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Hobby Zone Champ Impressions and Review

Vimana89

Well-known member
#1
With my micro Trojan looking pretty battered, waiting for a new Scout kit and some electronics, and having taken a break for a bit from building, I decided to try my luck with another RTF plane. This time, I was looking for something that was a good trainer, but had no safe mode. I didn't want to break the bank, was looking for something compact and easy to not only repair but replace parts, with gentle flight characteristics. I stumbled on the Hobby Zone champ, something I had seen briefly but overlooked last time I went shopping around on the RTF market. On closer inspection, I realized it looks just like @basslord1124 's avatar. It is well liked in terms of reviews, and I liked what I saw from videos. I looked around, and replacement parts for pretty much every piece of the plane from electronics to airframe are cheap and readily available.

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It arrived in a somewhat large box for a micro plane, which is understandable since it comes fully assembled. It came with a basic transmitter that looks much like the one that came with my micro Trojan, but without safe mode, a clear and concise instruction manual, four AA batteries, some extra small Velcro strips, one 1s 3.7v 150 mAH battery(the same exact type my micro Trojan takes), and the corresponding USB charger(I have three of these chargers and four batteries total now, with four more batteries on the way). No assembly was required, and the plane came bound to the transmitter. This is my first experience with a Cessna/Cub style plane, aside from on the Multiflight simulator, where I have flown this style both as RET and four channel with a good amount of success. The champ is a simple, RET micro version of this style of plane. It is readily available RTF with transmitter for about $90-$100.

First Impressions: Nice color scheme. I really think the orange stands out on the Cessna type, which I normally see in white/red or white/blue schemes. The plane has a simple charm and a clean, sleek, sturdy, look. The detail on the geometry of the top of the wing is a nice touch. I don't know the technical jargon for the ridges/lines/texture, but the attention to detail is pleasing. It makes the wing sturdier and adds a bit of drag, which is actually desirable on a slow trainer. From what I can find, the material is listed as EPO.

From what I can tell, it is indeed made of sturdy, hobby grade foam-the whole thing, wings and fuselage, unlike the Trojan, which has a fuselage made out of what seems to be basic Styrofoam. The propeller is made from thin, flexible plastic similar to but not exactly like the props on my Trojan, which can take a real beating and come away with only cosmetic scratches. I have had to make major repairs several times to my Trojan, and it is on its last legs, but it is still using the prop it came with. The battery connects to the Champ on a strip of Velcro in a channel on the underside the fuselage just like my Trojan. The rudder and elevator are already together on the right stick on the TX where I want them, and a control check shows the rudder and elevator to function well. They have a fairly short range of motion which is good for a trainer. There is a slight dihedral to the entire wings and then a secondary one at the tips. Great for an RET trainer and looks nice. Everything looks promising.

Maiden impressions: I had to time several short flights in between nasty winds today. It flew well right off the bat, but I had to get used to its flight characteristics and flying without safe mode. I had a couple rough landings due to the wind picking up in flight, and a couple random crashes that I found were from the battery coming loose during flight. These impacts really worried me when they happened, but each time I went to retrieve the plane, it had only very tiny, minor cosmetic scrapes and crinkles on the nose and only cosmetic scratches on the prop. Its extreme lightness and durable material make it pretty impact resistant. That same lightness, though, makes this plane far from ideal for handling any kind of wind other than slight to modest breeze. I had one flight that was going very well until the wind picked up and took it across the lot almost to the highway. I had to cut power and bring it down rather roughly, but once again, no real damage.

As far as handling and flight characteristics, I have to say I'm very satisfied. This plane is extremely stable and really just has a tendency to want to stay in the air, with very little control input needed to keep it flying. The double dihedral provides a nice self-leveling effect that is smooth and predictable rather than jerky. The stall characteristics are very gentle, and there's not much the operator can put this plane through in the air that she can't immediately recover from. The controls are smooth and responsive enough, without being overly touchy; it does not feel as "on rails" and uncrashable as a plane flying on safe mode, but it is less touchy than my mini scout and a good bit easier to control than my Trojan is with safe mode off, and has a very locked in feel for having no training wheels. This plane, although it can be flown with very little control input, is also capable of crisp, tight turns and can be flown in limited outdoor spaces. I imagine it would also be a good choice for indoor settings such as a gymnasium. This plane can loop, but it needs to be on full throttle and have enough momentum built up, or else it will stall.

