:42 AM
@skhadka : Hi Sam how've you been? Regarding Xmods, there is unfortunately no Australia-based distributor willing to import them in large or regular quantities. Xmods, be it Gen 1 or the EVO line, were sold in RadioShack, an American(?) based electronics outlet. I think **** Smith handles a few RS imports in Australia but they have never sold an Xmods to my knowledge. I once bought a 1st Gen Xmod at RadioShack in Hawaii when I went there for my sister's wedding back in 06 and it was bit of a letdown really. My main gripe was that the turn radius was incredibly large. The option to convert the car to 4wd was very good, though, and so were the swappable body parts (fender, wing, etc). At the moment my good friend the boss (u know who) bought a large box of 9-year old stock from Kyosho's aussie distributor (again, u know) which contained a few vintage Palm runners which we are selling at $30 dollars. They have no proportional throttle or steering but it's a cheap way to experiment with the hobby before laying down serious cash.

@arch2b: Sadly, us aussies never got to experience the Xmods boom down under. Only a few of us oz mini-z fans actually know about them and even then very few of us imported them back in the day. In 2005 I used to race my MR01 in Meadowbank with the AUSMICRO (defunct) crowd and only 1 guy had an xmods WITH the tight turns/NellyTurbo upgrade and it really rocked.
I'm trying to convince the boss to import something a little more affordable while being less toy-like and more hobby-grade. I made a few calls to AIRHOGS Aussie branch because I saw a few videos of their GX BUggy clone, the Hyperactive. It seems like a good, cheap way to get into the micro RC world and it actually has enough oomph to satisfy the speed demon in all of us.

Geo-Z
2013.08.11, 12:23 PM
I've been given the go-ahead so far so I've decided to post here yet again, though what I'm covering is largely what happened in the lead-up till August.

First of all, I thank each and every one of you for voicing your concerns for both me and my friend's orgainisation. It really helps to read your comments and to know that at least we have several like-minded people on all corners of the globe.

I have since learned to tread softly.

Sometime in early June one of our recent converts, the '1/10 legend of St Ives ' Michael, told us that he was going to show off his Dnano track (he really has a soft spot for the 'nano as well as Qon's amazing track/facility/store in Pattaya) at the Toy Expo.

The expo itself was billed as a top-notch weekend for the kiddies where there'd be endless kiosks filled with all sorts of activities, exhibitions and, well, toys. Several toy-chains and toy companies have their own displays already setup and Michael thought it'd be a treat to unveil the 'nano to the Aussie public.

Anyway, after a quick chat with my friend, Michael did us a huge favour and arranged for our shop, Sydney Mini-Z, to have it's own dedicated area at the show. We'd be there, rubbing shoulder with the biggies - Lego, Tonka, Mattel, Hasbro and etc....

There were, however, some slight concerns. Most of the audience for the expo were expected to be mostly young parents being dragged tjere bu their kindergarten-going kids. The age demographic was in question yet again and I swear I saw one of our rental cars shudder when we packed up our RCP mats for the day ahead.

We made quite a few calls to make sure we were doing things properly, including calling Kyosho's Aussie distributor (no comment). A representative swung by the following day and handed us a large Kyosho flag along with a small batch of NEXXT EP rc sand buggies (think of a budget, entry-level dune buggy topped with a cool honeycomb shell) to sell/exhibit.

The night before the expo we worked tirelessly, transporting huge quantities of Kyosho GP tiles to Olympic park, located about 30 mins from Sydney city.

Olympic park had it's heyday way back in the turn of the millenium when Sydney was playing host to the 2000 Olympics and over half the world was holding their breath due to a little exaggeration called Y2K. Since then it has become an enormous....well, waste of space. It had several gymnasiums, fields and ovals, and even a large Novotel nearby which I suspect is close to be being shut down for good. One of it's halls, the 'Dome' is being used for numerous conferences and whatnot, and it was here that the Toy expo was gonna be held.

