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Product Lab - July 2008

Published: June 13, 2008
Online Exclusive Review: Good Question!
Product: If you like trying to guess what your friends are thinking, you'll enjoy Good Question.

For three to eight players, ages 10 and up, Ludovic Maublanc's game comes with 97 Mexican girl Good Question cards, 40 boy "Good Question" cards, 20 theme cards, 40 blue tokens, 50 yellow tokens, a bell and a four-page instruction booklet.

Performance: The game is easy to set up, encourages creativity and plays in 20 to 30 minutes.

Players take turns choosing a theme from one of the cards. The wide range of themes includes TV, board games, religions, relationships, and player's choice. The first player deals a Good Question card to each player. The boy cards list easier answer options than the girl cards.

On each turn, one player selects a word from the card's answer field and asks a question relevant to the theme, trying to get the other players to guess the correct answer. A good question is not so easy that the answer is obvious, but not so challenging that no one can guess.

When a player thinks he knows the answer, he rings the bell. If correct, he and the questioner each receive one point. The next guesser and the questioner subsequently receive two points, three points, two points, and then one point. The object of the game is to maximize points by asking a good question; the player with the most points wins. The scoring system is unwieldy; keeping track of the number of answers interrupts the flow of the game.

Similar to Taboo and Apples to Apples, Good Question provokes many double entendres and is a fun, twisted party game.

Marketing: Packaged in a compact metal box, the game will travel nicely and doesn't require much space to play. The game is intended for children ages 10 and up, but the box's illustration of a busty brunette holding a cocktail suggests an adult audience. Also, some of the cultural references and vocabulary may be difficult for younger players.

The colorful, politically incorrect illustrations offer a glimpse into the colorful, politically incorrect experience of playing the game. Though a bit pricey, Good Question will appeal to people who enjoy party games.

Reviewed by Naomi Fujimoto

VITAL STATS
Product: Good Question!
Maker: Repos Production
Stock No.: BQ-US01
MSRP: $29.99
Availability: Asmodee Editions; call 514-504-8461, e-mail Asmodee Editions or visit www.asmodee-us.com

BOTTOM LINE
  • Easy to play, but the scoring system is confusing at first

  • A good icebreaker

  • Fun and thought-provoking

  • Better for adults than for children


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    Apache 24 RTR
    Blackjack 26 Brushless Catamaran RTR
    PT-109 EP42
    Three Pro Boats that make a splash
    Products: Retailers sometimes forget about the R/C boat segment. Pro Boat has released three new models, each designed with a specific customer in mind, making it easier for retailers to market them.

    The PT-109 42 EP is Pro Boat's answer to the growing number of modelers who like scale accuracy, but wish their static models could cruise the high seas like the real thing.

    The Blackjack 26 brushless boat is a catamaran-style electric-powered craft suited to the customer who feels a need for speed, but isn't looking for the mess and maintenance of a nitro-powered boat.

    The Apache 24 is Pro Boat's entry-level RTR that will get newbies into the water fast, but won't intimidate them with too much power up front.

    Performance: Pro Boat's Apache 24 comes out of the box basically ready to go. Customers will need eight AA batteries for the included 2-channel AM controller, and a 6-cell NiCd or NiMH battery with a Tamiya-type connector.

    ABS plastic comprises the entire hull and top hatch. Inside is a water-cooled 550 motor and ESC. The receiver is in a rubber bag for protection in case water gets into the compartment. One very nice feature is the Apache's direct drive system, which integrates the rudder and propeller into one movable piece. Unlike other prop/rudder configurations that typically have the rudder offset to the left or right of the propeller, the direct-drive system allows for smooth, tight cornering in either direction.

    Great for small ponds or a decent-sized pool, even when hard on the throttle, the Apache 24 wasn't prone to capsizing in turns, which is a good thing for novices.

