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  #11  
Old 08-19-2007, 11:05 AM
foose4string foose4string is offline
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I'm guilty when it comes to buying new Estes kits, but I am very selective about it. And I buy as many, if not more, from the "mom and pop" producers. There are certain designs that Estes can do more efficiently, and certain parts that they have the means to manufacture, ones that would be very difficult, expensive, or time consuming to mass produce here.

I doubt we'll have a huge impact boycotting Estes kits. We forum types and long time die hards are a fairly small faction in terms of their overall kit sales. Rather than GET the message, they might decide to drop the builder type kits altogether. Judging from the little bit I know about the Estes, they simply wouldn't care, and continue going the toy route. That's obviously where they make their money.

The motors are probably the other substantial money maker for them. Not only are they supplying motors for their toys, but they are also providing them for the rest of the hobby. There is virtually no competition there, other than Quest. Kit manufacturerers?... now that's another story. There's a ton of 'em, dime a dozen, and it they have always had some competition there. Want to hurt Estes?....Take a nice hunk out of their motor sales. They would have to move motor manufacturing to China in order to compete, and would take some serious planning on their part to do. Who knows, maybe they are already headed in that direction?

I know different regions vary, but motors move quickly in my local Walmart, and I ain't the only one buying them, that's for sure.

I can't wait to see Semroc offer some motors and hopefully, directly compete with Estes. It seems like a very risky proposition(not only physically, but monetarily), and will take careful planning and marketing, but it seems like a great direction to move towards. It was interesting how much input was given on kit bring backs when the Estes forum was up, and look how Estes answered. By giving us the Red Max and Interceptor? Not complaining, heck, they are great, classic kits, and I bought them too. But that stuff that can be easily cloned. The niche hobby market had already answered Estes' lack of interest in bringing back kits, that void was already filled by the likes of Semroc, BMS, Thrustline, PDR, Roachwerks, Tango, Excelsior, etc. While there was SOME motor discussion there, I don't think there was nearly enough. I'm just as guilty as anyone for taking the motors for granted, but that's what keeps this hobby moving upward. No propulsion, no rocketry!
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  #12  
Old 09-04-2007, 05:56 PM
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Mark II Mark II is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foose4string
I doubt we'll have a huge impact boycotting Estes kits. We forum types and long time die hards are a fairly small faction in terms of their overall kit sales.

When did all of us "kit builder" types become such a small minority of rocket flyers? When all of you and I started in this hobby, a kit builder or scratch builder was all that you could be. ("...and we LIKED it!" Naawww, I'm not going there... ) When model rocketry's popularity was at its peak in the 1970's, wasn't everyone buying the type of kit that we now call a "builder's kit"? Far from being a niche product, this was the standard product, wasn't it?

And yet, despite the fact that purchasers of these kits had to occasionally cut out their own fins or assemble their own parachutes, the hobby enjoyed a level of popularity that has not been seen since. If we all know (and can vividly remember when) the segment of the hobby that was comprised of "builders" like us was so huge back then, then why are we so resigned to being just a niche part of the hobby now?

And if the Damon-era Centuri and Estes companies could enjoy such huge growth by selling rocketry items that the buyer had to actually assemble (and learn a thing or two along the way), then why are some companies, like the current incarnation of Estes, so afraid to do so now?

Back in the day, in post-Sputnik America, there was great concern that this country's schoolchildren (that would be, uh, many of us on this forum ) were falling behind in such areas as math and science. There was a great push to make toys, games, hobbies for the children of that era not only fun but educational. And there were quite a few of them that seemed to hit just the right balance of both. (It was staple of toy advertising back then to emphasize the product's educational value.) Today, in the NCLB era, isn't there a similar concern that children (and even laid-off, downsized adults) are lacking in basic skills needed to succeed in the world, both today and in the future? So why aren't more companies responding, like their counterparts in the '50's, '60's and '70's did?

A few months ago, while driving home from a trip, I took a walk through a Toys 'R Us. Let me tell you, the experience left me with feelings of both intense sadness and intense rage. I went through every aisle in the store, and everywhere I looked, there was nothing but electronic this and videogame that. I couldn't find a single baseball mitt or bat, or a story book that was printed on real paper (which is still one of the best information storage devices ever invented), or a pair of roller skates, anywhere in the store. Or anything, such as a model car kit or a rocket kit, that required even the slightest bit of creativity. There wasn't a single product in the store that would require a kid to get up off the couch, look away from the idiot box, or exercise anything but his or her thumbs. Now, I'm hardly an electronic Luddite, but come on! Like I said, it was very infuriating and, at the same time, very depressing.

Well, that's my jeremiad. Sorry to inflict it on all of you. I feel marginally better now. (But no, not really.)

Mark
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Last edited by Mark II : 09-04-2007 at 06:18 PM. Reason: Additional statement to clarify a particular point. Revised another sentence to improve flow.
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  #13  
Old 09-06-2007, 09:40 AM
foose4string foose4string is offline
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Mark, like it or not, we are a minority. There are enough numbers to keep the hobby alive, and obviously enough keep a few kit manufacturers in business, but I find it hard to believe that those sales can even touch the dollars earned from toy sales. Chinese made, clam shelled, RTF, blister packs in the national 'Marts' is awfully hard to compete with in terms of overall numbers and profit dollars(this includes Launchables and starter sets). I'm not justifying their existance, just merely stating the obvious. Some may argue that the RTF's get people interested in the 'real' hobby, but I'm not so sure. Instant gratification is also hard to compete with!
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2007, 02:43 PM
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Mark II Mark II is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foose4string
Mark, like it or not, we are a minority. There are enough numbers to keep the hobby alive, and obviously enough keep a few kit manufacturers in business, but I find it hard to believe that those sales can even touch the dollars earned from toy sales. Chinese made, clam shelled, RTF, blister packs in the national 'Marts' is awfully hard to compete with in terms of overall numbers and profit dollars(this includes Launchables and starter sets). I'm not justifying their existance, just merely stating the obvious. Some may argue that the RTF's get people interested in the 'real' hobby, but I'm not so sure. Instant gratification is also hard to compete with!

