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Product Lab - March 2010

Published: February 12, 2010

MS Composit Swift II

Product: The flying wing is one of the more unique aircraft currently available to hobbyists. The obvious lack of anything that resembles a fuselage and tail feathers will draw a customer's attention, while their docile flight characteristics, wide flight envelope, and high durability can sometimes be all it takes to seal a deal.

The MS Composit Swift II is a medium-sized flying wing constructed solely of EPP (extruded poly-propylene) which is designed to flex instead of break during most encounters with terra firma. The Swift II is available in plain white or one of 18 different designs being offered in its Airbrush series.

Coupling the Swift II with the EZ Match power system is a great way to package this wing, as it is not available in a ready-to-fly configuration. Both the Swift II and the EZ Match electronics are available through MS Composit's U.S. Distributor, Common Sense RC.

Performance: The Swift II comes unassembled and should be glued together with foam-safe super glue as indicated in the instructions. All electronics must be purchased separately and installed. While all electronics bays are precut, they will need to be enlarged with a hobby knife for better fitment of the ESC, battery, and receiver.

The build was about as easy as they come, and I went from box to ready-to-fly in less than an hour. At the field, a quick toss of the Swift II sent it gliding away effortlessly, and with a slight throttle advance, I found it able to fly circles around me at a brisk walk. Push the throttle stick forward and watch the Swift II rocket away as it peaks out at nearly 40 mph. Rolls, loops, speed dives, slow flight, and inverted flight are all within the Swift II's capabilities.

The 10-oz. Swift II, with its efficient low-drag airfoil, can float around effortlessly and consumes very little power doing so. I got anywhere from 8 to 14 minutes flight time from the Common Sense RC 11.1v 860mAh LiPo pack, depending on throttle management. Since I got the Swift, I've banged it into a few sign posts and had a few hard landings and its showing no signs of giving up. After a bit of practice I'm now able to land the little flying wing right into my hand.

Marketing: MS Composit doesn't package the Swift II in a shiny box with graphics depicting the finished model. Instead, your faced with displaying the Swift in a plastic bag with a paper tag stapled to the top. You can hang the Swift on a peg board like a parts bag, but it leaves a lot to the imagination; most customers won't have a clue what they are looking at. I suggest gluing one together and hanging it from the ceiling or placing it on the wall. Have a few of the Airbrush series to choose from and your customers will enjoy looking through them as they pick their favorite design.

Since the Swift II comes as a bare airframe, offering a combo deal can make a sale much easier. The Common Sense RC 1200kv brushless motor, Z-Series 20A ESC, and 11.1v 860mAh LiPo pack are perfect matches for the Swift and should be offered as the fastest and most economical way to get it airborne quickly. Other electronics and parts will be required, such as an APC 7x4 propeller, 2 micro servos, an aircraft-ready transmitter and receiver, and a charger capable of charging and balancing LiPos.

Another way to attract new customers to the Swift is with video. The flying wing's unconventional design can scare some people away, but a video showing it's smooth slow-flying characteristics and ability to be flown in small school yards may be all it takes to move them.

Reviewed by Matt Gunn

Product: Swift II
Maker: MS Composit
Stock No., price: White Swift II (MS-13000, $41.95), Z-20 ESC ($32.95), E5-M-14 motor ($52.95), LiPo battery (3S860-25, $29.95)
Availability: Common Sense RC

  • Easy to build, fun to fly
  • 18 different designs available
  • Not an ARF; all electronics required

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  • Summit takes Traxxas to new heights

    Product: The Traxxas Summit ushers in a new breed of 1:10-scale vehicles by effectively bridging the gap between rock crawlers and monster trucks. With its transmitter-operated High-Low transmission and patented T-Lock remote locking differentials, the Summit can transform itself from precision rock-racer to quick and nimble off-road basher in a matter of seconds; there's no place this truck can't go!

    To further diversify the Summit, an included 10-LED lighting system allows for nighttime driving excitement that makes it stand out from all others in its class.

    Performance: The Summit comes fully assembled and requires the installation of the antenna tube. Customers will need to purchase eight AA batteries for the transmitter and a charger capable of charging the included 7-cell 2000mAh NiMH packs. With the transmission set to high, the Summit exhibits adequate speed and handling for its size. The Titan 775 motor paired with a waterproof ESC, dubbed the EVX-2, powers the hefty truck up to around 20 mph.

