Monday, August 12, 2019

A summer cornucopia of new releases...

The rocket vendors have not been idle over the past couple of months; there have been lots of new kit releases, so many that it has been difficult to keep up. I thought that I'd use this post to list some of them, illustrating how the build pile has grown.

First, we have a couple from Semroc - the Jupiter B, a saucer kit based on the Jupiter 2 from the old Lost and Space TV series, and a bring-back of the Estes Andromeda. A high school friend of mine had an Andromeda, and I have always admired its futuristic looks. A bit fragile though - the long, thin BT-20 body was easily bent and my friend was repairing the model almost every time it flew. The Semroc kit has the thicker wall ST-7 tubes, so I'm hoping it holds up better to flight stresses. It also features laser-cut jigs to help position and hold the fins during gluing - a nice addition!

The Semroc Andromeda and Jupiter B (Click to enlarge).
The next four are from a rocket company that deserves more attention. Custom Rocket Company has been around for just over three decades, releasing nice looking, good quality kits - perhaps their best known is the 3 motor powered Landviper, which was popular back in the 90's. I have acquired four from their 2019 line - the colorful Cubix, the dangerously-named Drone Killer, the Orbit payloader, and the Spin Thing, which has spin tabs at the rear of its balsa fins. The only downside of the Custom kits is that they have peel and stick stickers instead of waterslide decals. I usually scan and copy them on decal paper for use in my builds - makes for a nicer looking model.

Recently purchased Custom rockets (Click to enlarge).
Finally, we come to the recent releases from the "Big E" - Estes Industries. There are quite a few of these, so let's start with the five advertised in the catalog - the Double Ringer, the Sasha, the Boosted Bertha, the Gryphon, and the re-release of the Black Brant II. The Double Ringer has already been discussed, so I'll move on to the Sasha, which is a two stage 24 mm powered "look alike" of a Russian SAM missile. It's quite a looker, and features through the wall fins on the booster. The Boosted Bertha is Estes realization of that which has been done many times since the late 60's - converting a Big Bertha into a 2 stager. Like the Sasha, the Boosted Bertha has through the wall booster fins and I particularly like the orange paint decor. The Gryphon is a sleek, 13 mm powered glider similar to kits that used to be offered by the now-defunct Edmonds Aerospace, and the Black Brant II is a bring back of the 1986 scale kit, updated with laser cut fins. A very nice quintet!

New Estes catalog releases (Click to enlarge).
The return of the Black Brant II (Click to enlarge).
There is a rumor that Hobby Lobby threatened to drop Estes rockets from its store unless the company did something special for them. I don't know the truth of this, but I do know that Hobby Lobby stores now have 8 Estes kits, found nowhere else. These are:
  • The Luna Bug - a very small (2.5") 13 mm rocket a la the Mosquito. Given the tiny size of this model, I guarantee I will not be painting it green as in the kit art. This will only create a high chance of losing it in the grass/weeds in addition to the likelihood of losing it in flight. I will be very surprised if I find this one after its maiden voyage.
  • The Solo - A blue-and-yellow ARTF (Almost Ready To Fly) featuring a single cylindrical glider. The C6-3 is the only recommended motor. Have already built this one.

Luna Bug and Solo (Click to enlarge).
  • The Tigres, a nice looking 18 mm powered ARTF. This one is likely to please young kiddos, and it went together in less than 30 minutes.
  • The Long Ranger - my least favorite of the new releases, this one is a rather plain, long 18 mm rocket. The only catchy thing about it is the name.
  • The Epic II is simply an Estes Sterling Silver with a different paint decor and name. This one is not an ARTF, but a standard build with balsa fins, etc.
  • The ARTF Cadet is also a kid pleaser with its cool decor and use of 18mm motors. It's also a Bill-pleaser, as I really like the looks, despite the peel and stick markings.
Tigres, Long Ranger, Epic II, and Cadet (Click to enlarge).
  • The ESAM-58 is a 24 mm powered single stage version of the Sasha, redone in a Canadian/British decor.
And finally:
  • The Cherokee-E - A longer version of the hallowed Estes Cherokee-D of yore. Like its shorter cousin, this rocket is also powered by 24 mm motors, and I bet it really gets up there on an E12. Duane - who is a Cherokee aficionado - could not wait to get his hands on one of these.
Cherokee-E and ESAM-58 (Click to enlarge).
And those are the new adds to the build pile. As you can see, I have lots of work ahead of me.

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