AMain Hobbies Acquires HobbyTown

AMain Hobbies of Chico, California, has announced an agreement in principle to acquire HobbyTown, the world's largest hobby, specialty toy/game and STEM retail chain.

The agreement, which includes HobbyTown's Lincoln, Nebraska, headquarters and distribution center, will take effect later this year.

AMain will now have three strategically placed distribution centers to reach wholesale and retail customers with unprecedented speed, with facilities in Lincoln; Chico, California; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The combination of AMain Hobbies' and HobbyTown's industry experience, knowledge, and wealth of data will offer hobbyists an even wider product selection and modern retail shopping experience while making it easier and more profitable for stores to operate in the current economy, company officials said in the announcement.

"We are honored and excited to bring HobbyTown into the AMain Hobbies family," said AMain Hobbies CEO Kendall Bennett. "With almost 40 years under their belt, HobbyTown has been the go-to place for countless enthusiasts, like myself, to fuel their passion for radio-controlled cars, airplanes, specialty toys, games, and STEM toys. Thom Walla, one of the co-founders, and President Bob Wilke have developed a proven successful retail model, and we're stoked to bring our expertise in e-commerce, customer service, and fulfillment to the table. Our mission is clear – we want to buck the current trend and expand the retail scene across the U.S. We want to create a space where enthusiasts can come together, discover new things, learn, and connect with others while enjoying their free time."

The HobbyTown chain of 106 retail stores spans 35 states and features a wide selection of radio control cars and airplanes, models, toys, puzzles/games, and Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) toys. Thom Walla, Merlin Hayes, and Mary Hayes founded HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. in 1985 and opened the first franchise store in 1986. The company quickly grew into a hobby leader and continues to be a brick-and-mortar retail pacesetter where many enthusiasts nationwide are first exposed to the wonderful world of RC cars/planes, models, toys, games, and puzzles.

AMain and HobbyTown have an existing partnership that started in 2016 when AMain took over management of HobbyTown's website and e-commerce sales.

"We have formed a great partnership with AMain Hobbies for the past seven years," HobbyTown Founder Thom Walla remarked. "We have confidence Kendall and his team at AMain Hobbies, along with the HobbyTown team, will continue the tradition of bringing an enjoyable one-stop shopping experience to customers across the country."

Several United States markets are targeted for HobbyTown franchisee growth in 2023 and beyond. Current hobby store owners considering expansion or enthusiasts who want to own their own hobby store can inquire through the HobbyTown franchise website.

"This acquisition is an effort to help brick and mortar stores to survive and get the Hobby Town store count moving upward," said Troy Hanson, AMain brand developer.

Widely known in the hobby industry as a premier online retailer, AMain Hobbies has supported the brick-and-mortar retail community since its inception through its distribution programs, local retail stores, sponsorship of races and events hosted by local track stores, and through in-kind donations extended to the communities in which those stores reside. In 2022, AMain Hobbies supported/sponsored more than 200 events worldwide and are on pace for even more in 2023.

"AMain Hobbies was founded by a true hobbyist in Kendall Bennett. Growing, supporting, and advancing the hobby industry is what Kendall and the entire AMain Hobbies team strive to make happen on an everyday basis. We spend countless hours and resources to ensure we provide the best overall customer experience in the industry," said AMain Hobbies Chief Financial Officer Kevin Kiser. "It's often been said that brick-and-mortar stores are vital to the hobby industry. This is an opportunity for us to invest in that belief and give retailers better tools to make them more profitable, save time, and feel like a valued part of the industry ecosystem. We are excited to combine our data and technology with the existing HobbyTown stores and other hobby dealers that want to grow their business model to ultimately provide the consumer with the first true omnichannel experience for our customers."

Dear AMA Coalition Members,

We need your help in advocating for the future of our hobby. Please share this message and encourage everyone to take action by sending letters to their congressional representatives! A landing page with the following information and downloadable graphics can be found here

Recently, the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate both released their draft versions of FAA Reauthorization. In these bills, AMA was successful in securing higher altitudes in uncontrolled airspace, clarifying large model airplane operations, and providing additional protections for educational UAS operations.

View the House bill & the Senate bill.

Both the House and the Senate bill:

  • Include a process to fly above 400 feet in Class G airspace.
  • Better clarify large model aircraft operations in Class G airspace and include a process for operations above 400 feet.
  • Change the term “sanctioned events” to “CBO-sponsored operations.”
  • Create the Office of Innovation to manage the continued modernization of the National Airspace System.
  • Updates educational provision to allow elementary and secondary schools to fly under recreational rules.
  • Provide $1 million a year for Know Before You Fly from 2024 through 2028.