    Set the transmission to low, lock the differentials and watch the Summit crawl its way to the top of almost any hill. By crawling standards it's a little on the fast side, and the 70:1 low gear ratio is more apt to muscle the Summit over obstacles rather than methodically hunt for the best line like a competition crawler.

    Handling is plush and borders on too soft for its size. Luckily, you can stiffen it up by turning the shock adjusters, thus allowing for some bigger drop-offs without slapping the chassis too hard. Traxxas has set the Summit up with its unique cantilever shock system that's one of the more radical approaches to suspension technology currently in the R/C industry.

    Marketing: Sitting still, the Summit practically sells itself. Its exterior roll cage looks tough as nails; the gnarly tread pattern on the tires screams traction. Customers will be drawn to it with 20 questions if it's displayed on a counter or shelf.

    Describing the Summit as versatile, durable and a true performer can pique interest quickly. Note the included electronics such as a transmitter, motor, ESC and dual batteries, and you can pretty much wrap this one up.

    The box art on the packaged Summit is also worthy of display. All four sides are packed with high-quality photos and descriptions. Even if you're not totally familiar with the Summit, a brief overview of the box is all it takes to confidently attest to its laundry list of high-end features.

    And don't worry about an age limit or skill level for this monster either; everyone from children to adults, from beginners to hardcore modelers, will enjoy the Summit. It's tame enough for a first timer and strong enough to take the abuse dished out by newbies.

    With R/C rock crawling gaining in popularity, some hobby shops have begun to feature indoor rock walls to demo crawlers. This can be as simple as a small pile of granite in a corner or spray foam on a chicken wire frame. Having a Summit as a demo crawler always attracts a crowd and can definitely help sell it.

    A quality fast-charger can be bundled with the Summit as a ready-to-run package. The Traxxas TRX Power Charger (No. 3030X, $40) and the EZ-Peak Charger (No. 2930, $47.99) are two options that should sell well with any Traxxas electric vehicle. If the customer decides on another brand of charger, make sure they purchase a Traxxas connector female/standard Molex male adapter (No. 3062, $5.50) for Traxxas batteries.

    Reviewed by Matt Gunn

    Product: Summit 4WD Electric Extreme Terrain Monster Truck
    Maker: Traxxas
    Scale: 1:10
    Stock No.: 5610
    MSRP/Street: $980/$549.99

  • Versatile vehicle

  • Comes RTR minus charger

  • Great for all skill levels

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    Autoart 1:18-scale Lamborghini Gallardo and Reventon

    Product: Lamborghinis are sexy, with their smooth, low lines and their hot, high-revving V10 and V12 engines thundering under their tight-fitting skins.

    These racy Italian-bred bulls (Lamborghini in Italian) have been challenging Ferrari in its own backyard since the mid-1960s. Today, they are still built in the heart of Italian car country, but now with financial and organizational backing from Audi, Volkswagen's luxury group.

    Today's V10 powered Gallardos have become Lamborghini's most popular selling cars, more than 8,600 being built so far. Autoart presents both the Gallardo and a car at the other end of the spectrum, the Reventon. The latter is the ultimate Lambo supercar, built in as small a number as 20, although as with all things Lambo, rumors say 100 have been built. Nasty ol' rumors!

    Still, Autoart delivers two striking 1:18 die-cast models in its usual detail, fit and finish, each well worth the $114.95 retail price that puts Autoart at the more affordable end of high-end 1:18-scale metal.

    Performance: What's to like? Well, with the Reventon, the carbon-fiber body work looks like stealth fighter meets DeLorean. In real life, the term, in bull-fighting, means "explosion" or "burst," and the Reventon is well named, as it's a guided missile on land.

    Under the glassy rear engine cover is a 6.5-liter V12 capable of 640 horsepower that's been clocked at 221 mph. The car is based on Lambo's top-end Murcielago LP 640 and debuted in 2007. Cost? A cool $1.5 million!

    The Autoart model is awesome in its detail. For instance, check out the engine, located under the smoky black louvered rear windows. The model looks almost reptilian in its armor-like design, from the roof to the tail. Front lights and the futuristic-looking rear ones are awesome, as are the crooked five-spoke wheels with carbon disc brakes visible just behind them. There's also a detailed Lamborghini badge on the wheel hubs.

