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on May 15, 2010
These are the first rockets I have purchased as an adult (I had one as a kid.....over 25 years ago), and I love them. This kit was nice for 2 reasons - it came with its own launcher, and there are 2 different levels of rockets to build. The taller "Amazon" rocket was much easier to build and took me around an hour or so to build (with the help of my 5 year old). The smaller one took a bit longer (plus the time needed to wait for the paint to dry).

Being someone who is completely inept at building things, I was able to build these rockets with very little difficulty. The launcher was very easy to set up and use, and after giving my boys a little instruction, they were able to launch them with me standing off in the distance. Of course they had a blast watching these 2 launch but even more fun chasing them down through a corn field once the parachutes deployed. As advertised, the "Crossfire" goes quite higher than the "Amazon".

After 9 launches of these 2 rockets and 3 other ones that I purchased at the same time, the boys were ready to go kite flying, but they are still well worth the money. Plus it's a great way for dads to spend time with their kids while building them and finally launching them into orbit!

UPDATE: After reading several of the negative reviews (which have nothing to do with the product itself), I thought I'd better add that YOU WILL NEED TO BUY ENGINES AND IGNITERS for these rockets. Also, if you want them to look like the ones photographed, you will need paint as well. Even though the product description seems self explanatory online, I understand that some smartphones aren't picking up this product description. All that said, still well worth the money even with the extras (which you can also pick up on Amazon for a fraction of the store cost).
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on January 20, 2012
It's just one of those great moments you remember: going out with your dad to set off your rocket for the first time. So cool when it takes off. Crossing your fingers that the parachute will deploy. Then running to see if it landed in one piece. My wife told me that she overhead my son describng our first launch to his friends as if we had set off an intercontinental missile.

Other items you'll need:
-A field! The instructions say "500 ft square". I think that's very poorly worded. It definitely DOES NOT mean 500 square feet and it doesn't mean 125' on each of 4 sides. They likely mean an area that is 500' x 500', or over 5 acres! You just need access to a very big area: the instructions say "football fields and playgrounds are great". Also, an area without other people, overhead trees, powerlines, etc. On a day without wind. The Estes and National Association of Rocketry websites have safety guidelines. I guess I've become the dad in bringing this all up. But finding open fields has become a bit harder where I live. Besides the safety concerns, if you set off your rocket in a small area, be prepared to be staring up at it lodged in branches.
-Model cement, carpenters glue, masking tape, fine sand paper, ruler, pencil, and a utility/X-acto knife.
-Engines and wadding: Amazon doesn't seem to always have these available in the sizes you need. The Estes site has a local retailer search.
-For painting second rocket, you can get spray white primer, white, glossy red, and a clear coat. You're going to be painting cardboard and plastic, so select accordingly.

Assembly: The nice thing about this kit is you can get out there with the bigger rocket pretty quickly. Personally, I'd assemble day 1 and head out for launch day 2. But you don't have to wait that long. My 9 year old hasn't assembled model cars and planes like I had when I was his age, but the rockets in this kit are pretty easy for parent & child to do together. The second rocket will need drying time between paint coats, so if there's that time when your child is moping aroud complaining he's bored, suggest you add a coat.

This kit is a great start. Keep in mind you'll probably have to spend another $20-30 on engines and supplies. The Estes website is great for resources.
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on July 12, 2010
I bought this starter set for me and my two boys (Ages 7 & 4) to build together and launch. The Amazon was quite easy to build, with only some plastic cement, sandpaper, and a hobby knife needed - everything else is included. Some of the parts (threading the parachute and shock cord) are a little hard for small children to handle, but they can certainly participate in the gluing and applying the plastic cement and labels. I haven't tried the Crossfire yet, but I do know it will be a little more complicated.

The included launch system was what sold this for me, as without it I would have been unsure of exactly what else was needed to launch. I reviewed beforehand to make sure that I purchased separately the engines (with igniters) and recovery wadding, as these are not included in the launch set. These aren't expensive - but you definitely want to make sure that you have everything you need before building, as it's no fun to start a project with your kids that you can't finish. Mine tend lose interest fast that way.

