(Contributed - by Mark Fisher)
Now this is
an ! Custom has trimmed the weight and size of its new Elite down to
the bare essentials required to get an egg as high into the air as possible.
The light-weight payload section with its power series (often
mistakenly called "parabolic") is its most prominent feature and is
reminiscent of the old Nova Egg Cone once found on
Apogee's Hydra. The minimum diameter
body tube and hard fins further cut weight, and the sparing water slide
decals keep surface finish smooth while adding just the right touch of class.
The Elite could be painted just about any decent color (red springs to mind as
a good choice), but the suggested basic gloss black touted on the bag art makes
for a serious-looking bird. Performance is terrific for a kit egg lofter; on a
C6 engine, the Elite shames my Estes Omloid by over 100 feet! Her pre-cut
18" diameter 'chute makes for some good duration, too.
The fin material is the hardest I've ever seen in a model rocket kit, and
the standoffs are made from tough, laser cut plywood, also very
unusual for a kit under $10. The die cutting on the fins was superb, they
practically fell out of their stock. Parts count is minimal, and the
instructions are clear and easy to follow. A goodly amount of technique is
discussed, but a few steps (and parts) need work.
There is no wrap-around fin alignment guide, and the stand-up one does not
provide a location mark for the launch lug stand-offs. Separating the
sections is done after the model is pained, and without careful handling, the
paint can chip or scratch. The payload section has a lot of flash, and though
it can be removed fairly easily, a lot of sanding is required to get a good
finish after paint. The fit to the was very loose, requiring two
wraps of masking tape to come right. (Granted, its probably supposed to be a
little loose so the engine core is retained, but it was really loose, folks.)
The shock cord and ' mounting hole in the transition is way too small;
I cut another though the interior and used that to attach an 18"
length of 1/8" , the included length being way too short. The
mylar 'chute uses the old tape disk method for attaching the
(which are very thin and tough to work with), notoriously unreliable,
especially for a payload-carrying rocket. I punched holes in the disks and tied
the lines on a la the current Estes system.
Painting the plastic parts was a bit of a challenge; the interior of the
payload section jointing ring must be masked to prevent over-spray. The payload
section must be sanded thoroughly for the paint to get a good grip. Not much
chance of keeping it in its clear state. (NOTE: Later production Elites have
black payload sections.) The water slide decals have a lot of clear border, and
required a bit of to look right on the model. No mention is made in
the instruction for airfoiling the fins (the unusual semi-ellipse form would
have made this tough to do, anyway), and the blunt edges make for a rough
appearance. If I had this bird to do over, I'd design and attach my own fins.
Why are the good looking ones always such pains to build?
I'd rate the Elite a
on the Essence , needs some improvement.
As I said, this bird is a real go-getter! A quick check in told me that
she wasn't stable enough to fly empty, so for her first flight I loaded her
with an egg and an Estes B6-2. Empty she only weighs about an ounce, so the
addition of a two ounce egg doesn't hurt her performance that much. My C6-3
flight with a grade AA egg more than doubled the of her B6 effort, and
it sure was impressive! The Elite isn't going to beat the one-off or high-end
birds you see at meets, but she'll take anybody's Scrambler or Omloid at your
club shoot, and quite convincingly, too. (If the manufacturer can be believed,
she'll beat (no pun intended) Aerospace Speciality Products' 18 mm
Just a couple very minor complaints about operations; packing foam isn't
included, I had to scare up some old open cell stuff to cushion the egg. I was
also disappointed that she wouldn't fly empty and with the absence of a motor
If you're looking to get into egg lofting on a budget, the
Elite is the only way to go. I'd rate her a
on the Essence scale for flight, as close as you can get to perfect for $7.95
Custom needs to improve the build of this kit, but they've got a solid
handle on looks and performance here; I'd rate the Elite a
overall on the Essence scale, above average.
(by Kenneth R. Johnson)
A lightweight, egg lofter with an efficient aerodynamic
The kit comes in the typical "hanging bag" style package. As such, it
doesn't protect the kit from any damage incurred in shipping, and this one was
indeed damaged in shipment, though I couldn't tell until the package was open.
