Kits or plan sets?

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qMaxx

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Hi all. I believe I had mentioned elsewhere that I was thinking of starting up a business selling new kits. After some reflection, I'm of two minds on this.I would PREFER to make and sell kits, but finances are simply too short for me right now. Therefore, I thought of doing something similar to what The Launch Pad did when they started, which was selling PLANS to build models.

I have instructions already written and drawn up for several models, that would require a few minor modifications to be ready as plan sets. This means I could start doing this in about a month or so, whereas with kits, it would be maybe six months or more.

I'm not sure how people would take just getting plans, but to me, it doesn't seem too different from those who download stuff from JimZ, so I think it could be considered in the same category as cloning, which a lot of you seem to enjoy. The difference is that these would be original designs.

The plans would include a complete parts list, including tube lengths, dimensioned drawings for centering rings and nose cones (for ordering custom parts from BMS or elsewhere), and full-size fin and transition/boat tail/engine nozzle patterns (including dimensions if you want to get them laser cut) on 150lb cardstock. I haven't decided whether to have decals included with each plan set, or just have a page that people can copy onto decal paper themselves. I'm leaning towards having the decals included, but I'll let you decide. Where applicable, a note will be included suggesting an Estes-style nose cone that can be substituted for a custom one. Tubes are all available from Totally Tubular, BMS, or elsewhere, although in some cases, you may need to resize a tube by the slit n' glue method.

The designs are mostly scale (out of the 8 or 9 I'm currently either working on or have finished, only one is NOT a scale model), but I've tried to use prototypes that have not been released as kits by anyone else. In a couple cases, some designs are repeats, but will be more accurate than the version released elsewhere, have some new feature that the previous one did not have, or simply be in a different scale. Most of the designs I plan to do will also be available in different scales, and very few would be considered lower than Skill Level 3 (on a 1-5 scale). All designs so far have fallen into the LPR/MPR category.

While I've tried to write very detailed instructions, it is preferable that you would have SOME building experience, along with an idea of the many construction tips for building rockets. I'm not very good with PC drawing programs, so I can't do nicely illustarted instructions like Peter Alway or Tim VanMilligan, but the plans will have detailed side-view cutaway drawings showing placement of ALL parts, including full-size drawings of certain complex areas like stage transitions and motor mounts (motor mount drawings are dimensioned). All designs will have been simmed in RocSim 7.xx, and will include CG/CP information - staged models will include CG/CP info with and without booster(s).

Edit: Estimated cost will be between $5.00 and $15.00 per set, plus shipping.
 

hokkyokusei

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It would have to be a hell of a set of plans for me to pay $15
Do you have any pictures of kits you have previously designed?
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
It would have to be a hell of a set of plans for me to pay $15
That price would be at the extreme high end. For the most part, costs would be in the $5-$10 range, depending on amount of decals (if included), # of pages for pattern sheets (one design has 5 pages on either cardstock or self-adhesive label paper), and # of pages of instructions (the same design has 3 1/2 pages of instructions, both sides). Also, some may include things such as clear fin material, or Evergreen plastic for detailing and so on.

Do you have any pictures of kits you have previously designed?
Yes, I do, but I would prefer to wait until I formally start doing this. Right now, I'm not sure if it's something people want or not, so I don't want to commit myself just yet, hence the poll.
 

illini

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
It would have to be a hell of a set of plans for me to pay $15
I concur, but I'll go even futher. It has to be an awfully good kit before I'll shell out anything for it either. To me, a good kit is one that has a great design, hopefully offers something unique, and is shipped with high quality parts. Yeah, I can get my own parts to build something from a plan, but unless I already have most of it, it usually requires an order or two (with shipping) plus a trip to the hobby shop. Too expensive and too much hassle. A kit gives me everything I need for a reasonable price, but I won't touch it unless it meets my "good kit" criteria above. Otherwise, I'll just build my own designs.
 

hokkyokusei

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Originally posted by qMaxx
That price would be at the extreme high end. For the most part, costs would be in the $5-$10 range, depending on amount of decals (if included), # of pages for pattern sheets (one design has 5 pages on either cardstock or self-adhesive label paper), and # of pages of instructions (the same design has 3 1/2 pages of instructions, both sides). Also, some may include things such as clear fin material, or Evergreen plastic for detailing and so on.
OK, that sounds more reasonable. I'm willing to pay for good decals, and components I can't just get out of the parts bin.


Yes, I do, but I would prefer to wait until I formally start doing this. Right now, I'm not sure if it's something people want or not, so I don't want to commit myself just yet, hence the poll.
No offense, but it's hard for people to say if they'll buy kits or plans, until they've seen the designs. Just give us an example of the quality of your designs, couple of pics of a completed model?