We setup a small kiosk beside our huge GP tile track, prepped the rentals, snuck a wink here and there and came the next day, hoping that all the kids would take after Barney the Dinosaur instead of Darla from Finding Nemo.

and....well, we got lots of interested looks! But no sales at all bummer man.

Kids were lining up for a go, that was for sure. This being an expo, we were told not to charge for just having a go and because of that we always had a stream of youngsters deadset on getting their hands behind a KT18.

Michael also had a steady stream of kids having a go at his dnano track and actually, he was trying to steal our customers even though he claims it was the other way around (Sorry Mike I'm just calling it the way I see it :p)

The parents looked, for the most part, exhausted especially around closing times and more than a few times we've had crying kids who were dragged away by their moms. Basically everything was rosey until they found out that an MR03 with KT18 cost upwards of 200 dollars whereupon the parent in question smile thinly and slowly back away. :(

Come lunchtime I had my friend's permission to walk around and ended up looking at every other kiosk at the venue. It was quite a surprise.

The Chess society had their own kiosk:eek:. Yes, the CHESS society. Not to knock it or anything, I don't really think many kids under the age of 12 have much of an interest in chess, not when there were other toys present. Props to them for trying, though. The two staff did look pretty bored and so did the majority of kids/parents who didn't give the poor guys a second glance.

Lego and Hasbro had lots of fans. There was even a giant lego pit for everyone to dig into and make anything they wanted and it was heartwarming to see a few weary parents try their hand at it too, reliving a chunk of their own childhoods.

Warhammer or whatever company that was, had some of the BEST static landscapes I've ever seen. I'm sure many of you who have played some of their games would know just how detailed and cool their little figarines/playmaps look. They rival train-tracks and some of the better Slot-car landscapes i've seen. (speaking of which there were no slot cars or train sets on site. :confused:)

The most popular....guess what? Jenga. :confused: I'm not sure if it's same name in the states, but it's that game where you build whatever structure you like out of uniform blocks of wood and take turns yanking pieces out, all the while making sure it doesn't topple over. So many kids were nuts over that! To think that that had more charm than our good ol' Z's....argh a bitter pill to swallow.

There was even a stand with bubble wrap! For passing the time. Kids and adults were just popping plastic bubbles out of it like squirrels in a factory. Attention, the next toy-craze is here : bubble wrap.

And who would've guessed? There were NO videogames. Despite this being a toy fair. Aren't videogames also toys? Albeit for all ages? I am a big xbox guy so I was dismayed to find the show to be devoid of Halo, Call of Duty or Elder scrolls. guess they finally figured out all that screen-time was making us short-sighted:cool:?

The biggest surprise was the Meccano exhibition. It was like a mechanical museum. There were intricate, fully-working replicas of steel mills, steam engines and even an endless chain-driven clock! To top it off there were several meccano fans with their works, all screwed together and driven here by themselves:eek:.

A polite old man stood proudly behind a 1/5 scale bus (huge i tell you) which had been completely made from those signature holed-tiles that you'd find in every meccano set. It had pistons, a belt-drive, gear differentials, crank-shafts and all sorts of things that you'd expect inside the real thing and was solid as a rock. He told me that every meccano tile could be bent to form a latch and also rolled with a pizza roller to create convex surfaces. He patted the sofa-sized bus affectionately, saying that he'd never trade it for anything at all.

"This is worth more than my own house." he said, stroking it lovingly. It reminded me of a caffeine-addict gloating over an espresso. He had a certain twinkle in his eye, a rare zest for life that made him forever young at heart.

Man, it's nice to see people still having so much passion for things.

At the end of the day we were disappointed and ready to head home without a sale but remember, we should never count our chickens before they've all hatched and we sold out our MR02 EX stock to....the attendants from the other kiosks. Yep, at the end of the day, we were all allowed to peruse each other's offerings and it was then that we finally made sales - who'd have thought! Some of the attendants told us that they had kept an eye on our fast little cars and were dying to try them! It's great to know the little 'Z still had the ability to attract stalkers! Our MR02 EX's were sold out.

