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REV 2.4 - Wed Aug 10 18:48:40 2011

Custom Rockets
P.O. Box 1865
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405
(800) 394-4114
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SPECS: 11.75" x .976" - .7 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: 1/2A6-2, A8-3, B4-4, B6-4, C6-5, C6-7

(by Kenneth R. Johnson - 11/01/00)

An entry level rocket that suffers from some quality control problems. At first glance, the lackluster packaging had me thinking "Siesta" instead, but once I delved into the project, there was plenty to like about this single stage 4FNC rocket.

Kit Picture

The package was the typical plastic "hanging bag" that allowed most of the components to be seen without opening the bag. As a plus (or minus, in this case) the balsa fins were wrapped inside the instructions, along with the decals, for protection. It was apparent that Custom had their sights set on the market that Estes abandoned when the latter went to those ho-hum prebuilt plastic rockets. Custom's offering featured real balsa that required actual construction, which is loads better at teaching kids and/or beginners about proper construction techniques. So far, so good.

The plastic nose cone had the most casting flash I have ever seen, but it was easy to remove with an Xacto knife in a few seconds. The first quality control problem was here: the nose cone was way too loose in the body tube, and would fall out every time it was pointed down. This could be easily fixed with masking tape, but that detracts from the overall finished look. The second glitch was the fin stock. These fins were of the poorest quality I have ever seen. They were warped, grainy, and really flimsy, though at least the die-cut fins popped out with ease. No way would this thing fly straight. Custom also took a page from Estes' playbook and included a really short piece of flat elastic shock cord, and utilized Estes' method of mounting with the tri-fold paper and glue. Well, it has worked millions of times, and this is a low power rocket, so why not? And the body tube was slightly crimped on one end, but I had other plans for this end by this point. The rest of the components were excellent.

The instructions were among the easiest I have ever seen, though I didn't really use them. I especially liked the painting instructions the best, because this kit was designed for a beginner, and gave a couple of good tips. I decided at first to build this rocket using the same materials and techniques that a kid would use on his or her first rocket, but the warped fins and loose nose cone quickly made me change my mind. While it might fly, it certainly wouldn't fly straight, so some modifications were in order.

First of all, I placed the fin stock between a paint can and a large dictionary for a few days, and this flattened them out satisfactorily. I decided against masking tape for the nose cone, and instead mixed balsa sanding dust with 30 minute epoxy, let it set up a while, and slathered it onto the shoulder of the nose cone and into a deep depression at the tip, which was originally covered by the casting flash.

I built the motor mount per the instructions, which went together surprisingly well. At least Custom has these parts down pat. Once everything dried, I attached the fins with Elmer's School Gel. This particular adhesive dries quickly, but remains tacky enough to move things around if needed. A decent choice for a beginner.

Once the fins were tacked on, I drilled small holes at the root edge through the tube, then used several thin coats of 30 minute epoxy to attach the fins with epoxy rivets and to seal the horribly grainy fins. The result is a bulletproof fin attachment and a much smoother surface. The shock cord was mounted according to the instructions, but I substituted much thinner paper and attached another 100 cm (about 3 feet) of flat elastic shock cord.

Prior to painting, however, I decided to repair the crimped body tube by cutting the end of the tube into sections, then folded the flaps down to create a boat tail. I then filled in the gaps with slow drying CA and balsa dust, then again coated the whole thing with epoxy. Once sanded and painted, this added a lot to the looks of the rocket.

Rocket PicFinishing:
Once the nose cone was sanded down, the entire rocket was sealed, sanded, and painted gloss white. The nose was painted Calypso Blue that was left over from a model car my son built, and the water based decals were attached. The whole thing was then coated in several thin coats of clear enamel.

Other than the miserable fin quality and loose nose cone, the rest was easy to finish. I would prime the whole rocket next time with Krylon gray primer, then apply the white gloss paint, but it still worked out well, and barely any spiral is visible on the body tube. The decals, which didn't look good to me on the packaging, look dynamite on the actual rocket. Once the defects were addressed, this turned out to be a good rocket. But the defects in the original materials made me decide on a 3 1/2 rating.

Construction Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Custom recommends using really low powered 18mm motors for the first flight, but I refuse to purchase 18mm A motors. Why? Well, I built a 13mm to 18mm adaptor in a few second with stuff already in my parts bin. Since 13mm motors are cheaper than 18mm motors, and there are 4 to a pack instead of 3, it makes better economic sense. O.K. so I'm cheap. But if you buy this stuff in bulk, it adds up. Anyway, with an A10-3T on board, the rocket will fly decently high with a slow takeoff. Perfect for a small field. The prep is easy, just add some wadding, stuff in the very long streamer, and attach the nose. Put it on the launcher and fire away. Recovery is excellent on this long streamer. But if you are going to use a C6-7, you'd better have a big field, some assistant trackers, and no wind. This one really gets up there in a hurry! The only con is the weak motor retention clip, which is more like a Quest clip than Estes, in that it has absolutely no springiness to it. But the motors stay in, and I give the flights a solid 5.

