Estes Gemini DC longevity

I was just wondering over the logevity of the Gemini DC kit.

Seems like it has been in the Estes lineup at least 10 years now.

Why so?

Have they really been selling so many, or did they just produce way more than they needed?

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My BEST guess would be that they are still SITTING on old inventory. Even in the 'Golden Era' of model rockets (circa 1950s/1960s), Estes sat on inventory until they either morph it into something else, or just threw it in the trash can ... alot of items that are now considered valuable/collectible were just thrown away ... this is standard through out all manufacturing arenas. Remember, something that is now VERY desirable now, wasn't back then. Sure Estes sold Mars Landers, but they sat on alot of stock over the years. In the final years of the MLs sales, Estes had to HEAVILY discount them to finally move them out. Parts that were no longer manufactured, or used in kits had to be moved out of the way for newer products ... what better way than a [S]pare [P]arts [E]limination [V]ehicle.

Pallets of Cold Powered Rockets/Cars were thrown in the dumpster. This had to do with the Freon eating Ozone and not really lack of sales ... but I wonder about that too ... as a kid back then, I didn't see the cold powered stuff [FLYING] off the shelves.

I don't think anyone really sat around in 1967 and said to themselves, ' Ya know, I had better order 100 Saturn 1B kits now ... because in 40 years, I will be able to sell each one for hundreds of dollars on a yet to be invented web site, that runs on a yet to be public/commercial medium called the internet!' ... no and if they were, then they were using LSD!

So with all that diatribe out of the way, no DCs are still available due to Estes ordering 10s of thousands of units initially from China in order to maximize their profits. Don't be surprised if the G. DC isn't still available into the next decade and/or heavily discounted via mail order specials by Estes.

Question: If the Gemini DC was produced and discontinued in the 1960s, would it be fetching $100+ on auctions today? I guess based on rarity ... but I really don't like the design and have no interest in the kit today ... maybe that will change in 30 years ...

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They were sold in Michaels stores nationwide as well as many other retailers.

They leapt off the shelves at Michaels and were regularly restocked.

The packaging had changed over time, so they obviously kept making more kits.

As with every Estes kit, it will stay around as long as it continues to sell at the high rate that it does.

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It is no longer in the Estes catalog.

-Fred Shecter NAR 20117

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Fred Shecter

Not true in some cases ... I have many 'skill level' kits from the early to late 70s that have the 'K Kit' instructions clearly visible inside. Estes repackaged pre-Damon kits into Damon packaging and repackaged pre-Damon/Damon kits, into 'skill level' packaging.

Then there are very RARE cases of discontinued 'K Kits' (pre-Damon) being packaged in 'Skill level' packaging. E.g., the Astron Falcon in a 'Skill Level' blue package, or Astron Space Plane in a 'Skill Level' package. Same for the Astron Space Man (Man in Space) and the Hornet.

I believe the above examples are from the time when these kits were being closed out via advertisements in MRN and catalog specials. The parts were still laying around in bins, but they needed a way to move them out. They can't go back to the old pre-Damon packaging, nor the original Damon packaging as everything at that time was geared toward the newer 'skill level' packaging. So put together a few hundred 'skill level' , pre-Damon kits and get them out the door. I know they repackaged boxed kits and starter sets.

I have SEEN Scouts (skill level) with 'K Kit' old fonted instructions (1966/67ish), Big Berthas, Birdies, Betas, Cherokee-D, Trident, Orbital Transport and many more with this same situation. Packaging (face card) says 'Skill Level', but the instructions and parts are from the pre-Damon/Damon era. This is also kind of nice, because I prefer the balsa parts over plastic. Plus Skill Level kits sell MUCH lower on auctions, than the K-Kit Pre-Damon versions.

I know for a fact, that Estes did in fact repackage Citation Boxed kits and starter sets. I have examples where the original boxed kits with Citation engines are in one form with original documentation and instructions. Then in a later form of the SAME kit, the engines were removed and there is a sticker placed over the spot on the box where the 'Engines Included' would be visible. There are also Estes stickers denoting a price change on the front of the box and the box resealed with tape, shrinkwrap. Also, I have Citation Bomarc examples with and without engines where even the instruction sheets have been changed (Copper plastic cone and then the hollow Balsa cone versions). Now for Estes to have had the time to re-open kits, make changes, apply content change stickers, remove/add contents, and apply price change stickers, then re-seal (tape/shrinkwrap), indicates that these kits did 'sit' for some time in their warehouse.

As for the packaging changing in the Gemini DC, that could be due to Estes ownwership changing hands several times, government/U.N. shipping regulations, or a different company doing the box art/manufacturing of the box. I am sure Estes tries to keep itself competitive by looking for the lowest prices for manufacturing of its products. If a different box maker could undercut the current maker by a few penneys, then Estes would/should go with the lower cost provider as long as the quality is maintained.

Bottom line is, I really don't think the sales are that hot. It took a decade for Estes to finally discontinue its originial stock of K-Kits back in the 1960s. With todays CNC, and everything made in China for penneys on the dollar, buying 20 - 30 thousand units at a time is the common thing today. It costs Estes (and this is just guesstimating) maybe $0.75 to a dollar on every Alpha III they order from China (when the orders are in the ten's of thousands of units). Then they turn around and sell that Alpha III to distributors for maybe $2.50 - $3.00. Then the Distributor sells that Alpha III to a hobby shop for $5.00 - $7.00 each ... then the hobby dealer sells that Alpha III to the consumer for $12.00 - $15.00 each. Now that was based on large number of units, up to the point of Distributor - Shop and Shop to consumer sales. Those numbers of course wouldn't be in the thousands.

It may not be in the catalog, but they are still in the distributor and retail channels. Its in bulk packs, and free give-aways that Estes does. And I bet that in the Estes warehouse there are still a few hundred siting on pallets collecting dust ... but what is interesting is that it ISN'T in the the 2006 catalog ... if it had/has been such a hot seller for Estes ... why would Estes drop it from their product line??? We all know Estes is hurting for sales/money, so why drop it?

In my opinion it is no longer there because it NEVER was a hot seller. It takes time for a product to slowly sell off to a point that they can drop it from the catalog. Same with K-kits of the 1960s and the same with the stuff they sell today. You manufacture the numbers you hope to sell within a given time. You then wind up sitting/selling on that product and hope you make your expected profits/margins.

Realise that when Estes, or any manufacture, drops a product from it's line, the decision to do so wasn't made just a week before. It took a couple or more business quarters (business quarter = 3 months) previous to decide to drop an item. When Estes would let a kit discontinue back in the 60s/70s, the decision was made a year or two in advance not to produce the kit any further, but let the product line expire. I believe the same holds true in this case. The Gemini DC was slated for the chopping block back in 2004/2005. What you see on the shelves today are the last few instances of the kit in its present form ... hmmm, maybe I will pick up a couple kits and stash them in the basement :)

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