Product Lab - March 2008
Published: February 14, 2008
|ParkZone's Trojan a steadfast warrior|
Product: There was a time when an R/C airplane consisted of sheets and sticks of balsa packed neatly into a box. That meant it took about three months to build the plane, purchase an engine and install a radio, with lots of balsa dust accumulating in the workshop as a result.
The ParkZone T-28 Trojan couldn't be further away from that. For your customers who want to get in the air fast with a good-looking, good-flying plane, the T-28 should fit the bill quite nicely. All he or she will need to put it together is a Phillips head screwdriver. Everything else comes in the box: foam plane, reusable ZX10 5-channel radio, 25A brushless ESC and batteries.
Performance: Assembling the Trojan takes about 10 minutes.
Suggest that your customers bring the Y-connector from the receiver through the bottom of the fuselage to connect to the wing servos, rather than bring the wires in from the wing, as the instructions illustrate.
After attaching the wing to the fuselage, the landing gear snaps into the bottom of the wing. The nose gear slides into a slot under the cowl with the flat spot on the gear facing forward. The retaining screw is tightened by inserting a Phillips screwdriver through the front of the cowl.
The horizontal stabilizer slides into a preformed slot and, once it's straight, secured with four pieces of tape included with the kit. The stab and rudder control surfaces are then attached, at which point you're almost there. The canopy attaches to the fuselage magnetically, covering the battery and electronics.
An 11.1V, 1800mAh LiPo battery is provided with the Trojan and takes about 40 minutes to charge. An item that appears to be geared toward keeping costs down is the DC-only charger. The battery is charged through the balance port, and while it keeps the LiPo balanced, it takes longer to charge. Also, when I tried to hook up one of my other LiPo batteries, I discovered the balance ports are reversed.
The 480 outrunner brushless power system included with the plane gets it in the air very fast - about 10 feet - which is even more impressive, since the field I fly off of has long grass. Unless customers are doing some aerobatics, most of the flying can be done at half throttle. On low rates, the Trojan is a very docile flyer. Switching over to the high rates makes the warbird much more aggressive. Beyond flying well, the Trojan looks great in the air too. However, customers should be warned that flying in winds over 10 knots is probably not a good idea with this plane.
With a generous amount of dihedral, landings are easy, and stalls are not an issue.
Marketing: The Trojan is perfect for the experienced pilot who would rather spend his time flying a scale replica airplane than building one.
Some of your customers may be looking for a step up from park flyers. The Trojan would be a great choice for them, since it can be flown in a small area but still give the impression of a scale warbird. Furthermore, maybe a customer's eyesight isn't what it was, and he needs a larger plane to fly but still has a small flying field. Again, the Trojan would fit the bill.
As far as add-on sales, recommend extra batteries for more flying time and Deans connectors to replace those included with the RTF's battery. Remind customers that when they replace connectors, they should cut each battery lead separately to keep the battery from shorting. Finally, customers who don't already have a LiPo charger will want one other than that supplied with the Trojan.
Reviewed by Paul Daniel
Product: T-28 Trojan RTF
Stock No.: PKZ4400
Availability: Horizon Hobby
Easy to build
Nice scale looks
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|R/C Tifosi should love Tamiya's TamTech GTO|
Product: Tamiya continues its TamTech Gear line with a 1:12-scale radio-control version of one of the 1980s hottest cars, the Ferrari 288 GTO.
The kit comes with the distinctive GTO body and full ball bearings. It requires a motor, ESC, mini servo, radio, receiver, battery and paint for completion. Stickers for the body and masking templates are included.
Tamiya also offers a ready-to-run version of the model (56710; $349).
Performance: Like the vast majority of Tamiya kits, this one came out of the box with well-marked parts and a good set of instructions. I was lulled into thinking this would be an easy build because of its scale. Instead, it proved to be a bit of a challenge.
One thing about Tamiya kits is they are always well engineered. The company has done a good job of getting a lot of mileage out of its off-road GB-01 and on-road GT-01 chassis, on which the GTO and previous Porsche 934 are based, with just a few extra parts. The rear end set-up is similar on both of these rear-drive chassis, featuring a 370 motor, ball differential, slipper clutch and enclosed gear train.