The extra long plastic streamer is a nice touch. I would definitely add at least double the shock cord that Custom provides. This rocket is durable, and should be around for many launches, IF you keep the power low!

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

I like the fact that somebody is addressing the gap Estes left when they abandoned beginning rocket builders. They now only feature kits that go together with no skill, and kids don't learn anything from that. This one required some real rocket construction techniques, and the shabby quality of the fins and nose would ironically help a kid learn how to build a better rocket by overcoming obstacles. I would not recommend this as a first or second kit due to the poor quality pieces I found inside, but it would be great for someone who has built a couple and may be looking for a challenge. Don't let the dull packaging fool you- this is a great rocket.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

(Contributed - by Bob Patterson - 06/01/02)

Custom Rockets Fiesta

Small, single-stage rocket with streamer recovery.


  • 1 body tube,
  • plastic nosecone,
  • 3 balsa fins,
  • 36" x ~1 1/14" plastic/nylon (can't tell which) streamer,
  • 14" x 1/8" elastic shock cord
  • 18mm engine mount with Quest style metal clip (only springier like Estes)
  • centering rings
  • water-slide decals
  • 1/8" launch lug

Pros - easily assembled using only white glue (I provided the glue help for my 7 year old, this was the first rocket he assembled). Masked fins to paint yellow after base coat of gloss white (Krylon spray paint), then applied decals and a clear coat to finish.

No cons.

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

First launch was with A8-3, standard wadding with streamer, engine slides in eaily and held with clip. Flew great. Tried B4-x, B6-x, C6-5, C6-7, no problems with any, except that with C6-x the rocket disappears from sight until it comes back down. Almost lost it several times after C6-x launch because we didn't see it come down. We were shooting into wind, and turns out the wind carried it past us without anyone realizing it.

Custom Rockets Fiesta Shock cord is glued inside upper body and has held up well, although currently we can see the 4 bare strands of elastic where the cloth material has burned away. Recovery speed is good, not too fast. Have had fins break off several times, don't think we're getting enough Elmers on them. Will try hot-glue gun for next repairs. For its most recent launch on 5/26/02, I used Kevlar cloth for wadding under the streamer - apparently jammed it in a little too hard, only the nose cone ejected. Apparantly came down pretty hard from a C6-7 launch (we never saw it, and wandered around where we thought it might have come down). The boy who found it and carried it back tripped over someone else running back, and may have landed on it - 2 fins came off, and 3rd was loose - can't tell which was landing damage, and which was kid damage. Upper body is also slightly crinkled, consistent with nose first landing. Bottom of streamer was melted, the heat apparently carried thru the Kevlar cloth (both were still in the rocket).

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

I have no bad feelings about this rocket, great little one for higher wind conditions and for nice high shots, the kids love launching it and chasing it down.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

05/10 - "I concur with the review as written. The NC quality suffers do to poor fit, masking tape was my fix also. The balsa quality on my kit was poor to the point I scrapped them and cut new fins out of stock I had. I have had little issue with broken fins, my glue selection is Ambroid. I have flown the rocket in calm and windy days all with good performance. On As and Bs not have had the guts or the field size to attempt a C yet." (R.E.L.)

05/02 - "I bought this kit for my daughter, she put it together with no problems , We didn't even bother to stiffen the fins up. We have flown this many times mostly on C6-7's but also a few time on a D21-4. Without any modifications to the rocket." (H.E.)

04/01 - "An addendum to the above: We flew the Fiesta at the Pittsburgh Space Command's March 2001 sport flying day, and I must say it was an impressive little bugger. Some of the folks there couldn't believe it was only flying on an A8-3. Lost a little paint at the top when the NC apparently kicked back, so I would suggest to anyone building this kit that they use a longer shock cord than the one provided." (G.B.)

04/01 - "Well, I guess it's the kit then. I built a Fiesta kit also, and have the same problems as mentioned above. The nose cone is too loose and the fin stock was of poor quality. One of the fins chipped off at the bottom, so I had to cut the remainder of the fins to match. I have never like the flimsy engine clip use by both Quest and Custom (only on their new kits). Overall, I give this kit a 2.5/5.0" (D.B.)

