In the Beginning… How Did Modelglasses Start?

I remember the day very well. My Technical Editor on Rotorworld magazine, Colin McGinn, had come to visit as we needed to do some stuff for the next issue. he started talking about an opticians in Redhill, Surrey, that he’d visited to try and get a good pair of Rx sunglasses for model flying. This had, apparently, proved difficult.

Colin and I started a more general chat about RC and the potential problems of prescription eyewear that would work best, when the idea came to me. If we could source the ideal sunglasses for the job, we could share our success and perhaps start a small sideline business selling them to modellers – hence, the idea for Modelglasses was born, and the search for suitable eyewear was on.

As luck would have it, the solution actually fell on my lap a short time afterwards. I’ve played cricket for many years, and one day, a brochure dropped through my letterbox (how DO you get on these mailing lists?) for equipment related to that sport. Browsing through it, I came across some sunglasses made by a brand I’d never heard of before – Sunwise. There in front of me was an Rx pair of sunglasses with interchangeable tints, and an Rx clip. Could this be what Colin and I had been looking for?

I managed to track Sunwise down to their Oxfordshire HQ and got some samples. Before long, we had a trade account set up, and we were offering Sunwise products, both prescription and non-prescription, to modellers. This proved highly successful, so much so that we soon expanded the operation to include offering the sunglasses to model shops around the UK and abroad. The photo above shows me sporting one of those early pairs of Sunwise sunglasses (this was taken back in 2006).

The original Sunwise prescription sunglasses were exactly the right concept, however they were rather flimsy and fell apart quite easily. Having realised the potential for Modelglasses, we decided to contact some factories in the far east and see if we could make our own branded products, thereby allowing us to further improve the quality of the eyewear, and tweak the interchangeable lens specs further to make them even better tailored for RC model flying. After a strenuous search, and checking loads of samples which I have to say included some absolute rubbish, we could a manufactory that could, and still does, make us fantastic sunglasses to our own specifications. Moreover, they had the perfect Rx frame that took away the flimsiness of the Sunwise version (presumably they drew the same conclusions because they stopped making that pair years ago).

Using our respective contacts around the world, Colin and I built up an impressive array of distributors and to this day, RC Modelglasses remain on sale in many, many countries. They are still revered as being the best eyewear option for RC and I am very proud of what we achieved. Colin isn’t part of the business anymore – many of you will be familiar with his new company Area 51 Distribution. And us? We’re about to move into a larger, 1,800 sq. ft. warehouse from which we can distribute and sell not only RC Modelglasses, but also the extensive range of dedicated sports eyewear we now manufacture.

To view all of our Rapid Eyewear products, please visit the main website here.

John Clark