Individually, the House bill:

  • Requires the FAA to work with CBOs to develop a process to approve altitude requests above the UAS Facility Map in controlled airspace.
  • Requires the FAA to prioritize and adjudicate FRIA requests at fixed sites.
  • Requires the FAA to determine if a network base solution can satisfy the Remote ID rule.
  • Mandates rulemaking for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) commercial operations.
  • Includes a provision for Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) development and testing.

And the Senate bill:

  • Uses the word “drone” in place of UAS (definition remains the same from 2018).
  • Requires that a categorical exclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) be developed for low-impact operations.
  • Requires the FAA develop UTM procedures specifically for BVLOS operations.

However, AMA’s work isn’t done. We have amendments (view here & here) in both the House and Senate that would allow for higher altitudes for everyone in Class G airspace and would also allow AMA and other community-based organizations to self-declare FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs).

Our Government Affairs team will continue to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional offices regularly as the bills move through the legislative process. In the meantime, AMA encourages you to take action immediately. It’s critical that Congress hears your voice now. Please help us spread the word by posting the call to action to all of your social media followers. Change cannot happen without you!


Holly Silvers
Government Affairs Coordinator
Academy of Model Aeronautics 
(765) 287-1256 ext. 227 

Hobby Industry Challenges CPSC Magnet Prohibition

The National Retail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA), Hobby Manufacturers Association
(HMA) and the Magnet Safety Organization are contesting the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) new 2022 magnet safety standard, which was approved for non-toy magnet products. The NRHSA and HMA represent over 400 hobby stores, manufacturers and distributors across America and have teamed up with and the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) in this legal challenge.

The NCLA case summary can be viewed here:

The challenge is set to take place in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and is in response to the CPSC's approval of a new "magnet safety standard" that effectively bans high-powered hobby magnets for adults. This is not the first time such a ban has been put in place. A similar ban was successfully challenged by Zen Magnets company in 2014.

The NRHSA and its members agree that the new safety standard is overly broad and generalizes the usage and injury statistics of many types of magnets, including those not known to have caused significant injuries. Hobbyists use high-powered magnets for various purposes, including woodworking, RC bodywork, tabletop game figure construction, scale model building and manipulative art.

Therefore, the NRHSA argues that a more reasonable safety standard should prioritize education instead of absolute prohibition. Safe use of high-powered magnets, which are only dangerous if ingested, can be achieved through warnings, labeling, child-resistant packaging, and even age restrictions if necessary. “There are huge number of products at the hobby store that would be dangerous without parental guidance and responsible adult use.” said Steven Elliott, President of NRHSA. “These high-powered magnets are a legitimate and viable way of people expressing their hobby interests. They serve a creative purpose. It’s important that businesses and consumers push back on government over-regulation.”

The NRHSA is a non-profit trade association founded in 1998 that represents over 400 retail hobby stores in the United States and Canada. It provides its members with education, advocacy, and networking opportunities in the hobby industry. The HMA was founded in 2005 as a merger between two previous hobby trade organizations, the Model Railroad Industry Association and the Model Hobby Industry Association.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) is a nonpartisan nonprofit civil liberties group based in Washington, DC. It is dedicated to defending constitutional freedoms and fighting against administrative overreach and the unlawful actions of administrative agencies. is a non-profit organization committed to promoting safe and responsible use of magnets. They provide educational resources, support research, and participate in standards development to raise awareness and reduce harm associated with high powered magnet use.


AMA is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the model aircraft community and they continuously work alongside the FAA, Congress, and various industry stakeholders. Following is an from our Government Affairs Department.


A draft of AC 91-57C was released by the FAA in July and centered around the recognition of community-based organizations (CBOs), a process that AMA worked with Congress to establish in 2018. This CBO recognition will allow AMA to continue safely managing the recreational model aircraft community, something AMA has done for more than eight decades. This recognition also gives AMA a stronger voice regarding future regulations, requiring the FAA to consult our community when updating model aircraft operational parameters.

In addition to CBO recognition, AC 91-57C clarifies that educational UAS operations can be performed under US Code 44809, the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft. This legislation was created and passed in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act at AMA’s request. This change allows AMA members to perform educational UAS operations at universities, military JROTC programs, and chartered clubs without obtaining an FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.

Additional updates to AC 91-57C include a waiver process for sanctioned events, a process for higher altitudes at fixed flying site locations, and it opens the door for night operations to be reinstated at our fixed flying site locations in controlled airspace.

