Estes - Star Wars Droid Fighter {Kit}

Contributed by Scott Turnbull

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

Rocket Pic

Brief:
This is one of those Star Wars plastic model starter kits. The kit consists of a handful of standard rocket components to which is mounted a detailed plastic representation of a Star Wars Episode I Droid Fighter. Recovery is via a standard chute. Included with the kit is a Porta-Pad, Launch Controller with Star Wars Logo, and launch supplies for three flights.

Construction:
The base of the rocket consists of a molded plastic combination fin can and motor mount. The body tube is assembled from two narrow diameter paper tubes, a plastic diameter transition piece, and a larger diameter black paper tube. A short black plastic nosecone tops off the tube. The Droid Fighter model clips to a mount on the fin can. A plastic engine retaining ring is used to secure the motor within the motor mount.

Kit

Rear AttachmentThe instructions are very clear, combining descriptive text with illustrative diagrams. The mix of paper and plastic materials leads to glue recommendations that may differ from step to step. I used yellow glue for paper to paper connections, and CA for the plastic to paper tube fittings. The elastic shock cord is mounted by knotting it and passing it through a slot molded into the tube transition piece. This leaves the white shock cord knot visible outside the black rocket. The fin can has two molded fins, and a molded mount point for the Droid Fighter. The Droid Fighter snaps over the mount point and clicks into place. A small plastic lever must be pried up to release the fighter again. A separate display stand is included for the Droid Fighter model.

Finishing:
There is virtually no finishing required on this kit. All the core rocket pieces are either molded black plastic, or black finished paper tubing. The Droid Fighter itself is pre-painted. Being a paper body tube, there are visible spirals on the pre-finished tubes. I did take a black marker and color the shock cord knot that is visible in the slot of the body tube connector.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Ready to LaunchFlight:
The kit comes complete with three Estes C6-3 motors, which are the recommended first flight motors. This is a relatively heavy rocket, with significant drag from the piggybacked model, so the flight was slow and low. There was plenty of smoke and fire in evidence to wow the young crowd. It rose straight up approximately 200 feet, and started to arc slightly just before burn-out. This may have been do to the light winds present at launch time.

Recovery:
The ejection charge easily deployed the chute at apogee, and the chute brought the rocket into the hands of the waiting chasers. The descent was fairly rapid, and the rocket was caught before touching down. It remains to be seen whether the plastic fins and Droid Fighter model can withstand a hardpan landing.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
This kit, though not a challenge to build, was fun to fly. Copious amounts of smoke and fire were part of the show. This is a good rocket for a small field, as it stays low and descends quickly. More flights will tell whether more or less wind affects the perceived initial flight arc. While the rocket in this review emerged unscathed from its maiden flight, an identical kit built by a young modeler has a checkered past. He used yellow glue for the plastic to paper joints, and the body tube separated at ejection on its first flight. Subsequent use of epoxy solved that. He describes some erratic flight for a subsequent flight, but his rocket flew fine (with the same arc) shortly after my rocket flew. The plastic motor retention ring on the four time flown rocket has signs of heat blistering. The ring from the rocket built for this review didn't suffer that on its only flight.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Flights

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