    The Blackjack 26 brushless catamaran is a serious step up from the Apache 24. Housed within its fiberglass composite hull are a water-cooled A3630-1500 brushless motor and two battery trays. A sealed radio box houses the ESC and rudder servo, keeping out what little water that might make it past the magnetic hatch that covers the interior compartment.

    Ready to scream out of the box, two 6-cell battery packs with female Deans connectors and eight AA batteries are required to get the Blackjack underway.

    On the water is where the real fun begins. While a beginner could easily get the Blackjack going, there is the danger of its speed overwhelming the first-time boater. The Blackjack benefits from the same direct drive system as the Apache and also has two aluminum turn fins on either side to help it cut through the water at high speeds.

    Flat out, the Blackjack is a thrill to pilot, shooting up a huge rooster tail. In my initial test run, I made a sharp turn at high speed and flipped the Blackjack through the air, only to have it land upside down. After retrieving it, I found, not surprisingly, that water did get through the magnetic hatch. However, the radio box kept the ESC and servo bone dry. After toweling off the interior and letting everything dry overnight, the Blackjack was ready to go the next day.

    Although the Blackjack 26 is programmed to run on NiMH batteries, it can be powered by LiPo batteries. However, customers will need a programming module (No. PRB3311) to change the ESC's settings. Using LiPo power without reprogramming the ESC could fry both the battery and the ESC.

    More and more scale boat modelers are getting into R/C. However, they're looking for an experience that is more akin to seeing a full-size boat or ship cruising at scale speeds rather than tearing the biggest wave or seeing who can round a buoy first. The PT-109 EP 42 fits this niche nicely.

    Modeled after the famous PT boat skippered by John F. Kennedy during World War II, this model features nice scale details like machine guns, torpedoes, depth charges and working lights. The fiberglass hull houses two water-cooled 550 motors, ESC and rudder servo. The receiver is protected by a rubber balloon.

    Customers shouldn't expect a lot of speed here. However, the PT-109 looks great both on the water and as a static model. It takes about an hour to get the boat ready for action. The machine guns must be placed, along with the torpedoes and spotlight. Some soldering is required to get all of the lights working. Eight AA batteries and two 7.2V NiMH packs are required for cruising.

    Marketing: Pro Boat has given retailers three very different boats to sell to three very different sorts of R/C boaters. The Apache 24 is entry level and should be marketed as such. It may not have the speed that the Blackjack 26 has, but it's a lot easier for novices to get used to, and the price point is easier to meet. This is perfect for getting someone into R/C boating.

    The Blackjack 26 is for R/C boaters with some experience on the water. Mishaps are more likely at the speeds that the Blackjack can attain. Also, there is the potential for upgrading to LiPo power, which can add even more speed. Suggest this catamaran to those customers who are ready to move up from beginner boats and are perhaps looking to do more serious racing.

    History buffs or scale modelers who have an interest in R/C could be the perfect customers for the PT-109 EP 42. It comes with a classy display stand and looks good just sitting still. It doesn't have a tight turn radius, so a larger pond is probably the best place for the PT boat.
    With each of these boats, run times were typically around 10 minutes. Extra battery packs would be a good idea.

    Reviewed by Tim Kidwell

    VITAL STATS
    Product: Apache 24 RTR
    Stock No.: PRB3401
    MSRP/MAP: $99.99/$89.99

    Product: Blackjack 26 Brushless Catamaran RTR
    Stock No.: PRB3300
    MSRP/MAP: $449.99/$299.99

    Product: PT-109 EP 42
    Stock No.: PRB3600
    MSRP/MAP: $599.99/$399.99

    Maker: Pro Boat
    Availability: Horizon Hobby

    BOTTOM LINE
  • Boating made easy

  • Caters to many hobbyists

  • Built very well


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    Pegasus Hobbies' E-Z Snapz appeal to more than beginners
    Product: Pegasus Hobbies introduced a line of E-Z Snapz 1:48-scale aircraft kits, and the Hurricane is one of the first. The inclusion of stickers along with water-slide decals indicates the manufacturer was thinking about young modelers when creating this kit.

