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Product Lab - December 2005

Published: November 21, 2005
Fly now with Firebird Commander 2
Reviewed by Andy Lilienthal

Product: With its simplified controls and easy-to-fly configurations, all you need is a little practice and you can be tearing up the skies over a park in your neighborhood with the Firebird Commander 2. Because of the foam and plastic construction, a big crash doesn't always result in a total loss - an important feature, especially to people like me who had never flown an R/C plane before.

HobbyZone's Firebird Commander 2 RTF has taken "easy to fly" one step further by introducing Anti Crash Technology (ACT).

The secret behind ACT is two fuselage-mounted sensors: a top sensor monitors the sky, a bottom sensor monitors the ground. If the plane enters a severe dive, the sensors pick up on the change in position and cut power to the motor to keep the craft flying level, allowing the pilot to regain control. The ACT can be turned off.

Included in the box is the aircraft fuselage, which includes motor, servos and receiver; a foam wing and rubber bands to attach it to the fuselage; landing gear; a two-channel radio with AA batteries; and a 7.2V 900mAh Ni-MH battery pack with wall AC charger. Another nice feature is that the Commander 2 can be had in one of six different frequencies.

VITAL STATS
Product: Firebird Commander 2 RTF
Maker: HobbyZone
Stock number: HBZ2600
MSRP: $139.99
Availability: Horizon Hobby

BOTTOM LINE
• Really is ready to fly
• Anti-crash tech actually works
• Replacement parts/add-ons

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Norscot combines perfect for the collector or HO modeler
Reviewed by Cody Grivno

Products: These HO scale combines are based on 1:1 prototypes produced by European manufacturer Claas. Both models feature die-cast metal and plastic construction, positionable parts and rubber tires.

VITAL STATS
Product: Claas Lexion 580 and Claas Jaguar 900 combines
Maker: Norscot Scale Models
Scale: 1:87
Stock number: 56016 (Lexion 580), 56017 (Jaguar 900)
MSRP: $19.95 each

BOTTOM LINE
• Great detail
• Plastic parts in realistic colors
• Crisp paint and lettering

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Who-le lot of fun on Whoville Special
Reviewed by Fred Jandt

Product: Bachmann's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Whoville Special is part of a growing number of specialty train sets hitting the market. This one features a 3-foot circle of Bachmann's E-Z Track, speed controller, a Grinch locomotive, Whoville hopper with green "snow" inside, a Cindy Lou Who boxcar and Max the Dog caboose complete with antlers on his head.

VITAL STATS
Product: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Whoville Special Set
Maker: Bachmann
Scale: HO
Stock number: 00658
MSRP: $78

BOTTOM LINE
· EZ Track is a snap to fit together
· Colorful eye-catching cars
· Perfect size for under the tree

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Kyosho's FW-05T provides RTR speed
Reviewed by Hal Miller

Product: If your customer is looking for a parking-lot rocket with an eye toward racing, you'll want to show them this car. Don't let the Spartan looks of the body fool them; underneath is a solid chassis with a racing heritage and engine with plenty of power.

Kyosho's FW-05T ReadySet features a completely assembled 1:10 touring car with a pre-painted and decaled body and Perfex KT-3 two-channel radio. Also included are several wrenches and small replacement parts. Our sample had the BMW M3 GTR body; other available bodies include Porsche and Ferrari.

To get going, all your customer needs are four AA batteries for the receiver and eight more for the transmitter, plus nitro fuel and a glow starter.

VITAL STATS
Product: FW-05T
Maker: Kyosho
Scale: 1:10
Stock number: 31361B
MSRP: $387

BOTTOM LINE
• Easy pull-starting
• Draws a lot of attention
• A lot of car for the money

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A smooth-running speedster
Reviewed by Jeff Wilson

Product: Electro-Motive's F40PH was the most popular passenger diesel of the modern era, with more than 400 of the 3,000-hp locomotives built from 1976 through 1988. Amtrak owned more than 200, and although they are now out of service, they were the mainstay of Amtrak's motive-power fleet through the mid-1990s. Several commuter agencies purchased them as well. Kato's F40PH model follows its earlier N scale models, with nice detailing and a solid mechanism.

VITAL STATS
Product: EMD F40PH diesel locomotive
Maker: Kato
Scale: N
Stock number: Amtrak Phase III scheme; single unit engine No. 342 (No. 176-6101) or two-locomotive set, Nos. 333, 339 (No. 106-6201)
MSRP: Single engine $95; two-engine set $190

BOTTOM LINE
• Pairs with Kato Amtrak cars
• Prototype was widely used
• Great for contemporary modelers

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Polar Lights tackles new, hip subject with 2005 Drift GTO
Reviewed by Andy Lilienthal

Product: On the heels of the Polar Lights' Great American Rides 2004 Pontiac GTO snap kit, is the 2005 Pontiac GTO Drift Car, also part of the Great American Rides series, and also a snap kit.

The body is prepainted in the GTO drift car theme. The rest of the parts are bagged on numerous sprues or loose in bags. A small decal sheet and an instruction sheet comprised of several exploded-view drawings are also included. The instructions say that glue is not necessary, but it may be used.

