Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was in full-blown holiday denial. I mean, c’mon, how could it be winter already, much less time to go chop a Christmas tree? Maybe it’s living on Thanksgiving leftovers for a week, or maybe it’s the sub-freezing temperatures that have chilled us to the core in the Pacific Northwest, but you can officially count me among the believers now. Like it or not, I admit it: gift-giving season is upon us. ‘Simmers, time to warm up your greedy little fingers, ’cause we’ve got some shopping to do!
From Russia, With (Wallet) Love…
If it’s early December, it must be time for one of the most anticipated simming events of the holidays: the big EU9.99 blowout over at Captain Sim. This is their second year doing this insane 1-day-only sale in which everything in their store is marked down to 9.99 euros. Between midnight and 23:59 Dec. 11 (UTC), you can pick up, for instance, their C130 Pro Pack (regular price: € 89.97) for €9.99. The normally-priced €59.99 757-200 pack? €9.99. These are bargains the likes of which we rarely see online. I bought their 727 and 727 cargo packages for ridiculous discounts, just because I like the shape of the plane. From one look around the typically glorious Captain Sim cockpit, I can tell this one is yet another winner.
Just an aside about Captain Sim… even though I’m not an airliner fan in general, their work has never failed to inspire me. Starting way back with their L-39 Albatros for FS2002, I was a fan of their particular aesthetic. Once virtual cockpits came into vogue, that affinity only deepened. Whatever their faults (and all you have to do is search the FS forums for a listing of these), the fact is they’re 3D artists of the highest caliber. It’s a testament to just how highly I regard their skills that I keep plunking down my hard-earned bucks for one CS airliner after another, even though I rarely fly them. When I feel like taking to the skies in a tube, I need it to look this good.
If it’s still December 11 where you are, check in on their sale. You’re not going to find deals like this any other time of the year!
Good Deals on Smaller Planes
Maybe my praise for the Captain Sim’s big jets left you cold. You’re an avowed GA fan or warbird nut, and would sooner cut off your left arm than climb into any plane whose name starts with “7”. How about this, then: two of the better known small plane makers are also having sales right now.
Carenado has knocked a respectable 30% off some of their most popular offerings between now and December 19th, making birds like their C172, Piper Arrow, and Mooney Bravo available for very nice prices. This sale prompted me to go for their 172N, as it’s a near spitting image of the 1975 172M that I did my real-world training in a couple of years ago. I figure with a little brush work, I can be sitting back in rickety old 11V again soon in FSX. Hey, you know what? I was trying to pinpoint why I like Carenado’s work so much. Then it hit me: they’re sort of the Captain Sim of the GA world. I sense a theme.
Flightsim Developers (FSD) are running their own holiday sale on some planes that are a little farther off the beaten path. You might not find the kind of scorched-earth, killer deals that the Russians offer, but FSD are taking a few bucks off some of their latest offerings for the holidays. You can get their new Cirrus Vision VLJ or their fantastic P38 Lightning, each for 24 bucks. I have the Lightning, and I can tell you it’s a beautifully detailed bird. Plus, it seems FSD have been trying really hard to reconnect with ‘simmers lately. Every time I visit a forum, it seems their Tim Dickens has waded into another thread to help out a customer. For a long time, I was boycotting them, based on a minor incident years ago that left a bad taste in my mouth. That P38 looked so tempting that I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I got it. They seem to be a changed company, and for the better.
The Falcon and Frosty the Snowman
Think 10 euros is still too much to pay for an add-on? I have some scenery for you. Ed Wells (falcon409 on Sim-Outhouse) has recently cranked up his small airport production to a fever pitch. Not a day goes by that I don’t see mention of another “falcon” airport on the SOH forums. He’s figured out how to download, color correct, and add autogen to high-res aerial photos, and there’s no stopping him. Unlike a lot of devs, he doesn’t focus on one geographic area, either. In fact, a quick search for his work turned up 49 entries, including airports all over the US and Canada. At this rate, I’d wager that he’s going to be doing a field near you soon. And even if he doesn’t, he takes requests! I like Ed’s enthusiasm, and his work looks great. For sure, you can’t beat the price – it’s like one humongous present to the whole sim community.
Speaking of Giving…
All this talk of gifts and deals makes me wonder, am I the only one who has ever had trouble explaining to a loved one what FS add-on I wanted for Christmas? Think about it: these things are ideal gifts. They’re relatively inexpensive, give us loads of enjoyment, and are almost all available as downloads, meaning zero time fighting the crowds at the local mall. The one problem I’ve always run into with FS products as gifts is that they’re so ever-loving geeky. Your spouse, mom, or dad might mean well enough when they ask “so, what would you like for Christmas?”, but if your answer is “the latest PMDG MD11 and a TrackIR”, chances are their eyes are glazed over before you can get the third word out.
Why, oh why, has nobody ever come up with a simple gift registry for the sim crowd? I know if my wife could log onto a site somewhere in which I’d already chosen a handful of cool add-ons I’d like, and could just pick one or two and enter a credit card number, she’d be all over it. But as it stands, I either have to stand beside her and walk her through a series of pages in some web store, pointing out exactly what she should click on, or hold my breath and hope for cash. It’s just not that much fun. I’d love to be surprised by the gift, and yet have it be the very thing I’d been eyeing but hadn’t bought for myself.
FS Publishers, do you hear this? It’s a missed opportunity. For every simmer that lusts after your products, there are a legion of well-wishing but clueless friends and relatives who would love to give them a great gift. Seems like somebody ought to be able to put something together that makes everybody happy. Am I right?
Okay, enough for now. I need to go check out this 727 and take a trip down recent memory lane in my 172. Peace and happy flying!