Estes Scale Kits
Hi Mike, great to see you are here!
Earlier, you were asked about scale kits that never made it into production, and you mentioned the Ariane-4 as one that never made it (due to the company demanding royalties).
Would you mind mentioning any other kits that some might find to be very interesting to know were being worked on at some point, or at least strongly considered?
I wonder about the shuttle. Were there any thoughts to a larger full stack with ET/SRB’s?
I always thought that had Centuri stayed in business as a STRONG competitor with Estes, and given their line of scale kits, that they (Grant Boyd, or whoever) might have done a full stack at 1/100 scale if they could pull it off, to go with their 1/100 Apollo based kits. Or if not 1/100, something significantly bigger than the Estes stack, flyable on a D12 (I did a crude 1/110 stack with BT-55 SRB’s and 3” ET tube that flew nicely on a D12 in the ET). I was pretty disappointed when I saw that BT-60 (ST-16) based orbiter Centuri came out with in their last (and declining) years, that was the prime example of how badly Centuri was slipping. OK, Estes had a similar one, but not for long, it was replaced by that molded (mostly) foam orbiter in 1982. And Estes had a real shuttle stack kit while Centuri only had that Gooney-ish Shuttle orbiter to represent the shuttle program.
Back to Estes, was there consideration of a larger orbiter (no stack) to fly on D12 power?
I am not asking in the sense of larger shuttle kits in the future, since with the wind-down of the shuttle program, I know that would not be justified. Just I wonder “what-else-might-have-been” in the past.
Many years ago, pretty sure it was a NARAM, someone connected to Estes showed an old super-8mm movie shot at Estes around the late 1960’s to early or mid-1970’s. I would have said just mid-70’s but IIRC there was also footage of Larry Renger’s Sky Dancer R/C B/G being flown and I had the impression that footage was from early flights around 1969.
Anyway, that movie included a 4” diameter Mercury-Redstone. IIRC, whoever was showing the film said a big issue with that was it needed more than a D12 to fly decently, and at the time a clustered D12 kit was not attractive, so that was one reason (or the biggest reason) it never made it. And IIRC, there were 1-2 other big scale kits that were also being considered at the time that were seen in the movie, for the Maxi-Brute series. And IIRC at least one of those was also so big it needed a cluster of D12's. Could you mention more on those?
There were other neat things in that movie, unfortunately those are the only two that come to mind. I was going to ask if you had any idea where the movie is, but heck, you might have shot it! :)
It would be great to see that on the web someday.
Possibly, the NARAM where I saw this was NARAM-31 (1989), at the first Old Rocketeer Reunion. Which may mean it was presented by Bob Cannon, who attended his only NARAM since 1968. Or possibly it was shown before then, which might have been when Mary Roberts used to make it out to NARAMs. Or maybe it was Vern. Or maybe someone else.
- George Gassaway
Hi George, Thanks for the message.
I'm not sure where to jump in on your lengthy note. I know of your work and interest with the Space Shuttle as a scale subject as well as your work with RC boost gliders. I have seen the photos of your models and commend you on your skills.
For Estes, the Shuttle was a 'have to do' kit. We have always tried to stay current with the vehicles in the news. For some time after Apollo ended, we really only had the Space Shuttle in that catagory. The management at that time felt politically hand-cuffed to not creating any Russian vehicles. While the small Scud got through, we (R&D) weren't allowed to even consider a Soyuz, no matter what the tooling costs might be.
Thereforee we made Shulltes in several sizes. Personally, I never liked our physical execution of how we made any of the versions. But the Shuttle is a hard subject to make as kit that will be assembled by the full spectrum of model rocketeers.
Your comments ragarding Centuri being able to create more great scale subjects if they had only stayed on business are made without understanding what was happening near their end of business. I agree that Grant Boyd and his staff good and competant people, but their numbers had dwindeled to a level so low they simply didn't have the ability to generate any new scale models, or have any money to tool them.
Through most of the years they created scale models, the majority of the work was by Keith Niskern. Keith went to COX in the 70's to design and manage their railroad product line. He then came to Estes in the 80's to join our staff. So if you check your Centuri catalogs you will find very few new scale kits released in that time period.
You mention a big 'Maxi' Mercury Redstone you saw in one of our films. And yes, I shot several of those scenes. We the R&D staff wanted badly to proceed to introducing is as a kit to show what could be done with the new D13 motors. But sadly, management killed the project because their perception was that it was too big to sell as 'safe', and the price tag would take it far beyond the price points we normally offered kits as.
Does this help clear up some of your questions? It will take a number of posts to answer all of them.
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