VITAL STATS
Product: 2005 Pontiac GTO drift car
Maker: Polar Lights
Scale: 1:25
Stock number: 53004
MSRP: $18.99
Availability: RC2

BOTTOM LINE
• Unique subject
• Good-looking chassis and body
• Good price

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Carousel 1 wins the race again with '72 Indy champ
Reviewed by Mark Savage

Product: The 1:18 1972 Indy 500 winning Sunoco McLaren M16B driven by Mark Donahue for Penske Racing is another gem from Carousel 1. This was the first Indy winner for Penske, the most successful team ever at Indy (13 wins). This also was the first McLaren to win and foreshadowed the end of independent-built chassis there, too.

VITAL STATS
Product: '72 Indianapolis 500 winner, No. 66 Mark Donahue Sunoco McLaren M16B
Maker: Carousel 1
Scale: 1:18
Stock number: 4821
MSRP: $139.95

BOTTOM LINE
• Super engine detail
• Historical accuracy
• Solid feel with removable parts

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Tonkin's big-rig is big on looks and features
Product: Tonkin Replicas is known for making high-end die-cast replicas of semi-trucks and trailers. One of the latest releases is this 1:53 Peterbilt 379X with lowboy trailer. This size enables it to be used with O-gauge train layouts.

The 379X is a special-edition Peterbilt with lots of chrome and aluminum parts, which really stand out against the glossy metallic-black paint job.

Lowboy trailers are designed to allow heavy machinery to be loaded and unloaded simply by driving the vehicle onto the bed. Plus, because it's lower to the ground, the center of gravity is lower and the load sits farther down allowing more clearance than a traditional flatbed.

VITAL STATS
Product: Peterbilt 379X Studio with XL specialized Lowboy trailer
Maker: Tonkin Replicas
Scale: 1:53
Stock number: P11085
MSRP: $79.95

BOTTOM LINE
• Neat features
• Many working parts
• Great overall look

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Tutankhamen offers fun play with a need for strategy
Reviewed by Jim Faber

Product: Tutankhamen is a tile-based strategy game that rewards forethought and the ability to anticipate what one's opponents will do. The game, by Out of the Box Publishing, is appropriate for two to six players, ages 8 to adult; a typical game lasts about 30 minutes.

Inside the tiny Tutankhamen box are 70 artifact tiles, 90 tribute coins, six player tokens, one plastic pyramid, a set of quick-play rules and an artifact reference sheet.

VITAL STATS
Product: Tutankhamen
Maker: Out of the Box Publishing
Stock number: 3030
MSRP: $14.99

BOTTOM LINE
• Fast, varied gameplay
• Easy to learn; strategy required
• Compact packaging

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Robots are fun, but building them is even more fun!
Reviewed by Fred Jandt

Product: Robots are cool. Whether they are giant robots crushing cities, menacing cyborgs or little handheld do-it-yourself projects, they are cool. Tamiya has helped keep interest in robots alive with its innovative and entertaining series of robot products. One of its latest releases is the Sound Activated Walking Robot featuring three different designs your customers can build.

VITAL STATS
Product: Sound-Activated Walking Robot
Maker: Tamiya
Stock number: 70166
MSRP: $32

BOTTOM LINE
• Easy to build
• Sound activation is fun
• Easy to customize

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Go like the wind with ProBoat's Vortex 46
Reviewed by Hal Miller

Product: Do you have customers who want to take their radio-control action out on the water? Show them Proboat's ready-to-run Vortex 46 nitro-powered airboat.

It features a sleek fiberglass-composite hull and a powerful .46 Evolution engine, which is already broken-in and ready to run. The boat also comes with a 2-channel radio; servos and linkages are already installed. To get the boat on the water, your customer will need four AA batteries for the receiver and eight more for the transmitter, nitro fuel, a fuel pump, a glow-plug driver and a starter stick to turn the monster three-blade propeller.

VITAL STATS
Product: Vortex 46
Maker: ProBoat
Stock number: PRB2700
MSRP: $399.99
Availability: Horizon Hobbies

BOTTOM LINE
• Big size, easy to handle
• Powerful, reliable engine
• Easy to control

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Beautiful detail on a nice-running engine
Reviewed by Jeff Wilson

Product: Bachmann has added a distinctive new locomotive to its Spectrum line with this model of Amtrak's HHP8 electric locomotive. Built by Bombardier, the prototype 8,000-horsepower, 125-mph locomotives are used in high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak began placing them in service in 2000, using the double-ended locomotives on its Acela regional trains.

VITAL STATS
Product: HHP-8 electric locomotive
Maker: Bachmann Spectrum
Scale: HO
Stock number: Amtrak Acela, three numbers available (Nos. 83003, 83004, 83005, locomotive numbers 655, 650, 664)
MSRP: $148

BOTTOM LINE
• Great for modern modelers
• Sturdy engine
• Popular in the Northeast

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Master and Commander sets sails for the high seas
Reviewed by Jim Faber

Product: Front Porch Classics' bookshelf edition of the Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World game is handsomely bound in a wooden case that would look dignified on any bookshelf.

The game pieces are wonderful to hold and play with, as is expected from Front Porch. The cloth board is reminiscent of old-time maps. The eight metal ships are large and substantial, perfect for the hands of children. The game also includes a deck of event cards for the advanced game, a set of wooden dice with an oversized wind die and magnetic tokens to record damage the ships have taken.

VITAL STATS
Product: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World bookshelf edition
Maker: Front Porch Classics
Stock number: 02036
MSRP: $44.95

BOTTOM LINE
• Rules are easy for younger players
• Looks great on a bookshelf
• Beautiful pieces and board

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