03/01 - "Perhaps Mr. Johnson just fell into a bad kit -- the Fiesta my son recently assembled had nice straight fin stock. I agree that it's a good kit to teach youngsters some basic construction skills, and also that the NC is too loose. But I have seen that problem on many kits with plastic cones (most recently, the Estes Big Daddy). Why these companies can't make the ridges on the cone shoulders a little larger (we can certainly sand or trim them if they're too snug!) is beyond me. Or better yet, include more balsa cones. With the boat tail, the Fiesta reminds this BAR of the old Estes Sprint, which I recall was quite a performer. We'll fly it as soon as the snow melts. Custom does indeed seem to be trying to fill the gap Estes left with its move to more and more one-piece fin assemblies in smaller flyers. I wish them luck and will try at least one more of their kits." (G.B.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

10/10 - "I purchased this pretty little kit for my youngest daughter, who only had one rocket in our combined fleet. We built it together and it came out quite nicely. It seems to be a later edition though, and we were disappointed to notice that the decal sheet had the little dancing characters deleted. It also has a slight change in the color patterns, using yellow and orange rather than the yellow and blue the earlier 'dancing characters' edition of the kit seems to have. Krylon Pumpkin Orange matched the nose cone and fin color the packaging suggested, based on the orange in the decals. All-in-all a pretty rocket kit, but try to find an earlier edition or older stock of it if you want the better, more exciting decal set." (R.O.M. )

06/07 - "I have built this rocket and found the balsa to be of moderate quality. The grain is deep and if a smooth finish is desired, will require a healthy regimen of fill and sand...fill and sand... *my recommendation* - trace the fins onto a sheet of basswood and cut them out with a sharp hobby knife. I use basswood about 90% of the time due to its strength and minimal wood grain. It is also easier to sand and seal. The nosecone I found to be satisfactory with minimum flash on the exterior. I used 220 and 320 grit sand paper to acquire a smooth surface for priming. Shock cord is of a minimum length and should be replaced with a longer piece at least 24" long and 1/8" wide. It is attached using the standard tri-fold method. I always replace the shock cords to avoid the damage caused by the nosecone recoiling back and hitting the body tube and/or fins after ejection. I replaced the stock streamer which should be sufficient for this model with a 36" length piece of 3" wide caution tape. This is attached to the shock cord via masking tape at the middle of the shock cord. I use this for streamer due to its width and customizable length." (J.E. )

02/06 - "My Fiesta Kit had a loose nose which is no problem but I found my centering rings needed to be peeled inside and out to get them on the motor tube and into the body tube.. Fins were great quality. No other problems in assembly. I added a Kevlar recovery line on the motor tube in addition to the elastic in the kit." (L.T.R. )

06/02 - "Another tip for the Fiesta, The first time I flew this rocket, the ejection charge deployed the streamer as well as ejecting the motor casing. Like a lot of rocketeers, I fly on private property with permission and therefor, I don't like leaving spent casings around. What I do now is wrap a single layer of masking tape around the nozzle end of the motor and then fit it into place. PRESTO!!! No more ejected motors!" (D.B.Jr )

06/02 - "Nose cone was very loose, so I only taped off very bottom of nose cone where eyelets are for the streamer and shock cord. Then painted entire nose cone and snugged it in nicely." (S.R.S. )