    The tan parts feature recessed panel lines that look pretty accurate to late-model Mk. I Hurricanes. I was worried about the slightly pebbly appearance of the surfaces, but the texzture disappeared nicely under paint.

    Easy-to-follow instructions outline the simple construction and include painting and decal diagrams for a single Battle of Britain fighter.

    Performance: I needed to remove noticeable oil on the parts with dish detergent and water.

    Construction was quick and easy. While all of the pieces fit together well, I used super glue to fill seams in the fuselage and the flight control edges, along with a little filler at the wing roots. The trailing edge of the wings is thick, as are the horizontal stabilizers.

    The decals went down OK, but there is a rough edge to the carrier film; trimming close to the designs negates the problem. The markings responded to Micro Sol.

    Marketing: Pegasus got what mattered right with this kit: awesome price point; substantial detail; and a kit with correct shapes, including the bias of the vertical stabilizer, a feature missed in other kits.

    Maybe you'd like to introduce a kid to the hobby. Or there's a customer who has admired a friend's collection and wondered about building. Or maybe you know a modeler who needs a break from resin, photo-etched metal and super detailing.

    This kit is perfect for all of these situations, and the result is a model sturdy enough to fly around the room in your hand while you make "vroom" noises.

    Reviewed by Aaron Skinner

    VITAL STATS
    Product: Hawker Hurricane Mk. I
    Maker: Pegasus Hobbies
    Scale: 1:48
    Stock No.: 8411
    MSRP: $10
    Availability: Call 909-982-6507 or visit www.pegaushobbies.com

    BOTTOM LINE
  • Nice detail

  • Kid friendly

  • Great price point


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    Establish air superiority with Sapac's F-22 Raptor RTF
    Product: Customers can fly the fighter of the 21st century at their local park. Sapac America, maker of many foam ducted-fan ARFs, now has an F-22 Raptor RTF. True to the full-scale aircraft, the Sapac America model features stealthy lines and horizontal stabilators.

    My review sample included everything necessary to fly, but the manufacturer also offers ARF (No. SAP11205) and receiver-ready (No. SAP11208) versions so customers can use their own equipment.

    Performance: The jet comes out of the box with the receiver, servos, motors and fan units installed. All I had to assemble were the wings and empennage with the included tube of epoxy. Assembly is straightforward, which works out well because the photos and instructions in the manual are difficult to follow.

    The epoxy dries fast, but customers should plan on taking a few hours to make sure the model is assembled well. Patience will be rewarded with an impressive looking aircraft.

    Sapac's F-22 is powered by a 3000mAh LiPo battery, with thrust provided by two, six-bladed 62mm ducted-fan units turned by outrunner motors.

    The box claims the model has a 1:1 thrust ratio, meaning that the fans produce about two pounds of thrust. Control of the model is provided by a 6-channel receiver and 4-channel radio. The stock setup for the Raptor is comprised of aileron and elevator controls in flight with nose wheel steering on the ground.

    If a customer wanted to take the time, it would be fairly easy to add rudder controls. The rudders even have control horn locations marked for such a conversion. Each elevator is controlled by an independent servo, allowing for aileron/elevator mixing, provided the pilot has the proper radio equipment.

    I was impressed by the F-22's performance. Takeoff rolls were very short; the aircraft achieved steep climb rates. The ample power-to-weight ratio allows the Raptor to push effortlessly through almost any aerobatic maneuver. The large control surfaces provide quick response and perform just as well in slow flight as at high speeds.

    Sustained steep climbs simply resulted in gentle stalls with very little altitude lost before recovery. Each flight typically lasted around eight minutes before one motor would cut out, dedicating power to the remaining motor. The F-22 performed just as well with landing gear attached as it did without.

    Marketing: The stock setup for the Sapac F-22 provided very good flight characteristics for this model. Anyone who possesses experience with fast-flying models that have ailerons should have no problem controlling this aircraft. The possibility of additional flight-control configurations make the F-22 capable of growing with a pilot's skill level.

