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on January 30, 2012
I've built/designed flying model rockets and this one is well engineered (well duh, it's a rocket company!). There is one large decal that wraps around the entire rocket body and another arc-shaped decal that wraps around the entire capsule. So no painting is required (a nice bonus).

Here's a tip for applying the very large decal. It's easy to screw up and get buckles, a misalignment, or air bubbles. One mistake and you're screwed. To save yourself grief, get a wide container, fill it part way with water, add a drop or two of dish soap to the water and mix it (not sudsy). Run the large decal through the soapy water with the tacky side down trying not to get the printed side wet (a little is okay). Now apply the decal. Match the edge of the decal to the pencil line they've marked on the tube. Gently wrap it around avoiding buckles. As you work around, gently patting the applied area from the center outward to the ends using a dry paper towel. Work out air bubbles and excess water. Finally pat the entire surface until it's snug.

This technique has two benefits: you get a perfect tight finish (no trapped air), and second, you can always peel back and try again if you make a mistake. Just be careful not to excessively over-wet and keep the printed side mostly dry. Don't worry, this trick will not affect the adhesion of the decals.

Happy flying! Go SpaceX!
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on December 30, 2011
Firstly, I am not an employee of SpaceX but I have been a fan since their inception. I purchased this kit as soon as it was available and have not been disappointed. The kit is very easy to assemble and looks good enough to use as a display model (though I would like to get a real display piece of the Falcon 9 and/or Dragon - hint! hint!). My seven year old and I were going to wait for the spring to launch it, but the weather has been good enough to do a late December launch. No problems with the launch at all! Having a separate parachute for the Dragon capsule is an added bonus. And, the clear fins make it look like the real deal in flight. We will be getting a few more launched in before winter truly arrives.

I heartily recommend this kit to any model rocket fan, but especially to any SpaceX fan.
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on February 14, 2012
My daughter bought this kit from Amazon for my birthday last month. The hardest part of assembling the kit was getting the main decal on the Falcon 9, but overall it was easy to put together. I then ordered C 6-5 rocket engines from Amazon, as well as a new launch controller, and launched it last Saturday. The flight went well, but the Dragon nose cone and it's parachute got caught in the 12 mph wind and went off in a direction 180 degrees from where the rocket body landed. The rocket itself survived the landing with only one of the fins being partially moved out of it's slot; that was easy to fix. However, I spent close to an hour searching the desert area around the launch site, but never found the nose cone and it's parachute.

I emailed FlyingModels@SpaceX.com that evening to ask if I could buy a separate nose cone and parachute to replace the one I lost, rather than buying another entire kit. That was 3 days ago and I have not yet received a response. Hopefully there is a way to buy spare parts for this kit!

I WROTE THIS REVIEW LAST NIGHT. TODAY I GOT AN EMAIL FROM SPACEX AND THEY HAVE A WAY TO HELP PREVENT LOST NOSE CONES ON FUTURE KITS:

"We'll add a note on future versions of the instructions that the nose can be tied to the rocket and the parachute with the hole left off the vehicle when winds or other hazards that might be a risk to capsule recovery."

THANKS, SPACEX!
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on January 10, 2012
I'm a born-again modeler who started flying model rockets when I was 10, then went back to it when my son was young, and I haven't done much with it lately...but then, my granddaughters are only 4 and 6 years old! I'm 57 now and over the last 45 years I have built probably 50 flying model rockets.

This was a brilliant idea from SpaceX. They not only are building the next generation of real space launch vehicles, but also are getting kids (and adults) involved by putting this model on the market. I salute them for working to bring up a new generation of space exploration enthusiasts!

The kit: I've not built it yet, but I've examined it carefully. The parts are of very high quality. It should be as sturdy as any other commercially available model rocket of its size. The weak spot is of course the clear plastic fins. They are made to be removable so the model can be displayed looking more like the real thing, and snapped on when the rocket is flown. I don't know if they would be very easily damaged upon landing. They look thick enough and strong enough to withstand some bumpy landings, though.

The instructions are clear and detailed. A completely inexperienced modeler who knows how to wield a tube of white glue and a bit of 5-minute epoxy should have no problems putting it together in a couple of hours - and that includes the drying time for the parts, pretty much. No previous experience building a flying model of any kind is required.

The body tube is completely covered with a self-adhesive glossy paper wrap with the logos and other markings on it. There is another wrap for the Dragon capsule. The lower section of the body and the Dragon capsule are both made of lightweight styrene plastic, and the body tube is the standard spiral-wound model rocket cardboard tube. The wrap must be applied carefully, but once it's on it will enhance the appearance of the model a great deal, and it will strengthen the body tube as well. (The instructions note that it is easier to apply the wrap with the assistance of a second person. That's a good suggestion!)

The model can be built by someone as young as ten or twelve who has experience following directions and gluing things together. No painting is required, and all the parts are pre-cut. (It's a far cry from back in the day, when we had to learn to cut balsa wood sheets against the grain without cutting a finger or cracking the balsa.) Launching the rocket should be done with adult supervision, or at least someone responsible over 14 years old. Recommended rocket engine sizes are given on the instructions. Rocket engines and a launch platform must be purchased separately. (If there is a Hobby Lobby near you, you may find engines and a launcher there. Two major manufacturers of rocket engines of this size are Estes and Quest.)

The supplies and tools needed to complete the model are prominently listed on the box, as is the notation that the kit was manufactured in the USA. That made me happy, as well.

The model came out just a few weeks before the Falcon 9/Dragon test flight that is to fly the unmanned version of the Dragon to the International Space Station (scheduled for February 7, 2012). Timing of the introduction of this model is pretty much perfect, although getting it out before Christmas would have been even better.