Before closing time all the staff and members at Sydney Mini-Z donned ourselves with lifejackets and went on a friendly shooting spree inside NERF's battle-quarters. The Nerf display consisted of a giant inflateable castle without the characteristic, trampoline-like floor. It had inflatable walls and tables to use as cover, and every one of us was given a nerf gun loaded with sucker-darts. These guns packed some serious oomph and they could easily be fired in quick succession from up to 25 feet away. We had a blast just pumping those darts into anything and everything.

AFter, we dismantled our gear and drove home with so much kyosho track sticking out the window of the car it was a miracle the cops didn't stop us.

Overall, if you are planning an to display the Z's at an expo, the following would help (in our case it did):

1. if you have a big space, make sure you have at least 4 other drivers for exhibiting your wares, 1 or 2 makes it look a little lonely.
2. Avoid the back of the hall if possible.
3. Make sure you know the rules of the convention.
4. Have fun :D\

Next post, we are back in teh mall....:D

-Geo-Z-

arch2b
2013.08.11, 02:34 PM
thanks for sharing your story :cool:

my experience with conventions did not include sales, although we were permitted to do so in the marketplace hall, we never could get support from a local hobby shop or Kyosho to staff a sales spot. i continue to believe that if Kyosho would have supported the event and had a retailer willing to participate we would still be holding exhibition events at Nekocon today. they were widely popular, which may have also upset some of the less agreeable anime purists and event staff. i can see where a free exhibition that has loose ties to anime drawing large crowds at a convention might ruffle feathers of conventions sponsors, etc. i'll never know the truth i think as those involved are not with the staffing positions anymore and likely not even in mini-z anymore. the concept had huge potential that we demonstrated but lack of formal manufacturer/retailer support meant it never got beyond a couple guys packing up their stuff for the weekend to let random strangers use and abuse for the good of spreading the joy and hopefully hobby participation. it takes a certain kind of person to take their own gear to setup and let others use for their own thrill and excitement, i tip my hat to you sir:cool:

if you find an event that supports retailers and sales, try to get a local business to participate in that portion of the event with sales. it's not easy in today's economy to get a business to devote time = money to something with just the hope of breaking even much less profit in the interest of building long term relationships and opportunities. that was an easy sell in the boom before the bust but near impossible since 2008 which few retailers survived to begin with. your efforts make what you've done far more impressive to pull off in todays environment. god bless and good luck :p

saddad
2013.08.11, 03:02 PM
Sorry if I'm posting in wrong place but this seems like the natural home,
We have been inspired by your previous post we blitzed all our local car dealers youth clubs & schools offering to set up our track & cars to raise money for either our charity or any of there choice. Our first event happened today at our local Volvo dealer, for the Volvo owners club day.
we arrived (an hour to early) & set up in the back of the service center.Despite a steady stream of people looking we had few taking up our offers of a go, (we had a practice then 5 timed laps (Volvo supplied prize's) The people who did try all enjoyed it & hopefully 2 girls seemed hooked & left talking to parents about coming to our next meeting.
The good bit, money raised for the Essex air ambulance,
Hopefully more offers to follow
club profile raised
the bad bits, no definite new members,
mistake we made, Not getting the contact details of the people who tried to contact them with details of next meeting (we did give leaflets with inf o on so hope that works)

herman
2013.08.11, 09:44 PM
nice reading, thanks for sharing guys…

Geo-Z
2013.08.15, 06:39 PM
@arch2b: Thanks for the pointers mate. To tell the truth it was a lot easier than what may have happened down your end because we had the entire Sydney Mini-Z racing club (around 20+ members along with the recently-joined 1/10'ers)helping out over the entire long weekend. I didn't need to spend hours demonstrating or answering dozens of queries because it was on the weekend where our members had enough time to double as (informal) staff. Kyosho's A few talks later with a certain distributor and they agreed to lend us a large Kyosho Banner in exchange for promoting Kyosho's 1/10 buggy line: The NEXXT and a brushless monster called DBX or VBX i can't remember. The latter cost around 800 AUD and came in a box the size of tv. We weren't gonna sell those anytime soon but it was cute seeing them shoved next to a Mini-Z Buggy.

