(11/13/98) The Interceptor
G is futuristic manned space vehicle that looks very impressive in
the catalog, on the box, and built. I found out recently that Jim Stuckman was
going to fly his one weekend after me, so we decided to do this joint
The kit is deemed by Estes in the
instructions as a "carefully designed and tested" kit to be
"realistic, challenging, and extremely high flying". They also
indicate that they hope that we "spend many enjoyable hours constructing
and flying" the kit.
The kit is made up of a variety of materials including
plastic nose cones and accessories, 1/8" plywood centering rings and small
wings and rudders, 1/8" basswood large wings and rudders and a vacu-formed
tail cone. The 2.5" main body tube is kraft paper measuring 34" long
and is 1/16" thick. The two booster tubes are BT-60A. The kit uses
1/4" launch lugs. The kit uses 1/4" launch lugs. It comes with the
GOR-1 Gorilla Shock Cord Mount Kit which
includes a 1/16" cable and a 1/2" wide, 72" long elastic shock
cord and mounting hardware. Also for recovery, there is a red 36" rip-stop
parachute. Lastly there are two sheets of decals which really give the kit its
When finished the Interceptor G should
stand 43.8" and weigh approximately 16 ounces without a motor.
The Interceptor G was a rocket that I just had
to have and I purchased it 10 months ago. Over the
past 10 months my thoughts and feelings about this kit have been like a roller
coaster as you will see throughout the review. It definitely offered me a
"challenging" kit and it definitely took "hours" to build.
Just the decals took over a hour!
My initial disappointment was that this kit didn't seem
to have the North Coast's Gorilla-Lok motor mount. Estes confirmed
that this is the only North Coast kit that doesn't!
I've had this kit for 3 months and decided it was time to
try something a little different from the typical 3FNC kits that are the norm
for 29mm kits. This kit is definitely an attention getter at the field both on
the ground and especially in the air!
My first impression was: nice wood & cool decals! The
laser cutting was first quality. Upon reading through the instructions, I saw
that they mentioned using the NCR plastic motor retainer to secure the motor in
the flight prep. A quick call to Estes confirmed that this kit does not have
one and that later versions of the instructions have already been
The kit comes with a twelve page instruction set, with
the first seven pages having something to do with construction. There are
relatively few illustrations if comparing to an Estes kit. The instructions
were in a logical order and if read carefully, and without skipping steps, one
can successfully build the Interceptor G. The instructions do,
however, largely contribute to this kit being challenging and may not support
the statement in the NCR catalog about this kit being "perfect for all
modelers to build".It is obvious that this is not an Estes kit and
requires an experienced, patient rocketeer to build successfully and not get
frustrated during the process.
The wings and rudders on this kit come in two pieces that
are glued together before attaching to the body tube. They are fairly easy to
work with and the instructions make a good point to sand, fill and round them
before gluing to the body tube.
The Gorilla Shock Cord Mount requires a
pair of crimpers (or needle nose). This consists of a cable that is
looped-through the upper centering ring and the held together with a sleeve
connector. The opposite end also has a loop that is held in place with another
connector. The picture in the instructions did not represent the actual
assembly, however, the textual instructions did.
The tail cone is made of vacu-formed plastic and requires
cutting it out of the form. Take your time on this.
The fins (wings and rudders) are not through-the-wall
mounting. The instructions indicate using a T-Pin to make holes on the fin line
marks. These would then act like rivets to help secure the fins to the body
For finishing detail, the Interceptor G comes
with many, many colorful, self-adhesive decals and some plastic parts. The
plastic parts are glued on in various places of the rocket to represent
components like the turbine exhaust ducts, rate gyro fairings, stabilizer
thrust motors, APU pressure elbows and antenna connectors.
We have all heard and read information regarding NCR's use
of a slightly smaller mount tube, however, I try very hard to build kits
stock when reviewing them and therefore, I built this one stock. It's funny
though, because I think the centering rings were cut for a standard 29mm tube.
When installing them they were too loose on the motor mount tube. This actually
got me very frustrated for two reasons. First, I didn't get them to be
perfectly parallel so it was a tight fit into the main body tube, and secondly,
this was the most expensive kit I had purchased (lists at $79.99), to date, and
I expected them to fit.
Here's where Nick & I differ a
little. I'm a firm believer in building the kit to my satisfaction - especially
when we are not talking about an entry level model. I made the following
modifications/deviations from the plans:
1. Motor Mount Tube - replaced with
PML 29mm. This was an easy modification that required a little time with some
120 grit sandpaper to open up the inner hole on the centering
2. Added plywood ring to rear of
MMT for 4-40 blind nuts. This allows the use of positive motor retention. I'm
not a big fan of friction fitting RMS cases! I sized the rearward ring to mount
inside the tail cone approx. 1/4" from the rear edge of the motor mount
I was somewhat disappointed, again, with the
Gorilla Shock Cord Mount. The cable is designed to go through two holes
in the upper centering ring. These holes were aligned in such a way that the
loop would have run parallel with the grain of the centering ring. I saw this
as a potential problem of putting undue stress on this centering ring. I took
some of the excess wood and glued it to the bottom of the centering ring,
in-between the two holes and so that the grain was perpendicular to the
centering ring grain. This may not have been necessary, but I'd hate to have
the cable break through the centering ring and then have to try to repair
I built my kit's shock cord mount per the instructions. The
Gorilla Mount is bullet proof! If built properly, I can see no way to
have a zipper as some people have reported with other NCR kits. I use this
basic setup on most of my larger rockets. Be sure the wire loop DOES NOT
protrude past the end of the body tube!
