A diminutive scale model of a Sandia Sandhawk that's small in size but big on detail.
Don't be mislead, as I was, about the skill required to build this kit. What you get for your money is a great 13mm body tube, a shorter piece of 13mm tube for the nose cone, a good quality balsa nose and a balsa plug (more on this later), a length of wire, a generous (read: twice as much as needed) amount of basswood for the fins, and some of the best instructions in the industry. Dig further and you'll find the thickest streamer you've ever seen, and some good elastic and Kevlar® for the shock cord.
The instructions are the best I've seen in a long, long time. Likewise, the quality of components will blow you away, especially considering this kit's price is so cheap! It seems like it will go together easily enough, but... If you want to build a "slap-dash" rocket, go satisfy your need for instant gratification with an Estes E2X kit. If you want something you actually have to build, look no further. This kit's as challenging as you want to make it. Personally, I don't care to make it a 100% perfect replica of the real thing. I fly every rocket I build, so sometimes I take liberties in the construction. They may not be perfect scale rockets, but they fly, and are durable. This thing goes together with all the tools you already have, so no need to buy anything special. The balsa plug is used to fill the short body tube, and is glued in place, along with the nose cone. This whole assembly becomes the nose cone, and the solid nature of it gives the wire antennae someplace to glue into.
This rocket finishes great! The basswood isn't grainy, and with a little care and a lot of sealer and primer and sandpaper, the spirals and nose cone and body joint will completely disappear. The only con here: the decals look cheesy if the paint is not matched exactly. But I built it to fly primarily, so it doesn't matter too much to me.
Construction Rating: 5 out of 5
Prep is as easy as they come, but loading the humongous streamer takes skill. It will get stuck if not rolled as tightly as possible. My suggestion is to cut it in half lengthwise and discard one half of it. I suggest keeping the power low, because this sucker will move out with authority! An Estes 13mm 1/2 A3-2T will suffice, but an A3-4T will give you a good chance to lose the rocket. Expect about 800+ feet with an A10-3T. The rocket will fly perfectly time after time, and recovers well on a streamer.
The only con here would be the tendency for the streamer to get stuck. I'd add my own streamer next time, and use a much thinner material.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
I would like to recommend this kit to anybody who is bored with all the plastic schlock that's out there today. This gives a budding rocketeer a chance to learn some skills, or for a BAR like me to hone them or just remember what it was like on a rainy Saturday in the mid 1970s to build a Mars Snooper or Trident. The only con I would throw in here is the company itself. I visited their booth at LDRS in 2000, and not only did the representative there totally ignore me (I practically needed a bull horn to get his attention to buy a kit, and I was the only customer at the time), he wouldn't even answer my questions, nor did he say thanks for purchasing one of their kits! You know, guys, if you want a loyal customer, a smile (at least) would go a long way. But nevermind. Despite being the grouchiest rocket company on the planet, they have reason to be a bit smug. This is one great kit.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5