The front end is where the two chassis differ. While the buggy chassis' front shocks are mounted to a traditional tower, the GT-01's shocks are longitudinally mounted on the body, damping the front suspension via pivots. It's a slightly more complicated system, but remarkably effective.
The electronics required for the project are a mini servo and the ESC and receiver, which mount on wings outside the tub. I used the Tamiya TSU-02 servo and TEU-102BK ESC; the latter features blades on which to plug the motor leads. For radio gear, I used the Expec SP transmitter and TRU-01 receiver.
The body is nicely done and nicely captures the low-slung look of the real car. I used Tamiya Color PS-2 red to paint the body, and backed it with PS-1 white to really make it pop. The supplied stickers add the trim detail.
The body mounts attach to the shell and slip into holes in the chassis where the mounts are secured with body clips. Since the 6-cell battery goes into the bottom of the chassis through a slide-off panel, you don't have to worry about taking the body off again.
The car is really fun to drive. While the stock motor won't blow your doors off, it's enough to break the wide rubber in the rear loose. The front suspension does a good job of keeping the car pointed where you want it to go, and thanks to the way it's mounted, also produces a cool body-lean effect.
All in all, it's an excellent piece of engineering that drives smoothly thanks to the ball diff and bearings. And though it might be a fun car for a beginner to drive, I'd recommend an experienced builder tackle the construction part of this project.
Marketing: Thanks to its trademark red livery, the TamTech Gear Ferrari GTO looks like it's going 150 mph standing still. However, many drivers are going to want it to go faster.
Because of the way the chassis goes together, you're going to want to recommend your customer install hop-ups, like a new motor, during the initial build.
Tamiya offers a TT Gear Sport Tuned Motor (40537; $12.50), and Castle and Team Tekin have brushless motors and ESCs that are a good match, with Novak's mini-vehicle system due out soon.
Tamiya also offers a number of hop-up parts for this car, including oil-filled dampers, an LED light harness and numerous aluminum goodies.
Reviewed by Hal Miller
Product: TT-Gear Ferrari GTO
Stock No.: 57103
Nicely engineered chassis
Sleek lines like the real car
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|Get into Gundam action with Bandai's E.F.G.F. MS(G) kit|
Product: Gundam is a series of animated Japanese television shows featuring mammoth robot fighting suits. Bandai, which has released several such models, now launches a new series of 1:35-scale models, including this Platoon Briefing Set.
The kit supplies five figures, furniture and other accessories to go with the M353A4, a large, armored vehicle with a futuristic hover/propulsion system.
Performance: Most of the kit's 300-plus parts go into the vehicle. Plastic parts are molded in colors corresponding to the completed model. Medium-gray body components, with additional parts in black and dark gray, apparently are intended for construction without painting.
Like Bandai fighting suits, figures are molded in multiple colors on the same sprue. Decals are for two versions of the M353A4: one from Earth Federation Ground Force, the other from Earth Federation Space Force. The sheet includes rank insignia for the figures. There's lots of information on the instructions - all in Japanese.
Most major pieces can be press-fitted, reinforcing the no-paint concept. Fit is good, but I chose to use glue to fill small gaps. Solid arrows indicate parts that need glue, while dashed arrows are push-fit connections.
Like many armor models, certain areas will be hard to paint after assembly. I deviated from the instructions to pre-paint most parts.
To start, I glued small components to the hull parts using Tamiya liquid cement. Hatches and doors lacked interior detail, so I glued them shut.
I sprayed medium-gray parts Model Master Acryl olive drab, gluing and filling after everything dried and touching up with more olive drab.
Working details, such as a front plow and a ramp at the rear, are fastened with poly caps, making most of them removable and thus easier to paint.