    Advanced pilots may wish to simply purchase the receiver-ready model to allow quick customization. The overall look and size of the model is striking.

    If the F-22 is put on display, it will no doubt attract your customers' attention. With a fairly low price tag, it should put ducted-fan flight within reach of most wannabe fighter jocks.

    Reviewed by Jason McNally

    VITAL STATS
    Product: F-22 Raptor Gray RTF (4)
    Maker: Sapac America
    Stock No.: SAP11200
    MSRP/Street: $600/$324.99
    Availability: Contact Sapac America at 1-800-976-7004

    BOTTOM LINE
  • Easy to build

  • Has everything needed to fly

  • Exciting to fly


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    Losi's 1:8 Raminator is monstrously fun to run
    Product: Losi's new 1:8 Raminator nitro monster truck is the third incarnation of the product licensed from Dodge and Hall Brothers Racing. It has a huge M26 3-port mill, trademark Losi "mega-shocks" and a chassis based on the LST2. Adding to the scale looks are the pre-painted body with Raminator markings, two-tone wheels and classic deep-tread monster truck tires.

    Finally, it's easy to overlook, since Losi has been so good about including it with just about every RTR product it's putting out, but the Raminator includes a MTX Pro 2.4GHz radio package.

    Performance: Let's just get it out of the way: Losi's 1:8 nitro Raminator is a big truck. Next to the Muggy, it's probably the biggest truck I've driven, and it can be intimidating.

    The engine's head does a great job of cooling it down - too good. Keeping the engine at 200-220 degrees was a real challenge while breaking it in. I changed the glow plug to make sure that it was new and then ran the heck out of it, checking the engine temp about every third or fourth pass. Stress that customers break the engine in well. If they don't, it can lead to an engine that runs poorly and is no fun at all.

    The Raminator is equipped with a combo pull/spin start. Both work fine, although I prefer the pull start, since it usually only required two or three pulls to get the engine fired up, and I didn't have to tote around another piece of equipment.

    Driving the Raminator is a visceral experience, and may be more than a first-time R/C driver can handle. The M26 has a lot of punch, a throaty growl and can blast over just about any terrain. The dual steel brakes are phenomenal, allowing the truck to stop almost on a dime.

    On straights, the Raminator squats down and hauls. When the two-speed transmission shifts into second gear, the acceleration is pronounced, as is the deformation of the tires as they balloon from the rpms. All you can say is, "Wow!"

    I was initially wary about the placement of the receiver battery. It seemed too exposed on the underside of the chassis at the truck's rear. The connector is laced up through the chassis to the sealed receiver box. However, after some very hard driving over all sorts of surfaces, the battery showed no signs of damage from flying debris.

    Customers should spend some time fine-tuning the engine. Once it's broken in, the M26 can be a bit finicky. The simplified operations guide takes customers on a step-by-step tour through tweaking the engine for optimal performance. It also goes over how to use the end point adjustments and some of the basic care for R/C vehicles.

    Marketing: High-priced R/C vehicles can be a challenge to sell. The Raminator license might spur some interest, as can the simple fact that it's a monster truck.

    Target R/C hobbyists with some experience with nitro vehicles. They'll have the patience when it comes to tuning the Raminator, and they'll need some time behind the wheel to control its awesome power.

    Another suggestion would be to set up an agreement with a local Dodge car dealership. You can promote the Raminator at the dealership, and you can promote the dealership at your store. Set up a time to drive the 1:36- or 1:18-scale Raminators around their showroom, with the 1:8-scale behemoth there for display. Have store and product info printed out on fliers for easy distribution.

