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Product Lab - April 2008

Published: March 14, 2008
J-3 Cub BL an all-weather park flyer
Product: ParkZone, known for its "Just Fly" slogan, created a ready-to-fly J-3 Cub park flyer several years ago that was powered by a geared motor and a heavy 8.4V NiMH battery. ParkZone's newest version has a 370 brushless outrunner motor and 7.4V 800mAh LiPo battery.

The lightweight, high-capacity LiPo battery, combined with an efficient brushless motor, give this Cub a longer flight time and better power-to-weight ratio than the previous version.

Performance: ParkZone's J-3 Cub BL comes ready to fly right out of the box and includes everything necessary for flight, even batteries for the included transmitter. The airplane has very scale looks and is finished in the famous Cub Yellow with black lightning bolt on the side. The wings are simply strapped on with rubber bands. The wing struts and landing gear are screwed into the fuselage. The battery typically reaches a full charge in about an hour with the provided car charger.

My first flight of the ParkZone Cub was made on a calm, overcast day. The flying field was covered with a fresh layer of snow, so I elected to give the plane a hand-launch. The plane entered a fairly steep climb that looked like it would never end.

Once the airplane was in the air, it required little trimming and could hold level flight at less than half-throttle. Besides being surprised by the Cub's amount of power, I was surprised again that it is much quieter than any of the ParkZone aircraft I had flown before.

During the first flight, I set the rates to the low end and had no problem climbing quickly over the tall trees at either end of the flying field. The rudder also had an adequate amount of movement to maneuver the aircraft in the confines of my small flying field. After I was familiar with the control rate at the low end, I switched to high and had the urge to try the ParkZone Cub's claim to "aerobatic" flight.

The first maneuver I performed was a loop, which it ran through effortlessly with a shallow dive. Deciding that I would test the full effectiveness of the rudder, on a high-speed pass, I gave the controls full left input. The airplane was on its back in a second, and almost went into the ground. The Cub won't perform a true roll, but is agile enough that the rudder can flip the plane over.

At slow speeds, the Cub maintains good control, even in stall conditions. I was able to perform several touch-and-goes, and only required about five feet on takeoff before I was in the air again.

Marketing: For those who live in a warmer climate, the Cub is a great plane for shooting lazy touch-and-goes all year round. For those of us who live in a northern climate, I recommend a slight modification to enjoy touch-and-goes during the winter - Du-Bro skis! It even makes the Cub look like a true bush plane.

The skis make a perfect add-on, and I'm sure they'll sell if displayed on the Cub in the store. Also, the skis fit a wide range of park flyers.

Overall, I was very pleased with performance and maneuverability of the ParkZone Brushless Cub. It's a great choice for flight in all climates and opens up a lot of interesting flight environments while maintaining a low price tag. The Cub is a little bit too fast to be a good beginner's airplane, but it sure would make a great second plane.

Reviewed by Jason McNally

Product: J-3 Cub BL
Maker: ParkZone
Stock No.: PKZ4500
MSRP/MAP: $199.99/$159.99
Other products used: Du-Bro snow skis (No. 830, $10.45)
Availability: Horizon Hobby

  • Brushless and LiPo power

  • Scale looks

  • Fast and nimble

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    Details elevate FlyZone's Piper J-3 Cub
    Product: FlyZone, a division of Hobbico, is relatively new to the park flyer market. Since there are already several 3-channel J-3 Cub park flyers, FlyZone set out to make its Cub a little different. FlyZone offers the Cub as a 4-channel park flyer with aileron, rudder, elevator and throttle control. The airplane is powered by a 380-size motor and a 7.4V 1100 mAh battery.

    The transmitter for the Cub has the ability to be plugged into another 4-channel Futaba radio for training purposes.

    The transmitter also has a battery power indicator that lights up and shows the pilot how much power is left in the transmitter. These extra features set FlyZone apart from other manufacturers, yet the price tag is still about the same as other park flyers.

    Performance: The FlyZone Cub looks stunning out of the box. It has all the looks of a real Piper Cub, even down to the dummy engine cylinder heads sticking out of the cowling! The Cub took a half hour to assemble and the battery took around one hour to charge.

    I remember hearing at an R/C club a few years ago that a lot of the Cubs have ineffective ailerons and that it's easier to control the plane with the rudder instead. I was interested in finding out first-hand.

    On my first flight, I tried a ground takeoff. The aircraft was a little difficult to control during the takeoff roll since the tail wheel isn't steerable, but once the tail was up I had plenty of control. The airplane climbed nicely and appeared to have enough power.