    Inside, the Reventon has a black and gray interior with a carbon-fiber shroud over the instruments and nice gauge detailing too. There's even the Reventon logo on the inner door, center-mounted seat belts and a detailed center console. For the record, the hood, rear engine cover and doors open.

    The Gallardo Superleggera is an upscale version of the smaller Lambo that has sold so well worldwide. It weighs just 3,459 pounds while riding on a 100.8-inch wheelbase and is all of 45.9 inches tall. The standard V10 delivers 510 horsepower, but in this trim, 560 horses are said to be possible. For the record, Audi's racy R8 rides on the Gallardo platform, but with less firepower.

    This is Autoart's racy Gallardo version with thin carbon-fiber wing in back to keep that tail end planted. As with the other model, the doors, hood and rear engine cover will open.

    There's a detailed V10 under the rear cover. The lights and body detailing are crisp and well executed. Seeing this next to the Reventon makes it look a bit less hip and trendy, if that's possible with a Lamborghini. Wheels here are open multi-spoke with a drilled disc behind each one and visible black brake caliper.

    Inside, the Gallardo also is well detailed, with a similar layout as the Reventon. There are accurate-looking gauges and buttons on the console and center stack. The seats look like leather and the steering wheel seems realistic too. I was impressed that even all the dash vents by the windows are crisply executed, adding to the car's realism. Twin seat belts on each seat also give the car a racy flair. There's not much not to like, if you like Lambos.

    Marketing: Autoart delivers some of the finest, most consistent high-quality, yet affordable die-cast, in both 1:18 and 1:43 scales. In fact, it's creating even more 1:12 models for your hardcore, more free-spending, collectors.

    But for now, package some of these higher-end 1:18 models amidst your wall of 1:43 die-cast to draw some attention to the whole display. Note too that Autoart makes many models in both scales, so you can encourage collectors to buy two or three 1:43 models and then splurge for the bigger, more detailed 1:18 to highlight a make in their collection.

    Reviewed by Mark Savage

    Product: Lamborghini Reventon and Gallardo Superleggera
    Maker: Autoart
    Scale: 1:18
    Stock Nos.: 74591 (gray) Reventon/ 74583 (metallic gray) Gallardo
    MSRP: $114.95 each
    Availability: Gateway Global

  • Beautiful exotics
  • Gorgeous detailing
  • Window boxes good for displays

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  • Electrifly FlyLite EP ARF

    Product: The ElectriFly FlyLite EP ARF is the perfect choice of pilots who want to enjoy quiet, relaxing, flights indoors or out. The FlyLite assembles quickly and can be flight ready in as little as one hour. It is made of Aerocell and Performance foam for strength and durability. The FlyLite is stable and would make an excellent trainer.

    The box contains the basic airframe and since it's so light won't take a major investment in the servos, motor, ESC and battery to get into the air.

    Performance: The reason for the quick build time is a low parts count. I was impressed with how the tail feathers fit together with the fuselage and are held in place with magnets.

    Your customer will have a decision to make when it comes to the wing. It will depend on where they will fly, indoors or out, and how they will fly, casual or aggressive. I fly the FlyLite aggressively inside and out, which means the wing center doubler needs to be attached to the wing to give it more strength. What that also does is change where the plane is balanced. Because of this, I had to add about a ½-oz. of weight to the nose. I used the recommended setup to get the plane in the air: ES40 Pico servos(2), Rimfire 250 outrunner motor, Electrifly 7.4 20c LiPo battery and an Electrifly SS 8A ESC.

    My first flight was outdoors in about a 10 mph wind (not recommended for beginners). The FlyLite handled it well. I was able to loops, rolls and maneuvers not always achievable with a three-channel plane. I was even able to fly it backwards. My second flight, also outdoors, was on a calm day where I found I could fly the plane in about a 20-foot pattern.

    The only downside is short flying times. Even with throttle management, I was only able to get about 5-minute flights.

    Marketing: Okay, so you're probably thinking that you have enough trainers on your shelves, why would you need another? Because with the FlyLite, you're really getting two planes in one box. It's a great trainer. The FlyLite can be flown in parks or gyms so you could set up demos with your local schools.