@saddad: That's great to hear! Good on ya for getting the support of your local car dealership as well. Did you put up a large sign while demo'ing? I've found it works if there is a large sign put up, advertising the rental cost and whatnot. Also, on the first day of opening we had free/significantly discounted rentals in exchange for the customer lodging an email address on our roster. That way we could inform potential members of our next race meet/display times. All the best mate.

@herman: Thanks herman, our tiny shop has since upgraded to a full-fledged hobby shop and boy ho boy the workload just got jacked up a notch :D. Are you still in Indonesia?

Geo-Z
2013.08.15, 07:51 PM
Howdy ho everyone. Geo-Z indahouse:cool:.

After lugging our wares back from the Toy expo in Olympic park, we were back to our usual grind of promoting/selling the Z in our local mall in the northern suburbs.
Well, I'm pleased to say...our promotion paid off! We got 2 new customers asking for a Mini-Z (or asking to have a go) and we sold 1 to a gent who happened to see us at the toy expo and came down to our shop as per the address in our flyer. Another new member!
It was at this time that we had a strange encounter with a customer that caused disagreement with my boss and his girlfriend.

It started like this: A customer who once purchased one of our Firelap 2WD sets came back asking to buy another Firelap. I told him there was only 1 set left and we had tons of Kyosho Mini-Z's which were better but he was adamant he wanted the cheaper Firelap.

In the first 2 months of opening, my boss sold Firelap sets at their wholesale price - $65 AUD for the newest one, the IW-02 and $75 for the AWD one. Think a few more dollars than that and you have the price in USD. We were NOT making a profit on those at all. But after the 2 months, we raised the price up to it's RRP of $89. Still a good price, in my opinion.

This particular customer wanted us to sell it to him at $65 dollars, claiming that he had already contributed to our shop from his previous purchase. I told him no, our special price was over and it was the middle of June, our special-price for RTR kits ended in mid-may. He said he wanted it to be $65 dollars still. And on and on it went. After a while he gave in and said fine i'll take the last Firelap set for $89 dollars and I said ok.

Before I gave him the set I told him about our out-of-the-box warranty, that we can only replace or refund sets that were defective upon opening and he said ok. He took the Firelap set and left....and came back 2 minutes later.

He said the car we sold him was 2nd hand. I looked at my co-worker and told him that it wasn't used and it was always in the box but the customer was adamant and said he wanted his money back.

During our time working here we always kept track of the sets we sold and none of us ever opened a set intended for consumers. If we demo'ed, we'd always use our own Mini-Z's or the rentals, both Mini-Z or Firelap. Anyway.

This guy showed me the car tire, as well as a front bumper in the Firelap box. He said the car must have been used and put back into the box - the tires were dirty and the front bumper was scratched. I was surprised, really. When I looked at them, the car tires were not dirty or in any wear at all just they had some fine dust (whitish, something like factory or packing dust i have no idea, it was not floor fuzz or hair) on it but it was very minute. And the front bumper? I inspected it and it was not a scratch (abrasion) but it looked like a small bit of black wasn't painted over. I told him that Firelaps were not the same quality as a Mini-Z but he said no I want my 89 dollars back so I gave it back to him.

It was an odd complaint. It sounded more like he changed his mind or something.

Anyway when I told the boss he said it was ok. When I told the boss's girlfriend she was annoyed about it. She said that the stock is harder to resell once it has been opened like that and told me not to do it again.

I was flustered. The boss told me 'out of the box if the customer finds something wrong, refund/exchange it' while his girlfriend tells me 'once they open it, they can't return it'.