Launching was easy with the instructions provided, and the boys (and Dad) had a blast. Even a hard landing in the parking lot didn't damage the Amazon. The boys (and Dad) are interested in building more (at least for now), so we'll try to get a little more adventurous with the next one.
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on February 25, 2007
If you are interested in model rocketry, this is definitely the right place to start. This kit includes everything you need to send you rocket to the heavens, such as a complete launch pad system with launch controller, and two different rockets. The only things you have to supply are plastic cement, white glue, and the engines, which you can purchase at most hobby shops or sometimes your local WalMart. The best part of this kit is the fact that the rockets are two different skill levels so you can determine exactly how involved you wish to get into the model rocketry hobby. The larger "Amazon" rocket is skill level E2X, which only requires glueing a few pieces together and slapping on the decals. The smaller Crossfire ISX is skill level 1, which requires a little bit work to put together and you have to paint it yourself. This set is perfect for both adults looking to get into the hobby and children/teens with the appropriate adult supervision.
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on June 5, 2013
You won't get the Porta-Pad II and Electron Beam controller as shown in the picture, you'll get the Astron II pad and controller, which, according to the Estes website, is the newest launch set in their line-up. Doesn't really matter one way or another, unless you're purchasing batteries specifically for this set prior to arrival. The Astron II controller uses a 9V battery instead of the 4AA batteries that the product description tells you that you need. Also, you don't really need "plastic model cement," I use Loctite Control Gel super glue and it works great.

I got this kit getting back into rockets after about a 25 year break. Didn't see the point in getting one rocket with a launch set when I could get two rockets for a couple of dollars more. I was really expecting to like the Crossfire more than the Amazon, because faster and higher is always better with rockets, right? Wrong.

I built the Amazon first, since I'm a crawl before you walk guy. Used the super glue for everything except the shock-cord-to-body-tube attachment. Used white glue for that. Total building/decorating time was about half an hour, checking the instructions constantly to see what I was supposed to be doing. This is my favorite of the two in the set. It's big, it's easy to follow as it accelerates, and it's easy to track on the way down. After the last launch, I decided that I need to cut a hole in the parachute to speed decent, because I have varying wind layers where I live. I recommend the C6-3 engines over the C6-5 just because I don't really like watching my rockets nose dive for several seconds before the recovery system deploys, shortly after apogee makes me much happier.

The Crossfire is a fun rocket. It goes high, fast, which is super cool. However, I've found that trying to go too high, too fast is a pain in the feet. I won't launch this rocket with anything more powerful than a B engine, because on every C launch it goes about 100' in the air and then careens to the side at about a 35 degree angle and I end up hiking forever to get to it. Which indicates to me that maybe C engines are too powerful for the stability level of the rocket. Every A engine and B engine launch has been straight as an arrow in the vertical realm, and I haven't gone more than about 50 feet to recover it.

As for the launch system, it's decent and does what it's supposed to do. I was hoping that the two-piece launch rod was a screw together contraption that I could take apart for transportation and storage. It's not. It's held together with a roll pin, so you hammer it together and it doesn't come apart with any sort of ease. Which wouldn't be so bad if the joint didn't leave an uneven surface for a launch lug to catch on. I replaced mine with a 1/8" x 36" music wire. When I get something that needs the "Maxi-Rod" I'll go to my nearest home center and get a 3/16" metal rod for 1/4 the price of the Estes Maxi-Rod and it won't have a lip on it.

Update 9/9/13:
So I'm thinking that I may have gotten a bum set of C6-5 engines the first time. I had purchased two 3-packs of them, seperately for the different rockets. After the second time of chasing down the Crossfire I stopped using the C6-5s, leaving me with a leftover. Went out to launch the Amazon and lose some mini rockets and used the leftover engine. The Amazon went about 50' up then careened off creating a long walk for me. Intrigued, I decided to launch the Crossfire on one again the next week. The Crossfire on a C6-5 is impressive, as long as it's a good engine. Flight was beautifully straight, nearly out of sight. Make sure there's no wind and it's fun on C engines, I still stick to B engines, though, as I find them more fun with the better chance of recovery.