    Once the plane was in the air, I had some difficulty finally getting the controls trimmed out. I couldn't manage to keep the nose down in level flight, even with elevator trim full forward. As it turns out, the center of gravity (CG) was a bit off. Once I added some weight to the nose, the aircraft trimmed out nicely.

    I noticed in the first flight that the Cub flew very fast, which is not characteristic of a real Piper Cub. The ailerons had enough control for basic turns, but did not have a very high roll rate.

    When I tried to perform a roll with the Cub, I found that the ailerons were virtually ineffective once the aircraft reached an 80-90 degree bank. It seems for the most part that the rumor from the R/C club is true - at least for this Cub.

    The control responses from the rudder and elevator were quick and effective in all stages of flight, even at low power. When it came time to bring the airplane in for a landing, I couldn't seem to slow it down very well, and the aircraft bounced on the pavement at touchdown, even with a nice flare.

    On a later flight, I found that this Cub actually seems to fly better when there is a slight headwind so that the airplane can slow down on landing. Since this Cub is equipped with ailerons and seems to have a more "slippery" wing than other park flyers, it tends to be able to fly in winds as high as 10 mph.

    Marketing: In the end, I enjoyed the added features of this Cub over those offered in other park flyers. I was disappointed that the ailerons were not as effective as I had hoped, but the rudder and elevator still had more than enough movement to control the airplane.

    The "buddy-box" feature on the transmitter will make this aircraft good for training beginner pilots, and it may be a good selling point, especially for beginners looking to move into a 4-channel airplane.

    Reviewed by Jason McNally

    Product: Piper J-3 Cub RTF
    Maker: FlyZone
    Stock No.: HCAA24**
    MSRP/Street: $199.99/$159.99
    Availability: Great Planes Model Distributors

  • Great scale appearance

  • Buddy-box option

  • May need weight to correct CG

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    Tamiya's 3-speed Toyota Hilux truck a rewarding challenge
    Product: Tamiya's revamped Hilux pickup truck kit now shares the same steel-channel, ladder-frame chassis as its Ford F-350 High-Lift, giving it an old-school look on top with modern hardware underneath.

    The single 540-motor truck has optional four-wheel steering, as well as the ability to lock the differentials as desired for off-road operations. A three-speed gearbox offers help in rock-climbing or other high-load applications; it operates on the left stick of the recommended Futaba Attack 4WD 27MHz AM radio (throttle and steering are controlled by the right stick).

    The optional multifunction kit (MFC-02, $399.99; sound, lights and vibration effects) can be added and is run with the radio's fourth channel. The adjustable front and rear leaf-spring suspension is equipped with friction dampers.

    A standard six-cell battery and ESC must be purchased separately.

    Performance: This is a kit for the advanced modeler. The build was much more challenging than the TT-01-style Tamiya kits I'd built in the past - not least because of the sheer number of parts compared to the simpler kits.

    The high parts count results in nearly double the assembly steps of a typical bathtub-chassis kit, so an organized, orderly approach to construction is a must. This is not a model that can be built in a weekend, so patience is definitely a virtue here.

    The transmission was the most complex part of the kit and requires the most attention to detail.

    Not only are the parts enclosed in a two-piece housing, the unit is also attached to the frame long before it can be fully tested; an error here could have serious ramifications later. Despite my best effort, we had some gear-shift issues when we tested the truck; finding third gear was a problem.

    The two-piece injection-molded body bolts together just behind the doors. I painted it with the new Testors One Coat Lacquer, which worked well, though I added a couple of coats of clear over the silver paint for extra protection. The body attaches to the frame with a single screw in front and two in the bed, so it's a bit more time-consuming to remove for maintenance. However, the transverse-mounted battery is easily accessible.
    With all of the metal parts used in this kit, the completed model is heavy compared to other 1:10-scale vehicles, so it's definitely not a race truck, but it is quite realistic in appearance and function as an off-road vehicle.

    And when the optional four-wheel steering is activated, the Hilux becomes even more maneuverable, with a tiny turning radius.

    Marketing: The fun of building a kit such as the Hilux is in the challenge of completing a project that is a bit different in assembly and appearance from other kits.

    After the gearbox is completed, the buildup is not so much complex as it is time-consuming, so modelers who want to advance their building skills should be able to handle its construction.

    Hardcore off-road-loving modelers will like the Hilux's classic truck look and the realistic off-road performance - especially if the multifunction unit is added.