P.S. I hope I'm not coming over as overly negative here, just trying to offer some constructive criticism! :)
 

shrox

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
OK, that sounds more reasonable. I'm willing to pay for good decals, and components I can't just get out of the parts bin.



No offense, but it's hard for people to say if they'll buy kits or plans, until they've seen the designs. Just give us an example of the quality of your designs, couple of pics of a completed model?

P.S. I hope I'm not coming over as overly negative here, just trying to offer some constructive criticism! :)
My experience has been that customers will want kits, they can download their favorite plans for free from JimZ, as well as trying ones they have always wanted to build. I would say kits.
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by illini868891
I concur, but I'll go even futher. It has to be an awfully good kit before I'll shell out anything for it either. To me, a good kit is one that has a great design, hopefully offers something unique, and is shipped with high quality parts. Yeah, I can get my own parts to build something from a plan, but unless I already have most of it, it usually requires an order or two (with shipping) plus a trip to the hobby shop. Too expensive and too much hassle. A kit gives me everything I need for a reasonable price, but I won't touch it unless it meets my "good kit" criteria above. Otherwise, I'll just build my own designs.
Would you consider nose cones, centering rings and tubes (cut to length) from BMS as quality parts? Fins and such will be of the cut-them-yourself variety, not laser-cut, because it's easier for the fins to be cut by hand than C-rings.

As for great designs, well, like I stated above, most are scale designs that no kit manufacturer has produced yet. Of the eight designs (so far) that are more or less ready, 3 are totally new for scale subjects (they've been made as one-offs before by individuals, but not by a vendor), and one of those is in two different scales, with a third planned for later. Another one has a clustered booster gap-staged to a single motor in the upper stage. The booster also has it's own, non-electronic recovery system. That particular model has flown twice in it's prototype stage, both times with 100% success.

Two designs have been released by other manufacturers, but one is a smaller version of the others, and the other one is in two different scales different from what has been released before, as well as including clustered motors. One is an original design based on the rocket that will appear in the logo I designed for myself.

Whether you consider them great designs or not is up to you, but I figured people would like some new scale material to work with, so that is the primary thrust of what I would like to do.
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
OK, that sounds more reasonable. I'm willing to pay for good decals, and components I can't just get out of the parts bin.



No offense, but it's hard for people to say if they'll buy kits or plans, until they've seen the designs. Just give us an example of the quality of your designs, couple of pics of a completed model?

P.S. I hope I'm not coming over as overly negative here, just trying to offer some constructive criticism! :)
Nope...not negative at all. I understand that people want to see what they're getting.

How about this? I'll tell ya'll about the designs that have been previously done by other manufacturers and try to get the static and launch pics of my versions up later (I leave for work soon, so I won't have time for the pics right now).

Two different scales of the Patriot missile, one with a 4 x 13mm cluster and the other with a 4 x 18mm cluster. Both have flown successfully in test flights. Both also have scale fin airfoiling and the boat tail. I won't do a 4 x 24mm cluster because Estes already did that, and anything larger than that, PML has already done.

The other is a smaller Pershing 1-A than the Estes version, single 24mm motor (although I've looked at doing a staged version later on). I have also considered doing an even smaller version than the one I've already built and flown. The particular version in the photos I'll post later was flown by Larry Rice (CSAR NAR sec 113 Pres.) at NARAM 41. Again, I won't do a 4" version because it's already out there (more or less), and anything larger has also been done and starts getting into HPR territory, which I'm trying to avoid.

Edit: Shrox...yeah, I know people prefer kits, but startup is a killer for me. For the eight designs I have already worked on, at 25 of each to start off, it will cost me over $1200.00 just for the nose cones (through BMS - figured pricing based on their catalog).
 

shrox

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Originally posted by qMaxx
Would you consider nose cones, centering rings and tubes (cut to length) from BMS as quality parts? Fins and such will be of the cut-them-yourself variety, not laser-cut, because it's easier for the fins to be cut by hand than C-rings.

As for great designs, well, like I stated above, most are scale designs that no kit manufacturer has produced yet. Of the eight designs (so far) that are more or less ready, 3 are totally new for scale subjects (they've been made as one-offs before by individuals, but not by a vendor), and one of those is in two different scales, with a third planned for later. Another one has a clustered booster gap-staged to a single motor in the upper stage. The booster also has it's own, non-electronic recovery system. That particular model has flown twice in it's prototype stage, both times with 100% success.

Two designs have been released by other manufacturers, but one is a smaller version of the others, and the other one is in two different scales different from what has been released before, as well as including clustered motors. One is an original design based on the rocket that will appear in the logo I designed for myself.

