CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — Horizon Hobby, a manufacturer and distributor of remote- control devices, is looking to expand its distribution into the CE channel as a result of interest in one of its newest products, the Blade 350 QX quadcopter.
The quadcopter employs a GoPro mount that has attracted users in a variety of channels, the company told TWICE, including camera retailers and sports enthusiasts. Horizon Hobby has a network of about 2,000 independent hobby retailers, said Cristi Brown, retail programs manager, and the response from outside the traditional market has motivated the company to explore the opportunities outside of its traditional markets.
Horizon Hobby chose GoPro because it seemed to be a natural alignment for the company, said Steve Petrotto, brand manager. “Clearly, Go- Pro is the leader in the action photo segment. Many of the target segment are using that camera platform.”
The quadcopter, which is sold in two configurations, features the company’s SAFE technology and Smart mode, both meant to bring RC to beginners by incorporating multi-axis sensors, GPS, altimeter and a compass. The Ready- To-Fly configuration is intended for out-of-the-box use; it bundles the Blade 350 QX with a full-range Spektrum DX5e transmitter, li-poly flight battery and charger for $469. The Bind-N-Fly version ($419) eliminates the transmitter for users who already have one.
Both versions come with an antivibration GoPro mount, and Petrotto said it’s the mount that really opens up the Blade 350 QX to nearly any type of consumer.
The company began shipping the device in the fall, and Brown said the initial reaction has been “tremendous.” The maker sold out its first two shipments and is currently readying its third.
“We knew there was a market for this,” she said. “But the response has even really delighted us.”
Horizon Hobby, which was founded in 1985 and is based here, manufactures products under 19 different proprietary brands and distributes products from 180 brands.