Zylaxus: a dubious build thread

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I know I'm setting myself up for trouble, but: how many folks would be interested in a kit of a rocket like this?

Where "like this" means:
1) Unique, exotic sci-fi design
2) pretty good size for LPR
3) Skill level 4-ish build and finish

I ask this purely to help resolve a question that's been jangling around in my head; there are absolutely no plans to kit it. Maybe I'll reveal the question afterwards.


Never mind. Question was poorly thought out.
 
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I know I'm setting myself up for trouble, but: how many folks would be interested in a kit of a rocket like this?

Where "like this" means:
1) Unique, exotic sci-fi design
2) pretty good size for LPR
3) Skill level 4-ish build and finish

I ask this purely to help resolve a question that's been jangling around in my head; there are absolutely no plans to kit it. Maybe I'll reveal the question afterwards.
Maybe start a poll? :dontknow:

There's like 13 folks contributing to this thread... most folks don't seem to follow threads. It's a mystery, I know.​
 
I know I'm setting myself up for trouble, but: how many folks would be interested in a kit of a rocket like this?

Where "like this" means:
1) Unique, exotic sci-fi design
2) pretty good size for LPR
3) Skill level 4-ish build and finish

I ask this purely to help resolve a question that's been jangling around in my head; there are absolutely no plans to kit it. Maybe I'll reveal the question afterwards.
So I love the design, but I wouldn't actually buy a kit because, well, it's not my design. And to me designing is an awful lot of the fun.
 
Whether or not you ever reveal the underlying question, the answer that you don't want to the question you withdrew is yes; a good sized LPR, complex build, sci-fi design is the sort of kit I might buy, if the particular sci-fi design caught my fancy.

Which is exactly why I've already bought two such kits from FlisKits, and will likely buy more.

And if the question you didn't ask is something like "Do you think I should talk to a kit maker about taking my design and developing it into their own kit?" then the answer is a resounding YES!
 
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And if the question you didn't ask is something like "Do you think I should talk to a kit maker about taking my design and developing it into their own kit?" then the answer is a resounding YES!
That's definitely not my question, because I've already done this with just about every LPR kit maker. I'm trying to pick at my hypothesis that complex exotic designs are somewhat out of vogue as a kit style these days. People like to look at them more than they like to build them. Or, at the very least, *new* designs in this style are out of vogue. Folks are seemingly endlessly obsessed with "classic" designs. Note the relative scarcity of new kits in this style, and the relative lack of popularity of the ones that *are* released. The vast majority of re-releases are either scale or 3/4FNC variants. The old Estes and Centuri catalogs were chock full of these sorts of rockets; there seem to be far fewer of them in the catalogs now, and *far* fewer new ones being released.

At least, that is my perception.
 
The vast majority of re-releases are either scale or 3/4FNC variants.
Slap them together, put on some stickers, launch them, then buy another. Folks have a very short attention span, and burn money like drunken sailors.​
There are outliers, but we're few and getting crustier...​
 
Slap them together, put on some stickers, launch them, then buy another. Folks have a very short attention span, and burn money like drunken sailors.​
Partly true, although the ever-popular scale reissues tend to be difficult builds.

I think one problem with exotic designs is that they tend to be very opinionated... and that automatically limits their appeal. What I fail to understand, though, is the deep devotion so many seem to have for nondescript "classic" simple designs. I guess ultimately it is just a nostalgia thing.

As always, people are free to like what they like, and none of it affects what I will be doing to satisfy my own likes and wants. I've just long been fascinated by the disconnect between what I like and what the greater rocketry community seems to like.
There are outliers, but we're few and getting crustier...​
Now that is *definitely* true.
 
Slap them together, put on some stickers, launch them, then buy another. Folks have a very short attention span, and burn money like drunken sailors.​
I think, but I'm not altogether sure, that's an overgeneralization. I see quite a good number of models, even the simple nFNC type, on which the builder obviously too a good deal of care in construction and finishing and which get flown many times. There's a spectrum, naturally, from RTF to what you're describing, to what I've described, to a few (too few, IMO) exotic kits, to you and Neil. I have trouble figuring just where I fall on that spectrum. (Don't say it, you wouldn't be the first.)
There are outliers, but we're few and getting crustier...​
Crustier, yes. If you meant to imply "fewer" (I don't pretend to know if you did) then I would disagree. A few new ones appear while others become too crusty to continue. There are few enough that it only takes a small number of replacements to keep up.
 
Partly true, although the ever-popular scale reissues tend to be difficult builds.