As for the launch pad, apparently it's not designed for 3\16" rods. I got one and tried to install it to no avail. I ended up drilling out the rod holder about half way through. That way I can secure a bigger rod in the top part of the holder, and still have enough to hold the smaller rod.
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on January 8, 2007
this product is awsome! the only downer is that it takes a while to put the little rocket together. the only supplies u need are scissors and super glue. i would definately buy this product again. (hint:check what engines your rocket uses, the big one usually uses a C6-5 and the small one a B or a C).
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on September 15, 2009
This kits is excellent and at an excellent price. It comes with everything you need to launch minus batteries, engines and wadding. The thing i like the best about this kit is that the two rockets are from different skill ranges. The big one "amazon" is really simple and requires no painting or cutting. My 9 year old neice could of put this together just use a little glue and put on stickers. The smaller one "crossfire" is a skill level 1 kit. You will have to cut, sand, measure and paint but is more enjoyable since you actually have to make the rocket. This kit is great for kids getting interested in rockets cause in a few hours they can launch the big easy rocket and if they're up to it spend a day building the smaller one and then launch that one. Also great for dads who are going to build it with their son cause the son can build (and will want to cause its so big) the "amazon" and the dad can start to build the crossfire. Also the two rockets are very differnt the amazon will go about 600ft (depending on the engine used) while the crossfire will go 1200ft at lighting speeds. pros and cons on the differences are that the higher it goes the harder it is to track down after cause it can drift farther while decending and is hard to follow on its way up but is exciting. while the amazon will never leave your sight and doesn't drift that far due to its larger size and weight, just not quite as fast off the pad but still cool cause your launching a 3 ft rocket up. all and all if your looking to get a starter set you can miss with this, just remember they will need engines, wadding and AA batteries. happy flying
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on May 25, 2012
My 5 year old boy's face lit up unbelievably when he opened the package which contained this kit. This is pretty advanced for a child this age, but we broke it up into a couple of days and I did much of the menial labor. He still learned quite a bit from this and it was an incredible bonding experience that I'm sure you'll treasure forever as well. If I had to do it again, here's what I'd do differently:

Have glue ready to go. Sure, I had wood glue (Elmers is fine) down in the basement, but no plastic model glue for the larger, black rocket which had plastic stabilizer fins and motor mount.

Sandpaper: The smaller rocket uses balsa stabilizer fins and need to be sanded. The instructions show to taper the leading edges, but you should spend the extra time sanding the flat surfaces so the paint job you'll give it looks better. 120 grit or higher should be fine.

This was my boy's first rocket. The last one I had built was 10 years ago with his older sisters. We should have started with the larger black rocket first, since it's easier. Its parts are plastic and snap/glue together and it needs no paint. The smaller rocket's pieces need to be snapped/cut out of the sheets, sanded, painted, etc. The motor mount assembly requires measuring, marking and carefully reading the instructions to get it built correctly. The rate at which the black rocket comes together is faster, which makes it easier to hold the attention of a young child.

The price of engines is astronomical these days. The best bang for the buck (that I found) is the bulk pack (24) of engines/igniters/wadding for roughly $50 and will provide consumables for several excursions. The bulk pack I had included a "C" engine by mistake (can't wait to stuff that into one of these rockets!). The "B" engines really send the small rocket up there, so watch your wind speed and direction and compensate with your launch angle. Find a large, open space for this one! The larger rocket, could take a "C" engine since it's heavier. It gets up 250 feet or so with the "B".

5 stars for a great product! Bring a video camera so you can relive this over and over as I do. I put a video on youtube about this. Since links aren't allowed, search for "Jack's Introduction To Model Rocketry" if you want to see this product in action.
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on November 30, 2013
My lowered rating does not reflect the rockets themselves, which are just fine. The low rating is because the set no longer comes with the black Porta Pad II launch pad pictured here. Instead, it comes with a flimsier, cheaper, substantially inferior launch pad (the orange Astron). Another reviewer also pointed this out. I've been informed that Estes no longer sells this set with that particular launch pad. I thought I was getting a killer deal originally (as opposed to buying the Porta Pad II launch pad and controller seperately). And that was the main reason I purchased this set. I'm just getting back into rocketry with my son after 15 years, and I needed a new Estes launch pad that was on par with what I had 15 years ago. The included Astron pad is not. And technically, you need a longerlaunch rod to launch the larger rocket (you can get a 1/8-inch 4-foot rod at Home Depot instead).