Attachment points on the feet were smaller; glue strengthened the joints. I sprayed the fans steel, dry-brushing each with silver to highlight the blades. The inner body of the feet, as well as the vents' backs and fronts, are gunship gray, while the outer skin and dome tops are olive drab. The hydraulic actuators have Tamiya NATO black bodies and Model Master chrome-silver arms. A molded, cloth-textured bed tarp was painted olive drab mixed with a few drops of dunkelgelb, then glued in place.
There are two operating items on the rear of the vehicle: a cone-tipped thingy to port and some drill-like object starboard. I have no idea what they are (an English translation would really help), but you must decide whether to leave them operable; their clamps need to be glued.
The M353A4's small, open-topped turret contains radios, ammo boxes and a massive Gatling-style gun fed by three ammo belts. Smoke-grenade launchers are also included, but they are hollow with a visible gap inside.
The decals are thin, but they silvered a little, even over gloss clear. Poking holes in them with a knife tip and applying Solvaset helped. The light gray lettering lends a slightly worn appearance.
I had a lot of fun weathering, using a fine brush to apply gunship-gray chips to edges. I sprayed a very thin, light gray around the underside and hover engines, then finished with flat clear.
The figures must be glued together. All feature good detail and realistic poses. A table, chairs and water cooler make nice diorama items.
Marketing: With this kit, which is easy and fun to build, I foresee myriad conversions and kitbashes drawing on a wealth of 1:35-scale armor. Start by stocking it with other 1:35-scale kits and suggest it to customers who are looking to build something a bit out of their comfort zone.
If you have Gundam fans, they'll be familiar with Bandai's 1:100-scale mobile suit models. A 1:35-scale model just might be what they need to look into other armor modeling possibilities.
Reviewed by Aaron Skinner
Product: E.F.G.F. MS(G) Platoon Briefing Set
Stock No.: 0148085
Availability: HobbyWave Models Limited; call 604-326-1010 or e-mail email@example.com
Fun and easy to build
Alternative to standard armor
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|Kotobukiya's Utapau Clone Trooper will blow you away|
Product: In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi are betrayed and slaughtered by their own clone troopers after the Emperor enacts the infamous Order 66. Kotobukiya's Utapau Clone Trooper represents one of those who tried to assassinate Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Released to celebrate Star Wars' 30th anniversary, this model is one of the smallest ARTFX collector editions, limited to 2,007 pieces. It comes in a large box bearing the San Diego Comic Con badge, where it was exclusively released, and all the model's parts are held securely in a molded plastic tray.
Performance: Assembling the clone trooper was a breeze. It came in eight vinyl parts: head, torso, right and left arms, right and left hands with blasters, legs and torso and a base. Within a minute of freeing the parts from the tray, the trooper was together. No glue was required, as each piece locks securely into place.
The model requires no finishing, as it is completely pre-painted and weathered. The detail is tremendous, right down to recessed hexagonal screws in the blasters.
On our sample, there are visible mold lines along the back of the right leg, the inside of the left arm and along the top of the blaster rifle, but most are cleverly hidden by seams in the trooper's armor.
Marketing: Standing 12 inches tall, the Utapau Clone Trooper is an imposing figure and attracts a lot of attention.
Make a point to highlight this model's collectibility and limited number. Run a search for Utapau and clone troopers at www.starwars.com. By copying and pasting some the information there, you can create a tack-on for your shelf or display to help spark customers' imaginations.
You may benefit from displaying it with other models like Obi-Wan Kenobi or General Grievous.
Reviewed by Tim Kidwell
Product: Utapau Clone Trooper: San Diego Comic Con Exclusive
Stock No.: 15-128
Availability: Dark Horse Deluxe; contact Jonathan Quesenberry or visit Dark Horse's retailer site
Pre-painted and weathered
Star Wars is a popular license
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|Ninco Mosler MT900R is speedy straight out of the box|
Product: What do you get when you hop up Ninco's best slot car? A really exciting ride! Ninco's latest offering is a professional-racing version of the firm's already popular Mosler MT900R.
The new 1:32-scale slot car comes with an assortment of Ninco's Prorace parts factory installed, making it a fine competition car straight out of its clear plastic display box.