Whether you consider them great designs or not is up to you, but I figured people would like some new scale material to work with, so that is the primary thrust of what I would like to do.
Whether or not people concider them great designs IS very relevent. Why buy something dull, or average when there are great designs out there? By the time they get all the parts together they might just wish it was a kit. Why chase down all the parts for a model that just doesn't turn your crank? Another Nike or similar had better be phenomenal or it will fall by the wayside as sub par compared to the super detailed scale models available.
 

illini

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Originally posted by qMaxx
Would you consider nose cones, centering rings and tubes (cut to length) from BMS as quality parts? Fins and such will be of the cut-them-yourself variety, not laser-cut, because it's easier for the fins to be cut by hand than C-rings.
If everything is available from a single source like BMS and you point the buyer to that source, then I'd soften my position somewhat. I have no problem with cutting my own tubes or fins.

I guess the bottom line is this - and this is the crux of my comments to Tom Priest in the other thread where he's soliciting comments - ya gotta give me a reason to go to you. In that thread I listed a number of kits that I've built lately or am considering. Interesting thing is that most of these come from two places: Fliskits and Edmonds. Both offer something unique that I'm willing to shell out for. And both offer that something unique in well packaged kits with high quality parts.

What you're talking about *might* be interesting. Hard to say without seeing what you've got. You certainly have a well defined target - scale models - and that's a good thing. Depending on the quality of your designs and your ability to point people to a single source for parts, I might bite. But, in my opinion, I think you'll have a much harder time selling plans than kits. For what its worth, I would either wait until I had the capital to produce kits or find a partner (one with bucks).
 

hokkyokusei

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You know, I actually missed that part where you said scale? Sorry about that!

For scale I think I'd prefer kits too (though there may be a half-way house - see below). Look at it this way, depending upon the outline of the prototype, it's either possible to builid it from standard components, or not.

If it's possibe to build from standard components, I don't need your plans, though I might like to buy your decals.

If it's not possible to build from standard components, then I need more than your plans, after all, the outlines are freely available on the web, or from books such as Rockets of the World. The minimum I need are the special components, such as nosecones, intakes, wraps, vacformed parts, engine bells etc I'll concede that in some instances, templates would be useful too.

So, if you can't afford to do full kits, do plans that include the "special bits". For what it's worth, thats pretty much what sandman seems to have been proposing in another thread.
 

shrox

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Maybe a unusual or rare variation of a scale, like a Saturn Skylab launch vehicle, or a Titan or Atlas in the missile configuration. Something like that would let it stand out of the crowd.
 

flying_silverad

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I like the idea of a plan pack. It gives a serious modeler the ability to pick and choose his/her materials.

However, here is the biggest problem. Say I get a plan pack from you and I have to order the following:

Nose Cone (BNC55AC = 2.85)
Centering rings (2 at .50 or 1.00)
Engine clips ( .20)
L/L (.10)
Engine block (.10)
Balsa Sheet (1.00)
screw eye (.15)
BT (average) (2.00)
____________________________
total 7.40
S/H 6.00
Plan Pack 8.00
------------------------------------------
Total for kit $21.40

See the problem?
I fyou get your materials from TT and BMS then the shipping increases even more. If folks have all of this on hand to start it might work...otherwise it might get frustrating.
 

qMaxx

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Okay...before I respond to comments made earlier, here are the promised pics of the Patriot and the Pershing.

Patriot first:
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
You know, I actually missed that part where you said scale? Sorry about that!
S'okay...the way I was reading your posts, I kinda figured that. :cool:

For scale I think I'd prefer kits too (though there may be a half-way house - see below). Look at it this way, depending upon the outline of the prototype, it's either possible to builid it from standard components, or not.

If it's possibe to build from standard components, I don't need your plans, though I might like to buy your decals.

If it's not possible to build from standard components, then I need more than your plans, after all, the outlines are freely available on the web, or from books such as Rockets of the World. The minimum I need are the special components, such as nosecones, intakes, wraps, vacformed parts, engine bells etc I'll concede that in some instances, templates would be useful too.

So, if you can't afford to do full kits, do plans that include the "special bits". For what it's worth, thats pretty much what sandman seems to have been proposing in another thread.
Yeah...I'm beginning to think that kits may be the way to go. I think I was overwhelmed by the cost of an initial run of 25 each for 8 kits...so I think I'll probably do 2 or 3 kits first, and just add new ones every couple months or so. When I'm closer to actually doing this, maybe January or so, I will put up a list of models that are ready and let people vote on which ones they want run first.