AMA continues to meet with clubs, alongside the FAA, to host Safety Risk Management (SRM) panels for clubs in controlled airspace requesting an altitude higher than is assigned to them on the FAA’s UAS Facility Map. Recently, AMA was successful in aiding a club in receiving a 1,500-foot Above Ground Level (AGL) altitude limit within military-controlled airspace. In past panels, AMA has successfully helped multiple clubs receive permission to fly at altitudes as high as 2,000 feet AGL. As more SRM panels are held, AMA is confident that clubs will receive their desired attitudes and be able to continue safely flying in the airspace.

In the past few weeks, AMA has met with seven congressional offices in regards to granting presidential TFR waivers to clubs within the parameters of the presidential TFRs for Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. AMA has been successful in receiving TFR event waivers in years past, but would like to see a more permanent waiver process for day-to-day operations instituted.

In July 2021, AMA Government Affairs Director Tyler Dobbs traveled to EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he gave a presentation alongside EAA Government Advocacy Specialist Lily Johnson. Click here for a more detailed look at the presentation and to listen to EAA’s radio interview with Tyler and Lily.

To remain current with the most recent government-related news, regularly visit the AMA Government Affairs blog. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact the Government Affairs department at (765) 287-1256 or


Erin Dobbs

Partnership and Sales Manager
Academy of Model Aeronautics
1-765-287-1256 ext. 272

Good Morning AMA Coalition,

 AMA is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the model aircraft community and they continuously work alongside the FAA, Congress, and various industry stakeholders. Following is an from our Government Affairs Department.

On June 22, 2021, the AMA was approved to administer The Recreational UAS Safety Test, or TRUST. AMA has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), ensuring that TRUST meets the intent of Congress without placing an undue burden on our hobby community.

Since 1936, the AMA has been dedicated to the hobby of model aviation, educational programming, and safety in the airspace. We are offering TRUST to the entire community of model aviation enthusiasts free of charge.

You likely remember that on October 5, 2018, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law. It included a requirement for all recreational UAS users to pass a knowledge and safety test to operate a recreational model aircraft within the National Airspace System (NAS).

In the spring of 2019, AMA met with UAS stakeholders and the FAA, hosting a roundtable discussion to lay out the guidelines and administration of the knowledge and safety test, as well as develop the questions included on the test. In September 2019, AMA sent a request for information to officially declare our interest in becoming a test administrator.

Please remember that TRUST is free to take for everyone, so be cautious of any site that has a fee associated with taking TRUST. Additionally, some sites may offer to send you a wallet-sized card of your TRUST completion certificate for a fee once completing the test. While not against rules, there is no requirement to purchase these cards.

Furthermore, while there is no set deadline to take TRUST, the FAA recommends taking the test as soon as practicable. For any additional questions regarding TRUST, visit AMA’s TRUST FAQ.

I personally took test the entire process took around 10 minutes.


Thank you so much for all of your support!


Erin Dobbs

Partnership and Sales Manager
Academy of Model Aeronautics
1-765-287-1256 ext. 272

NRHSA Elects Three New Board of Directors
Their terms begin in September 2021 at the NRHSA Expo

Robbie Allen
Radio Control Headquarters
San Antonio, TX

Chris Conrad
Small Addictions RC
Binghamton, NY

Steven Elliott
Rohnert Park, CA

Good Afternoon AMA Coalition,

Hope all of you are well and gearing up for the flying season! It’s been a while since you have received an update from AMA, my apologies.

AMA’s Government Affairs Department is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the model aircraft community and they continuously work alongside the FAA, Congress, and various industry stakeholders. Following is an update from the team.

AMA and the FAA have been facilitating Safety Risk Management (SRM) panels with clubs located in controlled airspace across the country. Each panel has been successful in the club receiving an altitude higher than what was authorized on the FAA UAS Facility Map. AMA and the FAA are also working towards a more streamlined process in order to better facilitate club requests to operate above their current authorized altitude.

AMA expects The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) to be released by the FAA sometime around June 1st 2021. TRUST is a test that all recreational fliers will be required to take once available. AMA has continually worked with the FAA to assure that every recreational flier will be able to easily pass TRUST. For more information on TRUST, click here.

Additionally, AMA has been meeting with Remote ID developers to ensure the needs of our members and the hobby are met in regards to remote ID technology.  For more information regarding remote ID, including compliance dates, please visit

In a new exciting partnership, AMA has teamed up with UASidekick to disseminate free recreational Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) flight planning to AMA members. Members will also be able to search for AMA flying sites and AMA sanctioned events, as well as view current issued FAA NOTAMs using UASidekick’s software. To use UASidekick and its features, click here. For more information on the partnership, read the press release here.

Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57C has moved from the Office of Management and Budget within the White House and is now back with the FAA. It likely will not be published to the Federal Register for many more months. AC 91-57C includes a detailed process for community-based organization (CBO) recognition, information regarding TRUST, and night flying in controlled airspace. AMA anticipates the process for CBO recognition to be slated the first quarter of 2022. For more information on CBO recognition, click here.

The Government Affairs team recently met with Congressional Committees regarding the Endless Frontiers Act, a bill that includes an amendment banning federal money from being used towards the purchase of foreign made UAS for any U.S. federal agencies and/or programs. The ban on foreign-made UAS  was first introduced in 2020 through a draft Executive Order under former President Donald Trump, later introduced as an amendment to the 2021 NDAA, and has since been picked back up by Senate Democrats as part of an effort to boost the United States’ scientific and technological innovations.  AMA is working towards an exemption to this amendment, one that will allow foreign UAS purchases through educational grants, JROTC, and CAP.

To remain current with the most recent government-related news, regularly visit the AMA Government Affairs blog. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact the Government Affairs department at (765) 287-1256 or



From Government affairs to an AMA member designing a remote control helicopter to be flown on Mars! Did you read this story? So many members and modelers have contributed to the advancement of modeling and aviation in general throughout the years. This is another story that is being told about the hobby we all love and cherish. You can read about it here.

All of us from AMA wish you a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Sincerely and respectfully,


Erin Dobbs

Partnership and Sales Manager
Academy of Model Aeronautics
1-765-287-1256 ext. 272

About the Campaign

Know Before You Fly is an education campaign organized by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Their shared goal is to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) — commonly known as drones.

As excitement and enthusiasm builds around drones, and the regulatory framework continues to take shape, businesses and consumers alike are looking to buy drones for commercial and personal uses. These prospective operators want to fly, and fly safely. But many don’t realize that just because you can easily and quickly buy drones, it doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere or for any purpose. Know Before You Fly provides prospective users with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly.

For more information, please visit

Good Afternoon AMA Coalition,

Below you will find two separate links.

The first link is a PDF report that illustrates the accomplishments with the FAA, Congress, security agencies, and industry stakeholder to obtain letters of agreement for AMA club flying sites, to help share the FAA Remote ID Final Rule, and to create the upcoming recreational knowledge and safety test.

The 2nd link is a Power Point Presentation that presents the information regarding Remote ID in a very easy-to-read and logical presentation. The work shown within these two documents was accomplished with the help and support of all of you!



The AMA Coalition began as a collective voice for aviation associations, hobby shops, and manufacturers to address Congress and the FAA as one voice regarding Remote ID. This coalition, along with the 53,000 comments from the hobbyist community, helped shape a much less restrictive rule regarding remote ID.

While we can all be happy with what we have accomplished, our work is not done.  In fact, our next task has already been laid before us with FAA Reauthorization coming in 2023. This will likely be our next opportunity to work with Congress towards reducing the burdens our community faces and keeping in place the freedoms we all enjoy. This group and our collective voice will play a fundamental role to ensure our hobby will remain in place for generations to come.

I highly encourage you to share information about the AMA Coalition throughout your community. You can take a peek at all the Coalition members here:

For the most up-to-date and factual information please visit: This landing page has the latest and greatest videos, blogs, and podcasts.

Sincerely and respectfully,


Erin Dobbs

Partnership and Sales Manager
Academy of Model Aeronautics
1-765-287-1256 ext. 272

Dear AMA Coalition,

As we all know, the FAA is currently working on a remote ID rule that will impact us all in some way. While AMA has requested an exemption to the rule for model aircraft operations, it is necessary to work on a more sensible solution to the FAA's proposal should that exemption be denied.  For that reason, AMA has been working to provide a more sensible remote ID solution for our community.

The backing of the AMA coalition and the insight provided by each of you gave us the leg-up to redefine and amplify relationships between AMA, EAA, AOPA and Google’s Project Wing. These 4 associations collaborated together to submit a letter to the FAA and congress. The intent is to provide an alternative solution to the FAA’s proposal, in hopes of preventing damage to a hobby that has been a stepping stone for so many of us in the aviation industry. 

You can read the entire AMA Blog post and letter by clicking here.

Feel free to share throughout your social media platforms.

Thank you for all you do and for all the support you have given to AMA.


Erin Dobbs

Partnership and Sales Manager
Academy of Model Aeronautics
1-765-287-1256 ext. 272

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