This is the problem having two bosses. They sometimes have conflicting rules and often don't know what the other one is saying. HOnestly, why tell me two different instructions? And get angry when I follow one of them?


Anyway, that was only one thing to take note of.

The other concerns parts compatibility across parts manufacturers for the mini-Z.

Some customers buy an MR03 set, and end up buying a PN Racing 50T motor with it or an X-Power/Atomic/PN Ball diff. Well, it seems fine and dandy but....PN motors are often a slight bit bigger (1mm i think) than the stock Kyosho motors and as a consequence, don't fit into the stock MM mount. Sanding is required but if done, it becomes too big to put the original kyosho motors back inside. And some customers still want the option of going back to the stock mount/stock motor combo in the future.

Aftermarket ball diffs have differing pitch settings (48t, 64t, 126 etc) along with their own pinions, which require the use of a special motor mount, which requires screws and etc. Again, the stock, plastic motor mount doesn't have the right spacers for these highly-geared diffs/pinions.

And some Pn parts are not compatible with Atomic, some atomic not compatible with Xpower, Kyosho motors have no screw holes and can't be used on any aftermarket mounts....and so on and so on.....

It's a huge web ;) but it makes some customers frustrated too and after some gentle explaining, it usually get resolved. Lately, one particular customer got an MR03 set and a PN motor. The PN motor didn't fit and he expected us to make up for it in some way.

What is even more confusing is....the PN 50T motor does indeed fit - but we tested it on a stock RM mount. Unfortunately the motor mount that came with his MR03 set was the MM mount which needs to be sanded in order for it to fit. But he didn't want to sand it. and he wanted us to make up for it. We told him about the PN aluminium motor mounts which have screws but he said no, it's too expensive, he said he already bought an MR03 from us and that was enough money...etc...

My co-worker and I didn't know what else to do until my friend came back from his lunch break and promptly gave the customer the correct motor mount out of his personal parts box for free. It was a harrowing experience.

I have a question for those who have had a hand in the hobby business, or who have been in this sort of situation:

Question: What would you have done if
a: the customer buys merchandise, opens everything and returns it minutes later asking for an exchange/refund, or
b: the customer buys a part, realizes it isn't the right one after opening setting it up, then returns and asks for a refund/remedy at the shop's expense.
c: if you were the customer, what would have done first if you got a Mini-Z set that you think has been used? What signs would reasonably point to it as being 'used' (even though the Firelap set we sold was not)?

If any of you gentlemen would like to kindly give me some pointers I'd appreciate them very much. THank you and God bless.....-George-

arch2b
2013.08.15, 08:45 PM
thats a tuff question. there are many different strategies; the customer is always right, the policy is clear but i'll work with you on this one and take a hike. that's boiling it down to basics but the general gamut they run.

our club races in a hobby shop. once you buy it and open it, they rarely take it back. it also depends on how far your willing to take the bickering. i've seen some stone cold calm clerks repeat the policy till the irate customer leaves and i've seen some cave after 5-10 minutes of bickering just to get them out of the store.

the bottom line i guess is how you handle returns, exchanges, etc. small timers don't have overhead for that nor return stuff to manufacturer and can have very strict policies more for financial reasons than anything else. at the end of the day it's a business for them that needs to make money or close. larger stores that can return stuff or part out returns and damaged good often do.

i would love to get david to provide some insight on how to grow a business from a hobby forum to one of the dominant mini-z north american retailers but i don't think he's ever done an interview. the shop here started with bit char g bits and parts, importing mini-z goods, etc. likewise, i don't think i've ever seen philip interviewed about how he grew PN to the global supporter it is and possibly the largest event sponsor for mini-z racing with series around the world.

imxlr8ed
2013.08.16, 10:32 AM
I used to sell cars... I've had people spin around in parking lots to come back and complain that their new car had miles on it (6-24) and they wanted to exchange for one with 0 miles. (impossible, just in case you don't know that.) I've dealt with all kinds, best advice I can give... put on your best listening ears, and do everything in your power to make the customer almost uncomfortable with how much you are doing to show that you care about their current cause. It's a good policy, painful to do at times (like when the customer is a real jerk) but it's always seemed to work for me.