Performance: Other than the overall appearance, little is similar between the Mosler Vortrom and Ninco's stock Moslers. The car is powered with Ninco's NC-6 angle-winder motor, which features ball bearings instead of brushes and is capable of delivering 23,500 rpm. The chassis's angle-winder drive uses lightweight alloy crown and pinion. The alloy gears mesh smoothly and silently, producing less friction than their standard plastic cousins. The new Mosler uses Ninco's A-25 silicon tires for a grip that provides quick acceleration and high-speed cornering.
Ninco has made a few other modifications to the car to cut down on overall weight and improve performance. Wheel rims are made from a thin metal alloy, and Ninco has replaced the standard plastic interior with a one-piece, ultra-lightweight vacuum-formed part. Also, all the vents and grilles are open, making the shell lighter.
I tested the Mosler on several track surfaces. The car predictably handled better at high speeds on the coarser track surfaces, but the Mosler is competitive on any track. When run head-to-head with a stock Ninco Mosler, the Prorace-equipped machine easily outpaced its already speedy counterpart.
Marketing: The packaging for the car is Ninco's standard, utilitarian clear-plastic display box with no information on it whatsoever beyond a small tag naming the car and giving the UPC code. However, Ninco has made the base of the box yellow to set the Prorace-equipped cars apart from its regular product line.
Reviewed by David Popp
Product: Mosler MT900R Prorace edition
Stock No.: 50453
Has professional racing parts
Competitive on any track
Silicone tires provide good grip
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|Mob rules in Lui-même's The Werewolves of Millers Hollow|
Product: The Werewolves of Millers Hollow consists of 24 cards and an instruction booklet neatly packaged in a little box that can easily fit in a coat pocket. Its first expansion set, New Moon, comes in a similar box and contains a 36-page booklet, 32 event cards and a sheet with five stickers.
Performance: Recommended for ages 10 and up, The Werewolves of Millers Hollow is a game designed for 8 to 18 players, plus a
moderator, and is excellent for parties.
Werewolves have integrated themselves among the citizens of the sleepy little town of Millers Hollow. Each night, the werewolves come out to feed, murdering one of the townsfolk. The townsfolk, however, have decided to fight back and rid themselves of the nighttime menace.
The cards provided in the basic game consist of four werewolves, 13 ordinary townsfolk, six special townsfolk - including the fortune teller, thief, hunter, cupido, witch and little girl - and one sheriff card.
The number of players dictates the number of cards that are used during the game. However, there are never less than two werewolves and always at least one special townsfolk, typically the fortune teller. Which special townsfolk are used is up to the players and can greatly affect the course of the game.
The moderator deals one random card to each player, who looks at the card but keeps it secret from all the other players. Then, by popular vote, someone is elected the sheriff, and that person is given the sheriff card.
With that, the moderator calls for all the players to close their eyes, for night has fallen on Millers Hollow and sleep overtaken its citizens. From here on, it is upon the moderator to both move the game along and create an ambiance of horror. He calls for the player with the fortune teller card to "wake up." That player can choose to know the true identity of one other player. The moderator shows the fortune teller the card, at which point the fortune teller then goes back to sleep.
Next, the werewolves wake and must silently agree which victim they wish to choose. Once they've decided and shown the moderator, they too go back to sleep, at which point, morning comes and the whole town wakes up. The moderator reveals which of the townsfolk was slain by the werewolves in the night by flipping over the player's card.
Now, the townsfolk must try to unmask one of the werewolves and ultimately decide which of their fellows they will lynch. While accusations run rampant, the werewolves attempt to point the finger at others.
Once the moderator calls for a vote - the sheriff's counts as two - the player with the most fingers pointing at him is lynched and his card revealed. Cheers all around if it's a werewolf; regret at the sight of a simple townsfolk.
Night again descends, and the game continues this way until all the townsfolk or werewolves are eliminated.
Marketing: I've found Werewolves to be a hit with kids as young as 6 and adults who typically think games are silly nonsense. It's fun and suspenseful, and quickly immerses players into a community fighting for its very survival.
