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Balsa Kit Manufacturers

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#1
Welcome to the Balsa Kit Research Service!

If you're balsa curious or want help finding a kit that inspires you to make some sawdust, just add a post to the end of this thread - I'm happy to help out and there are some very smart guys who chime in here too!

To get you started, here's my bookmark list of currently operating kit manufacturers that I've either bought from recently, or have on my wish list.

Ordered from, built, and absolutely love.... excellent kit quality, instructions, support, etc. I keep pictures of their planes in my wallet (right behind the wife and daughter). :love: If you're looking for a first balsa kit to build, you won't go wrong with one of these!

https://willynillies.com - new manufacturer in 2019 doing laser kits of 1/2 A and ACE designs!
https://www.stevensaero.com/
http://lainesplanes.com/
http://www.balsabuilder.com
http://www.mountainmodels.com/ - potentially out of business, but if you can find his kits they are excellent!

Ordered from and would buy from again... quality very high! :D
https://jhaerospace.com/ - great designs & kits from an active FliteTest community member!
http://www.radicalrc.com/ (Would recommend as a 2nd or 3rd kit.)
http://www.manzanolaser.com/ (Would recommend for the 4th or 5th kit)
http://retrorc.us.com/
https://www.towerhobbies.com/ (Sig, Dumas, & Great Planes are all good quality brands here - design methods sometimes a little dated i.e. not many self-jigging models)
http://hobbyexpress.com/
https://www.andyclancydesigns.com/

Have a kit or two on my wish list or in my build pile but I haven't actually tried them yet. :unsure:
https://sonoranlaserart.com/ nice laser cut gliders
https://microbirds.com cool little gliders and electrics!
https://skybench.com all about the gliders!
http://www.bmjrmodels.com
https://www.fokkerc.com/ Giant scale warbirds!
https://www.moustachemodelworks.com/ - new Giant Scale kit manufacturer on the scene in 2019!!
http://oldschoolmodels.com
http://www.balsaworkbench.com - laser cut short kits of classic designs
http://store.laser-design-services.com
https://www.sarikhobbies.com - based in the UK with an AMAZING selection of kits!
http://lazer-works.com/index.html
https://hangaronekits.com
https://www.carolinacustomkits.com
http://www.proctor-enterprises.com/
https://www.vintagemodelcompany.com
http://www.bridiairplanes.com
http://www.nationalbalsa.com/
http://www.bsdmicrorc.com
http://www.micronwings.com
http://www.easybuiltmodels.com/
http://lasercutplanes.com
http://brodak.com
http://iflyherr.com/
http://alienaircraft.com/
http://shop.balsausa.com
http://www.eurekaaircraft.com
https://www.greatflyerrc.com
https://www.guillow.com free flight rubber focused
https://www.peck-polymers.com/ free flight rubber focused
https://www.benbucklevintage.com/ built and shipping from the UK
http://btemodels.com

In my experience with small kit companies (such as RetroRC or Laines), if something you want is out of stock just email and ask - they will cut based on demand as a lot of little companies don't have room or capital to have a lot of extra inventory sitting around.

Vintage Kit Sellers
https://www.oldmodelkits.com/index.php?g=flying-balsa-model-kits&mat=balsa
http://www.thebestthings.com/rc_model_planes.htm (I've ordered several times from this guy - fast shipper with accurate with descriptions)
https://www.flyboyzblog.com/store/

Out of Business?? :eek:
http://www.nanoplanes.net/ no longer making kits but have released free balsa & depron plans of their Shark line of speedsters
http://hakits.co.uk/ potentially one kit - no online store, phone in order only
http://www.parkscalemodels.com/shop/ - Sadly Zeke is shutting down his business as of 3/21/2021. He is planning to put one final list of kits on the website after he finishes sending out existing orders. If you find these kits at auction, the quality is usually great - I really enjoyed building my Mini Drake!

On the other end of the market are places like Hobby King or Banggood whose kits I've both used, and won't inflict upon myself again for a while. If you go for one of these expect the instructions will be useless or just plain wrong, at least some parts won't fit without modifications, and you'll get absolutely no support. :mad:

Once notable exception is the new HobbyKing Spacewalker kit that Wilsonman just built in 2017 - this could be HK turning a corner with their kit production & support. :unsure:

I'm hoping others will chime in with updates or other manufacturers I don't know about too.

Can't find a kit you want? Try downloading some plans instead!
https://outerzone.co.uk/
https://aerofred.com/

Happy building!
 
Last edited:

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#11
Good news! The Telemaster line will live on!

Carolina Custom Kits https://www.carolinacustomkits.com/kits bought out Hobby Express which owned the Telemaster line as well as a few other designs. Look for them to merge production capabilities and get back the Teles - including a couple new ones like the Twin Tele and a 15' monster Tele on the market this summer.
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#12
That certainly is good news! Hopefully they provide the same quality. The Mini Telemaster I built a few years ago had darn-near perfect laser cutting.
 
#13
Vintage & Old Timer kits
Penn Valley Hobby Center has closed their store after 50+ years and is selling remaining stock on eBay. If you're into Vintage and Old Timer airplanes they have a good selection of rubber and IC free flight models still in stock. They have Guillows, Comet, Scientific, Dumas (remember those?) and their own in-house Shive Specialties kits.
I bought three funky looking free flight Old Timers and am converting them to electric power and RC.

Penn Valley Hobby Center
Penn Valley eBay

So Long.jpg Twin Cyclone.jpg Contest Commercial.jpg

Jon
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#19
She's a beauty! I really want to try one of their kits out, but it's going to be a little while. My project list is so full it's overwhelming o_O
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#20
She's a beauty! I really want to try one of their kits out, but it's going to be a little while. My project list is so full it's overwhelming o_O
No kidding, my backlog got even deeper last week when I picked up some new birds - a Senior Telemaster that needs a little tail work plus a glow engine boiling to free it up, a Tower Trainer .40 which needs to be re-covered and have the glow engine boiled, and I may also end up with a Tower Trainer .60 as well. Plus a ton of accessories which still need to be sorted out. I ended up with 18 nice quality Plano boxes of parts & accessories and have whittled it down to about 10 now of actual usable stuff. Auctions are fun, but I get a little crazy in what I can't live without! :)

That new design is pretty darn nice looking, I wouldn't mind taking a shot at their kits some day.