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Old 02-15-2012, 12:41 PM
Cohetero-negro's Avatar
Cohetero-negro Cohetero-negro is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,256

Originally Posted by gerryfortin
Could not pass up this thread.

There are model rocket kit builders and then there are model rocket kit collectors. The builders are unable to fathom or justify the prices that collectors will pay for original vintage kits. The model rocket kit collectors are no different than collectors in any other hobby such as numismatics (coin collecting) or antique Chinese porcelain.

The collectors see historical significant and value for original vintage items and chose to own them for sentiment or investment reasons. As time goes on, the prices paid for these items continues to increase due to several factors;

1. Growing collector interest through hobby marketing programs (internet is fine example)
2. Baby boomers with time and disposable incomes
3. Ongoing fiat money inflation
4. Destruction of rare items due to mishandling (opening or building a vintage kit for example)

I'm not at all surprised by the higher prices being paid for original and problem free vintage Estes kits. Model rocket items are slowly becoming part of a collector's market as there is enough demand to stabilize prices and even elevate.

There will always be the vocal "builders" who laugh at the collectors for paying high prices for vintage kits. But eventually, the collectors will have some store of value (a small investment) and the pleasure of pursuing and owning these items.


Great points!!!

I know that early model airplane kits will fetch, hundreds if not thousands if they are in good condition and out of the 1930's , 40's and 50's!

Model rockets, well yes we both obviously love them and spend a 'pretty penny' for them, but I just have my doubts if they will ever 'catch on'?

Maybe its best if model rocket collecting didn't catch on, because that might be the death of the collector market. What I mean by this is, if suddenly model rockets became main stream, then the average rocket collector would never be able to afford anything. Prices would be so speculative as to make a Centuri Little Joe II sell for thousands of dollars!

There are not many examples of MIB, non crushed tubes, free of water stain/mildew or insect/rodent damage examples out there. It really is hard for a fragile 'K' kit to make it from 1966 to 2012 and still be in mint, unopened condition, but is it REALLY worth the money that we are seeing of late?

Yes, its worth what someone is willing to pay, but are we seeing people just throw money at rockets just to secure a very short term sense of accomplishment but in the long term, there goes their money?

I will be open and honest about the next statement I am about to type:

When I did the bulk of my collecting back in the 1990's, it was never because I felt the kits were 'investments'. I just did it to piss off people like Bob Craddock, Tim Joyce, Danny Almond and a few other hardcore buyers off of ebay. Trust me, ebay was a compulsion that I had and I was out to out spend the other guys and show them I was a contender a 'big shot', when it came to rocket collecting.

Now I have several thousand kits, that sit in tubs and boxes and haven't seen the light of day in years ... what a friggin waste on my part! I should have taken that money I spent on kits, and taken vacations, bought homes, or better yet, spent the money on collectibles that take up less volume and have a better chance of appreciating in value over the years, and could be hung from walls, or displayed in display cabinets and don't require 10 x 30 foot storage sheds.

In the last 5 years, EASILY I have spent $10,000.00 storing model rockets. Here lets do the math: $200 - $400 per month * 12 * 5 = $12,000.00 - $24,000.00 to store this stuff. Yes I have a lot, too much. I am not bragging, I am stating FACT. I got myself too deep in this crap and now its more of a curse than a blessing.

I had plans to photograph and create a buyers guide as we discussed a couple years back; remember I called you on the phone and we spoke about that. Howsoever, I don't have the time nor the money to really do the job correctly and its frustrating that I can't do what I had set out to accomplish.

Also, the added stress is taking its toll on me. Folks, this is the first time I have PUBLICLY admitted this, but I have stuff that would literally blow your minds, and its stressful to 'mother hen' this stuff!

Up until Mike Dorfler's passing, I was afraid to mention what I have that he created while at Estes. Folks, I have his original film footage from the first prototype Cineroc launch. I have his R&D research papers, photos, Cineroc prototypes, negatives, films he took of R&D flights of rockets that never made it past the testing stage. There are about a dozen or so 8, and 16mm reals of B&W and Color footage of early - mid 60's R&D flights. Hundreds of negatives of the SAME adds from the early 1960's Estes magazine adds. Boxes of software, test motors, ... I laugh when Kaplow talks about his collection of motors ... if he only knew the dozens and scores of enerjets, fsi, estes tubes, early Centuri motors I have... I am sure I'm breaking some local fire law with the amount!

You people jump up and down, and salvate over an Estes 1962 or 1963 catalog ... well I have the negatives and 'mark ups' that were used to make that 1962/63 catalog! I am bearing the economic and psychological weight to keep this stuff from the landfill it was first originally destined for.

I tried reaching out to Marry Roberts about 10 years ago asking if Estes was interested in getting these items back, and she stated that Estes had no interest in it. I wasn't soliciting her, I wanted to donate it with the guarantee it would be make accessible to the public via an Estes 'in-house' museum.

I could place it up on ebay, but that defeats the purpose of why I wanted to gather it together in the first place! I have a job, a decent paying job, so I don't need the income from rocket sales. I was encouraged when it was announced there was going to be a model rocket museum years back, but well that only ended up as a small display up there at the Museum of Flight is WA state.

So, I am stuck with the core history of our hobby and it depresses me. I know some of you don't get what I just said, but trust me, its stressful day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Its a responsibility that I almost wish I didn't have.

So what will happen to it all? I don't know. I don't want to sell it, because it means more to me than the money it would bring. If I live another 20, 30, 40 years, I will earn more in income than what it will ever be worth.

I wish there was an actual, Museum of Model Rocketry as the AMA has for model airplanes; I would donate the lot in heart beat, make sure its referred to as the, 'Jonathan Dunbar Collection', and go pursue something else in life.

So there you have it folks, I am both cursed and blessed with sitting on one of the largest most diverse most one of a kind collections of model rocketry, and I don't know what to do with it all... this isn't bragging, or gloating, its my attempt to reach out to someone who might REALLY want to establish a rocketry museum , who has the capitol to buy the infrastructure (building, no not your garage or backyard shed) and I supply a very nice treasure trove of artifacts from the nascency of our hobby.

No I am not going brag like some, line up hundreds of kits, take photos, and post here; just not that superficial; sorry.

I am serious and looking beyond the trivial and to something more meaningful... the pricing of model rockets interests me, scares me, and just adds to the depression.


Last edited by Cohetero-negro : 02-17-2012 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:29 AM
gerryfortin gerryfortin is offline
Addicted Collector.. now Rockets
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Portland, Maine..Vacationland
Posts: 205


Great post and confession.......

I do remember the phone call and indeed your collection of early Estes artifacts does belong in a museum. Problem is that you will have to build a trust fund to support the museum unless a wealthy collector enters the field and sees what is possible.

My suggestion is to really study the entire collection and slowly start selling off duplicates or the less than superb kits to those who might wish to own them. In that manner you can reduce the storage cost and raise some cash to fund holding the balance of the collection.

Remember for a collectoring hobby to flourish, there must be an adequate supply of collectibles otherwise folks give up after a year or two as the journey is too long and most folks become distracted into other areas. A secondary market outside of eBay has to appear so that serious collectors can find what they want when they have money to spend. You may have enough early kits to start that secondary market.

How many complete K kit collections do we know of? Jimi recently announced completing his after how many years? I have the funds to complete the collection, but lack the patience to check eBay every week to see what may appear over 3-5 years.

If I can find time to attend a few CMASS launches this summer, one of my goals is to take the early K kits and a display case to a meet and watch the reaction as most people have never seen the early kits up close or understand their approximate value in today's market.

Estes kit pricing history and individual kit descriptions at At least a work in progress....
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