The kit featured a length of 18mm tubing, a very unusual plastic nose cone, a
very good mylar parachute, a laughably short shock cord, and a bit of grainy,
flimsy balsa. Motor retention is simply , with a paper motor block
inside the body tube. Hardly earth-shattering stuff here, but different enough
to be interesting.
The kit comes with two sets of instructions, one for assembly, and one set
for flight. Unfortunately, nothing is mentioned on the package that tells you
the rocket will not fly without an egg or other similar weight payload.
Regardless, the instructions are logical, and only feature a couple of
typographical errors. The fins, while grainy and a bit flimsy, popped out of
the die-cut sheet very easily, and featured good, straight lines. And the
quality of the mylar parachute blew me away - far above what I expected. Like
all of the other Custom rockets I've built, this one featured a loose nose
cone. This one is a unique type of plastic that is really thin, flexible, and
lightweight, but surprisingly durable. The shock cord and parachute attachment
points are horribly small and look weak, yet so far they've held up. I used
small snap swivels to attach the 'chute and shock cord, which I highly suggest
doing on any kit you build. Things don't seem to get tangled as often. As I
mentioned earlier, the body tube was crushed in the center, so I upgraded with
some 18mm tubing I had left over from ASP. The ASP tubing was much sturdier,
had less of a spiral, and took up the slack in the nose cone department, and
thus, the nose cone fit perfectly. I'll use the Custom tubing as a basis for
another project. Like I always do with Estes and Custom kits, I threw the
supplied shock cord in the parts bin and used some elastic thread, in triple
the rocket's length. The shock cord attaches with the old tried-and-true paper
fold method, and works well in this case. But a word of caution - make sure it
doesn't stick out too far! Not much room in there for a parachute.
Unlike my normal practice of coating the whole rocket in , I just painted
this one as-is. The much higher quality ASP tube was already white, and only
needed two light coats of enamel to cover. I painted the fins contrasting
colors, in an attempt to make it more interesting. As a result, it bears a
passing resemblance to the old Estes Camroc, which was intentional. The lone
decal went on without a hitch. Overall, my finishing technique resulted in a
lightweight, yet strong rocket that looks great. Unfortunately, the little ring
that holds the two halves of nose cone together swelled up when I painted it,
and it won't fit anymore. So I just use a piece of electrical tape cut into a
3mm strip. No problem.
out of 5
If launching an egg, don't try an "A" motor at all. In fact, skip
right on up to a "C" right off the bat. The rocket isn't particularly
heavy, even with an egg aboard, and flights will be great. The small fins
impart a slight wobble with wind, but not enough to worry about. Just make sure
the motor is friction fit well; otherwise, it'll kick out the motor and come in
ballistic. Hasn't happened to me on this rocket, but it has happened before on
another rocket. Care must be taken in packing the parachute. It won't pack as
tight as a plastic 'chute, and will hang inside the body tube. This rocket's so
light that no damage will occur if you get a "" or a
"hung" parachute, but it is messy!
The original shock cord is a pitiful joke. Throw it away or into a parts bin,
but do not use it. I used elastic thread, and it takes up less room than the
original, despite being about four times longer. Care in packing the 'chute is
the key to success: fold it small, don't ball it up. Roll it only once, and use
a good bit of cellulose insulation for . It'll recover well, won't get
damaged, and will drift a good distance in any sort of wind.
out of 5
I think Custom came up with a great little egg lofter for a good price. There
are some things I'd change, like the pathetic shock cord and the wobbly nose
cone, but I could overlook the coarse fins, since I fill and sand mine anyway.
I would recommend this rocket for a first time egg lofter, but don't expect it
to be an easy build for a beginner. Still, it's the best Custom kit I've built.
½ out of 5
(Contributed - by Thomas Tweedel - 09/24/09)
- 1 18mm ID tube
- 2 part nose cone it splits in half along the horizontal and is held together with a mylar ring
- 3 Die cut fins
- elastic shock cord
- Engine stop ring (no hook)
- 12 inch parachute.
