Are Estes Skill Levels Changing?

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by Bob Austin, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. Sep 12, 2018 #1

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Alabama
    Noticed this today when I was in my local Hobby Lobby store. They are in the process of updating stock, including in the model rocket section. There was a hook with two Baby Bertha kits. The one towards the front was the dark blueish card with gold/yellow trim and it indicated it was a Skill Level 1 model. Behind it was the newer stock, a lighter blue color card. Same model. Yet it indicated it was a "Level 3" kit (it was also about a dollar more). I came home and checked the 2018 PDF catalog. It shows the Baby Bertha as a 1. Even the web site still shows it as a one.

    As I looked at some of the other new stock, models that use to be labeled "Skill Level 1" were labeled as a "Level 2" or "Level 3". I would think this would be extremely confusing for folks who are getting into the hobby, to pick up an older kit (Like the Liberty Bell 7) which is rated as Skill Level 3, thinking it will be as easy to build as a Baby Bertha.

    Anyone have any idea what is going on here?
     
  2. Sep 12, 2018 #2

    neil_w

    neil_w

    neil_w

    In search of the perfect silhouette TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    4,196
    Likes Received:
    108
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    They mapped RTF, ARTF, and E2X into numbers, and bumped up the numerical skill levels to make room. So what used to be level 1 became level 3.

    This never seemed like a good idea to me, but even worse (or better?) is that they started converting some over and then apparently stopped. So right now, *most* of the skill level rockets are still labeled on the original scale, while some of the RTF, ARTF, and E2X (and maybe some level 1) rockets were converted to the new scheme.

    So yeah, it's a mess. I am hoping they will undo the changes and revert back to the original skill designations, but I don't think I've heard any official word on this.
     
  3. Sep 13, 2018 #3

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Alabama
    That really does sound like a mess. A solution in search of a problem. The 1-5 scale has been in place for over half a century. Books on model rocketry discuss the 1-5 builders scale (heck, even some of the plastic models incorporate the 1-5 scale). To throw all of that out, crazy. Maybe someone realized how bad this could be and that's why they stopped it. I am like you, hoping that it reverts back to the original designations.
     
  4. Sep 13, 2018 #4

    LostMosquito

    LostMosquito

    LostMosquito

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2018
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Seems like adding a Skill Level 0 would have been the easier and clearer solution.
     
    FlyBy01 likes this.
  5. Sep 13, 2018 #5

    Nytrunner

    Nytrunner

    Nytrunner

    Master of Rivets

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Messages:
    2,539
    Likes Received:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    I actually like the 1-6

    It's more consistent than RTF E2X then numbers...
     
  6. Sep 13, 2018 #6

    Alan15578

    Alan15578

    Alan15578

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2018
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    10
    Just crank the skill level knob all the way to 11, and make it loud. These kits would contain no actual parts, just vague suggestions.
     
    FlyBy01 likes this.
  7. Sep 14, 2018 #7

    Initiator001

    Initiator001

    Initiator001

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,682
    Likes Received:
    1
    Years ago I asked Dane Boles about the Skill Level process at Estes.

    Dane was with Estes during the time the Skill Level system came out.

    Dane told me the whole 'Skill Level' system was a marketing program.
    After Apollo 11 interest in model rocketry was declining. In order to keep modelers buying rockets the Skill Level program was set up so that people would start with Skill Level 1 then move on to Skill Level 2, etc.

    Not a lot of thought was put into assigning the skill level number for each kit. This caused some confusion on the part of rocketeers as to why one kit was a skill level 3 while a similar kit was skill level 1 (Or 5).
    Almost arbitrary in the assignment of Skill Level numbers.

    So, the assigned skill level numbers really don't reflect any 'standard' which is used to determine the number.
     
  8. Sep 14, 2018 #8

    RoyAtl

    RoyAtl

    RoyAtl

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,338
    Likes Received:
    4
    I'm thinking there is a lot of stuff that was put in motion in the last year or so by the Hobbico crew that is being rethought by the new management. Can't swear I heard this for sure, but the remapping of skill levels to deal with RTF/E2X is one of them.
     
  9. Sep 14, 2018 #9

    neil_w

    neil_w

    neil_w

    In search of the perfect silhouette TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    4,196
    Likes Received:
    108
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Inspired by this thread, I emailed Estes and asked what is the dealio. Here's what Christine wrote:
    So there you go. Back to the old status quo.
     
  10. Sep 14, 2018 #10

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Bob Austin

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Alabama
    Yeah!!! :D:D:D
     
  11. Sep 14, 2018 #11

    jadebox

    jadebox

    jadebox

    Roger Smith/JonRocket.com

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    5,285
    Likes Received:
    6
    Thanks Neil for sharing that. It is definitely good news. In addition to causing confusion, the new Skill Levels may not have been a good marketing move.

    Though it might be surprising to many here, Skill Level 1 kits tend to sell better to the general public. "Easy to Assemble" is a good thing for some people. Having "Skill Level 3" on the Baby Bertha packaging may have hurt its sales.

    -- Roger
     
  12. Sep 14, 2018 #12

    cwbullet

    cwbullet

    cwbullet

    Obsessed with Rocketry Staff Member Administrator TRF Lifetime Supporter Global Mod

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    18,963
    Likes Received:
    161
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Glennville, GA
    This on the border of low power: Any body know what the plans are for the Pro Series?
     
  13. Sep 14, 2018 #13

    neil_w

    neil_w

    neil_w

    In search of the perfect silhouette TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    4,196
    Likes Received:
    108
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    That is a fine question but not one that is likely to get an answer from Christine. :)

    I am very hopeful this will be covered in the Rocketry Show podcast interview of Ellis Langford (no I don't know when that's going to air).
     
  14. Sep 14, 2018 #14

    Nytrunner

    Nytrunner

    Nytrunner

    Master of Rivets

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Messages:
    2,539
    Likes Received:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    Nothing concrete was shared at the NARAM 60 tours. We will have to content ourselves with what they determine will market well.
     
  15. Sep 15, 2018 #15

    cwbullet

    cwbullet

    cwbullet

    Obsessed with Rocketry Staff Member Administrator TRF Lifetime Supporter Global Mod

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    18,963
    Likes Received:
    161
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Glennville, GA
    Ok. I hope they continue the series.
     
  16. Sep 15, 2018 #16

    FlyBy01

    FlyBy01

    FlyBy01

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2018
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    5
    Lol
     
  17. Sep 15, 2018 #17

    FlyBy01

    FlyBy01

    FlyBy01

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2018
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    5
    Love that podcast. Please all consider becoming a Pateron supporter.
     

Share This Page