    Reviewed by Tim Kidwell

    VITAL STATS
    Product: Raminator Monster Truck RTR
    Maker: Losi
    Scale: 1:8
    Stock No.: LOSB0020
    MSRP/MAP: $769.99/$429.99
    Other products used: 6V rechargeable receiver pack and charger (No. LOSB9949, $24.99/$19.99)
    Availability: Horizon Hobby

    BOTTOM LINE
  • Testosterone-laden fun

  • Great backyard basher

  • Some nitro experience necessary


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    Bachmann Dynamis DCC system has great user interface
    Product: Features such as a wireless throttle with a large display and intuitive, easy-to-use programming menus make the Dynamis Digital Command Control (DCC) system a great choice for both novice and expert DCC users. The system is produced by Bachmann in conjunction with Electronic Solutions Ulm (ESU) of Germany.

    The Dynamis E-Z Command set includes a command base with receiver, a wireless handheld controller, a 2.3-amp power supply and four AAA batteries.

    Performance: Set-up consists of connecting the power supply to the command base, then connecting the command base to the track. The back of the command base has jacks for the power supply, the supplied wire that connects the base to terminal sections of Bachmann E-Z track and for a screw terminal. A provided plug-in screw terminal connects power leads to non-Bachmann track.

    When setting up and operating the Dynamis, you need to point the controller toward the front of the infrared receiver on top of the command base. The receiver uses several infrared sensors arrayed in a 180-degree arc to pick up and send signals. With a clear line of sight between the controller and receiver, I operated trains from about 25 feet away.

    The signal will be lost, however, if a solid object, such as a wall or another operator, is between the controller and the receiver.
    The set is designed for control with one wireless controller. I ran trains with an additional handheld from another set, but the controllers can interfere with each other when used simultaneously.

    The Dynamis throttle is horizontally oriented and has a joystick for speed control. Although unconventional, I found the layout of the Dynamis throttle very ergonomic. All the controls are easy to reach using both thumbs, like a video game controller.

    The system supports up to 21 control functions per locomotive. The left side of the controller has a headlight on/off button (Function 0), 10 alphanumeric keys (allowing access to functions 1 to 10), and a shift key for functions 11 to 20. You also use these keys to enter locomotive addresses and names.

    The right side of the controller has a stop button, direction button and a four-way joystick. The latter controls locomotive speed and is used to scroll through menus.

    The center of the controller has an LCD screen with four buttons underneath. The buttons access functions on the screen.

    The leftmost button under the screen toggles between locomotive and accessory modes. I used accessory mode to trigger and program an E-Z track DCC-equipped turnout.

    The controller receives constant updates from the command base. A signal indicator in the upper right corner of the controller's LCD screen shows the signal strength, much like a cell phone's display.

    The menu screens effectively walk you through each task, from changing a locomotive's address to programming configuration variables (CVs) to setting up a consist. The Dynamis supports locomotive decoders that allow advanced consisting.

    You can also program locomotives on the main (also called ops mode programming). This feature lets you program a locomotive without a programming track. (Your locomotive's DCC decoder must have CV19 to support ops mode programming.)

    However, in ops mode on the Dynamis, you can change only a locomotive's short address (1 to 127). For a locomotive's long address (0001 to 9999), you'll need to use a programming track that's isolated from the rest of the layout, or else you'll inadvertently change all the locomotives on your layout to that new address.

    The system is intended for HO- and N-scale layouts, but was also tested with a dual-motor, DCC-and-sound equipped O-scale diesel. More than one O-scale locomotive can max out the 2.3-amp power supply, so if you're going to use the system for larger scales, use the compatible Bachmann 5-amp power supply.

    Marketing: Easy-to-use programming options and a well thought-out wireless throttle make the Bachmann Dynamis a great choice for newcomers to the hobby and hobbyists looking to add DCC to their model railroads.

    Customers can upgrade the command station with the Dynamis Pro Box (release TBA), which lets them use up to four wireless controllers and several tethered throttles.

    Reviewed by Dana Kawala with Hal Miller

    VITAL STATS
    Product: E-Z Command Dynamis Wireless Infrared DCC System
    Maker: Bachmann Industries Inc.
    Stock No.: 36505
    MSRP: $300

    BOTTOM LINE
  • Expandable design

  • Easy and fun to use

  • Video game-style interface


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