Estes - Blue Ninja {Kit} (001300) [2002-]

Contributed by G. A. Dean

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.64 inches
Length: 31.30 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport

Rocket PicBrief:
The Blue Ninja is a very basic four-fin rocket in the Estes E2X line, with one special feature, its a big rocket, using 24mm motors. Like all the E2X kits it builds quickly and easily without painting, using plastic parts except for the body tubes. The completed rocket sports a reflective blue finish and a big, powerful look that is a big hit with the younger rocketeers (and some of the older ones!) The completed rocket is over 31 inches tall and weighs a respectable 145 grams (5.1 oz.)

 

Construction:
This kit is entirely typical of Estes E2X kits. It arrived in a bag with all parts present and accounted for. The two body tubes immediately catch the eye. They are 12'' and 8'' inches long and over 1.6 inches in diameter (BT-60). They are also wrapped in a reflective, sparkling covering (Estes calls it “prismatic” that gives the Blue Ninja it's distinctive look. The nosecone, fin can, fins and tube connector are all black plastic, and seemed well molded. Surfaces are generally smooth, with a nice, 'satin' finish. The fits are good and required only a little trimming with the hobby knife.

Engine The most interesting part of the Blue Ninja construction is the engine mount, which is a little different that other Estes kits. The rear 5 inches of the rocket body is a molded plastic 'unit' in two halves. In addition to slots for the fin tabs, this unit supports the engine tube and provides a mount for the engine-retention cap. A plastic centering ring (of sorts) fits over one end of the paper motor tube. This ring fits into tabs inside the fin mount. The other end of the motor tube rests in a socket at the upper end of the fin mount unit. The top half of the fin-mount unit glues in place with plastic cement. A standard size 24mm motor like the D12 or C11 will protrude about ½ inch from the end of the motor tube. A plastic cap restrains the motor and hides it, giving a nozzle-like styling to the end of the rocket. This cap twists into place with a bayonet mount, and has appeared on several Estes E2X kits. It’s very easy and effective to use, if a bit heavier than a standard motor clip. (It may be possible to move the motor block forward to accommodate the longer E9 motors. I didn’t think of it at the time but I believe the motor tube is long enough. According to Rocksim this kit ought to fly well on those long-burning motors).

Rocket Pieces The plastic fins glue to the plastic fin-mount unit with plastic cement (you get the idea) The fins have short tabs to align them and perhaps provide a bit of strength. I suspect that these fins could pop off in a hard landing, but so far ours have stayed on (despite one landing on pavement.) It’s pretty hard to mess-up these fins. The biggest risk is that you will get plastic cement on the nice smooth surface and mar it, but that can be avoided with simple precautions.

The completed fin can fits into the smaller of the two body tubes (again with plastic cement), and the two tubes are connected with a plastic coupler. The coupler is also the mounting point for the shock-cord.

The shock-cord is ¼ inch elastic, both wider and longer than one would expect from Estes (bravo!). Nevertheless I added a length of Kevlar tether, and strengthened the top inch of the body tube with thin CA to protect against “zippers”. The standard 18 in. plastic chute came pre-assembled. I attached it to the elastic about 7 inches from the nosecone.

The "Pros" for this kit are the easy, kid-friendly assembly (no CA or knives required). Instructions are typically Estes, which is to say easy to follow and well illustrated. The rocket feels quite sturdy, but if you use plastic cement as recommended there could be some separated parts after hard landings.

Finishing:
The only finish step is the application of stick-on decals, the large "Blue Ninja" on the rocket body and vaguely oriental designs to the fins. While effortless, the finish of this rocket is one of its strong selling points. It's a sharp-looking rocket right-out of the box, which was important for my 7 year old.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
To date we have only flown the rocket on C11-3 motors (small fields and strong winds). Rocksim puts apogee with that impulse around 300 feet, and that seems about right. Boost has always been straight and deployment close to apogee. The rocket comes off the pad slowly and looks large and impressive in flight. A D12-5 flight is predicted to go to 700 feet. This ought to be a very predictable rocket, so I fully expect those flights to be very successful too. Estes recommends a 3 second delay on the D12, but Rocksim shows the D12-5 to be the better choice. These E2X rockets generally are built right to the predicted weight, so the Rocksim performance ought to be accurate.

RockSim

The motor-retention cap extends beyond the end of the motor a bit to create a "nozzle" effect. These caps make prep somewhat easier, and look better that a metal hook, but it is a bit of a reach to get the igniter properly secured in the motor nozzle. We had a couple of misfires caused by igniters that dropped out or broke. Not a big deal, but something to think about when you prep this rocket.

On the last flight the prismatic blue wrap started to unwind from the body tube. It’s a small flaw easily repaired.