Pros:
*Great value for money
*No assembly required
*Very nice "fit and finish". clean assembly, nice aesthetics, nice attention to detail, especially with the wing.
*Replacement parts for every piece of this plane are cheap and readily available
*Compact size for storage/portability
*Impact resistant
*Smooth, gentle, stable, and forgiving flight characteristics, without safe mode make for a great trainer
*Ability to make tight turns and operate in limited or confined outdoor spaces or indoor environments such as gymnasiums
*Super short ground take off, even from less than ideal terrain like a rough dirt trail

Cons:
*Poor wind resistance
*A bit underpowered for even the most basic aerobatics
*Battery can come loose and dangle or detach during flight if it is not seated securely

Overall rating: 9/10, would highly recommend for a trainer

Final thoughts: I'm glad I didn't choose to shell out an extra $40-$50 for the fancy red and white version with safe mode. There are other safe mode equipped planes at that price point that are better value for money and would benefit more from the addition of safe mode. If I were buying this to train a small child, or this was my absolute first rc experience ever, I could see the benefit to having safe on this plane, at least for the first couple flights. For anyone who has even flown at least on a sim, I would opt for the basic version, because safe mode on this plane is overkill. The basic, non-safe- mode Champ, in my opinion, is the perfect level of ease/difficulty to really learn.
 
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JTarmstr

Well-known member
#2
With my micro Trojan looking pretty battered, waiting for a new Scout kit and some electronics, and having taken a break for a bit from building, I decided to try my luck with another RTF plane. This time, I was looking for something that was a good trainer, but had no safe mode. I didn't want to break the bank, was looking for something compact and easy to not only repair but replace parts, with gentle flight characteristics. I stumbled on the Hobby Zone champ, something I had seen briefly but overlooked last time I went shopping around on the RTF market. On closer inspection, I realized it looks just like @basslord1124 's avatar. It is well liked in terms of reviews, and I liked what I saw from videos. I looked around, and replacement parts for pretty much every piece of the plane from electronics to airframe are cheap and readily available.

View attachment 126254
It arrived in a somewhat large box for a micro plane, which is understandable since it comes fully assembled. It came with a basic transmitter that looks much like the one that came with my micro Trojan, but without safe mode, a clear and concise instruction manual, four AA batteries, some extra small Velcro strips, one 1s 3.7v 150 mAH battery(the same exact type my micro Trojan takes), and the corresponding USB charger(I have three of these chargers and four batteries total now, with four more batteries on the way). No assembly was required, and the plane came bound to the transmitter. This is my first experience with a Cessna/Cub style plane, aside from on the Multiflight simulator, where I have flown this style both as RET and four channel with a good amount of success. The champ is a simple, RET micro version of this style of plane. It is readily available RTF with transmitter for about $90-$100.

First Impressions: Nice color scheme. I really think the orange stands out on the Cessna type, which I normally see in white/red or white/blue schemes. The plane has a simple charm and a clean, sleek, sturdy, look. The detail on the geometry of the top of the wing is a nice touch. I don't know the technical jargon for the ridges/lines/texture, but the attention to detail is pleasing. It makes the wing sturdier and adds a bit of drag, which is actually desirable on a slow trainer. From what I can find, the material is listed as EPO.

From what I can tell, it is indeed made of sturdy, hobby grade foam-the whole thing, wings and fuselage, unlike the Trojan, which has a fuselage made out of what seems to be basic Styrofoam. The battery connects to the Champ on a strip of Velcro in a channel on the underside the fuselage just like my Trojan. The rudder and elevator are already together on the right stick on the TX where I want them, and a control check shows the rudder and elevator to function well. They have a fairly short range of motion which is good for a trainer. There is a slight dihedral to the entire wings and then a secondary one at the tips. Great for an RET trainer and looks nice. Everything looks promising.
I learned to fly on that one, really fantastic plane.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#3
My review is updated and complete with info on the flights. It is, indeed, a fantastic plane. Same as my Trojan though, gotta watch that battery is seated securely or else you'll have a dangler!
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#5
It is the plane that got me started back into the hobby with success. Super easy to fly, stable, and IMO, a better intro/trainer plane than some of the planes equipped with SAFE. I tried a Sport Cub S shortly after and I just wasn't as impressed with it. As for the velcro, I normally ended up replacing the stock velcro with store bought velcro and it worked pretty good. Elastic band like @FDS said will work too.