First off the quality of the kit was mixed. The body tube was the same. The Fins were die cut out of a very
lightweight but somewhat flimsy balsa. Had to use the Xacto to get them out but they worked fine and even survived the
tragedies that were to follow, so aside from higher surface roughness (even after sanding) they worked fine.
The nose noseconecone was the most interesting part of the rocket. It separates in the middle and is held together
by a mylar ring. You put the cargo in the nose and then put the top on and clamp them together via the
One strike is that the hole your supposed to put the shock cord through is WAY too small. It had to bore it out
and really work it to get the cord through. The cord itself is more like elastic than rubber band. The body tube seems
pretty standard. Though its very narrow (18mm inside diameter). This was to keep the weight down but it is also the
source of many of the rockets problems.
The chute seemed sturdy but you do have to assemble it. You cut it out of a square and then stick the little hole
reinforcement stickers on it. Then poke holes in them and tie the cord. They provided two lengths of cord from which to
cut 3 lengths of chute. Your supposed to cut the cord in half and use it I guess. I did and the length of the cord
seemed a bit on the short side. I was also skeptical of the chute being big enough to land an egg safely.
The launch lug gets set on an offset piece of balsa to account for the wide nose cone. The narrow body tube proved
problematic when fitting the . This rocket has no engine hook and is thus a friction fit. The only thing
keeping your engine from shooting up the tube is that engine block.
The only thing keeping it from shooting out the back is the friction between the engine and the tube. Getting the
friction right is a challenge, too much and you cant get the engine in, too little and you have problems. Masking
tape is your main tool.
I painted the rocket yellow and back to my own tastes. One gotcha on painting is to make sure you mask off the
recessed area at the top/bottom of the nose cone parts which they are joined together by the mylar ring. The tolerances
are too tight on the ring to accommodate the paint.
Construction Rating: 3 out of 5
After it was assembled we went out to launch it. According to the instructions your supposed to put your egg in a
plastic bag in case of disaster, but wheres the fun in that. So we got an egg that was just the right size,
mounted it up and secured it with the mylar ring. The launch was without event, I was surprised at how high the rocket
went given its payload. However at ejection things went terribly wrong. There were two issues.
The body tube is so narrow compared to chute size that its packed in their very tight. That combined with the fact
that its a friction fit caused it to eject the engine and NOT deploy the chute. But the real fun was what
happened to the nosecone. The shock of the ejection was more than the mylar ring could handle and the nosecone
separated ejecting the egg!. So nose cone parts, egg and rocket come streaming down. The egg was a gonner with a
classic splat, the rocket sunk into some mud about an inch but was unharmed.
We decided to fly it again without an egg using an A8-3 to see what would happen. Made sure that there was plenty
of friction between the engine and body tube. The launch did not go as expected. The rocket only got 30-40 feet into
the air and started to tumble over (later learned it is not stable without cargo), then the fired and
it blew up. I got the friction right but the chute was packed too tight in that little body and the force had nowhere
to go so it blew the back half of the rocket apart. The nose cone also separated again. This rocket was a gonner.
Good Flew straight but the parachute is too tightly packed in the small body and the mylar ring doesn't hold it quite
well enough by itself.
Flight Rating: 2 out of 5
- Easy enough to build
- Requires fitting and strapping to flight right.
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
If I were to do it again Id have to carefully mange the chute and the friction as well as using tape (not the
mylar ring) to secure the nosecone together. I had pretty much written this rocket design off until I realized that
actually this rocket is unique and can be used for things that no other rocket can. The fact that it can launch and
then on ejection safely eject its cargo into free-fall is unique to my knowledge. What else can send an egg up a couple
of hundred feet in style and then have it come down with a satisfying Splat. You could load those little green army men
with parachutes into the nose cone and have an airborne assault on your park. You can experiment with all sorts of
cargo and recovery methods that you could not do with your cargo trapped in the rocket. I very well may buy this rocket
again just for this purpose. If I do I will make one modification though, instead of the supplied parachute Ill
switch it to a streamer recovery that doesnt have to be packed so tight. Tempted to try and fit an on
it as well.