RecoveryRecovery:
The Blue Ninja recovers on a standard Estes plastic 18in chute. This chute has worked well for us, in terms of size and decent rate. On the last flight the chute suffered some melting and burn holes, but brought the rocket back just fine. The body tube is wide and long, so sealing it with wadding is difficult. I was using Rogue Permawadding, which was undamaged, but obviously some of the "hot stuff" got by.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
This is a fine kit for beginners, and ought to be a breeze for anyone with plastic model experience. The flights are impressive and dependable on the recommended engines. There is no balsa in this kit, and it is really not so much “built” as “assembled”. I usually prefer a more traditional kit, but I can appreciate what Estes is doing here. I bought this kit for my kids, principally my seven year old. That the Blue Ninja is “easy-to-build” is a nice thing for him, but the most important feature is that it’s “easy to get right”. I may find the “made-by-Cub Scouts” look kind of charming, but he is embarrassed by it. I’ve also seen beginners discouraged by the poor flying characteristics of their early attempts. My kids love to fly this rocket. They built it, it’s big, it flies well, and they get admiring glances when they take it to the pad. I think this kit is going to give a lot of beginners a good first experience in rocketry, and encourage them to continue on.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Flights

Comments:

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P.J.B. (July 14, 2002)
I cut the engine block shorter to accept the E9, can use the cut piece to use D12. The plastic twist retainer melts over time, makes it hard to get off. I replaced the chute with a ripstop streamer, as on the E9, it will hit about 1400 feet.
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J.R. (September 2, 2002)
I did the usual Kevlar® cord treatment in place of the shock cord. THEN square knotted the shock cord to the Kevlar® cord. Soaked the upper tube with CA to help prevent the zips, and when the blue plastic started to unravel, I put a few dabs of plastic cement and it stays put. I wonder if you could laminate foil to the motor mount ring to make it last longer...hmm..
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J.C.S. (November 12, 2003)
This is a perfect "first rocket" for 24mm motors. Very easy to build (I did it with my 7 year old) and cheap enough that losing it isn't a big deal. If you have a large field, this rocket flies great on an E9-6. I'm looking forward to trying it on an E30 and maybe an F21 sometime. I tried it on a C6-3 with an adapter but it was underpowered. C11 works well on tiny fields. Both of the other guest opinions are right on the money. If you want to fly it more than a few times, definitely insert a long peice of Kevlar® cord in-between the rocket and the far too short Estes shock cord. Gluing down the end of the blue wrap is also a must if you don't want it to turn into a Silver Ninja. Make sure you cut the cardboard spacer in half so you can fit Estes E and the longer Aerotech 24mm motors.
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A.M. (June 7, 2004)
Great Rocket. I just left the engine mount and let the E stick out a little. I also trashed the retainer ring to rely on a friction fit. When launching with an E9, I just took off the parachute and used a nose blow system which pretty much let the rocket set itself on the pad(safely). Great rocket with an E9, can be spotted easily high in the sky because of its reflection. Once, I had it land in a goat pasture and the goats destroyed the parachute which is another reason that nose blow came into play.
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J.H. (June 15, 2004)
Not so great of a first flight. It reminded me why I do not like plastic fins, they seem to fall off. I did lose one fin but plan on making my own out of balsa. Yes, the blue did start peeling back. I took the top part of the blue foil off and now it is silver and blue. Yes, my parachute melted. Need to use more wadding and definitely a longer shock cord. I flew on a D. I think once I make these adjustments it will do fine though.......but then I will have a different rocket than the one that comes in the kit.
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B.C. (July 7, 2004)
Great kit for beginners. Big and good looking. Easy to build right. Superb job in molding the fin can/engine mount assembly - no trimming required. Only complaint is too-short elastic shock cord
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C.J.B. (February 20, 2006)
Have flow the Blue Ninja on C11's and D12-3 engines, it really soars on the D's. The blue covering peeled off the top of the 8" tube, but PVA glue is fine to fix it with. I fly rockets on a beach, and have no trouble with fins breaking or coming off. The ony trouble I haveis the cardboard getting wet on the sane, again PVA glue on the inside of the 12" tube prevents is expanding when wet.
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B.G.A. (February 27, 2006)
The Blue Ninja is an awesome rocket. For an E2X rockets, this one is a keeper. It flies great on C11's, and on D12's, it soars. C11's are good for it on a small field. I have 3 now, one the blue wrap is completely off (renamed the Silver Ninja), and the kids love it when I drag race them.
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D.L.K. (January 7, 2008)
This is a great rocket to modify to fly on E motors. I replaced the parachute with a streamer made from caution tape and lengthened the shock cord. I used epoxy for the motor mount and fins which has held up great so far. I also replaced the screw on motor retainer with a metal retainer clip is had for an E motor. This kit is a great kit for those looking to try flying larger motors at half the price of other kits.
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J.G. (April 23, 2008)
This is a really nice kit. It flies beautifully, and can take a real beating. We have probably flown ours about 10 times now, always on a D12-5. We have had two major crashes, once where a parachute failed to deploy correctly, and a second where the body separated from the chute/nose cone. In both cases, I was sure we were going to find a destroyed rocket waiting for us. To my surprise, there was only minor damage (to the bottom launch lug) from the first crash, and NO damage from the second crash. The engine retainer ring begins to "melt" over time with heavy use, but Estes will send you a new one if you ask for it. We like the characteristics of this rocket so much that we are going to build a "stretched" version of it that can fly on E engines. Look for it in the mods section in a few weeks.

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