    Reviewed by Jim Haught

    Product: Toyota Hilux 4WD pickup truck kit
    Maker: Tamiya
    Scale: 1:10
    Stock No.: 58397
    MSRP: $627
    Availability: Contact your Tamiya distributor

  • Interesting challenge to build

  • Realistic operation, appearance

  • Multifunction unit can be added

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    Decide the world's fate in Asmodee's Age of Gods
    Product: Players take on the roles of gods that rule over a mythical world, in Age of Gods, a board from Asmodee Editions. The game itself comes in a hefty box with a rule book, an addendum to the rules, large and very colorful game board, cardboard tokens, a deck of action cards and a six-sided die.

    The board and pieces come in a protective plastic bag. A plastic insert is provided to house the various game components once they've been punched out.

    Performance: As with many games of this type, there are a lot of cardboard tokens that have to be punched out, but board gamers should come to expect that. The bulk of the tokens represents the fantasy races that inhabit the world, like elves, dwarves, amazons and humans. The rest are markers for technology levels, fortresses and attack and defense bonuses.

    The board is huge and has a map of the fantasy world over which players will vie. The map is separated into a number of small territories, mostly outlined with white borders, but a few in red. The latter are categorized as cities.

    While the box art screams action, it does take a while to get to playing. One race token must be placed in each territory on the board, with specific races going to specific territories. For the first couple of games, it is essential to refer to the rule book to know which tokens go where.

    After all the race tokens are placed on the map, those remaining are placed in their proper spot in the Well of Souls section of the board. Race tokens that are removed from play due to battles or divine wrath are put here and used as a pool to draw from as the game progresses.

    Two god cards are randomly distributed to each player, and the player chooses which of these two gods he wants to portray. Each god has its own special power that the player can use during the course of the game. For instance, the god of technology is able to raise the technology level of a race, giving it a bonus to attacks and defense.

    An entire game takes nine turns to complete, and each turn has four phases: destiny, fortification, combat and action.

    During the destiny phase on turns 1, 3, 5 and 7, each player receives a destiny card representing one of the races in the game. These are the races that the player represents. On turns 2, 4 and 6, each player must make an attack with a "minor" race.

    On the fortification phase, players, in turn, pick a territory to fortify. Each player must make an attack on the combat phase, and during the action phase, everyone plays one of their action cards in an attempt to help out the races they represent.

    Victory is determined by totaling the number of territories occupied by each race, and the points are given to the player who represents them. Cities are counted as double. There is also a betting element, in which, on turn 7, each player chooses two races he thinks will have all of its tokens on the board at the end of the game. If correct, the player is awarded three bonus points.

    Marketing: Age of Gods is interesting to play, but it is very involved and somewhat nonintuitive. Not for novices, players under 12 will find the game's mechanics hard to follow without an adult to help. Recommend it to your hardcore board gamers who like a good deal of brinksmanship to their games.

    Reviewed by Tim Kidwell

    Product: Age of Gods
    Maker: Asmodee Editions
    Stock No.: AGE01US
    MSRP: $39.99
    Availability: Call Asmodee Editions at 514-504-8461, e-mail or visit

  • Quality components

  • 90+ minutes to play

  • For experienced gamers

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    JLG Industries' ATLAS II Telehandler delivers realism
    Product: Forget Hummers. JLG Industries' ATLAS II Military Telehandler (quite a mouthful) is one of the roughest, toughest pieces of equipment on the planet.

    These babies will lift 10,000 pounds overhead and crawl around in four-wheel drive to move heavy materials in all types of lousy conditions: sand, mud, what have you. JLG Industries Inc., now a subsidiary of Oshkosh Corp., has been turning these and similar models out since 1990. There are now more than 2,300 ATLAS Telehandlers being used around the world to lift, transport and load heavy materials for the military.

    In the real world, Telehandlers are pure necessity items that the military could not do without and still carry out their tasks in a timely manner. So it's great to see JLG release a 1:32-scale die-cast model of these workhorses. Not only that, but JLG delivers two versions for hobby stores to sell: one in desert tan and the other in camo green.

    Performance: I like the appearance and heft of these ATLAS (All Terrain Lifter Army Systems) models. They're realistic looking and well complemented, with the detailed decals on the machine's body and boom. For instance, there's one labeling the diesel fuel tank and another for the hydraulic fill. Finish is good too.

    But what makes these and other JLG products stand out and look great in displays is their telescoping features. Here the giant three-section boom, with its authentic-looking fork on the end, will extend a full 10 inches, and thanks to its Lift & Lock feature, stay put. It also adjusts to a full 45-degree angle, creating a model that's 16 inches long at full extension.

    There are red and clear lights front and rear, also adding to the realism, and nice clear windows protecting the cab's interior. Detail is good there as far as levers and steering wheel are concerned, but a few decals on the gauges would really turn this model into a primo product. At this price point, $69.99, I'd also like to see the cab door open.