I think one problem with exotic designs is that they tend to be very opinionated... and that automatically limits their appeal. What I fail to understand, though, is the deep devotion so many seem to have for nondescript "classic" simple designs. I guess ultimately it is just a nostalgia thing.

As always, people are free to like what they like, and none of it affects what I will be doing to satisfy my own likes and wants. I've just long been fascinated by the disconnect between what I like and what the greater rocketry community seems to like.

Now that is *definitely* true.
There's issues of fashion in there too. I see spending a few dozen hours building a Saturn V model as a relatively easy sell--it's The Rocket after all. Most likely nobody is going to say "Why did you spend so much time on that?" if one built a Saturn V, where they might on seeing a similar amount of time put into Zylaxus*. Likewise, there's classics of the genre (Alpha, V2, or Lord forgive me, Der Red Max) that always seem to be an easy sell. I fundamentally don't understand people who have half a dozen different sizes of the same kit, but no doubt there are also people who don't understand why I would build Fluxion or you would build Zylaxus.

For many rocketeers, I'd guess there's a fear of going to far out of the box (the mind-killer, as @Daddyisabar would say). They don't want to put a lot of effort into something and have it fly badly. While being a kit from a reputable manufacturer would address some of those concerns, I could see someone looking at Zylaxus and wondering how long before all those fins start breaking off, or are they going to be able to get a nice finish on the ball, or whatever. You can see how a 3/4FNC is going to work, and it seems less daunting. Once you get in that habit as a new rocketeer it becomes harder to break as you go on.

Along similar lines, I have never wrapped my mind around why nearly all L2 and L3 cert rockets are kits. I suppose it's risk aversion again, but when I entered the hobby, I assumed that people would just want to scratch build. To be fair, my L2 cert rocket was a kit, but in my defense, it was available, capable, and had some sentimental value.

* Which would indicate that one needed a better class of friends, but I digress.
 
I'm a fan of weird sci-fi builds, but I have little time to build these days, even though my work notebook is filled with sketches. I think a lot of things have been hit on, but looking at current sci-fi trends. Spaceships are looking less like rockets. The airless void design concept has been embraced. Book covers, movies, sci-fi art has more knoby, greebly, less aero refined designs. Trying to capture that astetic in a flying rocket is challenging. I love seeing what many of you build and wish I had time to add, I have plenty of fliskits and other sci-fi builds in my pile.
 
All rockets are "purpose built"; some purposes call for kits, upscales, nFNCs, scratch builds, or other things.
I fundamentally don't understand people who have half a dozen different sizes of the same kit, but no doubt there are also people who don't understand why I would build Fluxion or you would build Zylaxus.
One of my two semi-serious pipe dreams is a fleet of Big Bertha upscales and downscales, using every standard motor diameter, called things like Tiny Tina, Small Sara, Big Bertha, Large Laura, Giant Gina, etc. So I would have (more than) half a dozen sizes of the same design because the totality of the fleet is the project. It's place in the fleet is the purpose behind each of the rockets.

Along similar lines, I have never wrapped my mind around why nearly all L2 and L3 cert rockets are kits. I suppose it's risk aversion again, but when I entered the hobby, I assumed that people would just want to scratch build. To be fair, my L2 cert rocket was a kit, but in my defense, it was available, capable, and had some sentimental value.
I also want to scratch build. When a rocket's purpose is to scratch that creative itch, I'll design and build it scratch. When the purpose is to build and fly something really cool looking and (probably) sure to fly well, then I'll buy an exotic kit. But when the rocket's purpose is to make a successful certification flight, KISS is the rule, and that means using a kit.

And if the purpose is to put something into the air and get it back, because whoosh-pop is fun, then a 3FNC kit or RTF is the smart way to go.

Of course, a rocket can be made seemingly* to fulfill multiple purposes, but doing so limits one's choice of kit or design space. And working in that narrow design space may be just what some people want*, so they should go ahead. Design and build an exotic sci-fi design for your L3 cert flight if that's what floats your boat; just know that you're going in with a higher risk of failure.

* I'd say that working in that narrow design space is actually the rocket's purpose, so it's really only the one purpose.

Spaceships are looking less like rockets. The airless void design concept has been embraced. Book covers, movies, sci-fi art has more knoby, greebly, less aero refined designs. Trying to capture that astetic in a flying rocket is challenging.
As a certain "aquatic sports car" with whom we are all acquainted knows all too well.
 