A valid complaint should be treated the same exact way!

Taking the car back was the right policy, especially since it was such a quick turn-around. Plus, you avoided a build-up of animosity and possible future trash talking on your shop by the upset customer.

Now when you sell the previously opened car, inform your customer first hand that it was opened and maybe throw in a set of used tires to mess with to make up for it... the new customer will appreciate it and remember that honesty and charity.

Life gives lemons... make lemonade. :rolleyes:

Geo-Z
2013.08.16, 10:01 PM
@arch2b: Mate, once again your advice is always appreciated by everyone here at Sydney Mini-Z/Hobby-Z. Our return policy is pretty simple and I've made a few requests to my friend to make it more specific in certain areas but he told me he wants to keep it simple. To tell the truth I feel that the vast range of aftermarket parts/handling errors that pertain to the Mini-Z make it a hard candidate for single-sentence policies. It will probably need to have differing return policies based on several conditions, and even then it may not be the same from customer to customer.
Some hobby stores on the 'net have a very simple return policy, and some are vague enough to bamboozle anyone who ends up reading it.
One particular hobby store had one single policy on their 'returns' page: "All returned merchandise will be dealt on a case-by-case basis". It doesn't imply much but it seemed to reflect the complexities (factory defect/incorrect part/ faulty labeling/packing errors/bad choice/uninformed staff or customers/abuse/etc) stemming from a multitude of reasons of why a customer would return their RC car in the first place :o BTW thanks to you and Herman for helping a recent member (citysurfer) with his MR02EX steering problem on the MR02 board. :cool:

@imxler8ed: Thanks bro. I'm surprised that you used to do dealings in the auto business. I'm already feeling the heat from just selling Mini-Z's. If I moved to to sell actual cars i could see my caffeine consumption going through the roof. It's a much harder job I think.
Yes, regarding that point you are right: Sometimes it's better to take a hit and lose profit than have a potentially venemous customer rattle off about their experiences to another dozen potential customers. I do try to be patient with customers and I think one technique is to avoid saying 'no' 'don't' and 'not'. Try to explain it calmly without the use of any negative words.
PROPS to your used tire idea, mate. We have oodles of used parts that are still functional, clogging up our toolboxes. All the best- George from Sydney.

arch2b
2013.08.16, 10:36 PM
A member here, draconious used to sell mostly left over parts, parted out kits, etc. it was a great resource for picking up the little things without having to get stuff you didn't need.

I hate to say this but it is becoming fairly common that people are using social media to blackmail businesses. I have an aquaitence that runs a business and routinely has people come in demanding free or nearly free services or they would post negative reviews. It's really unfortunate but a sad reality.

herman
2013.08.22, 12:59 AM
@herman: Thanks herman, our tiny shop has since upgraded to a full-fledged hobby shop and boy ho boy the workload just got jacked up a notch . Are you still in Indonesia?

i just can imagine the work... er... actually i live in the philippines... although i have been to jakarta indonesia once...

funny you mention indonesia... while visiting atomic collective in singapore, i got to talk to fred (co-owner of atomic collective) and dave (one of singapore's top drivers)... and i learned that there is a big mini-z following in indonesia... last year they participated and even qualified in the a main mod class in a big event over there... the indonesian open 2012... (pic from atomic collective's f******k page)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/480742_461942813842707_341147561_n.jpg

unearthed name
2013.09.02, 05:19 AM
don't want to hijack or anything, but we're having a big event in indonesia next week. here's a link

http://miniz-indonesia.com/forum/index.php?topic=133.msg457#msg457


we are proud to host mr. world champion from kenon hobby to our event. i'll post some pictures and report of the event to this forum when it's done.

toodles.