    The FlyLite can also be marketed to the more experienced flyer. I fly EDF's that go around 100 mph. While they are a blast, sitting back and flying a plane like the FlyLite is a nice break. I also like flying it in our local golf dome in the winter months. Plus, it makes a great platform to attach lights for night flying which is becoming more and more popular.

    Beyond the airframe, there is plenty of opportunity for add-on sales. First, all the electronics, battery and radio are needed to get into the air. Spektrum makes a great radio system with small receivers that are very affordable.

    If your customer already has a radio, a micro-receiver is recommended. I fly on the Futaba FASST system, so used their R600 4FF receiver. An extra battery is a must, as is a charger for the first-time flyer.

    Product: FlyLite EP ARF
    Maker: Electrifly
    Stock No.: GPMA1107
    Street: $59.99
    Availability: Great Planes

  • Quick build/good flyer

  • Relatively in-expensive to get into the air

  • Can be marketed to beginners and intermediate/advanced flyers

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    Revell Monogram 1:32 1967 Ford Fairlane #17, David Pearson

    Product: Back in 1967 stock cars weren't anything fancy, in fact, they were pretty much just that, stock cars with headlights taped up and numbers painted on the sides. They still had stock bumpers and bodies - no templates!

    There were a select group of top drivers then, just as now. But long before Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt there were Richard Petty and David Pearson. In the mid- to late-1960s they were the top dogs, by a long-shot.

    So Revell-Monogram's latest offering, Pearson's No. 17 Ford Fairlane will be a popular model among slot car racers who enjoy vintage machines. 1967 was the year Pearson switched from Dodge to Ford mid-season, jumping to the successful Holman-Moody Team. That meant he only had 22 starts in 48 races, but still finished 7th in points.

    The year before Pearson was NASCAR Grand National champ and he would add two more titles in 1968 and '69 to become the second three-time champion, Lee Petty being the first. Others may consider Lee's son, Richard, to be the King of NASCAR, but there are plenty of others who'd argue for Pearson, who often raced less than a full season and still was near the top in points.

    Overall he has 105 wins, second only to Petty, and 113 poles, again second to Petty. But in head-to-head racing when the two finished first and second in a race, Pearson won 33 to Petty's 30. He also was the Darling of Darlington, winning 10 times and posting 12 poles, better than anyone, ever, on what was considered NASCAR's toughest track.

    Pearson, known as the Silver Fox due to his prematurely gray hair, last won in 1980, at Darlington and raced sparingly until 1986, finishing 10th in his final race.

    Performance: This Monogram slot car is a simple, but attractive reproduction of Pearson's 1967 Ford Fairlane, sort of a faded red with gold No. 17 on the roof, trunk and doors. There were fewer sponsors then, so you'll only see Holman Moody logos, Ford, and about a half dozen other logos on the body, plus two white 427 C.I. logos on the hood indicating the racy V-8 that was under the hood.

    Inside, there's a Spartan interior with driver, seat, dash and roll bar, again nothing fancy.

    Performance is where this historic stock car excels over earlier models. I have a 1963 Ford Galaxie racer from Monogram that is nowhere near as fast as the Fairlane. The Fairlane isn't quite as long so tends to fishtail less in turns, although the chassis appears to be the same layout as the previous model.

    Magnets front and rear keep the car fairly well grounded and I turned several sub 6-second laps on my home track, compared to 6.8 with the older model. Power is good in a straight line, but there is a fair amount of engine and gear noise here. Still, the car handles well and looks good in motion, making is more fun to drive than the newer NASCAR look-alike cars.

    Marketing: If you have a track in your store promote vintage racing, form a league, have a special vintage race night every month. Then stock a bunch of these grand old stock cars for your customers to buy and improve.

    Revell now offers at least five other 1967 Fairlane models, including those driven by Mario Andretti (yes he raced NASCAR and even won at Daytona), Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Fred Lorenzen and Wendell Scott. These are fun racers and nothing beats a good class race where everyone is driving nearly identical equipment.

    Now we just need some more vintage Dodges, Pontiacs, Mercurys, Buicks, Chevys and Plymouths to run.

    Reviewed by Mark Savage

    Product: 1967 Ford Fairlane #17 David Pearson
    Maker: Revell Monogram
    Scale: 1:32
    Stock No.: 85-4828
    MSRP: $44.95??

  • Quick and durable

  • A top historic driver

  • Nice overall appearance

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