Quest - Area 51 Saucer {Kit}

Contributed by Hans "Chris" Michielssen

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Manufacturer: Quest
Skill Level: 1
Style: RTF, Saucer

quest_area51spevBrief:
This is a re-issue of an out of production Quest(ARF) Saucer Odd-Roc. I ordered two sets of these from Quest during their recent 40% off Christmas sale. One saucer kit and three C6-0 engines were part of the combo deal for $9.00. Quite a good price, a fun rocket for a little more than the price of the three engines. As the Quest website explains a supply of saucer tops was found in a mis-marked crate at the Quest facility. Quest's president Bill Stine redesigned it using some existing parts to fashion this S.P.E.V. kit. SPEV stands for “Spare Parts Elimination Vehicle”. The name S.P.E.V. actually goes back to an old Estes kit. It was sold with the subtitle - SPace Exploration Vehicle. Quest also included a “Freebie” MicroMaxx Mini saucer in each kit bag. It is a scaled down copy of the big saucer. A nice surprise, even though I’ve heard it doesn’t fly very high, I’d always wanted one.

quest_area51spev_parts

Construction:
The parts are few:

  • Plastic Saucer Top
  • (3) Laser Cut Black Fiber Fins
  • White Plastic Launch Lug, 1.5" long
  • Yellow Motor Mount Tube, BT-20 diameter 2 11/16" long
  • Sheet of 8.5" X 11" Avery Self-Adhesive Paper
  • (You print your own saucer decor from the Quest Website)
  • Pictorial Instruction Sheet

quest_area51spev_warpedI was a little surprised to see the plastic saucer top was warped. It shouldn’t affect flight characteristics. The inside of the saucer top reads (Copyright) 1998 TOY BIZ, INC. and MADE IN MEXICO. This “kit” only includes the top of the saucer. The smooth bottom half with integrated fins and antenna mounts in not included (or necessary) for this saucer version.

I cleaned off the saucer of any molding release agents with light soapy water and a paper towel. I wanted to be sure that later on that the self adhesive “decals” would stick well.

quest_area51spev_lugsThe launch lug was molded white plastic, thick and contoured to fit against the BT-20 sized motor mount tube. I knew I had seen a lug like this before. I put it next to my old MPC Nike Patriot, it’s the same style molded lug that Harry Stine designed for MPC thirty years ago.

The fins were laser cut from thick black fiberboard stock. I had to wipe off the burnt edges with a paper towel. There was black ash marks from the fins on the yellow motor mount tube. There are no wire landing leg “antennas”.

The instructions were printed in black and white on one side of an 8 1/2" x 11' sheet. Photo illustrations accompanied the directions.

  • Step 1: You glue the thick plastic launch lug to the inside of the saucer top. It lines up with the molded hole in the top of the saucer. I sanded the ends of the lug to clean up the molding flash. The lug’s formed side contour doesn’t quite match the diameter of the molded motor mount housing. It was made for a MPC body tube, approx. 1 3/8" diameter.
  • Step 2: I decided to replace the supplied yellow motor mount tube with a thicker BT-20 tube. I felt the Quest motor mount tubing was too thin. I glued the blue thrust ring in the replacement tube.
  • Step 3: The instructions say to use plastic cement to glue the motor mount tube into the saucer. I used thick (slower dry) super glue. I ran a bead of the thick CA around the top thrust ring and another ring around the upper body. When I slid the motor tube into place, the thick glue helped fill in the slight gap between the plastic top “tube” and the BT-20 replacement.
  • Step 4: The model is a simpler take on the older all plastic design. The root ends of the Fiber Fins attach to the cardboard motor mount tube with wood glue. Instead of wood glue, I set the fins in place, lined them up, then ran a line of thin super glue down the root edge. The other end of the fins have a tab that fits into cutout circles in the saucer top. I touched the tab/circle contact points with super glue. There is no plastic fins and the plastic tabs won’t be breaking off the saucer top like the original version. The fins were a great design, adapting well to the existing saucer top. The saucer stands on the fins and on it’s own when built.
    No engine hook. Also missing are the wire landing legs. Not a problem. The saucer top is molded from a strong, flexible plastic. Landings shouldn’t be a concern. When all assembled the saucer is very sturdy.
  • Step 5: Glue the two remaining fins into position. That's it!