05/02 - "Apply many fillets to the fins, I applied four (yes four) fillets to each fin and after about four flights with bouncy landings, I still have yet to break one." (D.B.Jr )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Wind Notes
06-01-2003 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm - Great flight and recovery.
10-08-2004 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: North
- Great flight and recovery.
04-16-2007 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: Mile-High Mayhem
- Perfect flight and recovery.
04-07-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Nice first flight. Kicked motor at ejection. Moderate drift, no damage.
04-13-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Wind test. Nose cone eyelet broke off at ejection. Other than that, a great flight. Nose cone recovered.
06-26-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Wind test. Perfect flight. No damage.
06-26-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU B6-4 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Nice arrow straight, high flight. Perfect motor for this rocket, high enough to enjoy but low enough to see the ejection.
09-08-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Wind test. Sustained some damage to one fin due to hard landing. Fixable.
12-15-2002 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Wind test. Landed on some dirt and rock, slightly denting a fin.
05-25-2003 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Nice flight, rather powerful ejection, unusually loud pop. No damage
02-28-2004 Donald Besaw Est SU B6-4 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Nice high flight, not quite out of sight, maybe 600-700 feet up. Good streamer deployment and recovery. No damage.
02-10-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Just Before 5-10 mph winds - Broke fin.
02-10-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-5 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds -
03-10-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Down 10+ mph winds -
05-12-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Didn't Record Calm - Good flight.
07-26-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A3-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Good school yard rocket on a streamer.
07-26-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A3-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Last one today.
07-26-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A3-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Still getting some drift even with a streamer.
07-26-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A3-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Third time's a charm.
07-27-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A3-4 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Today's sounding flight. Wind fair.
09-08-2001 Tim Burger Est SU B6-4 Didn't Record 5-10 mph winds - Nominal
09-29-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Didn't deploy properly, broke a fin.
03-10-2002 Tim Burger Est SU A8-5 Very Late Gusty - OK flight even thought the 'chute didn't open fully due to the cold. No damage. Balance is perfect - little or no weathercock. A long delay A is wasted on this rocket; prefer A8-3.
05-31-2003 Tim Burger Est SU B6-4 Didn't Record 10+ mph winds - Good!
09-27-2003 Tim Burger Est SU B6-6 None - Unknown 10+ mph winds - Unstable flight; ejected on the ground.
12-27-2009 Mike Caplinger Est SU B6-4 Apogee - Perfect
(550 ft)
0-5 mph winds Flight PictureEvent: Fiesta Island
- Added small payload section for altitude contest. Shock cord too short and tube badly dented by snapback; lost a fin at landing. Repairable.
02-28-2010 Mike Caplinger Est SU B6-4 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Flight PictureEvent: Fiesta Island
- Nice flight, but more snapback damage from too-short shock cord.
11-12-2000 Kenneth Johnson Est SU B6-4 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Perfect flight! Took off fast and straight, ejected just before apogee, streamer recovery a bit fast but no damage.
11-12-2000 Kenneth Johnson Est SU C6-7 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Takes off in a hurry and keeps on climbing. Slight wobble on the way up, possibly a bad motor nozzle. Good motor for a large field.
04-20-2008 Glenn Little Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Pink Lightening - First flight of a model rocket in 30 years. My 5 yr old wanted it painted pink, so called it Pink Lightening. Flight was great: little wind cocking, landed 50 yds away.
04-26-2008 Glenn Little Est SU B6-4 Didn't See 5-10 mph winds Pink Lightening - Very fast, straight flight. Nearly out of sight, couldn't see ejection aside from the smoke and streamer unraveling. Drifed 20 feet from pad. We're getting hooked!.
05-05-2008 Glenn Little Est SU B6-6 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Pink Lightening - Another good flight. This basic, entry level rocket is tough and reliable: goes high, falls fast. Glad I did extra fillets. Shock cord will need to be replaced after next flight. C-engine next time?
05-10-2008 Glenn Little Est SU B6-4 Apogee - Perfect Calm Pink Lightening - This is a pretty reliable rocket, perfect to start launch sessions and confirm wind direction/strength. As usual, went high & straight. No wind so landed under 50' from pad. Perfect flight.
06-28-2008 Glenn Little Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Gusty Event: Davis Field
Pink Lightenin' II - First launch with P.L. II. Also first launch with a launch club. Drove 1.75 hrs, good weather, had a great time. Used low engine to test winds/rocket. Perfect flight. Garrett helped prep the pad. Rocket landed in a field 100yds away.
06-28-2008 Glenn Little Est SU B6-4 Apogee - NC Down Gusty Event: CMASS--Davis Fld
Pink Lightenin' II - 4th launch of 6 with launch club/of the day. Drove 1.75 hrs--good weather/great time. 2nd launch w/ PL II. G helped prep the pad. Had a great time. NC down, but great launch. Landed 100' away. G helped catch it.
11-29-2008 Glenn Little Est SU B6-4 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds Event: Watchaug Rd upper fld
Pink Lightenin' II - First launch of T-day '08 launch. Great flight. Don + Kari/family there. Used dog barf wadding for the first time. No problems. Kids helped get rocket. No drift (streamer recovery). Everything perfect.
06-15-2008 Glenn Little Est SU C6-7 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds RIP Pink Lightening - 1st rocket of Father's Day launch: 'sounding rocket' for wind speeds. Strongest engine for it to date. Great flight: fast, out of sight 'til eject at 1000 or more. Too bad launch director ;) over compensated for wind-- blew into edge of treeline. Status: Tree/Roof
02-21-2009 Joseph Olexa Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Flight Picture - First flight for my Fiesta. This was converted to a parachute recovery from the streamer supplied with kit. Flight was smooth and stable getting decent altitude from the A8-3. Parachute ejection and a soft landing. Landed about 25' from launch pad.
02-21-2009 Joseph Olexa Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - This was the second flight for my Fiesta. Got decent altitude on an A8-3. Rocket was converted to a parachute recovery with longer (3') shock cord. Parachute ejected and the Fiesta landed softly about 125' away from launch pad.

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