Sunday, April 15, 2018

Free rockets of long ago...

This weekend's spring monsoon kept me indoors, which was probably a good thing, as it forced me to pay attention to the models on my workbench. Before the rain hit late Friday, I managed to get a base coat of white on the clone of the Estes cold-power convertible Marauder, a coat of white primer on the Centuri Mach 10 clone, and a coat of gray primer on the Centuri 1962 Payloader replica. Yesterday, while other folk in my area were preparing to build an ark, I built a clone of the Centuri Javelin from Semroc parts, and finished up the decals in Pixelmator. I want this model - my 50th anniversary rocket - to look like the one in the 1971 catalog, which I consider the "classic" look for the Javelin.

From left: Scratch Probe-18 under repair, Centuri
Payloader in grey primer, and Estes KL-3 Marauder
clone (Click to enlarge).
Centuri Mach 10 in white primer and Javelin
under construction (Click to enlarge).
Open Rocket visualization of 1971 Centuri Javelin (Click to enlarge).
I also sorted some of my old rocketry papers and ran across an old late-1960's brochure from Estes - "Yesterday and Tomorrow", featuring the Mercury Redstone and Orbital Transport on the front page. Inside there is an offer for four free rockets. You got to choose between a semi-scale Saturn V and a Constellation for an order over $10, or between a Gyroc and 2-stage Midget for a $5.00 order. Very cool, and it sounds ridiculously cheap here in Spring 2018. However, you have to recall that the dollar had much more buying power 50 years ago; $5 back then was equivalent to just under $36 in today's money, and $10 is equal to an appreciable $72. Still a good deal, but not as cheap as at first glance; I would have to save my allowance for a month in order to place a $5 order with Estes.
Page 3 of Estes "Yesterday and Tomorrow" brochure, showing free
rocket offers (Click to enlarge).
Things like this bring back fond memories of going to the post office to get a money order, sticking it in the envelope with the order form, and handing it with shaking hands to the amused post man. Then there was the excitement of checking the mail after school each day waiting for that box from the "Rocket Capital of the World" to arrive.

Good times...


  1. I never really ordered by mail until Semroc came along, (if you don't count eBay,) but I understand exactly what you meant because Carl's early days had an early Estes vibe to them. I'm still using his original site on a bi-weekly basis, and in fact, I'm putting this Friday's eRockets order together tonight.

  2. I never ever was able to order from Estes or anyone directly as a kid. I always had to order from the Hobby Hut local store in town. I was able to get my teacher in Astronmy to fern orders too. He had the connections. I’m not sure why I never ordered directly! Good post! It’s awesome to remember the good old times.