Product Lab - November 2009
This month, we review the E-flite 4Site R/C plane, Scalextric's new GT40 Mk.II slot car, a puzzle and building set from Mudpuppy, Looney Lab's "Are You the Traitor?", the P-51D R/C plane from ParkZone, and Proto N's Norfolk & Western Y3 2-8-8-2 locomotive.
Published: September 23, 2009
Are You the Traitor? from Looney Labs
Product: Are You The Traitor? is a party game for four to 10 people that answers that age old question: If two people are standing before you, each claiming to be telling the truth, how do you know who is lying? The game consists of 56 cards and is recommended for anyone age 13 to adult. The box also contains a detailed instruction sheet with standard rules (overview, setup, gameplay, winning conditions), as well as detailed character card descriptions and frequently asked questions.
Gameplay: The 56 cards in Are You The Traitor? are broken up into Character Cards (10), Wizard Alignment Cards (4), and Treasure Cards (42).
Gameplay is fairly simple. Players are each dealt one of four different character cards: Key Holder, Guard, Wizard, and Traitor. Wizards close their eyes and the key holder reveals their card to the other players (except in games with less than six players). Wizards are dealt alignment cards - they are either good or evil. Then the players try to deduce which wizard is the good one before the evil wizard figures out who the key holder is. The traitor is there to help out the evil wizard without tipping off the other players to their presence.
While the game can be played with as few as four people, it really shines with eight to ten players as then there are two traitors that can work together to tip off the evil wizard (or wizards) and keep the other players guessing.
Marketing: While the price point ($15) may seem a bit high for 56 cards, the target audience for this game is people looking for party games or larger gaming groups (8-10 is best). The main attraction for this game is going to be the player interactions. Much like perennial favorite Apples to Apples, this game brings the fun with a group by pitting them against each other in a good-natured manner rather than as antagonistic competitors.
Demoing this game in your store is probably best planned around a gaming night, open house, or other in-store event where you have a lot of people at your disposal. Make a show of demoing the game and dealing out the cards while explaining the rules as everyone watches allows your customers to see a round of gameplay and learn the game in the process. Give the winners a treasure card and let everyone know they can be turned in for a store discount or door prize. Do this a couple times and buzz will be generated for the product and everyone will already know how to play.
The Looney Labs Web site is loaded with materials to help out retailers, including an entire page dedicated to the game with instructions, testimonials and information for retailers. Looney Labs also offers an Are You The Traitor? demo kit, which at $14 for a demo copy of the game, 100 punch out promo-card postcards with Fluxx traitor cards, an 11x17 poster, a consumer pre-order signup sheet and a Traitor Sell Sheet is a pretty good deal. Looney Labs even has a similar game (Are You a Werewolf?)for only $4 making it an instant add-on sale by being able to pitch two games for less than twenty bucks.
But the most useful retailing tool at your disposal has to be the You Tube videos of actual Are You The Traitor? gameplay and a commercial for the game.
If you're looking to add a new game to your store, Looney Labs definitely has your back with the Are You The Traitor? card game.
Read our review of Zombie Fluxx.
Reviewed by Fred Jandt
Product: Are You The Traitor?
Publisher: Looney Labs
Stock No.: LOO-037 (ISBN: 1-929780-73-7)
Availability: Looney Labs
Great for parties - best played with 8 or more people
Easy to understand rules get you playing right away
A wealth of retailer material available from Looney Labs
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Proto N Heritage Norfolk & Western Y3 2-8-8-2
Product: This nicely detailed 2-8-8-2 steam locomotive is patterned after the Norfolk & Western's 50 Y3 locomotives, which were built to USRA standards (which improved upon an earlier N&W design, the Y2a) and delivered in 1919. They were a compound design, meaning that the steam was used twice: once in each cylinder on each side.
Although capable of higher speeds than earlier 2-8-8-2s, these were heavy, relatively slow, heavy machines that excelled at hauling big trains up stiff grades. These locomotives had long service lives-some of N&W's Y3s remained in service through the end of the 1950s, and others were sold to power-short lines during World War II, including Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and the Virginian Ry.
The Proto N model features a factory-installed Digital Command Control (DCC) decoder with sound, as well as many separately applied details.
Performance: The motor (with twin flywheels) sits in a metal frame, with the plastic boiler and cab sitting atop the frame. Worms on either end of the motor armature turn gears atop each driver set. The decoder and speakers are located in the tender, and a multi-pin connector from the locomotive must be plugged into the tender. Automatic knuckle couplers are installed on the rear of the tender and the locomotive pilot.