You are probably right; cheap plastic toy-like rockets are now all that most potential customers (kids or parents buying for kids) ever see. Although you do find some simple Skills Level 1 packaged as Launchables being sold at Wal-Mart (e.g., the Gauchito). If you are really lucky (like I was once), you may even see a Spaceship One (#2191) or a Bullpup 12D, all kits that do require some building.

I guess that one thing I ought to check out, before I do anymore belly-aching, is to find out how strong model rocketry is today. If the hobby is still very much alive and well, NAR sections are growing, launches are being well-attended, etc., and good companies like Semroc are doing well, then perhaps all the toy-ified rocket junk that is being cranked out and sold in big box stores shouldn't be such an issue. But I don't know - I'd have to see some numbers.

Mark
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  #15  
Old 09-06-2007, 03:24 PM
foose4string foose4string is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark II
You are probably right; cheap plastic toy-like rockets are now all that most potential customers (kids or parents buying for kids) ever see. Although you do find some simple Skills Level 1 packaged as Launchables being sold at Wal-Mart (e.g., the Gauchito). If you are really lucky (like I was once), you may even see a Spaceship One (#2191) or a Bullpup 12D, all kits that do require some building.

I guess that one thing I ought to check out, before I do anymore belly-aching, is to find out how strong model rocketry is today. If the hobby is still very much alive and well, NAR sections are growing, launches are being well-attended, etc., and good companies like Semroc are doing well, then perhaps all the toy-ified rocket junk that is being cranked out and sold in big box stores shouldn't be such an issue. But I don't know - I'd have to see some numbers.

Mark


There's no denying, the hobby is in an upswing again and steadily growing more interest. I'm glad to see it. Most of the attendance I see at club launches are mostly middle aged men(35+), like myself. I think the forums tell the same story. This is why I think the way I do.

But I also think some of the interest is getting passed directly to our kids, so hopefully the growing trend will continue, and we'll have a brand new generation of rocketeers in the near future. There's much more to choose from than there was a decade ago. Introduction, availability, and interaction are key players in promoting and allowing this hobby to grow. Companies like Quest, Fliskit, and Semroc should be commended for their efforts in proactively doing all of the above. It's also up to us.
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  #16  
Old 09-06-2007, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foose4string
There's no denying, the hobby is in an upswing again and steadily growing more interest. I'm glad to see it. Most of the attendance I see at club launches are mostly middle aged men(35+), like myself. I think the forums tell the same story. This is why I think the way I do.

That has been my impression, too, albeit from my very limited vantage point. I'm encouraged by the whole BAR phenomenon (of which I am a part), and lately, I have been quietly nursing the idea that the hobby is about to enter another "golden age," although this time around, the label will have more than one meaning. (It actually might be more accurate to call it a "silver age." )

One of the things that I was delighted to find when I became a BAR was finding so many other people involved in the hobby who came from the same era that I did, and also finding that many of the people who were making important contributions to sport rocketry back when I first got started are still involved, and, in some cases, are still doing great things for the hobby (thanks, Carl!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by foose4string
But I also think some of the interest is getting passed directly to our kids, so hopefully the growing trend will continue, and we'll have a brand new generation of rocketeers in the near future. There's much more to choose from than there was a decade ago. Introduction, availability, and interaction are key players in promoting and allowing this hobby to grow. Companies like Quest, Fliskit, and Semroc should be commended for their efforts in proactively doing all of the above. It's also up to us.

Well said. I completely agree. Many of those grown-ups who are joining or rejoining the hobby are also bringing in their sons and daughters and nieces and nephews, planting the seeds of interest in rocketry in the next generation. The "graying" of the hobby is also, paradoxically, laying the groundwork for its renewal.

Quite frankly, we rocketeers who are of a certain age had it easy. We came along at a time when new paradigms were rapidly being adopted around the world, the jet age had only just arrived, modern rocket science was a brand new and exciting field, humanity was taking its first steps into space, and the US-USSR space race was on. Coming up in that environment, it wasn't hard to get enthusiastic about this brand-new hobby of model rocketry, and to spread that enthusiasm among your circle of friends. Things are a bit different today, and a lot of newer things have come along since then to excite and grab the interest of young people. But there is still plenty of interest in rocket propulsion and space travel, and I think that interest will always exist. It is wonderful thing that so many silverbacks are reentering the hobby; it gives us a great opportunity to transmit the excitement of the early days on to the next gen.

All of us rank and file rocketeers, BAR or not, have some work to do. Thanks!

Mark
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  #17  
Old 09-07-2007, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foose4string
.....But I also think some of the interest is getting passed directly to our kids, so hopefully the growing trend will continue, and we'll have a brand new generation of rocketeers in the near future. There's much more to choose from than there was a decade ago. Introduction, availability, and interaction are key players in promoting and allowing this hobby to grow. Companies like Quest, Fliskit, and Semroc should be commended for their efforts in proactively doing all of the above. It's also up to us.


This is so true. I just finished my first read-through of the Sept/Oct Sport Rocketry. The cover photo says it all. The coverage of the 2007 TARC Finals is a truly outstanding article. The models these young rocketeers built to reach the finals and compete within the contest rules at that level are brilliant. This is our brand new generation of rocketeers. I only wish a program like this existed back when I was in school so I could have participated.

.
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