It's worth noting that the original Werewolves won both the l'As d'Or des jeux d'Animations (The Golden Ace) and le Grand Prix du Public (the top award voted for by players) at the 2002 Cannes International Games Festival.
The New Moon expansion set adds five new townsfolk (just attach the stickers to simple townsfolk cards) and nine variations on the basic game, each with its own twist.
Ultimately, Werewolves can be played time and again without ever getting stale.
Reviewed by Tim Kidwell
Product: The Werewolves of Millers Hollow
Stock No.: KG01US
Other products used: New Moon expansion set (No. KG02US, $11.99)
Availability: Asmodee Editions; call 514-504-8461, e-mail N. Gabriela Meza or visit www.asmodee-us.com
Great for large numbers
Never a dull moment
Huge age range
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|Sterling Publishing offers up needlecrafts in a book stack|
Products: Sterling Publishing and several of its imprints, including Lark Books, Sally Milner Publishing and Collins & Brown, release crafting titles, including those pertaining to needlecrafts, on a regular basis. And no wonder. There's a big audience for them.
According to the Craft & Hobby Association's (CHA) most recent Attitude and Usage Study, which covered a 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007, the participation rate for needle and sewing crafts was 31% of 110 million total U.S. households, generating nearly $7.5 million in U.S. retail sales. One has to think a considerable chunk of that is being spent on books; you may want to find out by including some in your book section.
Performance: While going through several crafting titles from Sterling recently, we found three in particular that stood out from the pack.
Photo Album Quilts, a 128-page hardcover by quilt designer Wendy Butler Berns, demonstrates how to create a quilt from photos and line drawings. Book chapters include how to get started; the step-by-step process; making faces; project quilts to make; tips, tricks and tutorials; and a quilt gallery.
This is a fabulous book for a traditional quilter looking for new challenges. The wonderful illustrations take quilters through the process of taking favorite photos and turning them into fabric art. The sharp, clear images give several options for different treatments of one photo.
Cross-stitch, embroidery and crocheting are the most popular activities within needle and sewing crafts, according to the CHA. 1000 Great Cross-Stitch Designs, a 304-page paperback by Maria Kelly, offers up exactly what its title promises: a mind-boggling amount and variety of designs in categories such as animals, household items, the beach and sea, and hobbies and nature, with clear instructions. Chapters cover basic materials and techniques, embroidery stitches and sewing techniques and getting started.
This is a great book for beginners, with many small designs, or great for experienced cross-stitchers who could combine designs for larger projects.
Filet lace, one of the oldest forms of lace making, is the subject of Filet Lace: Stitches and Patterns, a 168-page paperback by Margaret Morgan. The first part of the book includes 10 lessons, with step-by-step instructions for, and diagrams of, various stitches. The second part provides patterns and instructions for 14 projects with modern filet lace designs; the third part reproduces in modern form nine patterns from very old sources.
This book is interesting and well written, with clear diagrams and instructions. The photos of finished products are highly detailed and show how a stitch should look. For customers willing to invest in the nets, threads, needles and frames required to create filet lace, this book can help them how learn to enjoy a craft that is making a comeback.
Marketing: Prominently displaying these books is one way to attract attention to them.
But how about taking it a step further by setting up examples of these hobbies? Ask local individuals and/or clubs that take part in needle and sewing crafts to bring in their projects and show them off.
It's a win-win situation; they have the potential to raise interest in their organization; you have the potential to sell books and perhaps supplies for these hobbies if you count them among your product lines.
Reviewed by Jane Bremmer with Sue Brettingen
Product: Photo Album Quilts by Wendy Butler Berns
Publisher: Lark Books
Product: 1000 Great Cross-Stitch Designs by Maria Kelly
Publisher: Collins & Brown
Product: Filet Lace: Stitches and Patterns by Margaret Morgan
Publisher: Sally Milner Publishing
Availability: Sterling Publishing; call 212-532-7160, click here to e-mail, or visit Sterling Publishing's Web site
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