Estes - Alpha IV {Kit} (1258) [1998-1998]

Contributed by John H. Boyd

Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Manufacturer: Estes

[Rocket Pic]Brief:
Estes has released a new, jazzed up version of the Alpha III to celebrate Estes Industries' 40th Anniversary. It is a limited edition kit.

 

Construction:
The kit is shipped in the new bagged "half-box" with card packaging protecting 4 of the 6 sides. The kit arrived complete, however due to the packaging, the body tube was dented in the middle. The kit is much like the normal Alpha III with black plastic parts and a fancy red holographic body tube. The parachute came pre-assembled as per the new trend with Estes' models. Decals are metallic self adhesive stickers.

Estes' customer service department was very friendly and promptly sent a replacement tube as soon as they were available (~5weeks). I had picked up my kit so early, they had just shipped out the last of the first batch of kits and were awaiting parts!

Construction went smoothly except for one part. The new launch lug is a shaped plastic plate with 2 luglets. This was to be glued to the metallic tube after scraping away the finish to bare paper -- Hah! The special wrap is one of the most durable I've seen from Estes for their E2X line of kits. I ended up changing my knife blade and carefully outlining the lugplate with the fresh tip. I then gently peeled the wrap off, using the tip to get started at one corner. Younger rocketeers will need assistance with this step. After that, the assembly was easy.

Finishing:
As with all E2X kits from Estes, the parts come prefinished, except for the application of decals. The ones supplied had a golden metallic finish. These are paper backed, so one can not soak them in water and soap solution for ease of alignment. The body tube circular decal applied easily and smoothly. The 3 fin decals are a bit oversized for the fins .... this is apparently just like the original Alpha decals Estes supplied.

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

Flight:
As usual, this Alpha is a typical starter kit model and performed flawlessly on A's through C's. As usual, it has the quick change clip and requires a couple squares of wadding. I did my standard cold weather preparation for overcast days using lots of red chalk powder to dust the parachute.

Recovery:
For once, Estes got the shock cord length right. The red chalk left a good dark spot in the sky for tracking. The model popped at apogee and the chute filled almost immediately and floated down for soft landings.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:
Estes did a nice job with this updating of the backbone of their kit line. Other than the problem with the launch lug mounting, it was a quick, easy build with great flight characteristics.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Alpha IV {Kit} (1258) [1998-1998] By Bill Eichelberger (February 8, 2007)

    Brief: The Astron Alpha IV was a specially produced 40th Anniversary version of the Alpha III that had a red prismatic body tube, black plastic nose cone and fin can, and special sticker decals. Construction: Like I said, this is basically a prettied up Alpha III released as a 40th Anniversary commemorative rocket. I came across mine when looking for a quick building kit to fly ...

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