Anyway, the rockets themselves are decent starter rockets -- about what you would expect from Estes. And it would've been a great starter deal for someone in my position had the launch pad been correct. Instead, I returned it and decided to spend a little more on the Porta Pad II and launch controller separately, and buy different individual rockets separately.
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on January 6, 2016
 Part of the reason I give this product 5 stars is nostalgia. As a kid I built and flew model rockets just like these. But I couldn’t afford the cool launch pad and rod, so I used a block of wood and a coat-hanger that I had laboriously straightened. Worked great, and tons of fun!

The other part of the 5 star review is heart strings. These many years later when, my 8 yo son sat on Santa’s lap, the rotund old elf asked him what one present he would like to get from Santa. My son looked a little nonplussed to have to come up with ONE thing, but he gamely said, “I’d like a model rocket, just like my dad had when he was a kid.” Seriously? There was zero chance he wasn’t getting this for Christmas!

A few folks have given this set less than stellar reviews, mostly based on misunderstanding what they were getting. Model rockets are not toys and they are not preassembled. Model rockets are actual functional rockets. They require basic model building skills (measuring, cutting, gluing, and painting), and they require engines to launch. This is not a negative, part of the joy of this hobby comes with the building.

Here is a list of basic items you’ll need in addition to this kit to build and fly your rockets:
1) Good quality white glue
2) Plastic cement (the stinky kind) Cement Glue Value Pack Testors 2-7/8 fl oz tubes
3) Paint. Spray paint works well for solid colors, but enamel paint is great for detailing Testors Promotional Enamel Paint Set
4) Brushes Testors Nylon Paint Brush, Set of 3
5) Masking tape
6) Fine sand paper
7) Razor knife
8) 4 AA batteries
9) Fire resistant wadding Estes 2274 Recovery Wadding
10) 2 sets of engines

As model rockets go, these are actually very easy to assemble. Fins are usually the hardest part because you really have to be perfect in their alignment, but not on these rockets. The larger “Amazon” rocket has an injection molded fin assembly that just needs to be glued into the body tube. The smaller “Crossfire” rocket has balsa wood fins (*sniff* just like the old days), except these have been laser pre-cut for you. Even the body tube is pre-cut to accept the fins. Hard to go wrong.

Quick primer on engines. They mostly come in 3-packs. Each engine is single use, then dispose of. They are real rocket engines and they burn pre-loaded solid fuel. The designation (example C6-5) tells you everything you need to know about the engine thrust profile. “B” engines are twice as powerful as “A” engines, and are half as powerful as “C” engines. The first number gives the average thrust (bigger is faster), and second number gives the delay in seconds before the ejection charge pops the chute. Engines come with the required igniters, but not the wadding.

The flame resistant wadding protects the plastic chute from the heat of the ejection charge. Forget the wadding and your chute may melt, or even burn; not a useful recovery strategy! In a pinch you can get away with just using a regular tissue; it might smoke a bit as it falls, but will extinguish before reaching the ground. As a responsible adult trying to set a good example for my child, I bought the flame resistant stuff.

I used B4-2 engines in the Crossfire rocket, and C6-7 engines in the Amazon rocket. The B4-2s were perfect, but the C6-7s have too long a delay and gave us a heart attack as the Amazon rocket turned over and looked like it planned to become a lawn-dart - before the chute eventually deployed! C6-5s would be a better choice here.

My son loved launching these rockets! He was ecstatic when he almost caught the Crossfire rocket in mid-air as it was returning to earth. A video of his very first launch is attached. This little father/son rocket set is most highly recommended.

Edit: I changed my title to make it clear that this is NOT a boy's toy, it is not scary, and it is not rough and tough. Any kid with an interest in engineering, or science, or just going fast and high, would probably love this product.

Edit2: Youtube video of my son showing his mom how to use the launch controller and launch her very first rocket. Very exciting for the whole family!
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