Finishing:
Go to the Quest website and download the decal. You can choose from four different decals. I chose Decal Sheet 3, the one with the “Bewildered” Aliens. The yellow Alien skin color reminded me of the old “Glow-In-The-Dark” toys of the 1960's. Being this model is an Odd-Ball, I went for the most outrageous pattern.

Be sure to spray and seal the printed “decals” with a shot of clear coat to prevent smearing. All four of the decals have a suggested color for the saucer. I was reluctant to spray the saucer, I was concerned the paint wouldn’t adhere well on the slick surface of the saucer top. My saucer was molded in a medium metallic grey color. You are directed to use a hobby knife to cut out the “decal” images. I cut mine with scissors. Cutting out the decals is the most time consuming part of the build. It took 20 minutes to cut all 12 pieces. Placement was not a problem except for the highest center ring decal stickers. It’s a full ring, made-up of three arc shaped pieces. I had to place the pieces higher than the centerline of the highest plastic “cone” to get all the edges to match up.

The finished saucer looks great! It was a fun and easy build. It was interesting to see the original design improved using fewer parts and updated graphics. The black fins, white engine tube, white lug and (original color plastic) grey saucer all compliment each other well.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
Quest recommends a B6-0 or C6-0 engines. Previous EMRR reviews say the B6-0 is too underpowered for this saucer. The original instructions (from 1998) say to use a C6-0 engine only. I will fly it with the C6-0s that came with the sale combo package.

I was flying alone today, I wanted to get this review in quickly, our next R.O.C.K. NAR section launch wasn’t for another two weeks. I packed up my (20 year old) Estes yellow Porta-Pad launcher. This launcher had the pre-lightning bolt legs. After some continuity problems, I scraped off some battery corrosion and got a light.

Prep was simple, friction fit the engine with a little masking tape and install the igniter. There was no engine hook and of course, no wadding.

Countdown and launch! The engine really had to work to get it airborne. It started arcing over half way up. This wasn’t a vertical flight, I had a slight wind to content with. Being a C6-0 engine, the propellant “wall” broke through just before it turned over. It landed on it’s top, 50 feet from the launcher. I picked it up quickly, the lawn was a little wet and I didn’t want to ruin the paper stick-on decals. (Another reason to clear coat after printing.) While I am terrible at guessing altitudes, it may have got to 125 feet.

I followed up with the (Freebie) Micro Maxx saucer. The retaining ring on the plastic engine mount was a little tricky, There are tiny arrows to show you which way to lock the ring. I didn’t want to lose the ring, I added two small tape strips on the ring and engine mount tube.

As the reviews before had said, not much altitudem I would guess 40 feet. Still, a lot of fun. I’m an Odd-Roc fan, I know both saucers will be favorites.

Recovery:
I was curious to see if there was any burn marks at the plastic area above the top of the engine. There was none!

  • Engines: When I got home, it was interesting to peel off the Quest label. The outer Quest color wrapper said Quest a Division of Toy Biz, Inc. Made in the U.S.A. Under the peeled label, the engine was German made and labeled: RAKETEN MOTOR. The printing was RED, designating a booster engine, but the printed power was C6-3! The was a booster engine, there was clearly no delay or ejection charge in the tops of the fresh motors. The production date was 1996. Not a big deal, just interesting. The engines were packed in a sealed, airtight bag. The engine performed well.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
Bill Stine did a great job using the existing materials to put a fresh, improved spin on an existing platform. The model lost a point for the lug that didn't fit the 3/4" diameter engine tubing contour. And the supplied engine tube was flimsy. Neither original supplied parts would effect flight though. The fiber fins were well cut and strong.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Flights

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