This model is a smooth, quiet runner, and I was quite impressed with its slow-speed performance. Its decoder allows it to run on either standard DC layouts or with a DCC system. The sound will work on either; you'll have much better control over the sound effects with a DCC throttle.
Marketing: This is a sharp-looking, smooth-running, good-sounding model. The price is, in my opinion, a bargain for a sound-equipped steam locomotive. Display one where customers can get a look; demonstrating one to show off its sound capabilities should help improve sales.
Reviewed by Jeff Wilson
Product: Norfolk & Western Y3 2-8-8-2
Maker: Proto N by Walthers
Stock No./MSRP: 920-90113, $349.98 (Also available: Santa Fe, Nos. 902-90111, -90112; Union Pacific, Nos. 920-90115, -90116)
Sound and DCC equipped
Based on an N&W prototype
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ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF
Product: The ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF comes with everything you need to fly except for the DSM2 transmitter. There is very little assembly required. Just attach the wing and tail, charge the included battery, then bind the receiver to a full range DSM2 aircraft transmitter and your customer is ready to fly!
The Authentic "Gunfighter" paint scheme and decals add exciting scale realism right out of the box! A powerful 480-size 960Kv brushless outrunner motor, 18A brushless speed control, and 9x6 painted prop are all pre-installed.
Durable and lightweight Z-Foam construction greatly resists dings and scratches. The package also includes a 3-cell, 1300mAh, LiPo battery with a balancing charger to get customers flying in just minutes!
Performance: The brushless power system in the ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF has plenty of power for most aerobatic maneuvers known of this popular model. Its semi-symmetrical airfoil and light wing loading allow the plane to be flown by anyone with intermediate-level piloting skills. Landing the P-51D is as simple as setting the throttle to off and holding some up elevator as it glides to the ground.
Since little assembly was required, I was off to my local school yard after binding my Spektrum DX6i transmitter and charging the flight battery for 15 minutes. A good toss straight out is all that is needed to get airborne. The flight speed was not very fast but it was quite easy to control right out of the box. After I made some adjustments on the linkages to center my trims, I increased the throws from the factory minimum settings which made the P-51D very maneuverable and even more fun to fly. I would not recommend flying the P-51D in strong winds since it has light wing loading and plenty of lift. It performed much better in calmer conditions.
I was impressed with the overall design and technology that went into the ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF. They even provide the additional linkage for a rudder control upgrade by using a SV80 Short Lead 3-wire servo (PKZ1080). This would provide 4-channel "full house" control allowing advanced pilots to perform more axial rolls, flat turns and spot landings.
Marketing: Although it is not a speed demon, the flying characteristics of the ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF allow it to be flown by anyone with some flying experience. Since the plane design looks very scale, it may have a wide range of potential customers, but recommend that they at least have several planes "under their belt".
Horizon's Bind-N-Fly revolution continues with the ParkZone P-51D Mustang BL BNF. The ability to swap aircraft between numerous Spektrum, JR, and DSM2 modules is a true convenience that allows customers to keep using their own familiar transmitter. A good recommendation to your customer is to make certain that the range test be performed (per the manual) after each binding. Although I have never had a problem with range on any of my Spektrum systems, some folks have reported loss of signal with the AR500. This issue may simply be due to less experienced pilots pushing their limits as it is easier to blame the product.
Some people love to take a great design and make it even better. For those customers, the easiest upgrade in performance of the P-51D Mustang is to replace the stock 9x6 prop with a more efficient APC or MAS 10x7 e-prop. The larger prop draws almost the same current but provides greater speed and power.
Some key spares to keep on hand would be the Short Lead 3-wire servo (PKZ1080), 9x6 prop (PKZ1019), prop adapter (PKZ1020), spinner (PKZ1807), and 3-cell 1300mAh LiPo battery (PKZ1033).
Review/photos by Greg Covey
Product: P-51D BL BNF
Stock No: PKZ1880
Availability: Horizon Hobby
Bind-N-Fly convenience is RTF in minutes using your DSM2 transmitter
Excellent brushless flight performance and scale realism
Includes Balancing Charger and 3-cell 1300mAh LiPo battery
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4-Site R/C plane from E-flite
Product: The E-flite 4-Site F3P 250 ARF is an attractive flat foam model that provides incredible precision and aerobatic flight characteristics. Constructed primarily of 3mm Depron foam, the 4-Site also offers a high level of prefabrication, including pre-beveled parts, pre-hinged control surfaces and a highly visible, pre-printed trim scheme.
