The kit I built is an older style from about 1995. The main differences between this kit and the current version is that the mylar chute has been replaced by a plastic Estes-style chute, and the nose cone screw eye has been replaced by a hook cast into the nose cone.
The rocket consists of a single BT-50 tube, plastic parabolic nose cone, die-cut balsa fins set (4), 18mm motor mount/rings, engine hook, lug, and 12" silver mylar parachute. The balsa fin stock is stiff, and very good quality.
This is a skill level one kit, and as such it's a pretty simple build. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, though not quite as well illustrated as Estes' and Quest's skill level 1 kits. The parts fit very well, and everything was very good quality. Being a bit obsessive/compulsive, I decided to airfoil the fins for peak performance. Even with that effort, total construction time was less than an hour. The only modification I made was the shock cord--I bypassed the paper mount and 1/8" elastic in favor of Kevlar tied to the engine mount, and about 2-1/2 feet of heavier elastic.
The water slide decals, being about 8 years old, were very brittle. I've also built a "fresh" one, and found no problem. For a skill level 1 kit, though, the finish is a bit challenging, requiring three colors and masking. I would normally figure a skill level 1 kit to be no paint or at the worst, single-color. Once painted and decaled, though, this is a great looking rocket. The patriotic theme is very appealing.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
As expected on an introductory kit, this is a very stable flyer. I flew it running up the ladder starting with A's, finishing with a C6-5. The C6 took it out of my sight range, though I picked it up on the way down and successfully recovered without a problem. It's very quick off the pad, and I'd normally recommend sticking with A/B power unless switching to a streamer recovery.
The mylar chute offers much better performance/resistance to melting than the plastic chutes. It's also easier to pick out in the sky.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
I've built all of the current Custom kits, plus about 5-6 OOP ones, and this one is my favorite. Nothing fancy about the design, but a solid performer and one with good eye-appeal.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5