I'm delighted SpaceX has taken on the task of creating a well-designed model along with all the effort they are making in building the real thing. This isn't a marketing ploy; it shows a company committed to not only exploring space commercially, but getting kids excited about it. Thanks to SpaceX for making this possible...and I would sure like to see a Dragon plastic model kit in about 1/48 scale or so...
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on August 21, 2012
First off this is a great rocket. The asembly instructions are well thought out and easy to follow. Once assembled you have two choices. You can put it on the shelf for a handsome display model to remind you of how brilliant the people at SpaceX are, or you can choose to fly it. For me, a rocket has got to fly or it is not a rocket. The Falcon 9 Dragon flies with forgiving grace. A B6-2 motor will keep it close to the launch point providing you use a lauch pad with a 1/8" launch rod and a launch controller like the Quest aerospace or Estes controller. Follow the guidelines set by the National Association of Model rocketry and this wonderful rocket will live to fly many a day. I've got 19 sucessful launches with mine and it is good as new. There is a video from our rocketcam showing the Falcon 9 in action. Just go to Youtube and paste this in after com

/watch?v=wsRFMnONC8c

Owning and flying a piece of history is an opportuninty to be part of a very exclusive club. Spacex has made that really easy.
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on February 22, 2012
This is an excellent rocket kit. The materials in the kit are first rate. The instructions are very clear and the assembly is pretty straight forward. The full body wrap is a bit challenging to apply but there are some great on-line hints on how to do this if you search for them. I have flown the rocket three times since building it and it flies great. The nose cone and main rocket body return on separate parachutes. I would recommend adding some weight to the nose cone, as it comes down really slowly and can therefore drift a long distance from the launch site if you have any wind (as I did when launching). Also the A8-3 rocket engine recommended for the first flight is not a very good choice. The rocket is too heavy. I got the best flight with a C6-5 engine but the B6-4 worked well also, just not a very high flight. If adding weight to the nose cone (I added about 1/2 oz. essentially doubling the weight of the nose cone)the B6-4 would be the minimum engine I would try. The finished model looks great!
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on July 23, 2012
My 11 year old son and I built this model in less than 1 hour total time. The adhesive decals were a snap to apply and makes for a very realistic looking rocket! It looks great on a display shelf but even better "on the wing." The Dragon capsule (nose cone) returns to earth more slowly being much lighter than the 1st stage booster, so you may want to tether it to the 1st stage when wind may cause significant drifting. I hope SpaceX also develops a Falcon 9 Heavy model or I may have to build one myself! Three cheers for USA company!
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on January 27, 2012
I finally got around to building (loosely defined) a copy of this Falcon 9 model. There was initial concern with regard to the application of the body wraps, which actually was unfounded. The full tube wrap can be applied as defined in the instructions and will provide a relatively solid representation of the airframe markings. Care does need to be used in the initial layout along the marked line as there are a number of features on the overlaps which will be pretty visible if you mess it up.

The capsule wrap gave me a little headache simply becasue there is a little latitude in the start point of the conic wrap at the rise trench. You really do need to check the application prior to pulling off the backing and check where things should start to make sure of where they will end. I had a little bit or wrinkle in the lower edge but that is burnished out with a soft cloth. The same was true of my body wrap. When folded over and curved to fit into the packaging there is some risk of the wrap being wrinkled as opposed to the backing. Just depends on which way the sheet was curved when it went in the box.

The engine mount centering ring is a very tight fit into the ABS fin can. Good things and bad things. You get to sand those awful black rings a little, but the fit is pretty well permanent. The shock cord is also a bit of a pain. The supplied aramid cord is twisted as opposed to braided and always will unravel. If you look at the baffle there is a small hole at one edge through which the cord was originally intended to pass. With the supplied cord there is almost no way that you could pass it through the hole, hence it seems that a modification was made in the instructions to accomodate that issue. I used a piece of braided line and knotted against the baffle ring.

It is a very simple model and one that would be a great subject for a group build; especially since there is at least some chance that those building might actually have the chance to se the original fly. If anything the selection of the ABS fin can makes for a relatively heavy model - about 4 oz. without an engine. The two parachutes will make for an intersting recovery, even with the enlarged spill hole in the parachute canopy. The capsule is attached to a thread riser which exits the upper portion of the moulding through a small slot. At launch the cord runs down the trench into the body tube. There is a channel in the Nosecone shoulder to prevent the thread from jamming the capsule in the BT.

All in all this is a fun model to build and the removable fins will be a nice touch for a "sit on the shelf" when not flying. Only hope that Space-X will keep a supply of spares on hand in the event one of those twist ties goes south during launch, although at the current price of $25.95 I suppose replacement is the better part of valour.
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on February 22, 2012
This is a very well done model rocket kit and easy to build. No painting needed and it fly's great. I epoxied a small pen video camera (about $25 from Amazon)Pen Camera with vedio function, Captures HQ 640 x 480 Pixel Video at smooth 30 Frames Per Second into the nose cone and got some very cool video & audio clips of the launch. I would very much recommend this kit!
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on July 29, 2012
OK, this is a fairly easy model to put together and is fairly accurate scale-wise, so anyone would be proud to display in on a desk (or fly it!). Just wanted to mention that a good way to not get the plastic fins bent is to provide a display stand for it. An easy one is using the bottom spindle from a 50 pack of CD-R's or DVD-RW's. You can wrap masking tape around the spindle till it fits somewhat snug in the engine tube. That way you can safely display the model while taking any weight off of the fins, and having the broader base of the spindle makes it harder for the rocket to get knocked over. I was glad to see SpaceX license a model of their Dragon/Falcon-9. Since the Obama administration killed the Constellation program, the Dragon 9 will most likely be the next US vehicle that can carry Americans into space to the International Space Station. Having an easy, "no painting required" model of it is pretty neat.
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