The 4-Site also includes two different sets of speed brakes for optimal personalized flying styles. The high level of prefabrication makes the 4-Site a very quick build.
Performance: The 4-Site is designed to use the E-flite Park 250 BL (EFLM1130) outrunner motor, E-flite 10-Amp Pro Brushless ESC (EFLA1010), a ThunderPower 350mAh 2-cell (20C) Pro Lite V2 Lipo pack (THP3502SJPL2) and a GWS 8x4 Direct Drive Prop (GWSEP8040B). This power system is a great choice for both intermediate and advanced level pilots.
A 6-channel transmitter is required for proper mixing and dual-rate capabilities. Since a micro receiver and three sub-micro servos are also required, a perfect option for the 4-Site is the Spektrum AR6300 DSM2 Nanolite 6-Channel Receiver FlightPack (SPMAR6300F).
The Spektrum AR6300F DSM2 Nanolite FlightPack (SPMAR6300F) offers all the onboard radio gear you need in one complete package for all of your small models requiring strict weight limitations (like F3P indoor pattern aerobatics). The Nanolite FlightPack includes one AR6300 and four DSP60J digital programmable sub-micro servos. It can be used with any DSM2-compatible transmitter.
While building the 4-Site, I found the quality of the laser cutting to be outstanding. Everything lined up perfectly and tightly. Although the pre-printed graphics looked great, there was some warping of the Depron parts that had to be worked out by hand. The carbon-fiber motor mount was pre-drilled with alignment holes and looked great on the front of the 4-Site.
My test pilot was Team JR's Devin McGrath. Devin has competed nationally for many years and showed me just what the design was capable of doing. In short, the 4-Site did everything from hovering to constant speed circuit flying. It flew slow, precise and rigid. The recommended E-flite power system provided unlimited vertical climbs. When it was my turn, I had no problems performing basic aerobatics with the 4-Site, and it really made my flying skills look better than usual.
Marketing: The E-flite 4-Site F3P 250 ARF is for anyone looking for an extremely lightweight, indoor foamie that excels in precision aerobatic flight and is easy to assemble. Since monoplanes are generally considered superior for competitive F3P flying, the 4-Site biplane design will not be targeted by the higher-end F3P customer. Instead, the target customer will likely be someone looking to get into F3P or for just having fun with a lightweight aerobatic indoor foamie. Fortunately, this will be the majority market.
Spektrum makes a Digital Servo Programmer (SPMDSP) that offers customization for Spektrum digital micro servo users. The DSP allows users to program their Spektrum servos for optimum operation in whatever function they need and lets micro-servo users experience the precision and smooth response offered by larger servos and aircraft without sacrificing performance. It's a great support tool to have on hand.
Review/photo by Greg Covey, with Devin McGrath
Product: 4-Site F3P 250 ARF
Stock No.: EFL1200
Availability: Horizon Hobby
Easy to assemble
Capable 3D design
Lots of additional sales options
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1:32 Ford GT40 Mk.II slot car from Scalextric
Product: Ford's GT40 is a legend that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four straight years, from 1966 through 1969. But there wasn't just one GT40 design in that stretch.
The pre-1966 Mk.I was probably the most beautiful, but the Mk.II was the model that got Ford into the fabled Le Mans' victory lane, with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon handling the driving.
Scalextric, which earlier created beautiful versions of the Mk.I, now offers the 1966 version of the Mk.II, which features larger air scoops just behind the doors, plus two long scoops just behind the rear window edges on the rear deck, and one mid-deck.
In back, the Mk.II also differs from the original Mk.I, with dual taillights and two photo-etched screens (on the model) covering the openings near the rear engine. It's less sleek than the Mk.I, but still looks fast.
And as in real life, it is a tad quicker than the original. The tested car was the attractive gold No. 4, with bright green nose trim, modeled after the car driven by Mark Donohue and Paul Hawkins in the 1966 Le Mans race; one of 13 GT40s in that race. Unfortunately, while GT40s swept the top three spots that year, No. 4 failed to finish. A differential failure put it out after 5½ hours.
Performance: Finishing won't be a problem, though, for slot racers using this smooth-running GT40. This one has good top-end power, thanks to the 18,000-rpm side-winder motor in its chassis. However, it emits more motor noise than my earlier Mk.I, which still runs incredibly quietly.
