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  #11  
Old 03-28-2016, 01:16 AM
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Here is the brochure for the Estes Laser Launch Controller:
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  #12  
Old 03-28-2016, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Initiator001
I vaguely recall a handbill/buckslip/handout about the Laser Launch Controller but so far I have not found such a thing in my collection.

Of the twenty units made I know of the location of two of them. The status of the other eighteen is unknown to me.

Thanks for that look back in time, Bob and Craig! Bob, since you have one of those controllers is there any chance you could fire it up and record the countdown voice to an MP3 to be attached here?
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  #13  
Old 03-28-2016, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Initiator001
I was sent one of these units to beta-test and I used it at a launch held by the Southern California Rocketry Association (SCRA, NAR Section # 430) at their Los Angeles launch site. I brought the controller to usual SCRA post-launch hang-out (Jack-in-the-Box) where folks operated the unit but it failed to hold their attention for long.
Almost makes me want to go to a SCRA launch.
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  #14  
Old 03-28-2016, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ltvscout
Thanks for that look back in time, Bob and Craig! Bob, since you have one of those controllers is there any chance you could fire it up and record the countdown voice to an MP3 to be attached here?

Or YouTube Video.
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  #15  
Old 03-28-2016, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Initiator001
Time Frame: 1998-1999
Company: Estes
Product: Laser Launch Controller

By 1998 Estes Industries had been run by Barry Tunick for almost ten years. Tunick, coming from a toy industry background, wanted to introduce more interaction or ‘play value’ in model rocketry.

One idea was to make the launching of a model rocket more involving. This lead to the idea of having a speaking/talking launch controller. A synthesized voice would sound a countdown and upon reaching zero the rocket would launch.

This speaking controller would replace the Electron Beam controller found in Estes Starter Sets and available separately. It was named the Laser Launch Controller.

Estes went to the effort of having a mold made for this controller and twenty prototype/pre-production units were made. These were fully functional with a female voice giving a five second countdown (It was not the voice of Mary Roberts).

I was sent one of these units to beta-test and I used it at a launch held by the Southern California Rocketry Association (SCRA, NAR Section # 430) at their Los Angeles launch site. The unit had several similarities and differences with the Electron Beam controller. Both used four AA batteries and a safety key but everything else was different.

The safety key was a flat piece of plastic which on one end fit over the top of a launch rod and the other end had a metallic contact. This contact would fit into a socket on the side of the Laser launch controller. This would cause a continuity light to go on if there was a complete circuit to the igniter. The modeler would then hold down a button which would causer the controller to begin speaking the countdown. At ‘zero’ a green light would appear on the controller, the modeler would let go of the button and the rocket would launch. The launch could be stopped by letting go of the button before the green light appeared. This was counter-intuitive to the way other launch controllers operated.

My use of the Laser Launch Controller had a crowd gather to hear the voice of the unit. After one use the crowd walked away with little comment. I brought the controller to usual SCRA post-launch hang-out (Jack-in-the-Box) where folks operated the unit but it failed to hold their attention for long.

My report back to Estes was that it was initially interesting but didn’t hold folks attention. A gimmick.

The Laser Launch Controller never saw production and release. I was told the reason was that the price for the voice chip could not be brought down low enough for the Laser controller to be sold for the same price as the Electron Beam controller. I was also told that there had been some safety concerns raised about the way the unit worked.

I vaguely recall a handbill/buckslip/handout about the Laser Launch Controller but so far I have not found such a thing in my collection.

Of the twenty units made I know of the location of two of them. The status of the other eighteen is unknown to me.


That key design is far superior to any other Estes offering... too bad that didn't survive...

OL J R
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  #16  
Old 04-03-2016, 08:23 AM
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I've made this thread a Sticky, Bob.
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  #17  
Old 04-07-2016, 01:50 AM
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Folks,

I am enjoying all the discussion about many past products.

However, the point of THIS thread is products from my collection that did not make it into (full) production.

For comments not related to what I post I ask that those posts please go into the thread "Products that were never released."

Thanks you.
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  #18  
Old 04-07-2016, 10:39 PM
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This thread is ONLY to be used to discuss items that Bob posts about from his own personal collection. If you wish to discuss other old rocketry items, I strongly encourage it, but not in this thread. Bob already broke off the original off-topic messages into it's own thread located here:

http://www.oldrocketforum.com/showthread.php?t=15884

Which by the way is NOT a closed thread! I have no idea where that insanity came from.

I just broke off the latest off-topic messages into their own thread located here:

http://www.oldrocketforum.com/showthread.php?t=15909

Feel free to continue talking about other old model rocketry items in those threads or feel free to create new ones.

Scott
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  #19  
Old 04-09-2016, 08:40 PM
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Default Ejecting SRBs

Time Frame: 1998-1999
Company: Estes
Product: Zenix SSRV Rocket Kit

By the late 1990s Estes management was interested in sales beyond those to hobby distributors/hobby shops. There was no bigger outlet for product than Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart was/is a mass-merchandiser and it’s customers are not necessarily hobbyists used to working with traditional model rocket materials (balsa, unpainted body tubes, water-slide decals). Products for the Wal-Mart consumer needed to have quick assembly times so the rocket can be launched as soon as possible after purchase.

Along with this the product needed to have a ‘toy’ appeal in that it had ‘play value’, that is, the rocket had to do more than just go up and come down.
This lead to such models as the Astrocam RTF (Camera), Shellshocked/Omloid (Egg carrier), Bailout/Free Fall (Ejects an action figure), Mach 12 (Change fin styles), Manta (Glider), Skywinder and Turbo Copter (Helicopter recovery).

There was one more model announced in this trend for 1998 and it was named the Zenix SSRV. The Zenix was a large rocket over thirty inches tall and nearly one-and-a-half inches in diameter (BT-55). The big feature of the Zenix is that it would drop three simulated external boosters upon ejection of the recovery parachute. These boosters would return to the ground under streamer recovery.

The Zenix SSRV was shown in the 1998 Estes catalog and some marketing fliers but never made it into stores.

Rumors for why this happened discuss initial problems with the three external boosters not reliably falling away from the model. Sometimes all three boosters fell away and sometimes none of them came off. This required more R&D effort and additional work done to the mold for the plastic parts.

Eventually, the problem was resolved. A production run of many thousands of kits were produced and made ready for delivery. According to unsubstantiated stories Estes took the Zenix SSRV model to the Wal-Mart buyers who showed no interest in the kit.

One would think that Estes would still ship the Zenix model to hobby distributors without an order from Wal-Mart. That’s not what happened. For unknown reasons Estes management decided to scrap all the finished Zenix SSRV kits. Some parts were salvaged from the kits but the rest (Packaging, instructions, decals and plastic parts) went to the landfill.

The pictures attached to this post display the packaging and parts for a Zenix SSRV kit. This is the only one of these kits I have ever seen but it suggests that other examples may exist.

(Note: The pictures did not display in the order I wanted)
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 008 Parts Bag 2 Displayed.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 007 Parts Bag 2.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 006 Parts Bag 1.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 005 Parts Bag 1.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 004 Box side 2.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 002 Box back.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 001 Box front.jpg
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Name:  Estes Zenix SSRV 009 Box Front with Hang Tab.jpg
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  #20  
Old 04-10-2016, 06:37 PM
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Scrappin the Zenix sounds like an idiotic write-off decision by that know-nothing-about-hobbies Tunick.
I can't imagine anyone NOT happy he is gone.
It's a MAJOR wonder Estes survived his 'leadership'
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