I have my own particular "wish-list" of over 80 rockets to choose from for kits, most deriving scale data from RotW and its supplements. The level of detail on the kits will be no more than what Peter has included in his data...and as I've said before, I won't produce a kit that has been done elsewhere, unless there is a significant difference between my version and the previous version. That number above does not include the fact that over half will be in 3 or 4 different scales.

The instructions will include my own dimensioned drawings, based on available data, but no written data (history of the particular prototype, etc) or photos. That info is easy enough to obtain from Peter's books and other sources.

For my original designs...well...I'm not very imaginative in the markings department, so I can either leave that up to the buyer, or possibly hold a contest where entrants will design a paint/decal scheme.

Sure some of the prototypes I'm looking over aren't much more than your typical 3/4FNC, but others are a bit more complex. It seems to me that what I'm planning to do isn't much different than what Aerospace Specialty Products or The Launch Pad produce.

Hospital_Rocket...so would I :D
 

hokkyokusei

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Your finished models look very nice. The pershing looks particularly nice!

Of the two, I'd be more interested in the Pershing, as I wouldn't be able to make that with off the shelf parts.

The Launch Pad used to sell plans for the Nike Hercules, and I think Apogee still does.
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by hokkyokusei
The Launch Pad used to sell plans for the Nike Hercules, and I think Apogee still does.
Yep...I have both.
 

GlennW

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Wow, if you do scale kits, I'd be very interested! I would make one comment, though. You say you wouldn't do a 4 X 24mm cluster Patriot because Estes already did that. True, but try finding one! This is one I've always wanted and if you did a kit of it, no question I'd buy it. That pershing also looks great, that's one I'd consider too. The other scale kit I'd love to see would be the Gemini Titan with 2 moter cluster. Estes did this too in the very early 70's, and those go for hundreds of $$ on ebay on the rare occasions when they are there. I'm not aware of anyone else who has done this with the 2 engine cluster, even Estes later version of it, didn't have it.

So that's my 2 cents, good luck to you in your new venture!

Glenn
 

sandman

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You could make a 4 x 24mm Patriot now identical to the Estes Pro Series kit.

Totally Tubular now has the body tube (34") tube, it's listed as a BT-100. But you'll need the nose cone from a Big Daddy.

sandman
 

jetra2

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SANDMAN!!!!!

I DON'T LIKE YOU VERY MUCH!

Now I'm gonna hafta build one! I've got a Big Daddy NC laying around here...now it's got BAD @$$ PATRIOT written on it! Wheeee....

:D :D :D

Jason
 

sandman

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I DON'T LIKE YOU VERY MUCH!
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KermieD

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Originally posted by sandman
Disclaimer*

The members and Moderators of this forum are not responsable for the whims and urges of other forum members. This is an information only forum, any actions or consequences resulting from the reading of this information is TUFF TOENAILS!!!

sandman:D
/ban sandman

:D
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by sandman
You could make a 4 x 24mm Patriot now identical to the Estes Pro Series kit.

Totally Tubular now has the body tube (34") tube, it's listed as a BT-100. But you'll need the nose cone from a Big Daddy.

sandman
...and this is one of the main reasons why I won't do kits that have been released before - it's too easy to find the info needed to reproduce them, therefore they won't sell well. It's also too easy to up or downscale other manufacturers kits, which is why I'm mainly trying to produce kits that haven't been made before. Yes, there are some, such as the Patriot and the Pershing, which are primarily just downscales, but in the case of the Pershing, I thought it was a popular subject that people might like in a smaller, cheaper package. With the Patriot, again I was trying for a smaller, cheaper version with the added fun of a cluster.

I also have the Pro Patriot - actually, my second one...the first died on its first "flight" when all 4 Estes E15's CATO'd at launch. 4 foot flames from both ends. The video was pretty cool, especially in frame-by-frame mode. A copy of the video and a nice letter got me a replacement kit from Estes. Wish I knew where my video is...anyway, the only problem with the Pro Patriot is that the fins are about 25-30% overscaled for stability...come to think of it, that's a problem with EVERY Patriot kit ever released, including PML's version(s). Mine, if released, will have accurately scaled and airfoiled fins.

Granted, a kit the same size (as the Estes Pro Patriot), and more accurate would be cheaper than an original NIB Pro Patriot from EBay, but I just don't feel right selling what would amount to a repro of another company's kit.

As for the Gemini-Titan suggested earlier, yeah, that would be a cool one to do, but to be honest, it's not one that's on my "wish-list". If I DO end up doing it, it will be awhile, because I would like to have a more accurate capsule, which would involved casting, vacuforming, or some other method that I haven't planned on yet. That sort of stuff is really expensive on startup and I'm barely going to have enough startup capital for 25 each of 2 or 3 initial kits.
 

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