There are but a few crustier outliers of such untraditional and may I say provayers of POOR rocket design. Wandering from the straight and narrow they are indeed in need of a better class of friends. Don't let their bright disposition and silly banter distract you from their dark arts and necromantic ways. Local norms compell us to be safe and sound. Efficiency mandates sound design and build techniques, proven by a short list of acceptable methodologies.
Kits that in any way appeal to the prurient interests are indeed subject to strict RSO discretion.

Well, I hopes this helps anyone straying affar into asymmetric designs or unbridled usage of Greebles up front on a silly oddroc kit. Keep building those traditional 3-4FNC kits, the bigger the better, lasting for a safe and lengthy lifetime. We will all meet in the hereafter to discuss the glues and simulations that worked to perfection, providing the ideal subject matter to last an eternity.

Adios partner,

Buster Scruggs. :)
 
Bearing in mind my previous post, you could do both at once. That is, you could design a rocket whose purpose is to accomplish a flightworthy exotic design then realize and fly it in the mid-power range. A G powered alien invader is far from impossible.
 
current sci-fi trends. Spaceships are looking less like rockets
This is very much the truth! And it's why basically all the sci-fi kits have a "retro" look to them, no matter how "futuristic" they try to look.

(Which is okay by me — I like retro-future design — but it doesn't have the popular appeal to support kits from big mainstream companies.)
 
I'm trying to pick at my hypothesis that complex exotic designs are somewhat out of vogue as a kit style these days

I think one problem with exotic designs is that they tend to be very opinionated... and that automatically limits their appeal. What I fail to understand, though, is the deep devotion so many seem to have for nondescript "classic" simple designs. I guess ultimately it is just a nostalgia thing.

I've had discussions with people in the past that find a beauty in the simplicity of a 3FNC rocket.
Or the speed/altitude junkies that considers any features that would rob the rocket of said speed/altitude as evil.

Personally, I'm bored with 3FNC.
Build a motor mount and install. Add fins, recovery system, lug/buttons, nose cone. Prime/paint.
Build another motor mount, install, add fins, recovery, lug/buttons, nose cone. Prime/Paint.
Build another motor mount, ............ you get the picture.

Sure - the body may be longer/shorter, fatter/thinner. The fins may be different shaped - same for the nose cone.
But bottom line, it is the same bloody thing time after time.
I too don't understand the devotion to these types of rockets.
Sure - there are some classics that everyone has, V2, Nike Smoke, Sat V, etc. that most will have.
And yes, some childhood nostalgia for a Cherokee D, Der Red Max - but I won't have multiple up/down scales of these....

Whereas a SciFi/Oddrock has a distinctive look.
Often new and special construction techniques are required to achieve the look.
Plus the challenge of designing/building the rocket to meet the stability requirements so it can actually fly.

I've designed and built several of my own rockets. Some I really like, others came out so-so.
But I've also enjoined building kits of other people's fertile imagination.

I do agree that the number of new SciFi/Oddrock kits coming out has significantly dropped.
I was very disappointed in the Estes 2024 catalog.
Several other companies that tended to have "interesting" kits also have not created any new kits in a while.
And unfortunately, many have gone out of business....

Fortunately, I do have a STABLE to keep me busy for a bit....
 
Going back a few posts to the start of this portion of the thread, I am definitely a thread reader/follower in totality. I might not ever comment, but I read every thread I find interesting (which is every build thread in LPR and MPR) from the start if I'm not there at the start.

As far as the kits/interests part of this thread now, I'm definitely more of a missiles/jets kind of person, but I think that might be because as a kid I loved missiles and jets, and the Estes catalogs were devoid (looking back at JimZ I see the Alien Invader, Silver Comet, and some sort of Silverbogel-ish space plane) of sci-fi rockets other than Star Trek/Wars.

I don't know where on my build list sci-fi rockets fall, but when they do hit the list it'll probably be something retro-ish, with like 53-55 vette fairings and strakes from an oversized nose cone coming down the body tube a bit, and a lot of plastic chrome stolen from model cars because chrome is cool.
 
I don't know where on my build list sci-fi rockets fall, but when they do hit the list it'll probably be something retro-ish, with like 53-55 vette fairings and strakes from an oversized nose cone coming down the body tube a bit, and a lot of plastic chrome stolen from model cars because chrome is cool.
Have you looked at these threads?
They're good for inspiration, and some might be good for retro sci-fi inspiration. Anything of mine is fair game for anyone to build or adapt, and Neil has said the same about his. The thread I started is open for anyone's wild ideas, so it would be best to ask before using anyone else's, but I'd be quite surprised if anybody says no.
 