    JLG provides four rugged-looking rubber tires and posable wheels (including a crab position) so you can make the Telehandler roll or look like it's moving in any direction. The fenders here are plastic, not die-cast, but their finish matches the rest of the vehicle.

    Marketing: There isn't anything else out there like this in the JLG brand, so push the exclusivity of the ATLAS II. Collectors of heavy-equipment models will eat this up to go along with all their other construction items. The model comes in a well-decorated box with a window, so displaying it is easy.

    However, you could create a small diorama using the Telehandler as the focal point in a military scene, or a work site, maybe with some other construction equipment to promote several of your heavy-duty die-cast equipment.

    Another thought: If you've got a 1:32-scale slot-car track in your store, put one of these out on the layout with hay bales on the lift, or build a small TV camera platform to show off its versatility both as a collectible and a fun new piece to augment the race track scene.

    Reviewed by Mark Savage

    Product: ATLAS II Military Telehandler
    Maker: JLG Industries
    Scale: 1:32
    Stock Nos.: 80557 (Desert Tan), 80567 (Camo Green)
    MSRP: $69.99 each
    Availability: JLG Gear

  • Unique product

  • Solid quality, realistic look

  • Working boom

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    Tamiya's Russian JS-2 tank a dream to build
    Product: The Soviet Union's JS-2 marked the pinnacle of tank development in World War II with its 122mm gun and well-sloped, heavy armor. Tamiya's model has parts for one JS-2, including two figures.

    Performance: The kit's dark green parts are beautifully cast with crisp panel lines and fine bolt detail. Cast texture on the hull and turret is outstanding, and there are nice weld seams and torch-cut textures. A small photo-etched metal fret includes two intake grates for the engine deck. Nylon cord is provided for tow cables.

    Customers can choose from vinyl or link-and-length tracks. The latter has a bottom run as well as short, slightly curved lengths for the front and rear. Two forms for the top lengths allow builders to easily model the appropriate sag. Very nice!

    A small decal sheet gives markings for four vehicles. Two are for the Red Army, Berlin, 1945, with white air-recognition crosses on the turret. Polish and Czech tanks are also included. The decals are in-register, although the red seems to bleed through the white eagle on the Polish 4th Heavy Tank Regiment insignia.

    I deviated from the instructions by painting the wheels on the sprues and assembling them after painting the hull.

    The model builds beautifully. Everything fits perfectly; I had only to scrape a couple of minor mold seams on the suspension arms. A drop of superglue filled a tiny gap between the glacis plate and lower hull. I love the effect of the engine louvers under the photo-etched metal grilles. Sponson blanking plates are included. I attached the tools, tow cables and auxiliary fuel tanks before painting.

    The gun-barrel halves fit perfectly; the seams disappeared with a couple swipes of a sanding stick. The two-part muzzle brake needed a little more work, but it looks great. Poly caps in the mantlet allow the gun to elevate.

    The turret halves attach along a natural seam. Grab handles outside the turret have very faint, molded locating marks, allowing their omission as necessary; some tanks had all the grab handles, others had just one or two. The handles are scale thin.

    The wheel halves sandwich poly caps, making drive assembly a snap. The forms for the sagging tracks worked well, but they are handed: the loop from the idler to the first return roller is longer than the loop from the last return roller to the drive sprocket, so the ridge on the form goes toward the front of the tank. The instructions warn you to mind the direction of the tracks, but they show the left run backwards.

    Despite instructions showing how many links were needed for the curves, mine came up short one link. Unfortunately, there are two types of link, with a guide horn on alternating links making it hard to fill in with just one. I attached the extras at the idler so the extra guide horn is not visible. I also test-fitted the vinyl tracks and found them very tight around the wheels.

    Two figures in casual poses occupy the turret hatches. They are the weakest part of the kit; good poses, but the facial expressions are a little flat, and there are heavy mold seams.

    Marketing: Tamiya's JS-2 is the perfect mix of ease of building and good, accurate detail. It isn't for absolute beginners, but any modeler who's built a couple of kits will enjoy the smart engineering. "Superdetailers" and diorama builders will love the possibilities this new kit presents.

    As with most model kits, this one presents opportunities for add-on sales, such as Micro Sol setting solution, paint and brushes.

    Reviewed by Aaron Skinner

    Product: Russian Heavy Tank JS-2 Model 1944 ChKZ
    Maker: Tamiya
    Scale: 1:35
    Stock No.: 35289
    MSRP: $53

  • A joy to build

  • Accurate detail

  • Some experience needed

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