This article is from the Model Rockets FAQ, by Wolfram von Kiparski with numerous contributions by others.
What been happening in the hobby over the past couple of decades?
What's new? What's gone?
4.2.1 Who's Left, Who's Not & Who's New
To sum it up...
Rocket Development Corporation
Space Age Industries
MPC rocket kits
'S' Series (short) 18mm motors
Competition Model Rockets
National Association of Rocketry (NAR)
High Power Rocketry, with *BIG* rockets
Tripoli Rocketry Association
MANY new companies
Composite rocket motors are commonplace
Reloadable solid rocket motors
Hybrid rocket motors
Phenolic and fiberglass rocket components
Electronic altimeters, flight computers,....
Much improved rocketry simulation software
And a whole lot more.....
Basically, it's all pretty much the same, or totally different,
depending on your interests. Estes is still Estes. Most of their kits
are still the same materials, etc. The trend for the last 10 years has
been for Estes to sell simpler and simpler kits. There are lots of
plastic nose cones and fin units (already around when you were active
before). There are now kits with pre-slotted body tubes and plastic
fins (as in the Estes E2X series). Lots of good stuff for beginners
and kids. Estes now makes engines in the 1/2A - D range, all black
powder. Estes has some Large Model Rocket offerings ready, as well.
Read below for details.
Flight Systems (FSI), another motor and kit manufacturer that got its
start in the late 60's, was reported in 1995 to have ceased its
model rocketry operations. They have restarted production in 1996, and plan
on being up to full production by 1997.
Centuri, sadly, 'went away' in 1980. Daemon Industries bought both Estes
and Centuri in the 1970's. They operated both companies as independent
units for several years. Finally, Centuri was dissolved and its products
absorbed into Estes. Every now and then an old Centuri kit surfaces
under the Estes banner. An interesting piece of trivia is that the tax
and incorporation laws were more favorable in Arizona (home of Centuri)
than Colorado (home of Estes). So, Damon, on paper, had Centuri acquire
Estes, even though it was Centuri's operations that were eventually shut
down. Damon sold off Estes to a group of investors in the early 90's.
Now for 'who is new'. First, in model rocketry there is a new kid
on the block: Quest. This is Bill Stine, some ex-Centuri people
and others. They are a direct competitor to Estes. They have a line
of kits and engines (A-C). Good quality. Less expensive than Estes.
There are many other smaller companies making and selling model rocket
kits. See Part 02 of the FAQ for addresses. Custom Rockets is another
company with rocket kits similar to those offered by Estes and Quest.
Custom offers quality paper tube/balsa finned kits in the A-D power
Aerotech, LOC/Precision, Rocket R&D, Public Missiles, and North Coast
Rocketry are some new names in the business. These companies cater to
both larger model rocket and high power rocket markets. Estes bought
manufacturing rights to all NCR products in 1995. Estes has announced
a line of F/G rockets (based on NCR designs) to be released in the first
quarter of 1996. Estes may also release a small line of F and G composite
motors in 1996. A newer outfit, Rocket R&D, bought out THOY and another
smaller HPR manufacturer, Cluster R.
Aerotech manufactures both single-use and reloadable composite rocket
motors ranging from C to M total impulse classes. They also offer a few
kits designed for E to G engines.
A couple of outfits make kits using newer technology materials, including
phenolics, fiberglass, and composites. These include Public Missiles (PML),
Rocketman and Dynacom. Be prepared to pay more dollars for the more
advanced materials. A $60-75, 4" diameter, heavy paper tube based kit,
such as manufactured by LOC, might cost $100-125 in a phenolic based
kit, such as produced by PML. A Dynacom fiberglass kit of the same
size might cost closer to $350.
If you were into rocketry in the early 1980's then you probably remember
AAA Model Aviation Fuels. They're still here, with a line of HPR and
Large Model Rocket kits.
If you were into competing you might have been familiar with Competition
Model Rockets (CMR). They are now defunct but there are constant rumors
of a rebirth 'sometime in the near future'. Other companies have stepped
in to fill the space left by the exit of CMR. See the section
'Competition' for some names and addresses. Two notable new companies are
Apogee Components and Qualified Competition Rockets. Apogee was started by
long-time rocketeer Ed LaCroix. QCR was started by another long-time
rocketeer, Kenneth Brown. Ed has now joined the Aerotech team and
dropped most of his product line. A new company, Eclipse Components, is
picking up most of the Apogee Components line, except for motors. Apogee
will still be selling those. Pratt Hobbies has indicated that it will
pick up some of the old CMR product line, and has already made the CMR egg
capsules available again.
A lot of the 'neat' Estes kits of the 60's and 70's are no longer
available. However, Estes is bringing them back (one by one) in so-
called, 'limited run collector series'. The original 'Mars Snooper' and
'Maxi Honest John' kits have been re-issued, so far, along with the
Star Trek and Star Wars kits. More releases are supposed to be
forthcoming. WARNING: Be prepared to pay a much higher
price for these re-released kits. Remember that inflation has led to
some items having much higher prices now than in the mid 60's and 70's. No
doubt Estes will take advantage of the demand for the re-released kits,
as well, and charge an additional premium.