Have you looked at these threads?
They're good for inspiration, and some might be good for retro sci-fi inspiration. Anything of mine is fair game for anyone to build or adapt, and Neil has said the same about his. The thread I started is open for anyone's wild ideas, so it would be best to ask before using anyone else's, but I'd be quite surprised if anybody says no.

Yep, I've read both of them from the start. I had to go back quite a ways since I didn't jump on the board until last year. My strakes on an oversized nose cone is actually from one of them or one of the build threads you guys have put out there iirc. Whoever did it said it was a pain painting it so I have to figure out something there because painting intricate things might be my least favorite part of rocket building other than sanding.
 
My strakes on an oversized nose cone is actually from one of them or one of the build threads you guys have put out there iirc.
From that description it sounds like the Starship Avalon nose cone, but I'm just guessing. Have you posted the design anywhere?
1718224931045.png
Whoever did it said it was a pain painting it so I have to figure out something there because painting intricate things might be my least favorite part of rocket building other than sanding.
In hindsight that one wasn't too bad; nowadays I'm happy with anything that doesn't have internal surfaces that are hard to get to. Unfortunately my designs lately almost always seem to include those features. :rolleyes:

I do definitely keep painting difficulty in mind in my designs. Or rather, not really *difficulty* per se, but *number of paint steps*. I don't mind a single very long and tedious mask job.... but I do mind having to paint four colors in 9 separate steps, especially when it requires pre-painting parts before assembly. But again, I can't seem to completely avoid it.
 
From that description it sounds like the Starship Avalon nose cone, but I'm just guessing. Have you posted the design anywhere?
View attachment 650223

In hindsight that one wasn't too bad; nowadays I'm happy with anything that doesn't have internal surfaces that are hard to get to. Unfortunately my designs lately almost always seem to include those features. :rolleyes:

I do definitely keep painting difficulty in mind in my designs. Or rather, not really *difficulty* per se, but *number of paint steps*. I don't mind a single very long and tedious mask job.... but I do mind having to paint four colors in 9 separate steps, especially when it requires pre-painting parts before assembly. But again, I can't seem to completely avoid it.

Yep it was that one. I haven't put much of the design down outside of my head yet. Most of my designs and plans are still in my head, hopefully when the 4H rocketry year is over (only 36 launches, one super long video to make and edit, and a fair to power through) I'll start firing up OpenRocket and get these ideas together and ironed out. Who knows, I might even build them relatively close to the time I design them ... maniacal laugh because that never happens in my world ... ;)

The OpenRocket work you guys (and @lakeroadster and others I'm forgetting right now) do is amazing, I know it will take time and practice to get there but I'd like to be at least like 25% as good as all of you when I start getting down to it.

I've kept all the painting to mostly be either pre-final assembly (on an E2X clone where it could be easily assembled after painting) or one solid color to avoid masking. It helps that I'm not building really cool rockets, just churning through the basic 3/4FNC for 4H stuff.

I keep thinking that painting and decals should be fun, and then I get into and remember I hate masking and you know spray paint looks good from far away as long as you don't have crazy runs. This is another thing I'd like to take my time and get good at once I get this free time to build and design my own rockets.
 
I've kept all the painting to mostly be either pre-final assembly (on an E2X clone where it could be easily assembled after painting) or one solid color to avoid masking. It helps that I'm not building really cool rockets, just churning through the basic 3/4FNC for 4H stuff.

I keep thinking that painting and decals should be fun, and then I get into and remember I hate masking and you know spray paint looks good from far away as long as you don't have crazy runs. This is another thing I'd like to take my time and get good at once I get this free time to build and design my own rockets.
I guess that means decals are your friends, since you can paint one color then put more colors on afterward. Also, one can apply different colors to each separable section of a rocket. Nose cone different from body is easy. Build in a mid body break, and it's easy to spray different colors above and below that. And fades. Fades don't require masking.
 
I guess that means decals are your friends, since you can paint one color then put more colors on afterward. Also, one can apply different colors to each separable section of a rocket. Nose cone different from body is easy. Build in a mid body break, and it's easy to spray different colors above and below that. And fades. Fades don't require masking.
All true.

What I did on this rocket also helped quite a bit, which was squaring off the leading and trailing tips of the fins. Masking around curved fin edges is my bête noire; I never come out with good results (by comparison @hcmbanjo is very good at it). With the square edges, I just needed one piece of tape side-to-side across the front and back, then one piece on each side along the root. In addition to being easier, the results came out much better without needing to layer up a bunch of pieces to trace a curve.

The thing I actually *like* about masking is that it can be done at my workbench, at my leisure.
 
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