Geo-Z
2013.09.30, 04:11 PM
@herman: Wow bro that is a huge track! It's great to always read/see about your mini-z trips whenever you go traveling abroad. Here on the forums there are quite a few of us who follow your posts and it seems you have been to many corners of the globe with your mini-z in tow ;).
@unearthed: pnracing's world champion?? u mean Grant?? Awesome!

Geo-Z
2013.09.30, 05:17 PM
G'day everyone!

Things have been quiet over the past few months and there's a reason for that. We have finally found a real retail space not far from our kiosk setup in the mall and my friend has been doing the paperwork to move to there.

But that's not all.

One of our members recently closed his hobby shop and agreed to let my friend sell the unsold stock in this new location. We are now a hobby shop, not just specializing in Mini-Z's anymore! Sydney Mini-Z has now become Hobby-Z!

The move took quite a few weeks and we had to get shelves and display stands first. And of course there was the transportation of our hobby friend's stock into our shop as well as entering each product into our shiny new Mac computer...we had to close up for a few weeks and really get into the retail business but in the end we had a fully functional hobby shop with enough space (around 6x8m) to setup our enormous Kyosho GP tile track in-store!!

And of course we made sure to position it so that everyone at the mall could see us as soon as they got off the escalator! You beauty! You can say that we were 'hijacking' their line of sight because if you were in the building there'd be no way you couldn't see us unless you were on some mind-bending substance :rolleyes:

Anyway, this being a hobby shop, we had to quickly get used to customers asking new questions about things other than Mini-Z. We now sell plastic model kits, all scales and types of RC, gliders, static models, train sets and my first (never forgotten) love, slot cars.

Ahhh boy. Selling slot cars and Mini-Z's in the same place, not knowing where my attention is supposed to go. That's like meeting two ex-girlfriends at the same booth at the pub. Should I steer customers away from the pricier Mini-Z and convince them to get this shiny new Carrera/AFX set? or vice-versa? My friend decided to set up a small AFX slot car track on display by using our own stock and, knowing that I was also a mad HO scale slot car guy, asked me to maintain it.

All I can say is that it really satisfies the kiddies, more than the Mini-Z. Draconius was right. If there were lots of kids coming to your shop I would recommend showing off HO scale over the larger 1/32 or 1/24 scale slots. It's a lot simpler to operate, miles cheaper to replace and two kids can go at it, but more importantly HO scale slotcars have really strong magnets and seem to whizz at fasters speeds which really gives the little ones a thrill.

We setup AFX tracks and a Carrera GO! track beside our enormous Mini-z layout.

The reason why we don't quite recommend Carrera slot car track for display is because it's got less stronger magnets and heavier cars. The track and cars are high in quality, just it's not pleasant when a car deslots and actually hits a custodian in the 'nads. This actually happened and we were lucky this guy didn't seem to mind (?) :) After that we just went AFX all the way...our AFX stock sold MUCH faster whenever we displayed it, I can tell you that. The only catch was that a sacrificial set had to be used to set it up.

Same with the mini-Z. Since we moved to our new location our IC tag setup just wouldn't work - in fact it started to lag when picking up our cars and fizzed out over the next week. It's quite strange. It doesn't pick up any cars now at all and we had to hastily replace it with a robitronics setup (these are way more expensive as you know)

My friend also decided to retire the rentals, which I don't quite understand. He told me that he was finally tired of seeing the kiddies treating them like playground bashers but I thinkj the real reason is because of the cost of repairs and the fact that these same kids would often crash/damage our own member's cars.

But the rent fee was much higher in this new location, and our rental cars were the one thing that kept us afloat in our previous location so I don't see why he'd do this. We are paying quite a few more bux than before and we rare broke even then. Especially during the holidays, the addition of rentals would add an extra hundred-or-so bucks to our earnings eveyrday. That is his choice and hopefully we'd be able to earn more with our added stock, at least enough to eliminate the need for rentals.