As for my Avatar...yup you pretty much got it. I nicknamed my Champ Teddy (a little play on words from the Stand By Me character Teddy Duchamp). My wife was getting into painting/water colors so she created a cartoony looking version of Teddy. So that's how all that came about for my Avatar, youtube channel, etc. I am glad she did it because I am not real artsy lol.

And honestly, he's the only plane I've ever named.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#6
My Cub is called “Princess Prangalot.” She’s been on lots of adventures, in trees and is now teaching her third pilot how to fly.
There’s a lot to be said for not learning with safe mode, it taught me plenty of bad habits but it did help in smaller fields.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#7
My Cub is called “Princess Prangalot.” She’s been on lots of adventures, in trees and is now teaching her third pilot how to fly.
There’s a lot to be said for not learning with safe mode, it taught me plenty of bad habits but it did help in smaller fields.
LOL love the name! And yeah I agree with what you said about safe mode.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#8
I bought it thinking I would likely trash it and then move on, but she’s stuck with me through my worst dumb thumbing adventures and has had more surgery than most starlets. It kind of grew on me, despite its slow speed and limited powaah. I wouldn’t sell it for anything and am now looking for another micro UMX to fly with my son when he’s using the Cub so I don’t catch him up in the circuit all the time!
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#9
Safe mode is potentially nice for an absolute beginner, a child, or for a plane the pilot is unfamiliar with that isn't super easy to fly right off the bat. It is definitely nice for say a pilot experienced on trainers to pick up a war bird or delta with safe and practice the first few runs with safe on. The double edged sword with safe is that while it makes the plane near impossible to crash, it makes you have to go hard to make tighter turns. When I want to make a tight turn on my Trojan with safe on, I need to coordinate rudder and aileron pretty much full throws. As soon as safe comes off, you really have to be prepared to not over control.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#10
I updated the pros section. had a redundant entry so I removed it and added a new discovery-super short ground take offs. This will even take off from a rough dirt trail, I tried it today! I built up some speed and did one good loop as well. Had a bump or two again, but will only require a little bit of glue. Great plane.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#11
This little plane has a bit more oomph than I originally gave it credit for. Now that I got the hang of it, I can do smooth loops. I had a bad crash yesterday trying to trim in flight, and snapped a wing. After repairs, it flies good as new though.This plane has a tendency to climb a lot with any throttle and I had to work a lot to keep the nose down, so decided to trim it a bit, but still not much difference. The nose caps don't really seem to stay on after having to replace it the first time, so now I use a dab of hot glue.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#12
I put some nose weight on my Sport Cub, it helps curb the nose up stance a bit. CG is on the wing spar, check yours and I suspect it will be a little tail heavy, mine was. Depends on battery size a bit too.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#13
I like a bit of nose up but it's a tad extreme on my champ. I'll try more trim or maybe a bigger battery. It has been preparing me for the other little plane I got coming though. The fly bear 802/805, a $25 transmitter included two channel micro plane. It gets favorable reviews and flies great in the vids I have see. That one loves to climb since throttle is used for pitch and only differential thrust to turn. The drastic dihedrals and lack of traditional controls, I imagine, would make any aerobatics impossible, but would be a fun plane to fly. I could learn a thing or two about throttle management and thrust differentials.
 
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Vimana89

Well-known member
#15
I think I'll call my champ "Rocky". My kung fu with this plane is pretty maxed out right now! I haven't had a crash for a while, and I can operate it at pretty much full potential. I can do ultra tight turns and fly patterns, do loops for days, and other light aerobatics. I'm definitely satisfied with my investment, its been a lot of fun and improved my skills rapidly. I think when I build my next scout kit with the radial motor, I will be able to fly it much better with what I've learned from the camp, as they are both RET dihedral trainers with a nose-up style. I think I may mix things up a bit though and take another crack at my slender delta first and see where I stand with that.