Another challenge with assembly was the vacu-formed tail
cone. It comes with two pieces, the coupler and tail cone. After the motor
mount is installed in the kit, the coupler is to be glued into place and then
the tail cone. The fit was not great and when the instructions say to
"fill the joint and sand flush", they mean this as a
Fitting the tail cone is an exercise in precision. Take you
time and test fit the parts often. It's not hard to do but needs to be done
slowly to get a proper fit. I still needed to fill the tail cone/body tube
joint but the result was fine.
With respect to using the T-Pin to make holes for rivets, I
deviated from this. I actually make slits using a hobby knife. I make the slits
perpendicular to the fin line and about 1/4" long. I then wiggle my hobby
knife back-and-forth to open the slit up slightly. When I glue the fins onto
the body tube, I use plenty of glue to allow it to go into the slits. The
fillets will fill the slits that are outside of the fin coverage. This has been
a successful technique on 3 other kits that don't have through-the-wall fin
I would have preferred TTW fins. I followed the instructions
and used a T pin to poke holes in the BT all along the area where the fin
mounts. I glued all the fins to the BT with 12 minute epoxy and then used 30
minute epoxy to form fillets. This method was put to the test - the chute
fouled on the 1st flight and the Interceptor came in VERY fast! One rudder was
cracked just above the fillet but stayed attached to the rocket.
Finishing the kit was challenging due to all of the
component. I filled the spirals on the main body tube with light spackle. Also
used this for areas around the tail cone. The remaining imperfections were
filled with multiple coats of Plasti-Kote primer. Once I finished
smoothing and priming, I painted the entire rocket with $0.98 Walmart White
comments about Walmart paint) The rocket then set for
another two weeks before I did the decals. As stated earlier, I spent an hour
on the decals. Finally, after painting the extra plastic parts silver, I glued
them into place.
The instructions give clear direction as to the paint
scheme for the Interceptor G, however, I did not follow
it. I think using just the gloss white and silver components with the colorful
decals still produced a very attractive kit.
I used spackle to fill around the tail cone. I then gave the
rocket 2 coats of Pactra Prep surfacer/primer, sanding between coats. I then
sprayed 2 coats of Krylon white. I also added an 8" plastic RC airplane
canopy from Sig. I cut it down until I felt it looked "right" and
then sprayed the inside with Patra Outlaw Black RC car paint. I'm very pleased
with the effect!
Overall, for CONSTRUCTION I would rate this kit
points. It is challenging as stated, but that is not the issue. With the
fit of the centering rings and the tail cone, it would be hard for me to rate
the kit greater than average. Also adding to this rating was my unproved
concern over the centering ring grain and the shock cord cable.
I would rate this kit
1/2 points for overall construction. I would like to see North
Coast show a means of positive motor retention. I think the tail cone
construction could also be improved. It works but takes a fair amount of
The Interceptor G sits majestically on the
launch pad. Its recommended motors are the Darkstar F62-4
and the G70-5 (currently not available). It uses two 1/4" launch
Flight preparation includes,
according to the instructions, "placing . . . recovery wadding into the
top of the main body tube. Fill the tube loosely with wading to a distance
about 1.5 times the diameter of the tube. Gently press the wadding down until
there is adequate room for the parachute. DO NOT JAM!" The instructions
are also clear in parachute preparation and then mention checking the nose cone
for a snug fit.
Recovery is via a 38" rip-stop nylon
If built stock, the Interceptor G requires
that the motor be friction fit, even though the instructions mention putting a
motor retainer in place . . . no doubt the Gorilla-Lok motor
mount which is not on this kit!
My Interceptor G flew three times in the same
day all on F62-4's. The first flight was off the pad at a slight angle. It was
parallel to the ground and arcing back before ejection. It then had a very
nice, slow descent on its red 38" 'chute. By comparison, the Interceptor
G weighs about the same as my PML Callisto which uses a 24"
parachute with a spill hole, so it came down much slower. It is a good thing
since there are many more fins, rudders and plastic parts to protect from a
speedy landing. First recovery showed no damage.
Second flight was straight up off the pad and another
successful recovery, except, a dent in the nose cone opening where the cone
obviously kicked back and hit it. Longer shock cord?
Last flight was again, picture perfect (see picture).
The first flight was on a cool and windy (10 mph+) day. I
used an Aerotech F20-4 Econojet. The rocket flew great! Lift-off was smooth and
the rocket flew much more stable than I would have thought in the wind. The
silhouette is very distinctive in flight. The 4 second delay was right on but
the chute did not fully deploy and resulted in a very fast landing. The right
rudder took the shock and cracked but has already been repaired and is awaiting
For FLIGHT/RECOVERY, I would rate this kit
1/2 points.It looks great and will draw attention, but without a
positive motor retention, only 1 motor (to date) to fly the stock kit on, and
the requirement for wadding keeps the kit in the average level.
I would rate this kit
points for flight (I reserve recovery rating for later!). It's a
fantastic flyer. I do not attribute the chute fouling to the kit's design - it
deployed from the BT fine but tangled with the shock cord.
Overall, this kit is very challenging, however, it looks
great! It is a good flyer but needs some changes to make it versatile for other
motors. I give the kit an OVERALL rating of
Overall, I would rate this kit a solid
points. If you are looking for a change of pace give the NCR
Interceptor G a look!