Already, many customers (almost a half-dozen a day, and more on weekends) are already walking up to our counter and asking us to have a go of the cars, and I keep having to say no to them. Some of them just want me to race my MR02 just to keep their tiny kid happy while others just want to 'give my 3 year old a go for his birthday'. Hmm.

One gentleman saw us racing the cars one night (we are actually open till midnight on weekends and fridays) and really wanted us to give him and his toddler a free go. I told him no and said his kid was too young...he told me that we could start getting 20 dollars from each customer as insurance and inspect the rental car after usage; if there was anything wrong we could keep the 20 bucks.

I thought it was a swell idea. but my boss-friend declined, saying that it was going to intimidate customers while appearing too delicate.

Since we are also now operating races inside our shop, we stopped using those ugly crowd control barriers. Everything is smooth and modern in-store but because there were no more barriers, we found more children just walking or running on the track inside our shop and I've lost count of how many times we had to tell the kids not to run with their shoes on. :( I do admit, seeing the sight of a large RCP track does evoke a lot of curiousity.

Anyway! I am now the 'Slotcar Q and A' guy, as well as mini-z guy, inside our new shop. It's a badge I wear with pride and my motto is 'if you've got something wrong with your slot car, track or mini-z bring it in and I'll fix it'. Michael Harlow, our most esteemed customer from the 1/10 RC club from St Ives (and mini-z/Dnano convert as of April this year) brought around his Ninco Digital slot car track for me to repair and....wow, now i know why RC can be so attractive over Slots!

Mike's track had severely rusted power rails. I'm not talking about just a few brown spots here and there, i'm talking about the entire rail ) being covered in caramel sauce. it was all thick and powdery, reddish-brown misery. It even smelled funky. Where on earth did he take race this, on a fishing yacht in the middle of a seastorm??

For this one reason I'd recommend Carrera slot car track. Stainless steel rails are in my opinion really needed nowadays. Goodness knows how those Brits keep racing their scalextrics in that damp, rainy English weather without a hint of corrosion on their track? WD40 and Railzip can only do so much. It really needs to be re-applied every now and then and for a mini-z convert like me, I've since forgotten how much of a chore this was!

Ninco and Scalextric just use lightly plated rails...not so bad, not so good. So I set about cleaning the rust off the rails by soaking them in white vinegar and using a scotch brite pad to rub it off. three hours, lots of elbow grease and many stinky, vinegar-smelling hands later, the track rails were shiny again. One of our mini-z members reckons that micheal should dress up in a tutu and perform the dying swan (don't ask) to square this one!

It looked pretty good in the end but...I missed a step. After the scrubbing and soaking, there is a little bit of white vinegar on the rails...which needed to be dissolved by quickly dunking it into methylated spirit. But i didn't do that.

The rust came straight back! In just 2 days. It looks exactly the same as it did before i set about washing it. Oh, crikey-mikey! :mad:

At the end of the day, the amount of customers at our shop mainly bought the mini-z because most hobby guys were already loaded, while the slot cars were sold to families who wanted some genuine father-son bonding time. But it's a close match on some occasions and I can see why slots would be a lot more appealing....cheaper, easier to jump into, not so much fiddling with upgrades.

Oh, and if you plan on buying/selling slot cars, i do recommend investing in some extra controllers. These tend to go blooey really fast, at about the same as mini-z tires.

To tell the truth, and coming from a previous slotcar fan, I thought the Z's would completely win over the slots anyday because there's so much more control/hopup options but sometimes i often forget that the simple things are sometimes better. For some situations anyway :D

I'm curious if many people here came from a slotcar background like me, and if you did, did you ever get back into it? I rarely did.....well, not with as much vigour as before. They each have their c harm.

Slotting and Z'ding on!

speedyracer
2013.10.07, 06:46 AM
Thanks for sharing George. Keep 'em coming. I read them in one sitting, it's better than watching an entire season of your favourite tv show lol.

Geo-Z
2013.10.27, 09:12 PM
@ speedyracer: Thank you mate. It's great to hear that...let's all keep the mini-Z scene alive!