Basic layout is the same as the earlier model, and the Mk II is the same body from the doors forward. However, the newer model includes a bulge in the driver's side roof panel, affectionately known as the Gurney Hump, necessitated by the height of one of Ford's top drivers, Dan Gurney.
Functionally, there's a small change here: slightly larger magnet openings in the bottom of the car's chassis, which seem to give it a bit more grip than the earlier model.
Running on my road course track, I managed laps in the 5.78-second range compared to 6 seconds with the older model. Top-end speed seems a bit better on the older model, but the Mk.II is more stable in the corners. Put some racing slicks on this and it'll likely dip to the 5.5-second range. By comparison, a Scalextric Porsche Boxster with slicks will do 5.35 seconds on my track, which is a very good time.
For racers who enjoy "night" racing on their tracks, the GT40 comes with extremely bright headlights and functional taillights too.
Marketing: Guys love GT40s. It may be the most famous American race car of the past 50 years, and easily the most successful. Slot-car racers will want to know you have the newest version on your shelves, and will welcome any versions that follow. In addition, Scalextric has a solid reputation for sturdy, quick cars.
Market this one as the new, improved model that is a tad quicker because of its mild increase in magnet traction. In slots, as in any type of racing, quicker is better, even if it's just 0.22 of a second!
Review/photo by Mark Savage
Mudpuppy toys catch the eye and engage the mind
Products: Striking, intense and decidedly non-cookie-cutterish; that appears to be the approach New York-based Mudpuppy takes with its jigsaw puzzles, building sets, sticker play sets, flash cards, magnetic figures, playing cards and other assorted items offered in its product line.
Performance: Take, for example, "Bold Patterns," one of four in the company's Constructibles Building Sets. Packaged in a sturdy box, the set consists of 25 interlocking pieces that come in four different designs - squares, lines, diamonds and polka dots - and five different shapes: circles, arches, diamonds, rectangles and squares. By sliding the pieces together, builders can create any number of structures.
The possibilities are endless, and the pieces fit together at a number of spots. We tried numerous configurations; each looked different, but held together.
Then there's the company's line of 63-piece jigsaw puzzles, which, when completed, measure 18 by 14 inches. Currently, the company offers 12 themes. "Monsters," the one we built, features the art of Argentine illustrator Cristian Turdera. His creatures, in their muted but distinctive colors, are kooky more than scary.
The puzzle pieces are thick and sturdy and come in a canister with a rope handle, making storage and transport easy. "Monsters" was fun to put together because of all the little details in the picture. You may notice something new each time you build it, and for that reason, it's the kind of puzzle that will hold up to repeated sessions.
Kids can play with each of these products by themselves or with others, and neither item takes up much space.
Marketing: These products beg to come out of the box. If you have space for a play table, set them out, put a few pieces together and let customers take over from there. Constructibles is small enough for the counter; let customers play with it while waiting at the checkout.
As for display ideas, try a "start with this, go to that" theme; place Constructibles next to more elaborate building toys, like Erector sets or Uberstix; place the "Monsters" puzzle next to ones that have more than 63 pieces.
Mudpuppy touts the educational aspects of Constructibles, noting how the sets improve hand-eye coordination, develop motor skills, reinforce principles of balance and spatial skills and promote creative thinking.
This would make a great product for a display of educational toys. Group the toys according to the skills they build on, and if you have an artistic, creative person on your staff, let them make signs or posters listing these attributes.
Jan. 29, 2010 is National Puzzle Day, but stretch the celebration out for a week or so. Include "Monsters" in the arrangement, and have accessories such as puzzle glue and roll-up storage mats nearby to promote add-on sales.
These playthings are relatively inexpensive. Customers may be tempted to buy more than one. One Constructibles set has a sea creature theme; another features flowers. And other images among the 63-piece puzzle line are pirates, dinosaurs, dogs and landmarks of the world.
And consider looking into other Mudpuppy products. For example, the company offers other items illustrated by Cristian Turdera, including sticker books and a farm-themed two-in-one puzzle for ages
2 and up.
Reviewed by Sue Brettingen
Products, stock numbers, prices: "Bold Patterns" Constructibles building set, ISBN: 978-0-73532-209-7, $13; "Monsters" 63-piece puzzle, ISBN: 978-0-73532-407-7, $14
Availability: Galison/Mudpuppy; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.galison.com
Visually enticing products
Easy to carry and store
Can be used alone or shared
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